Fundamental change at the SFA
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Scottish football has been mismanaged for years. The SFA has time and time again proven itself to be resistant to change, accountability and trustworthiness to be the regulator of the Scottish game. Confidence in their stewardship is at an all time low, but their performance can never be held to account as they have disengaged with the stakeholders in the Scottish game.
The recent 'bringing the game into disrepute' charges levied against Steve Clarke and Kilmarnock bring the problems starkly into focus:
1. What was said and reported was no less critical of the SFA and its ability to govern the game (not the game itself) than recent comments made by Steven Gerrard about the standard of officiating and published by his club which went uncited; and
2. No person or organisation has done more to bring the Scottish game into disrepute in recent years than the SFA themselves - leaving them entirely unfit to render a judgement on such an issue.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but matters on which the SFA have exhausted the trust and patience of the Scottish football fanbase in recent years include:
- Absurd inconsistencies in recent disciplinary matters and appeals (whether by intention to favour or through ineptitude) with a seeming preference for the 'big teams' of Glasgow
- Utter failure to make any meaningful change to Scottish football in keeping with the Financial Fair Play principles to stop clubs overextending and bringing the game into disrepute - even in the face of numerous insolvency events being experienced and evidence of financial stress at clubs in the present day
- Speaking on behalf of all stakeholder in Scottish football without a mandate (such as comments on there being 'no appetite' for certain actions when fans have no input whatsoever and without the question even being asked of clubs)
- The lack of engagement with all stakeholders in the games - especially the fans - on whether Hampden was the best option for the home of international football despite vast spending of resources that could have been used elsewhere to promote the national game
- The abject failure of the national team by any measurable standard and lack of any demonstrable plan to improve this
- Inconsistencies with regards to appropriate punishments for improperly registering players or conditions for being eligible or ineligible which remain to this day unexplained
- The utter disregard apparent for the improvements suggested by Henry McLeish in his reports on Scottish Football without any meaningful dialogue or justification for these (leaving everyone to assume self-interest)
- The inexcusable terms of reference provided for an independent enquiry (known as LNS) - which specifically excluded confirmed illegal means of remuneration from the scope of offences investigated, while being predicated on the remainder being legal, despite an ongoing legal process. A process which would ultimately conclude that these payments were also illegal (meaning they were not available to all clubs and rendering the said investigation purely an exercise in imaginary situations rather than facts)
- The failure to properly investigate the calamitous treatment of events surrounding the collapse of one of Scotland's biggest clubs and therefore the deprivation of any opportunity to learn from mistakes that were made, despite a request from at least one club, the SPFL and the Offshore Game subgroup of the well respected Tax Justice Network
- The unexplained conflicts of interest held in senior positions within the SFA and lack of accountability for how such conflicts are managed (including senior officers with shareholdings in member clubs, senior officers being in situ during investigations under which their conduct could be found lacking and individuals involved with the game with stakes in more than one club)
- The existence of secretive agreements involving member clubs that are not available to other parties with an interest in the transparent governance of the game and that may prevent the SFA from being able to discharge its duties in accordance with principles of fair play and equality or that may prevent the SFA from taking retrospective actions that warrant such action in the best interests of the game
- At best incompetence in the exercise of its duties regarding UEFA licencing over the monitoring period in 2011/12 and at worst collusion to defraud its own member clubs, coupled with an apparent refusal to refer the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to be resolved
- Incidents of officials lying to member clubs
- Incidents of failure to investigate - and possibly actively covering up - complaints of child abuse perpetrated by SFA employees (such as in the case of the very brave Pete Haynes)
- Incidents of senior officials of the SFA actively and intentionally delaying player registrations
The obvious conclusion is now dawning on Scottish football fans. The SFA is no longer fit for purpose and would be entirely hypocritical to hold a hearing on bringing the game into disrepute. It is the SFA who should be in the dock.
As such a vote of 'No confidence' in the entire SFA in its current structure must be voiced. Any restructure MUST engage fans groups in as significant stakeholders in the Scottish game to which the SFA must be held accountable for their performance. The SFA needs to be accountable for their performance to ALL stakeholders - including clubs, fans and players (now and in years to come). It cannot be self-serving.
The SFA only bowed to pressure through the SPFL to involve the clubs and has deliberately kept fans on the outside in direct contravention of the best interests of all Scottish football stakeholders.
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