Peter Lawwell has tonight broken our club’s silence on the resignation of Stewart Regan by calling for a wholescale reform of the SFA and a cleaning out of its upper ranks. In an interview published by the BBC Lawwell has suggested that a lot of the focus was on Stewart Regan when there were others at Hampden who escaped a critical eye.
He has expressed his admiration for a number of SFA board members; most are newly elected members with no connections to the old regime. Notably absent is Rob Petrie, a long-time Lawwell ally who broke ranks and faith late last year when his club declared that it would not support an inquiry into historical issues at the Association.
Was that moment Lawwell pulled his support for Petrie’s oft-mooted climb to the top of the governing body? I do believe that it was. Petrie’s announcement was so clearly made with that climb in mind. Now Lawwell is obliquely suggesting it’s no longer a slam-dunk. In fact, he’s spoken about people who have “presided over the SFA for a number of years, that really need to have a look at themselves just now.”
Those he singled out for praise include Mike Mulraney and Ian Maxwell, newly elected and with no ties to the old regime. Notably absent, aside from Petrie, was anyone from Aberdeen, the other club who publicly said they would not support an inquiry.
“What is actually the purpose of the SFA and how does that relate to the SPFL and the clubs?” Lawwell asked. “I think there should be a structure of restructure and reorganising that allows the SFA to be fit for that purpose.”
This is all to the good. It’s music to the ears of many fans, and I include those of those two clubs. Aberdeen and Hibs supporters have been amongst the strongest supporters of a review into how football in Scotland is run. They would not mourn if their own directors were no longer in a position to block that review, or the reforms that go with it.
In the next few days I expect some sections of the media to suggest that Lawwell and Celtic should not be pushing this because it will look like a power-grab. But you know what? Why should our club fear that kind of interpretation? I do believe that our club has worked in the best interests of the game more often than not. Those who’ve worked with us at close quarters will be very aware of that, and will know what our intentions are.
Besides, those same hacks will probably be the ones who’ve intimated that Lawwell has been running the whole show for years anyway; the game would not look in the state it does if that had been even remotely true.
One of the best SFA reforms in recent years has also been one of the most unheralded; elections for the president and vice president’s seats has been opened up to the wider membership instead of being based on a “years of service” requirement which has rewarded the old blazer brigade and shut out anyone intent on meaningful change. Petrie had hoped to be the first chairman elected under the new system; Lawwell clearly believes it needs to go to someone who’s not been around quite so long, and who can bring fresh thinking to the table.
I won’t say Alan McRae has been a disaster; I couldn’t pick that guy out in an empty room if he was the only person standing in it. Has there ever been a more anonymous senior official at a governing body? Whatever his qualifications were I don’t see it. He has not been a disaster, largely because he hasn’t contributed enough to create one. He is an Un-Person. A wax dummy of Jim Farry would have been just as effective, and cost a lot less.
So whilst tonight I’m pleased that Lawwell has made his comments, and agree with analysis 100%, talking is not going to get this done. Our club now has to take a front-line role in getting these changes through. We have to lead, and be seen to lead, no matter who doesn’t like it. Peter Lawwell will never climb the SFA throne … I don’t think he’d want it if he could, but our club should play a leading role in determining who does next.
And that person should have one motivation only; the good of the sport, and the protection of its integrity, whatever that means, and whatever that costs.
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