Okay, brace yourselves for this one, because it’s a beauty and well done to Andy Muirhead and to Joe McHugh for bringing this matter up. Joe’s article on VideoCelts today provided the impetus to look into this matter. Andy Muirhead provided the broader context.
As I said, brace yourselves.
Yesterday, The Daily Record ran its usual pro-Sevco puff piece. It was on Gerrard and his “first day of work” as boss of Sevco. The initial article itself said that he was over in Toulouse watching a tournament. Scouting, in other words. Of course. Because that creates a nice feel-good buzz around the place and amongst their fans.
Except it wasn’t the only reason he was there.
Gerrard was in Toulouse because he is studying for his UEFA Pro Licence. He doesn’t have that crucial qualification yet, and he still has a year to go. Big deal, some will say. But actually, it is a big deal as anyone who has knowledge of football regulations would be aware.
Without a UEFA Pro Licence Gerrard cannot be the head coach of a top flight club just about anywhere in Europe. In most associations it is a legal requirement. One of the exceptions is here in Scotland, of course, where you only have to be studying for the course.
But, and here’s where things get funky, it is part of UEFA’s licencing regulations and is another black mark on the club’s application to take part in European football. I know this one is hard to wrap your brain around, but it’s true.
Wikipedia, quoting almost word for word from an article from UK Sports Network, says the following:
“A UEFA Pro Licence is required for anyone who wishes to manage a football club in the top tier of any European nation’s league system on a permanent basis, i.e. more than 12 weeks (the amount of time an unqualified caretaker manager is allowed to take control). Such a licence is also required to manage in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.”
These regulations have been in place since 2008. The SFA is scandalously lax in bringing our game up to code with other national associations. In England, it’s a been an EPL regulatory requirement since 2010. Even the Welsh FA does not allow its top flight clubs to be run by people without the requisite qualifications. Put simply, Gerrard could not work as a manager in the Premiership without this certificate and he would be similarly barred from working in most leagues on the continent.
Sevco has just appointed a guy who’s coaching certificate is at the same level as that of Barry Robson, who the SFA announced was taking his Pro Licence course in a blaze of publicity this time last year. Robson would not be able to take a team into European football … and it may well be the reason why Hamilton were the only club who were provisionally refused a European football licence for this season, as Martin Canning started his studies last year.
And this isn’t exactly a secret; when Frank Lampard appeared in front of the press yesterday he spoke about getting the Pro Licence as a step towards a top flight job, “and being able to manage in the Champions League.” He was even more upfront in March this year when he was asked specifically about coaching qualifications and said this;
“I could get a job before that [completing UEFA Pro license] but I wouldn’t be able to take charge of a club in European competition. If the right opportunity comes up then I’ll take a view on it.”
And that, my friends, is about as clear-cut as it gets.
Sevco has another major headache here … and I think one of the reasons behind King’s latest attacks on the SFA and the SPFL has now been made ever more clear.
It also makes Gerrard’s motivation in taking the job somewhat easier to understand; forget the “transfer war chest” and all the questions about what he thinks he’s doing … he couldn’t even manage in the Welsh top flight without the requisite certificate, but here in Scotland it’s no problem at all.
Sadly, that does not apply to managing in European competitions.
Steven Gerrard does not meet the qualifying criteria to lead a team at that level, and that is a plain and simple fact.
If Sevco gets its licence to do that it won’t be a minor miracle, it’ll be a scandal.