The biggest news in Scottish football today is undoubtedly this; the SFA Presidency is about to change hands.
In one way this is a positive move, and I’ll explain that in a moment.
In another way it is a scandal and not only because Petrie has been at loggerheads with Celtic for a while now.
Petrie will be an improvement over the current head Alan McRae. He has redefined the word “useless” as well as being as anonymous today as he was when he took over. Most of us would not know Alan McRae if they bumped into him in the street.
He has offered Scottish football exactly nothing; his own ascension to the top job was and remains an embarrassment, the last gasp of the old blazer brigade which in our game has rewarded “service” over competence for decades.
Some of these people could not have risen in any corporate culture that valued merit, it’s as simple as that. McRae’s tenure has been flat, without a single concrete accomplishment and ends in the disgrace of his managerial pick McLeish not lasting 12 months.
He will doubtless leave with numerous phony platitudes ringing in his ears; he deserves none of them.
Petrie is going to be sworn in today without opposition.
This is not good for the health and wellbeing of our game; jobs such as these should be competed over fiercely, and the process should involve a battle of ideas. Instead it looks like the same “old pals act” where major decisions are made behind closed doors and the greater good of the game doesn’t come into it.
We are still not rewarding competence or expertise. We are still not demanding that those in those roles put forward some kind of plan. The game here is stuck in the mud because of nonsense like this. We have not done nearly enough to change that.
The process for electing an SFA President should be entirely democratic, and open to new people and new ideas.
The rules which block those people are anarchic and indefensible.
Scottish football should not be run like a third-rate monarchy where power is simply handed down to the next in line.
This is why nothing ever gets done.
Celtic did not want Petrie in the job; that’s commonly known. Why should we, when Petrie is one of the principle opponents to our demand for an inquiry into the scandal of the EBT years, without which our game is never going to move on? Hibs fans are amongst the loudest in favour of wholescale reform; Petrie did not listen to them as their chairman and he’s not about to start now. His being in that job means things go on as before.
Our club has been weak on this, it’s that simple.
Even our opposition to Petrie has never formally been announced; instead it has been drip-fed into the public consciousness via leaks and more often via the blogs than the mainstream press. We failed to propose alternative candidates for these jobs. We have failed to put forward plans of our own.
This website has long argued that we should take public positions on major issues and put those positions where people can see them. We should have very clear reform proposals and they should be published on our website, and clubs asked to support them or vote them down; by this we will know who really favours reform and who doesn’t.
And that question needs to be answered in relation to our own club as much as any other, and this has to be said, at last, and confronted properly.
Those who worked on Resolution 12 are now adamant that Celtic itself is the greatest obstacle to that matter being resolved. Those who are aware of the Five Way Agreement believe that we were much more active in drafting that document that anyone will ever admit. Those who have studied the reform agenda have pointed out, over and over again, that Celtic has never publicly taken a stand one way or another on the most important parts of it.
We cannot allow that to continue. Our club must be pressured from within the support on these enormous matters. It is imperative that the game here changes in a meaningful way, and that those who govern it should be forward thinking and willing to engage.
Celtic needs to do a Hell of a lot more than it does, including communicating better. The lack of straight talking has done us no good. It allows conspiracy theories to blossom. It allows us to be painted as just as obstructionist as clubs like the one at Ibrox.
Most of us assume that Celtic supports stricter Fit and Proper Person criteria because our own board is made up of high-calibre individuals without a blemish.
Most of us assume that the club is in favour of Financial Fair Play being brought to the Scottish game, because we follow the basic tenants of it.
Most of us assume that we care about openness and transparency, but here’s the shock; we’ve never actually been open or transparent enough to say so.
Behind the scenes there will be grumbling aplenty when Petrie takes the reigns today, but doing so in the background is not going to get this job done. If our club does support reform – if it cares at all – it needs to say so. Silence has gotten us nowhere, and it feeds the perception that perhaps the current system suits us just fine.
I know it doesn’t. It’s time for our club to say so.