Henry McLeish happy with pace of Scottish football reform

Henry McLeish
McLeish was asked to review Scottish football in 2009

Henry McLeish is satisfied that significant progress has been made regarding his recommendations to reform Scottish football.

"More progress has been made in the last six months than in the last 60 years," said former First Minister.

"In both reports 103 recommendations were made and they are now being implemented in one way or another.

"It's a major step forward for a game experiencing major challenges. There has been significant progress."

The results of McLeish's report, commissioned in 2009 and presented last year, were unanimously approved at the Scottish Football Association's annual general meeting six months ago.

"The SFA realised something significant and substantial had to be done," said McLeish.

Of those 103 recommendations, McLeish said that 27 have been completed, 71 are in progress, and five have yet to be started.

However, he stressed that the full benefits of his changes may not be apparent for some time, but that the game in Scotland should see tangible results in a few years from now.

"We are building for the long term. That's the sensible way for Scotland to move," said McLeish.

"We are looking at the next World Cup (in Brazil in 2014). That could be a benchmark in terms of investment in young people.

"We're then looking at what's happening with league reconstruction, and the competitive aspect within the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League.

"Again I'd like to think that in a few years time we'll see the progress of that.

"We are moving in the right direction. The message today is that tremendous progress is being made.

"We are exceeding expectations from when I took this on. It's not just a short-term response to the report but long-term rebuilding.

"If we are going to make changes we have to get it right."

McLeish was heavily critical of the SFA in his report, saying that the organisation "lacks coherence, focus and a sense of overall purpose, is ill-equipped to deal with current problems and has failed to plan effectively for the future."

He also recommended that the three authorities - SFA, SPL and the SFL - should look to streamline, and that the SPL be reduced to 10 teams.

Another key point was that the SFA and government had to find £500m to solve what he described as a "crisis" in the Scottish game in terms of facilities and infrastructure.