DUNDEE United chairman Stephen Thompson has welcomed the appointment of Neil Doncaster as the chief executive of the newly-formed Scottish Professional Football League.
The news was confirmed late on Wednesday night, when Doncaster was identified as the successful candidate in a quickly–resolved two–horse race with David Longmuir, the former chief executive of the Scottish Football League.
Doncaster was the oft-criticised chief executive of Scottish Premier League, the other governing body in a merger that was ratified during a long meeting at Hampden Park last Thursday, after which Thompson was elected onto the new SPFL board.
“I was on the SPL board and am now on the new board – our first board meeting was held at midnight last Thursday,” said Thompson. “We decided then to appoint three members of the board to go through the process [to appoint a new chief executive] and that took place over the past few days. They made a recommendation and now Neil’s been appointed. We wish him all the best in the role.”
The panel is reported to have been made up of Aberdeen chief executive Duncan Fraser, Celtic director Eric Riley, former Scottish Premier League chairman Ralph Topping and Stenhousemuir director Bill Darroch.
“There’s going to be a bit of a bedding-in period I’m sure for everyone,” added Thompson, with reference to the merger. “We’ve got two organisations coming together. We’ve dealt with the chief executive matter and the TUPEing over of the staff.”
Doncaster has promised to be accountable to all 42 clubs – and not just the 12 in the top tier, as his previous responsibilities demanded.
“We’ve got an awful lot of work to do over the summer to get the league ready for the start of the season,” he said.
“What we have to demonstrate to supporters is that the league can deliver, and will deliver, on behalf of all 42 clubs. It has been turbulent times – but, despite those turbulent times, we’ve done a good job, I think, of bringing in good amounts of money to the game.
“I think there’s much more that can be done and I’m looking forward to the challenge of developing the game further.”
One of his first tasks is to secure a title sponsor for the new league set-up.
Former SFL sponsors Barr’s Irn Bru are credited with having an interest. “Let’s wait and see in terms of a title sponsor,” said Doncaster. “Sponsorship itself only makes up around 20 per cent of the income of the league historically, so it’s not quite as big a deal as some might say.
“Broadcasting makes up the vast majority of the rest, so to have the stable, long-term broadcasting partnerships in place, that underpins the bulk of our revenue.”