Gordon Smith: Steve Clarke can boost SFA by reviving Scotland’s fortunes

Steve Clarke is looking to revive the national team after working wonders with Kilmarnock. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Steve Clarke is looking to revive the national team after working wonders with Kilmarnock. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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Former SFA chief executive Gordon Smith believes that, should Steve Clarke succeed as manager of the national team, then all the mistakes made by the governing body in the last two decades will be forgiven and forgotten.

No club won more Premiership points in 2018 than Clarke’s Kilmarnock as he transformed the ailing Ayrshire outfit from relegation certainties on his arrival to the third-best in the country on his departure 19 months later.

Consequently, Smith is convinced that, if the 55-year-old can effect a similar reversal of fortunes with Scotland, then he will significantly improve the reputation and bank balance of the Hampden 
powerbrokers.

“The whole thing with the SFA will all turn around if Scotland start to get success at international level,” he said. “That is a big factor. If he can do with Scotland what he did at Kilmarnock, we could win the World Cup!

“It’s true, though – it’s a crucial factor, the thing that has been frustrating everyone for all these years; that lack of competing at the highest level. If we can get to the finals 
of Euro 2020, then we’d have two group games at 
Hampden.”

Smith fears, though, that Ian Maxwell, the current chief executive, will have his hands tied when it comes to 
innovating the decision-making process.

Smith said: “I think everyone was competent enough but [changes] all came down to a vote. I felt I should have had more say and should have been able to make decisions on [certain] things but I couldn’t. All I could do was make recommendations and they went to the board. Some things went through, like retrospective punishment for cheating; we were the first country to do that. Then there was the one about being five years at school in this country [making kids] eligible to play for Scotland. In other countries, they could play for them after two years.”