Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell has defended the appointment of Rod Petrie as the governing body’s new president and outlined his intention to “humanise” the public image of the Hibs chairman.
Petrie was elected unopposed at the SFA’s annual general meeting at Hampden, succeeding Alan McRae, and will serve a four-year term in the role. He is replaced as vice-president by Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney, whose promotion was also uncontested.
Petrie did not put himself forward for any media interviews afterwards, instead releasing a statement through the SFA’s communications department. It was left to Maxwell to speak to reporters and he mounted a passionate defence of the 63-year-old.
“He’s one of the most misunderstood men in Scottish football,” insisted Maxwell. “Rod has a real personality and we need to work to get that out there over the next while.
“We’ve had a few conversations about trying to humanise him. That will really help. You’re never in a room with Rod and he’s not the smartest guy in it.
“He’s also got a sense of humour, he’s got real humility about him, he’s really good company. He just keeps it fairly well hidden, I suppose. So it’s about drawing that out over the period.
“A lot of the clubs will know him and will have dealt with him. They’ll have an opinion and will know him better. But it’s about drawing that out into the public domain.
“The whole ‘unopposed thing’ is interesting. That’s not Rod’s fault. There are ample opportunities for anybody else who wants to stand to do so. No-one did. Just because Rod is elected unopposed, that shouldn’t be a negative. It was the same with Mike. It used to be that you just went through a process of being second vice-president, first vice-president and then president. But we changed that a while ago to give others the opportunity to stand. Because somebody doesn’t, that shouldn’t be levelled at Rod as a criticism.
“He got a bit emotional when he was elected. He made a farewell speech to Alan and they both got emotional, because it means a lot to them.
“I absolutely feel I can work with Rod. He’s been brilliant, absolutely brilliant, since I started at the Scottish FA. He’s somebody I really bounce things off, he will be a trusted president. As a chief exec, you need that relationship with a chairman or president – and we’re definitely going to have that going forward.
“Both Rod and Mike will be good. They’re big beasts in the boardroom, they’re opinionated, they both want the association to do well. Someone said to me that we’ve now got a boardroom with a raging bull and a charging rhino in it. I’ll let others work out which one is which.”
Maxwell announced record distribution of £11 million to be shared among member clubs, although he had to address a discrepancy in the official annual review publication which stated both revenue of £37.5m and turnover of £31.6m.
“The £37.5m is the figure in the accounts in terms of turnover for last year,” said Maxwell. “I haven’t seen the £31.6m. I don’t know if that is a misprint.
“We showed an accounting loss, but that was due to fluctuations in the pension fund, deficits that aren’t serious, it’s not business performance related, it’s investment related.
“When you think of us as a business, we turn over £37m, £11m cash goes straight out of the door to the membership. We are one of the best in Europe in terms of the cash we distribute to our members and that is something we are very keen to continue.”
Those sums will become increasingly challenging if the SFA are unable to secure a replacement sponsor for the national team after Vauxhall ended their association last year.
“We are working hard on it but it’s a challenge,” admitted Maxwell. “A lot of things hinge on success on the pitch.”