When the SFA last week announced – as opposed to unveiled – Rod Petrie as their new president of the SFA following their agm, none of the reporters present expected a Churchillian call to arms from the new man; none was disappointed.
Since becoming a director of Hibernian in 1996 – he rose to managing director a year later, becoming chairman in 2004 – Petrie has consistently refused to engage with the media.
The 63-year-old refuses to take or return calls and has consistently made himself unavailable for questions at press conferences throughout his tenure on the boards at Easter Road and Hampden.
Immediately after Petrie was confirmed in the top job, Ian Maxwell, the ruling body’s chief executive, spoke to reporters in his stead, arguing that not only was the former chartered accountant personable, he was also always the smartest guy in any room he happened to be in. Maxwell stressed that he intended to “humanise” Petrie for public and press consumption.
However, Gordon Smith, who worked alongside the latter while fulfilling Maxwell’s role between 2007-10, believes that his successor has a thankless task on his hands.
“I don’t know if he would be amenable to that,” he said. “He’s a smart guy but I don’t know. He has obviously made a decision that this is the way he wants to go forward rather than thinking: ‘I should be doing this or doing that’.
“He had already gone quiet at Hibs. He didn’t speak when he was appointed as president and that is another sign he is staying down that route and doesn’t want to talk to you.
“I thought he should have done. Maybe he feels that he’s gone down that road now, to just stay in the background and work away. He’s not been doing any media stuff as far as I can see.”
Smith also contends that the structure by which candidates climb up the ranks at Hampden needs to be drastically altered, making it more of a meritocracy and less of a prize for good attendance.
“When I was at the SFA, it was George Peat as president and then underneath him were Campbell Ogilvie and Alan McRae, so you knew who was coming next,” he said.
“That’s why it has to be changed, in order to let the supporters see that it is democratic.
“There are people in clubs who are doing great jobs; maybe Ann Budge could have been elected to run the SFA on the basis of things she has done but, because of the system, she’s nowhere near getting elected on to it.
“I think people want to hear from him [Petrie]. The president should be speaking about things. When I was chief executive I had to come out and speak about things when I had actually voted against whatever it was we were doing. I couldn’t come out and say that, so that made it tough.
“Now he has to do the same. Rod won’t be making any decisions – all he can do is make recommendations and have influence. The decisions are made on a democratic basis and he must front things and tell people why the SFA are doing them, even if he doesn’t agree with it.”
McRae, Petrie’s predecessor, was also sheltered from the media, but Smith does not agree that presents a precedent for Petrie to hide.
“The difference between the two of them was that Alan came from a Cove Rangers background whereas Rod has been at the highest level in the Premiership. I feel he should come out because he does have a strong character and he does have things to say. I don’t know why he won’t make more public statements.”
l Gordon Smith was promoting a charity game at Airdrie’s Penny Cars stadium this weekend.
Former professionals Marvin Andrews, Owen Coyle, Alex Neil, Jose Quitongo, Graeme Smith, Marvyn Wilson and Sandy Stewart will join a host of celebrities in a charity match in aid of the Airdrie Community Trust this Saturday at 1pm.
Tickets are on sale now – priced £10 for adults and £5 for kids – at the stadium, online at www.therossowenshow.com/charity-football-match and pay at the gate on Saturday.