Henry McLeish hits out at SPFL and SFA for 'selling out' Scottish football after latest shutdown decision

Henry McLeish, the former First Minister, has accused the football authorities of “selling out” the game after the SFA and SPFL chose to suspend Scottish football in all but the top two tiers.
Former First Minister Henry McLeish has criticised the SFA and SPFL for "selling out" Scottish footballFormer First Minister Henry McLeish has criticised the SFA and SPFL for "selling out" Scottish football
Former First Minister Henry McLeish has criticised the SFA and SPFL for "selling out" Scottish football

McLeish, once tasked with leading a major two-part review into the Scottish game, is aghast that the two governing bodies have opted to further punish clubs in Leagues One and Two in order to preserve, for the time being, football in the Premiership and, providing clubs can pay for Covid tests, in the Championship.

He has charged the SFA and SPFL with “betraying” the interests of lower league clubs and believes this latest dereliction of duty compounds the inaction of the authorities during last summer’s fraught months.

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McLeish has called on the SFA and SPFL to “reconsider” the decision to invoke this select shutdown or else compensate clubs set to suffer for the actions of others. Celtic are currently in the firing line for persisting with plans to head to Dubai to train earlier this month despite tightened Covid restrictions at home.

A member of the first-team squad, Christopher Jullien, has since tested positive for the virus. The Parkhead club claim they were given permission to go by the Scottish government late last year.

“If Celtic created the situation it is absolutely right that the football authorities deal with it,” said McLeish. “I am at a loss to know why it is placed at the door of government when it should be an internal matter on the sixth floor at Hampden.

"The League One and Two chairmen I know are desperately concerned about the future of the game, they have real interest at stake. This is about survival, not success. That is why I would ask, first of all, for this particular decision to be reconsidered. Also, will the clubs be further compensated for the fix they have been put in?

"The SFA and SPFL have betrayed the interests of the lower leagues. Clearly knowing the government was coming for them over the Celtic debacle they decided that they would have to sacrifice League One and Two. Others are now suffering because of the football authorities’ response.”

“I have never known, in my long involvement with the game, something so utterly unfair, and outrageously irresponsible,” added McLeish, who played full-back for East Fife in the late 1960s. “The SPFL, who are supposed to look after each and every club, have thrown 20 clubs who don’t need this at this particular time under a bus. It begs the question – who speaks for League One and Two within the game? It is certainly not the SFA, it is not the SPFL – this is a sell out.

“No wonder the First Minister is fed up talking about football in her daily briefings,” he added, with reference to Nicola Sturgeon questioning Celtic’s trip to the Middle East, where they trained for four days last week.

“She has more important matters on her mind. It is only because of the lack of responsibility from the football authorities that she’s left in this position.” McLeish contends the Scottish government has lost all trust in Scottish football after recent Covid lapses, at the top end of the game in particular.

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