'˜It's only Celtic asking for a review' '“ Stewart Regan
The Scottish FA chief executive had spent the weekend reading reaction to Celtic’s statement on Saturday morning, which itself was a response to the SFA’s confirmation there would be no fresh independent judicial review.
This decision was taken by all eight members of the SFA board, which recently looked once more at the question after recent requests from the SPFL as well as Celtic. The SFA originally published a statement in July, following the Supreme Court ruling on Rangers’ use of EBTs, which resisted further disciplinary action.
According to a latest statement released yesterday by the SFA the board agreed to once again explore “the potential scope of any additional independent review in some detail” and arrived at the same conclusion, delivered last week.
The statement stressed that the events of the last six years regarding Rangers have already contributed to many amendments in the Scottish FA articles, including “clarity on what information is to be lodged within the context of players’ contracts” and “bolstering the duty of good faith”.
Regan revealed that seven of the eight members of the SFA board were present at the most recent meeting when the matter was again debated. “We have discussions but we never – or very rarely – have a situation where we make a decision without rigorous and robust debate,” he said. “But when we make a decision there’s collective responsibility.”
The board’s decision not to sanction an independent judicial review remained unchanged. Regan yesterday attempted to explain why.
Q Why no independent review – what do you have to hide?
A The decision has been taken as a board decision. It has been taken having considered all of the facts that were on the table. As I have explained, since 2011 the board have relied heavily on advice from four QCs and three law lords, supporting us on that journey. We also have two independent directors on our board. Independence has been at the heart of everything we’ve done.
Q If enough clubs want this, should they not be granted their wish?
A It’s a very good point. You are right. I am the chief executive, I report to the board, the board reports to the members. We have 108 members.
I notified the members last week of the decision and invited any comment from any member who felt there might be something they wish to discuss. Not a single phone call, not a single email, not a single letter has been received from any of our members other than Celtic Football Club and clearly we are aware of that matter.
Q Do you think we will ever draw a line under this?
A I think it would be really difficult to convince those who believe in conspiracies that there isn’t a conspiracy at play. My pushback to them is do we really think four QCs, three law lords, all the club execs, all the independent panel members are all part of some huge conspiracy?
We are doing this for the best interests of the game. We have spent too long looking through the rear view mirror and we’ve failed to look at the road ahead of us. We talk so much about the negative things in Scottish football, we forget that we’ve just had a double header where we’ve beaten two teams in succession and got right back in contention.
The under-21s have just beaten Holland, they’ve just beaten Brazil. We’ve had four successive qualifications for the under-17s, the women qualified for the Euros, we’ve got so much positivity. Young players [are] emerging, [Kieran] Tierney and [Andy] Robertson, pictured. There’s so much positivity and yet we are obsessed with dealing with things relating to the past. We have to be able to move on.
Q Often said to be at the heart of all this is a desire to strip titles from Rangers? Is this still a possibility?
A I would actually say Celtic have gone to great lengths in their letters to emphasise that it is not about title stripping, that it is about process and learning. I think for some people out there, some stakeholders, groups, fans, maybe title stripping is at the heart of it for them.
But that matter has been discussed by the SPFL and a line has been drawn under it by the SPFL and they have moved on. Celtic are looking for a review which talks about transparency and lessons. As a board we discussed that and felt for all the reasons highlighted in our press statement that we have [already] learned so much.
Q Has your relationship with Peter Lawwell [Celtic chief executive] been damaged in any way?
A I have got a great relationship with Peter. We actually sat [next to each other] at the Champions League draw, while all these letters [published on line last week] were being exchanged. He understands my position, I am acting in the best interests of the game.
Q Will you consider your own future?