Dave King on the Celtic and Rangers power battle and the influence of Peter Lawwell on Scottish football governance

Former Rangers chairman Dave King has called for a shake-up of the Scottish football authorities to provide more independent and impartial governance of the sport.

Former Rangers chairman Dave King says both his club and Celtic have enjoyed periodic spells of dominant influence on the governance of Scottish football. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Former Rangers chairman Dave King says both his club and Celtic have enjoyed periodic spells of dominant influence on the governance of Scottish football. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Ibrox club have had issues with both the Scottish FA and Scottish Professional Football League in recent years amid a perception that outgoing Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell held too much sway in the decision-making process.

Lawwell will retire in June, to be replaced at Celtic Park by Scottish Rugby Union chief operating officer Dominic McKay, which King believes will lessen the influence of Rangers’ Old Firm rivals in Scottish football’s corridors of power. A current member of the SPFL board of directors, Lawwell has previously served spells on both the professional game board and the main board of the Scottish FA.

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King admits it was Rangers who previously held the upper hand on that front during the period when he first served as a director at Ibrox under Sir David Murray’s ownership of the club.

Outgoing Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell pictured in the directors' box at Ibrox in September 2019. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

But the South Africa-based businessman, still Rangers’ largest shareholder, believes Scottish football would be better run if individual club representatives had less authority in both the Scottish FA and SPFL.

“A lot of these things are to do with personal relationships, so someone coming in from the outside who is not a football man will never exercise the same influence Peter Lawwell did,” said King.

“Ideally, I think these bodies should be more neutral than they are but it's never going to happen that way because clubs are supporting people and influence moves from time to time.

“We have been on the wrong end of it for a while at Rangers – but we've also been on the right end of it for a while. We had our runs where we dominated some of these committees too.

“The difference is we were just missing for so many years that there was really only one club that could fill that gap and exert that level of influence.

“One of the problems we’ve got with the authorities in Scottish football is the level of influence the clubs have.

“In my efforts with Rangers to get the club back at the main table, it was difficult. Because when we were absent, other clubs took control of the league structures.

“The argument is that you can reverse that and make sure Rangers dominate it rather than other clubs - but I think the real answer is that we need more independence.

“We actually need people acting in the best interests of Scottish football, not in the interests of one club versus another.

“I was there at the time of David Murray at Rangers when we dominated a lot of those committees and influenced things in our favour. More recently, it has been the other way round.

“So I think the true way forward is to try and get independence in there and do the right thing for Scottish football. That hasn’t been happening and it certainly still isn’t happening at this present time.”

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