Stewart Regan reveals possible huge European TV cash boost

THE MAN who just a few weeks ago predicted a “slow lingering death” for Scottish football if Rangers ended up in the Third Division, yesterday unveiled a potential boost to the game worth “tens of millions” of pounds.

Though he could not state exact figures, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan said that the decision of all 53 associations in Uefa to centrally negotiate television rights for international matches was “the greatest opportunity” for the game.

Regan, a member of the Uefa marketing committee, said: “If the discussions that are ongoing with Uefa to try to secure income for the international matches for the period 2014-2018 can be delivered, that will give us a substantial multi-million pound boost. We are very confident that we can deliver that.

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“The plan is to go to market early in 2013 with a view to trying to sell the rights collectively and, if the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, then the game in Scotland will benefit substantially.”

Asked for a figure, Regan said: “Tens of millions of pounds to the game. It would be a substantial boost over a four-year period and we could do with that. It would help underpin the infrastructure of the game, the development of young players and our continued investment in performance.”

Regan famously said the “slow lingering death” of Scottish football would follow if Rangers were not welcomed into the First Division rather than the Third Division where they have ended up.

He said yesterday that the joint proposals put forward by the SFA, SPL and SFL leadership had not been accepted by the SFL member clubs in the “democratic process” but defended his then stance which was seen as alarmist in many quarters.

Regan said: “The information that was put forward by everybody was based on the knowledge that we had of get-out clauses that existed in the contracts for commercial partners.

“What was done at the time was to draw attention to the potential consequences for the game and that has now progressed to a stage where those commercial contracts are in a slightly better place, but we won’t know what the full consequences will be until they are played out in the coming months.

“We are in a better place than perhaps could have been imagined as far as the negotiations that have gone on between the SPL and their commercial partners. I’m not sure whether the contracts have actually been signed but the feedback we have had has been positive.”

Regan spoke of “the boost” which Rangers have brought to the Third Division in terms of attendances and added: “I hope it won’t just be Rangers fans. I hope the fans of all clubs will get behind their teams and bigger attendances is one way of bringing more money into the game.

“That, coupled with commercial income, will hopefully keep the income levels at a position where clubs can survive.”

Speaking after he helped make the draw for the Emirates Scottish Junior Cup, Regan praised Celtic for their success on Tuesday night in Sweden against Helsingborgs, where Neil Lennon’s men took a 2-0 first-leg advantage.

“It is always good when you make progress in

Europe,” said Regan, “particularly in light of recent seasons which haven’t been as positive as we all would have liked.

“It’s good for Scottish football generally when our teams progress and though there is still work to do in the second leg as the manager said last night, they have done the hard job getting the result away from home.”

Talking about Hearts’ and Motherwell’s chances against Liverpool and

Levante respectively in the Europa League qualifying matches tonight, Regan said: “There are opportunities but the challenge is a little bit stiffer.”

He added: “Hearts will be going into the competition trying to win but they struggled when they faced an English team last round when they got thumped 5-1 by Tottenham so they’ll be hoping to get a much better result.”

The stiffest challenge for Regan and his Uefa colleagues now is to make his prediction of untold millions for the Scottish game come true.