Henry McLeish calls for Scottish football summit

Summit calls: Henry McLeish. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Summit calls: Henry McLeish. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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FORMER First Minister Henry McLeish believes Scottish football needs a summit of its major players to plot a brighter future for the game.

McLeish headed a review on behalf of the Scottish Football Association in 2010 and reckons Scotland’s failure yet again to qualify for a major tournament should spark fresh debate.

The former Scottish Labour leader, and East Fife player, made 103 recommendations when he presented his two-part ‘Review of Scottish Football’, declaring that the game was “underachieving, under-performing and under-funded”.

Now he has called for the SFA, the SPFL and politicians to get together. He told the BBC: “Gordon Strachan has improved the [national] side – the shape and his passion – and we saw two of the finest goals that have ever been produced by Scotland in the last few days [against Poland]. But I just believe there are deeper currents of difficulty we should be tackling. So, the whole game has got to come together and build forward.

“The clubs, the SFA, everybody connected to the game has got to say ‘look, where do we want to be?’. Yes, we want to qualify in 2018, but we want to have our sights set much bigger than that. We cannot keep making excuses every time we don’t qualify, because if we do that we’ll be full of excuses and no solutions.

“I’d like to think as a country we can actually start to dream a bit here. There are far too many memories in Scotland and not enough dreams.”

He added: “One of the great problems in Scotland is we’re not long-term thinkers. We need immediate satisfaction; if we go out of a tournament ‘what needs to be done?’. We should be long-term thinkers. The people of Scotland want to see us there [at major tournaments], they want to cheer the side. How do we get there?

“I believe the SPFL and the Scottish FA, with some government involvement and some outsiders [should get together].

“There are a lot of ideas around. Let’s capture those. The idea is to get together and it’s a summit that will take cognisance of the fact that progress is being made.”