Gordon Smith aims parting shot at enemies in SFA who refused to give him backing

GORDON Smith has admitted personal reasons were not the main factor in his sudden resignation as SFA chief executive as he aimed a parting shot at those he claimed did not support him in the job.

• Former SFA chief executive Gordon Smith, left, with SFA president George Peat. Both laid claim to being in charge, which created tensions whenever Peat spoke his mind. Picture: SNS

In a statement released on his behalf by the SFA, Smith revealed he had been considering giving up the job for "some time" before his departure was announced on Monday evening. The 55-year-old confirmed that his elderly parents' illness has been placing an increasing strain upon him but also hit out at the negativity he feels he faced in seeking to implement his own ideas at the SFA.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Smith made no mention of his controversial involvement in the failed case to have Livingston striker Robbie Winters punished for alleged simulation in a Third Division match he attended in February but it is clear the resistance to his crusade against diving was symptomatic of the frustrations he experienced.

"As has been reported in todays press, there are external factors that need my attention," said Smith. "Stepping down, though, is something I have considered for some time. The majority of people I have encountered during nearly three years in the job have been extremely warm, friendly and hospitable towards me. Inevitably, there has also been a minority who have been less than supportive.

"This has been a difficult enough time, dealing with my mother being admitted to hospital after a fall. To compound matters, she is the carer for my father, who is seriously ill.

"It is not purely personal reasons, or the element of negativity I have experienced, that has made me leave the job. It is a combination of factors. Ultimately, I feel the timing is right."

It is also believed the imminent publication of the first part of former First Minister Henry McLeish's review of Scottish football influenced Smith's decision. It is expected to be critical of the SFA and may contain recommendations Smith felt it would be impossible to implement. But the former Rangers player insisted in his statement that there is cause for optimism in Scottish football.

"I have enjoyed my time with the Scottish FA immensely and feel privileged for having had the opportunity to play a leading role in one of the biggest and most high-profile organisations in the country," he said.

"It has been an eventful period in my life but I leave with fond memories and optimism for the future of the game in this country. I am certain that Henry McLeish, in his Review of Scottish Football, will outline some significant recommendations and it is my wish that everybody works together to help take the game both at club and international level back to its rightful place.

"We have a top coach in place and a great staff throughout the organisation. We have a new, unprecedented broadcasting deal in place, a new kit deal and a renewed optimism for the Euro 2012 qualification campaign. We are a profitable business and will continue to be so.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges, the expectations and the pressures that come with being chief executive of the Scottish FA and I would like to thank the board for accepting my resignation."

Smith was in the job for just less than three years, by far the shortest tenure of any of the seven men who have been secretary or chief executive at the SFA since the role's inception in 1882.

It is understood Smith's resignation request met with no resistance on Monday and last night's SFA statement contained what could hardly be described as a fulsome tribute from president George Peat.

"On behalf of the Board and all staff at the Scottish FA, I would like to thank Gordon for his contribution and wish him the best of luck for the future," said Peat. "We understand and appreciate his reasons for leaving and will commence the process to recruit a replacement at the next scheduled board meeting."

Campbell Ogilvie, the Hearts managing director and current first vice-president of the SFA, has already been strongly linked with the job. Already in line to succeed Peat as president next year, it is possible Ogilvie could combine both roles in a full-time capacity while the SFA also appoint an administrative secretary.

Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov reacted to the speculation with a typically cryptic assertion that Ogilvie could be corrupted by any full-time move to the SFA.

"Campbell is an honest person and experienced professional, but the system of Scottish football may turn any angel into a villain," said Romanov.

Ogilvie began his career on the staff of the Scottish Football League where he worked for eight years before being head-hunted as secretary of Rangers in 1978. During his long service at Ibrox, Ogilvie earned a reputation as one of the most diligent and competent administrators in Scottish football.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He left Rangers in September 2005 following a bloodless coup in which chief executive Martin Bain took greater control of the club. Ogilvie was not unemployed for long as he joined Hearts three months later as general secretary before being promoted to the more influential position of managing director at the Tynecastle club in March 2008.

Ogilvie also had a brief spell as acting president of the SFA in the summer of 2007 following John McBeth's enforced retirement and before Peat's formal accession to the post.