Gordon Smith's main causes were denied as football turned its back on technology

GORDON Smith's tenure as chief executive of the Scottish Football Association has been characterised by frustration over key issues where he hoped to make a difference, but found himself either denied by opposing voices or kept in check by the slow pace of change in football.


Smith has long been an advocate of the use of television evidence as a way of getting decisions right, particularly to outlaw diving and any other forms of cheating. Within two months of starting his job, the new chief executive set out his stall with a pilot project that would use video evidence to clamp down on players who dive or feign injury, leading to retrospective yellow cards being issued to the perpetrators. Match referees would review footage of every televised game to identify cases of blatant simulation where the player went unpunished.

"Everybody talks about eradicating simulation," said Smith. "Doing something about it is the more difficult thing. I don't see anybody doing anything about it. It might be something Uefa and Fifa look at in the future. I'm just interested to see how it evolves here; we are doing it off our own backs."

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Within a day, Fifa fired a shot across the bows by warning the SFA against any move that would contravene the laws of the game. Seven months later Smith put the idea before the game's rule makers, the International Football Association Board, but it was not endorsed.


At this year's IFAB meeting, Smith was again denied after supporting the introduction of technology to assist a referee with decisions over whether or not the ball has crossed the goal-line. But Fifa closed the door by voting against continuing with experiments.


Smith has been the biggest backer of summer football in the Scottish game, which he preferred to call a change of season, taking a two-month winter break and the domestic season continuing into June, with a shorter summer break.

Clubs were not so keen on a two-month break in cash flow during January and February, and how to resolve the problem caused by Scotland qualifying for the finals of the World Cup or European Championship, held in June, was never adequately explained.


Finding a way of opening up Scottish senior football to ambitious non-league clubs is a subject Smith brought up at his interview for the chief executive post. "I got no reaction at all," he later said. "They just looked at me and took notes." Three years later, not much has changed.