Plenty options, but who is best equipped to fill Gordon Smith's shoes?

THE task of reforming Scottish football may look a thankless one, but that is not deterring a growing number of people from putting themselves forward to succeed Gordon Smith as the chief executive of the SFA.

Keith Wyness, formerly chief executive of Aberdeen and Everton, says the vacant post is "attractive". Former players Fraser Wishart and Pat Nevin have been linked with the job, while others with more experience of the association's inner workings are also being considered.

One of them, Campbell Ogilvie, was the early favourite. Ogilvie, the Hearts chief executive and also the SFA's vice- president, is a popular and respected administrator whose diplomatic skills are admired, but he has indicated that he would rather wait to taken on the presidency next year – itself a powerful position. The Tynecastle club will be happy not to lose him, although they appeared to have accepted that their employee was likely to be approached, and director Sergejus Fedotovas hinted that they would not try to influence Ogilvie's decision. "Obviously, Campbell has a lot of knowledge and is of great benefit to Hearts," Fedotovas said. "He is an honest man who gives a lot to the club. The final point is that it's his decision."

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Wyness, who while at Aberdeen memorably described the Old Firm's attempts to leave Scottish football for England as "two old ladies in Sauchiehall Street lifting their skirts for every league that walks by", would be far less of a consensus candidate than Ogilvie. So far, however, he has been more enthusiastic about the role than anyone else.

"It's a job that is certainly attractive," he said. "There are still opportunities to push things forward in Scottish football and that makes it a fascinating job."

SFA president George Peat will take charge of the recruitment process and in the meantime will also carry out duties usually performed by the chief executive. It is conceivable that he could continue in the dual role for some time, perhaps going on as chief exec after he steps down from the presidency early next year. But given he is 70 and has been part of the Hampden system for some time, he would not be the kind of appointee who would revolutionise the association.

Yet that raises the pivotal question: what kind of chief executive does the SFA want? Will Peat and his committee men demand proven success in a similar role with a large company, as they said they were seeking before Smith got the job in 2007? More generally, will they opt for revolution, reform or neither?

Uncertainty over the direction the SFA will want to take makes it extremely difficult to determine who will emerge as their favoured candidate. Qualities such as drive and decisiveness which the wider business world might see as attributes could be regarded with suspicion by the committee men in the SFA who regard change as a threat.

If they adopt that approach, the odds on an internal candidate will shorten considerably. On the other hand, should they decide a new broom is required, even the most able establishment candidates such as Ogilvie could be overlooked.

On balance, it is probable that senior SFA figures will agree that change is required, but will seek to restrict the power of a new chief executive to implement it.



Current post: Media pundit.

Pros: Relevant experience from his time as Motherwell's chief executive. Intelligent and non-confrontational.

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Cons: At the helm when Motherwell went into administration. Too laid back to impose himself on rooms full of committee men. Sartorial taste does not extend to blazers.


Current post: Hearts chief executive and SFA vice-president.

Pros: Vast experience of Scottish football and knowledge of the SFA's labyrinthine structure. Widely liked and admired. A safe pair of hands.

Cons: Has indicated privately that he will not seek the position. He is next in line to be SFA president and already guaranteed most of the perks of senior office without needing to deal with the serious hassles which a chief exec must face. Shies away from having a high profile.


Current post: Sports consultant.

Pros: Relevant experience in football and other businesses.

Cons: Made enemies while at Aberdeen, particularly with Celtic and Rangers, because of his outspokenness.


Current post: PFA Scotland

chief executive.

Pros: As a union boss and ex-player he is in touch with the realities of the modern game. Respected for his diplomacy.

Cons: Could be seen as too much of a moderniser. Status as players' advocate would make him mistrusted by some in SFA.


Current post: SFA president.

Pros: Longevity.

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Experience. Sees eye to eye with George Peat – an achievement which may be beyond the power of many other possible candidates.

Cons: Epitomises the old-fashioned image of the SFA. May not be able to combine presidency with chief executive post.


Current post: Hibernian chief executive

Pros: Formidable negotiator with an excellent record of financial stewardship.

Cons: Taciturnity.


Current post: About to deliver his report on the state of Scottish football. After that would be available for work.

Pros: After compiling his report, knows the problems facing the game better than anyone. As a former player, his experience goes back further than most other candidates.

Cons: If his report is critical of SFA practices, hiring McLeish would be akin to turkeys voting for Christmas. Political allegiances could hinder him.