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Henry McLeish given role in changing Scottish football

Henry McLeish
McLeish made 53 recommendations for change in grassroots football

Henry McLeish has revealed that he will be involved in making a reality many of the changes recommended in his wide-ranging critique of Scottish football.

And the former First Minister says that the Scottish Football Association has already started the process of adopting some of his 53 proposals.

"My modesty forbids me from going into that in detail," he said when asked about the specifics of his role.

"Thankfully, I am going to be involved in taking it forward."

The SFA has been without a chief executive since Gordon Smith's surprise and sudden resignation earlier this month, a matter of days before McLeish called a media conference to reveal the findings in part one of his three-stage report, this one concentrating on grassroots football.

McLeish told BBC Scotland that he has been impressed by the enthusiasm shown by SFA president George Peat and his board for his proposals, with vice-president Campbell Ogilvie being charged with taking action as a result.

My view is that over the next few months and next few years, we will make a difference

Henry McLeish

"The response has been better than I anticipated," he said about the reaction from the media, football clubs and the general public.

"But, more encouragingly, the football authorities in here, especially the SFA, have embraced the recommendations and we are moving on some of them.

"I have been delighted so far with the response of the SFA and I just hope now we can all work together to see these recommendations implemented.

"The other encouraging thing is that they have allocated that responsibility to Campbell Ogilvie on the board, so Campbell and I along with other people will now be moving that forward.

"We are moving on the recommendations already. In the space of four or five weeks, we have made a lot of progress.

"My view is that over the next few months and next few years, we will make a difference."

Critics of McLeish's report have cast doubt on the ability to find his recommended funding of £500m over 10 years, £400m of it to improved facilities.

"Nobody is suggesting for a minute that the £400m we need for facilities can be made available overnight, but facilities are a crisis issue for Scotland and we need new ways of thinking about money to invest in them," he said of the report commissioned by the SFA.

"I have had lots of discussions with the government. It is about local government, the private sector, the football authorities, the clubs and every level of the game.

"We are not just knocking on the door of the government with a begging bowl. We've got new creative ideas to take to them and I am hopeful we can take that forward.

"Facilities are crucial. Unless we can replicate what is happening in Scandinavia with the Norwegians and with some of the other areas like Sporting Club Lisbon, like the Holland set-up, then a lot of what we are recommending will just not happen, because one of the issues is contact with the ball."

McLeish said that he had asked the government to look at ways of opening school facilities in the evenings, which he said "would provide a huge change in terms of facilities and infrastructure" for a small investment.

One of those who is working along with McMcLeish and Ogilvie is Jim Fleeting and the SFA director of football development stressed that changes were already on the way even before McLeish's report.

"They now have a youth structure in Scotland they never had before," Fleeting said while admitting that change was always difficult to achieve.

"Come 11 June next year, all young kids will be playing summer football, all young kids between the ages of four and eight will be playing four-a-side football, all kids above that will be playing seven-a-side football, all kids out of primary school age will be playing 11-a-side football.

"Things are changing and changing for the better."

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see also
Scots Government welcomes report
23 Apr 10 |  Scotland
Lennon critical of academies plan
23 Apr 10 |  Scotland
Change demanded in Scots football
23 Apr 10 |  Scotland
Scots football fans seek change
22 Apr 10 |  Scottish Premier
Jefferies relief at Ogilvie stay
22 Apr 10 |  Hearts
Peat assumes Smith's role at SFA
21 Apr 10 |  Scotland
Smith explains SFA exit decision
20 Apr 10 |  Scotland

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