Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Regan: No quick fix for old firm issues

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan will today host a working group involving Celtic, Rangers, the Scottish government and police to discuss problems that arise during Old Firm derbies.

Top of the agenda will be the sectarian chanting which marred the Co-operative Insurance Cup final 10 days ago, with further talks expected on ways to prevent a repeat of the ugly scenes at the Scottish Cup clash at Parkhead earlier this month.

Regan goes into the meeting having admitted it may take a generation to completely eradicate sectarianism from the Old Firm derby.

Addressing a Culture, Media and Sport select committee inquiry into football governance at Wembley yesterday, Regan was asked about "that poison, that sickness" by MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North Jim Sheridan.

Regan, who has already revealed derby matches could be played behind closed doors if serious problems with the fixture continue, said: "It can't rely on one body to address it. I think it needs a whole concerted effort on behalf of everybody.

"It requires the need to start at school level and look at education.

"It's a big issue. It's one that's been around again for 100 years or more, and we're not going to solve it overnight."

Regan also admitted he faced a long battle to curtail the Old Firm's dominance of Scottish football.

"It's not a good thing for the game but Rome wasn't built in a day," he said.

"I've been in the post for six months. That's been in place for 100 years and I think it'll take a little bit longer than this financial year for me to change it."

An issue Regan was not prepared to embroil himself in was the current takeover saga at Rangers but he admitted the SFA would step in were the club forced into administration.

He said: "Yes, we should take an interest in these matters but we have delegated day-to-day responsibility to the leagues.

"We would only get involved if there was a major appeal or a major issue.

"We got involved when Dundee went into administration."

Something Regan was confident of being able to change in the near future - indeed before the start of next season - was the SFA itself.

The former Yorkshire County Cricket Club chief executive is in the process of implementing two key recommendations of Henry McLeish's Review of Scottish Football.

Regan revealed details of his plan to revolutionise the structure of the SFA, including reducing the main board from 11 to seven members to make it "less of a representative board and more of a strategic board".

That board would initially consist of the chief executive, president, two vice-presidents, members of the proposed professional and non-professional game boards and an independent non-executive director.

The plan is to replace the second vice-president with another independent director in four years' time.

Press Association

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