Former SFA chief leaps to defence of Hibs chairman Rod Petrie

Rod Petrie will be the man who carries the can for the Scottish Football Association's failures but Gordon Smith insists it will be unfair to point the finger of blame solely at the new president.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 3:52 pm
Rod Petrie, right, recently became chairman of the SFA.

The Hibernian chairman has replaced Alan McRae as the governing body's new figurehead after last week's coronation.

Petrie was elected to the SFA's top job unopposed yet he is unlikely to win a popularity vote among the supporters of his Leith outfit nor the Tartan Army.

The Leith chief - who blanked interview requests as he assumed the Hampden hotseat following the SFA's annual general meeting - remains a deeply divisive figure with fans across the Scottish game.

Rod Petrie, right, recently became chairman of the SFA.

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The Easter Road faithful still resent him for his part in the club's downfall as Hibs lurched towards relegation in 2014 while the Scotland support remain angry that he and McRae insisted on appointing Alex McLeish as national team boss last year.

But his influence has grown even stronger now that he has claimed the presidency.

As a former SFA chief executive, Smith knows fine well that board members are regularly targeted with flak.

But he warned fans against shooting the messenger as he insisted collective responsibility means Petrie will find himself having to defend measure he did not vote for.

Smith said: "I think the fans' views are a big issue but it depends on whether the SFA do all right over the next few years. If it does, the opinion on Rod will change.

"Rod Petrie won't make the decisions on his own as such.

"It is a democracy. I found when I was there that most of the decisions had to go to a committee or the board for a final say.

"Rod can have an influence on it and have his say on the things being dealt with but at the end of the day everybody gets a vote.

"If the SFA is doing its job right he will be credited with it. If there's a lot of mistakes being made and people aren't happy about how the SFA are running the Scottish game then Rod will be the guy taking the stick.

"However, it's actually unfair to make it look like it's one person making all these big calls - it's not.

"There were times when I had to come out and say what the decision was and sell it - even though I had voted against it."

However, Smith does think it is time Petrie stopped hiding in the shadows and made himself a proper spokesman for the SFA.

He said: "Rod's kept very quiet at Hibs, he's not someone who has been in the public eye very much.

"I think that's something the Scottish fans would like to see change. Maybe Rod will change in that respect and come out and make a few statements on things and give his opinion.

"I had dealings with him when I was an agent then got to know him a bit better once I joined the SFA.

"He was always someone who would give his opinion in board meetings so it's a surprise that he hasn't come out more and made himself more available to fans.

"That's maybe his nature, maybe he doesn't like being a front person."

And he would also like to see the antiquated custom that saw Petrie jump from vice-president to president without facing a challenger scrapped.

"We always knew Rod Petrie would one day become SFA president because the format is that you serve as deputy vice-president, then vice-president before finally becoming president," he added.

"I do think there should be more of a vote so that we get the person we really want for the job in there.

"In terms of democracy, it might be better to have a vote on it with other candidates nominated."

: Smith was speaking as he promoted a charity game at Airdrie's Penny Cars

Stadium on Saturday in aid of the Airdrie Community Trust. Tickets are available at the stadium, online at www.rossowenshow.com/charity-football-match and at the gate on match day

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