Scottish Football Association is independent, says chief executive Ian Maxwell amid Rangers row

Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell insists the hierarchy at Hampden remains totally independent despite the latest row with Rangers.

Ibrox chairman Dave King has been on the attack since comments made by SFA board member Gary Hughes in 2006, in which he referred to Rangers fans as the “great unwashed”, resurfaced last week.

Hughes has now decided to step down from his non-executive director role but Rangers are continuing to demand answers from the governing body.

In a statement on Tuesday, the club said they wanted assurances that Hughes was not party to actions which “could have impacted negatively” on the Gers during his three-year tenure, and questioned whether he had any say in the decision to charge the club over their 2011 UEFA licence application.

King has also found himself embroiled in a spat with the Scottish Professional Football League over its chairman Murdoch MacLennan and his business links with Celtic majority shareholder Dermot Desmond.

But Maxwell reckons Rangers do not need to worry about anyone on the SFA’s payroll operating with ulterior motives.

“I’ve not seen any sign of anybody (working for the SFA) being anything other than wholly independent,” the new chief executive said after presiding over his first annual general meeting since taking up the role last month.

“It’s hugely important that we are seen as being independent. We’re a governing body and part of our function is to govern the game.

“To do that properly, there has to be real independence, and I’ve not seen any sign of anything other than that in my time on the board and it’s important that continues.”

Maxwell insists Hughes’ decision not to put himself forward for re-election at the AGM was his alone, and denied pressuring the former retail and healthcare chief into effectively resigning.

And he urged clubs with grievances to go directly to him rather than sling mud in public.

He said: “Ultimately, it was Gary’s decision. He thought things through and said to the board he wasn’t going to put himself forward for re-election and the board accepted that.

“We didn’t really get into the whys and the wherefores. It was a fairly straightforward conversation once he put forward his position.

“I’ve seen the (Rangers) statement but I don’t think we’ve had anything official from Rangers yet. I have had a couple of calls with (Rangers managing director) Stewart Robertson over the piece and that’s fine.

“I’m here to answer the phone and he’s there to do the same when I need to contact him about anything.

“It’s important that we have that relationship with every club. My door is absolutely always open and I’ll always be here to speak to any club about any concerns they have.

“But in terms of the process, we will review that as a board. However, I don’t see the need for any real change. It’s just about making sure we get the right people.”