SFA will drive change

BY foxsports • April 18, 2013

Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray admits that both George Friend and Emmanuel Ledesma won't play again this season.

Argentine midfielder Ledesma has not played for over a month as he struggles with an ankle injury.

The 24-year-old is now unlikely to be involved again this term, with Mowbray saying: "Manu's had a few aborted attempts at returning from the injury - the kid's desperate to play.

"It's ultimately been too sore when he's got his boots on and gone out on the training ground. He's had to come off and it looks like we're not going to see Manu again this season."

Friend tore his hamstring earlier this month and is also unlikely to feature.

"He's got a grade two hamstring and that's usually a minimum of four weeks. I think it's unlikely we'll see him again this season."

Leam Richardson's resurgent side head into the final two games of the season three points above the npower League Two relegation zone after Amond capped a 2-0 triumph over their Lancashire neighbours.

"I suppose every goal is important but maybe that one was a little bit more because of where we are in the table," he said.

"It was the goal that clinched the game for us and put us in a good position."

The relative comfort of victory over Morecambe was far removed from Stanley's previous three outings where stoppage-time goals returned a win over Wycombe and draws with Burton and fellow strugglers York.

Amond attributes this knack to almost being on the receiving end of such a comeback during last month's 3-2 victory against Barnet.

"The gaffer has been drilling it into us to keep going until the end of games and that has been evident in the last few games - we've got five points from three games where we've scored in injury time," he added.

"It came from the Barnet game. We were 3-0 up at half-time but Barnet came at us in the second half and never gave up. The believed they could win the game and we were lucky to get out with a win.

"Since then the manager has been drilling it into us that that's the way he wants us to be. It doesn't matter if we're losing 6-0, 7-0 or 8-0 - if we can get back a couple of goals it could count towards the end of the season if it comes down to goal-difference.

"At the same time, if you're 1-0 or 2-0 up try and get another goal or two because it could be crucial come the end of the season."

Amid much acrimony at Hampden Park, St Mirren and Ross County voted against the package that would have seen a merged 12-12-18 structure with extended play-offs, a fairer distribution of central income and a pyramid system allowing promotion from the non-league ranks.

Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne hit out at Saints counterpart Stewart Gilmour after the Scottish Premier League failed to secure the 11-1 vote necessary to send the plan to the Scottish Football League.

Today, Gilmour, along with others, called for some form of mediation to find an agreement, which the SFA offered tonight but only at the request and with the blessing of the other footballing bodies.

A statement released by the Board of the Scottish FA tonight said: "Over the past 12 months, representatives of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League have worked tirelessly and collaboratively to present an exciting and financially viable proposal designed to take Scottish football forward for all 42 clubs.

"The outcome of Monday's Scottish Premier League vote, however, has been characterised by acrimony and rancour.

"Scottish football, even in times of grim uncertainty, should uphold the value of mutual respect, especially among clubs who all have a place within their communities.

"It should be remembered that 10 out of 12 top-flight clubs voted in favour of change.

"It is with this in mind that the Scottish FA reiterates its commitment to restructuring on the five principles of a single league body, fairer financial distribution, introduction of play-offs, parachute payments and a pyramid below the third division.

"The governing body calls on both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League to re-affirm their commitment to the five principles.

"We are aware of public comments from club chairmen from both the SPL and SFL inviting the Scottish FA to intervene to find a solution.

"It should be noted that we have, over the duration of the reconstruction process, facilitated a series of discussions via our Professional Game Board.

"After the events of last summer, the Scottish FA called upon the leagues to meet under an independent chair with a view to agreeing reconstruction proposals by October 2012. This was rejected by the leagues, who sought to promote their own proposals.

"In December 2012, when that process faltered, the Scottish FA's PGB invited all parties round the table to get the process back on track, which culminated in the agreement in principle in January.

"Following the separate meetings of each league's clubs in January 2013, the Scottish FA again sought to provide assistance to take forward an implementation plan. That offer was rejected by the leagues.

"The Scottish FA's rules - and the respective rule books of the league bodies - do not allow for the governing body, or any external body, to 'take control' of a separate company in possession of commercial contracts worth millions of pounds.

"However, if it is truly is the will of the clubs, the Scottish FA is prepared to get involved and act in the best interests of the national game.

"This will require a mandate to the Scottish FA from both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League, so that positive changes to improve Scottish football's future can be proposed without the threat of legal recourse or judicial review.

"Structure, finance, voting and governance are the key issues all of which are intertwined and need to be reflected in one coherent set of proposals. The views of supporters and the general public must also be taken into account."

The statement continued: "Lest it be forgotten, with the honourable exceptions of Celtic and Rangers in recent years, Scottish clubs now routinely exit European football in the qualifying rounds.

"Our national men's team are bottom of FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group A and are ranked 77th in the world.

"Some of our biggest clubs are experiencing serious financial difficulty.

"There is no better snapshot to illustrate the current climate than the fact that the afterglow of goodwill and positivity generated by two exceptional William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals this weekend lasted less than 24 hours.

"We all have a duty to protect and promote the national game.

"The Scottish FA urges the league bodies, and their respective clubs, to embrace the positive aspects of change now, or to formalise their request to the Scottish FA for external assistance."

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