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Football: My biggest mistake as chairman was not inyerfering enough.

Byline: Jim McLean

MOTHERWELL only have themselves to blame for their predicament.

John Boyle, like most other chairmen and chief executives, has thrown good money after bad in the hope of keeping up with the Old Firm.

He has paid out big salaries to players who simply weren't good enough.

In truth, what happened to Motherwell this week could have happened to any SPL club outwith the big two.

They've all done the same thing to some extent over the past five years.

When a car has a leak in the petrol tank it uses more fuel and is more expensive to run. You'll carry on wasting cash until you fix the problem.

Our clubs have been filling up their own leaky petrol tanks for too long without tackling the root of the problem. I should know what I'm talking about - Dundee United have been as guilty as the rest.

Like all clubs, we signed players on wages that didn't match what they gave the club in return. We handled the Bosman situation very badly.

Alex Mathie is a prime example. He cost the club around pounds 1million in transfer fees, wages and a signing-on fee and was a complete disaster. He was a dreadful buy.

Africans Alphonse Tchami and Mvondo Atangana didn't cost anything in transfer payments but cost a fortune in agents' fees and wages and hardly played a game between them.

Neil Heaney was another bad one and we didn't get the best out of John McQuillan, even though he was a nice lad.

Managers from Ivan Golac through to Alex Smith have spent millions and signed more than 90 first-team players between them.

I'm not trying to get at the bosses because they've all made their share of good signings. People like Steven Pressley, Kjell Olofsson, Gary McSwegan and Gordan Petric were great for Dundee United.

But there were more bad ones. Dundee United should have been more successful with the money they spent.

That's why it annoys me when people accuse me of failing to back managers. I've advised managers not to sign players but the final decision has always been left to them.

One of our managers wanted to sign a player who had a drink problem but I said I didn't want him anywhere near the club. The manager signed him anyway. Needless to say he was a disaster.

The main mistake I made as chairman was not interfering enough! It was because we backed our managers that we ended up with a debt.

The debt was growing dangerously high last year and I spent nine months trying to get the old board to act.

They didn't and the situation has only improved since Scott Carnegie and the new directors took over in January.

They've turned things around far quicker than I thought possible. In the short time I was back on the board I didn't agree with some of the measures they were taking or the people they got rid of to save money.

But I have to admit their strategy is working. They now say the club is taking in more than it's paying out.

I won't accept those kind of statements until I see the figures in black and white but I do believe the club is in a far healthier state than it was a few months ago.

But not everyone is so fortunate. Motherwell are the latest club to go into administration but they won't be the last.

Scottish football can't sustain 42 full and part-time clubs anymore. The weaker ones will end up going out of business.

There are four clubs in Angus and two in Dundee. There's not a pig's chance of them all surviving for another 20 or 30 years.

The best thing SPL clubs can do to safeguard their short-term futures is call a truce in the war of words with Rangers and Celtic. They've got to accept they'll be together for the next two years and get on with it.

The breakaway 10 will have to accept the Old Firm even if they don't trust them. They've said they're resigning so they should go and make their plans in private.

Rangers and Celtic shouldn't get too carried away either. They're looking out for their own interests but should stop making outrageous statements about how important they are to the other clubs.

If the governing bodies insist national boundaries must be upheld in two years' time, they'll have to join the new league.

Unless the two sides put their differences aside other clubs will go the same way as Motherwell and there won't be much left to
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Title Annotation:JimMcLean
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 26, 2002
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