MARK WOTTE has revealed he could leave the Scottish Football Association before the completion of its performance strategy in 2020.
It was widely believed that the SFA's first performance director would commit for the duration of the project, and he has been criticised in the past for giving himself a near-decade of job security by claiming that his work could not be judged until the strategy had been fully realised. But Wotte yesterday said that while he was fully committed to the SFA for at least another couple of years, he may then be tempted by a return to club management.
The Dutchman was appointed by the SFA in June 2011, following the widespread review of the game carried out by former first minister Henry McLeish. Central to the performance strategy was the appointment of seven regional performance coaches and the introduction of elite schools which see the most talented 12-to-16-year-olds in Scotland receive daily coaching around their education, resulting in around 500 children getting the recommended 10,000 hours of football practice during their youth.
When asked if he had any plan to return to club management, the former Utrecht, Willem II, and Southampton manager said: "Not yet. I'm not ready to leave this programme yet because I think we are making progress. I'm not telling you I'm going to do this for the next five years, but we have just started with this programme. We started in 2012 with the performance schools and performance coaches and I am still enjoying sharing my experience with a lot of people in the Scottish FA and clubs. I don't have a contract until 2020. It's an ongoing staff contract. It's a permanent contract with no end date. We have a yearly evaluation with my chief executive, Stewart Regan, and until now everything is going well. Everything is in line with the plan. The strategy works at the moment.
"I would love to see the first performance school kids playing in their first Victory Shield [the under-16s tournament between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland]. That's in two years' time. That is the generation that will show the difference. But it doesn't mean we don't work hard with the kids already through. We are working with them in a different way from the past.
"Liam Henderson of Celtic is a great example. Two years ago when we started, he was playing for the under-16s then the under-17s and was fast-tracked into the under-19s. Now he is on the radar of everyone, but we have known him for a couple of years. We knew of [Dundee United's] Ryan Gauld when he was 13. We see all these gems.
"The only thing we need to do at the moment is what they do at the Swiss FA, the German FA, the Belgian FA. We need to keep doing what we are doing at the moment: don't change it. Because if we change it, it's going to go backwards.
"Succession planning should be important - including for myself. If I leave we have to have an organisation and a foundation that will continue. It's not my strategy we are implementing, it's the Scottish FA's strategy and the clubs have all bought into it. If you want to change it, it's very dangerous for the future."