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Ogilvie emerges from the shadows

CAMPBELL Ogilvie is never likely to be mistaken for an attack dog or a rent-a-quote.

Campbell Ogilvie has had a cloud hanging over him
Campbell Ogilvie has had a cloud hanging over him

Throughout his 34 years in football administration, Ogilvie has been a largely unseen, discreet figure, uneasy in front of the cameras and rarely found pouring opinions into microphones. When it comes to visibility he's neither a Sir David Murray nor a George Peat. That deep inclination towards keeping his own counsel will be abandoned soon enough, though. The SFA's embattled president feels vindicated and exonerated by the outcome of the "big tax case" this week, and pretty soon he'll come out and let people know about it.

Ogilvie's SFA presidency has been unlike that of any of his predecessors. Criticism and innuendo comes with the territory for anyone at the head of the governing body but never to the extent that it rained down on Ogilvie, ironically a far milder, more unobtrusive character than most of those who occupied the role before him. He was seen as being up-to-his-neck in the Rangers EBT saga and it has obscured his presidency like a fog.

The disputed EBTs were in operation from 2001-2010. No matter how many times he stressed he had not been responsible for drafting or administering player contracts after the mid-1990s, or that he ceased to be company secretary at Ibrox in 2002, it was thrown back at him that he was guilty by association. Rangers stood accused of years of massive tax-dodging as well as breaking SFA and SPL rules – the latter accusations still have still to be resolved – and it was repeatedly said that, as one of their prominent administrators at the time, Ogilvie must have known all about the complexities and implications of the scheme. He signed off the company accounts in 2001, one of the years which was under investigation, and had an EBT himself, which was worth £95,000.

The calls for him to resign were endless. He was complicit in cheating and a cover-up, the accusers said. Compromised beyond redemption. Time and time again he was told the conflict of interest made his position untenable. The flak which came his way was nasty and personal and, by extension, his family suffered too. He voluntarily removed himself from all meetings and discussions about Rangers and the Scottish Premier League's ongoing investigation into alleged undisclosed payments via EBTs. Only last month he admitted: "If I'm totally blunt, I believe in the last six months, in many ways, I haven't been doing my job properly because I couldn't take part in the debate." The head of the SFA had been decapitated but continued to hold office.

This week, Ogilvie has been in Switzerland in his role as a member of Uefa's National Team Competitions Committee. He will likely face the media at the Scottish Cup draw early next month. He will cut a more relaxed, open figure than he has for months. More than anything, he will seem relieved.

He could not have survived at the SFA if the tax verdict had gone the other way this week. The perception of guilt and culpability would have engulfed him and brought him down. Now, even if Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs decides to appeal the decision and are successful, a verdict would probably take so long to be reached that his reign would be over before the outcome was overturned.

What's more likely is that he will now be able to involve himself in important issues, such as trying to cajole the SPL and SFL towards compromise and agreement on league reconstruction, having felt uncomfortable about putting his head above the parapet for more than a year. He never will be an opinionated or forceful figure – he was just about the last person likely to be at the centre of a massive controversy – but there is some influence in the position he holds and it can be wielded shrewdly. Too often there has been no-one other than chief executive Stewart Regan speaking on the SFA's behalf and now Ogilvie can pipe up too.

As things stand, his two-year presidency is due to end at next summer's SFA annual meeting. It is normal for the incumbent to seek re-election and serve the permitted maximum of four years. While the big tax case hung over him it was highly unlikely that he would have had the stomach for staying any longer than the bare minimum. Now, with the prospect of a second term being more enjoyable and rewarding than his first, he may decide to seek re-election.

Those who know and work with Ogilvie were pleased for him this week. Now, having been freed from innuendo, he must grow in the SFA presidency and be defined by his strengths rather than baggage from his past.

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