DAVID Glen can laugh about it now.

The former partner and head of tax for PwC, now pursuing a non-executive career, jokes that he was not exactly popular with Scottish football chairmen during the 12 years he spent authoring the accountant’s annual review of the game’s finances.

This was an era when heavy spending threatened the existence of many clubs and, in the case of Rangers, was arguably the root cause of its financial implosion in 2012.

Mr Glen, who is now chairman of training firm Kissing With Confidence and a director of the Beatson Cancer Charity, said fiscal discipline within the game has tightened up a lot since then.

But back in the early 2000s the investment in players was “out of control”, with some clubs spending 150 per cent-plus of their turnover on wages. Despite his many warnings, Mr Glen’s pleas for restraint were not only dismissed, but routinely savaged.

“I tell you what, I got lambasted,” the accountant smiles ruefully.

“I had various chairmen at the time going to sue me, [telling me] you don’t know how to read a set of accounts, you are talking rubbish.”

Eventually, Mr Glen’s oft-repeated mantra to chairmen that they could not spend more than they were earning got through, notably when it became clear the bumper TV deals that were lavished on the English game were not going to materialise. It got to the stage where the football executives who previously told him he was an “idiot” were asking Mr Glenn to speak to their fans and explain to them why big signings were not going to happen.

Mr Glen’s time reviewing the game naturally concluded after he completed the 21st edition, which came not long before Rangers’ meltdown. He feels the game is in a much better position now.

“People have learned their lessons, and I think if I did anything, hopefully I educated the fanbase as well a bit,” he said. “I think the clubs themselves have become a bit more responsible and sensible.”

He added: “The model now is that the sensible clubs are building up and selling the youth, so what they make in the transfer fees should be the icing on the cake these days, to tide them over for the ups and downs. The banks ain’t lending, the benefactors ain’t lending, so these days if you are spending than you earn you are stuffed. Genuinely, Scottish clubs are selling clubs now.”

While he talks animatedly about football finances, Mr Glen is certainly not pining for his old tole at the sharp end of the game.

Having retired from PwC in October, after serving the accountant for new fewer than 33 years, he is relishing the challenge his non-executive portfolio is offering him.

Part of that is the balance he now is now able to strike between on work and leisure. “I split my day into three – a bit of work, a bit of pleasure and a bit of play,” he said. “I am now getting time to keep fit properly in the gym and so on.

“There’s the odd day when I have got up and [realised] I have got nothing in my diary. When I was at work full time, you’d be sitting thinking, that would be brilliant. But the reality is it’s actually pretty boring.”

He added: “At PwC I was so used to having a portfolio of clients, so actually now having about half a dozen is actually a bit of a luxury.”

“It’s good being properly on the other side of the desk, because it is a different perspective.”

Mr Glen sees lots of potential for Glasgow-based Kissing With Confidence, which is increasingly making its presence felt outside its native Scotland. He has known its managing director Russell Wardrop, who founded the business with wife Sharon McLellan, since the pair were members of the Glasgow Junior Chamber of Commerce in the early 1990s.

“We both got involved in debating,” he recalls. “Russell excelled at it, and it then became a passion for him and led him to set up KWC. When he was doing that, he came to me to say he was thinking about setting up a business. I helped him right at the start.”

The firm has a major focus on business development, with advice for individuals on how to build relationships with clients and bringing their personality to the fore. In many cases, Mr Glen observes, it is about teasing out new personal skills in individuals such as accountants whose university training was squarely focused on technical expertise. “It’s the confidence thing, that’s why the name is very apt,” Mr Glen said. “People are not comfortable about it.”

KWC, which is especially active in the professional services sector, is building its presence overseas.

“It’s now about 20 per cent of business,” Mr Glen said. “The anchor has been that many of businesses it has been dealing with in the UK are international businesses. We are working with all the Big Four [accountancy firms], for example.”

Mr Glen said much of the work stems from companies seeing the KWC team in action. Ms McLellan was due to visit Geneva on a trade mission with Scottish Development International in June, which the firm was hoping would open more doors.

“There’s a lot of respect out in Europe for UK professional services full stop,” Mr Glen said. “That sort of gives you an anchor in country, and once you have got a foothold overseas it gives the excuse to go out there, find out who is around and just go knocking on their door.”

Despite KWC’s growing focus overseas, half of the firm’s business is generated in London. “You can’t just sit here in Glasgow and hope the work is going to come to you. You have got to get out there. You have got to get out there and shake the tree.”

The firm recently set up an operation in Spain. But the Spanish offshoot is not part of any Brexit planning. “There’s no tariffs on sales training. It is really not featuring at all. And it is not as if any anti-British sentiment is coming through from the buyers.”

As for the potential impact of Brexit itself, Mr Glen backed business to adapt to whatever upheaval the situation throws up, but stressed the importance of certainty.

“They want to know the rules they need to work with,” he said, “but this ‘are we in, are we out, where the hell are we, what kind of rules are we applying”, that’s the nightmare scenario.”

He added: “Where it might have some impact is obviously in how free or not the trade movement is. I recognise where you are moving physical goods, and it then becomes a cost to doing so, then people are going to make decisions in terms of where they build [and] store things etcetera.”

As well as his roles with Kissing with Confidence, the Beatson and two other private companies, where he chairs the audit and finance committee, and this summer will become chairman of Morrisons Academy in Crieff, the private school which he attended at the same time as Ewan McGregor. “His dad was my PE teacher,” Mr Glen said. “This is my second spell on the board at Morrisons, because I took ill a few years ago. I was chairman for about a year and had to come off. Now I have come back on.”

He said it is a challenging time for the private school sector. “The costs are just increasing,” he said. “It is becoming harder for people to afford [it]. There’s no doubt there is a declining population of private school pupils, and some schools are going to fall over, as we saw with Beaconhurst up in Dunblane last summer.”

Six Questions:

Q1. What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

A1. For business, it has to be the USA. New York, Philadelphia, Silicon Valley, Portland, San Diego, Dallas and beyond. Each has its own business culture and attitudes and always a great country for spotting what the next ‘thing’ is going to be. For leisure, as long as it ticks the boxes of warm, sunny weather, not too far to travel and no time zone change; so the Canary Islands or Portugal

Q2. When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

A2. I once flirted with the idea of becoming a Naval Architect. I always liked drawing and my Uncle was one and I thought he was a bit of a cool character.

Q3. What was your biggest break in business?

A3. Persuading Scottish Power that they should change their tax advisors; it was a significant factor in me being appointed a Partner at PwC.

Q4. What was your worst moment in business?

A4. The occasions when I have had to make people redundant. A horrible thing to have to do but every so often businesses have to right-size in reaction to market conditions for the greater good.

Q5. Who do you most admire and why?

A5. My grandfather, Tom Glen, who went from processing photographic films (remember them?) in his kitchen, to building a business that processed most of the population of Scotland and the North of England’s photographs.

Q6. What book are you reading and what music are you listening to? What was the last film you saw?

A6. Book : I am currently working my way through the John Milton series (the UK’s answer to Jack Reacher) by Mark Dawson. Music : I’m a classic rock fan and you can’t beat a great Glasgow band; GUN. Film : First Man, with Ryan Gosling playing Neil Armstrong