CRAIG Brown has expressed hope Gordon Strachan enjoys greater success getting his plans to resurrect Scottish football accepted than he did during his own tenure as national manager.

Brown, who led his country to the finals of Euro ’96 and France ’98 and into the play-off for Euro 2000 during his eight years in charge, was pleased to hear Strachan is helping to address the decline of the sport here.

The 58-year-old has been working alongside Brain McClair, the SFA Performance Director, since agreeing his new contract last month and is poised to make his recommendations public within the next fortnight.

His predecessor was frustrated when his innovative suggestions to improve the number of young players breaking through into the senior game in Scotland were rejected by both Celtic and Rangers and his appeals for increased government funding were ignored.

“The SFA had a Football Development Committee when I was with Scotland,” said Brown. “Leading managers, including Jim McLean, sat on it. They wanted suggestions on how to improve our game and I put one forward.

“France failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1990 and 1994. Then in 1998 they won the World Cup. How did they manage it? One of the things they did was, after Gerard Houllier became their technical director, introduce a rule which banned clubs from having more than 20 players over the age of 20 in their squads. So if they had 30 players 10 of them had to be under 20.

“John Collins told me about it. When he was at Monaco and Jean Tigana was the manager they got some injuries and suspensions. They were playing in the Champions League, but, because they were unable to sign anyone, they promoted two youth players. They were Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet. Just 18 months later those two guys were in the French squad which won the World Cup.

“But the representatives of both Celtic and Rangers voted against the idea. Eric Black was sent by Celtic with instructions not to vote in favour of it. Bert van Lingen was told by Rangers to do the same. They feared it would put them at a disadvantage in Europe.

“Bert said: ‘If we play, say, a German team with 30 players over the age of 20 were are at a disadvantage’. I told him: ‘But a couple of seasons ago you lost home and away to Auxerre in the Champions League and they are working to that rule! And you’re telling us that you can’t work to that!’

“Bobby Williamson said: ‘I’ve been doing that as it is’. He had Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson, Derek Riordan, Gary O’Connor, Steven Whittaker, in his side. Anyway, it didn’t get approved. Jim McLean resigned after that. He said: ‘Och, I’m not coming back!’

“It was a constructive idea to restrict the number of foreign players coming in and force clubs to field younger players. We even said we could start it off at 23 players over 20 and reduce it gradually. But it was rejected.”

Brown was encouraged when Strachan, who has joined up with the Scotland Under-21 squad this week ahead of their European qualifier with the Ukraine, stressed the government has a major role to play in transforming Scottish football.

For he believes that financial backing from parliament has been instrumental in the remarkable progress enjoyed by minor footballing nations like Iceland and Norway – both of whom have qualified for the Euro 2016 finals - during the last few years.

“The remedy to the ills of Scottish football is facilities and that is not an SFA responsibility, it is a government responsibility,” he said.

“I can remember going with Ernie Walker, the SFA secretary, to meet Michael Forsyth, the Secretary of State for Scotland, to plead with more money for Scottish football and for facilities, indoor facilities especially.

“We now have three full-size indoor pitches, at Ravenscraig, Toryglen and Aberdeen Village. But I went to Norway, a country of a similar size, with Ross Mathie, the Scottish youth coach, 18 years ago and they had 12. Every town and village there has at least a half-sized government-funded indoor facility.

“Even Aberdeen, a big city, only has one full-sized indoor pitch. The Aberdeen Under-17 v Ayr Under-17 game on Sunday was cancelled because the pitch was waterlogged - I know because my grandson was due to play for Ayr.”

Brown added: “There is no problem with the coaching standards here. The coach education in Scotland is excellent. There are plenty of great coaches. The problem is that they have nowhere to coach.

“The government is helping. But it still needs more funding. There is a perception that, because a few of the top players earn a few bob, it is a wealthy sport. In actual fact football needs every penny it can get for the development of youth.”