IAN Maxwell, the chief executive of the Scottish FA, has insisted the sacking of Alex McLeish was purely a football decision and had nothing to do with the former manager’s health.

Rumours about McLeish's health dogged the 60-year-old throughout his 14 months as national team head coach.

Maxwell, however, insisted that was not the case when he spoke for the first time about why he and the SFA decided to change manager midway through the European Championship qualifying campaign.

He said: “The decision was taken, and there could be an argument it was harsh because we were two games into a qualifying campaign. The board took the decision and we were comfortable with taking it.

“And we did it the right way. There was a lot of narrative that didn’t come from us at the time which complicated matters. But the decision was made, we dealt with Alex in the proper way and Alex was understanding of the decision made and we move on.

“We can’t do anything to affect (allegations) in any way, shape or form. People write what they write but the decision on Alex was made purely on a football perspective… listen, we had absolutely no concerns about Alex from a health perspective.”

McLeish and his family are knows to be upset about stories about the Hall of Fame Scotland legend which have persisted.

Maxwell added: “We didn’t really get into that level of conversation about it. We met him in London, a bit of a debrief about the Kazakhstan trip because I hadn’t really caught up with him since.

“We met in London then a couple of times up here. We didn’t really get into the detail of the other stories that were written. It was more about the job.”

Maxwell was the driving force to get Steve Clarke in, and that was despite the new Scotland manager being heavily critical of the SFA.

The 55-year-old took many digs at the association during his time as Kilmarnock manager but this was never a factor when it came to the chief executive going for what he saw as the best man for the job.

Maxwell said: “It didn’t put me off in any way, shape or form. You want people that are passionate about their job. He is absolutely passionate about his job. Some of the things that have happened will be down to passion and emotion and all of those things.

“So it’s not something that I gave a huge amount of thought to. It’s more about his ability to get a team performing well and winning matches.

“Obviously it came up in conversations. Listen, we will see what happens with all that. I just had to make sure that his ban didn’t count for international football! It wouldn’t have been a great start if he couldn’t get into the dugout until March.

“I am sure we will have a conversation about a few things over a coffee once he gets settled in.”

Maxwell admitted that on a personal level it was vital that he was seen to have make the right decision after a difficult first year at Hampden.

He said: “I think it’s hugely important. I think when you are a board or a chief executive at a football organisation or club, in a lot of cases they will live or die by the appointments that they make.

“So it was obviously hugely important, personally. I spent a huge amount of time thinking it through, discussing it with the board and getting to the point that where we are absolutely confident we have the right guy.

“The reaction we’ve had has vindicated that decision because it’s been really, really positive and everyone wants to see him doing well.”