As affable and sincere as Sir Bill Gammell and Norman Murray seemed to be on Thursday afternoon when they road tested their sales pitch for the “Independent Corporate Governance and Business Review” which they have been working on for the last six months, there was no escaping the ruthless reality of what they were proposing.

They want to disenfranchise the member clubs (who own the SRU by dint of their 150-year investment in helping develop the sport from a pastime played by a few former public schoolboys into the multi-million pound industry we have today) from having any direct say in how the game is run.

According to Gammell and Murray, the SRU Council – a 15-strong body elected by the game’s core stakeholders which is supposed to meet five times a year to review the performance of the Scottish Rugby Board – should be disbanded, as should the SRU Trust which has held the Union’s assets for the member clubs since 1911.

The rights and powers of the Council and Trustees will transfer to a new holding company limited by guarantee (“New SRU”), with its all-powerful Board of Directors taking responsibility for the strategy, values, allocation of capital and resources, internal controls and risk management, leadership, delegation and oversight.

The argument is that the size, scale and complexity of opportunities presented by the potential of external investment in Scottish Rugby requires correspondingly higher levels of expertise, knowledge and skill across the sport. The subtext being that the smart guys and girls in suits should be given free rein to get on with spending the big money which is expected to arrive from global private equity firm CVC in the next few months, without the dull guys and girls in blazers – elected by the member clubs – asking irritating questions.

In fact, the blazers don’t actually want to be sitting in on the high-powered meetings when lucrative sponsorship or broadcasting deals are being negotiated, they just want to make sure the values of the sport are protected and the club game is properly supported.

Gammell and Murray claim the current governance structure – set up in 2005 after a review spearheaded by Sheriff Bill Dunlop – is too convoluted, with the roles and responsibilities not defined clearly enough. They say their “streamlined” structure will provide greater reassurance to investors while also allowing the SRU to better manage and direct funds as they come in.

“What I do know is that if external money did come into the game, this would be a structure that would be instantly recognised as one that would work, as opposed to the one that was there,” said Murray.

The flaw in this line of reasoning is that what is being proposed is far more complicated than what already exists. Dunlop was laid out in 18 pages of clear and unambiguous language. It tells us the role of the Council is “to review and, where appropriate, advise the Scottish Rugby Board on matters of policy and strategy with particular regard to rugby”, while the Board is “responsible to the Member Clubs for the executive management of the Union”. It’s pretty simple: the Board run the game, the Council keep an eye on them.

Gammell and Murray’s review is 25 pages and envisions four different, overlapping Boards – although the simplifying factor is that the main Board is all-powerful and not answerable to anyone.

If there has been one criticism of the Council in recent years it is that it has been too acquiescent of the Board. It has failed to rein in chief executive Mark Dodson, general counsel Robert Howat, chief operating officer Dominic McKay, chairman Colin Grassie and, latterly, president Dee Bradbury as they and a few others – who manage to hover beneath the radar – have driven a horse and cart through the governance structure.

When this review was initially triggered after the 2018 SRU AGM, it was presented as a response to the Keith Russell affair, when the SRU were hauled over the coals by employment tribunal judge Joseph D’Inverno. The judgment was scathing with Dodson and Howat in particular being portrayed as devious bullies. Astonishingly, Dodson was handed a lucrative three-year contract extension – despite the fact his contract still had two years to run – during the time between the end of the hearing and the delivery of the judgment.

Since then, the SRU have been guilty of several more damaging governance failings which have left trust in the Murrayfield regime at an all-time low.

Several members of the Council state privately that the Council is failing and needs to change, but that is so it can be more effective in holding the Board to account. This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Gammell spoke at Thursday’s briefing about the lessons he learned during his rugby playing days when he rose to play five time on the wing for Scotland, explaining that it had taught him valuable lessons he had been able to apply to his business career.

Well, timing – the ability to arrive at just the right time to make maximum impact – is everything in rugby, and that was one lesson he didn’t learn. What is being proposed would ask clubs to take a huge leap of faith at the best of times, let alone in the current environment.