Published On: Wed, May 29th, 2013

McCall and Butcher offering hope for the Scottish game?

Motherwell’s manager, Stuart McCall, has turned down the vacant Sheffield United position in order to remain with the Lanarkshire side.  The Yorkshireman, who signed a two-year-deal recently, stated to BBC Sheffield that “It was a tough decision, but I’ve decided to turn down the job”

McCall, who worked at Bramall Lane as a player and coach, held talks with the Blades over the last week but has decided to remain at Fir Park and lead the Well into Europe next season.  Motherwell have gained entry to the Europa League qualifiers after finishing second in the Clydesdale Bank SPL behind champions Celtic.

The decision made by McCall – and Inverness boss Terry Butcher – to rebuff approaches for their services this season has bucked the recent trend of Scottish top flight personnel jumping ship at any old offer from down South.  The sheer dearth of cash in Scotland has led, in general, to talented players and coaches either moving to the Old Firm, or England’s lower leagues.   This is, of course, nothing new for smaller clubs in Scotland but McCall and Butcher’s show of commitment may just offer some encouragement for the development of the game up here.  Unfortunately for them, this has come too late to prevent a series of high-profile departures from

McCall - pictured here in his coaching days at the Blades - has turned down the chance of a return to Bramall Lane

McCall – pictured here in his coaching days at the Blades – has turned down the chance of a return to Bramall Lane

their clubs, leaving them with a lot of rebuilding work to do in the close season.

These days, contracts in Scotland longer than 2 years are as rare as a Hibs Scottish Cup victory.  Players like Darren Randolph, Nicky Law and Andrew Shinnie have chosen to head for the cash, bright lights and long-term contracts as soon as they impress enough in the SPL.  Both sides’ top scorers are also tipped to leave in the close season – Michael Higdon’s out of contract at the end of this campaign whilst Billy McKay, Caley’s Northern Ireland international, has signed a new 2 year deal but is still attracting interest from England.

In the case of Nicky Law, he has chosen to sign on at Rangers as they look to progress through the lower leagues and back to the top flight.  He’s been joined at Ibrox by fellow SPL players Jon Daly, from Dundee United and Cammy Bell, the Kilmarnock goalkeeper, as well as 41-goal-striker Nicky Clark, from Ramsden’s Cup winners Queen of the South.  All four have insisted it’s not about the money and that they rejected higher financial offers from other clubs.  They instead cite the huge fanbase and history of the club as their main reasons for signing.

A real problem for Motherwell is that most of their current squad is either out of contract or heading back to their parent club following a loan spell.  Promisingly, the likes of Tom Hateley, Higdon and James McFadden have all reportedly said they’re happy to stay at Well with McCall still in charge.  This can lead only to the continued development of the football club and its players and hopefully allow Motherwell to kick on next season and get some decent results in European competition, something Scotland has been lacking in the last few seasons.

If more managers in the top flight, and their star players, show a similar willingness and desire to stay on in Scotland, it can only lead to better things for the clubs outside the Old Firm.

Unfortunately, while these are encouraging developments – in the end, money usually talks.

Words by Andy MacKay