Craig Brown says ‘granny rule’ should be scrapped

Ex-Scotland manager believes it’s time to change international game’s eligibility rules

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown was impressed with Ireland’s warm-up routine at Celtic Park. Photo: Michael Steele /Allsport

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown was impressed with Ireland’s warm-up routine at Celtic Park. Photo: Michael Steele /Allsport

 

Former Scotland manager Craig Brown believes international football eligibility rules should be tightened. Brown says a team should be represented by players born in that country, or players whose parents are from that country.

Scotland’s longest-ever serving manager was in Dublin as part of McDonald’s FAI Future Football programme and was keen to stress that eligibility rules should also include managers and their coaching staff.

“I personally think the rule should be that you have to be born in Scotland or your parents [should be born there]. it shouldn’t extend to grandparents.”

He also said a team’s backroom staff should be subject to the same criteria. “I’d say the manager’s eligibility has to be the same as the players’ – and the physio’s, the doctor’s and so on,” the 74-year-old said.

Ireland have a long history of making the most of the “granny rule” and the issue was given much air-time before the meeting with Scotland last November.

Second-generation

James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady are both Scots who have decided to play for Ireland and, going by Brown’s criteria, would not have been allowed to do so as both are third-generation Irishmen.

“I would have wanted them [McCarthy and McGeady] to play for Scotland, but the rules are the rules and you have to use the rules to your advantage.

“I used to envy Jack Charlton and his good network of contacts to find eligible players. If the player is eligible and good enough, you’re weakening yourself if you don’t pick him. You’re not doing your job if you don’t pick them if they’re good enough.”

Brown is serving as a non-executive director at Aberdeen and, as a keen viewer in Glasgow last November, was impressed with an often overlooked aspect of team preparation.

“What really impressed me in Scotland was their [Ireland’s] warm-up. I noticed that during the game, when substitutes were sent out to warm-up, they were supervised.”

Such peripheral areas of preparation have come increasingly under focus since Martin O’Neill’s took charge, with Ruud Dokter appointed as high performance director two years ago.

Conditioning

Such a role is very much a modern phenomenon but Brown recalls that, during his time as Scotland manager, O’Neill was very keen on player conditioning at Celtic.

“Martin had this idea that the heart-rate of the players going on should be the same as the heart-rate of the players on the pitch. You don’t see that very often but the Irish warm-up was intensive.”

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