Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell has hinted talks over a new deal for national team manager Steve Clarke will begin following Euro 2020 this summer.
Clarke led Scotland to their first major tournament in 23 years, with preparation for the finals getting under way with tomorrow’s friendly against Holland in Portugal.
Having ended the Scots’ long wait, Clarke has been linked with the Celtic vacancy in recent months, although Ange Postecoglou looks to be on the verge of landing the Parkhead job.
Maxwell is thrilled with the progress made since Clarke was brought in from Kilmarnock in 2019, and is keen to prolong his stay.
Maxwell said: “If people are talking about that I’m delighted, because when was the last time people were talking about a Scotland manager moving on in a positive sense?
“He’s done fantastically well. We wanted to qualify and that’s what he’s done. I’m totally sure he will lead us on to Qatar and hopefully he does that off the back of getting out the group, making the last-16 or the last-eight – hopefully we get as far as we possibly can and enjoy it.
“I think he’s contracted until the end of the World Cup, which is in December 2022. But absolutely we’ll be talking about that. We want to keep him. We are absolutely delighted with the job he has done.
“We’ll see how far we get in the Euros and we want to qualify for the World Cup in 2022 and hopefully he’s the Scotland manager for a long time to come and we keep qualifying for tournaments.”
Maxwell feels Clarke has raised the standards to allow Scotland to compete against better nations, which gives him cause for excitement as they prepare to face Czech Republic, England and Croatia in Group D of the Euros.
He added: “I remember saying at the time that we wanted a manager who could make a Pot 4 team a Pot 2 team. That’s what he did.
“He showed at Kilmarnock, where they finished third, that he could go to big stadiums like Celtic Park and Ibrox and get results.
“That’s what he had to do for us. Give them a shape, a belief and a desire that we could get results against the better teams.
“The positivity going into the Serbia game showed that he’d done that. If you’d said to people before he was appointed that we were going to have beat Serbia away to get to the Euros, everybody would have been saying: ‘what’s the point? We’re not going to do that?’
“But we went into that game with everybody confident we were going to get something out of it.
“He’s been a terrific appointment and we are really looking forward to the finals.”
Maxwell hopes this summer’s tournament can kick-start a legacy, as the Scots look to make qualification a regular habit.
Maxwell added: “When we got to France in 1998, I’d played with Simon Donnelly at Queen’s Park, so you’re involved in the game and knew one or two people who were there.
“But at that point it was kind of what we did. We qualified for things and it wasn’t that much of an exception to get there.
“Serbia was a brilliant one. That was another one that didn’t have fans, which was a shame, because even in Serbia we could have filled that stadium with Tartan Army fans.
“They didn’t get to witness that, which was disappointing.
“But when we saw the scenes back home, the outpouring of emotion, it’s about using that moving forward as a legacy of qualification. It’s something we need to harness.”