PARTICK THISTLE supporters may well react with a wry grin at the irony of what I am about to suggest, given that their players have historically struggled to grab the attention of the Scottish Football Association, but I believe that one of their number could be the ideal choice to head up the entire organisation.

And they may not welcome the suggestion either, given the fine job that Ian Maxwell has been doing at Firhill since making the move upstairs in 2011 as general manager, and in his current role as managing director of the club.

But with apologies to the Thistle faithful, I believe that the 42-year-old could well be the ideal man to drag the SFA kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Over and above the fact he would be a much-needed injection of fresh blood, he won’t be ignorant to the challenge that lies ahead. He has been part of the SFA’s Professional Game Board for around five months now, so has a grasp of what the organisation does and what it perhaps should be doing that it has currently lost sight of.

With Maxwell’s experience of working within a member club, and working with the SPFL, he is perfectly positioned to bridge the disconnect between the SFA and its members, and indeed the game's other governing body down the hall at Hampden.

Whether he would be open to suggestions of a merger between the SFA and SPFL, as has been mooted in some quarters, remains to be seen, but he has never made a secret of his belief that the bodies have to be working much closer together.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in his thoughts on youth development, and specifically towards the SFA’s flagship Project Brave initiative.

Maxwell isn’t one to allow things to carry on in a certain way simply because it is the way it has always been done, and the tweaking of the nation’s approach to nurturing young talent to everyone’s benefit would surely be one of the things that would be high on his agenda to tackle head on.

In an interview last year in this paper, he outlined his concerns over the fact that the SFA are in charge of youth development up until under-18 level, at which point the SPFL take over. He couldn’t understand why this was the case, and no one could provide him with an answer when he went looking for it other than it being the established order of things.

His proposal was to put the emphasis back on the clubs, and put money into their hands to help them with their community outreach and youth development programs. That would ensure the geographical spread that the SFA are looking for, and allow the clubs to spend money at a local level the way they see fit, rather than clubs having the pressure of stretching themselves financially to reach elite status.

A refinement of Project Brave along such lines would be a quick win, being sure to prove popular with the member clubs.

Maxwell ticks most of the boxes that Leeann Dempster does for the role in terms of having a great track record at club level, but he would not be conflicted in the same way in the eyes of the clubs by having to work with Rod Petrie, the Hibs chairman.

His achievements at Partick Thistle are notable. He will be the first to say that the progress made at the club has been a team effort, and helped along the way by money from Euromillions winners Colin and Christine Weir, but Thistle going debt free, the Thistle Weir academy being set up, and the commitment to build a dedicated training facility has all happened under his watch.

Perhaps the biggest thing that Maxwell himself can take credit for is the way he has brought real professionalism to the club, properly staffing the backroom with the introduction of sports scientists, for example, working in tandem with manager Alan Archibald to transform the club into an outfit that not only is competing in the Premiership, but feels they deserve to be there. When you walk into Firhill now, you get the sense that it you are walking into a top-flight club, rather than a Championship outfit who is just crashing the party.

He has gone into the role, identified what needed to be modernised, and delivered. Can you think of any other organisation that may benefit from such an approach?

Maxwell hasn’t put himself forward for the role, but even allowing for his obvious affection for Partick Thistle and connection to the Firhill club, it would be an opportunity that would likely prove extremely difficult for him to turn down. The SFA should be posing the question.