Departing SFA president Alan McRae has described being the match delegate at the Champions League final as “a great honour”.
McRae will be UEFA’s man in charge at the the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on Saturday for the final of Europe’s premier club competition between Liverpool and Tottenham.
After four years as president at Hampden and a decade as a match delegate for UEFA, this weekend will rank as one of McRae’s highlights in football.
The honorary president of Cove Rangers said: “It does sit below being the SFA president, which feels like a one-off – to have somebody from the Highland League being SFA president.
“Where does it sit in my career? It’s probably third, because for me Cove getting into the SPFL probably sits second for me.
“I’m not as active with the club as I used to be, but it still sits there and has been a great progression and this is a great honour to do the Champions League final.
“As a match delegate it’s probably as good a game as you can get. I’ve had 10 years now as a match delegate and I’ve done some good games involving some top teams.
“I went to the European Championships in 2016 and to do this is a special honour.
“It’s funny the way it turns out because it looked like it was going to be Barcelona and Ajax.
“But it turned round to Liverpool and Tottenham, so it’s two English teams with a Scottish delegate and Scottish security officer.
“It’s quite amazing because it’s a big game to manage.
“As the match delegate you are the No 1 man on site from UEFA.
“There are quite a team of people underneath you and there is a lot to do when it comes to security in the stadium, around the stadium and in the city centre.
“It’s quite a far-reaching three or four days where you’ve got to get everything under control.
“There’s plenty of homework to do before you go out to the game.
“It will still be a great occasion with Atletico Madrid’s new stadium and two top English teams playing, so it’s very exciting as well as a challenge.”
The role of match delegate is complex and far reaching with McRae responsible for everything from security around the stadium to making sure the pitch is in the right condition and that there are enough ball boys.
He added: “You’re part of a team. I’m the match delegate from UEFA, there’s a UEFA venue manager, a UEFA security observer and a UEFA referee observer, there’s a UEFA media officer.
“It works its way down from there; you have the police chief match commander and the stadium’s head of security and both teams will have representatives.
“On the morning of the match you have meetings around the stadium to discuss how you want it to run.
“I will probably be chairing a meeting with 30 or 40 people from police, fire service, medical people and both clubs as well as all the UEFA people.
“The important thing is that we prepare well. We need to get on with our duties as professionally as we can.
“If we do that it makes life better for the players and the match officials.
“If everything from the pitch to the ball boys are properly prepared then that makes it easier for them to perform.
“Prior to the game and once it starts you have to keep looking around the stadium to make sure things are going the way they should.
“If you get pyrotechnics or fireworks set off you have to properly log them in, you’ve got to photograph them, note the time they were thrown, where they came from and who threw them.
“So you have all these different things that you need to keep an eye on.
“You also have to check that any banners aren’t disciminatory, so it’s a big game and a big role.
“It’s also big because the games you do as a delegate can vary massively.
“You can go from doing qualifiers to doing Barcelona – you cover a wide range of teams – but this is pinnacle, so we have to make sure organise it well and are prepared.”