The difficult second post

Football. It’s our national game. We turn out in droves to watch our national team play the finest teams Europe and the world has to offer. We sometimes win, we sometimes lose, but we remain loyal to following Scotland, wherever it takes us. We love our game.

So why is it in the shambolic state it’s in now?

Just yesterday, Dunfermline Athletic held a meeting to discuss how to save their club from crippling debts of around £8.5 million pounds. How does an SFL club get to having debts of that magnitude? Now I’m not a financial expert but that’s just screams “poorly run”. Dunfermline haven’t been the only club either who haven’t been able to balance the books.
We all know about Rangers’ problems (so much so that that’s all I’m saying about it. The details are on the net for you to find, if so inclined), Dundee have been in administration twice in my living memory and Motherwell have also struggled badly in the past. That’s not even mentioning the case of Clyde, who are rumoured to be moving to East Kilbride and renaming themselves to EK Clyde, for financial reasons. I haven’t even mentioned Hearts.

So can it be said that money is the root of all of our problems?

I’d say no. Financial mismanagement is. Most fans in Scotland are understanding of the situation we’re in. We’ve got the worlds biggest spending league on our doorstep in the English Premiership, and for a few years in the 90’s some of our clubs tried to compete on that level. It couldn’t last. To remain competitive against a VERY strong Rangers team at that time most clubs started to spend outwith their means a bit. Instead of strengthening our infrastructure, there were a lot of foreign imports. I don’t think our game has fully recovered from this time. How many international tournaments have we qualified for since then? I believe that’s part of the reason why.

However, I still think the future can be bright for our game, but I find it hard to believe we will ever be as strong as we were pre 1990’s. There are some clubs that in my opinion are going about the game in the right way. St. Johnstone, Saint Mirren, Ross County, and my beloved Inverness CT for instance make a point of living within their means. I also think it’s interesting to note that the two Highland clubs haven’t yet been in the league structure for 20 years but are both challenging for Europe now, with players from both clubs pasts having made names for themselves in Scotland or within the English Leagues.

(I find it interesting how Neil Lennon was grumbling about being a “feeder” team to bigger clubs. OK, he wasn’t really grumbling but he wasn’t happy he had to accept the reality. That’s how other Scottish clubs have felt for years.)

So what does the future hold for our game? At the moment anyway, it seems that league reconstruction is going to play a part. Reconstruction is inevitable, but we really need to make sure we do it right. The current proposal of 12-12-18 doesn’t sound like the way forward to me. It just doesn’t sound like there’s enough for fans to shout about there. Meaningless seasons become a possibility, which will lower gates and interest, which is the last thing we want. I personally would like to see something akin to the Portuguese league. Not the largest league, and also not the smallest, in recent years the standard of football there among the “lower” teams has risen. And they don’t play each other 4 times a season.

I hope common sense takes hold and the right solution for the future of our game is reached. However, this is Scottish Football, I wouldn’t be surprised if the league structure facilitates the ascension of Rangers so that the old status quo can resume and in another 20 years we’ll still be having the same conversation about how to change our game for the better.


3 thoughts on “The difficult second post

  1. It is television money that drives football in Scotland, and many other countries.
    Sky are currently the biggest player in the market and it is they who have a huge influence on what the SPL/SFL deliver.
    Scottish Football has too many professional teams with too many full time players. That fundamentally needs to change.
    Plenty of clubs will go to the wall before we, hopefully, come through this with stronger better more competative leagues.

    Well done to the Cold Firm, as your manager calls them, for injecting some much needed excitement into the SPL.

  2. Thanks for commenting!
    While I agree that SKY are the biggest player in the market, I have to disagree that there are too many professional teams. There are too many poorly run professional teams.
    I think we need these full time players because part time and amateur football doesn’t produce the same quality of players that a pro setup can.
    With regards again to SKY and TV money, I can’t help but feel that Scottish football is sometimes just regarded as an addendum to the English game by the media. I don’t think our league is ever given any respect. There’s a lot of entertaining football being played but lack of quality coverage and highlights (I’ve seen Bundesliga games on ITV given more highlight time than the SPL games on BBC) means that no one is getting engaged in our game as much as we should.

    • I don’t believe there is the money in the game to support the number of professional teams that currently exist.
      It will be interesting in the next couple of years to see what, if anything, BT brings to the table now that ESPN are bowing out.
      It was the Old Firm games that attracted the big viewing figures. These games are no more and TV audiences have dropped.

      The BBC highlights programme is a dinosaur from a time that has passed and if it was no longer broadcast then I certainly wouldn’t mourn it’s passing.
      If games went back to being played at 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon then live TV might have less of an influence, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

      Any reconstruction needs to keep the broadcasters happy. No-one else matters.

      As for entertaining football, yes there is some but Aberdeen v Ross County was surely one of the worst games in the last few weeks. It was live on TV and Pitoddrie had its lowest attendance this season.

      No easy fix I fear and more pain to come before it gets better.

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