After the recent frenzied focus on Rangers and what kind of future they might have, the spotlight has suddenly turned on the whole game in Scotland. With dire predictions about its future prosperity and even survival. What should have been a simple decision to let “New Rangers” restart in the third division – something desired by just about all fans, including Rangers’ fans – has become some kind of power play at the higher echelons of the game.
The men at the helm of the SFA, the SPL and SFL, Messrs Regan, Doncaster and Longmuir, who are supposed to represent all the clubs and in the case of the SFA the game as a whole, have collectively abdicated their responsibility. Their recent actions and utterances betray a contempt for the integrity of the game and the views of the fans, the bedrock of professional football. All in the supposed interests of one club – Rangers. Their blueprint for the future is nothing but a blatant attempt to force the SFL clubs to parachute Rangers into the first division. Without Rangers in the first division it seems the whole of Scottish football faces armageddon. Financial ruin for an undisclosed number of clubs is just around the corner it would seem. Stewart Regan of the SFA even had the temerity to suggest that there could be social unrest if Rangers were not accommodated in this way. For this remark alone he should have been forced to resign. The other two should also be forced to resign for failing to fulfil their primary responsibility – to work for the best of all Scottish clubs and not just one.
For it is simply and obviously nonsense that football clubs will be forced to close because Rangers play in the third division. If there is to be a serious shortfall in income for some clubs – an assertion yet to be backed up with evidence – then the short term solution is to cut back on spending. Instead of paying high wages to imports they could promote players from their youth squads. As well as saving money they would get more committed players and might even be more successful. The point is that there is no need for any club to go out of business. The only clubs that go bust are, those like Rangers, that continue to live and play beyond their means. Some, perhaps all Scottish clubs may become poorer, but that is not the same as armageddon.
The Celtic fan site Celtic Quick News has also gotten in on the act with an incredible post, which can only be described as lazy journalism. This post which goes by the immodest title of “The plan to save all of Scottish football” is based around the following proposal – “We admit we cannot support top-flight football and ask to fold the SPL into the bottom of the English League structure.” There is nothing intrinsically wrong with such a proposal, it is the indecency of claiming that this is all about saving all of Scottish football which is breathtaking. When it is, but yet another attempt by the author to get Celtic into the English Premiership. As he himself admits later on in the post when he writes – “In time we will all find our level. Celtic will rise to the top but there is no reason for half of the SPL to achieve the same as Wigan Athletic.” This equals the arrogance and deceptions of the Regans and Doncasters of Scottish football. The arrogance that assumes Celtic will saunter through the various divisions to reach their rightful place at the summit of the Premiership. The deception that half of the SPL clubs can equal Wigan, ie also play in the Premiership. That would mean that five other Scottish clubs can realistically expect to play in the Premiership. With a population of just five million he expects us to believe that Scotland can produce almost a third of the clubs in the Premiership. With nothing to back this claim up. Lazy journalism indeed. It also conveniently ignores the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that our good friends in England are remotely interested in having the SPL as their bottom division. Any research to back up that proposal? Then there is the complete lack of any reference to UEFA and FIFA, the game’s governing bodies. What might they have to say about such a proposal? One wonders in vain. ‘Tis a pity the post was not posted on April 1st, as it would have made a good spoof of the malaise affecting Scottish football.
Scottish football does need reforming. It is a great pity that the SFA sponsored report on the game, led by Henry McLeish, has been allowed to gather dust. After two years of doing nothing, our so-called leaders suddenly come up with talk of restructuring. Just in time to save Rangers. What a coincidence! Any proposal for reform should start from the premise that the most successful period in Scottish football, when Scottish clubs got to the finals of European competitions, was when there were just two divisions and the top division consisted of 18, yes, 18 teams. The subsequent attempts to restructure the game, all designed to restrict financial rewards to a smaller and smaller number of clubs, has not brought much success to either the clubs nor to the national team. Worth thinking about, one would have thought. Revisiting the past may be the most fruitful way forward for Scottish football.