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Scots football bodies should hear McLeish out

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Jim Spence | 19:01 UK time, Thursday, 1 October 2009

Henry McLeish has promised to put radical proposals on the table for the Scottish FA when he issues the first two parts of his report into the state of Scottish football in January.

Some cynics think the report will lie on a shelf gathering dust, but I think Mcleish intends to shake the game to the core.

The former First Minister was asked by the SFA to chair the Scottish Football Review Committee, but anyone who thinks that he will be some kind of patsy is likely to be nutmegged.

Henry McLeishHis review is in three phases. The first two, which he expects to complete by the end of January, involve an extensive review of grassroots football and youth development.

I chaired a conference at Stirling University on Monday, when he made the promise to deliver radical proposals.

His demeanour, body language and candour left me in no doubt that the former First Minister is deadly serious about the task of restoring Scottish football's once proud name.

McLeish is a football man and had a spell as a professional at East Fife. The game is in his blood and he wants to see it restored to good health in Scotland.

Those who fear another Ernie Walker think tank are, I suspect, mistaken.

If, after asking him to conduct and chair a review, the SFA, along with the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League then ignore his findings, they, not he, will suffer the PR fallout.

If, as he promised on a public platform in Stirling, his proposals will be transparent as well as radical then it is those who fail to put them into practice who will be held up to scorn and ridicule for holding our game back.

There is a groundswell of public opinion that I think Mcleish can tap into. Fans are asking questions and demanding answers on everything from youth football to winter breaks, from having fewer governing bodies to better facilities for kids playing the game.

I think McLeish's report may well capture the spirit of our times. Football fans are the lifeblood of the game and they want change.

Anyone standing in the way of that change may well find themselves facing a penalty shoot-out from supporters sick to the back teeth of perceived self-interest from those who see little wrong in our game and little reason to change things.

And, if football wants financial help from government and local councils, it will have to show that it is not stuck in a time warp and has something to give back to communities.

Having handed McLeish the ball, Scottish football's movers and shakers may find that, when he kicks off, they are in for an attacking onslaught.


  • Comment number 1.

    If the SFA cannot take the easy step of getting rid of the clown Burley there is no chance they will be able to comprehend and implement any detailed plans to improve the game in Scotland. They also currently don't have any political appetite to take on the big issues which are detrimental to the game in Scotland. I hope Henry makes some radical and obscene recommendations which cannot be ignored by the SFA and its minions as the game in Scotland is in a poor state and needs a fresh impetus.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Aye, yer right aboot there bein a grounswell o public opinion Jim. I spend a lot of ma life bletherin aboot fitba and i huvnae met yin person who thinks that the current league set up is a geed idea. Not yin single person. Its a nonsense. Teams are far too familiar with each other. We need some mair variety in the game.

    The SFA etc need tae start makin decisions for the geed o the game in Scotland, not for themselves.

  • Comment number 4.

    It's about time something was done about our national game. Scottish football is dying on it's @ss.

  • Comment number 5.

    I believe the decline in our game can be traced back to 1975 when the leagues were reconstructed. Since then the standard of our game has gradually got worse and worse. A 10 or 12 team league does not work, there is no margin for error. Teams are too afraid to lose, they can't risk playing young players for this reason.

    The Souness revolution at Ibrox may well have been a good thing for Rangers but it has spelt disaster for everyone else. Too many clubs have tried to compete with Rangers and Celtic by spending heavily. The truth is they are both huge clubs with fans all over the world. The are so much bigger than say Hearts or Aberdeen(probably the next biggest clubs after the OF)no one can compete with them financialy.

    The rise of television coverage during this time has only served to make the situation worse. Yes the TV companies have ploughed millions into the game, this makes the rewards for success higher, but the price of failure is now disasterous. The SPL was born out of this. The greed of the top clubs and failure to spread this new found wealth amongst the lower leagues has contributed greatly to the dearth of talent in Scottish football. Not so long ago the top clubs scoured the lower leagues for talent, rarely now does someone make the step up from the first or second division to the SPL.

    We need 2 leagues of 16 backed up by regional leagues, we need a system where teams can move up through the leagues as seen in England. We need to take radical steps now, not next year or the following year. Club chairmen need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Try and get as much cash now for your own club or invest in the future of Scotish football.

  • Comment number 6.

    2 leagues 16 teams. Rangers and Celtic to have Spanish style B teams who play in the second league but cannot be promoted. Not exactly complicated.

  • Comment number 7.

    You can't make a silk purse out of a pigs ear !

    Burley is the messenger of poor quality, not the cause.

    The previous manager also didn't qualify, and the previous one, and the previous one .......

  • Comment number 8.

    i hope your right jim; but also i hope mr mcleish now realises following his analysis of scottish football from grassroots to professional ranks, that political interference at local council and facilities level has stripped away many of the playing fields where kids met to play football as well as every other game. each area has to have an area where kids can hang out and play games. when i was a kid no ball games signs started springing up everywhere, we ignored them but hey we got chased. this meant leaving the area to play football this isn't the same world we were brought up though, today we dont want our kids straying to far from home because of safety issues. we need facillities in every area. its no good sticking great venues and facilities in one area of a city and expect all the kids from surrounding areas to use it cos it isnt going to happen because of scottish youth culture eg gang rivalry. this means lesser but decent facilities in all areas where space is available. youth clubs with astro pitches and a playing field would be ideal but lets just ensure we make best use of what we have. local councils should use sports council and lottery money to ensure its a very cheap option for kids to participate in as many sports as can be offered football teams rugby teams tennis badmington squash athletics anything the youth workers can get the kids interested in. right now the kids have to pay to use the local astro pitches in our village, it should be free. if its unused because the kids cant afford to use it why have it,the centre workers still get paid.if the pitches are all booked up with paying customers then the kids move on until its free again.
    this would ensure from grass root level upwards that we are encouraging players of all abilities to participate and hopefully ensure a production line of professional footballers for future generations to enjoy. no enough space to continue but you get the jist.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think changing the league structure will make little difference. If we want to improve Scottish football as a whole, we need to improve the way we develop our youth from 0-14 years old. There needs to be more emphasis on teaching skills and control of the ball. For example, I learnt how to cross a ball by trying it 4 or 5 times during games. This is not the way to learn. Sort out the youth and everything above it will improve.

  • Comment number 10.

    Too many people of limited or no talent in important jobs. Andy Roxburgh, Craig Brown, Alex Smith, Walter Smith, Alex Miller. When Ferguson was at Aberdeen and McLean at Utd, the talent came flooding out of Aberdeen and Dundee Utd youth teams. Ditto when Mobray was at Hibs. And to an extent Butcher at Motherwell.
    An element of 'jobs for the boys' infiltrated Scottish football. How Roxburgh and Brown managed to land the Scotland gig is astonishing. There also needs to be an overhaul of the coaching of kids at school.
    I remember being at the under 16 World Cup in 1989, Scotland v East Germany at Pittodrie. We won the game, but every single East German player had a better touch on the ball than even the best Scotland player. Shameful we still haven't done anything about it.

  • Comment number 11.

    Agree with carlosestevez in that I think top league should be 16 teams. Less teams with pressure of being relegated would increase likelihood of attempts to play better football and blood youngsters as others mentioned.

    Also agree that Rangers & Celtic B teams should be in the league, as that may lift the gate money for smaller clubs on days where the Old Firm aren't playing.

    Would also propose:
    1. The obvious amalgamation of SPL, SFL & SFA into one body. Would cut admin costs (especially wages) and make decisions more streamlined.
    2. Scrap the League Cup - 1 cup should be enough and no-one really cares about it compared to the Scottish Cup unless they actually win it.
    3. All teams enter Scottish Cup at round 1 - so you could have small clubs getting increased chance of financial benefit of SPL team fans visiting e.g. Buckie v Celtic, Pollok v Rangers, Gala Fairydean v Hearts
    4. Winter break for all of December and January (though this would probably have to fit in with other countries due to timings of International tournaments - World Cup and Euros)
    5. Proper pyramid system - plenty of Junior teams (e.g. Pollok, Auchinleck, Bonnyrigg, etc) are way better than the dross at the bottom of the third division.
    6. Parachute payment for those relegated from SPL to Division 1, even a nominal £100k would increase the chances that all SPL clubs try to play football to stay up, knowing they'd get something extra if relegated, taking a bit of pressure off.

  • Comment number 12.

    If you got rid of any more games there would be no football. 8 fewer league matches & 4/5 fewer cup matches.

    However, I agree with Reserve teams being allowed into the League (not just the Old Firm). And amalgamating the 3 main bodies. And SPL or Football League teams entering earlier in the Scottish Cup to make the early rounds more interesting. And a winter break. And a pyramidal league structure where every team has the opportunity to play in the senior set-up.
    I think the relegated team already gets a parachute payment. Might be wrong.

  • Comment number 13.

    To be honest, does anyone really care about Scottish football? Let's face it, the SPL has 2 teams that would just about scrape through an English Champoinship season without relegation. The rest? Well.....?
    The winter break should be longer, maybe from mid November to the following October giving just enough time for Celtic and Rangers to throw a few punches at each other and decide the league title?
    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 14.

    #13 - What a lot of rubbish you talk.

    If the old firm were in the "riches" of the English football, they would more than hold their own. They are right up there with the top 4 as far as fan base and infrastructure. The only thing holding them back is the lack of money/funding currently in Scotland.

    If they were in the premiership and had the TV income currently on offer they would easily be able to attract a very high calibre of player. The history and tradition of both already has them as a higher attraction than most mid-table premiership teams. If they were able to pay the same wages and transfer fees as these "mediocre" teams then 9/10 players would choose them everyday of the week.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think the 14 responses before my post sum up the need for Scottish Football reform. If this blogs comment response is anything to go by, people obviously care little for Scotlands game.

    As an Englishman, for example, I can confidently name 6 Premier Scottish teams. This is not good!

  • Comment number 16.

  • Comment number 17.

    Number 15-Brummerdickens.

    Your comment merely reveals your own lack of knowledge about football rather than anything about the current state of Scottish football.

    I don't watch Brazilian or Argentinian football but I am pretty sure I could name the vast majority of teams that play in the top divisions of these countries.

    You sound like the typical English football fan that seems to believe that football doesn't exist outside of Spain, England or Italy.

    I would suggest that, in future, you should save your ill-informed comments for the 606 forums.

  • Comment number 18.

    A lot of good ideas being put forward here. My thoughts:

    1) The 1975 restructuring - idea behind it at the time was to get rid of "meaningless" matches. Well-intentioned, but fact is that fewer people are now turning out to see the "meaningful" games of today that were turning up for the "meaningless" games then. It's been tinkered with numerous times, but nothing has worked. Is the league structure the 'Poisoned Chalice'?

    2) League Cup - I've been advocating abolition since it stopped being a way into Europe. It was originally set up to provide a product for a recreation-hungry post-war public. It's lost its relevance. Any time anyone mentions "too many games", I immediately bring this up.

    3) Cost - First price I recall paying to get into a game was a half crown (12 1/2p, 25p for adults). Even allowing for the far better facilities today, admission is about 2-3 times the cost it should be based on general inflation since then.

    4) Competition - Children today have far more things to occupy their free time than playing the game. We have to make it an attractive, fun activity.

    5) The 'festive' season - quite rightly, we tell people not to drink and drive. However, we persist on playing on days when there is no public transport, then wonder about poor crowds.

    6) 'Lower' leagues - regionalisation needs to be seriously looked at. It's nonsensical to have part-time players travelling from e.g. Stranraer to Elgin on a December Tuesday night.

    7) 'Pyramid' - Every time this comes up, we hear that the 'junior' clubs are happy where they are and wouldn't want to make the change. Has anybody ever ASKED them? In any event, it's going to be difficult to get the 'turkeys' at the bottom to vote for Christmas, so to speak.

    8) Late call-offs - been going on for as long as I can remember. Surely it's not beyond the wit and wisdom of those in charge to come up with a system whereby games are, if need be, called off before people set out to get there?

    9) Dates/times being moved for TV - the late Desmond White warned many times of the dangers of TV taking over, and has, sadly, been proven correct. Let's get back to 3 PM on Saturdays.

  • Comment number 19.

    McLeish is a lover of the game, a real fan, and I'd love to believe that the powers that be in Scottish football will listen to his plan but I doubt that very much. These people are all about self-preservation and care not a jot for the opinions of the common supporter, so I think we'll end up with more of the same jobs-for-the-boys nonsense we've seen for years now. However, if I could have my way, these are the changes I'd make...


    Let's have an amalgamation of the SPL/SFA/SFL for a start. Even as a 7 year old child I found it strange that there was two separate associations running the game. Unnecessary bureaucracy that we would complain loudly about if it was at a political level seems to have gotten an easy ride of it, and I say enough. Let's have one 16 team premier league and one 16 team second division. Below that, 3 or 4 regional leagues (helping keep travel costs down for low income clubs) the winners of which could enter into an end-of-season play-off mini tourney with the teams at the bottom of the second division.
    Whether we like it or not, Celtic and Rangers seem determined/destined to up-sticks to the EPL so let them leave 'B' sides to compete here, but deny those 'B' sides any of Scotland's European places even if they win the SPL.


    I wouldn't ditch the League cup at all, it is a competition with a proud heritage that has only lost it's appeal since the removal of the European place. If that makes it unappealing to the top clubs then why not make it a competition just for the lower league clubs?
    I disagree with the suggestion that all clubs should start the Scottish cup at the same time, and I'm certain managers of top tier clubs would disagree too. There's always a danger for SPL teams that some lower tier clogger will clatter into your star striker as it is, and the lower down you go the worse those cloggers become.


    Apart from doing something about the lack of pitches for youngsters to play on, let's see a return of organised school football leagues. Ditch the minor sports such as athletics, tennis, rugby etc. I know that sounds unfair but I guarantee if you asked young boys in schools what sport they'd rather do about 98% would say "FITBA!" When I was in school (and I'm sure it was no different for many of you) we had track & field, badmington, basketball, softball (why?) & rugby. Not that they weren't fun or anything, but we'd all rather have been kicking a ball about. For kids who are interested in other sports there of course should be facilities available, but mainly as extra-curricular activities. Football is the sport most kids like and as it's the sport where we're probably suffering most let's give them what they want. Win/win for us all.

  • Comment number 20.

    I cannot agree less with 19's suggestion that all other 'minor' sports should be abandoned in favour of football. Yes, most boys like football and enjoy playing it, myself included, but many, many, years ago I realised that I was not a great footballer and took up rugby where I was far more successful and reached a much higher level than I ever could playing football. Following your suggestion would mean no Andy Murray, Gavin Hastings, Colin Montgomerie etc.

    I agree with previous comments that there should be one body only running Scottish football and I await with interest what the report will show.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    A bit of an aside and hopefully the moderators won't take exception to that although they are prone to do "strange" things.....

    I'm English and don't know much about the specific problems in Scotland, but here goes.

    There's long been talk of Rangers & Celtic joining the English leagues. Now I don't want that and it seems that most non-Celtic\Rangers fan don't either as they think that it will cause huge financial problems in dometic Scotish football. But would it? Surely it would generate a huge amount of interest in the Scotish premiership as suddenly a whole host of teams can compete to win trophies and get into Europe. If I was a supporter of say Hearts, Aberdeen or Dundee who occasionally went to games, the lack of the old firm wolud encourage me to go more as there would be something for me to believe in - we coud win something. And if I supported a "smaller" team (no offence to supporters of other clubs, my team is a "small" team), then with luck and good management, my team could then start to challenge at the top.

    OK, so initially the lack of Rangers & Celtic might case a drop in TV income, but surely a more competitive league would encourage more viewers & so push up the revenue?

    Would it work?

  • Comment number 24.

    There is so much wrong with our game today that its hard to know where to start.

    There are three very real problems which have to be addressed.

    1/ The technical ability of players, we have no one in Scotland of any age that can control a football properly at pace, not one. The rest of the world has moved on, the hard mans game has disappeared, its no longer enough to run about and get stuck in.

    2/ The structure of the governing bodies, we have little or no money to spend on anything nowadays but there seems to be plenty of money to waste on three separate administrations, how long do you thing Tesco would remain no 1 in the uk if it had separate board of directors for each division, its a complete nonsense.

    3/ The number of clubs we actually have playing, there are far too many with little or no support to make them viable. The worst example is in Tayside , you have Brechin, Montrose, Forfar and Arbroath all within 10 miles of each other and if you added up there total support you couldnt fill one stand never mind a complete football ground, it makes no economic sense whatsoever.

    So who should be responsible for what.

    1/ The government must provide better facilities and must support all schools in upgrading the importance of sport, there is no doubt the teachers strike did immense harm and we need to get back to pre strike levels of performance.

    2/ 1 governing body is all we need requires no thought or explanation its so obvious.

    3/ we need 2 leagues of 16 or possibly 18 the rest need to go to regional leagues there needs to be a proper system of allowing teams to move up and down through leagues like they have in England. The new all encompassing body would need to act fast to get this in place, and I dont see any reason why the new regional leagues could not include junior teams a swell.

  • Comment number 25.

    Alas, I'm not sure what a review of this sort can achieve. I worked as an outdoor instructor for a decade in Scotland and the problem with most Scottish sport is an increasing lack of participation. For which the people - including the kids - have to take responsibility. Scots have to accept that watching the Auld Firm on telly doesn't count as sport. It's not that the Scottish League is particularly flawed: it's always been dominated by the Glaswegians and has always had too many divisions but has in the past produced teams to threaten in Europe. But now there are very few Scottish players getting places in England or anywhere else. A stark contrast to the 1970s and (to a degree) the 80s when most English teams boasted a couple of pivotal Scots.

  • Comment number 26.

    Gloryhunters. Pure and simple.

  • Comment number 27.

    I still haven't been told how exactly I broke house rules?!?

    Unless it was my speculation that the reason this blog wasn't as good as previous ones was because previous efforts were making Chick look bad? I believe that consitutes an opinion. It wasn't abusive, it wasn't inciting others to violence, it wasn't threatening, so can one of the moderators please tell me why it was removed?

  • Comment number 28.

    All of these ideas have a similar theme. This shows that most football fans in Scotland have generally the same idea as to how to reform the game to our benefit. However, it is not the fans that control the game, and that is something which should not be forgotten. Yes there may well be a report which will be presented to the SFA but will this make a difference? I am not always such a pessimist but when it comes to Scottish football I have no other way to be. I for one hope that the more obvious problems are sorted out ie one governing body please! This may very well produce a domino effect which will allow more reform to come into place, but I have my doubts.

  • Comment number 29.

    The challenges facing Scottish football are no surprise to any football loving poeple north of the border.

    Three football bodies rather than one. These unelected, but appointed officials love their expensive meals, company cars and positions of power.

    officials such as Peat cannot make informed decisions. Why remove Ross, Dundee and Dunfermline from the youth set up? Why continue Burley's contract when he has one of the worst manager statistics in our national game history? Why did we play Macedonia in the 3pm heat of Skopje rather than the 7pm winter drissle? Why schedule Norway away when their season is 17 games old and our's has barely started?

    There are many changes required in our game:
    1. More investment in youth training and junior leagues
    2. Two up and two down from the SPL to the First division
    3. Dump the League Cup and reduce the games
    4. When scheduling international fixtures, consider all elements involving the opposition (see above)
    5. Why is this document from the SFA? Surely this document needs to be independent???
    6. Stop comaring the SPL with the EPL - try comparing the SPL with other countries of the same size...Belgium, Denmark etc.
    ..the list goes on...

  • Comment number 30.

    The idea of the Scottish league being better without Rangers is simply equated to:
    take Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool out of the EPL. Take away the TV money that would go with them. See how much Everton, Birmningham etc can afford to pay their players. Observe failure of EPL.
    The SPL would be very similar to the Irish Leagues if the old firm went. There would be no TV money, little sponsorship, but probably a 100,000 seater stadium filled every week for the visits of Man Utd, Arsenal, Hull, Burnley etc.
    Let us hope that someone will suggest continuing the improvements - the number of Scots in the SPL is far more than ten years ago. A couple of years back the U19 (or was it U20) reached the European Championship Final. We've had two teams in the finals of European competition (was 1987 last time - and the arabs were robbed then).
    Stop panic button pressing.
    But do change to two 16 team leagues. Add in top eight play-offs for added excitement if need be.

  • Comment number 31.

    The Old Firm would play each other every week if they could - so playing each other 4 times a year will stay. However this is one of the biggest problems.

    By the time 11.30 (or whatever) on a Monday night comes round Scottish TV viewers will have seen highlights of every EPL game and every EFL game PLUS all Scottish kids will be tucked up in bed. Tell me why that's not an own goal - every week of the season. if the kids can't see the players - how can they aspire to be them!!!

    Summer Football may not be the simplest of ideas logistically - but there is free television capacity then and a greater opportunity for revenues to be tapped!!!

    The media are negative. Very few talk the game up. many take pride in talking it down
    The fans are negative.
    Football is too expensive to attend.
    Football that is also live on TV is too expensive x 10 to attend.
    The SPL and the SFL need to set in place a programme whereby a percentage of football income is diverted towards a programme of admission price reduction.
    Why have an empty seat in any stadium when someone would pay a tenner or a kid could watch for free????

    The talent is there - look at some of the young players coming through
    The Old Firm's stranglehold on resources and the country's population will NEVER be tackled at the fundamental level. i.e. it's foundations in the nations religious divide.

    Footballing income in Scotland is not spread evenly enough.

    The bottom line however Turkeys will never vote for Christmas.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    The idea that football at SPL level, SFL level, lower levels and youth football can all be administered by the same body, when there are obviously contradictory interests, is bizarre. The three are there precisely because one body failed to do that previously.

    League set up:
    Most small European countries have leagues with fourteen or fewer teams.
    You might think this boring, but a return to ten at the top would be better for the game. Concentrating resources is the only way to have a decent quality top league which has any chance of competing in Europe.
    A 16-20 club top league appears superficially attractive, but TV won't show any more games, and won't pay any more to show the games it does, and advertising and sponsorship money does not expand to fit the space available for it, just ask ITV, so resources there would be spread thinner, leading to smaller player budgets, leading to lower quality, leading to less media interest.
    The two Thistles were lauded for their economic realism in refusing to pay over £500 a week to players. Increase the league size to 20, that'll be what Hearts and Hibs are paying, whilst professional football will be history outside Glasgow and Edinburgh.

    More relegation:
    Lunacy to advocate this. Just how many clubs do we want trimming their player budgets for fear of the drop?

    Summer Football:
    Changing the season will have a number of effects, all of them negative, some disastrous.
    Atm, football has few competitors for our attention of a winter's Saturday afternoon, in summer there's golf, outings, the park, the garden, holidays, World Cup/Euro championships, Wimbledon, Olympics.......
    Players going to want to come here and play to a different season than the rest of the football world?
    The implications for media rights could be disastrous too.
    Summer isn't good on the telly, and why? See the competitors with football above. The TV companies will not pay what they are paying now for reduced audiences, IF they want summer football at all.

    The real problems:

    Life has moved on since football, playing or spectating, was the only Saturday afternoon for the masses.
    People can afford 101 different activities, so you have to grab, and keep, the imagination of potential supporters in order to get them to turn out, and that doesn't mean a few dancing girls or somebody dressed up as a mascot alla Hoopy the Hellhound or Broxi the Unbearable.

    Suggestion? When Hibs brought a well past it George Best to Easter Rd, he immediately brought out crowds: why not repeat this kind of thing?
    Bring legends (even past-it ones) to our grounds, and Dad'll want to see them, and he'll likely drag his offsprings along, if they are reluctant.

    Lack of ambition. It's easy to blame the OF for all the financial wrongs of Scottish football, but the whining, whingeing handwringers should ask themselves this question:
    1) How hard do boards really try to keep any talent they get their hands on? Johnson at Kilmarnock was practically touting Naismith on street corners trying to start a bidding war for his services, and as for Petrie at Hibs, well he has sold a potential SPL winning side, with its automatic access to CL riches, so no decent player with any ambition wants to stay there now. Witness the decent, but far from wonderful, Steven Fletcher.

    If you're not prepared to even try to challenge the OF, stop whining about the lack of competition

    I'm sick of hearing this term in relation to OF fans.
    If "local" teams were to strive for the highest levels (like Hibs could have) perhaps the gloryhunters would turn out for you.
    As it is, it is the masochistic "diehard", who will turn out to watch mind-numbingly tedious, turgid, low-quality football out of "loyalty" who allow those unambitious boards to survive on such poor fayre, and who are the REAL problem.

  • Comment number 34.

    By the way:

    Of course McLeish will advocate change; that's how they justify their often-squalid existence.
    They advocate change regardless of the consequences.

  • Comment number 35.

    At the time of the 1970's reorganisation, I argued that it would eventually weaken Scottish football. My reason was that the 18 team league allowed the bigger clubs to blood their youngsters early, knowing that Celtic could beat, say, Stirling despite playing a couple of 17-year-olds. This helped the development of young talent. Now they probably don't realise a game lasts 90 minutes, because they get 20-25 minutes once in a while.
    Second, having a few easier fixtures would allow squad rotation which would let those who qualify for Europe maintain smaller squads without losing games as a result. It might even lead to better European performances. At present you need 16-20 top class players to give the others a rest. Go back to 16-18 teams, and you could have 14-15 top class and 5-6 youngsters. And it would mean good players are playing instead of sitting on benches.
    Personally, I'd have a top division of 18 and then two regional divisions of around 12 playing home and away before a winter break, then the two top halves mixing after the break for 2 more rounds of matches after it, giving them 44 games. With a proper pyramid in place we'd reduce by 2 clubs in the first year to get to 16/12 & 12 thereafter.


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