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Euro results underline need for change in Scotland

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Jim Spence | 14:25 UK time, Friday, 30 July 2010

It's never too early to panic say some sceptics and in the case of our European results this week they may have a point.

With Celtic and Hibs both hammered, and only Motherwell managing a creditable draw, all against teams coming from small countries, the alarm bells must finally ring the complacency out of our game's rulers.

These results come in the week that new SFA chief executive Stewart Regan correctly told Scots to forget past glories and look to the future.

Meantime, Professor Grant Jarvie, deputy principal at the University of Stirling and board member of sportscotland told a conference in Singapore that small countries can succeed.

"Uruguay, with its population of 3.3 million, reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in South Africa, while New Zealand, with a population of 4.3 million went home the only undefeated team in the competition," he pointed out.

Both men are right.

mariborhibs595.jpgThe misty eyed harking back to a glorious past of Scottish triumph in Europe or at Wembley, is a form of Scottish cringe, a failure to confront uncomfortable current truths. It's holding our football back and has to be let go of once and for all.

Yet, as Regan says and as Prof Jarvie suggests, the future can be a brighter place for our football hopes. We can rise again.

Celtic's conquerors Braga, hail from Portugal which has around twice our population with 10 million inhabitants, while Maribor who slayed Hibs come from Slovenia which is home to around two million folks.

The crutch which we have been hanging on to desperately, to excuse our poor performances in recent times, that we are only a wee country, no longer supports the argument for poor performance.

So given that size doesn't matter, we now urgently need the gloves off in a brutally frank discussion about how to fix our football.

The recent McLeish report was a professional politician's view of the ailments afflicting our game. It's time Joe Public had their say, and they'll not hold back from telling it like it is.

That say will tell us what I hear every day from those involved in the game at grass roots level.

The quality and methods of coaching are not nearly good enough and have to be radically addressed at every level.

The jobs for the boys mentality which pervades football has to go.

We must ditch our obsession with player's size and strength and concentrate solely on touch and technique until the mid-teen years.

And we have to find ways of getting kids playing football again in big numbers, to increase the pool of available players.

Stewart Regan says he wants the SFA, SPL and others to work together, but he needs to go further.

He needs to get round the country and hear from the people who run Sunday boys teams, talk to schools football coaches, he has to listen to those in the Highland League, East of Scotland League, the Juniors too, and above all he has to ask the fans what they think.

My worry is not that the sceptics who think it's never too early to panic might just be right.

My fear is that it's almost too late to get things right.


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  • Comment number 1.

    In recent years Scottish football has looked to be on its death bed but recent results suggest it is in fact having an out of body experience and will be looking down on itself as the crash team fail to revive it

  • Comment number 2.

    Doesn't this scenario come around every year? It's just now it is getting earlier each year as Scottish now face earlier qualifying rounds. Same gripes, same complaints, same wishes. And do we really need a professor to tell us that small countries can succeed?

    Anyway, you'd hope a new man at the top of the SFA, an outsider, would see the need for change, but as Gordon Smith (allegedly) found out, too many within the organisation are only looking out for themselves and don't have the interests of Scottish football at heart.

    "And we have to find ways of getting kids playing football again in big numbers" - how? More playing areas, more supervisors, more coaches, more accessibility - but all that is underpinned by needing more money. And in this financial reality, the likelihood is is that ain't going to happen.

  • Comment number 3.

    Look to past glories? Really?! Oh, past failures you mean... We always seem to get the two mixed up.

    Much like the game in England, Scottish football is far too bloated with vested interests and faceless blazers. I wonder if "Uruguay, with it's population of 3.3million" needs three regulatory bodies to control it's game? I doubt it.

    I agree that we need to concentrate on touch and technique but that will be impossible until the games rulers invest in decent facilities and coaching structures. Half the games that I played as a youngster were on awful pitches in terrible conditions, getting screamed at by maniacal coaches if you dared take more than two touches.

    We're nearing rock bottom in Scotland, it's a long road back.

  • Comment number 4.

    "He needs to get round the country and hear from the people who run Sunday boys teams, talk to schools football coaches, he has to listen to those in the Highland League, East of Scotland League, the Juniors too, and above all he has to ask the fans what they think."

    Thought I was reading an article about what's needed to sort the English game out, apart from the obvious Scottish geographical references.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Jim,
    Tinkering around the edges of the problem will make little difference and radical change is needed. The trouble with that is, of course, that people in power do not vote themselves out.
    The first change should be to summer football. Better pitches and weather will result in better football being played.
    The second change needed is to rationalise the football authorities into one organisation. Having 3 bodies is stopping any progression as each defend their own interests
    The third is education. It is time to introduce 4 hours at least of new after school activities for kids aged 7 up. It doesn't have to be sports, it can be singing, music, art etc, but introducing kids aged 7 to 17 to new activities, they are bound to be interested in (and good at) something. In 20 years we could have better basketball players, swimmers, footballers, musicians, artists, designers, IT experts, IT software designers, the list is endless!!!

    As to football.... it is a difficult problem indeed. Everyone talks about increasing the league to 16 or 18, but that will not solve things. The SPL was formed because of falling standards and attendances in the old league, and of course, money that would increase due to bigger games being played every week. The currents structure may not be ideal, but only a few games are meaningless. An 18 team league and many more would be meaningless. Do I want to see UTD V QOS or would they rather see 2 games against Hibs? I'd rather see 2 games against Hibs.
    How would playing QOS on a wet and cold Wednesday evening in February be an improvement? In my opinion, it would be worse.

    Scottish football will improve through better coaching, better playing surfaces, better facilities. We will contiue to have poor results in Europe and internationals for the next 5-10 years until the improvements outlined start to kick in. Grin and bear it for now, but if change starts to happen, the improvements will be visable.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ultimately no matter how you re-structure the youth system in Scottish Football, it comes down to the attitudes and mentality of the coaches, players and parents at grass roots level.

    In Scotland and England we still have a mentality of "get tore in". We appluad 2 players going in fast and hard for a 50-50 tackle on the half way line with the ball going out for a shy. I can't help but feel most continental folk would shake their heads at this and find it confusing why we place so much emphasis on grit and determination.

    Most of the coaches at grass roots level will be a player in the side's Dad. Thes guys will be the lifeblood of the game. Any re-structuring should make a frequent and sustained consultation or forum with these individuals to give them the tools to place greater emphasis on technique and ability and to also make sure they are implementing the new directives.

    As I say we have to change the mentality of the nation, before any re-structuring will be of any use. There is no point giving a coach lots of advice on technique and coaching drills then come Saturday/Sunday it goes out the window as he tells his team to "get tore in" and parents and players alike get caught up in a game they should be taking far less seriously.

  • Comment number 7.

    It's always the same diagnosis, and always the same obstacles to a cure.

    We have no 'pyramid system' and no means for successful junior or highland teams to climb the ranks, but our present clubs would never give up their monopoly to let these teams in at a decent level.

    We have ridiculously cramped leagues, wherein our pitches are ruined, and our teams are so overly familiar with one another that they have no hope when faced with the unknown quantities in Europe. But our directors and boards would never give up the income of three or four games at home against the old firm each year, or admit that the SPL teams are generally no better than another eight of the best first division, junior and highland outfits.

    We need to start the season earlier, to prepare for the early qualifiers, and take a winter break, but the present short season means that clubs can be administered on a smaller budget with a greater profit.

    The old firm take most of the income from our joke of an SPL, but the other clubs can do nothing because of a rigged voting system and a crazed avaricious greed that permeates all levels of the game and is reflected in their relation to lower clubs.

    We have practically a genetic predisposition to developing short, tricky wingers and wee Billy Bremner types, but they're abandoned in favour of the talentless tall kids who took horse steroids and offer an advantage at the long ball game, because our coaches are poor, our pitches are ruined and even our school teams are pushed toward winning at all costs.

    Did I miss anything? Shall we discuss the national team another time?

    We need to scrap the current league format, reduce the administration to a level proportionally akin to England's, redraw youth and reserve football, lengthen the season, adopt a break, re-jig the voting systems, adopt artificial pitches where we can and overcome the long ball game. The chances of even one of these changes coming in Regan's term, and staying in the game, are next to zero.

  • Comment number 8.

    My two penn'th....

    I honestly believe the Scottish need to make two divisions of twenty clubs.That way there should be more revenue for the smaller clubs and of course over time UEFA should increase the number of European slots for Scotland - quite a carrot to dangle to the non-Old Firm clubs, finish 3rd or 4th for Champions Lge or 5th-7th UEFA.

  • Comment number 9.

    Summer football for a start. Start in March, have a break in June, and play till Novemember. 16 team top division, with a pyramid structure. Scrap the league cup, play a Scottish Cup over 2 legs.

  • Comment number 10.

    Here we go again.

    Scottish football is dying, we need to make radical changes blah blah blah.

    We all know Scottish football is dire and everything needs to change but talk is cheap and I'm fed up with it. It seems as if the McLeish report has already been forgotten. Nothing has been done or will be done.

    it's all a bit depressing. No action = no improvement

  • Comment number 11.

    It is no suprise Celtic and Hibs were beated 3 - 0 in Europe. The Scottish League is ranked 13th in Europe now and the national team 43rd by FIFA. 1998 is a long distant memory now.Hanson and Gray retired in the early 90's and you have no decent players coming through because the Old Firm play foreign players policy. Maybe a ' Celtic' league (similar to the Rugby Union)with Wales and Ireland would benefit the young Scottish players (Irish and Welsh players also)as they would get a chance to compete.To many foreigners play for the Old Firm.Middlesborough have signed 8 scottish players and they will benefit playing in the Championship and Scotland will also benefit by playing against higher quality opposition than the poor SPL.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think it's fairly obvious to most that a winter break, "paid for" by an earlier start to the season is the way forward. As long as Scots teams have to play before our own season starts, we're always going to have issues making it to the later rounds.

  • Comment number 13.

    Small countries can succeed yes but the comparisons are just silly and you would have thought a Professor would not have compared apples with bananans: both Uruguay and N.Zealand qualified for the WC against less opposition and weaker teams Jim. European qualifying groups are not only much harder to get through, the opposition is gnerally better. In the case of NZealand they wouldn't have got there if Australia were still in their qualifying section.

    A better comparison with Scotland would have been Slovakia and Slovenia.

    On the need for change I unforunately agree with #16.

    #4 What is needed in the English game in terms of playing style applies to Scotland also. The British style is fine in Britain and Ireland but no developing football nations adopt it because it is garbage.

    Surprised by the Hibs result but not by the Celtic one. The revolving player door at Parkhead wonlt get them anywhere for a bit yet.

  • Comment number 14.

    Regarding recent European results, managers repeatedly state that summer football - starting the season earlier would be beneficial. I have to agree, there is no downside, better weather should mean higher crowds, an earlier start ought to mean fresher legs, benefitting our teams in Europe and also the national team in their qualifiers. Also during winter time there are no European games. As for the drop in revenue during winter time, surely the schedule of the SPL's payments to top teams could be adjusted to cover the drop in revenue from the lack of games.

    I feel strongly that this week's results are also down to in no small way bad decisions from managers. I mean, the idea of knock-out games are to try and get an away goal - highly unlikely when they don't appear to attack much, playing with 1 striker. Hibs left probably their two most talented players on the bench. Hughes and Lennon have little managerial experience in Europe, it was a gargantuan gamble to pitch them in - although Hughes deserves the opportunity for having done a good job domestically.

    In general the council etc does little to help enthuesiasm in the national game - taking down goalposts in public parts just as the good weather arrives?

  • Comment number 15.

    Sorry I meant I agree with #10m and not #16 (whoever they may be!)

  • Comment number 16.

    While all of what Jim says is true about primitive coaching etc. I can't help but feel that Lennon and Hughes were dazzled somewhat by the glamour of Europe.
    Both men went for strange formations rather than concentrating on their best XI. To leave out Riordan & Stokes was just incredible!
    Motherwell have so few players that Craig Brown did not have the luxury of tinkering.

  • Comment number 17.

    'Not enough money', 'need better coaches', 'pitches are rubbish' blahblahblahblah....

    The facilities were better 40 years ago of course?

    All I read is a list of excuses why we cannot improve...and every one of them is someone elses fault. But if you want to know the root of the problem - I would guess more than half of the people who've contributed to this Comments list are overweight. Thats the problem. Fat lazy parents breed fat lazy kids. Fact. And until this country gets of its erse, we will always struggle. Why aren't we all outside playing football now instead of surfing the net? Cos we are lazy. And if rain puts anyone off playing football, they weren't that passionate in the first place.

  • Comment number 18.

    If Chile was Scotland, we'd be moaning about the high altitude and how we don't have any football pitches inside giant great oxygen chambers, so our kids could 'have a chance'.

    Or if Ivory Coast was Scotland, we'd be moaning that we still have to make footballs out of bits of plastic and rubber found lying on the street.

    Tip: buy your kid a ball tomorrow, and dont let them in the house until it gets dark outside!

    (yes they may get mugged, but never mind that!)

  • Comment number 19.


    What on earth has got to happen before we all wake up ? Scottish football is just not able to compete anymore and the custodians of the game at SFA towers don't seem to have noticed. Time for a single governing body and for the Scottish Government to acknowledge that football is or was the national sport and that they have an obligation to at least partially fund it's development. Some children probably think that football is the thing that rich folk watch on pay tv ! How can children emulate their sporting football heroes when they never see them. Time to re-connect the game with ALL it's supporters.

  • Comment number 20.

    In terms of population and climate I would assume that Scotland is most similar to Norway. At the international level, Norway seems to be considerably more successful (FIFA rank 22 vs. 41) whereas in terms of their leagues, Scotland is more highly ranked (UEFA rank 15 vs. 22). The league rank however is, in terms of current performance, quite misleading, based as it is on relatively strong performances by SPL teams in 2006/2007 and 2007/2008. In reality, unless at least one team makes a strong showing in European competitions in the next couple of years, Scotlands UEFA rank will fall dramatically (over the last three years Scotland would rank well below such powerhouses as Slovakia and Belarus). I'm not sure where this leads, although I think that a first step could be a careful analysis of differences and similarities between the Scottish and Norwegian setups - perhaps broadening the analysis to other smaller northern tier countries that are successful at the international level. The bottom line is that another protracted period of navel gazing isn't going to get Scottish football anywhere - looking at how others address similar problems might at least provide inspiration.

  • Comment number 21.

    Here we go again the start of another European campain and already alarm bells are ringing. One of the problem we have with our game in Scotland and indead the British Isles is that we do not put enough emphasis on what our Kids are good at. The school cariculum dictates that our children must do various activities during PE lessons when its perfectly clear that some of the kids have no interest or compunction to take part in Basketball, Rugby, Gymnastics etc when its perfectly clear that Football is there main interest, now i'm not suggesting that these other sports should be ignored but if Mcleish and the rest are to get serious about the problems facing our number 1 sport then the resources need to be found that enable teachers at school to concentrate on what our kids are good at and stop waisting everyones time trying to teach kids sport that they clearly have no apptitude for.
    One more point i whole heartedly agree with summer football and i speak as a parent who has for years watched week in week out both my sons play on atrocious and dangerous public parks, these conditions are not conducive to good football

  • Comment number 22.

    Jim, how many times are you going to regurgitate this same old topic in your blogs.

    Worst still is the same old clichéd answers.

    Scottish football has always had peaks and troughs - same as every nation. Look at the self wallowing the English bathed in after their poor showing at the world cup.

    Outside the O.F. all of the Scottish clubs seem to be like rabbits in the headlights when it comes to preliminary rounds of European competition. And even the gruesome twosome are showing increasing fallibility these days.

    Still, all it takes is a few good results and it will be “wha's like us” again.

    Now, go out and do some real journalism.

  • Comment number 23.

    During the mid 70's Scotland had one of the best national teams in the world, so the question should be; what were we doing in the early to mid 60's that we are not doing now?

    The answer I feel may be much more complicated than the question, however I think there may be two main reasons; firstly the only leisure activity kids had was go down the park and play football, and they did so in any weather, secondly from Latvia to Ghana everyone else seems to have caught up with us.

  • Comment number 24.

    The season here in Sweden runs from March/April to October/November with a break in mid-summer.

    I'm not sure it's done much to improve Swedish football.

    But it sure makes going to the matches more fun than going in the winter!

  • Comment number 25.

    In a country famous for its freezng cold wet stormy winters and slippy chewed up iced pitches and training grounds. Why do we insist in trying to play and train on slush. We have cool summers ideal for playing and training yet we choose to operate in the worst of our countries weather conditions. Attracting kids to football means adopting summer football where kids, coaches and spectators can enjoy themselves by playing and watching in our best climatic conditions.

  • Comment number 26.

    The problem with summer football is that every two years it would clash with a major tournament. Although it's unlikely that Scotland would qualify, there would still be 10-15 players mainly from the Old Firm who would be unavailable for this period. If Scotland did qualify for a World Cup, what would happen during this period? I think that this is the main reason why summer football doesn't take place in Scotland.

    I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the main reason for the dire state of Scottish football- the Old Firm. There is no other country in the world with such a massive gulf between the biggest two clubs and the rest. Add to this the fact that they hunt all of the best young talent at an early age and then rarely bring any players through who are good enough for the national team. From the current Scottish starting eleven, how many were produced by the Old Firm? Alan Hutton is the only one. Where else in the world does this happen?

  • Comment number 27.

    1. The last time Scotland got to a World Cup in 1998, the senior players were guys who were born in the 1960s...

    2. In the 1960s, Scotland was a very different place ... no internet, no computer games, more manual jobs, fewer service economy jobs, far fewer cars on the road, hardly any TV channels, and less concept of risk among adults (so kids were let out to play football all day where now they don't get to stray far "just in case")

    3. This natural breeding ground for active, football-mad kids has now gone - forever - and plainly its more formal replacement of organised football for children isn't up to scratch - problems with coaching, with 'picking the big laddie' (as mentioned above), with going to football sessions once or twice a week and then sitting in front of your PSP for the rest of the time ...

    4. Even despite all the problems, Scotland still produces footballers, but the better and more adaptable players are in the English Premier (Gordon, Fletcher, Ferguson, McFadden) or the Championship (loads of them) where there is more £££, leaving the SPL short of native talent ... My team Aberdeen haven't had any superstar players in recent years but we have lost the likes of Russell Anderson, Michael Hart, Chris Clark, Barry Nicholson, Scott Severin and Lee Miller all since 2007 to yer Sunderlands, Prestons, Plymouths, Watfords and Middlesbroughs, all with an ability to pay higher wages because there is more television money and bigger average crowds down south ... (and partially because those players were pushing 30 and getting heartily sick of playing the same sides over and over in the SPL)

    5. We can't do anything about the existence of a bigger-money league on the doorstep, we can't do anything about a small population being unattractive to television companies and advertisers, we can't do anything about Scottish players going elsewhere for higher wages, or about the social and economic changes that have happened over the last 30-40 years ... nor can we do anything about being under the umbrella of UEFA hence participating in the toughest dogfight for places at major tournaments ...

    6. What we can do is organise our own football more sensibly (SPL, SFA, SFL etc), improve the coaching of the kids, make football as good an experience for fans as possible (rather than a dour struggle that largely takes place in the months after the clocks go back), live within out means, make the clubs into more participatory sports organisations for the community... and hope for the best ...

  • Comment number 28.


    Are you seriously saying uruaguay had an easier way off qualifying than Scotland? This is a team who has beating brazil Argentina etc to name a few and also getting to the wc semis so saying it's because the had it easy is very naive or else you don't really know much about football am afraid. Scottish football is a joke at present and to be honest what decent player is gonna wanna come and play in mostly poor stadia against the same team several times a season.
    I've heard all sorts off excuses over the past year or 2 blaming everything. Sadly I can't see things getting any better for quite a while and also after this season it could be a very long time before another spl team is seen in the group stages off the champions league as off next year only one will be permitted and have to go through all the qualifying, so things are only gonna get worse.

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

    Living in New Zealand, a rugby country, and after qualification for the world cup off, they go and perform pretty well. Not bad for a country of 4.5 million where soccer is very much a minority sport. Ok the qualification process is a bit easier (relatively) but irrespective they got there, unlike us. The oountry got right behind the team - qualifying for the World Cup lifts the entire country, as 1998 did for Scotland, a world cup i was fortunate enough to attend. My 5 year daughter starts soccer lessons next week, which is a weekly thing and coaced by a guy called skiv - hardly a passport to international superstardom but it's fun. Girls soccer is huge here, NZ qualified for the womans under 18 world cup recently, scotland didn't. Not really relevant to our current woes but maybe we need to take a back step, forget the "we are the best" mentality and get on with being a small country in a very big football world and try to qualify for the nest euro/world cup. I'm not going to begin to say how this is achieved but we must look at our peers (NZ, Norway etc] and realise that it can be done.

  • Comment number 31.

    Nostalgic rubbish from a few of here on here. It's computer games' fault and the internets fault that our kids our bad! It wasn't like that in our day! Absolute tosh! You think Scotland is the only country where the kids play computer games? Are the successful teams at the moment successful because computer games are so bad? North Korea didn't seem to do too well in the World Cup.

    IN the 1970's we had one of the best international teams in the world?! Behave. Why didn't we progress from the first stage of any World Cup then?

    This it was better in my day attitude is unhelpful and unproductive. Take of the rose tinted glasses and start pondering reasonable solutions. For me it's all about investment in youth.

  • Comment number 32.

    You guys were doing well in the 70's when smoking fags at half time was the norm, you guys as a nation are still smoking fags at half time.

    Your country is second only to the USA in terms of obecity and they've got the population to hide it. you have an shockingly abnormal drink culture.
    Start with getting your nation off the couch out've the chippie and pub and into the park.

  • Comment number 33.

    Are you seriously saying uruaguay had an easier way off qualifying than Scotland? This is a team who has beating brazil Argentina etc to name a few and also getting to the wc semis so saying it's because the had it easy is very naive or else you don't really know much about football am afraid.
    Yes I am suggesting that - look at the numbers of teams from the UEFA region against those from SAmerica. And only one SAmerican team made the WC's. Argentina were done over by a young German side

  • Comment number 34.

    Jim Spence is correct about most things but it has all been said before. The fat cats who run Scottish Football are not going to be moved by a bomb. They are not going to give up lucrative salaries, exotic trips all over the world, first class travel and fabulous hotels just because Scotland is becoming a laughing stock in the football world. They don't care. If they did, then they would resign with honesty and integrity, assets that they don't have.

  • Comment number 35.

    Should have said that only one team from SAmercia made the WC semi's at post #33 in response to #28

    And also that after Brazil and Argentina (no great shakes this time round) there is a big drop off in quality. Uruguay were excellent this year but really only made it so far because of the form and quality of Suarez and Forlan..once in a generation players in this country.

  • Comment number 36.


    Your country is second only to the USA in terms of obecity and they've got the population to hide it. you have an shockingly abnormal drink culture.
    Start with getting your nation off the couch out've the chippie and pub and into the park.
    Spot on and well said. Statistically, compared to others, we live in a place with far too many well fed people who feed their kids the same garbage they stuff their own faces with, and who drink far too much..'wha's like us?'..well not many thankfully

  • Comment number 37.

    @ #21 - that is compleate and utter crap about what the school's should do during PE.Yes kids may have a massive interest in football but that doesn't mean they are any good at the sport. I myself love football with a passion yet I can only play at very low,basic level eg.five a sides, but through my PE classes I discovered I was a good basketball player despite being 5'3".If it wasn't for being forced into playing basketball by my teacher I would never have found out and I would never have grown to love the sport.
    It isn't practical to focus on one sport only within schools as even PE teachers have different sporting talents.One of my favourite teachers loves football but he coached and oversaw all of the basketball at my school.He was the one that encouraged me to take up the American sport.
    Any work that needs to be done at grassroots cannot come from just schools.The governing bodies have to provide other coaching and playing opportunities that are more affordable for kids and their families.

    Also all these complaints about playing surfaces is unreal.Every single new school that is being built have amazing indoor halls for winter training if needed and most also come with state of the art astrograss pitches.
    Surely all it would take to make these facilities, already available to kids during school hours, more readily available out with school hours would be a lobby or pettition of the government to force councils to lower their charges of hireing these spaces for an hour or two. Or heaven forbid, charge the kids a couple of quid every session to cover the costs or make the kids get involved by having fundraisers and therefore teaching them lifeskills that everything needs to be worked for.
    Too many people in this country are all 'I want it now and refuse to work for it or wait for any work needed to take place'.This is being passed down to kids which is breeding laziness and a petulance often displayed by Kris Boyd when things don't go their way on or off the pitch.
    We must develop grassroots, to hell with what the seniors are doing.We should pump as much money into kids football as possible to improve coaching standards which will help the kids greatly.

    Also I look forward to seeing how the proposed ruling of having 8 homegrown players in the squad affects the EPL teams and is something that the SPL should put in place immediately,if it is proven to work, to clear out the foreign crap that is clogging up teams and give good Scottish players a better chance of playing at the highest level,which in turn can only help our national squad.
    But these things take time.We must look at a longer term aim rather that short, 4 year aims. Craig Levien, in my mind, has all of these ideas already in his head. I do not think he would have taken the Scotland job unless he would be allowed to have a massive hand in grassroots with the view of having better,more skilled kids coming through and peaking in the next 10 to 15 years.
    We are not a footballing powerhouse and despite some claims, we never have been.It's time everyone sat up and realised this and actually started trying to change it rather than sit and moan about how its this persons fault or these peoples fault.It is everyone's problem so everyone should be working to fix it and it must start now!

  • Comment number 38.

    Read all about it! Scotsman seen eating salad!

    Rubbish footballers playing in a rubbish league equals a rubbish national side.

    There, I've just saved thousands in consultant's fees and inquiries into the death of Scottish football.

    Vote with your feet-don't go to watch club matches and perhaps, just perhaps, the men in suits who are supposed to be taking the game forward in Scotland will listen. Don't go to Hampden, avoid the place like the plague, let these over-paid, over-rated, unfit, journeymen who insult the Scottish shirt by having the temerity to wear them, play to a completey empty stadium. Save your money.

    Then, the SFA may awake from their 30 year slumber. But I doubt it.

  • Comment number 39.

    When you look at football in Scotland & England what do you see a pub
    because when you look at most of all the teams they have lots of imports.
    And just like the pubs they to are full of imports.what i mean by this is
    where are all the young player in Scotland coming from. Celtic don't seem to bother
    or even rangers they are meant to our big two i don't think so.As i said they are like a pub full of imports,What dose this mean for Scotland not a lot and the more it goes on the more Scotland is going back who cares not the big two if it is not fixed then there will be no more football in Scotland to bother about no more big games,
    the thing is this who is going to fix it ?

  • Comment number 40.

    The enthusiasm and appetite for football in Scotland died out many years ago.
    Growing up in Dundee in the 50s and 60, every available bit of space was occupied with laddies of all ages playing futba. On lightee nights, it was the parks where there would be around a dozen or so mucky-up games goin on, with jerseys for goal posts. On the dark nights, (in case anybody in authority hasn’t noticed, it gets dark around 4 o clock in Scotland from November) it would be under the lampys in the streets and lanes. Yes, I know, the streets are full of traffic and parked cars now. But we always found a place to play, even if it was just shootee -in against a wall round the factories and mills.
    Another dead football institution is dennertime football. Every work had a game going at dinner time when I were a lad, even if you only got half an hour break. At one industrial estate, there was at least a dozen games every day. Even when I worked at the docks we managed to get a game going, with some great international games going on against foreign sailors off visiting ships. Near every work also had a team that played friendlies or in some league or other.
    I sometimes stop and watch a Saturday or Sunday amateur game, and cant believe the lack of basic skills and fitness among the young men playing. Probably because they just never learned the basics by playing as a laddie.
    The one I can never get my head round though, is boys football. Pass any park on Sunday where these games take place, and have a good look. 10 year olds playing on full size pitches with full size goals. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. I watched one time while a goalie, all 4 foot of him, took a goal kick that only just got out of the box.
    Some years ago, the SFA sent a delegation to Holland and Germany to see what they were doing right. Some months and a lot of money later, a report was issued and then they did, NOTHING.
    So, there it is. A combination of lack of interest in the game itself, and indifference to the way its played, to me has led to the demise of the Scottish game. We maybe never achieved much, but Scotland contributed many players to the teams that did achieve greatness: Liverpool, Notts Forest, Man Utd etc. Not forgetting the all Scottish Celtic team of the late1960s.

  • Comment number 41.

    "He needs to get round the country and hear from the people who run Sunday boys teams, talk to schools football coaches, he has to listen to those in the Highland League, East of Scotland League, the Juniors too, and above all he has to ask the fans what they think."
    Yes lets ask those who are not good enough to make it in the game how to run the game. What a stupid idea.

    Scottish football is suffering because of other interest and sports. EVERY sport has a drive on to increase participation, there are only so many to go around.

    In Uruguay Football is basically their only sport, most small countries who succeed are the same (Scotland could have done what NZ did if they had the same qualifying route).

  • Comment number 42.

    Broadly speaking, I would:

    1. get rid of the SPL,SFA,SFL,SJFA,etc etc and replace them with ONE body in charge of the game at all levels

    2. with the money saved from this, set up a dedicated youth development progamme. Pay people from Germany or Holland or Scandinavia who know what they are doing to come and run it.

    3. adopt a pyramid system for the leagues, ideally with 1 top national division of 16-18 teams and regional leagues below. Highland League, East of Scotland, Juniors etc all become part of the new system. This allows all clubs to find their correct level and encourages local interest as you would have more local derbies and less travelling to away games. Some lower division games could be played on Friday nights to hopefully attract some fans of bigger clubs along to watch.

    4. all leagues run from March to November. As has already been said, you would have better conditions for players and fans, meaning better games, meaning more fans, meaning more sponsors, meaning more cash and so on and so on. There is the added bonus that the top clubs would be much better prepared for the crucial Euro qualifiers in July/August. The league could pause during major tournaments, if necessary.

    5. the new improved league structure would attract a better TV deal and more sponsorship. A proportion of this would be ringfenced for the national youth development project. In addition to this, there is a small % levy on every transfer fee, which goes to youth development.

    6. in conjuction with government and/or private investment, the youth development fund should be used to build a network of INDOOR regional training centres around the country. These would be accessible to all kids from age 5 onwards, through schools, boys' clubs or whatever. Coaches are trained and certified by the national association, to ensure best practice. At the age of 12, the best kids are cherry-picked to attend residential coaching courses at the centres, where they mix football training with normal schoolwork. This has the added bonus of keeping them away from booze, chips and drugs.

    7. at age 16-17, the kids graduate from the training centres, and there is a US-style draft system to allocate them to clubs. Alternatively, they can be bought by clubs from other countries with the proceeds returning to the development fund.

    These changes would take 8-10 years to bear fruit but we would benefit hugely in the long run from them. Other countries can do it, so there's no reason why we can't.

  • Comment number 43.

    You can talk for as long as you like about making changes at grass roots, but if clubs like Celtic continue to waste their pre-seasons touring the USA instead of concentrating on getting the players ready then it's a complete waste. Why, having lost the 1st leg of an important Euro qualifier 3-0 on Wednesday (and having the 2nd leg this week) are they playing 2 games in the the Emirates Cup? Until they stop chasing the quick dollar - and make football the number one priority then nothing will change.

  • Comment number 44.

    Scotland's relative success was due in no small part to the rationing of sweet and fat foodstuffs from 1940 to 1954. Though rationing of food ended in 1954, many sweet and fat foods remained scarce (and thus expensive) for many years thereafter.

    So a big factor in our decline is our diet. It is not a coincidence that all of our 'golden generation' were born during or around wartime food rationing. Look it up for yourselves, but Bremmner was born in 1942, Jimmy Johnstone in 1944, Dalglish and Souness, 1951 and 1953, Denis Law in 1940, and Jim Baxter in 1939.

    The second factor is football inactivity. General inactivity, yes, but football inactivity specifically. There are not enough places available to play football that REPLICATE the kind of skills and techniques that were learned playing in the street. It does not help that so much of our playing fields have been sold to housing developers, but those muddy and lumpy playing fields did not teach us to control and pass a ball quickly, but playing in the street did.

    So that's why I think we became successful and why we have declined. But if I am right, how do we improve? Can we improve?

    I lack any belief that we can significantly improve because the political will to place people before big corporations isn't there. The politicians (for political reasons) can't agree on how to improve our health, and even if they could, 'we' the public would scream and shout - look at the public outcry at the ban on smoking in enclosed spaces?

    So how would we all react if the Scottish Parliament decided to tackle childhood obesity by enacting laws to restrict fast food restaurants to +16 or +18? Or taxing manufacturers of sweet gassy drinks, chocolate and crisps in order to subsidise the reduction is costs in fruit and vegetables?

    That's the real problem. We as a society do not want to change and therefore it won't change because to coerce such change would be politically unpopular.

    Wouldn't it also be bizarre if the main motivation in taking such actions were taken in order to produce better footballers? Forget cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes - let's change so we can get to another World Cup!

    We need floodlit five-a-side pitches - lots of them. And we need summer football. The former to develop skills, the latter to show them off by way of a TV deal. No one except Ireland and Australia play at this time of year - what an opportunity we are missing. All those supposed businessmen running Scottish Football yet none of them can see that there is a gap in the TV schedules that our clubs could be filling. In addition to that, those who are of sane minds would rather watch a match on a warm evening or afternoon than on a freezing one.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Scottish game will always be in a mess so long as Rangers and Celtic exist to keep the other teams down.

    There is NO hope for Scottish football with these 2 sides in it. Nothing that is tried will ever fix our game so long as these 2 are still there.

  • Comment number 46.

    # 37: Has missed the point completely, there is no suggestion that other sports should be forgotten and for someone of 5' 3" to be playing well in basketball is commendable.

    Lets be realists here PE teachers on the whole will put more emphasis on the sports that they themselves have more of an interest in taking away Chelle's on personal experiance and looking at the bigger picture.

    If i was to make a suggestion to the governing bodies it would be to do away with denominational schools ( a serious drain on an ever decreasing budget ) and have schools that allowed enough teaching staff with the correct attitude and specialist training to develop our childrens natural talents and abilities.

    As for other comments about new schools being built with all singing all dancing Astro turf pitches etc lets not forget that many if not all of these new schools have been built with private finance that we as tax paying parents will be paying for through our taxes for a very very long time so why should we have to fork out again to allow our children to use these facilities when the weather is bad, surely the sensible answer is to allow our children to be playing on natural grass surfaces in the summer months giving them every oppertunity to excel.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think the biggest problem facing Scottish football is this obsession that size is everything. Big and strong will win you games all day long. Well look at Barcelona now, some of the best players in the world who can rip any team apart and most of them are under 6 ft.

    I remember watching a Rangers youth coach on the TV moaning about the lack of fitness in teenagers and how Scottish football will never improve until this does. Sorry? You are not looking for talent, technique and ability before fitness. Anyone can be taught fitness, given enough time and training anyone can run all day, but not everyone can control a ball fired at them at 60 mph. This is one of the so called top youth coaches at one of the top clubs and this is his view, so what hope do we have???

    It’s time we got our priorities sorted and look at the Dutch, French and Spanish ways of developing youth players. We need to nurture every player we get in the right way, or we will forever be a country that produces big haddie who can’t actually play football, all they can do is kick people and the ball as hard as they can.

  • Comment number 48.

    Do an Australia and join CONCACAF. It should be a lot easier to qualify for the WC scrapping with the likies of Honduras and Costa rica for the 3rd automatic qualifying spot (or chancing a couple of wins against the US or Mexico to come second). It would also be a doddle for Celtic/Rangers to win the N.America club cup against NY red bulls etc allowing them to enter the World Club Cup and gain extra revenue.

    If FIFA say anythind=g use the case of Australia as an example and ask why it's one rule for them and another for Scotland.

  • Comment number 49.

    Nice article and i appreciate the sentiments expressed, but, unfortunately, anything like this is always pointless as it seems to fall on deaf ears.

    For years now our teams have been getting knocked out of Europe at this time of year and it always brings up this discussion of how to make Scottish football better. There are always some good ideas put forward, summer football, 16 team league, better facilities etc., but nothing ever gets done.

    When are the people in charge actually going to get around the table, make some decisions, and actively do something about it? Probably not any time soon as there is too much self interest and narrow mindedness in Scottish football, but how does it serve their interest letting football in this country die? Either take steps now towards fixing it before it's too late, or just stop pretending to be a professional footballing country and put us all out of our misery.

  • Comment number 50.


    as on old firm manager once said "a team that drinks together wins together" that one statement sums up whats wrong with scottish football, it may have been ok to do that 20years ago but not now in the age of fitness and sports science.
    too many of our top footballers like the bevy, just ask our ex scotland captain who seems to be untouchable as a role model and i had to laugh when our current scotland manager even tried to lure him back into a blue shirt, what an advert for young players and what a laughing stock it makes our football nation.
    if we as a nation aren't blessed with world class players then next best is a certain level of fitness that can mask a multitude of inadequecies. thats why small countries do well, they are all fit, could you imagine scotlands leading goal scorer last year running a marathon, i can't, he would probably keel over running from one side of the park to another, but thats ok, he doesn't even want to play for his country, amazing attitude for youngsters to look up to.
    you mention a way forward for the game by getting everybody together for a chin wag a cuppa and a fruit scone, but you made one glaring ommission from your drink tank, sorry think tank, and thats the players themselves. they are the product on the park.

    you's journalists never nail these football pro's with their pathetic attitude towards their sport who flaunt their wealth and the drink culture that surrounds them, they seem to have immunity in the press, why is that?. why don't you tackle that jim and see where it gets you, isn't it time you ruffled a few feathers, your in one hell of a position to make a mark, start the ball rolling and ask a few daring questions for a change.
    there is no reason that our small country can't produce players and have clubs that win in europe, jim, you can have the best coaching system and the worlds best coaches but whats the point if top players all hit the bars after games and get wrecked.

  • Comment number 51.

    Scottish club football has had a bad couple of seasons in Europe, but it is partly cyclical. A couple of years ago Rangers made a UEFA Cup final and Celtic made the round of 16 in the Champions' League. There aren't many UEFA countries that can claim that sort of achievement. Looking at some other similar-sized countries, Swedish clubs have not qualified for the group stages of the Champions' League in donkeys years and rarely do very well in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, Norwegian clubs have a couple of group stage appearences to their name, Denmark have also struggled to make the latter stages of European competition. Even countries like Switzerland, Turkey and Israel have not achieved a UEFA Cup/EL finalist. Meanwhile, for Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the group stages are a fairly distant dream.

    The worrying thing for Scotland must be the fact that non-Old Firm teams are not enjoying much success in Europe - imagine the boost a club like Motherwell would get if they were to go on a run. That said, didn't Aberdeen make the last 16 of the UEFA Cup the year Rangers made the final? That's not so bad. Maybe Scottish fans should try supporting a team in the Welsh Premier or the Irish Premier Division in Europe.

  • Comment number 52.

    Sorry If I'm going over common ground but G.Strachan said in an interview It's ok playing pretty football but if its 5 C you need high tempo football to keep the guys warm. You can play all the pretty football you want indooors under sheds but try it in Stenhousemuir in Lerwick In Cumbernauld in January you won't find many Xavi's or Iniesta's because they'll be frozen to death.

  • Comment number 53.

    Youth football is coached poorly. Although i wasn't particularly good some players would get in infront of better players in the team because their parents would complain and pressure the manager into selection their son. Our manager also liked to pick his'favourites' instead of the right players and would try and win the game to make himself look good rather than try and improve our level of ability. Some parents also seem to go mental and start swearing and encouraging theirs kid to lunge in to hurt other players than go for the ball. Also most have egos and believe they have made it. i would never have made it but would have continued to play youth football hade it not been for these reasons. these may be some of the reasons or not, but in my opinion are.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think the results for Hibs and Celtic had as much to do with the managers approach to the game as the ability of their players. You just can't afford to be so defensive in away legs in Europe particularly when your sides are more noted for attacking play than defensive spoiling.

    Was amazed at the way Lennon and Hughes set up their sides (leaving Stokes and Riordan the 2 best players in the squad out!).

    Motherwell approached the game in the right fashion and reaped the benefits, hopefully they can now finish the job.

  • Comment number 55.

    Jim we've been talking about change for 20 years and we're still talking. There's your problem. Root and branch change should start and finish with those that have been "running the game" lol - the SFA.

    We need do-ers, a new broom call it what you will but ultimately we need football men calling the shots, men of vision. What's the current top man's backgroung? He used to be chairman of Ross County for a while. Is it any wonder nothing changes for the better?

    Coaching. Facilities. Investment. Not that hard really if we'd get off our backsides.

    Talk about summer football, league restructure etc all you like its dancing around the issue. Again. You can't polish a j0by. You flush it and start again.

  • Comment number 56.

    Surely the main part of the problem is that European club competitions kick off too early and teams from some countries which have a summer break just aren't ready? Ok, that doesn't excuse Celtic losing against a Portuguese team, but what if Scotland in particular, because of its wetter and colder weather, adopted a season running from, say, March to December? By July and August, they'd have the strength and stamina to at least hold out in games and maybe not give late goals away through tiredness.
    The European club competitions have become too inclusive. People are beginning to think there's something wrong with our system of football, when the real problem is there's too much football and we simply can't prepare early enough for a July start. Players need a break. Too many weak teams are now gathered into the European fold and they try to qualify for a cup competition they have no realistic chance of winning - what's the point? Giving them experience? Generating income? Let's get back to the days when teams qualified for Europe through placement in their domestic leagues and let's drop the burdensome Inter-Toto Cup and all these qualifying rounds and pre-qualifying rounds. There's just way too much football nowadays, and re-branding the Uefa Cup into the Europa League was utterly meaningless. In fact, it was demeaning.

  • Comment number 57.

    Forgive me for asking, but how does Scottish football benefit from 4 Tiers of 12 Teams that play each other 3/4 times? This format has never struck me with any benefits whatsoever.

  • Comment number 58.

    ''Too many weak teams are now gathered into the European fold and they try to qualify for a cup competition they have no realistic chance of winning - what's the point? Giving them experience? Generating income? Let's get back to the days when teams qualified for Europe through placement in their domestic leagues and let's drop the burdensome Inter-Toto Cup and all these qualifying rounds and pre-qualifying rounds.''

    The reason there are so many matches is largely due to the political changes in Europe in the last 20 years ago.

    The USSR, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have all split up, resulting in 19 countries. For example, instead of just one place in the Champions Cup for the champions of the Soviet Union, there are now 10 ex-Soviet countries.

    This can't be helped, and it would be grossly unfair if UEFA were to do anything to restrict the number of participants from any country. Teams from Moldova or Slovenia have just as much right to compete as teams from Scotland.

    You say that: ''Too many weak teams are now gathered into the European fold and they try to qualify for a cup competition they have no realistic chance of winning''

    Well, the best ( 3rd in last season's SPL ) Scottish team in the Europa League is Dundee United; they have absolutely no chance of winning the competition. Should we prevent them from entering ?

    Also, the Intertoto Cup was scrapped a few years back.

    I agree with you about the renaming of the UEFA Cup, though ! Absolutely pathetic.

  • Comment number 59.

    The biggest problem in Scottish football is the dumbed down lack of innovation mentality that has over taken it. The lack of nerdiness in Scottish football has killed it stone dead. We are the back of class morons, not paying any attention, and being proud to be dumb and cool to be a dumb. The fans lack any spirit for dynamic new ideas at the top in Scottish football. We used to be a country of innovators, now innovation is frowned on
    When I come with any new ideas I am told get a girlfriend you sad bore, you're weird oh look at this loony. We will always fail with that back of the class moron mentality. And we deserve too.
    End of story. .

  • Comment number 60.

    My solution for the international side;
    1. Stick all the SPL reserve teams to play against real first team sides, in some form of tournament like a division E, or some new cup trophy, against real sides such as East Kilbride and A Talbot, and Spartans.
    This is because reserve teams players are not getting enough experience of real football.
    CELTIC and Rangers buy tonnes of foreign players.
    Most players need 3 - 4 maybe even 6 - 7 years to develop as a player, most old firm young players barely get a season of games, out of staying there for 6 years.
    To solve the international teams problems
    Stick the top reserve teams to play against real non league sides.

    In Spain, Germany and Netherlands the top teams reserve sides all play against real sides in either lower divisions or cup tournaments.

    It is nothing to do with grassroots, we have the same species as everyone else. The Dutch tell us to coach more the Uruguayans tell us to coach less. It is drivel.
    In the past a young player at celtic with potential would get a chance now they WILL NOT.

    So lets create tropyhy that gives them a chance.
    We could also invite Newcastle reserves, Sunderland reserves, and Carlisle reserves, and non league English sides. to play against out non league sides and SP[L reserve sides in this new trophy.
    We could do this this year. It is not difficult to organise. Just organise a new trophy between non league sides and the reserve sides of SPL sides.
    SIMPLE in one go every reserve team player would learn about real football. DO not bring back t told reserve league bring in amalgam of non league football and reserve football.
    It would be the easiest thing int he world to do and solve out biggest issue.

    In the Spanish, German, and Dutch system these separate side plays as totally different squads that cannot be interchanged from week to week. Obviously massive sides like Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich can afford to run separate squads but small SPL sides cannot. I would use the old British system of allowing players to move from reserve to full teams. Except I would have some rules to stop player burn out an to ensure teams were not simply playing their first team in the trophy.
    The rule could be no player can play in the reserve team if they played for the first team in the previous 8 days and that only 6 players in the squad can be over 25.
    This would ensure teams were genuinely reserve sides and used for developing youth players but that if a player did a good job for the reserve team they could move to the first team and play in Europe for the side.
    In the old reserve league in Scotland players could move from reserve sides to first teams week in week out I think this system should be kept, but that this system allows fringe players to get matches.

  • Comment number 61.

    It really is time for a fresh change, a fresh approach, get rid if the self serving numpty's at the SFA , SPL and all.
    Time for one governing body to oversee all of Scottish football from the top to the bottom.
    Time to have a minimum of Scottish players playing for Scottish teams
    Time for summer football, who cares if it will clash with a major tournament every 2 years, Scotland won't qualify and there wont be enough foreigners in the local game to make any difference.
    Time for all the monies coming in to the Spl clubs from TV rights and so on to be shared equally, surely if all the clubs have the same amount of money to spend on transfers and wages it will serve to increase competition in the league
    Time for the Old Firm to stop plundering their competitors players, not to strengthen their own team, but to weaken the opposition. Then they complain about lack of competition
    Time for Scottish clubs to introduce a salary cap. A lot of people will ridicule this saying that our best players will ultimately end up heading to England for more money. Ultimately a player who ends up playing in a better league will end up a better player and that can only help the national team. But this will always happen as long as there is no competition in the SPL. How many other countries in the world have only 2 teams playing for the trophies and all the others playing for scraps!
    We NEED a COMPETITIVE LEAGUE, one where any team has a chance to win the league. As it stands every year even people with a basic knowledge of the SPL will tell you which 2 will finish top, who will be top 6 and who will struggle to stay up! Tell me that that is COMPETITIVE!
    Only in Scotland could we devise a league where 7th place can have more points than 6th, or even 5th or 4rth!
    What a joke!
    Scottish football is like THE PEOPLES FRONT OF JUDEA: less talk and more action, thats rights we need to talk less and act more, what we need to focus on is more of the action stuff and less of the talk stuff............................................................................................................................................................

  • Comment number 62.

    Also my second idea is to make Scottish sides bigger, as our own sides do not try and innovate their own trophies too play big sides.
    In the past Scottish football was innovative with ideas like the Anglo scottish cup, the tennents sixes.
    So LETS BE DYNAMIC have a trophy with another country like the old anglo scottish cup.
    I would cut the SPL sides to 16 teams, 30 games a year then VITALLY have another trophy with another country like England or France or Germany.
    The top 4 sides from Scotland play against the top 4 sides from England or France, or the Netherlands, in a new cross border trophy. It has to be a big country with big sides who can be attractive for our sides, with our top sides playing so we can attract their top sides.
    The trophy would have 2 groups of four, followed by semi finals and a final. This way all 4 scottish sides are guaranteed each year games against other big sides.
    This way we get teams outside of Celtic and Rangers playing a champions league style trophy, every year.
    Scottish sides who did not qualify for this trophy would then play a league cup group stage of 5 teams in each group, to make up for the loss of games.
    We could easily organize this, it could be done next year. Just find another country to play against and increase the SPL to 16 teams. More side will get to play in the SPL and the top sides will get more big sides to play against.

  • Comment number 63.

    In a country where grit, determination and spirit are prized over guile, deftness of touch and skill it's hardly surprising that Scotland's football is at its lowest ever ebb. How to sort the mess? This point has been alluded to several times in this thread. Scotland as a whole is unhealthy. Heart disease, diabetes and obesity affect nearly every family in this country now. Scotland has to become healthier. More P.E (all sports) at school for children, mandatory until the day they leave. If this means extending the school day, I doubt many parents will complain as it will probably save on childcare costs. Teachers can have premium supplements paid if they coach the kids.

    As for the adult population, make it law that companies and employers must give you at least an hour away from your job for your lunch. No wonder we're all so stressed out; a high fat sandwich looking at BBC sport while crunching numbers to make your targets for the month isn't conducive to a good lifestyle.

    For football, enough of the administration already. Time for a new body, run by people from the continent who know what they're doing. Cheerio blazers, hello tracksuits. One authority, one structure. A child who shows talent at 8 years old knows that a direct path is open to them to reach a level where they can play football for a living. Keep the profesional clubs out until the players are 17. The players are then sent to clubs who show interest (and sign an agreement that the players will play and not merely keep the bench warm). Limits to foreign players, with non-home grown players only signed on a "business case" basis. Keep football out of the schools; schools can handle the physical fitness side while the football authorities can get on with teaching the kids how to actually use the ball.

    As one Mr Churchill once said, "give us the tools and we will finish the job". Give Scottish football the tools and we'll soon start playing the football we want to see.

  • Comment number 64.

    Every year we have this disscussion and every year nothing happens. something has to change massivly!. For a start why does Scottish football have 3 YES 3 governing Bodies??? the SPL, SFA, SFL?? surly one can be enough, every other country manage's. Why don't we have 1 Governing body that deals with everything in the Scottish Game,
    A few ideas that could help the state of Scottish Football:
    1, A Centre of Excellence that has players from say 14 - 16 training and playin for they club sides at the weekend
    2, have kids from 7 - 10 playin 6-a-side games with small pitches, to improve touch, technique and control. Also get them playing smaller slightly heavy balls so they don't always kick it long and encourages them to pass.
    3, a pyramid system like in england where teams get promoted from the league to non-league and competion for the teams at the bottum of the 3rd div, whats the point of finishing last if you stay in the same league?
    4, a limit of forgein players say 4 to a team and only 3 can start a game
    Scottish football will not improve unless the top guys in the SFA, SFL n SPL listen and talk to each other, Like Dick Adovcaat said when he came to Rangers "3 governing bodies, which rules are we playing by??"

  • Comment number 65.

    I really, really, really, hate being a scottish football fan at present. There is no innovation at all. Atleast other countries try new ideas. We hate innovation and intelligence as nerdy and weird.
    We deserve to fail with the lack of innovation at the top level. And all that will happen is someone will be go the Scottish government and beg for 300 million quid to build indoor football centres, where the players produced as a result will be chucked on the reserve team anyway.
    The top clubs never ever innovate. They are back of the class proud to be dumb bores. The fans all call you a werido if you come with a new idea, End of story.
    All we need to do is two things.

    Please 1)just have trophy between SPL reserve sides and non league sides
    2) Have a trophy between our top 4 sides and some other big country's top 4 sides, so our clubs play big teams.

    God I hate being a scottish football fan this is so depressing.
    Please God. Kill the scottish football part of my brain.

  • Comment number 66.

    I havent really thought this one through, but here's another suggestion (I agree with the winter break, and having one body governing the game):

    Scrap the League Cup - replace it with a competition that ONLY Scottish players can play in...AND these players from each team must have been born within say 20miles of the football club they represent. Would be alot more interesting than the current format, and who knows - maybe a few gems would be discovered in the process.

    Andy Goram said last season that 'playing for your country comes second. After all, your club pays your mortgage.' The amazing thing was that no-one was astounded by his comment. It was just accepted as being true. Without your country, you wouldnt have a house to mortgage, Andy! (and I'm a Rangers fan).

    If Rangers and Celtic, in the past 5 years, had carried on spending millions, we would never have heard of Danny Wilson, Aiden McGeady, Alan Hutton et al. I find it depressing that both teams would still rather scour foreign shores, looking for any old dross player, than give more of their youth a chance.

    Whatever the German's are doing, lets do the same.

  • Comment number 67.

    p.s. can we also ban the use of the term 'Scottish Cup'????

    It is the FA Cup!!!! Or do we need to look at ourselves from an ENGLISH perspective even in football???? They don't call theirs the English Cup, do they? What a joke.

  • Comment number 68.

    I have to whole heartedly agree with #22.
    When are you going to move the debate on, instead of this endless repetition?
    When is someone in the press going to do what #22 suggest and become a real journalist?
    Why can’t you pick just one of the commonly expressed opinions on this and other blogs, say e.g. the one governing body idea, and get out there, and find out just exactly who supports or opposes it? Which Managers are in favour and which aren’t? Are their views consistent with those of their club chairmen and other directors?
    People want answers to why change isn’t happening. They want to know just who is responsible for what.
    If it amounts to naming and shaming then so be it. Maybe then these inept and faceless destroyers of the Scottish game really are seen for what they are and made to stand right in front of the firing line for some well deserved Fan Fury.
    Stewart Regan has already said he wants to see Scottish Football run more on business lines.
    He’s going to find that this particular kind of animal in exceptionally short supply in Scotland.
    You can talk about summer football, leagues and all the other perfectly valid points as much as you like – it won’t make any difference. We just don’t have the right stuff, on the park, and more importantly off it, all the way to the top.
    And you want to know the most depressing bit? Nobody really gives a damn. Nobody is prepared to go out of their way to try and do something. Not one tiny little thing.
    You can always prove me wrong by doing what #22 suggests.

  • Comment number 69.

    No67 siulagrande

    Totally agree ! We Scots always defer to our English cousins .

    If you think small, chances are you'll end up small !

  • Comment number 70.

    The ONLY way to get things sorted, is for all us fans to stay away!

    The SFA and all only respect cash and the power it brings. Follow your club by watching on TV or listening on the radio-it'll only take one or two matches played in empty stadiums for the numpties to react, even after 30 years of ineptitude.

    DON'T buy the new shirts, DON'T buy ANYTHING to do with Scottish football and they WILL have to react. Do something by doing something else on match day.

  • Comment number 71.


    Why would any top four country (or even France and Holland for example) in Europe want to play in a meaningless competition with Scotish clubs ??.There are to many matches already, and playing inferior opposition is pointless.

    Scotland should play Welsh (Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham) and Ireland ( Glentoran,Colraine ..etc)in a 'Celtic' competion along with maybe Norwegian and Danish teams as guests.The younsters will then gain more experience in a tournament competion, which will help in UEFA and FIFA competitions

    If you think these teams are to low a standard ... why do you expect the top countries to play Scotland!

    Keep supporting Scotland although be a little more realistic about qualifying for UEFA or FIFA will take another 6 years

  • Comment number 72.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the standard of football in Scotland has dropped over the last 10 years. The odd success of Rangers and Celtic in the UEFA cup and champions league has done nothing but papered over the cracks of what has been generally appalling European performances of the Scottish clubs. Although some sceptics will make excuses for some of the performances, arguing that it's early in the season, and that the team is in a transitional period. However, these poor results against so called smaller teams have become the norm. The old firm in particular have had some pretty shocking results away from home over the last few years.

    Truth is we have become accustomed to our teams early exits from European football, and are left with the SPL. Perhaps it's my exposure to watching the English Premier League, and the Spanish league as well as the Champions league but the thought of going to watch St. Mirren play Hibs 4 times a season does not exactly excite me. To be perfectly blunt, there are other things I'd rather do since the overall technical standard football I've paid to see has been dire. Looking at some of the attendance figures many fans are beginning to agree with me.

    The SPL is dull, uncompetitive, stale, old fashioned and backward. The average footballer of an SPL team is best described as a journeyman footballer who would struggle to hold down a place at an English league one or two club. The majority of old firm players would not get into a starting line up of premiership team, some would even struggle at some championship clubs. Let's not delude ourselves, the SPL has become a footballing backwater.

    It shouldn't be a surprise, but fans, particularly old firm fans have lost confidence in their team and have resigned themselves to mediocrity. I would go far as to say that they've lost that enthusiasm and pride in their team they used to have. But then again it's hard to get excited about Scot Brown or David Weir when you've just seen Messi and Xavi tear a good Arsenal team to pieces.

    We do have problems at every level of our game. The most obvious solution would be to invest in our youth. But we've been saying that loudly for the last 30 years but still our situation gets worse. It seems that we have deep complex problems that prevent us from producing good, talented players that can compete at the top level. I don't think our problems cannot be overcome, but I wonder if the patience, ambition and will is exist to make it happen.

  • Comment number 73.

    I agree with georgiesaint.

    Celtic did the same thing last year travelling to Australia, London, Cardiff and Canada before September had finished for pointless friendlies. Added to this were trips to Moscow and London for Champions League Qualifiers.

    I can't believe that the club is playing two games in two days on the weekend between Champions League Qualifiers unless the board think that we will make more money in the Emirates Cup than the European Cup (Still hate to use the phrase Champions League, especially when most of the teams aren't Champions!)

    As for winter breaks..when they were introduced before Celtic just went on tour to foreign countries to fill the bicuit tin.

  • Comment number 74.

    The problem is the lack of philosophy in the Scottish game - what exactly is the Scottish style? At the moment it seems to be damage limitation. Scotland doesn't know how it wants to play football - we just want to win games!

    There is no methodology in the thinking of our footballers.

    Money will not solve the issue.

  • Comment number 75.

    74 is right with regard to our overall footballing methodology.

    This article by Jurgen Klinnsmann highlights some of the challenges and opportunities/benefits of leading form the top - he kick started a mini-revolution of the national side by engaging with every club, and would have gone further given more time ahead of the 2006 Finals.

    I don't know if Levein has the skill/ability or even the scope to go and do a similar thing - it'd be worth someone hiring Klinnsmann as a consultant to determine a strategy and help deliver it. There's a lot of competing interests, but it's harder to argue with it when it can visibly seen as being aimed at getting the National Team to Championships and maybe even doing a Croatia, Uruguay, South Korea and surprise everyone with a string of results.

    or we could try copy the dutch - i'm surprised no-one has thought of that before :)

  • Comment number 76.

    Were a lazy nation who think strenght, fitness and Size conquers! We have better facilities and coaching than most countries in Africa and probalby South America, so these are just excuses rather than actual reasons for our poor performance.

    I live next to a couple of parks, granted im at work during the weekdays however on my weekends i dont see many kids playing football in the parks. Kids are interested in tv, computers etc these days.

    I also recall getting coached as a kid, all we did was run, never any skill work, the small talented kids in our team didnt get a game cause of their size, and crap players (like my self) got more game time because of our size (i was taller... )

    At uni my friends and i would often try to go for a Kick abuot at various local parks, only to get kicked off the pitch by local greensmen who said the piches and goals were only to be used for games by the local club, not public use...

    Anyway its all talk no action, if you want better football in scotland, make sure your kids are actually playing it and training hard rather than sitting on their backside playing it on the playstation

  • Comment number 77.

    "With Celtic and Hibs both hammered, and only Motherwell managing a creditable draw, all against teams coming from small countries, the alarm bells must finally ring the complacency out of our game's rulers."

    "Small countries"? Portugal and Slovenia were present in South Africa while Norway are ranked 19 places above Scotland. You need to get a handle on just where you stand in the scheme of things before you set your level of expectation as regards your clubs in Europe.

  • Comment number 78.

    If we are going to discuss please lets get some facts right.

    Someone said
    "Also all these complaints about playing surfaces is unreal.Every single new school that is being built have amazing indoor halls for winter training if needed and most also come with state of the art astrograss pitches" This is only partially true! Some schools do get state of the art other get the cheapest Astro available and is not conducive to playing football at all. Secondly, many dont get floodlights put in so it cant be used by the community. Such a waste of opportunity.

    Someone also said they saw 10 year olds playing 11 a-side. If so, it can only be a bounce game arranged between some kids as all youth leagues in Scotland now play 4 a-side up to 8 then 7 a side up to age 12. The benefits of these changes wont be felt for some time. My sons have been playing in U10s and I can honestly say that most coaches try to get their kids to play good football along the ground. Their is a difficulty getting decent facilities. My boys team trained for an hour(all we could get) on an astro pitch which is not easy to play on with the ball running away from players too easily.
    On a more positive note - my boys have just signed proYouth for a Professional club and I have to say the training they get is first class with most of it to date based on increasing their technical skills so they can control, turn and spin away from an opponent. Some of the coaches also coach at clubs like PSV and Everton.
    I know not every club coaches like this but I believe the benefits of this quality of coaching will only be seen in a few years time when these kids stsart to come through the system. So I do not believe all is lost - there has been changes and they will take time to work or not.

  • Comment number 79.

    I am sorry I think you are all missing the point, children no longer take an active interest in outside sport. I live in an area with a football pitch 50 yards from my house at one time there would be up too 30-40 kids playing football for hours on end, rain or shine, this has not been the case for at least the past 15 years. Until kids want to play outside again football or any other sport in not going to be in a position to be able to pick and chose those with potential.
    Do schools still compete against each other in any sport?

  • Comment number 80.

    I am sick to death of reading and hearing the same things every year, with the proposals to put an end to the decline of our game.

    First of all, let us define what decline is. Real decline is what previously majestic footballing countries such as Austria and Hungary are experiencing. It's all very well citing the example of Uruguay, but there were plenty of similarly sized countries to ourselves who flopped or didn't qualify for the World Cup.

    It is naturally frustrating that we don't qualify for major tournaments these days, but in qualifying we've not finished outside of the top three in a group since USA 94. We always perform respectably but this is never enough, and like most I am a disgruntled Scotland fan who expects better.

    One major problem I see in our players is the fact that they don't actually know how to play football. Coaches know little about the game itself. They know how to organize and perform various drills, but when it comes to being educated mentally how to play, it just ain't there. No concepts of pressing, energy conservation, spacial awareness. Let's just run between cones. Great. Our players can't even shoot properly, their technique is very limited compared to countries with little/no facitilies on offer.

    Regarding our leagues and structure, Summer football is going to change nothing. Scrapping the League Cup is going to change nothing. I do however feel that the league system itself needs reorganized, there are far too many levels in operation. We are a small country and have more tiers than significantly larger nations.

    It's all very well saying that clubs like Hibernian et al can improve by proper youth development, but the reality is that even if they produce genuinely top players they will be snapped up by English clubs for a pittance. We've just about always been rubbish on the European stage and I don't see it changing. Foreign clubs like Shakhtar, Olympiakos etc spend obscene amounts of cash with even less European success than Rangers and Celtic have had in recent years. A reality check here is needed.

    On the grand scale of things, we do ourselves no favours by comparing ourselves to our larger, richer neighbours. Austria have the same problem with Germany, Portugal with Spain and so on.

    We are a joke but we do alright. But still, nothing will change in the near future.

  • Comment number 81.


    I think its important to put things in perspective. Uruguay, with its population of 3.3 million reached the World Cup semi-finals because they had an easy run. Had Scotland been in their situation (and I mean the current Scottish team), they would also have reached the World Cup semi-finals. Both France and England imploded, which meant that there was not much opposition in Uruguay's quarter of the draw. It was also the first time Uruguay had got past the second round of the World Cup since 1950. Their record since they won the trophy in 1950 is much worse than Scotland's. Portugal have been blessed with a 'Golden Generation' in recent years, in the same way that the era of Kenny Dlaglish, Graeme Souness, Gordon Strachan, Archie Gemmell et al was a kind of Scottish 'Golden Generation'.

    Scotland's biggest problem is that they are in Europe. Only the best 13 nations qualify from Europe, whereas at least 25 could perform adequately at the world cup. Quite honestly, had Uruguay been in the European qualifying section, they would not have made it to the finals in the first place.

    I don't think Scottish football is in as poor a state of health as you make out. It is true that the country is long overdue an appearance in a major finals tournament, but I'm not convinced that they are too far away from that. If countries like Slovenia (or a better comparison, Croatia) can produce the goods on occasion, then one can realistically expect Scotland to be able to do so again soon.

  • Comment number 82.

    I agree that we use the old cruch of 'we are only a wee country' far too much. the facts are fairly grim but fact none the less. Facilities around the country especialy all weather facilities are a joke. Coaching is sub standard and i would put that through the pro leagues as well. Administration of the game again through every level to the top is sub standard with jobs for the boys far too wide spread.

    The fact that it is only in the past ten years that clubs have invested in propper training facilities (Rangers, Celtic, Hearts & Hibs) is laughable. When the clubs are not investing in themselves how can the game be expected to develop? Kids not interested in going out and playing in the park? Sorry to say thats as much the parents blame for pandering to their childs cry for an xbox or playstation. Sales of the proevo and FIFA soccer games would sudgest that there is plenty of demand for the sport however whe have allowed our children to dream of glory in a virtual world as opposed to the real world.

    So to summerise, better coaching, better all weather facilities and better administration is needed. Has that not been the case for the past twenty years? When will the people with the power or the Journalists who have the means to make it uncomfortable for the people in power do something about it?

    No, ach well din'nay worry about it we do ok far a wee nation.

  • Comment number 83.


    I moved south first to Leeds and then the Home counties with a stopover in London. What really struck me was the large number of kids playing football in the parks sometimes with refs too. In west London every Saturday morning during term time in Pittshangar Park there was intensive training (I think they were FA coaches) for about 200 kids aged from 8 to 18, some of them girls.

    The older ones played full matches and the youngers ones were either taught how to kick the ball or dribbling around traffic cones. There are no changing facilities in the park and the kids were there in all weathers (contradicting the views about video games keeping kids inside all the time). It is grassroots schemes like this that will produce tomorrows players.

  • Comment number 84.

    I wrote a blog about this a while back, just before McLeish published his report. He covered a lot of what I wrote about, but some of the things that I thought would help include:

    Get our professional clubs involved in coaching of local youngsters - this can be part of their social responsibility policy, but it would be great if their professional coaches could offer some sort of advisory service to local coaches and teams.

    Reintroduce the winter break.

    Increase top league to 16, get rid of the embarrassing split in the league towards the end of the season.

    Each team to play each other twice a year, back to the traditional home and away fixture. I'm a Rangers fan, but I must say it's getting boring having too many Old Firm games every season.

    Scrap the league cup, this cup is pointless as the winners don't gain access to Europe. We should just have the Scottish Cup and the league, reduce the overall number of games that each club plays in order to free up more time for when they play in Europe and also to give breathing space to the national team when they play important qualifying games in the middle of the season.

    Perhaps they could introduce a Community Shield type competition to open each season.

    We should also get rid of this mentality we have that young players need to be protected. If a player is good enough they should be played, what would have happened to Messi if Barcelona had kept him covered in cotton wool, instead of unleashing him on La Liga?

    Technical ability should be promoted amongst young players as they're developing - too often we like aggression and graft at the expense of the ability to simply control a ball or make a confident pass to a team-mate, or to take a first time shot at goal rather than the hesitation we often see by our players. How many times have we watched Scotland games and seen our players have the ball passed to them but for them not to be able to control the ball or make a quick pass - these are the basics of the game and this is where we should be looking to improve.

    Football players should also be role models for youngsters, imagine what it would do for our country if our children were to see players who are technically good, keep themselves fit, eat healthy food, and don't feel the need to spend every weekend out in clubs?

    As we don't have a lot of money in our game, our top clubs should forget about trying to compete with the big clubs for players, instead a culture of bringing through young players should be the norm, in a similar way to the likes of Ajax do. Maybe by doing this we could produce players who becoming valuable and the big clubs around Europe would be interested in buying them - this would drive money into the Scottish game and raise its profile.

    I hate reading about our young players going to clubs like Burnley and Middlesbrough. Danny Wilson going to Liverpool is a positive move (even if it means depriving Rangers of a good player) - but hopefully he can be successful there and be the spearhead of our best young players joining the big clubs instead of the anonymity of mid-table or worse teams.

  • Comment number 85.

    Sadly, I have to agree with those who think it's the cultural problem that's killing our game. Fat kids, with an unhealthy lifelong interest in alcohol won't produce good footballers. It's easier to sit at home, pretending to be Wayne Rooney on your X box than it is to actually get yourself off your backside and down the local park.
    And those that do manage it can normally be seen face down in a pool of buckie flavoured vomit at their local swing park every friday/saturday night.
    The previous poster who took Jim to task if perfectly right - Players shouldn't be protected from being named and shamed, they should be brought to task in the press. After all, their bodies are the tools of their trade - if I was to walk into my office and smash up my computer, I doubt my boss would look on it as merely 'letting off steam', so why are footballers any different?

    And if that's the material we're starting with, imagine how much worse it is when our coaches just aren't up to standard either. It's embarrassing watching the SPL matches. You've got players who couldn't trap a bag of cement without it bouncing off them.

    As for this nostalgic view that we need to get back to doing what we were doing in the sixties - I mean, words fail me. Look at any footage of Scottish football from the 60/70's, look at the amount of space these players get, the pace the game is played at. I firmly believe that the current Scottish national side is the equal of the team of '67 or of Argentina '78. The crucial difference is that the rest of the world has moved on. We haven't. We're still stuck doing the same things that we were doing back then, fitness over technique etc. Players could get away with a ball bouncing off them back then. but now, the marking is so tight that you can't.

    The only positive I can see is if what posters on here are saying about youth football is true, and that the 'personal glory' school of thought amongst youth managers is finally being kicked out of the game in favour of structured games and emphasis on technique. I must admit that we've yet to see any evidence of it filtering through to the higher levels, but I would hope that 4 years down the line or whatever, we might actually finally see somee results.

  • Comment number 86.

    Scottish football is too full of Nepotism and small-minded coaches, its the same in England. As a teenager I struggled to get a game for my local team who were rubbish because I wasn't "one of the lads". The team consisted of the coaches son and his mates. I went on to play in America on a scholarship with and against top American players and former pro-youths from all over the world. This showed me that I have ability. All the old boys from my past would have a heart attack running for the bus now. Also down south my Dad failed his F.A coaching badges due basically to not getting on with the instructor who passed all his mates, even the clueless ones. I agree also with all the posts about our nations mentality, my wee brother had all the tools but has been throwing it away on booze and the wacky backy.

  • Comment number 87.


    One thing that I forgot to mention is the aspiration to improve their footballing skills once a young player is discovered. Although Arsenal have a fantastic track record at developing young talent, the foreigners keep on improving. The Brits tend to stay in their comfort zone.

    Fabregas for example keeps on getting better and better. Wenger quite rightly sees Jack Wilshire as potentially as good as Fabregas, but Wilshire would be quite happy going on loan at Bolton again. The downside is that the potential might not be realised - I am not slagging off Bolton but the quality of training at Arsenal is a lot higher. Imagine getting a one on one tutorial from Liam Brady!

    I am not up to date with Scottish football, but I suspect that the same lack of ambition pervades the game. Ultimately when you improve you take more risks and sometimes it is easier to let the foreign stars do so on your behalf.

  • Comment number 88.

    Indeed the comparisons are stupid. NZ are only at the world cup because their qualifying is a joke campaign. They also didn't win a game, and went out at the 1st hurdle. Uraguay were only the 5th best team in South American qualifying, yet finished 4th at the world cup! it is the first time they have one back to back matches at a world cup since the 80s. A great achievement, but a flash in the pan. So to say that is clear evidence population doesn't matter is simply not true. In almost all Euro/World cups of the modern era the winning country has 50million people or more.

    Scottish football does have some major problems, but i think the biggest is money or lack of it at all levels. Celtic's pathetic Euro performances recently have come when a new manager has come in and completely overhalled the team during the summer. The same thing exactly with Aberdeen, loosing all their big name players and playing wingers as centre backs. Hibs this year is unforgivable (and i can't understand that one!). I think teams like DU/Well/Rangers with settled squads will fare much better, but a lot depends on the draw (it is farcical these draws are seeded, the big teams already have every advantage). We are all too quick to forget Rangers run to the Uefa cup final, Celtic qualifying through the groups in the champions league under Strachan (twice), Aberdeen's good run in the Uefa cup.

  • Comment number 89.

    The problems in Scottish football are similar to those with the English game the only difference being that the English top flight is awash with money which papers over the cracks. Certainly the cultural problems of getting lazy pampered children back in the streets and parks and the quality of coaching are a problem nationwide. I would like to see the govenment intervene - you see all sorts of funding from the lottery etc going into grass roots sports that nobody really gives a monkies about but the national game in England & Scotland is in a mess.

    It should be a legal requirement that a high % of the money generated by the FA & the Leagues is re-invested in youth at a central level rather than the academy system and if that can't happen then lets take the youth development away from the clubs and with the FA on the basis they have to invest in high quality coaches.

  • Comment number 90.

    You don't need money to improve skills, you need a ball. You need a culture that encourages skill and enjoyment. Kids self develop if they are together at the park, one will try a trick the other will mimic it or develop it.

    Organised football needs to go non competitive until much later. Forget that one wee team beats another team 28 - 0. That is sanctioned thuggery in any other sport. Focus on developing skills and encouraging kids that love the ball at their feet.

    I have just come back from the Gothia Cup in Sweden with the boys team that I coach and the level of skills in some countries team are breathtaking. In the 1970's you would not have had Scottish kids marvelling at the joy, skill and teamwork of an African team but you do now. We qualified from our group and had some of the other countries congratulating us as we were not from one of the main football playing countries..Times change and now football development in Scotland has to change.

    I have been a boys team coach for 9 years now and in all that time we have had little or no direction from above as to how they want us to coach and what we should be encouraging. It would be easy and cost little to start a mass programme of skills development at ages 5 - 10 year old by providing the volunteer coaches with the training and support to develop a skills culture centred on fun with the ball. This would make it clear to the parents that the objective was to once again produce the Johnstone, Law, Baxter and Dalgleish's of this world. Artists and not simply athletes!

    It is not rocket science, someone high enough simply needs to make a decision and start the change!

  • Comment number 91.

    Same story all across the British Isles really. Everyone knows what needs to be done and those that can actually make a difference even know how to it can be achieved. Why they are not doing anything, I do not know.

    The bigger clubs already have a healthy infrastructure so it should begin by investing in the smaller clubs in England and Scotland.

  • Comment number 92.

    "You don't need money to improve skills, you need a ball. You need a culture that encourages skill and enjoyment. Kids self develop if they are together at the park, one will try a trick the other will mimic it or develop it."

    Very true.

    As Rinus Michels said, there is nothing more educative about playing the game than street football or kicking it about with your mates down the park. Skillful, creative and competitive.

    We're obsessed with monotonous, mind-numbing drills in this country.

  • Comment number 93.

    No. No No to all the stuff about grassroots we have the same race and culture as everyone else.
    Most importantly:
    1. We need to put reserve teams to play against non league and junior sides in some new cup competition. That way even when Scottish players do not get to play for the first team they can still play against real first team sides. We used to do this with division C in the past. The Spanish do this with their sides with Barcelona B, so does Germany and the Netherlands. The best 3 teams in Europe. So even when they have tonnes of foreign players in their first team club sides, they still get to play real teams in real matches. Rangers reserves V East Kilbride or Irvine, Hearts reserves V Spartans, Celtic reserves V Inverurie, St Mirren reserves V Tayport, in some new mini league league tournament, would be great development for younger players. This would help our sides get over the problem of foreign players dominating the first teams. As young players would still get real matches, against real teams, even when they struggle to be in the first team. Also invite some Northern English non league teams, to play in the trophy too. Have all SPL reserve teams in the trophy, against non league sides. They do this sort of thign in Germany and Spain it why they do well. Iniesta, Xavi and Messi all played for the Barcelona B team. Bastian Schweinsteiger played for the Bayern Munich II team. How is that no clear evidence that we should try the same sort of thing.

    It is nothing to with grassroots it is the elite areas of our game that are failing our top talent as they are not give a chance to play end of story. I want to see our people be better behaved, and have better health but forget that has anything to do with our how good our elites athletes do in sport. They are not linked issues.

    2. Change the league to 16 teams but ONLY on the condition that We should have a NEW CROSS BORDER TROPHY, with some major country with our top 6 sides against their top 6 sides. Such as France, England, Netherlands, Russia, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, or even the USA. Any will do ! Go for it. With 3 groups of 4. So our sides will get year after year matches against big sides, even if they fail in Europe at the first hurdle. So get tonnes of cash and the ability to challenge major teams again.
    We have Celtic and Rangers as a massive attraction to attract nations to play our clubs.

    tomslaford No we should be ambitious. We have Celtic and Rangers which could attract a major country to challenge our sides, Norway and Wales and Ireland do not have that. The Dutch, French, or Belgians, who have few big sides themselves, could be attracted to this. Plus every scottish side send tonnes of traveling fans when they go abroad, whether it be Hibs or Dundee. The purpose of this trophy is too give clubs something to aim for. The Irish leagues and Welsh league sides are too small to be attractive on their own, for the old firm to play against. How many fans would Celtic or Hibs get against Waterford, Wexford, or Newtown.
    There would be no point, We can have a Scottish - Welsh - Irish cup for the next 10 scottish sides and the top 4 sides from Wales, and the Irish leagues too. But I would not see the point in Celtic and Rangers playing a trophy against Irish or Welsh league sides. It would be a waste of time, and do nothing for our top sides. The biggest Irish and Welsh league sides do not compare too even a poor Hibs teams attendances, let alone Hibs and let alone the old firm.
    Have the top 6 scottish sides play a major country then the next 10 Scottish sides can play the Irish and Welsh league sides as long as we got more teams in the trophy than they do, as every club in our top leagues get bigger attendances than every club in the Irish and Welsh leagues. So we would be doing more for them, than them playing us.

    PLEASE CAN WE CHANGE , and stop asking the government for 100s of millions of pounds they will not give us, stop asking for rule changes that are not allowed under EU rules.

  • Comment number 94.

    Please can people realise this is problems with the elite of the game not tiny issues, and stop sending people to ask the government for millions of pounds, they will not give us. It is like me asking for someone to do a report for my company, on how it can be improved, and then they come back and say why don't you ask go government for 3 billion quid.


  • Comment number 95.

    Try and get a trophy against a major nation for our top club sides, so every top club side is guaranteed to play top teams each year.
    We used to have an Anglo scottish cup. Why not try something like that again, but with our top sides not our mid table sides.
    Have our top 6 sides play top 6 sides of France, or Germany, or the Netherlands, or England, or Belgium or Portgual, or the USA.
    Celtic and Rangers are a massive massive brand names to attract a major league nation to play our club sides. Look at the Americans and Aussies, paying million to have them tour their countries.
    I bet the French would love to play our top 6 sides. As long as it not in winter.
    Then with our clubs making more money we can keep our better, and buy players. Plus we would have more experience of european football.
    The clubs who do not qualify could have group stages of the league cup brought back or could play Irish or Welsh sides in some new trophy.

  • Comment number 96.

    The response to this topic proves the depth of feeling and the passion to improve the game.

    Craig Levein says that the new post of performance director at the SFA will change things for the better.

    Certainly Craig Levein initiated dramatic change to the Dundee United youth set up before he left Tannadice and United are about to embark on a new school youth academy set up with St Johns High in Dundee.

    So in some isolated cases things are improving.

    However, in the wide range of the very many excellent replies to this blog, a huge range of concerns are mentioned and I agree with a great many of them.

    As a country we have serious problems with alcohol,attitude, discipline and work ethic in football, among other things.

    I have a track cyclist and a footballer in the family, I know which of the two sports is the more demanding and professional and it's not the round ball. In terms of atttude, diet, sports science, work ethic, sheer hours put in, endeavour etc most other sports are ahead of football.

    Does football attempt to learn anything from them ?

    One point which strikes me forcibly is that at football there is a constant use of swear words. At track cycling events with my fifteen year old I never hear anyone cursing. A small thing ? or an indicator of a different breed of sportsmen and women ?

    Ian Jack asks me to take an individual subject and find out which clubs support various issues. It's a fair point Ian and I'll be doing that in the next few days, writing to all SPL and SFL clubs to ask them how many bodies should run the Scotish game.

    I'll let you know their answers in due course.

  • Comment number 97.

    No96 Jim

    I think it would be a great idea to ask each club how many bodies should run the game !
    Could you list the responses too ?

    If you're looking for a second question then how about - Should we play football in Jan ?

  • Comment number 98.


    thanks for taking up the challenge.

    I understand from the site administrator that the surfing trends of those who access the site indicates that 77.2% people using the site are primarily interested in change in the governing bodies.

    I've raised some of the other points commonly expressed like many others on this site but I haven't had a response.

    I go back to a point I've made before and that is to have any real lasting effect, the SFA has to deal with the strategic failings. There is plenty of real talent out there to deal with all the others.

    And yes, it would be interesting to see the responses listed. In fact I can't wait.

  • Comment number 99.

    There's certainly no lack of interest in this question. Every season I hope that our teams won't be humiliated in Europe but sadly they seldom avoid early exits. Only if we meet teams from the likes of Sam Marino or Luxemburg can we feel confident of progress.

    Many of the previous posts I agree with: pyramid league structure, better coaching, less Old Firm domination etc. One of the most obvious weaknesses of Scottish football is the fact that talent scouts from the rest of Europe never visit. How many Scots are playing in the major European leagues? Not far off zero I fear. That must say something about the football we play.

    Here in Sweden teams are constantly being raided by Dutch, French or German teams which should suggest that the youngsters are worth keeping an eye on. I know that doesn't mean that clubs do so well in Europe but it does show that the right type of football is being played. These players then are well adapted to playing in various European leagues and that helps the national team perform better.

    Another factor in national success is players' ability to adapt to living and playing abroad. Scandinavian players generally learn Italian/Portuguese/Dutch in 6 months and settle well in their adopted countries whereas Brits seldom adapt.

    We need to look hard at how football is run in Slovenia/Norway/Alovakia/Denmark etc and learn.

  • Comment number 100.

    I really just wanted to be the 'Ton Up Kid' but now that I'm here I might as well chip in.

    #99 you are dead right when you say that we can learn so much from other countries but have you ever noticed that when you do a really good job of something, people tend to say so what.

    That's because the finished article, as well as looking good, looks simple as well. The simple impression devalues it in some people's eyes and that is why they will look at somebody elses successfull attempts at the same job and still say so what.

    At the end of the day nobody really cares how it is done as long as it works.

    Nothing in Scotland is ever simple however.


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