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Football is alive and kicking beyond the SPL

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Jim Spence | 13:05 UK time, Wednesday, 18 August 2010

We can't prove there's life beyond earth, but there is most certainly vibrant, intelligent and passionate life beyond the Scottish Premier League.

Much as I love watching Scotland's top flight, there is a special quality about football outside of the SPL which is driven by a sense of belonging and community.

Starting on Wednesday evening and for the rest of the season I'll be back presenting "Beyond the SPL" on Radio Scotland, featuring life in the SFL, Highland League, East of Scotland, Juniors, youth and women's football, as well as your five-a-side team if you've a tale worth telling.


jagsberwick595.jpgIn that mixed bunch there are a million great tales to be told.

From Dundee, Dunfermline, Falkirk and others in the First Division who seek to restore former glories, to the Forfars, the East Stirlingshires and the Dumbartons; where the football is part-time and the wages might just buy the players a decent summer holiday.

There's also no lack of quality beyond the SPL.

The lower leagues have their fair share of guys who were knocked back by the big clubs because of lack of height, weight, or some other supposed missing ingredient.

These players have flourished in an environment where such factors are deemed less important than attitude and skill.

There is also a great sense of humour.

At a cup tie at Forfar a few years back I heard one wag in the home crowd chastise a foul-mouthed supporter of an SPL club with the riposte: "Watch your language, there's lorry drivers doon here".

A neat put down without the vitriol which often accompanies supporters' spats in the top league.

There is a great desire to win, but there is not the same winning is everything mentality that exists in the top league.

Much is made of the small crowds, but pro rata for the size of many small communities like Brechin and Alloa, attendances compare favourably with the big clubs.

In the East of Scotland League, clubs like Spartans put top clubs to shame with the work they do with kids, while in the Highland League a healthy and fiercely competitive world exists beyond the gaze of the many who never venture beyond the rarefied world of SPL football.

I have a special affection for the Juniors.

Before I was old enough to watch the senior game I could safely be sent packing the half-mile or so on a Saturday to watch Dundee St Joseph's or Downfield, both of whom drew decent crowds.

And what football fan wouldn't be stirred by glorious names like Ormiston Primrose, Linlithgow Rose, Jeanfield Swifts or Irvine Meadow?

Yes, there is a whole world beyond the SPL and it is rich and varied and wonderful.

The good news is you can hear all about it again this season on BBC Radio Scotland.

Why not join me?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hi, Jim.

    I have to agree with the majority of your blog. Im a Pars fan and before we were relegated I didnt really care much for the lower leagues, even though we had spent our fair share of time there in the past. But having been there for 3 and a bit seasons now, I can appreciate that there is far more to life in Scottish football than the stale, lifeless SPL. Its what proper football is all about.

    On a seperate point, have the BBC considered showing SFL highlights? I know that it would help with the promotion of the game to a wider audience and it would be nice to sit down and have a look at whats going on in the rest of the league, rather than just looking at a league table. Im sure it would tie in nicely with your radio show too.

    Its not like theres an inconsiderable number of SFL/Junior club fans paying the licence fee afterall...

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 2.

    Why would the BBC show SFL highlights who will watch it !!!! .... maybe BBC Scotland could show them ITV would'nt

    Attendances are a joke 200 - 500 ... in England amatuer teams get over 2000 in the non league !!!

    The Scotish Pub League (SPL)only has two decent teams in it also ..... the rest should join with the Irish and Welsh Leagues who are a similar standard

  • Comment number 3.

    Jim, I'm almost perpetually baffled by the Scottish Football League's poor visibility in the media compared with even the minor leagues in England.

    I understand there are 1,001 reasons for that but I am unsure as to why my team - Partick Thistle - cannot provide audio match commentary for overseas fans like myself. I'd subscribe.

    I have been told that the SFL's media rights are held by a subsidiary company of the league and that all 30 members are tied into that.

    Can you tell me, please, if broadcast and web rights are held by the one body and, if not, what kind of 'wriggle room' clubs would have to go forward on their own?

    I might add that I think the SFL's revamped website is very good indeed!

  • Comment number 4.

    You can't beat the Juniors Jim! Alot of people don't appreciate how big some of the Junior Clubs are and the decent crowds that watch Junior football, particularly some of the larger supported West and East Super League clubs.

    It's a pity there isn't a show which even shows the goals in the SFL Division 1. Surely supporters of clubs such as Dundee, Falkirk, Pat Th, Dunfermline at least deserve that.

    Finally, re comment 2! Seriously- have a word with yourself! Wow what a shock! You get bigger crowds in England! Really? Who would have thought that with England having 10 times the population? If you're going to come on here poking fun at the Scottish Leagues for being smaller than English amateur leagues, at least learn to spell the words you are using correctly!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    2 (tomslaford).

    Typical comment from someone who obviously knows little or nothing about Scottish football.
    Attendances are low, not because of the standard of footbal, but becuase of population. Sctland has a population of 5 million, 1 tenth of England's 50 million. Pro-rata, a crowd of 200 is equivalent to a crowd of 2000. Suggest you get your facts in order before just spouting the usual tosh about low crowds in Scotland.

  • Comment number 6.

    tomslaford the BBC do need to look at their coverage of football across the UK. I find it infuriating that Scottish viewers have to wait until Monday evening to get a highlights show of the SPL games, and the quality of the footage has not advanced much since the 70s. Most games seem to be covered by 2 cameras. Compare with the EPL coverage where you have dozens of camera at each game and lots of close ups etc. And BBC broadcast highlights from all 4 of England's divisions on Saturday night, followed by more highlights on Sunday. Do Scottish viewersreally want to watch Gillingham, Darlington, Scunthorpe etc on a Saturday night ahead of SPL coverage or our own SFL games?

    BBC are adding to the uneven playing field by investing more money in the English lower leagues than they do in the top Scottish leagues giving them more TV revenue and greater advertising opportunities. How many Scottish or Welsh games get broadcast in England?

  • Comment number 7.

    #6
    Good point. Wonder if Jim will now give an answer as to why that is, or seek to defend the current BBC policy? If footbal is alive and kicking outside the SPL Jim then why is that not reflected by BBC TV coverage?

  • Comment number 8.

    "2. At 8:08pm on 18 Aug 2010, tomslaford wrote:
    Why would the BBC show SFL highlights who will watch it !!!! .... maybe BBC Scotland could show them ITV would'nt

    Attendances are a joke 200 - 500 ... in England amatuer teams get over 2000 in the non league !!!"

    Not in SFL1 - Dundee averaged over 5,000 last season - more than some SPL teams and certainly higher than those in League 2.
    Others in the same league regularly have attendances approaching the 4-5,000 mark.

  • Comment number 9.

    @ no.2

    All your negative posts geared towards scottish football are utter rubbish - clearly someone who has no idea on anything related to football and that you are someone who has never, ever attended a football match in his life.

    And then you wonder why half the population of Scotland were walking around with ABE t-shirts on during the world cup?

  • Comment number 10.

    Couldnt agree more with number 5

  • Comment number 11.

    @no. 3, might be able to help you with your question

    Falkirk are showing match highlights on the club website of all Falkirks games this year (and broadcasting live to overseas members only) pending broadband connections etc at away grounds. You subscribe to FFCTV, which lets you watch the highlights, interviews etc. Falkirk bought the rights to show all of their first division games at the start of the season from the SFL. I personally think that this is great and maybe something that more first division clubs could look into?

    If each club in the SFL did this they would each only have 18 games to cover in a season, perhaps the clubs could then work together to put out a highlights program on the television?

    Its about time the SFL got some recognised coverage.

  • Comment number 12.

    The SFL does have some famous clubs that have all made some contribution at sometime or another in the history of Scottish football -
    Dundee (champions in 61/62, European cup semi-finalists in 62/63);

    Dunfermline (two cup wins and two 3rd place finishes in the 60s);

    Partick (League cup winners in 71/72, three top 3 finishes in the early post-war years);
    Falkirk (cup winners in 57)
    Airdrie (numerous cup final appearances)
    Raith (league cup winners 94/95)

    They should be televised - but as SPL clubs, in an expanded 18 team league.

    Falling income and falling interest in the current SPL set-up. The Old Firm - who led the 75 split, should wake up and smell the coffee:

    Scottish club football structure isn't working! And the EPL/Atlantic League options are no longer realistic.

    The four game a season/split nature of the existing format is largely responsible.

    For those who say expansion will reduce the quality, the recent staying power of promoted teams and the strong cup performances of SF1 clubs, demonstrates that (unlike England) the difference between the top two divisions is minimal, if not non-existent.

    As said, many current SFL clubs have the history, and grounds no worse than what's already in the SPL. So there's no excuses.

  • Comment number 13.

    To clarify my last post, I propose an 18 team league decided on merit - not by literally plucking those particular six clubs I mentioned from the SFL divisions. Just in case people got confused!

  • Comment number 14.

    I can see a top league of 14 coming in soon as 16 or 18 would loose too much revenue for the mid to top teams (Hibs lose a game against Rangers to swap with a game against Dundee etc).

    If there are any changes we also need to ensure that there is life out with the SPL. If too many teams join a new top league the revenues that could be generated in the SFL will be further reduced. We could end up with a situation where the 2 or 3 teams who are relegated just come back up again as the other sides are too weak to compete with them.

    While for a supporter of a team like Dundee or Dunfermline the thought of an expanded top league may be good can you imagine a season of having to go to Alloa and East Fife after having played Rangers and Celtic the year before. Its also something thats people at my own club St Johnstone need to think about as we go up and down every 4 to 5 years.

  • Comment number 15.

    Okay I admit that the population in Scotland is lower than in England , that is one of the reasons the Old Firm dominate the Scottish Pub League

    Greece and Denmark have each won the European Champions and they are small countries .... Scotland never have won anything.Odense and AEK will knock out Motherwell and Dundee

    Robbie Keane scored for fun in the SPL. McFadden rarely scores in the Premier and the jock strikers at McBoro are out of their depth in a higher standard of football


    In England the large cities have two decent teams Man Utd/Man City , Liverpool / Everton, Notts Forest/Notts County, Aston Villa / Birmingham Spurs,Chelsea, Aresnal ....etc each of these cities has won more European trophies than all of the Scottish Pub teams together.

    Celtic won the European Cup in 1967 and you moan how long it is since England won a World Cup !!

    No Scottish team has won a bean in Europe for ..... 25 years !!

    Scotland will never qualify for the World Cup again .... you are the same standard as Wales



  • Comment number 16.

    Okay I admit that the population is smaller in Scotland than England and that is one of the reasons the Old Firm dominate the Scottish Pub League

    Denmark and Greece each have won the European Championship and they are small countries !!. Odense and AEK will beat Motherwell and Dundee nae problem

    Robbie Keane scored for fun in the Scottish Pub League, yet McFadden rarely scores in the Premier League. Even the McBoro bhoys are struggling in the Championship because they are not used to playing decent teams each week instead of the rubbish teams in SPL (St Johnstone,St Mirren, Inverness CT ... etc )

    All of the cities in England Man Utd/Man City , Liverpool/Everton, Notts Forest/Notts County, Aston Villa/Birmingham , Spurs/Arsenal/Chelsea .... all have won more European trophies than the Old Firm and they are your best teams !!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    tomslaford part of the issue in Scotland is the old firm who take fans from all the other teams in Scotland. I see the same thing happening down south as fans travel to watch the likes of Man U or Chelsea rather than watch their local side. We have been living with ths for 50 years and it will have an effect in England over time

    Having just watched Odense beat Motherwell 2-1 I would not be so sure that Motherwell will get beat, where as Dundee United , yes Dundee United not Dundee the once bankrupt team from the other side of the street and the Scottish first division are getting beat just now.

    My own team St Johnstone attract home gates in the SPL in line with league 2 but for a town of 40k its ok. We can still attract players such as Jody Morris and Michael Duberry and don't rely on overseas cash or TV money to keep us going.

    I would be more concerned about England only being able to win 1 trophy on home soil (and changing the schedule so that all the games were at Wembley) than Scotland or wales not winning a European championship as we have won as many of them as England.

  • Comment number 18.

    Tomslaford please stop embarrassing yourself. You simply won't admit that per head of population scotland has better football attendances than England does.

    The Premiership is not the amazing leauge you think it is - driven by TV money and for the same standard players are paid 5 or 6 times the money that they would earn in Scotland. There are very few English players in the premiership, and even fewer of them are any good or play for the top teams. That's why England were so humiliated in the world cup. Slovenia, Algeria and the USA arent exactly world beaters.

    You talk about "rubbish" teams in the SPL. Well, look at Wigan, Blackpool etc in the EPL . The EPL is on the way down and I can't wait til the financial aspect kicks in and English clubs stop outspending their size.

  • Comment number 19.

    The only way that the bottom end of the Football League, Highland League, East Scotland League, South Scotland League and Juniors can hope to increase awareness is to form a pyramidal league structure ....

    But with the Highland League having a 'closed shop' attitude and the East Scotland League and East Juniors not co-operating then what can you hope for ?

  • Comment number 20.

    Aside from all the juvenile bickering, it's over to you Jim. Why is the beeb's coverage of SFL football so poor, STV gave up on the whole thing but the beeb should take more responsibility. What about a game on the red button on a Friday night where they'd be up against no competition for viewers as Sky don't show a game every Friday night.

  • Comment number 21.

    Greece and Denmark have each won the European Champions and they are small countries .... Scotland never have won anything
    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Yes Denmark and Greece won the Euros and given your population size it must make it even more embarassing!!

    Robbie Keane scored for fun in the Scottish Pub League, yet McFadden rarely scores in the Premier League
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Comparing apples and oranges again? Its amazing where not listening in class takes you eh!? You are welcome to your greed league though..English players getting fewer and fewer, English coaches disappearing, more average English clubs being bought over, Rooney touted in the press as being at the same level as Ronaldo and Messi (a classic!), Stevie G doing his big Captain thing against Hungary and Becks the boy wonder..still in his own head. Golden generation?

    Interestingly the OF won their European trophies with all-Scots sides as did Aberdeen. Name one of those winners with an all English side? In their heyday neither Spurs nor Arsenal nor Chelsea for all their money won the main European trophy did they? They could buy a replica cup!

    No one here moans about how long its been since England won a trophy, you must be on the wrong blog mate..£6m a year for Cappello to tell you your players aren't good enough after he'd worked it out on his index. Brilliant!

    Don't stop mate keep it coming!! It's coming home...



  • Comment number 22.

    As an avid follower of the Spiders (Queens Park for the uninitiated), I think the SFL has some cracking football and some pretty decent players too. Just look at the fight over Queens' own Barry Douglas this summer with both Dundee United and Watford offering big money to sign the boy. There is some cracking football in the lower leagues, granted some rotting games too. But look at the 25000 folk who'll go to watch the likes of Wolves and Birmingham City muddle through a 0-0 draw that then gets 5 minutes at the end of match of the day. It's little different at times from the likes of Stranraer vs Elgin on a manky november saturday.

    As per many of the comments above, the English Premier League isn't all that. Yes, some big clubs, yes some spectacular players but they often mask the mass of mediocrity in standard of half the games. With the amount of money now ploughing into Man City, Chelsea and now the likes of Blackburn, it's totally unsustainable and it's only a matter of time before it implodes.

    I was delighted to see more coverage given to the English Championship last season - what a fantastic league. No 6 in the world apparently for attendences and viewing figures. It's amazing competitive, totally unpredictable who'll win the title.

    Here's for more lower league coverage and greater advocation from our national broadcaster for real football.

  • Comment number 23.

    I don't get the demand for Friday night football. As someone who runs a youth group on Friday nights the Scotland games being moved to that night are already causing problems for us and I know due to the drinking culture in Scotland the Police will never let it happen.

    SFL football thrives on a Saturday at 3pm and the lack of TV coverage may assist attendances. Perhaps a highlights package on a Sunday would be good for all of the Scottish game.

  • Comment number 24.

    tomslaford Aberdeen have won more European trophies than Man City, Everton, West Ham United, Leeds and Newcastle. The fairs cup is not a real European trophy officially. So even the giant Leeds and Newcastle combined have won less officially.

    Plus the Dons have won more European trophies than Bolton, Derby, Sunderland, Notts County, Stoke, Chester, Boro, Southampton, Portsmouth, Birmingham City, both Sheffield sides, Bradford, Norwich, Ipswich, and Doncaster, and COMBINED. I repeat COMBINED.
    Not bad for a pub team.

  • Comment number 25.

    For all those of you who are involved in running a team at any level "Beyond the SPL" would be delighted to come out and broadcast live from any meetings you are planning to have where there is an audience.

    So if you run a boys or girls club, junior, Highland League, East of Scotland or any kind of team and are due to have a meeting of all concerned which would tie in with our Thursday night slot betwen 7 and 8 pm get in touch via the replies here or e mail me at jim.spence@bbc.co.uk and we'll see what we can arrange.

    After all there are no shortage of talking points in the game "Beyond the SPL"

  • Comment number 26.

    Also stick reserve teams of the big sides to play sides from outside the SPL. This way our young players would get experience against real teams, and it would encourage more interest in lower league football.
    They do this in Germany and Spain which have the best international in Europe and it gets round the ussue of too many foreign players int he league as if your reserve team plays some real sides then the players get real experience anyway. In Spain Barcelona B and Villareal B play in the second divsion. So more young players get real experience.
    We need to do something like this.
    How about a trophy between all SPL reserve teams and the first teams from third division sides and the best junior and non league sides.
    It would be of real interest to the fans Elgin City V Celtic reserves. Tayport V Dundee United reserves. Would in my view get good crowds for the smaller sides. and be real football matches for young players.


    tomslaford If we have a pub league does that mean the championship is a pub league. Or are you a hypocrite. Also atleast we are not funded by human rights abusing countries who use english football to con the public into ignoring human rights abuses. I would rather have a pub league than league funded by human rights abuse.
    Look up the UAE. Why do you think they really bought up Man City? Do you care?

  • Comment number 27.

    tomslaford it is amusing to hear you go on about Scotland has won nothing in international football and will never qualify for a major finals again because we are the same standard as Wales. Remind me what England have won in international football recently please. Oh, they've won 1 major tournament 44 years ago. Heck Scottish SPL teams have triumphed in Europe more recently than the 1966 World Cup one hit wonder victory :)

    PS I think you'll actually find that going on the last few head to heads that Scotland are nowhere near as good as the Welsh national team ;)

  • Comment number 28.

    Jim

    I know I have raised the issue of the lack of tv coverage of the lower leagues previously and now others have also. Can you please tell us why that is the case.

    Thanks

  • Comment number 29.

    Real Isle of Man ....

    Get your facts correct Jimmy bhoy

    Everton, West Ham United and Man City have all won European trophies !!!

    European Cup Winners :
    England 11 times
    Scotland 1 (Last time in 1967)

    EUFA Cup :
    England 8
    Scotland 1 (1972)

    The Scottish Pub League is rubbish ... 38 years since the Old Firm won anything !!

  • Comment number 30.

    to 28 Bruce

    I'll ask the powers that be Bruce and get back to you on it.

  • Comment number 31.

    #29

    EUFA Cup :
    England 8
    Scotland 1 (1972)

    -------------------------------------------
    European Cup Winners? You mean European Cup/Champions League??

    EUFA??

    What you mean he should get his facts right and then we all can watch you get it wrong again!? In 1972 Rangers won the European Cup-Winners Trophy! Just what are you going to compare next?

    Still you can make allowances for errors in ‘fact’ but in this and previous posts when you clearly can’t grasp the concept of proportionality and arithmetic it’s much more of a concern!

  • Comment number 32.

    Since the Champions League ceased to be a competition for just the champions of each league in Europe, and since big countries like England get allocated 4 places to Scotland's 1 or 2 places it stands to reason that since the EPL has had almost the same 4 teams getting byes straight into the group stages for the last 10 years then it is a lot more likely they will have a chance of winning than an SPL team having to play in qualifying rounds to reach the group stages, and that due to the combined benefits of having 4 places in the group stages guaranteed most years the EPL clubs are also guaranteed higher revenue from CL prize money, CL TV revenue and advertising revenue from being at this stage automatically, that's on top of the EPL TV revenue also giving English clubs a head start over almost all the other clubs in the competition.

    Despite all the extra revenue English clubs have at their disposal their top 4 clubs are £2bn in debt.

    If clubs in the CL were forced to balance their debts, rather than EPL clubs signing players on £200k per week (a figure they don't seem to be able to actually afford) it might be a lot more interesting to see how the CL played out... even more so if we reverted to 1 club from each country in the CL. Most of the recent English winners of the CL were not actually the champions of their own league at the time.

    The way the CL rules currently work the 4 EPL teams can't be drawn against each other in the group stages, and this means if the draws for the group stages are reasonable for them, they have a good chance of having 4 teams in the last 16 most years.

  • Comment number 33.

    Jim

    while you are speaking to the powers that be about coverage of Scottish football can you also ask them why we have to ENDURE highlights of the English lower leagues being given preference in the Scottish schedules over SPL coverage (Saturday night highlights v Monday night highlights). Would it also be possible to see if there is a way we can make the English have the SPL highlights inflicted on their sports schedules? As a Scottish licence payer I don't like not having a say in a bigger slice of my licence fee being given to coverage of lower league English football than SPL or SFL in Scotland. Then there is the national team too. BBC is happy to pay big bucks to secure terrestrial coverage for England matches and broadcasts them live in Scotland at the same time as Scotland games go unbroadcast in Scotland.

  • Comment number 34.

    #32

    Don't waste your time responding to #29.

    This one started to appear on the 606 boards posing as a Scotland fan and then as a Celtic fan a couple of weeks ago..before people quickly found out that he was neither and as we can see in his responses to this topic, can't argue his way out of a wet chip poke!

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    Tomslaford, I still don't get your argument.

    England havnt won anything now for FOURTYFOUR years. Liverpool and Manchester United's championsleague victories came under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson (SCOTTISH) and Rafael Benitez (Spanish). Shortly after your greatest ever achievemnet of 1966, Scotland beat you at Wembly and Celtic won the European cup, and beat Real Madrid (the best team in the world), Rangers also got to the semi final of a major european competition.

    Yes, there is little interest in the Scottish game abroad. But we expect and accept that.

    I would also like to remind you that in 2007 England were ranked 12th in the world and Scotland 14th, (that's TWO places behind btw) Not bad for a "mickey-mouse nation" eh?

  • Comment number 37.

    Aberdeen have won more European trophies ( Two) than Man City, Newcastle Utd, Sunderland, Bradford, Bristol, coventry, Stoke City, Preston, Burnely, Barnsley, Wolverhampton, West Ham Utd, Blacpool, Blackburn Rovers, Everton, Derby County, every single town or city on the entire south coast of england, every city or town on the east coast of england Hull, The entire Isle of Wight, Blackburn Rovers, the entire north east of england, cumbria (all of it), the whole of Cornawall somerset, devon and Northumberland.

    The whole of Yorkshire on mass can compare itself to the might of Aberdeen, one club side, as they together on mass have won 2 trophies.

    Aberdeen have won the same number of trophies in Europe as Leeds. That is who you should compare us too AT WORST.
    We do not compare ourselves to your piddling tiny clubs, who have won nothing and never for EVER NEVER will, how dare you call us a pub team go and drink your beer from your ldv paint cup, as 80,000 fans cheer the ldv pain cup win.
    We have played in madrid, Munich, Spain, holland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, we have been all over europe while your club would regard a visit to Wigan Pier as an exotic climb, they need injections for.
    Most of your clubs are nothing zero zlitch, no matter how many fans watch your piddiling zero leagues, it makes no difference. It makes no difference. Get over it. How dare you compare my club to your English bore teams in dead end towns no one cares about. Your clubs are tramps who have barely left their home city.
    We have seen sites you can never imagine. The closest your club will get to europe is a theme pub in dorking.

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    St. Mirren FC have been in the the cup winners cup quarter final.
    St. Johnstone FC have been in the UEFA cup quarter final.
    Kilmarnock FC have reached the quarter final of the uefa cup.
    If they are pub teams what does make 90% of clubs in the english league, whose idea of a exotic journey is a trip to the .

    The closest most english pub league clubs get to an over seas trip is a journey across the river severn to see Swansea. No further you might get lost. Maybe if you close your eyes and click your fingers you can pretend that is an adventure to compare to trips to Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Lisbon, Granada, Russia, Turkey. But hey I am sure pub teams travel to these great cities, and play great european names all the time all the time, every year to play real football matches.
    English clubs are mostly of no consequence at all. Plus Queens Park have reached two FA cup finals.
    YOU ARE THE PUB LEAGUE.

  • Comment number 40.

    St. Mirren FC have been in the the cup winners cup quarter final.
    St. Johnstone FC have been in the UEFA cup quarter final.
    Kilmarnock FC have reached the quarter final of the uefa cup.
    If they are pub teams what does make 90% of clubs in the english league, whose closest idea of a exotic journey to Europe, is if they hang over the edge of Brighton pier.

    The closest most english pub league clubs get to an over seas trip is a journey across the river severn to see Swansea. No further you might get lost. Maybe if you close your eyes and tap your feet together you can pretend that is an adventure to compare to trips to Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Lisbon, Granada, Russia, Turkey. But hey I am sure pub teams travel to these great cities, and play great european names like AC Milan all the time all the time, every year to play real football matches.
    Oh the greatest name in club football are not English. They are all outside of England.
    English clubs are mostly of no consequence at all. Plus Queens Park have reached two FA cup finals.
    YOU ARE THE PUB LEAGUE, an overrated pile of drivel.

    Who have won the most european cups? AC MIlan and Real Madrid.
    Who have won the most world cups? Brazil, and Italy.
    How many european championship finals have england been to. The same as us. End of story.
    England is a failed backwater of football.

  • Comment number 41.

    #38
    No, we probably won't, given the fact that none of our teams can compete with the top, or even middle clubs, in Europe.
    We know and accept that, so there is no point in trying to wind us up, you are just making youself look like a tiresome primary school kid. (perhaps you are?)
    At least the Scottish game is facing up to financial reality and living within it's means. The silly money being paid in England can't be sustained, there will be more and more clubs going into administration over the next couple of years.

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    As a St Mirren fan I can say our quarter-final appearance in the Cup Winners Cup obviously passed me by. The last time we qualified for that competition was 1987 when I think we got knocked out in the 2nd round by the eventual winners: Mechelen from Belgium. The time we won the cup before that was 1959 and I'm fairly sure we didn't play any European matches off teh back of that win.

    We are however the first British team to win a European trophy. Not many people still remember that famous night in Barcelona, 1926 :)

  • Comment number 44.

    @ No 11. Thank you for that. I hope Bairns are enjoying their club's offering.

    A few years ago a (now former) Partick Thistle director told me the club's media rights were bundled into those of other SFL clubs and owned by a subsidiary business. I don't know if this is now the case.

    To my mind clubs are missing a huge opportunity and that void is being filled by the efforts of fans using mobile web at games.

    Thistle has an excellent text reporting service on its website. Why isn't there an audio feed available for fans overseas or outside of the central belt who'll use that service and pay for it? How is it that clubs are so slow to exploit new technology to reach fans and open new revenue streams?

    Fans of clubs are justifiably aggrieved by the huge weighing of media coverage towards the SPL. However, those clubs only have themselves to blame. The technology is there.

  • Comment number 45.

    @ no.44 the only SPL clubs who get a huge weight of coverage are Rangers and Celtic. Partick Thistle will get almost as many column inches in the Daily Record, Herald, Evening Times as St Mirren do.

  • Comment number 46.

    Real facts for Real Isle of Man or anyone interested !!!

    UEFA Club Rankings 2010 /2011 : (Based on last 4 years performances)
    1 Barcelona
    2 Man Utd
    3 Chelsea
    4 Liverpool & Arsenal
    30 Spurs
    31 RANGERS (Hanging in there)
    42 Everton
    49 Fulham
    52 Bolton
    53 CELTIC How the mighty have falled)
    55 Middlesboro
    64 Man City (Will rise significantly this year) & Newcastle
    78 Aston Villa
    93 Portsmouth

    Only 2 Scottish teams in the top 100 ..... the not so mighty Auld Firm ...Braga are in their though !!!

    Where are the other teams ... Aberdeen, Motherwell,Hibs, Inverness CT ..etc !!

    UEFA Country League Ranking for Leagues 2010/2011 (Based on past 4 years performances of teams in UEFA competions)
    1st PREMIER LEAGUE
    2 Spain
    3 Italy
    4 Germany
    5 France
    6 Russia
    7 Ukraine
    8 Romania
    9 Portugal
    10 Netherlands
    11 Turkey
    12 Greece
    13 Switzerland (Small country)
    14 Belgium (Small country)
    15 Denmark( Small country)
    16 SCOTTISH PUB LEAGUE ( SMALL COUNTRY)
    17 Bulgaria (closing up fast )

    England have won the European Cup 11 times with 4 Clubs Liverpool,Man Utd,Notts Forest and Aston Villa)
    Spain have won 12 ... with only two clubs - Barcelona and Madrid
    Italy 12 times with three clubs - Milan, Inter and Juventus

    No other country has had more individual winners than England ... must be the strength in depth .... bet an English team wins it in 2011 !!!

    CUP Winners Cup Winning Nations ( now defuncted)
    8/5 England (Won 8 lost 5)
    7/7 Spain & Italy 7/4
    4/4 Germany
    3/4 Belgium & 3/1 Russia
    2/2 Scotland ( not bad for a small country)

    UEFA / Europa Cup
    9/6 Italy (won 9 / lost 6)
    6/8 Germany
    6/5 England

    In 13th place
    0/3 Scotland !!!!!!!!!!!

    So it is based on facts not rose tinted glasses



  • Comment number 47.

    So in your view any country not in the top 100 are a pub team which means the entire english league is largely a pub league
    Only 8 English clubs are ranked higher than celtic only 5 higher than Rnagers.
    England is a backwater nothing to compare madrid and AC Milan.
    England have never been to a european championship finals.
    9 scottish sides have reached european trophy quarter finals, compared to 24 for England. So if our league is a pub league then so is yours.
    England should have had 90 as it has 10 times the population.
    I nottice you tank england as higher than italy spain in european cup wins.
    12 is higher than 11 get over it.
    Learn how to count.
    Anyway even queens park an amatuer side in scotland have a better head to head record against aston villa, nottingham forrest and Aston villa.
    Queen's Park Scotland 3-0 Nottingham Forest 1885 fa cup final semi final. 1885
    Crewe Alexandra 0-10 Queen's Park Scotland 6 October 1883 FA CUP first round
    Queen's Park Scotland 15-0 Manchester 1 December 1883 FA cup 2nd round
    Queen's Park Scotland 6-1 Aston Villa 19 January 1884 FA cup 4th round
    There so much for a pub team. I expect even now if we put albion rovers in your fa cup they would win it. .

  • Comment number 48.

    So in your view any country not in the top 100 are a pub team which means the entire english league is largely a pub league
    Only 8 English clubs are ranked higher than celtic only 5 higher than Rangers.
    England is a backwater nothing to compare to giants like madrid and AC Milan.
    England have never been to a european championship finals.
    9 scottish sides have reached european trophy quarter finals, compared to 24 for England. So if our league is a pub league then so is yours.
    England should have had 90 as it has 10 times the population.

    I nottice you rank england as higher than italy, and spain in european cup wins.
    12 is higher than 11 get over it.

    Anyway even queens park an amatuer side in scotland have a better head to head record against your so called giants aston villa, nottingham forrest and Manchester.
    Queen's Park Scotland 3-0 Nottingham Forest 1885 fa cup semi final. 1885
    Crewe Alexandra 0-10 Queen's Park Scotland 6 October 1883 FA CUP first round
    Queen's Park Scotland 15-0 Manchester 1 December 1883 FA cup 2nd round
    Queen's Park Scotland 6-1 Aston Villa 19 January 1884 FA cup 4th round
    There so much for a pub team. I expect even now if we put albion rovers in your fa cup they would win it. .

  • Comment number 49.

    #46

    Based on 'facts' but not on any understanding of stats on your part...

    ..you used Wikipedia to show in terms of cup wins in Europe, that relative to England the Scottish leagues have won almost exactly what you would have proportionally have expected them to win...

    ...Duh!!

    ..you've managed to disprove your own arguement..normally to win a point it helps to throw evidence to prove it..has nobody explained this to you?

    ..maybe the English Defence league has a view?

  • Comment number 50.

    #46

    ps the countries all listed as 13 (population 7m+), 14 (10m+, twice the pop'n of Scotland), 15 (5m+) and 17 (7m+).

    On your facts we look fine..thanks for that!

    ..now what do you want to prove next?

  • Comment number 51.

    Jim,

    just listened online. Great programme addressing a long needed void in football coverage in Scotland. reading the blog left me wondering about a few points:

    1 - wonder out of interest how many contributers to this blog listened to last wednesday's programme and what they thought of it?
    2 - are the BBC able to tell what the listening stats are?
    3 - will you be allowing fan participation - phone ins/interviews?

    Good to see the BBC making this programme available on line.

    P.S. any feedback on the Governing Body question from a previous blog?

  • Comment number 52.

    How many teams will qualify from Scottish Pub League this week and join Reangers ... my guess possibly Celtic only

    Simple question .... will Scotland ever qualify for the World Cup .... answer nae chance Jimmy ! ... 1998 is a long time ago

    Will a team from the Scottish Pub League ever win the Champions League ??? nae chance Jimmy !

    The standard is declining fast in the small country at the end of the A1M (St Jonhstone, St Mirren, Inverness CT .. are poor teams that the Auld Firm unfortunately have to play 4 times a year what a joke even Boyd could score down there ... 1 goal in 3 matches so far in the Championship about the ratio he will get down in a proper league)

    We are not bothered in England at Scotlands demise .... guess you do not care for England ( thought not )

  • Comment number 53.

    The EPL is an awesome league. But as an Englishman in Wales I do take an interest in Scottish football. It is a great league. The EPL and SPL are both two great leagues. A great success story.

  • Comment number 54.

    Was at the Turriff United - Keith game at the weekend in the Highland League (turra won 4-1) and all 4 of the goals for turriff were quality. Shame they couldnt get in the scottish cup this year cause of the stadium issues i believe but next year!

  • Comment number 55.

    #52

    Never heard of a pub team called 'Reangers'!

    Your questions were always simple. The problem was that your evidence didn't stand up. Good that you've stopped presenting your 'statistical facts' because they weren't working out for you…

    …and it took you a while to notice...for days I thought you'd never get there!

    You’ll find plenty of football fans in Scotland who think like #53 that the EPL can be ‘awesome’ to watch at times (and the Championship too!). But you are the MOST bothered person on the blog about Scotland's so-called demise, even though I’m not sure the Russ Abbot tribute act stuff reflects that. Success in football as in most other things comes and goes in historical cycles and nothing ever really stays the same despite what we think. Will teams from the SPL (or even teams from outwith the SPL) ever win the Champions League? Will Scotland ever qualify for another WC? Will Brazil ever win the WC again? Despite what we think of as the probabilities of these things happening, the truth is, I really don't know whether they ever will..but more to point neither do you..unless you think are ‘Mystic Meg’!

    But who is the "we” in your statement “We are not bothered"? Have you got a pet dog who agrees with you as well? And I’ve never heard of the ‘A1M’ but hope that you have invested in a new SatNav because you could get easily lost without one. You could always ask the dog though!

    A classic post. It'll keep me laughing..maybe even until well into Thursday!

  • Comment number 56.

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

  • Comment number 57.

    The Scottish Pub League? It's not so long ago Celtic were beating everyone at Parkhead (Mowbray's abberation aside) and will probably regain their home form as their team stabilises. Rangers were in the UEFA Cup Final a couple of years back. Aberdeen gave Bayern Munich a scare before crumbling in the last 32. All of these teams had a strong Scottish core to them.

    Look at the English teams; undoubtedly filled with exceptional talent but rarely in this talent English. Gerrard, Terry et al all failed to perform in Sewf Efrica while young vibrant teams like Germany and Spain showed the new standards in possession football.

    Scotland has done ok (pass marks at best), but English teams have done really well (some may call filling their teams with foreign mercernaries cheating) over the last 10 years. I doubt this is a surprise to anyone given the massive finances at the disposal of the Premier League. What is amazing is that Walter Smith took one of the poorest (in skill and monetary terms) Rangers teams in recent history to a major European final. Celtic defeated Man Utd and AC Milan at Parkhead rather recently. Things are far from grim when looked at in this light.

    The Sky bubble will burst and Spain and Italy will regain their hegemony of European football as the foreign talent streams to where the money is.

  • Comment number 58.

    Inter won the Champions League without an Italian and they had a Portuguese Manager.Maradona captained Naples to win Serie A.

    Messi is Barcalona's best player (is Argentinian),Rondaldo,Ronaldinho (Brazilian) Cryuff, Kempes ...etc

    Englands league is still ranked No 1

    Football is an international except in back waters like Scotland ... who never attract decent players to a Pub League


  • Comment number 59.

    Recent history - Rangers lost 2 - 0 and their fans were a disgrace in England .... should have been banned

    United and Liverpool have won the Champions League in the past 5 years

    Scotland have no record to be proud of

  • Comment number 60.

    tomslaford You are a Man Utd fan. If it was not for scottish people your club would like Sheffield United or Leeds at best, and maybe even out of business after WW2.
    Get some gratitude.
    Who is your most successful boss A scot, second most sucessful boss a scot,
    16 of your 18 titles have been won by scots,
    All your european cups, league cups, cup winners cup were won by the country you seem to despise, and detest.
    Maybe they should have chosen someone more grateful to aid.
    We will recognize your people have no sense of gratitude.
    Most goals in a season in all competitions: 46 – Denis Law, oh no another one
    Most hat-tricks: 18 – Denis Law (3 November 1962 – 17 April 1971)[26]
    If you lot had any gratitude you would be playing in Blue. Instead you seem to be the most anti scottish fans i have ever seen.
    What is that about?
    Did Scotland invade in the middle ages or something?
    Obviously you must be upset because We scots have not done enough for Manchester United over the years. I am soooooooo sorry. Maybe we should have made up for how rubbish you lot are at making your own teams good yoursevles.
    This is obviously some issue you have over the devastating 15-0 win by Queens Park in 1883.

  • Comment number 61.

    Guys, the next time there is a General Election, remember one name as you walk into the voting booth - 'Tomslaford'.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    #61

    Why? People who do Russ Abbot tribute acts with a massive insecurity complex are usually only in demand on Blackpool pier!

    And as you can see, his uber-England arguments aren't that intellectually demanding for your average 12-year old..doesn't grasp things quickly and the spelling can be challenging at times..

  • Comment number 64.

    This is getting embarrassing for all concerned (two under-achieving footballing countries fighting about who is the worst), BBC please put an end to this thread.

  • Comment number 65.

    Scottish football is at its worst level for nearly 4 decades, that is clearly shown by the standard of play by our national team and clearly shown by our teams in Europe. I really hope that Motherwell can qualify but I am not overly confident yet again Rangers and Celtic could well be our only representitives and neither of them fill us with confidence on the big stage.

    So our top tier is pretty much a joke, and this is where I take my first issue with you, you claim that there is no shortage of talent in the lower leagues, but their is a dearth of talent in the top league, I would therefore suggest that the lower leagues are no better( thats why they are lower leagues.

    Too the guy that said that attendances were not that bad as England had 10x population size compared to us. they also have 10x more teams than us, and if you compare the conference league where the catchment area is the same as teams in the 1st division, and I could argue that towns like Dunfermline are probably bigger the crowds are still pathetic in the lower leagues.

    I have brought this point up many times before and on your other blogs before. "you can fool some of the people some of the time but you cant fool all of the people all of the time". The fact is that what is on display in our top league is at times appalling and it gets worse as you go down the leagues.

    We dont play football in this country anywhere at anytime, we play kick and rush by a bunch of thugs, strenght and the ability to take the man out of the game are more important than technique and ability. My son is a referee and I follow him a lot and watch many lower league games and junior games and I am never ever ever dissapointed by the poor standard I have too endure.

    On the upside I have seen an improvement in the standard of youth football and I hope and pray that that continues as that is going to be the only saviour for Scottish football, because I have to say that what I see in the lower leagues is not great and that is why attendances are so poor( not the we only have a small population nonsense).

  • Comment number 66.

    Another humiliation for scottish football, tomslaford is right we are a joke. Celtic lose to some nameless dutch side. I hate scottish football now! Yet again another joke.
    I wish i had been born in a patriotic country, that tried out new ideas and was innovative like we used to be.
    Scotland is most unpatriotic country on earth.
    Why cant we be like what we used to be.
    Did all the innovators move abroad.
    Now all we have is
    1. Celtic fans who support ireland
    2. Rangers fans who support england
    3. Celtic and Rangers fans who care more about some derby, and league than what we do as a country
    4. The rest of the fans don't even seem to care, about Scotland at all, and seem more interested in hating the old firm and the league being "competitive", above having a good league.
    5. Scottish football is in hoc to oafish elements in the support. The support of mindless people who shout at every single SFA chairman or president ______ is a ******, regardless of who he is. Just mindless oafs who hate innovation and don't really care how well we do.
    Atleast the english fans care about how well their clubs do.

    I have put forward ideas that are done in GERMANY and SPAIN.
    I have put forward my ideas about putting forward reserve teams in the lower leagues, as they do in GERMANY and SPAIN, so our young players get guaranteed experience, and how our major clubs should organize something like a new version of the anglo - scottish cup except with other countries so they can play more times against big sides from other leagues, so they can guarantee European matches regardless and these ideas get ignored over ideas that Scottish football can't affect like asking the government for 100s of millions of pounds.


    All that will happen is some pointless report will get commissioned where some luminary spends 3 years compiling a report where they suggest all our problems could be solved asking the Scottish government of millions of pounds for training facilities.
    Dead End all the time, No innovation ever what joke.
    I relate more to Tomslaford as he cares about his club sides.

 

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