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Is success relative or are we Europe's poor relations?

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Jim Spence | 00:19 UK time, Saturday, 20 August 2011

In your view, which of the three Scottish clubs had the poorest result in the Europa League on Thursday night?

And why, in your opinion, was their result the worst?

On a dire night for Scottish clubs, how do you gauge how poor, or otherwise, a performance was?

Should you compare the relative size and wealth of the opposition?

Should you look at factors like population and footballing tradition?

Hearts suffered the ignominy of being beaten by the second biggest scoreline of the night.

Only Italian giants Lazio's 6-0 thrashing of Rabotnicki of Macedonia was bigger.

Not only did Hearts look puny on the field in terms of athletic prowess and general sharpness and fitness, but off the pitch they are weaklings financially compared to their North London opponents, Spurs.

The White Hart Lane outfit have a turnover around £120m a year compared to Hearts' £10m per annum. That gulf in money equals a giant gulf in class.

And so it proved on the night, with Hearts being outclassed in every department of the game.

What about the Old Firm, though?

Rangers, cruising against Maribor, who hail from a city of around 140,000 souls and a country of just two million people, managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory.

By any definition, the Ibrox side are a huge club by comparison to Maribor yet now face the very real and humiliating prospect of heading out of the Europa League at this early stage.

Last Saturday, I was at Celtic Park as the home team gave Dundee United a master class in finishing, yet not once could Celtic stir the back of the net of Swiss side Sion.

Again, Celtic who need top-flight European football on a regular scale to satisfy their financial needs, are a huge club by comparison to their Swiss opponents.

Yet Celtic also face a real possibility of a European exit.

Are we in Scotland guilty of misguided expectations, or are our top sides under-performing on the European stage?

In Finland, football comes behind ice hockey and basketball in the nation's affections, yet Helsinki managed to beat German side Schalke 2-0.

The German club are hugely resourced by comparison to the Finns. So how can Helsinki achieve that kind of result against much bigger opposition when both halves of the Old Firm can't beat much smaller clubs?

There was a time when Scottish sides held their heads high in Europe. Aberdeen, Dundee United, Dundee, Hibs, Dunfermline and Kilmarnock have all on occasion had great nights on the European stage.

What has changed since those days and how do we ever go about recreating them?


  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 2.

    The only viable model for our clubs is to concentrate on producing technically accomplished young players. Get that single thing right and success both on and off the pitch will follow. We've tried buying in foreign "talent" over the last 20 years and have only seen sporadic and fairly modest success by Rangers and Celtic. The general rule in Europe for all Scottish clubs over this period has been one of early exits.

    Better players means better football. Better football means bigger crowds, larger TV audiences and eventually more TV money when the contracts come up for renewal.

    Better players will also attract more attention from other clubs and larger transfer fees. The reality is that every club in Scotland is now a "selling club". Embrace that fact and start to get a production line of young talent flowing through the club. Decide on the style of football that the club will play (hint: a skill and possession based passing game at a good tempo) and stick to that from the youngest youth side all the way through to the senior side. When the big transfer fees come in don't blow the money on some third rate player that played 6 times for Hungary several years ago. Instead invest it in the club, improve the training/medical facilities, put it into the scouting/coaching teams, build an indoor 3G pitch to ensure training can be done in good conditions and for community use, etc, etc.

    I know some clubs have cottoned on to this, but it needs to be all clubs. There really is no other way for Scottish clubs to compete at European level. We'll never have the financial resources of teams from the big leagues. Our only chance is to develop talent and hope that a golden generation comes along at one club, like Ajax of the mid 90's. Sadly the same fate will await, namely the poaching of those players by Europe's richer clubs. But with a good flow of young players there should be eager replacements waiting in the wings. There is no alternative.

    Rant over.

    PS It's high time we moved to summer football - March to November. Better weather, better pitches, better football, bigger crowds. Might take a while for fans to adjust, but they will manage.

  • Comment number 3.

    For me it was still Hearts. Not because of the result, which honesty wasn't a surprise in terms of them losing but the fact they didn't even play to their own standards. The only people who turned up for the game in maroon were the fans. Hardly a surprise when the team and manager change more often than the weather. Unfortunately for Hearts Spurs thought it would be hard so they really tried for the first 30 mins and it showed.

    I have to say i'm a little annoyed by the English media on this match. Sure, Hearts were dreadful and Celtic and Rangers didn't exactly have a good night either but to use this sole match as a comparison of SPL vs EPL is nonsense. Clearly the EPL is much better, there is no denying it but lets be fair Hearts were awful.

    Btw i'm a Hibs fan so as much as I enjoyed watching Hearts get humiliated even I know they're better than that. Sadly they'll probably raise their game for the next encounter while Spurs will field a weak team so even if Hearts do well people will say "oh yeah but that's against the reserves".

    One last thing; the way forward is for these numpty clubs of the SPL to start listening to fans and live within their means. As long as the football is entertaining and the league competitive people will go and watch games. In time interest will go up, money will increase and hopefully our ability to compete on a European level again will return.

  • Comment number 4.

    On the point of which teams performance was poorer , in general Hearts was even if they were playing a side that can beat the Milan clubs getting t'wacked at home 5-0 is poor . Yes there is a gulf in money and set up , and it showed .
    Even though Rangers lost they were playing away , to a team that had competed in the CL qaulifers and have featured in the group stages in the past ( a bit ago admitedly ). An away goal should aid their progress .
    The Celtic experience was almost as poor as Hearts , Sion finished 4th in the Swiss league , have a transfer embargo ( which they didnt stick to ) and the game took place at home yet the out come , and play , was un-rewarding .

    Misguided expectations ? No I dont think so , nobody thaught Hearts could beat Spurs , the most passionate fans maybe but that more in heart than in head . Celtic and Rangers should beat the teams they are facing , Maribor being the better side of the two , Sion should have been bet at Celtic Park .

    The things that have changed since the "great nights on the European stage" are the break-up of the old Eastern blok countries and the enlargement of UEFA, the increase in prize funds in European competitions has made the investment in clubs (and better players ) a form of investment for owners and the movement of players around a practically boundaryless Europe . These have all made a more level playing field populated by a few giants of the modern era . Its not a case of Scottish football going in reverse , or even standing still , it is the rapid progress of other clubs and leagues that could never have happend 20-30 years ago .

    @1.At 02:40 20th Aug 2011, dontbugme wrote:
    Greed!, plain and simple and the knee jerk reaction to the Belgian Football Association v Jean-Marc Bosman case in 1995, UEFA should have offerd nations a "opt out" option, that has hurt scottish clubs and the clubs of other nations.
    The Bosman case was not only against the KBVB but also RFC Liege and UEFA . UEFA could not offer an "opt-out" because it was a ruling on goods and services and human rights against them . The basic case was a player was out of contract yet not allowed to sign for another club , in what other profession would this be legal in ?

  • Comment number 5.

    Perhaps Scottish teams shouldn't enter Europe and save themselves the inevitable ignominy which follows! It's not just about money; it's about professionalism and self-belief - against Spurs, Herats defended like an amateur pub team and from the off they were in awe of their opponents.

  • Comment number 6.

    @5.At 11:50 20th Aug 2011, Bebeseaspurt wrote:
    Are Herats a new Isreali team? :D

  • Comment number 7.

    A wise man once said 'Take care of the football and the money will take care of itself.' Can't remember for the life of me who it was, but the sentiment is very wise.

  • Comment number 8.

    Scottish football has been in contraction since the late 1980s. Yes, we were all mesmerised during the 1990s when the big TV money came in, but most of that was spent on expensive foreign imports. It was wallpaper over the cracks. Now that the TV money has been poor of late, it has showed what the real state of Scottish football is. Quite simply a lack of talent on the field spread through mostly small clubs that don't have the finances to gamble on ambition.

    Scotland has always punched above its weight for the size of the nation because football is an obsession. That obsession through fans and players alike drove the game in Scotland. By the 1990s football in Scotland started to become expensive, for clubs and fans. But achievement was becoming less apparent. Celtic and Rangers started to dominate the league once again while a cup win was the only hope of the other clubs to gain silverware while one of them becomes a distant third in the league. Scottish sides by the late 90s had gotten used to having expensive 'here today gone tomorrow' foreign players, some rightly remembered but most forgotten. During this time money was invested in stadia and even training facilities but no investment was paid for ambition. Why is the third biggest football stadium only hold 22,000 in Scotland's third biggest city? Scottish clubs relied on putting gate prices up rather than expanding the crowds.

    I believe Scotland produces a few hundred really talented kids every year, but the current set up allows most of these kids to slip away. There is the 'hoof it' and 'get rid of it' attitude among kids' coaches which has to change. Most of these so-called coaches are failed semi-professional footballers themselves, their ego and self-importance is paramount to whether they can be bothered to actually coach well enough, winning is more important than technique. Generations of kids have been lost in the last 20 years or so, just look at what happened to most of the Under-16 side that reached U16 World Cup final in 1989, most were never heard of again.

    Scottish clubs are too small and thus their income is too small and their ambitions become contracted as a result, if anyone expects a Scottish side, that has an average gate of 7000 (Dundee United) or 13,000 (Hearts), then expects them to do well in European competition is living in a time when they still had black and white TVs. European football has grown up and moved on, Scottish football hasn't and has fell behind the Euro standard that we used to stand tall in because we punched above our weight. Not now, we've been found out plain and simple. Scotland is maybe at the standard, according to our nation's population figures, where we should be, among the Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Austrian and Swiss teams. If you look at the summer buys that the bulk of Scottish clubs brought in, most are from lower leagues of Scotland and England. These are not buys to improve a squad, in fact most are Bosmans anyway, but are players brought in on a budget that only allows clubs to survive in, not expand or grow the business through improvement or success. There is no money in Scottish football, thus no investment, it survives on a hand to mouth basis. Aberdeen's new ground of, gee whizz, 21,000 proves this lack of ambition. If there is a comparison to be made then I reckon we are operating at bottom of the English Championship, top of League One standards. But, in terms of quality players, you get what you pay for. John Sutton couldn't cut it in a Millwall or Wycombe Wanderers side but flourishes in Scotland's top league. However changes for the good can still be made.

    1. Summer football: Good for fans and players because Scottish winters are just too long, cold and wet. Also clubs can save a bit on electricity bills.

    2. Players fitness and professionalism: Clubs need to be more disciplined on producing players that are actually fit for purpose. Hearts were woefully physically weak against Tottenham and endless arguments over Referee decisions are painful and embarrassing.

    3. Bigger leagues and fairer wealth distribution: More variety with a proper relegation/promotion battles divided between two SPL leagues of 16 teams each with a Super SFL league of 20.

    4. Complete overhaul of kids coaching, bring in Dutch/German/Spanish coaches if need to. Skills, technique and fitness culture paramount. Under 14s to play on smaller pitches.

    5. Clubs and leagues to sell themselves better to sponsors and bring in top finance people to look at ways of maximising long term investment and investor opportunities.

    6. Celtic and Rangers are under performing in Europe especially again recent opposition, perhaps due to the fact that both managers are relatively inexperienced.

  • Comment number 9.

    We need a more competitive league with revenues pooled and distributed evenly. It might make the two biggest clubs less of a threat in Europe but in truth they're nothing in European terms anyway.
    As long as the Old Firm cruise along in their SPL comfort zone and the rest survive on crumbs the Scottish professional football tail spin will continue.

  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

    The Hearts result was the worst because of the manner of their defeat. I don’t think anyone seriously expected them to beat Spurs but we all hoped they’d at least give them a game at Tyncastle and maybe, just maybe allow us to dream. However what transpired showed a vast chasm in quality and talk of the manager, referee or any other lame excuse is really grasping at straws.

    Should fans expect better? Absolutely! They pay enough so they should expect a better end product. Hence why fans have been leaving the SPL long before this latest debacle.

    The first post said greed was the problem and there is absolute truth in that. We have an ‘EPL lite’, all of the draw backs but none of the perks. They have Abramovich we have Romanov! But the principle is the same. Anyone south of the border drawing satisfaction from the chasm would do well to have a care; the gulf between the English national team and the Scottish one certainly wouldn’t be anything like the one between Tottenham and Hearts. The EPL is awash with foreign talent and their national teams drubbing by Germany at the world cup and consistent underperformance reveals not all is well in the free market. So I suppose I’m saying we need radical change and to make a break from this model where there is no democracy for the fans and short termism is encouraged.

    I’ll agree with many of the comments made because they’re common sense and come up time and time again. However I’ll add this one: Route cause of our problem starts with society. Every fan reading this post who is themselves unfit or feeds their children junk food has a responsibility. We have a shockingly obese and unhealthy society which surely can’t be helpful in providing sporting stars for the future. Our small population used to produce world class footballers (as Chick Young recently said 'a stud farm' for strikers!!) and did this even without more enlightened coaching methods.

  • Comment number 12.

    Haven't seen Hearts or Rangers due to attendance at Celtic Park.

    From reports and comments on this and other sites it appears that, while no one expected Hearts to win it was the ease with which they were beaten that causes most anguish.
    Rangers appear to have lost a game without anyone quite knowing how.

    Celtic lacked guile against a Sion team that came for a no score draw and achieved their objective.
    Poor tactics, some bad misses and a performance that looked designed for an away match all contributed to a bad night.
    Having said that I expect them to go throw as Sion have to try and score in the return and this should leave gaps.
    Rangers should go through at Ibrox but there is no hope for Hearts.

    You will always get one off results and I have no doubt that Schalke will be much improved in the return although 2-0 certainly gives Helsinki a chance.

    There are no really "easy" teams in Europe anymore for a variety of reasons including the increasing number of African players now in Europe and the emergence of rich owners.

    In Scotland we are suffering for a variety of reasons including the size of the SPL.
    If the league was bigger there would be the opportunity to blood younger players, try variations in systems and develop as a result of relaxation of some of the pressure caused by the current set up.

    I'm not sure summer football is the answer, you have to fit in with all the competitions but there should be a winter break as this would help improve skills.

    Teams should play home & away not the current mixed up mess.

    Small steps to begin but that's how improvement is achieved.

  • Comment number 13.

    A better performance yes but I'm not sure anyone could have expected a different outcome for Hearts with a £10m squad against Spurs who spent £150m on players over a 16 month period just up to early 2010.

    The financial gap between the EPL and other European leagues is enormous never mind the SPL.

    The OF are a different story and both are kidding themselves on that they can financially afford an early exit. Part of the excuse last year for Celtic was that they were a new team. This no longer applies and for me an early exit would signal a team going backwards. Tactically both OF managers may have got it badly wrong. Why Celtic have got no back up striker for Hooper, why Samaras got a new contract despite being unable to score more goals than Mark Wilson last year, is a mystery to everyone except Lennon.


    Why don't you come back and explain why you use racist references in your post?

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't think either of OF are under the impression that they can afford an early exit from Europe, just the opposite in fact.
    Rangers are in deep financial trouble and Celtic need the revenue to pay the wages.

    Neil Lennon got it wrong tactically on Thursday, no doubt about it, but I'm sure he'll get it right next week.

    I'm sure Celtic will be signing a striker before the transfer window closes,just hope it's a permanent signing not a loan, i.e not Bellamy or Santa Cruz neither of whom play much due to injury.

  • Comment number 15.

    Lots of cash is spent in the SPL on mediocre, foreign players, especially by the Old Firm. Many of these players do little to enhance the quality of the game in Scotland and we would be better served by spending the transfer fees on our own youngsters and having a bit of patience to see them come through. Millions are being spent to make us no more than mediocre. For all the money the big Glasgow clubs spend, they still stand still. Fans are not stupid, maybe blinkered, and know that what is on offer is mainly inferior fare. If Celtic and Rangers did not spend money on transfers and inflated wages, they would still be where they are.....atop the Scottish table and insignificant in Europe. Today the game is business and big business can do better than small business. The Scottish game is small business in the current setup and produces small, inferior product as a result.

    Maybe we should just love our teams and the game for the sake of it and stop always hoping for the impossible which, given the cirsumstances, can never be realised.

  • Comment number 16.


    I have to disagree with your statement that "Lots of cash is spent on mediocre,foreign players,especially by the Old Firm".

    Depends on your definition of "foreign".
    Assuming you don't include other home countries and Ireland as a Celtic fan I will only comment on them but I certainly don't think we spent a lot of money on Ki, Kayal Izzy and none of them are mediocre.

    Going further back, memories refreshed only the other week, what about Larsson or Moravcik? Brilliant players who lit up the game and cost very little, £600K & £300K, respectively.
    If only we had more like them we wouldn't have a problem with our game.

  • Comment number 17.

    7.50pm on a saturday night and still waiting for the bbc to post up reports of scottish league games! Surely it doesn't take 3 hours to receive and edit 150word copy for each game. It's an absolute joke and an insult to licence fee payers.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hearts problem is that they suffer from the same inferiority complex that a lot of SPL sides suffer from. It used to be that it would only apply if teams went to Ibrox or Parkhead, where a managers pre-match talk may as well have been 'Right lads, on the count of three, fill your pants. One, Two,..........'
    You can't argue against the fact that spurs are a far better side, but watching them absolutely kack themselves was just shameful.

    As for the rest of it, I'll be lazy an re-post my previous post from your last blog....

    To be honest, Hearts are a mess at the moment anyway. They've got a couple of decent players, but far too many journeymen, and that's the entire problem with the SPL - too many average journeymen. Whenever a new player features for a team, it's always the same old names. They seem to get released from one SPL team, and immediately sign up to another.

    We were told that the lack of money would see clubs forced to develop youngsters, and yet there's very little evidence of that. What tends to happen is that clubs sign players released by league 1 and 2 sides, or get players in on loan, and that is worrying. It suggests that the talent isn't there to make it, or (and I suspect that this might be the case) that clubs aren't prepared to put in the effort to develop talent. Scottish players are a match for most in Europe up until about the ages of 18 or 19, and then we just fall away. I suspect that this is the age that raw talent can sustain you until. To progress after that you need specialist coaching to develop any further, and we just don't have the coaches that are capable of doing this (despite the fact that the SFA bang on about Largs being the best coaching set up in the world)..... which may explain why brute stength is valued over skill in our league. Watch what managers say when they sign a new player - It's always 'He's a big lad, has a great engine, get's up and down the pitch etc.etc'. You'll very rarely hear them refer to the actual technical ability of the player.

    It's been said so many times now that it's almost become a cliche, but Messi would never have made it in Scotland. He'd have been dismissed at age 13 or 14 for being too small.

    There are glimmers that this might change. Craig Levein's announcement when he was Dundee United boss about dedicated coaching to develop technique with players was welcome, and the fact that he is now in charge of Scotland and has a lot of input into the development of grass ro

  • Comment number 19.

    Just something to bear in mind which might have the EPL clubs running to the cludgie ; European Court case appeal for Sky Sports coming up soon (against the Portsmouth landlady who initially won the right NOT to have to pay £9000 per year to show Premiership games with Sky and is now paying £800 per year to show the games via a Greek decoder card) which could have a massive impact on monies paid to clubs.

    Multiply this potential drop in income by Sky from all licenced premises in the UK and you can see the impact this could have.

    This would level the playing fields just a bit. No ?

  • Comment number 20.

    All the club results are poor is the answer to the question ! (although not suprising)

    Rangers and Celtic (currently ranked 42nd and 57th in UEFA) struggle against low standard opposition ..... Sion and Maribor are hardly known anywhere ?, yet the the 'shining lights' of Scottish football are a similar standard

    Hearts are only a League 1 standard and the OF are Championship top half.The players these clubs can attract are only Championship standard

    Scottish football is now a pale shadow from the glory years of 25 years ago !

    Check out Scotlands FIFA ranking (below Albania and 11 African team)

    Can it come back ? ..... Yes but it will take 20 years

  • Comment number 21.

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

  • Comment number 22.

    Indeed there are many problems within Scottish Football, talent not coming through, less interest in playing, the falling standard can be linked to the rise of Sky Sport who have scued the financial picture catastrophically in favour of the Premiership. Our wealthiest clubs can not compete financially with a low ranking premiership club such as Wigan. Until some sort of financial equilibrium is returned I fear for the future of our domstic game.

  • Comment number 23.

    I was speaking to the head coach at the boys section of Jeanfield Swifts last night and he had been to Finland with the East region of the SFA in May along with a number of youth coaches from this area and the model and philosophy that is being adopted in Finland may be the way we need to go here.

    They have come to the conclusion that European football is geared to the big TV nations and thus have stopped measuring success on how their club sides do in Europe but now look at progress by the national team and getting players into the bigger European leagues (Spain, England, Germany etc). To the youth sides success is seeing a player play in one of these leagues on a regular basis not playing in their own national league.

    The national team and its improvement (we wont be behind Albania when this months rankings come out next week) must come ahead of club rivalries and the advantage of having the Premiership and championship 200 miles down the road should be used to our advantage. If we worry about competing with the TV revenues etc we will get no where so why not take advantage of the situation and send our best players down to these leagues to develop.

    I know this position would not sit well with the Glasgow clubs but for the rest of us its become very dull. I certainly will not be going to Glasgow today to give Celtic £23 to sit with a restricted view and listen to all their fans "political" singing.

    The answer to Jim's question is without doubt Hearts as they just did not put up a fight and if they play like that again on Thursday they could end up with a record aggregate score against them.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hearts get beat 5 nil at home and you ask who had the worse result. Come on I know you want to get a debate going but don't be ridiculous.

  • Comment number 25.

    @19.At 11:26 21st Aug 2011, Compulsive1 wrote:
    Not only licenced premises , but if it is upheld ( and it looks that way ) it will be for all consumers of Sky . How can they sell a product that is available at a cheaper rate in a common market and plead that a monoply is legally right ?

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

    The Hearts result is a very poor result as they have very little hope, Celtic have to show up in Sion and score, Rangers have the away goal and should be confident of going through .I have been living abroad since 1986 and have just returned home everyone seems to compare the teams of today against teams of the past ,I followed Dundee United in the 80's they had the players on long term contracts ( 10 year ) this gave them time to build a good side ,player movement is a big disruption today as coaches are always building new teams every year ,in the 80's the league cup was played over 2 legs to give the teams in Europe a chance to practise there tactic for European games why don't we go back to a 2 legged league cup and get ride of the money friendly's which do nothing to help our teams prepare for Europe we could make it a pre-season comp and all of the teams in Scotland can help these teams prepare properly ( yes a new way of thinking all the teams helping each other ) A 2 league set up is worth a try as we cannot carry on the way we are going and get rid of this split reward teams for playing young players a cash incentive ?

  • Comment number 28.

    They have come to the conclusion that European football is geared to the big TV nations and thus have stopped measuring success on how their club sides do in Europe

    Would agree with you that European football is largely run for and by the Big 5. However, although the Europa Cup is the 'Cinderella' competition (and considerably poorer than the CL in terms of cash and marketing), your Finnish approach, while it may apply to most of the SPL, the OF do need the revenues (and profile) from a solid European run. How else can any of these OF clubs measure success since the SPL is so non-competitive? Big week ahead for both these clubs given their recent records: Rangers will have to actually win a European tie even though they are at home and without some of their key players such as Naismith and Whittaker; and Celtic will have to show some 'mental strength' sometime/anytime, avoid an away defeat and score a goal.

    And maybe you should have gone to Celtic Park yesterday after all!

  • Comment number 29.

    Pity you have to spoil a sensible post with rubbish about restricted views and "political" singing,bet you wish you'd gone now!!

    I for one do not ever want to see football turn into the equivalent of cricket and rugby where everything is geared to the national team no matter where the players ply their trade.
    Do you really think fans will shell out cash and turn up in numbers for such a set up and how would this improve "smaller" teams as it's unlikely they would have any players in the national team?

  • Comment number 30.

    Jim Spence,

    The reason that Scottish football has slipped so far behind its English equivalent is simply, money !!

    The vast revenues received by PL clubs via Sky and sponsorship is unreachable by Scottish clubs as PL has very cleverly captured markets worldwide and dominates world football.

    There is no way that clubs such as Bolton, Wolves,Norwich etc. could survive on gates of between 22,000 & 26,000 without the monies from Sky and or wealthy owners.

    The only way that parity of sorts can be restored is through a combination of action by UEFA and European courts as stated at #19.
    If Sky lose income from commercial subscriptions they would be forced to reduce domestic charges which in turn would lead to less money being pumped into football.

    Platini needs to win his battle to achieve some form of level playing field otherwise
    football will lose its appeal across Europe including UK.

    When a player such as Samuel Eto signs for a team that has no record to speak of but is now owned by yet another Russian billionaire in preference to continuing to play in Italy for Inter the game has gone mad.
    I admit I would be delighted if anyone offered me £300K per week but Eto has been a big earner for many years and can't need the money so what's the attraction?

    The attraction of competition is simply that there has to be competition and if this is removed what's the point?

    Good luck to the Portsmouth landlady and good luck to Platini.

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree with a lot of the comments submitted. I don't think it is greed though, just short termism, win at all costs and forget about real value and the long term - which does have a lot in common with the bankers and similar issues.

    I have a few thoughts:

    1. Switch to summer football. Lets encourage players to play football on grass and develop skills. What do you learn playing on a muddy park for half your season. Look at all the similar countries close to Scotland (in terms of climate) and most are ranked above Scotland at international level and regularly outperform Scottish teams in European competitions, almost all play summer football.

    2. Lets get rid of the promotion / demotion from our top flight. as nice and romantic as it is. Which intelligent person will invest millions of pounds into their team, training facilities and ground to risk being demoted. Outside the top 2 almost every other team has been in the "relegation zone" at some point in recent history. The risk is too great and the reward too small. Lets franchise the top league and make every team submit a business case and if necessary merge to develop the maximum number of top flight teams Scotland can support for its size - 14, 16, 18?. No relegation should enable the people with money and an interest in football from Scotland and possibly abroad to invest knowing it is secure for the foreseeable future. Teams can develop a 3 ,4 or 5 year plan to bring through talent rather than "survive" or "win" now. Franchise owners would have to prove they have the interests of the team, a long term plan for the club and the financial backing to deliver it (look out S. Milne).

    3. If we can get rid of promotion demotion let the Top Flight teams farm out players to feeder clubs when recovering from injury or lacking form. The lower leagues will get top flight players loaned in to play competitive games and get back to match fitness much quicker - attracting more fans to the lower leagues too hopefully. Players benefit from playing competitive matches rather than meaningless reserve team or under 23 or under 21 fixtures. the top teams benefit by reducing running costs.

    Football is ultimately a business albeit a very specialised one. It takes massive investment (for those of us not in the billionaire category), why would you risk spending 5, 10 or 20 million pounds building a team and facilities for the future if you get demoted the first year and everything is written off. Franchises work for almost every other major sport, Rugby, Australian Football, Baseball, Basketball, AFL etc.. I don't see why it cant work for Scottish football. Let's be honest Arbroath are never going to compete with the old firm.

  • Comment number 32.

    summer football would be great watching games in good weather how do you work out the franchises, in america the franchises have an area were no other franchise operates perhaps we should go with regional sides Tayside ,Fife for example with all the teams in that area becoming feeder clubs to the regional sides.How are you going to merge Celtic and Rangers or Hearts and Hibs

  • Comment number 33.

    @31.At 14:29 22nd Aug 2011, kennyi64 wrote
    franchise the top league and make every team submit a business case and if necessary merge to develop the maximum number of top flight teams Scotland can support for its size - 14, 16, 18?. No relegation should enable the people with money and an interest in football from Scotland and possibly abroad to invest knowing it is secure for the foreseeable future. Teams can develop a 3 ,4 or 5 year plan to bring through talent rather than "survive" or "win" now. Franchise owners would have to prove they have the interests of the team, a long term plan for the club and the financial backing to deliver it
    An owner could deliver a report saying X+Y , claiming to aim for W+Z yet do the opposite without fear of losing his investment due to lack for punishment (relegation) . A "feeder" mentality would become established due to human nature and desire for profit and survival , with nothing there to take value away from the franchise it becomes stale .
    In American football this is side stepped by the draft system , where the weaker teams get first choice , but not exculsive choice, for a player , and the fact in some cases that the bonus system for players is as hard to understand as some of the rules of the game , so many years coefficent by team rating by team placing yade-yade-ya . This means that PLAYERS dont want to finish low as in most cases they would be car salesmen in the close season .
    Summer football might work , but the calendar would have to include an six-ten week break in European/world cup years to facilitate international players .

  • Comment number 34.

    Hi there Jim.

    Listen up - G R O U N D H O G D --- A --- Y!

    No disrespect but although you’ve primed the responses with variations on a theme, I’m disappointed to have to say it’s the same old questions.

    And, once again, most respondees have done a pretty fair job of answering them and again, no disrespect but, it’s the same old answers.

    But it’s your final poser that troubles me.

    ‘What has changed since those days and how do we ever go about recreating them?’

    To take the first part, ‘what has changed?’ other contributors have covered it pretty well save to say that looking at the entire array of contributing factors, one is faced with such a complexity of decay that your question with respect, seems almost farcical.

    The picture, if indeed we could paint one in sufficient detail, is more one of decline amidst chaos and the failure we are witnessing, far from the slow steady downward slope of ordered decay, is now bordering on something that is more entropic in nature.

    So to address the second part ‘how do we ever go about recreating them?’.

    If you check with your time to time BBC colleague, Brian Cox at Manchester University, he will tell you that Entropy cannot be undone. It cannot be reversed, and neither in my humble opinion can this situation in Scottish football, unless we get to grips with what change really is.

    Entropy determines the very essence of change, in that in order to have real change, something has to give. Real change is like death and when it occurs, the old entity ceases to exist because it has been replaced by a new and different entity.

    So let’s keep the past in the past and if Scottish football is ever to re-emerge from the swamp, then we all have to realise that it can’t be the way it was before, let alone the way it is now.

    But changing the myopic protectionist attitudes that run right though all levels of Scottish football is beyond the capabilities of even the biggest clubs which is why this task falls to Stuart Regan at SFA yet I see no evidence that they are taking the question of change seriously.

    You claim the Big Wigs read this blog. Maybe that would be more believable if they took part in the debate at grass roots level and posted a credible response now and again.

    But we all know they won’t and before someone tells me, I’m just heading off on my bik

  • Comment number 35.

    Lennon doesnt do it for me.Decent player, piss poor manager.Out of Europe in August.How will that sit with the dim wits that ushered him in with trumpets sounding and the cliches reverborating around Parkhead, "Man for the job, proven record, etc."My heart sank when this once great club secumbed to the nonsense and adopted a half wit.The evil that men do lives after them............

  • Comment number 36.

    #32 You wouldnt need to merge clubs that are commercially viable and can attract enough support - the business cases would have to demonstrate a catchment area for support or hostorical support base. So I dont see this for the OF or other clubs that attract a decent support when they are competing. The OF need better teams to challenge them so they (and Scottish football) can improve and this needs investment in the smaller clubs (not bringing the OF down to the standards of the other clubs).

    #33 If a Franchise doesn't live up to their promises they can have their franchise removed (fairly heafty punishment but easily done if the agreements are prepared properly).
    A draft can be included for all players under a certain age?
    The rewards are you win (that is the aim for all sports franchises after all), you attract more supporters and get more revenue, you develop players and sell them to the EPL or Serie A or anywhere. The best Scottish players have spent time in other leagues even during the SPL glory days. And until very recently the best English players used to go to foreign leagues (England used to do better back then too!).
    I just think at the moment that even the average SPL teams don't invest in youth and development because the risk of demotion is too high (look at all the foreign players playing for every team in the SPL). Allow them the time to do this and not worry about the 1 in 8 chance of ending up in the 1st division.

  • Comment number 37.

    I may be grabbing a pig in a bag here but I'm a tad confused by the proposal points .
    The draft system works because it is mainly a closed system for the premier level developement , no youth set ups for the NFL . Where as the players from outside the draft very rarely make it in , even though a NFLEurope player has managed to win a super bowl .
    Now the biggie , if a franchise doesn't live up to their promises they can have their franchise removed . What would be resonably not living up to promises is a question many a husband wonders down the pub . If lets say 3 teams say we will win the league by 20XX and finish top 3 when we dont , one of them has a injury crisis and struggles one season then finds it can make up the ground do they get chucked ?Only one wins the league and the other finishes top 3 once what happens then ?
    Relegation is fair and shows the effects of a season . Nobody gets relegated because they where fantastic ( Blackpool last year a prime example , if Olly had got out of the press box and thaught his team to defend then they might have survived , they were NOT fantastic , entertaining-yes ,fantastic-no ).
    I look at the very average foreign players in most SPL teams and think , well I cant type that , but there is a problem with the attitude of coaches to develope young players , big ,strong ,fast at 13 , this doesnt mean they are gonna be that way at 21.

  • Comment number 38.

    Always a good well argued post to read Iain. Rightly you put the empahais on Regan and so far the guy has done well. He's used the fair wind he had to make some necessary short and long term changes. Hope it works for him.

  • Comment number 39.

    #36 Are we talking about changing Scottish football for the benefit of the OF or changing Scottish football for the benefit of our national team ? If Scottish football is going to change every team has to change NOT every team except the OF.You talk of creating better teams to challenge the OF have you forgotten lasts weeks European results ,better teams to challenge the OF ? why not go and play in the Swiss league and let the rest of us get on with changing Scottish football for the benefit of our national team

  • Comment number 40.

    "In Finland, football comes behind ice hockey and basketball in the nation's affections, yet Helsinki managed to beat German side Schalke 2-0."

    a small team beating a bigger team, just like say, ooh i don't know, maribor?!
    remind me again what the point of the article is?

  • Comment number 41.

    The SPL needs to improve competition. Scotland needs the SPL to bring through more and better players.

    At the moment the OF compete for 1st and 2nd place (or first and last in the eyes of OF fans). This is not uncommon across Europe, although normally there are maybe 4 top teams.
    Outside the OF, teams fight not to be relegated, with possibly the recent exception of Hearts who now probably see not getting a Europa place as failure.

    The difference is simply down to investment. Look at what the investment (albeit foreign) has done in the Premiership, there are now 6 or more teams who can compete at the top level - unfortunately for England this hasn't resulted in developing local talent - but it does create an exciting league.

    If the situation can be created where the teams develop local talent that grows as a team I am convinced they "other" teams will begin to challenge the OF more consistently and Scotland will have a larger pool of players to choose from. But it will take investment in facilities and the ability for the team to plan over a longer period than one season. And I do believe playing on a decent surface all year will help the players skills development.
    Look at some examples of low level investment and teams developing over a period of time (Livingstone and Gretna although both came to halt when the investments ran out).

    Or we can keep the status quo where Scotland competes for a top 50 place in the FIFA table and the OF split the trophies.

    Muury - when I say the franchises dont live up to their promises I was suggesting more in terms of the levels of investment required to be awarded the franchise this would be in the shape of training facilities, stadiums etc.

    The franchises could be owned by Supporters trusts or even PLC's whose shares are owned by supporters?

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    #29, the pillar does exist, why do you think the tickets are reduced to £23 from £26 and state the fact on the ticket. Its a design fault in what was otherwise a great ground make over.

    You know the singing goes on, there was even comment in the national papers after the game re pro IRA signing and like many until both sides of the old firm clean up their act on this I wont go to either stadium for league games. I am sure your club will survive without my £26 and i believe only 76 tickets were sold for the Saints section so I know I am not alone in my views.

    I can understand that the model from Finland would not work for Ranger and Celtic who are far too big for the current Scottish system. As far as I can see the best hope for these sides is a pan European league in which both could thrive, they wont win those leagues but they would certainly be bigger than the likes of Blackburn or Bolton who can out bid them on wages etc

    lets hope both side of the old firm have a positive result and the Hearts fans have a good time in London

  • Comment number 44.

    @43.At 23:01 23rd Aug 2011, jeanfield_swifts wrote
    Just throwing this on out there about political songs .
    The Queen visited Ireland this year . She laid flowers at a memorial to the IRA and stood to attention when "A Soldiers Song" was played . Why shouldnt other British citizens sing this song?

  • Comment number 45.

    I thought we were trying to get some new ideas on how to improve Scottish Football ?and now were are trying to open a debate with the bigot twins and what songs they want to sing ?

  • Comment number 46.

    But I doubt she wants to sing their "political songs" every week at football matches in Scotland ad nauseum. Its the nature of politics though that you can object and debates on this have a tendency to spiral to the lowest levels. If Jeanfield Swifts doesn't like to give his money to either of the 'flagwrapping tribes' then I can fully understand this view. Personally, I'm with Lennon on this one (and #45) with the view that these cultural residues are better ended and out of Scottish football.

  • Comment number 47.

    @45.At 08:07 24th Aug 2011, spikeontheright wrote:
    Sorry spikeontheright , just trying to put a point across that there are more bigots than the OF .
    Do you not agree that getting bigotory out of Scottish football would improve it?

  • Comment number 48.

    @46.At 09:48 24th Aug 2011, Rob04 wrote:
    Rob04 , as you know my feelings on these matters well , a point we both agree on , you can understand my view . Scottish football should be Scottish , now I might upset people , but it should not be British - team GB anyone?- or Irish or be about anyother nation .

  • Comment number 49.

    I wasn't aware that all the seats allocated to visiting fans, Rangers apart, had a restricted view and it is entirely your right to attend or not.

    As for the singing, The Soldiers' Song is the Irish National Anthem, not a pro-Ira anthem and can not be classed as such.
    There was one rendition of Boys of The Old Brigade and I didn't hear any other songs that could be described as pro anything.

    As for improving Scottish football,which should be about improving the standard of football in the senior leagues, I agree that investment is required but support from fans is also necessary. Livingston struggled to reach decent crowds despite their initial success, perhaps due to their location, while Gretna survived only because their owner was living his dream, the gate money was never going to make them a viable proposition.

    That's why I support change being introduced gradually starting with the expansion of SPL as without additional clubs gaining access to this their finances and support will never improve.
    As I've posted previously I believe a larger SPL would reduce the pressure on teams and allow the introduction of younger players who would benefit from being given an opportunity.

    What must happen is something being done because if they carry on like this even more fans will desert the game. Clubs do need to reach agreement on the way forward but it must be done in a structured manner with time for evaluation, not last minute as seems to be the norm at present.

  • Comment number 50.

    Sadly there is no way to improve Scottish Football, the reason is that there is no collective will to do so. When push comes to shove the teams in the top league only look after themselves, and that will always hamper any moves to do things for the greater good, especially if it takes time.

  • Comment number 51.

    the best hope for these sides is a pan European league
    Agree with this entirely and since its a pan European problem a European-wide solution is needed to address the sometimes gross disparities in competition within all national leagues. There are after all only 3/4 sides capable of winning the EPL: the rest are just well financed feeder clubs hoovering up the best players across the world but still makeweights for the real big boys at MU, MC, Chelsea and Liverpool.

    And the Europa League is not any long-term solution for the OF or teams like Ajax who also just cannot compete financially anymore against teams from the big 5. UEFA invests huge amounts in the CL while treating the Europa League as a second-rate add on (for the rest). To be honest the Scottish league may be a better competitive (but not financial or marketable) product without the OF first teams, who would be better off in some other format.

  • Comment number 52.

    Football associations based in countries that have populations of, say, 30 million+ (England, Russia, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Turkey etc) don't need to lose their national identities because they have critical mass to support a number of decent-sized clubs and enough eyeballs for advertising execs. 30 million is a ballpark figure - pick your own.
    Associations based in countries with smaller populations (from places like the Netherlands or Romania down to tiddlers like Scotland, Finland, Denmark, Norway etc) need to come together to create trans-national, regional leagues. Then top teams from any given region of Europe will be playing in a top division that is much more on par with the English Premier, Serie A, La Liga and so on than is the case now. It levels the playing field and the old national top flights from the smaller countries become feeder divisions for the regional superleagues. The OF would probably walk into a North Sea League (or whatever it might be called) but the Edinburgh sides, Aberdeen, Dundee Utd, Killie - they could all aspire to promotion. The SPL at the moment has no hope and little point. This brings back a reason to watch football (do well this season and next season you might be playing Ajax, Feyenoord, Copenhagen and Anderlecht) ...

  • Comment number 53.

    It will not change. We have got progressively worse throughout my lifetime. Ironically, the pool of players we currently have for the national set up is far and away the best but how many of these players are from the SPL?

    Good players are snapped up - admittadely for the correct price (Goodwillie, Gordon etc) but this money is used to service depts so, for example, Hearts have got much worse since they lost Gordon.

    I don't trust any of the Chairmen/Managers/Administrators and even Fans to usher in the correct initiatives (though most commentators here all make good points).

    It's basically the most frustrating thing in the world if you're a Scotsman.

  • Comment number 54.

    Celtic beat Sion,Rangers beat Maribor and Hearts draw at Spurs ...... oh no it is only a dream!

    All the results are poor but not suprising, the SPL is a poor standard league

    The SPL is ranked 16th for a reason .... it is not that good (Croatian and Israeli leagues are also closing in

    Will Scotland qualify for Euro 2012 ..... My prediction is no

  • Comment number 55.

    Hot news ............. Scotland are upto 55th place just above Lithuania and Albania

    Green shoots .... ?

  • Comment number 56.

    One thing that's overlooked by all who desire total financial equality in Scottish football is the fact that there never has been and never will be equality, there will always be clubs that are richer than others.
    In the past it was because of larger fanbases and attendances and now it's a combination of those plus rich owners.

    It's the same in every major league and will not change.

    What needs to change is the ability of clubs outwith OF to challenge them for honours and that requires a combined effort from owners/directors/fans as well as officialdom.

    Reducing the cut throat pressure would be a first step as managers wouldn't need to rely on safety first to keep their job.

  • Comment number 57.

    Do you know, I get frustrated repeatedly pointing out why a bigger league/ removal of OF/ summer football, etc. are destructive to the game in Scotland, yet the same people propose the same dead-end schemes, over and over again.
    Give up on this dangerous nonsense; you only want it for selfish reasons.

    A pan-European league won't happen.
    The clubs from the top leagues make so much from the two revenue streams of domestic football and UCL, that no pan-European league could ever be as lucrative for them.

  • Comment number 58.

    @57.At 12:00 25th Aug 2011, therrawbuzzin wrote
    I get frustrated pointing out how and why a bigger league would work , yet the same people propose the same dead-end schemes, over and over again.
    Give up on this dangerous nonsense; you only want it for selfish reasons.

  • Comment number 59.

    #52 offers the most dynamic and absolutely the best solution - so long as the desired outcome is to watch Scottish teams compete with the big boys once again. A bigger spl is not going to deliver quality because the fundamentals are still the same i.e. a small customer (i hate to use that word but that's the reality of the situation) base and I fear it would continue to lose interest. Of course such a league would require radical thinking from more than just the powers that be in this country and I fear that's where the problem would lie.

    Away games outside Scotland would be a treat rather than the norm but this is the situation for sport in much bigger countries such as Australia and the USA. Besides as #52 says imagine a league with teams such as Ajax, Copenhagen, Porto etc would more than make up for it...

  • Comment number 60.

    Any predictions tonight .......

    Rangers and Celtic hmmmm, one may sneak through,but if both get knocked out then it would be a disaster for the SPL gig guns to lose to such poor teamsfrom Slovenia and Swizterland

    Hearts have no chance,Spurs could play the youth team and still win

    The gap between the OF and the rest of the SPL is huge.Celtic and Rangers would get more competitve matches playing the League 2

  • Comment number 61.

    Spurs are playing the kids should be interesting match v Hearts

  • Comment number 62.

    I think one of the problems that we have in Scottish football, ignoring the disastrous results tonight, is that we think we matter in the grand scheme of things, we don't !!

    Why would any of the countries you mention need to create a Pan-European League when most of their top clubs are doing ok by themselves?
    Rosenberg seem to be in Europe every season, sometimes in CL first,get half decent
    runs and make money, why would they wish to be involved with the likes of us who can't get a team past the beginning of the Europa League?

    The answer to Jim Spence's original question is, a tie between OF,at least Hearts have the excuse of playing a top team.

    I watched Celtic commit suicide so can only really comment on them. Why, when you need a score draw would you give away a penalty and get sent off in the first minutes? 87 minutes to get an equaliser, brainless.

  • Comment number 63.

    Mid August and not a team left in Europe - what a load of old rubbish.

    Sorry folks, our league has been shown for what it is - mediocre (at best)

    If this does not cause Scottish football to sit up and address the basic issues we are dead.

    Too many teams, overpaid mediocre players, skewed towards the OF and a bunch of Chairmen with vested interests thwarting Regan at every turn. Sorry, we are fiddling while Rome burns.

  • Comment number 64.

    after tonight's results jim the only conclusion that i can see is that we don't work hard enough at our game in this country.
    we struggle with the basic's and it really shows up when we play european teams, why can our scottish teams not compete at least on a physical level which at least gives you a chance.
    all our players look visibly slower against our international friends.

    i haven't a clue what's going wrong with scottish football, why don't we ask the players, maybe they have an answer. i'm nearly at the point of not going back and not caring.
    all i know is that when we fail, we have to work three times harder not to fail.
    i don't see anyone working harder.

  • Comment number 65.

    After last night the time has come for the SFA/SPL to come together and agree about the need for summer football, if for no other reason than in 2012/13 all our clubs will be starting their european qualifying in June (with the league champs having to play 3 qualifying rounds for the CL, and those in the Europa league maybe more than that). Eventually all this will lead to is bettering the horrendous record that was set last night. No Scottish club in Europe in August for the 1st time in 55yrs, soon enough will become no Scottish club in Europe in June.

  • Comment number 66.

    As a follow up to my previous post, Scottish football last night fell into the abyss and if nothing changes I can see it being about 10yrs before we see any Scottish teams competing in the group stages of either the CL or EL

    Scottish football R.I.P!

  • Comment number 67.

    While there have been worse nights for individual clubs, collectively for Scottish football there hasn't been a worse start. And when were Celtic ever left with no European football after August for the second year running? For them its not a blip anymore, we've seen it too often in recent years and you don't have a win record of 1 in 29 away European games because you have been 'unlucky'. The same big squad who can't cut it technically, physically and psychologically when it matters most against moderately determined opposition, or in this case, a Swiss team half composed of new players playing together for only the second or third time who could have taken 5 or 6 goals last night.

    Looking forward to watching Lennon and McCoist stirring up apathy, excuses and 'honest mistakes' for the rest of their lonely season. Kidding us on that their players have good levels of ability and bottle, that beating the likes of St Mirren and Aberdeen really is an achievement to crow about, that they really have another £10m player on the books and that winning the SPL actually tells you how good they really are. In reality, they can't actually cut it against European minnows over two games.

    Astonished that its Regan who is first out the traps defending the performance of the SPL teams.

  • Comment number 68.

    A disappointing night for our game , lennon and McCoist should be fire for assembling million pound squads of mediocre flops ,we are at the end of a cycle where the OF have tried to out do one another in the transfer market and the rest of Scottish football tried to follow and got themselves into financial difficulty and I have read on this page how it is everyone else's fault except the OF and how they would be better of in some fictitious league that has money to burn ,this morning your in the real world with the rest of us.
    How do we fix our European problem how about starting our season in march and playing the league cup over 2 legs to start the season you could have seeded teams just like the European competitions this would give our side a chance to get their tactics right for the European competitions we need to give our team's every chance to progress ,the only time we play a 2 legged competition is in Europe start rewarding team's ( cash ) for playing young Scottish players and of course we would be playing summer football

  • Comment number 69.

    Results and performances don't lie Scottish football is dire.

    Rangers and Celtic wouldn't hack it in the Championship, never mind the Premiership.

    The other SPL clubs would struggle in the Conference.

    Scottish football is a closed shop, the game is too negative, too repetitive, too dependent on foreign players, uncompetitive and competely bankrupt of ideas.

    The Old Firm model doesn't work.

    The SPL model doesn't work, the brand is now toxic.

    The SFL model doesn't work.

    The SFA are incompetent.

    Look at the Scottish squad not a player outwith the Premiership (12), the Championship (8) and the Old Firm (5) - 80% of players from England.

    Pathetic all round.

  • Comment number 70.

    Typical that some of the initial reaction is to try and score cheap points about OF rather than come up with something constructive.

    I only saw the last 5 minutes of Rangers tie and none of Hearts game as I was watching Celtic commit suicide again when individual mistakes cost them the tie.

    It certainly was a bad night overall for Scottish football but what's changed since yesterday? Nothing, we already knew that the game in Scotland needs to change but change isn't going to happen overnight and patience is certainly required by all, clubs/owners/fans alike.

    Having said that why don't they do something radical such as restrict OF to playing players under 21 in the League Cup, this may give the others a better chance of winning a trophy and, as has been proven several times recently, when a club reaches a final it's amazing how many fans come out of the woodwork seeking tickets.

    What we don't need are knee jerk reactions, that course would only set us further back.

  • Comment number 71.

    @#70 "It certainly was a bad night overall for Scottish football but what's changed since yesterday? Nothing, we already knew that the game in Scotland needs to change but change isn't going to happen overnight and patience is certainly required by all, clubs/owners/fans alike."

    How long must we wait for change? It seems like it's been a year already to "change" the league structure with no results, someone has to be bold and put their necks on the line, instead they want to preserve their own jobs, great! Without change don't they realise there will be no jobs to preserve.

    This is not about 1 club, OF or otherwise, it's about the dire state of Scottish Football, I can't ever remember being so depressed about Scottish Football and there have been many lows, but this tripe shows that we are now scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  • Comment number 72.

    Is Serbia a backward footballing country? Red Star Belgrade were thrashed by Rennes last night and knocked out of the Europa League. Partizan Belgrade were soundly beaten by Shamrock Rovers (SHAMROCK ROVERS) and knocked out. If your question has logic, you would now ask 'Has Ireland become Europe's footballing powerhouse?'.

    Lets stop asking 'why are we so cra*p?' (every time Scotland is beaten or we are beaten in Europe). We all know the answer - we don't have money to afford better players. Big deal. Isn't it more important and pleasing to see so many young Scots playing for Rangers and Celtic? Long may it continue. We don't want money if all it means is that our leagues get swamped with yet more foreign players.

  • Comment number 73.

    My apologies if I didn't make myself clear.

    I agree entirely that change is required and have been advocating this for a long time, on here and elsewhere.

    We can't change the whole of Scottish football overnight that will need to be done over a period of time and will require patience is what I meant.
    However we need to do something to kick start change which will require the cooperation of all parties and that will mean some vested interests being put aside.

    As I said, if fans can turn up when clubs reach cup semis and finals those clubs need to be able to attract them to league games which means the cuture of instant success has to disappear.

    Scottish football isn't any worse than it was yesterday but it certainly gives that impression to the rest of the footballing community.
    What we don't need though is commissions or politicians or talking shops from those who have failed to affect change or are just jumping on a bandwaggon.

  • Comment number 74.

    @#72 "Is Serbia a backward footballing country? Red Star Belgrade were thrashed by Rennes last night and knocked out of the Europa League. Partizan Belgrade were soundly beaten by Shamrock Rovers (SHAMROCK ROVERS) and knocked out. If your question has logic, you would now ask 'Has Ireland become Europe's footballing powerhouse?'"

    The simple answer to that is no. Ireland however is playing summer football, which means when qualifying comes around the teams are match fit, and hopefully have gelled as a team (when talking about new signings) which has obvious advantages.

    Now look at the SPL, teams playing "cold" well before the season starts, does it not make more sense to play in the summer, give teams a chance to qualify, then (despite who you support) if your team is in Europe during the close season (ie the winter) then they are at least at the sharp end of things, rather than being booted out before anything starts. I would rather see my team humped in Dec or Feb knowing they reached the last 32/16 (while playing during the close season) rather than watch humiliation in June/July/August (while basically playing in the current close season)

  • Comment number 75.

    the lack of money in our league's should never be used as an excuse for our poor
    results but thats all i hear, money doesn't make winners.

  • Comment number 76.

    So, the Old Firm parasites who have been bleeding the Scottish game dry for decades have finally succeeded in killing the host. Unfortunately, it means a slow death for them too - what a pity.
    Ing-gerr-lund to the rescue ? - doubt it - they don't want the Medieval baggage that comes along with the deal - and if a certain Portsmouth landlady has her way the EPL will be collapsing pretty soon anyway.

  • Comment number 77.


    It's too much to take. I just... I can hardly think about it... I woke up sweating this morning hoping it was a nightmare but it wasn't...

    That's right; Gerard Butler is going to play Rabbie Burns in a new film. Oh, and Scottish teams collectively achieved their biggest failure of all time.

    Shame on you all. And I really hope Gerard looks up the word "miscast" in the dictionary.

    Thought it was funny when someone said; "We should just withdraw from Europe alltogether" because this appears to be exactly what we've done. Even funnier seeing the SFA say; "We will recover." This is accurate because we literally can't get any worse right?

    Don't waste your time on this blog outlining ideas for change because what's the point? It's blatantly obvious but the SFA haven't made a single correct move in the 32 years of my lifetime so why should they start now? Do you think they'll suddenly go; "Hang on. We haven't tried looking at the postings on Jim Spence's blog yet have we? It's gotta be worth a try?" I'd like them to but they won't. Save your electronic breath and perhaps start shifting the focus of these blogs onto "the equally appaling state of the Scottish film industry" or something.

  • Comment number 78.

    #77 Good post,100% accurate, sadly.

    #76 So once again it's all the fault of OF,just how exactly have they been bleeding the game dry and why do all the other SPL clubs insist that must play them 4 times per season?
    Each club has to look at itself, that's a major problem with Scottish football, always look for someone else to blame.

  • Comment number 79.

    Depressed last night Had a night to sleep on it and you know what, it works, not depressed any more....... I'm bloody ANGRY!!!! how could everyone let our football die like that. We are all to blame, SFA. SPL, SFL and us fans too for sitting on our comfy sofas rather than rounding up our mates and or family and taking them to a game. God knows teams like Killie, st mirren etc are trying to make an effort this year but us fans our not.
    However time for talking and think tanks are over we need action today and 2 simple things can help.
    1: as of now every kids coach in Scotland has to give up this desire to win at all costs. We need to teach these kids to caress the ball and pass it not worry about being a box to box stamina junkie. Who cares if at 17 a boy is only 5 foot 2? The only criteria is can he beat a man and can he find a team mate. We can ingrain stamina at a later date. BUT START TODAY.
    2: in next couple of years we will be starting euro games in late June as we have fallen behind the likes of Cyprus. It's now time for REVOLUTIONARY THINKING in our game. We must introduce summer football for 5yrs & see what happens (we can always go back if it fails). Benefits have been said before plus warm weather encourages more floating fans to attend increasing revenue for everyone. Plus importantly, fri night footie for all except OF and watch other clubs bank balances rise. We must get money into our game. What have we got to lose?

    we got to lose?

  • Comment number 80.

    #78 the OF started a war to out do one another in the transfer market paying millions of pounds for mediocre players in doing this the rest of Scottish football have had to pay top wages to get average players .The rest of Scottish football can't afford good players because of this trying to out do each other.As the top 2 sides in Scotland they have continued down this path with no consideration for the rest of Scottish football.Its soooooo much easier to play in the champions league if you are the only 2 teams in the race for the title .The OF are the 2 big clubs of this country they need to change and start thinking about the rest of Scottish football rather than there own bank accounts and how much money they can make playing elsewhere .Scottish football needs to change for the good of our game not the good of the OF bank accounts .Thanks Jim and everyone on this blog for allowing me to rant even though no one in the SFA is listening

  • Comment number 81.

    football in this great wee country has stood still over the past two decades and it's no surprise that all the other countries have caught up with us and passed us now. football in this country is a blame game now, nobody can take responsability for the state it's in mainly because the blame lies with everyone connected with the sport, even the fans, just take a look over the last couple of seasons, clubs going into adminastration, referee's withdrawing their services, fans being banned from games and new laws seeminly getting fast tracked through to deal with unsavory singing and abuse at grounds and topped off with professional football players getting arrested for one thing or another, thats before i witnessed a scotland game where we played not to win, and went with a 6 4 formation, that was the icing on the cake.
    there is no doubt that everybody knows we have serious problems within our game but until everybody within the game realise that they are part of the problem then we're going no where.
    we've lost confidence as a football force, we've lost our swagger on the field but thats because we have taken it for granted for years, we have no right just to win games of football, we earn the right to win at football by working hard and putting the time and effort in, clearly we don't do enough to win.

    and yes 77 sadly isn't far off the mark.

  • Comment number 82.

    It is a sorry day when I agree with Chick Young. Have just read his article on this site. Read it and weep folks.

    There is little doubt in my mind that the SPL must take the bulk of the responsibility for our continued failure in Europe. We have a cabal of club Chairmen so wrapped up in self-interest that they have effectively formed a closed shop. They have strangled our game resulting in the current situation of falling crowds, failing teams and increasing anger. They even appoint a Chief Executive who smugly diverts blame away from his own organisation. Remember Doncaster glibly hanging the SFA out to dry over the ref's strike, a crisis provoked by his own members.

    Outwith the SPL there are chinks of light. I agree with Rob04 that Regan needs to be given his head at the SFA. Securing much needed Scottish Cup sponsorship, changing structures and making technical appointments are all positive moves. Dial in the improving national side, with the increased excitement that brings, shows that it is not all gloom and doom.

    I note that there were nearly 5000 at the Morton-St. Mirren game on a weekday night this week. An SFL tournament. Give people what they want and, to paraphrase an old film, people will come. Serve up the repetitive dross that the SPL seem intent on pursueing and people will stay away in droves.

    The current SPL Chairmen, starting with my own Rod Petrie, must now realise the folly of their ways. The so called ' big boys ' are killing the game. I just hope they care as much as the contributors to this blog !

  • Comment number 83.

    @72.At 12:00 26th Aug 2011, siulagrande wrote:
    Partizan Belgrade were soundly beaten by Shamrock Rovers (SHAMROCK ROVERS) and knocked out. If your question has logic, you would now ask 'Has Ireland become Europe's footballing powerhouse?'
    When was the last time a Scottish team bet an Irish team in Europe over two legs?
    Answer Rangers v Shelbourne 1998 . 1998 .
    Same season Celtic drew at Parkhead and won away at St. Patricks Atheltic . And on a side not Rangers complained about have to play in Dublin and the Shelbourne leg was played at Tranmere , Rangers winning after being 3-1 down .
    And to top it off Shamrock Rovers are FAN owned , thier stadium is owned by the fans and the local council . And they are part-time .
    And the keeper they started the season with has been sold and has yet to play for .....St. Johnstone !!!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Sorry the above should have read " in Europe over both legs"

  • Comment number 85.

    34 Iain Jack

    Iain, you sign off by saying you're on your bike. See my next blog and how much we could learn from cycling where we now have a new junior world champion.

    Our football could learn a lot from other sports particularly in the areas of fitness, desire, hunger and just the sheer amount of time required to be spent learning the trade to make it to the top.

  • Comment number 86.


    It doesn't follow that just because OF paid large fees and big wages for foreign players that any other club had to pay more than they could afford for their own imports.

    That's one of the reasons for the financial plight of most of SPL clubs and of course it hasn't done any of them any good has it?

    How do you expect OF to change, they bring money into the Scottish game, there would be no tv deal if it wasn't for them.

    I just can't accept that they are to blame for all that's wrong with our game,other clubs must shoulder their share of the blame and, as I've posted previously, they must all work together for the good of the game otherwise there will be no game.

    #82 There always used to be good crowds at the derby matches between Morton & St. Mirren, good to see that number there. This is what a resurgent St.Mirren can bring to SPL, other clubs please follow suit.

  • Comment number 87.

    #85 Jim Spence , Not your son is it Jim?

  • Comment number 88.

    Could we really trust a Scottish team to go to partisan Belgrade, go a goal down and still win? No way. We would get hammered but part time Rovers go there and win. Why? Because although 9 times out of 10 Belgrade would win this time Rovers caught them cold by being in the middle of their season. These are the kind of results our dun utd's, hibs and motherwells would be emulating if we switched to summer football. Play H & A once this season till Jan and start next year in March, sooner the better.
    Also good point #83 about Rovers being fan owned. This should be the way forward for us, proper community clubs. What happened about Well, killie & st mirren

  • Comment number 89.

    Should have finished with- what happened to their fan buy outs? All gone quiet. As the financial fair play rules come in watch the Herman teams come to the fore over the next 10yrs. No coincidence they are all fan owned.

  • Comment number 90.


    My point is that Scottish football has one body too many. That body is the SPL. I think it was a cabal of six clubs, mine included, that were after a 10 team SPL ? This is madness.

    I broadly agree with you on most points but must take issue here. Morton have no chance of joining the ' big boys ' under the current setup, yet give them an attraction, 5000. Why strangle East Fife who sorted out the Pars in front of 1200 ?

    Scottish football will never compete with English riches. Let us stop trying. How about getting back to good, competitive football.

    Anyone outside the self appointed 'top six' has no chance whatseover. Lose the SPL as a body would be a start.

  • Comment number 91.

    # 90 You should compare Scottish football with Turkish,Belgium Swedish,Danish,with Israel,Croatia and other leagues and even then it might stand no chance

    You cannot compare the Premier with the SPL it is ridicuolus ..... the League 1 or League 2 maybe!

    Rangers and Celtic were ranked a dismal 42nd and 57th even before the results last night.

    The SPL standard is light years from most Scottish fans expectations

    Scotland have not qualified for any tournament since 1998 ...... it will not qualify for 2012 Euros or the World Cup in Brazil 2014.

    Wake up and smell the coffee

  • Comment number 92.


    The usual cut and paste crayon scribblings, I see. Instead of smugly sitting by from your inflated SKY-funded perch, perhaps you could offer some solutions to fix the Scottish game? Or are you too concerned with the impending implosion about to hit football finances south of the border?

    We need summer football and we need it now. Better pitches, more light and better weather will bring the fans out. More fans = more money in the tills. Accept that we'll never win a European trophy and aim to qualify for the group stages/last 16/32. Increase the top flight to encourage teams to field youngsters and stop importing the drivel from abroad.

  • Comment number 93.

    @Everyone over summer football
    As #74 spantrout pointed out Irish teams play summer football , the thing about this is it competes directly against the two main sports in Ireland for attendence , Gaelic football and Hurling , yet manages to survive . In Scotland there is no major summer sport to compete with for attendence .

  • Comment number 94.

    #90 I don't think we're disagreing on anything here.
    Increasing the SPL would allow more teams access to top flight games and,
    hopefully, increased gates but fans need to be prepared to attend during the
    time it takes to adjust.


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