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My patience with our game has snapped

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Jim Spence | 19:39 UK time, Friday, 26 August 2011

Is there anything in the Scottish water supply or gene pool that stops us producing world-class athletes?

The answer is patently "no"; Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Murray are proof positive.

So, having been as guilty as the next man or woman of producing a litany of excuses which supposedly stop us from producing top footballers, my own patience, and perhaps yours too, snapped, with this week's Europa League results.

Forget summer football, improved facilities, better coaching, more PE in schools and all the other stuff which apologists have been yabbering on about for ages.

Clouds are gathering over Scottish football following the nation's poor showing in European competition. Photo: SNS

Clouds are gathering over Scottish football following the nation's poor showing in European competition. Photo: SNS

Yes, all of the above are crucial and hugely important, but while every one of them is required and some are starting to fall into place, none of them will make an ounce of difference if there is an absence of other key factors.

Appetite, desire, hard work, discipline, hunger for success, but mostly love of the sport, are all the ingredients required to produce top athletes and footballers.

And sadly, it seems that too many of our footballers from a young age don't have enough of any of the above.

If they did, the football pitches which I have been driving past these last six weeks of the Dundee school holidays would have been teeming with budding Messis and Xavis instead of lying empty.

With all four Scottish clubs out of Europe before August has ended and, in the Old Firm's case, losing to sides they were expected to beat comfortably, once again we are hand-wringing and soul searching about the state of the nation's favourite sport.

But, contained within the national squad announced by Craig Levein for the European Championship qualifiers, 12 play for Premiership clubs.

Twelve Scots playing in arguably the top league in the world.

Twelve Scots who have shown all the qualities I have mentioned to take them to the top of the game.

The trick is how to produce more footballers with those qualities and retain some of them domestically so that our clubs can improve on their recent dire European record.

I have little doubt that there are kids of enormous talent playing football in Scotland and they need all the support they can get.

But how do you instill into the next generation of our footballers the work ethic required to make the grade?

How do you inculcate the desire to undergo the endless hours of repetitive practice required, the lung-bursting demands, the heart-pumping effort needed to rise to the top in a chosen sport?

Earlier this week I watched Scotland's latest sporting world champion - yes, world champion - in action at Manchester Velodrome.

Fresh from winning the gold medal in the junior men's sprint competition at the UCI Junior World Track Championships in Moscow last week, 18-year-old John Paul gave a stunning performance of power and speed to add a 2011 National Champion's jersey to his European and World titles.

Being a minority sport, his achievement didn't make many column inches and the levels of fitness and discipline required in it would be beyond the capabilities of most aspiring footballers.

But he has all the qualities in abundance which our next generation of footballers require.

In a sport where facilities are very poor he has risen to the dizzy heights of world champion by willpower, strength of conviction and sheer hard work.

No, there is nothing in the gene pool or water supply to stop our kids becoming top footballers.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Perhaps Andy Murray and Chris Hoy could play for the Scotland team ...... 57th place is nothing to shout about ?

  • Comment number 2.


    how does it feel to have so many world class players and have absolutely no hope of winning anything, you do know that the talent you have south of the border is only matched with the ego's they carry onto a field, which will return you nothing in the long run, that must be more painful than the situation we face as a football nation.
    we know that reaching finals is a bonus for us right now, i just wonder how much pain you feel when your team wimpers out of tournament after tournament with precious little to show for their efforts, in fact i'm sure more was written about off the field activities rather than on field but hey, i'm sure your 88 capped gary nevills autobiography has lightened your bulldog spirit but exclaiming that he thought every cap he got was a waste of his time.
    with all the faults scottish football has tomslaford, i would rather be up here than down there, we're on our knees but we know it, you are right next to us but you don't know it.

    sorry jim,
    your onto a great topic with attitude, some of our players need to realise what it takes to be the best.

  • Comment number 3.


    You are right, there are many more threads that contribute as to why we as a nation fail so spectacularly at what is our national game. Attitude has a hell of a lot to do with it. The previous athletes you've mentioned with perhaps the exception of the U-18 World champ as I don't know anything about him, but certainly Murray. How significant is it that he doesn't train in Scotland? Not just the facilities argument but he has managed to train somewhere that has a positive attitude towards training, Scotland and the UK in general does not have this. I now live in Japan, where football is a growing sport and is now not far behind in popularity the current number 1 sport of Baseball. I often am amazed at the attitude of Japanese kids, they join sports clubs in their high schools and those in the Football club have to train twice a day, before and after school. This is common for all clubs in schools. The kids here understand that hard work is gonna get them that wee bit farther when coupled with ability. The Sunday boys leagues play on pitches that are flat, grassy and well maintained. Even the teams in inner-Tokyo that play on ash pitches in school grounds are required to rake the pitch flat again after each match, producing a discipline that we do not have in Scotland. They do proper warm ups and warm downs before and after each game, something that my team used to scoff at when I was a kid. The thing that I notice most, now that I no longer live in Scotland, is that our players do not look athletic. They are slow, sluggish and generally every movement looks labour intensive. Why is that? I believe that our top players don't skimp on their training but they don't seem to be as fleet as foot as most other players at a similar level. Its not as if this is a new problem, we have been saying the same things over and over for the last 15-20 years......when are the powers that be in the game gonna stop talking and start doing??

  • Comment number 4.

    Jim touches on the critical factor here:

    "...he football pitches which I have been driving past these last six weeks of the Dundee school holidays would have been teeming with budding Messis and Xavis instead of lying empty."

    This is replicated all over the country. You can't simply blame the councils for pulling the goalposts down, we used to play everywhere and anywhere with (sorry about the impending cliche) jumpers and jackers for goalposts. I say "we"; I'm talking about the early 1990s. The rapid deterioration of the physical fitness of this country is alarming. Why would any child want to run about pretending he's Ronaldo when he can play FIFA and copy his every move on screen? How do you the solve the xBox revolution?

    Society's fear of predators at every turn means that kids sometimes aren't allowed out so they miss out on the extra training that playing against your pals gives you. For young lads truly keen to make the grade they should be playing football every day; against friends, in training with their team and against other teams. Coaches that actively pick the tallest and strongest might win a few youth titles but will be left with lads of 17/18 that can't do anything other than hoof it up and chase the ball. It's too late at 18 to teach them finesse and technique.

    Here are a couple of quick ideas to get us going again:

    1) Accept that street football of the 1950s and 1960s has disappeared forever. We need to get the kids out of the houses to play where they and their parents feel they would be safe, away from gangs and paedophiles. How many youth facilities would the £10 million Celtic received for Aiden McGeady have built? We need sports community centres for kids only, with decent pitches for the kids to play on. This way, the kids are off the streets and away from their TVs, and the bigger clubs get to monitor who is looking likely to have the talent to make the grade.

    2) Absolutely no kids to play 11 a side under the age of 15. I'm open to ideas about we solve the problem of coaches fielding teams of giants against relative dwarves?

    In short, we need the kids to play football and lots of it.

  • Comment number 5.

    #4 Dundee United run a league at gussie park all weather pitch this needs to be expanded throughout the city, financial help from the SPL & SFA would be great take some of the tv money and start supporting clubs who are active in the communities.The SFA & SPL can run coaching courses for parents it will take time to fix our game but we need to start at the grass roots .

    how about everyone on here trying to agree on 5 points of fixing our game ,once we have agreed Jim Spence can knock at the door of the SFA & SPL and hand these points in,lets see if they listen .

  • Comment number 6.

    # 1 Calm down it was only banter

    Scotland have for many years failed to have a decent football team , 1998 is a long time ago

    The rankings are based upon facts ...... poor performances not a view based on 20-30 years ago like so many blogs

    Many of the blogs state 'Rangers and Celtic struggle to beat minnows' ..... the Scottish teams are the minnows now !

    Next year the SPL will be ranked 28th in Europe .... yes 28th! down from 16th place this is reality due to another abysmal performance by the SPL teams

  • Comment number 7.

    This is a good article Jim, attitude and fitness are definitely part of the equation in building for a better future.

    It can’t be a coincidence that our country has got even unhealthier, has a blatant obesity problem and the quality of Scottish footballers has fallen.

    Harry Rednap stated that there was a gulf in the physical ability of the Spurs and Hearts players after the first game at Tyncastle. I agreed with Rednap and admit until watching the game I’d never appreciated the gap but it certainly existed. As an athlete myself, I find this particularly disappointing because I know physical conditioning is something anyone can achieve with the right direction, attitude, dedication and hard work.

    There have been well documented instances of Scottish league footballers behaving in anything like an athletic manner in recent years. For example there was the infamous Loch Lomond Hotel incident with Barry Ferguson and co. You wouldn’t catch Sir Chris Hoy doing that so why should pro footballers? I can't be the only one on here who has spotted a professional footballer either out in the clubs (and drunk) or heard from other people who have. Surely we should expect more from professional footballers?

    However aside from the culture in the clubs, I think this is an area where the government as well as the individual and parents can take responsibility and really change things. For as long as we have a sick society, it just doesn’t add up that we’re going to produce as many top quality footballers (or any other sports people) as we could.

  • Comment number 8.

    A 16 team national top division - end of.

    A 16 team national 2nd division - end of

    An East, West and North 16 team regional 3rd divisions - end of

    An East, West and North 16 team regional 4th divisions - end of

    Ten local 5th divisons - end of

    Ten local 6th divisions - end of.

    Bring an end to the closed shop. Bring an end to the artificial divisions between seniors and juniors. Bring an end to negative football. Bring an end to repetition.

    Reward positivity, ambition and ability.

  • Comment number 9.

    I,have read every newspaper and listened to most pundits since the shambles that was thursday evening , and not once have i read or heard suggestions as to how to put things right. People like hugh keevins james traynor and chick young to name but 3 have made a decent enough living on the back of reporting on scottish football over the years , ok so lets hear some suggestions from the experts instead of telling us what we already know , that we are crap and something has got to change , right heres a suggestion top league 14 teams play each other twice , both u19,s old firm teams go into div 3 with no promotion if they win league ,that would get crowds up in that division with supporters wanting to support celtic or rangers u19,s at places like brechin momtrose annan etc etc , another suggestion summer football plus cap the admission prices to say £15 per adult £5 per child its just a start but at least i,m putting forward some ideas unlike some who just moan abt it

  • Comment number 10.

    we have failed in so so many areas. our attitude as a whole has been terrible for decaces. the whole ehtos of scottish football has been so so wrong. so many parties are to blame. from massive debt to shockingly abandoning youth development. not so long ago celtic and rangers had so little focus on youth development italian clubs considered setting up youth acadamies there to take advantage of what should be a city of great footballing talent.

    well we have hit the bottom now so we cannot go in that direction any further. we need an all new direction. the money is gone, even european qualification in the short term may be gone and we are all left with a product that not one of us likes. that new direction can surely only take us to a better place whatever it may be but it cannot be more of the same ethos.

    we really really need to put scotland back at the very very heart of all scottish football. youth development absolutely must be the mainstay and a collective pride in scotland must be the motivation.

    it might be a consideration that the spl be re branded to the " scottish professional league". we are no elite, premier is misleading and not the right attitude anyway. work hard it's your job. besides given that we all know we need to go to a two tier spl any teams below that would be not professional anyway.

    we need yet more inveswtment from the scottish government. thay are doing a bit but we are in such a mess we need more. personally i think we could do with considering mounting a long term ambition to host a european championships in order to juistify the volume of investment that is needed. there is an interesting website here about this

    we no doubt will argue till the cows come home over what diection we need to go in from here but i'd like to think we all agree scotland should be the main focus for any direction we head in.

  • Comment number 11.

    The article conflates the SPL and young Scottish players. What connection was there between the Old Firm and young Scottish players on Thursday night? Celtic's starting line-up had three Scots, Rangers' four. Hearts young Scots actually did quite well in a meaningless tie. Scotland is still producing young talent which is in demand in bigger leagues - who could blame David Goodwillie for going to Blackburn rather than stay in the uncompetitive, uninteresting, ill-divided SPL. Granted it's not like the 1960s when every top English team seemed to have a Scots forward and centre half but that reflects the pool those teams were then drawing from - no players being signed from Mali, Senegal, Togo, Australia, USA, Yugoslavia (as was). Scotland is still well represented by players in England and there are grounds for cautious optimism about the national team. The SPL, on the other hand, is heading for oblivion unless it can break away from the choking embrace of the Old Firn and their control of the diminishing financial spoils.

  • Comment number 12.

    Kids will practice their technical skills out of the spotlight. Not just football, any technical skills. It's so they can put failure behind them in private until they master new skills.
    Our problem is over, not under-organisation.
    Well that, and stupid parents who believe that paedophiles will prey on 10/11/12 year old lads who are playing in a group, and who never let their children do anything unsupervised by adults.

  • Comment number 13.

    On the positive site there are 13 European countries out of 53 below us in the rankings so we have a bit to go yet before we hit absolute rock bottom. But in reality we are already there in all but formal ranking.

    Craig Levvein is quoted as saying "There are some great conversations going on just how (in the SFA), brilliant conversations with people in Scotland about recognising where we are and what we need to do to improve"......and....."People have realised that we have been negligent". These are shocking statements. Talking about talks gives no indication of what is actually being done at a practical level TODAY and NEXT WEEK to bring about immediate and tangible improvements. Its action we need. The time for talking is past, the time for real leaders to stand up and make things happen is here. An admission of negligence is astounding. If that it the case then just like any other enterprise those who have been negligent must brought to account.

    I would like to see if it was feasible to ask former players who hold coaching certificates to be partnered to every high school in the country with a remit to offer football coaching after school hours. No point in asking the Government to pay for this - they are broke and will be for ages to come. This is down to volunteering time each week with all of the football clubs in Scotland contributing to a fund to pay their expenses and perhaps a small fee for the privilege.

    I would also like to see a mandatory minimum number of under 23's in each team each week ie they side must have that minimum number unless and injury during the game or a sending off reduces the quota and if an under 23 is substituted then it must be with another under 23. The quota should be 4 on the pitch at all times. They might not all be Scots but I'm sure a large % would be.

  • Comment number 14.

    Summer football:
    If the only justification for it is to help 3 or 4 of our very top teams qualify for Europe, at the very possible expense of the rest, then it is absolute folly.

    I say that as a Rangers supporter, whose team might be one of the very few beneficiaries of this nonsense.

    Furthermore, the Old Firm had dreadful results in what was Rangers' eighth competitive game of the season, and Celtic's sixth; absolute optimum, where you'd think the sides would be match-fit, but would have had time to pick up fewer injuries. (Rangers had 13 players out.)

    I'd be grateful, Mr Spence, if you wouldn't advocate this baloney again.

  • Comment number 15.

    #13 how about the SFA put a clause into every pro contract that they have to coach a kids team ( school under 11 ) if asked to .You could add a fee onto every team's registration of £10 ( amateur ,junior,pro sides ) to cover the costs of bus fares or petrol .You could also take some of the TV revenue monies and pay teams who entertain the crowd a bonus for open attacking football .This is entertainment you wouldn't go to a film if it was rubbish

  • Comment number 16.

    In the FIFA rankings (notwithstanding their worth!) Slovenia are 23rd, Switzerland are 30th and Scotland are 55th (ROI are 30th). Also taking Jim Traynor's point the records of the teams in recent times in Europe are very poor. So there was no surprise at all to me that the teams lost out in midweek. Billy Dodds, Chick Young and Murdo Mcleod got it horribly wrong with their arrogant predictions! Furthermore the prospects for the national team in the near future are not at all good. How to fix things? It would take a long long email to address the huge difficulties whish are faced.

  • Comment number 17.

    I am Scottish and currently live in Spain. My eight year old son was last year picked up by a Spanish second division club. How many scottish clubs would have given him this opportunity? In his seven a side league, on childrens sized pitches, with full training facilities, changing areas and terracing for the parents to watch from, he has already competed against other teams from Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid. They play a level of footbal the spaniards call 'Benjamin' and are coached by professionals. The spanish system is very open as you go along and they take a look at the kids. There is no need for the kids to get spotted in the parks as such, the door is open and if they like you you are in. Do our clubs have such an open door policy? Then if the players aren't up to it they encourage them to join their basketball teams and handball teams. It's no coincidence that the Spanish dominate football, dominate tennis, dominate European Basketball, dominate European handball and still come up with great golfers, F1 drivers and Moto GP champions. The answer is in Spain, get the SFA to Spain now.

  • Comment number 18.

    I couldnt agree more, Jim. Over the years there have been dozens of really exciting young players coming through at Scottish clubs, only for them to fizzle out and disappear into the lower divisions. Also, it really is beyond belief when, regularly, we see highly talented young Scots (usually Glaswegians) decide to test themselves in England, only to whine a few months later that they are 'homesick'. WT..? If they didnt miss their mammies so much, we'd all be better off. We see hundreds of foreign players coming to play in the UK every year, and its great that they have that desire. I for one salute them. But I'm miffed to explain why our young guys dont go abroad and try to succeed in foreign countries. Too dangerous for Mummy's Little Soldiers...

  • Comment number 19.


    First of all please don't be flippant with quotes such as "Forget summer football, improved facilities, better coaching, more PE in schools and all the other stuff which apologists have been yabbering on about for ages."

    Ordinary football fans such as myself who are bothered to read your blog and reply have been suggesting these sort of changes on demand. So as someone who cares deeply about Scottish football, am I an apologist and do I yabber on? Then you follow up with ... "Yes, all of the above are crucial and hugely important..." Oxymoron perhaps? Things need to get done Jim, even if it means repeating it over and over again till somebody takes notice. That is not being an apologist!

    Right, I am a supporter of my home town team which plays in the SFL. I now live and work in London. I am absolutely passionate about Scottish football as a whole and I am now at the end of my tether about the Scottish game. And believe me I get it in the neck at every opportunity by my English colleagues about the state of the Scottish game.

    Talking about kids and football pitches, what I've noticed and someone else has mentioned about the xBox generation. I was born in 1969, like most kids of my generation, I took every opportunity to get out of the house to play football in the street or in the park with my friends, pretending to be and looking up to our heroes of the day. Fast forward to the mid 1990s, empty playing fields, and kids not allowed to go beyond the watchful eye of their parents. The parents can afford satellite television so kids can watch their heroes instead of being like them, kids can play video games pretending to be their footballing heroes with all the exertion of a rapid thumb movement. Kids of the last 15 years have all the distractions in their homes to keep them away from parks and their parents are happy with that. It's just another way of being a couch potato.

    In Scotland (and the UK) we have a culture of instant entertainment and poor quality diet. Sugar drinks, chips, burgers, fried sausage and egg... kids are not fit and healthy, even the ones who aspire to be an athlete at a young age. There is so much temptation to minimise effort, hard work, aspiration and discipline. Oh and don't forget the schools that adopted the politically correct non-competitive sports days where everyone gets a badge regardless of how fat and slow they might be. To get kids into the parks again there needs to be a national revolution in football and sport in general, from grass roots to professional level.

    Solution = Money ... plain and simple, unfortunately. There is only so much that can be done at local amateur level, but to get kids and parents interested in how to improve the quality of their lives by adopting sport then a culture change is needed. Co-operation at roots level between kids, parents and coaches working to some set curriculum is a possible way. Youth teams and facilities need to be supported financially to provide the best that can be afforded. Coaches need the time for preparation to teach basic skills and techniques rather than kids being thrown into 11-a-side games on full size pitches with screaming parents dictating what's best to do with the ball.

    We do seem to have a rich pool of kids at school level who enjoy their football and do show how skillful and energetic they can be. But most are lost to the xBox after they reach 13 or 14 years old, especially if they are from rural areas outside the central belt. The pool of kids who make it to professional football is small and great effort is needed to better what we have now. As someone else mentioned, look at the amount of foreign players playing for Scottish clubs in Europe recently. As long as that pool of Scottish kids remains small and underdeveloped then foreign players will continue to fill the ranks, for many clubs that is the easy way. Yes we have 24 players playing in the EPL, but how many of those are really international standard? How many of those are not just squad members in smaller provincial English clubs. How many Scots play for Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Man U, Liverpool and Spurs? Four maybe? Because it's those teams that matter, they are the successful ones who get into the Champions League. Those sides used to be rife with Scottish players. We see 24 as a big number these days, nothing compared to the amount of Scottish players that were in the English top league up until the 1990s, and also be reminded of those that played in top European leagues as well.

    If we act now and time, money, effort and radical changes are implemented with decent funding, we will change the Scottish game but it will take ten to 15 years to see the real fruits of that. That may be a long time but we have to start sometime and we need to save our game from obscurity and revel in punching above our weight again. But make no mistake, changes need to be radical and it needs to happen now otherwise the Scottish game of the future will look like Cathkin Park today, abandoned, deserted and dreaming of what once was to those who cared.

  • Comment number 20.

    Totally agree Jim and would add that it would be helpful if those running things could actually agree on a common solution rather than arguing year on year and doing precious little while we fall further.

    When the game is played properly it's a joy to watch even if your team loses. On the other hand I had to watch Hibs lose to St Mirren the other week and honestly it was awful. Nevermind the mistakes it was the "boot the ball up the park and hope for the best" tactics that had the crowd annoyed. No skill at all. Nobody wants to pay to watch rubbish like that.

    While the English league might be the land of riches i'm surprised how little they do to improve their own game. The best players are not English which is why their national team achieve sod all like us.

  • Comment number 21.

    Poor diet is not a 21st Century phenomenon.

    Bread and dripping, piece & sugar, sugar-ally water were staples in the first half of the 20th Century, due to poverty, whilst, as incomes grew and foodstuffs became cheaper, high saturated-fat, high sugar diet became standard in the second half.

    The problem is that over-bearing parents do not encourage kids to burn off the calories.

  • Comment number 22.

    Even my young kids are starting to notice how many fatties wobble around the place. I try to be diplomatic about it and even-handed but I take the view that this is something that no one should be if they they can help it.

    You are absolutely correct in your opening line but poor diet (and by that I mean the absence of a balance of different foods) can still be as much a product of poverty and the need to feed families on limited budgets.

    Introduce higher taxes on those foodstuffs high in saturated fats.

    Get sport back in schools starting at P3 as the minimum, get it into the daily curriculum and address the problem of poor facilities that still exist in too many primary schools (many still lack a proper gym).

    Work on technique, give them access to different sports and leave the physical development until their teens.

    But moreover, get more education departments to open up school facilities to communities after hours.

  • Comment number 23.

    What nonsense jim. There is a problem with the way the players are brought through the ranks but who's fault is that? Government? No. Parents no? Clubs are to blame Look at the facts. Rangers and Celtic only had 7 scots out of 22 in their starting line up on thursday, roughly 31% of the two teams together. Who is to blame? I would say the fault is purely down their respective managers. 'overpaid' players they insist on selecting on either team just don't have it. The old firm should take the lead with their fans firmly behind them, throw out their dross and introduce youth with their older scots and start from there. Just like other scottish trams. I watched motherwell 16s one sunday, their players were a joy to watch as were inverness with borh coaches talking their players through the game, not barracking them or the lonely official but developing them. Doesn't matter the league winners in terms of Europe, we will always be in the qualifying rounds for the next ten years so let's start at the bottom. If this means turf out their managers to change the philosphy to bring in the youth so be it, just see what Spain achieved long term. In fact look at Charlie Adam!

    Finally, come on Scotland, do us all proud next week and show how good a team full of scots achieves!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    #16 I agree with your comment Scottish commentators make a good living also on commenting on the Premier League AND England at tournament finals!.Brazil only scored 1 goal in 13 matches he was over rated

    #19 In England we are should concentrate on developing English players not developing Scottish players.Rangers and Celtic do not produce or nuture Scottish players and I am not suprised because the conveyot belt has long since stopped 20 years ago

    #20 I cannot wait for the Czech Republic and Lithiania to put Scotland in their place. Australia,Wales and Norway have beat Scotland 3 - 0 recenty.That is why they are ranked as 4th seed in their qualifying group for the World Cup 2014

  • Comment number 25.

    These UK citizens played in England Tom. Or are employment laws an issue for you? The English Defence League is not yet in power!

    And are you as insular nationalist about developing other types of player from elsewhere? Chip on the shoulder?!! Its a rhetorical question!

    We are all aware of the deficiencies and the rollercoaster of supporting our national team. Its rare to come across people with such an inferiority complex about it!

    There, there..

  • Comment number 26.

    There are some very good Scottish players (Adam, Miller, Caldwell and Fletcher for example). Trouble for the Scottish sides is that they play for English sides. Look at the latest Scotland team and see how many are playing south of the border, both in the Premier and Championship. Now spot the number of Scots selected that play in Scotland but not for either the Old Firm sides.
    The trouble is the gulf between England and Scotland. Scottish players can earn more money playing in the second tier of the English game rather than the top flight of the Scottish league. The entire Hearts team cost £10m whilst Spurs cost £145m.
    Money is the issue. Put it simply a player will go to whoever pays the most and that is in England.
    Perhaps the whole game needs to be looked at from the kids, and bring back the reserves and scrap the split, maybe reducing the league to 10. Have better youth facilities, even beginning as young as 5 -6 years, work on skills and technique and no 11 a side until at least 15 years.
    The over dominance of Rangers and Celtic is another problem. Motherwell are doing well but they got beat 3-0 by Rangers. Of course chairmen and women of other sides will be happy when their team is playing one of the Old Firm because of the gate receipts and the TV companies are happy for Rangers and Celtic to play each other as often as possible. But what about outside the Old Firm?
    Lower down it's too easy to get promoted via the play-offs. I would have 1st for automatic, then 2nd and 3rd in a playoff with the winner playing the team that finished 9th in the league above.
    There is no short term solution. Maybe when Sir Alex retires perhaps he can be employed to head a task force on how to improve the Scottish game, or maybe Walter Smith.
    The question is why does Scotland produce so many good managers?

  • Comment number 27.

    Maybe it's just over. Scottish football is experiencing the perfect storm of factors that will see it go under in the next few years: the OF outspending everyone else by an order of magnitude, a lack of belief in the SPL as a meaningful competition, a dwindling supply of home-grown players because of all the social/economic/technological changes commented on throughout this thread, that problem feeding into the national team sliding down the rankings, an inability to compete on a European club level with teams from associations in large countries where revenue from TV is beyond belief ... I suppose the nuclear option (not the sensible thoughts of league reorganisation, summer football, proper coaching for kids etc) would be to pull down the shutters and go home. Stop kidding ourselves that Scottish football is a business and go back to doing it for fun. Mind you, I'm having a pessimistic Sunday morning...

  • Comment number 28.

    The last week has been terrible and quite rightly, we're asking questions about the whole structure of the game in the country.

    But is it really that bad?

    In the last decade both Rangers and Celtic have appeared in UEFA Cup finals.
    The National Team appear to have turned a corner but, realistically, its a lot harder to qualify for World Cups now-a-days. Europe is the strongest or second strongest footballing continent. Only so many European teams can go to it.

    I have lived in New Zealand for the last 5 years, where as opposed to contracting - as in Scotland, football is getting better and better. NZ has the same issues as Scotland though; playstations, fast food and obesity, lack of money in the game, etc. But I genuinely believe that the better weather gets more people off their backsides; kids, adult players, refs and potential coaches.

    Why not Summer Football? Norway, Ireland, they aren't to be shunned simply because our FA is older than theirs. They have an idea that should be embraced. Why do the English play winter football? Because their pitches are used for cricket in the summer. Why do we play winter football? Because the English do.

    Its time to make the change.

    Also, I'm all for a minimum of x amount of players in a team under the age of 23 and the opening up of the leagues. The same teams finishing bottom of Div 3 every year is a disgrace. Give your Linlithgows and Inveruries a chance, you'll upon up the game to new areas and bring in fresh fans.

  • Comment number 29.

    @ NZ_Dandy - one of the reasons that it is bad, not mentioned so far, is the credit crunch and economic downturn. It's significant for example that the Celtic side that reached the UEFA Cup final eight years ago only had two Scots in the starting XI but some of the imports (Larsson, Petrov) were pretty good footballers. Since money got tight and banks got a lot more strict about debts & lending - since 2008 - even the Old Firm can't afford that calibre of player - hence losing to Maribor and Sion.
    At a less elevated level, it's no real surprise that Aberdeen haven't challenged since 2007/08 since the money/lending isn't there anymore to pay wages for the likes of Russell Anderson, Barry Nicholson, Scott Severin, Lee Miller or Jamie Smith - or players of an equal standard...

  • Comment number 30.

    If the results over the last month were achieved by the national team I would be worried but as club sides, what do people expect. Hearts to beat a team who get 60 times as much TV cash as they do? Admittedly the Celtic and Rangers results were poor but you can blame the managers of those teams who are not of Championship standard. I could manage one of the old firm to a place in the top 2 of the SPL given the massive financial advantage they have due to turnover and the wages they can pay.

    Often in Scotland we get too caught up in the domestic side of things and only look at what is happening in England. How often do we listen to what others say about our game.

    The following quotations are from a Romanian fan on a world wide football stadium board and possibly sum it up in an objective way that many on here can not

    "I can't speak for any specific internal (cultural, economic, social or political) reasons for this undeniable decline in the quality of Scottish football in recent years. However in a broader picture I can't help but notice that traditionally Scottish club football has been over-performing compared to other countries of a similar (or even higher) population. No other country with a population of just five million comes close to what Scottish clubs have achieved in Europe in the past.

    In terms of population Scotland ranks 27th in Europe, between Finland and Norway. Yet by number of European trophies won, Scotland ranks 8th, after Belgium. If you count that Belgium has never won the ECC/UCL, then they rank 7th. Anyway, this places Scotland above countries with many times its population, including France and Russia.

    The reason for this probably has to do with two big factors: (1) Scotland's huge tradition in football as one of the originators of the sport ensured that club football would receive a very large popular support; this not only creates a strong audience for football matches, it also bring kids to join football teams. (2) Scotland has been a part of one of the largest/strongest economies in Europe and the world.

    However over the last couple of decades economic gaps, as well as football gaps, have been closing across Europe. This may play no small role in Scotland's current situation. Countries where traditionally football clubs wouldn't have been able to compete with Scottish sides are now providing more and more challenging opponents. This in turn means that not only are most Scottish clubs little more than cannon fodder in the qualifying rounds of continental competitions, but the Old Firm

  • Comment number 31.

    but the Old Firm sides are finding themselves slumping against teams they would have easily dominated a decade ago. No matter how insular one's view of football may be, if you don't perform in Europe the league standard will suffer. You lose money, you can't attract good players etc. Ultimately the League becomes unattractive for the locals and attendances begin to suffer as well. Once that happens you inevitably start losing even more money... and so the downward spiral continues.

    Basically what I'm saying is that due to closing gaps between many European countries, Scottish football has begun performing at a level that is approaching what is actually normal for a country its size. Unless something big changes, I see Scotland as becoming your average run-of-the-mill footballing nation; you will probably still see the occasional above-average performance, particularly from the Old Firm if they can keep any sort of high attendances/strong following, but in-depth there will be little out of the ordinary.

    In another post he then stated "Personally I don't think its mere chance that if you look at this year's UEFA coefficients that in the top 11 you'll find 10 of the most populous countries in Europe. Actually the only country with a population over 15 million that's not in that top 11 is Poland.

    Yes, money is the defining factor, but I don't think there's someone that can argue that there isn't a link between demographics, the size of the economy and what football clubs from a country can expect to make. It's pretty amazing the Old Firm still manages to pull turnovers of 50-60 million pounds per year; it's probably a singular case among teams from small countries.

    Me, I was amazed when I realized the TV rights in Romania sold for over twice as much as those in Scotland, 13 million per year versus about 30; in fact while Scotland's annual TV rights have decreased, in Romania, despite the economic downturn, they have somehow increased. But Romania has 4 times the population. All I'm saying is that the size of the market you're part of plays a very big role in what you can expect to make financially as a football club in that country, particularly with an economic playing field that is becoming more even

  • Comment number 32.

    Jim, I don't disagree with your comments or wonder at your loss of patience but there several factors that need to be considered.

    Firstly I believe that you're not comparing like with like.

    Cycling is basically an individual sport as is tennis where Any Murray has excelled but he moved to Spain as a 14 year old and missed the "distractions" at home.

    Those who take part in individual sports do seem to demonstrate greater depths of dedication than those who participate in team sports.

    This may be due to a number of factors one of which would certainly be peer pressure. It's common knowledge that at any reasonable sized club in UK, not just Scotland,young players who have plenty of money live in a world where they must have the latest, flashiest car, clothes, trophy girlfriend and are frequently to be found in VIP rooms at the "hottest" clubs.
    Frightened of being the odd one out or ridiculed by their treammates, they follow like sheep.
    How many times have we heard world class foreign players wonder at the way British players drink?

    It does seem to be ludricous that much is made of how unhealthy our lifestyle is yet football derives large sums by way of sponsorship from drinks companies, OF advertise them on their shirts,and clubs that have "premium seats & lounges" advertise them on the basis of being able to obtain a drink at the match, hypocritical or just a sign of the times?

    Some things don't change, English footballers have always been bigger than Scots on average, I speak from experience, but this didn't inhibit us in the past from being their superior on may occasions.

    What is required is a combination of a work ethic, good parental guidance followed by the same at club level and adoption of common sense by young footballers. The world is their oyster is they work at it, do they think Messi just turns up and it flows naturally?
    He is as fit as a butchers dog but constantly practices his skills and until our youngsters follow his example they will continue to underachieve and we will drop further behind developing nations.

  • Comment number 33.

    To your list of factors I think you can also add the attraction of high wages and social class. Footballers don't tend to come from the higher IQ section of the bell curve and I'm sure there is a fairly big portion who reach the bigger clubs at relatively young ages and believe they have 'made it' without pushing any further to develop as players. Look at Kris Boyd and Derek Riordan to name but two I'd place in this category. And then lifestyle and recreational habits of poor diet, drink and drugs take over. The phrase 'biscuits for brains' as one Scottish journalist used to describe a player who recently returned to Hibs this summer sums it up quite nicely.

  • Comment number 34.

    #25 I was agreeing with another blog highly paid Scottish commentators also comment on the English teams and also add very little as the previuos blogger was pointing out ! . When will a Scottish commentator comment on their own national team in a tournament ...... maybe in 10 years !

    # 26 ...Alas even Fergie could not improve things north of the border.He was not successful managing Scotland , even in the good old days.Would he win the SPL managing a team other than OF. No is the answer even if I managed one of them.

    #30 The last time a Scottish team won any trpohy in Europe was in the mid 80's.1967 and 1972 are a generation ago.Punching above your wieght not really.You must have a long memory ..... perhaps that is your problem

  • Comment number 35.

    #34 The last time a Scottish team won any trpohy in Europe was in the mid 80's.

    Actually we won the Homeless World Cup today - for the second time in eight years.

    What have we got to worry about? What is all this nonsense about never getting back to street football? We're already doing the biz!

  • Comment number 36.

    And can we go on about winning the Homeless World Cup for the next 45 years?

  • Comment number 37.

    #34 - yet again tomslaford you have yet again proved that you are just coming on here to try and wind people up. My post was highlighting a post made by someone in Romania but why bother reading when you are just here to post your anti Scottish rants for the 1000th time.

    I have reason to think you are Scottish yourself, were a director at a morally corrupt Scottish football club until last week and are very overweight. How is your Ulster flag Harry?

  • Comment number 38.

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

  • Comment number 39.

    @37.At 01:18 29th Aug 2011, jeanfield_swifts wrote:
    Yes indeed , look up the BBC rules and find this out
    "Are abusive or disruptive" includes "Flaming: This means posting something that's angry and mean-spirited" and "Trolling: This means saying deliberately provocative things just to stir up trouble" .
    Who springs to mind ??
    And to top it off
    "Users who seriously or repeatedly demonstrate such behaviour may have their accounts pre-moderated or permanently restricted and will not be allowed to return to with a new account. Please note that the BBC reserves the right to edit, move or delete any message, or terminate membership, at any time, for any reason."

    And on a lighter note the Ulster flag represents the Province of Ulster contain nine counties , where as the Ulster Banner was used to represent the Nothern Ireland Government between 1953-1972 and still is flown for NI at commomwealth games , International matches involving a NI team and Rangers games , even though they are Scottish and always will be .

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm sick of the 'but we are only a wee country!' argument. Uruguay has a population of 3.5 million and they have won the World Cup twice (admittedly the last time was in 1950) and reached the semi-finals in 2010 and they have to qualify through the South American group to even get to the World Cup! Sweden (population 9 million) reached the semi-finals as recently as 1994 and and even Norway and Denmark (population 5 million) have reached the second round.

    We have to stop using money as an excuse as well - look at all the tens of millions of pounds spent at Rangers through the 1990s. How many European trophies did that bring?

    Finally, the 'xbox generation' excuse - do they not have xboxs in England, Spain, Germany, Italy? Tastes change, what was once a mass pursuit becomes a minority interest and vice versa. What we have to do is make sure that those that are still interested in football get the best chance at succeeding in the sport.

  • Comment number 41.

    I was trying to avoid the obvious that, as you put it,"footballers don't tend to come from the higher IQ section of the bell curve", but I'm sure there are many examples that, with the proper guidance, have done very well.
    Agents have much to answer for as well, pushing young players into demands that they have no right to make.
    I remember Mark Burchill demanding that he play in the first team at Celtic or be transferred. Who was going to be left out to accommodate him ? Henrik Larsson??

    Apologies to Burchill but that's an example of wanting too much too soon.

  • Comment number 42.

    one idea might be for the SFA to impose a ruling that at least 1/3 of the players on a clubs books must have come through their own system. that would at least put some responsibility on the clubs to develop their own players.

  • Comment number 43.

    There certainly is problem with the performance of football coming out of Scotland nowadays and has been for many years now. Financially we cannot even compete with the likes of Turkey in retaining talent. If the overall population residing in Scotland is serious about fixing the issues then a 5-10-15 year plan needs to be put in place and leadership needs to be given a chance to execute non the plan. TherebRebfar

  • Comment number 44.

    Sorry hit enter too quickly on #43

    There are far too many FACTIONS within Scottish football with competing priorities and they need to be consolidated.

    We need to recognize that there is not an overnight fix and be prepared for more pain before we see gains but if everyone has a passion to see a more co efficient view of our capabilities in the larger fishbowl of world football we have to be ready to suck it up for a few years.

    Keep in mind a few things.

    The Scottish leagues started on time as advertised with NO STRIKES by players or officials this year.

    Countries in the top 10 of the world have had STRIKES of Players and Clubs due to FINANCES in the past year.

    The Argentinean league had a delayed start last year due to lack of finances to pay officials.

    La Liga players were on strike to guarantee PAY a few weeks ago

    Serie A in Italy did not commence their league as yet due to labor disputes.

    Scottish football has NEVER BEEN ACCUSED of betting or match fixing in their history either at national or Club ;level

    All in all we have a solid foundation in Scottish football and a passion for the game like many countries, what we need are good football leaders to step up and have a longer term strategic view on how to fix our current situation and the baseline measurement should be:

    ·       Where do we want to be and can afford to be in World rankings

    ·       What co-efficient do we we want and can afford for our registered clubs in UEFA.

    ·       How do we report back to our constituents on progress

  • Comment number 45.

    Improving Scottish football has to be tackled from different angles.

    (1) Improving at grassroots level
    (2) Improving SPL/SFL

    (1) Bigger problem with much to be decided such as whether kids are better off
    playing for schools rather than be atached to clubs.
    Better coaching with more emphasis on developing ball skills and less on size
    and athleticism.
    Less competition and more emphasis on fun.

    All of the above will take years to produce results, patience required.

    (2) In need of urgent fix in order to maintain and, if possible increase, interest in
    the game.
    No need to try and re-organise all of senior football in one fell swoop, that
    way only leads to disaster but the fear factor needs to be eliminated from SPL
    to encourage teams to play more expansive football and encourage young
    As has been posted previously this will require the agreement of all parties and
    vested interests to be put to one side.
    A larger SPL with either 14 or 16 teams playing each other twice only couldn't
    be any worse than watching what's on offer now.
    Have a winter break, over Christmas perhaps when the weather is expected to
    be bad would assist both clubs and fans, better not to play than play in front
    of empty seats.
    Decide when want the season to start and plan accordingly.

    Adopting a two pronged approach with differing timetables and demands is the only way forward in my opinion.

  • Comment number 46.

    OK well I'm prepared for the flak here of saying I'm a 'Gers fan (insert metaphorical cannon fire toward me).

    The controversial side of me thinks all the other Scottish clubs should be grateful we've been so rich to buy your players when you've been skint or been so good to keep the UEFA coefficent so high that a lot of teams from Scotland even make it into Europe (even if 2nd quali round).

    However the realist in me thinks that's bad - what I'd say is this...

    Summer Football seems to be a must especially if it means when the clubs do well (as you'd hope) in the CL/EL you can buy in January and keep the players fresh for the 2nd half of the CL/EL.

    Then I'd ask each SPL club to back a 2nd/3rd division club with training facilities so there is something tangible coming down the pyramid rather than just "cash" - and the clubs can't sell these facilities for 50 years. So no fly by night developers making a killing.

    I'd have x2 14 team divisions and then regional football with SPL teams running all-Scottish (or British) reserve teams with x3 EU players in them in the regional leages (Highlands and Islands) West and East.

    I'd also ask for Scottish players that are playing abroad to think about coming back to Scotland even if for a "last payday" to pass on technical knowledge.

    I'm thinking of other things too but ned time to write them down...

  • Comment number 47.

    My solution for the SPL & SFA

    1 - Professional League of 8 teams (OF,Hearts,Hibs, plus 4 others) who play each
    other 6 times per season.This would raise the standard instead of playing
    Inverness CT 4 times per season

    2 - All the other Scottish teams in League 2 -3 should be semi professional (similar
    standard as Blue Square ...... even though most Scottish teams attract lower

    Will it work ???? .... not sure though the present system has seen Scottish football plummet to an all time low

  • Comment number 48.

    #25 ..... the Scottish Nationalist Party rule Scotland,how nationalistic is Scotland.
    Stick to football not politics, or are they so inter twinned north of the border like sectarinism with the OF

  • Comment number 49.

    Jim as usual, there's a number of factors, but they all come down to lack of development rather than money. From a young age, most of our players are at the mercy of cack-handed coaches, who cause monumental damage to these youngsters, however well intentioned they are. We need an academy approach that idenitifies talented youngsters, and gets them coached and developed from an early age, miles from the 'GET RID OF IT!!!!' brigade.

    Look at european players - they are ALL comfortable with the ball at their feet. They all look relaxed, most of them play with their heads up. Your average Scottish player runs around with the sort of body language that suggests that he's expecting his shorts to fall down at any moment.

    The best thing we can do is to copy the approach that Croatia or other well established eastern european nations take - their league is a better standard than ours, and they consistently produce players for the top teams in Europe.

  • Comment number 50.

    The UK government rules Scotland Tom. Doesn't surprise me you don't know that basic fact. What planet do you come from and do they actually give you a vote!

    But you could answer your own question and give me another laugh! It would only highlight your ignorance on politics as well as football.

  • Comment number 51.

    It hasn't been mentioned, and I don't know if it would make a difference but if we did go to summer football, would we have more of a bargaining chip with the TV companies ? We would have a product 'out of season' for England and some of our southern neighbours might start watching our game if its the only show in town. Who knows, it might raise the profile of our game as well, as long as we're not too bad ;-)

  • Comment number 52.

    We have a similar conversation here in Canada. It's largely a socio-economic issue. As Pele said 'In Brazil, many young people can't dream about being doctors or something else' (Paraphrase)

  • Comment number 53.

    Would agree with this though I think we should also switch to matches spread over Friday night to Sunday night.

    The issue for summer football however, is the resistance of some of the big clubs. Lawell was quoted recently as saying that it was indicative of a poorer leagues.

  • Comment number 54.

    I am old enough to remember Erie Walkers and the SFA think tank of 20-25 years ago that was going to revolutionise Scottish football. What happened? absolutely nothing and you can't help being a pessimist that anything will change this time.

    How many organisations actually help run Scottish football, we need immediate change there, with only one organisation responsible. You cant help but feel each organisation is just about safe guarding their own selfish interest not that of Scottish Football. For instance how many officials went to the recent world cup draw, when only 1 or 2 is needed. Why do all officials go to all Scotland's away matches but some same faces missing from home games? Wjhy spend thousands on monthly dinners so some pundits can be wined and dined each month to select a player of the month.

    Cut backs in these areas would not create the millions required to be invested in football but surely could be better invested elsewhere.

  • Comment number 55.

    The problem is also too many people with too many opinions (myself included)

    We also need to stop teams (spl included, non OF though) from signing youngsters as young as 7, on illegal papers, stopping them from playing football with their school teams.

    There are PS3 and Xboxs in Spain as well so clearly that is not the problem, there's nothing wrong with these things as long as it's balanced.

    Investment. Outstanding facilities for young people with coaches, it would also make sound financial sense as it would no doubt lift communities and help with regard to social problems.

    Diet. Major issue in our country. It can all come down to common sense really but maybe simple things like healthy foods have less tax to pay than high sugar foods (already been mentioned here)

    Encouragement, desire, pride, hard work.

    Also letting the public see there is a product out there worth seeing. I'm a Celtic fan but I've been encouraged of late by the product on the park at Motherwell and St Mirren, I also think a little more effort from these clubs in their areas to draw in more people. More cash coming in could be invested into youth, coaches etc.

    Just my 2 pence worth.

  • Comment number 56.

    32 morbhoy

    You are right that individual sportsmen/women often appear to be more driven than those in team sports.

    And Sir Chris Hoy, young John Paul and Andy Murray all had to leave Scotland to find decent facilities and competition.

    However, as I pointed out there are 12 Scots in the recent Scotland squad playing in the Premiership, so it's fair to ask if they've had the drive to get there what is stopping others.

    and 23 sadislander

    you let government and parents off the hook too easily. Are you really saying any recent Government has done enough to promote healthy active sporting lifestyle among children. Look att ehlack of time devoted to PE in schools.

    Parents too need to ask whether they are doing enough in terms of suport and encouragement.

  • Comment number 57.

    The NHS also need to move young players up the waiting list, as many a young (school level) player has been lost to the game due to the dithering of the nhs on waiting lists for consultants.

    I know from personal experience, and to ask a young player to wait for up to 6 months to see a specialist is shocking and led to myslef being injured for many years and being told i'd never play again.

    Lets never have another promising young keeper who has knackered wrists, wait for months to see a specialist, and keep on playing whilst waiting, then have the bad news.

    Or a young midfielder who has a knee injury but carrys on playing whilst waiting for an appointment.

    We need to give our youngsters every chance, I am now one of those obise people but am damn sure that i wouldnt be if i was still playing, and I do not want money wasted on people who want to eat instead of people who want to play our national sport.

  • Comment number 58.

    #58 Jim

    Government can only do so much to address years of chronic under-investment in the wrong areas of health and there is a good arguement that recent Scottish governments have actually managed to try and shift attitudes and lifestyles by focusing on prevention at the early years. We have an abundance of good health data now - on smoking, alcohol abuse and healthy eating - that at least map out the scale of the problems and allow you to tackle it constructively.

    There is however, still a real problem about PE at primary schools: many do not have proper gym facilties and 2 hrs a week for PE is just not enough as a national target. Improve facilities, put sport in the curriculum. Kids like sport and they should be getting more of it in schools.

    Resistance is largely financial (relative food cost to families on tight budgets, educational budgets, etc) but its also cultural and associated with either poor parenting or the habits passed down to children that embrace junk food culture far too often. Your average UK child will still go to school with others who take in fizzy drinks, sweets and crisps every day. Sadly you really do blame the parents on this one. We all know about the importance of variety and 5-a-day but its still staggering how many dish out the coke and crisps to their kids as some sort of staple.

    You can lead a horse to water but you really can't make it drink if it really doesn't want to, or there is no water there in the first place.

  • Comment number 59.

    Scrap the SPL. It has been an unmitigated disaster for Scottish football. The SFL does a better job at promoting itself, is more competitive in every division and is not being run by those only protecting their own self-interests.
    There needs to be a fairer distribution of cash, the Old Firm aren't competing in Europe anyway so a drop in cash won't affect that.
    We need to stop signing foreign no-marks on silly money. How sad to see Celtic release a whole team of youngsters while paying players from all parts of the world that have failed so miserably in European football over the last two seasons. Rangers are no better, the policy of at least signing players from these islands having been replaced by a collection of players no one has heard of.
    Bring the kids through and give great pros like Davie Weir and Stephen Craigan a mentoring role in the game. These are the guys that are an example of what you can achieve with dedication, hard work and the right lifestyle. When you look at what Riordan, O'Connor and others could have achieved if they had behaved like professionals, it is desperately sad to see them charging towards the end of their careers with nothing worthwhile to show for it.
    I do think there are signs that the SFA are at least willing to tackle the big problems, although we definitely need to move youth football to a summer structure. However, the SPL remains an obstacle to progress and until the supporters of every club in the Self Preservation League make their voices heard, our slip into complete obscurity will continue. Demand change now.

  • Comment number 60.

    #56 Jim Spence

    I take your point that 12 of the Scots squad are playing in PL but if you examine them the better players went there at an early age did they not?

    There will always be some who have the necessary drive and support but even if all 12 did that's not many is it?

    Governments still draw back from the one obvious step, i.e. alcohol pricing which makes me question their commitment.

  • Comment number 61.

    The problem with Scottish football is simple. Too many overrated players who cannot pass the ball 5 yards to a man in the same coloured shirt. We have to remove the fear factor.

    The SPL must be expanded to a minimum 16 team league, with 2 up and 2 down and playoffs. We have to let players flourish instead of playing with a fear and lumping the ball forward at every opportunity.

    Charlie Adam was ran out of town by Rangers fans who booed and groaned when he tried a pass that didnt come off. There are examples like this all over the country. Scott Brown runs about like a headless chicken and is unable to play a simple pass to a teammate, yet the majority of Celtic fans applause his "commitment" and "dig". Again there are examples of this all over the country.

    Collectively, clubs, players, governing bodies, supporters and the media need to wake up and smell the coffee or we will be the footballing backwater that we have become for decades to come.

    ps I am a Celtic fan who would kill for a player like Charlie Adam in our midfield.

  • Comment number 62.

    The SPL is spiralling into oblivion is ranked 16th this season .... next season it will be ranked in the mid twenties due to the poor results again this year in Europe !

    The standard of teams like St Johnstone , Inverness CT playing the OF times per season has dragged the SPL to standard lower than League 2.

    No wonder the Scottish national team will again disappoint this week in the Euro qualifiers

    There is an expression you pay peanuts ......

  • Comment number 63.

    #58 You do ramble on about goverments ..... stick to footbae

    You can have the fittest palyers in the world ..... the problem is you have ran out of talent

    I cannot name one Scottish world class player in last 20 years ?

  • Comment number 64.

    What is this obsession you have with Scottish football? If I was you, I'd spend more time worrying about the massive underachievment of the English national side. Scotland, even in our glory years, never had "world class players". We had a group of fairly mediocre players who worked well as a unit.

  • Comment number 65.


    'Rangers had 13 players out.'

    Never read so much crap in all my life, except for possibly the last time I read Traynor.

  • Comment number 66.

    #62 who are the only Scottish team to have taken any points from Celtic this season?

    The more I read your posts the more I am convinced you are a Dundee fan or even a member of staff at Dens Park as your posts are similar to the drivel you read on the Dundee mad website about Inverness and St Johnstone.

    #61 16 teams will not work, not enough home games and bringing 4 more teams into the league is suddenly not going to make it better. You would be dividing the TV deal by 33% more team but playing 50% less old firm games. so the deal may even be reduced. Play offs yes, but 12 may actually be the best number, its just some people cannot see it.

  • Comment number 67.

    It has to be apparent to anyone reading the persistent repetitive posts that its just another frustrated lonely misunderstood obsessive who craves any sort of attention/notoriety, exorcising some past rejection or grudge as laptop warrior..

  • Comment number 68.

    Sorry Jim - wide of the mark this time. As a father of a son who has gone all the way through Sunday boys and youth football ending up a a full time pro I've seen the reality of the young guys and the time and effort they (and their Parents btw) put in. No other profession asks/demands so much from their young employees. The issue is that once the kids clear U19 level then there is very limited opportunity to progress and by that I mean play with adults in a competitive game. My son did this and the difference between U19 and even the 2nd Division playing competitively is enormouse. What we need is an U21 competitive league - not having kids sitting on the bench to make up the U21 rule and only getting the odd friendly behind closed doors. Its no co-incidence that the teams which have produced the best players in Scotland recently have had money problems which have forced them to blood youngsters at an earlier age.
    And stop also bringing up dud players from abroad/England! Safe for the manager but stiffles our own talent whcih can then be effectively lost to the game.
    Really - its not rocket science...

  • Comment number 69.

    Interesting comments from Stewart Regan on the way forward ,preaching patience until the improvements, should they happen, in dealing with kids come to fruition.
    Sadly though his comments on SPL leave me in despair as he says a 10 team league is the way to go as this would be attractive to TV, no mention of what fans want or of even asking them.

    As Jock Stein said,"Football without fans is nothing" and how will the same old rubbish attract better TV deals?

    I am afraid we'll go round the houses once again, tinker a bit at the edges and do nothing as usual until they realise no one goes to games any more then the wailing will start all over again.

  • Comment number 70.

    the wailing will start all over again.
    That will happen tonight if Celtic can't shift Samaras!!

  • Comment number 71.

    #64 Glory years when was that ????. Scotland have never qualified out of the groups stages in any tournment ?.It will be EIGHT consective tournaments when Scotland fail for Euro 2012 and Brazil in 2014.

    #67 Pot and kettle come to mind

    #70 Samaras is a top gun in the SPL.Boyd is rubbish in the Championship but was top gun in the SPL . SPL = League Standard nuff said

  • Comment number 72.

    @68.At 13:47 31st Aug 2011, Star-Twin wrote
    How about , if a proper football pyrimad comes true , the U21 of any club in the league could drop down , say two or three levels to bulk out the divisions and let the younger players gain experience ? Also as a poster previous pointed out would hopefully drive attendences up at that level . Do you think that this would improve players / oppertunities/standard of lower divisions?

  • Comment number 73.

    Well done Tom, you recognised yourself. Superb stuff!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    Hot news Celtic sign Jimmy Kranky !

  • Comment number 75.

    The truth is it doesn't really matter that much! Maybe, just maybe, the success of Andy Murray and Chris Hoy will encourage more young Scots to reach the top in tennis and cycling, that would be something to celebrate!

  • Comment number 76.

    You'll miss your mum when she signs for them Tom!

  • Comment number 77.

    #76 Brilliant - now have this image of Tom as a jimmy kranky jr. Puts his commentary into perspective. Perhaps his mum should have warned him about speaking on an empty head.
    Can you see him sat at his pc in the shorts and school cap? its all making sense.

  • Comment number 78.

    smac1314 i agree with you about the spl. i too want to see it scrapped. though to be fair our problems far pre date the formation of the spl.

    what has been most frustrating about all this is that it is only the spl clubs who have had the chance to vote on re construction. the whole system needs to be adapted to cope with any change so why are the clique of 12 getting to decide what happens to the rest?

    the little guys and their importance to scottish football is way way overlooked. in recent years hamilton (McArthur) livingston (dorrans, snodgrass), Falkirk (barr), dundee (robertson) have all put players into scotland jersey's and yet are not in that clique of 12.

    if we really are to put youth developent first how on earth can we overlook those putting players into scotland jersey's? it's an insult.

    as Mccoist said. european qualification looks unlikely in the near future, attendences are falling as will interest and tv rights. we really need the re construction to be not decided by shareholders and executives as it currently is.

    an earlier comment said we should do it for fun's sake. i can;t remember how many times i've thought for "f's" sake about scottish football and maybe that's the answer.

    for fun's sake
    for fans sake
    for future's sake.

    for finance's sake - has maybe had too much control over what we have done

  • Comment number 79.

    PS. i am a jambo so i'm not a self interested lower league fan. we have the worst finances in scotland and frankly i would be prepared to see hearts go out of business if it meant the best for scottish football in the long run. i'll just support midlothian fc or whover pops up as their replacement. it shouldn't be necessary as the clubs could just madly sell their first 11 to cope with changes if totally necessary but plainly we need change and self interest can't be allowed to stop it. to be honest as and when the tv deal collapses as a result of no change we'll all have to sell out anyway. no change is no longer an option. we need something that works for scotland; the youth and the fans.

  • Comment number 80.

    oh my just read David Glenn's financial report here on bbc about SPL!!!

    it reads as follows:

    “Scottish Premier League clubs face going bust if the fans continue to stay away, according to a top football finance analyst.

    Attendance figures show that almost 600,000 fans have stopped attending SPL games in the past five years.

    David Glenn, from accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers, told BBC Scotland many clubs will not survive.

    Each club gets around £1m a year from the broadcasting deal, therefore the majority of the income for Scottish clubs is actually coming from fans coming through the turnstiles," said Glenn.

    "Clearly the doomsday scenario is that the clubs just cannot survive and some may go under.

    "It is all about clubs continuing to cut their cloth accordingly and they are probably going to have to be selling clubs just to balance the books.

    That is not a good message for fans who will be wondering about club ambition.

    "My message to the fans though would be - if you want your club to survive, you are going to have to accept that they have to reduce the wage bill and sell their best players when they become of worth," said Glenn.”


    at the very least the largest minority if not a majority want a 2 tier spl with 16 teams in each, 3 regions below. no more arguing, seriously we can't please everyone so we have to go with what is most likely to get people back through the gates NOW

  • Comment number 81.

    ps. jim i'd love you and your pals at the bbc to really start a media campaign to highlight that it is time to give the fans what they want. we have to get people back through the gates

  • Comment number 82.

    Craig a 16 team league will cripple the teams in Scotland and not make things any better.
    You are adding in 33% more teams and playing 15% less home games, will the players take a 15% pay cut? Will 16 teams suddenly make the TV deal increase by 33%?
    The current TV deal still brings in 25% of most SPL teams turnover, when its gone and the standard drops even further people will realise what we once had was not so bad after all.
    And don't even bother suggesting sectional league cup games as unless the clubs include them in the season ticket packages the attendance would be very poor.
    If we are going to have 16 teams in the top league you need to have at least 20 to 25 big teams in Scotland and thats something we don't have so it would end with the same 2 or 3 teams coming up and down every year.

    If the leagues are to change we need to do something radical but if that risked the old firm monopoly then it will never be voted through even by the top 12 never mind the rest. In post 78 Craig does make a point but these clubs (excluding Hamilton) have also been run in a poor manner and in the case of Dundee and Livingston should have been shut down after two periods of admin in under 7 years. Would you trust directors of these clubs to run Scottish football?

  • Comment number 83.

    The answer is even simpler Craig, the fans of the clubs facing closure need to rally round and start turning up if they want their teams to continue in business.
    If we wait for change to happen then bust they will go !!

  • Comment number 84.

    @82.At 15:31 1st Sep 2011, jeanfield_swifts wrote:
    Sorry mate but 16 teams is the way forward in the long run . This isnt about the immediate effect its about the long term survival of Scottish football .
    30 games instead of 38 . 4 less home games . Less games for advertizing , less games for gate revenue .
    Its its more than 15% less home games (19-15=4 , 4/19= 21%) . The idea of a small elite league , the idea for the way it is now , was proposed to give more "important" games this worked for a period of time but when you over play a team fimilarity breeds staleness .
    42 teams over a closed shop of 4 divisions is the bigger issue than the increase of the SPL . There is staleness , yes I use that word alot it describes twhat is hapening very well , through the league no functional footballing pyrimad revovling doors instead . A league that is too large for its own good .
    If you want more home games a two legged league cup would be an idea . Trying to live within your means is hard for all businesses espeically one as fickle as football , trying to budget on how many people will come to a match losing the 4 home games could seem like a disaster , losing all 19 is one .

  • Comment number 85.

    Looking forward to the Euro matches tomorrow ..... you bet ya !

    Love it when the Scottish team play in the qualifiers .....they always disappoint

    The measure of Scottish talent will be measured again in the next few matches.Bet Czech Republic and Lithuania could not belive their fortune when they were in the same group as the perennial underachievers !

  • Comment number 86.

    Well tom we see you know your stuff. I will willing to bet my mortgage that Scotland don't loose tomorrow night.
    We love it when England play in the finals, how does the line go again?

  • Comment number 87.

    @tomslaford ... you're a troll and nothing more, you spent years trolling on the 606 board and now you've found yourself another little home to stir it up. Pathetic!

    @jeanfield_swfts ... tomslaford only does this for a reaction, it gives him some entertainment in his very little and lonely sad world.

  • Comment number 88.

    #82 jeanfield_swifts . it was clearly outlined in david glenn's report that tv income is not remotely influential on finances in scottish football compared to tickets and merchandising. even with the sliding scale in which the top 2 get alot more it is still a fraction of OF income.

    the simple fact clearly stated by glenn is that we need to get people back through the turnstiles not sitting at home watching. so how do we do that? all fans say there is no merit in going to see the same teams play so many times a season. whatever change we make has to reduce the number of times we play a season. a ten team proposal will not change this at all. i did suggest on here we should copy finland and have 12 playing each other 3 times but that got shot down totally. we need to properly alter the product or as mr glenn points out it's curtains. dithering over slices of the tiny tv pie isn't going save us.

    if you only get one chance in a season to see a team play your team are you not going to be extra keen to make sure you see that match? but to be honest we have to be more humble as mr glenn points out. we currently have system which attempts to stuff all the money into a top elite in order supposedly increse the quality to get fans in. however blatently that ethos is in vein, it is no working. in the modern economic climate in football we ar just attracting average players that people aren'e interested in. we must change that ethos.

    we can still provide good youth if we get everything right, admittedly they will leave before they're 25 if they're good enough as whatever we do in today's climate we won;t be able to pay enough wages compared to england. there is nothing we can do to change that. should playing each other less times a season cause a reduction in income then no players will not take a pay cut, hence my selling comment. but if we carry on with the elite clique insanity we will all go bust.

  • Comment number 89.

    87 - His comments are worth it for all the errors he makes, this weeks hes criticised the only team to beat Celtic this season for holding them back and now he does not even know the days games are being played on. Keep him on here for comedy value and for proving its not just some Scots who have a chip on their shoulder.

    88 - So the fact that our of a turnover of 4 million at St Johnstone 1 million plus comes from TV and prize money is not significant? I don't think so. As usual the report is only looking at the big 2, take that cash away and the player standard will get worse.

    If you look at most grounds they sit empty for most of the year and there are only certain teams who make proper use of their land. If these revenues streams are properly used teams can increase their turnover. The fan base will only fall in time, people have far more things to do than they had in the past

    I accept the over familiarity argument in the current system, but are the fans of Hearts and Hibs going to pack into their grounds to watch Hamilton Morton, Raith and Livingston. We would be asking the teams in the top 6 to drop a second visit from the old firm, play 4 less games and replace them with home games to smaller sides.

    At the other end of the league the financial effects of relegation would be even worse. I could not see how any team could be full time in the 2nd level with 16 teams at the top so there would be even more negative football.

    12 or 14 with a split and play offs are the only way a league can operate in a small nation like Scotland. There is little wrong with the current set up and this week has been a compete over reaction due to the fact that the old firm failed, possibly due to poor management rather than the state of our game.

  • Comment number 90.

    Let's hope Celtic, for their own sake and that of Scottish football, don't win their appeal against Sion. To be reinstated would just be delaying yet another European embarrassment. For heaven sake Celtic, learn your lesson and forget about Europe. St Mirren and the like is Celtic's reach lest they forget.

  • Comment number 91.

    14 team spl - starts in two groups east and west.


    St. Mirren


    Dundee Utd
    St. Johnstone

    play home and away so 6x2=12 games

    take points gained into emalgumated league after 12 games

    play a further home and away so 13x2=26 games

    total of 38 games

    bottom two go down
    third bottom(spl) play third top(D1) in playoff

    still equals 4 old firm and 4 edinburgh derby and perhaps 4 dundee derbies

    teams coming up would take regional place of team its replacing

    same set up for Div 1 except starting groups are based on a 1/2 system i.e. 1st place(highest relg team) goes group 1, 2nd place goes to group 2, 3rd to group 1 and so on.

    i think this would be great and would give the teams in the east a great chance at compeeting better for spl

    just a thought

  • Comment number 92.

    @89.At 23:00 1st Sep 2011, jeanfield_swifts wrote:
    12 or 14 with a split and play offs are the only way a league can operate in a small nation like Scotland. There is little wrong with the current set up and this week has been a compete over reaction due to the fact that the old firm failed, possibly due to poor management rather than the state of our game.
    There is little wrong with the current system ? Here is a blog by Mr Soence from 2009 .
    "24.At 14:10 17th Aug 2009, forfar-loon wrote:
    Great blog Jim, and many great comments above (well ok, feeble wind-up attempt at #12 apart!). I remember similar arguments about 20 years ago. It's tragic that we've not moved forward at all in the meantime, indeed we may even have gone backwards"
    The same points are being made two years later , if there is little wrong why do we concern ourselves with it ?

    You mention negative football , the 3 points for a win was a way of making teams go for a win . Didnt work . You can find plenty examples of games of negative football in the SPL .
    Looking beyond England as an example , Norway has a similar population , and a 16 team top level . So does Uraguay . The difference is they are willing to .

    Not a fully professional second level ? Think of it this way is the third division Fully professional ? This is where size matters , Sottland can accomodate a 16 team top flight , it cannot reasonably accommodate more than 15-20 full time professional clubs .

  • Comment number 93.

    He is the Grinch.

    Great attempt at a structure. I imagine non-OF teams in the West would be sorely disadvantaged in terms of progressing but would benefit in terms of OF income.

    But it shows that you can accommodate 14 and keep the game totals/ derbies.

    Remember a poster not so long ago proposed a 14 with a home/away for all and then split into two top/bottom sections of 7 with further home/away's.

    16 as a longer-term aim is fine with me fine but not one SPL club could afford to switch that way in the short-term until the debts are cleared. And I would agree with Jeanfield Swifts that in the short-term losing more income for clubs is not a serious option. And you cannot reduce your league income and then try and do other things such as reduced prices for fans. Craig wants more fans to come along and thinks that reducing the staleness is just about to expanding the number of teams, while my view is that you look to increase the quality of the product on the park and the entertainment. Lets face it the league will not be more competitive whatever the size: the OF will win most of the time. The old Scottish First Division became stale as well and died when Stein's Celtic took 9 in a row. In the early 70's people got bored with watching Celtic vs East Fife.

    Whether its 10, 12, 14, 16 or 20 everything needs refreshed now and again. But we could be a bit more innovative about tinkering with whatever option is chosen..

    ..and moving to summer football..

  • Comment number 94.

    @93.At 10:32 2nd Sep 2011, Rob04 wrote:
    Yeah agree that no club could afford to do it short term , the transition would take a few years also , but it is the only long term option for the developement of the league . Keeping it the way it is would lead to a full failure of the league .
    Forget recent European results , look at the qaulity of players that leave the league .Goodwille was the only Scottish player transfered from the SPL to the PL .

    The summer football should be ok the only issue would be during WC/EuroC years when the league would have to have a possible summer break .

  • Comment number 95.


    For the sake of Celtic and Scottish Football, let's allow cheats to prosper?

    Are you a rangers fan by any chance?

  • Comment number 96.

    #90 Just because Rangers didn't take the mythical £9M doesn't mean that Celtic
    should be deprived of the opportunity to make £4/5M from the group stages
    just because Sion broke the rules deliberately.

    All depends on the jury, as we've seen already this week !!

  • Comment number 97.

    @96.At 14:10 2nd Sep 2011, morbhoy wrote:
    Do you have to pay tax on mythical £'s or can you send HRMC unicons instead ?

  • Comment number 98.

    The problem with our game is the OF's greed ,they get the biggest slice of the financial cake and they buy outside our game they fielded one academy player in Europe we need the OF buying our players then the money stays in our game .Until this changes the OF will continue to drain our game they are getting the biggest slice and spending it overseas and you wonder why our game is suffering from lack of money Falkirk manager Steven Pressley hit the nail on the head too many chairmen are onley interested in their own football club and TV revenue

  • Comment number 99.

    I get really fed up with comments about the OF greed as we all know they are they only show in town, like it or not, and without them there wouldn't be any tv deals or interest in Scottish football.
    How does having the biggest supports and the biggest grounds make them greedy?

    I'm sure both would be happy to move to PL and let the rest get on with it. We'd soon see how many tv companies and sponsors were falling over themselves to support Scottish football, none would be my prediction.

    It's time fans of other clubs stopped blaming OF for everything that's wrong with the Scottish game and perhaps concentrated on supporting their own teams.
    I didn't notice any great support fo Falkirk when they were doing well under John Hughes and I have to say that Elvis has hardly been a sensation since he became a manager.

  • Comment number 100.

    #86 I stand corrected .... I bet my mortgage that Scotland will not qualify for Euro 2012 or World Cup in 2014 !. Any takers against this ?

    #87 Pot and kettle ..... most of the blogs I read must be wind ups .... they think Scotland are a 'decent team' (maybe 20 years ago) and the SPL is all conquering

    Majority of Scots have a chip on their shoulder re England .... virtually every comment references the Premier League. Virtually all Scottish football fans want England to get beat.No problem with that .... I want Scotland to lose, and they often do!.It is called banter give and take

    #92 Totally agree 'look at comparable leagues' ..... Croatia,Israel,Norway NOT the best league in the world

    #98 Why would we want OF losers .... I would much prefer Maribor,Braga,Utrecht,Sion ..... etc ....and they could start in the Conference


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