Players should have chance to influence revolution
Voicing your opinion as a footballer is not often encouraged. After all, if you do it in the direction of a referee, it can lead to a caution - and expressing your views to a manager can result in time on the sidelines.
However, in a week when the possible restructuring of the Scottish Premier League has been a major subject of debate, and at a time when Henry McLeish's review into Scottish football is still relatively fresh in the mind, I find it puzzling that, amidst all the investigation and explanation of our game and it's current shortcomings, those who play the game are not canvassed for their opinion.
I am quite sure that some would respond to this by questioning whether players are capable of having such insight - and furthermore whether or not they care enough about the future of the game in this country. My answer would be that there are many players possessing the necessary qualities to present their views on the game and almost all with a genuine passion for football that is strong enough to want to see the Scottish game return to headier days.
It should be noted that - in PFA Scotland - players do have a body to which they can try to make their feelings known, but as great as the strides this organisation has taken in recent years, there is still a reluctance from other organisations to take enough of their views on board.
Therefore, it may be that it is time for players to be given a greater opportunity to try to safeguard the future of Scottish football.
My own proposals cannot, of course, be seen as reflecting those held by every player across the country but in some cases have been shaped by conversations and discussion between team-mates throughout my career.
One significant change to the game that almost always finds favour with players is a move to summer football.
As we enter the last days of October, the reality of training and playing in difficult weather begins to set in, with the alternative of competing during months that are milder being much more appealing. Any player will tell you that the opening matches of the season are always keenly anticipated as surfaces are good and playing conditions kinder.
There is never any guarantee for an improvement in standards, but for me a restructuring of our season would take precedent over any league re-organisation.
I also believe that those in charge of our game should do more to keep players within football. Whether this is done through more subsidised coaching courses or, indeed, more specialised courses, is a further point for debate. My concern is that players are too easily lost to the game when they could offer a great deal to those aspiring for greatness at various age levels of the game and so on.
It may be that another way in which to encourage this would be to ask players to combine playing with coaching. For example, a player could help train a club's under-15 side while playing in the first-team and therefore gain valuable experience while also enhancing the possibilities of a club breeding their own stars.
For provincial clubs who are now perhaps struggling to justify the salaries they pay players, this idea could be extended to include a player working alongside the club's commercial manager or groundsman. Such a suggestion may sound strange, but clubs would perhaps feel they are getting better value for money, while players would be preparing for the future and also increasing their chances of remaining in the game.
These are only a couple of suggestions from one player, but there are others - and a number of other players with differing ones.
My own experiences mean I am aware that our game is on its knees - everyone knows we need changes - but why not make them radical? And perhaps those best equipped to lead a revolution are not those wearing suits but those wearing boots and shin pads!