Never mind the tinkering, let's have real change
The creation of SPL 1 and 2 two is being hailed as a radical change in Scottish football.
Here's my message to the SPL: good start, but now let's get really radical.
You want to shake the game up, get more competition, bring crowds and atmosphere back to our dying game?
Well try this for size...
Here are five ideas to really shake the mix:
1) A flat admission price of £10/£5 for kids and pensioners. The game is currently far too expensive for ordinary punters.
2) A return to safe standing areas to get some atmosphere. If the German Bundesliga can do it, so can we.
3) Four points for an away win, no points for a 0-0 draw.
4) A Sin Bin. No yellow cards, instead players get sent off the field for five or ten minutes like ice hockey or rugby. Obviously certain types of behaviour would still result in a red card.
5) Share the current SPL money pot out more equally. At present the old Firm pick up the lion's share. If we really want to be competitive then let's prove it.
In fact since it's almost Xmas, here's my sixth radical idea, buckshee:
Let's re invent the wheel and share all gate money equally like we used to.
After all it takes two teams to pay a game, why shouldn't both be equally rewarded?
At a stroke we would have a more level playing field.
As for the changes that are about to happen, well it looks like half of our clubs are about to be set free from the other half.
Those clubs about to boldly go to the new and undiscovered galaxies of SPL 1 and 2 are finally admitting openly what they have said privately for years; that they have liittle or nothing in common with the part time clubs who will be left marooned on the dark side of the Moon in this brave new world.
Money as always is at the root of change.
The top clubs are looking after their own interests.
With anything between £1.5 and £2 milliion pounds available to distribute betwen the new SPL 2 clubs, the attractions of the new set up are obvious.
Instead of picking up a paltry £70k for winning the First Division, the winners of a new SPL 2 might pocket around seven times that figure.
Those kind of sums are life-changing for clubs with full-time committments.
Let's be honest, there is no ideal way to run the Scottish game.
Personally, I favour a 16 or 18 club league, but chairmen faced with losing the revenue of two Old Firm visits a season, despite the evidence that they no longer bring the huge supports of yesteryear, are understandably nervous about the prospects of lost income.
A 10 club league saw Aberdeen and Dundee United enjoy some of their greatest successes.
But that was pre-Bosman when clubs were able to hang on to their best players and assemble squads over a period of time to challenge for honours.
The gulf in wages paid now betwen the Old Firm and the rest will ensure that those days are gone for good unless we share the money out more equitably.
So change is coming with SPL 1 and 2.
More clubs will be able to sustain full-time setups if money is more evenly distributed.
And while there is a very strong argument in favour of clubs in an SPL 2 actually embracing part-time football of the Nordic model, where players hold down jobs away from the game, giving them other interests and financial security, the sad truth is that most clubs equate being full-time with being a proper football club, however misguided that notion might be.
Therefore, with SPL 1 and 2, battle has been commenced to save the future of as many full time outfits as possible.
It would be a sad day though if the move to a second top tier was to preclude part-time teams, and I hope the SPL do not intend to move in that direction.
For really radical change we must also have a revitalised game outside of the full time clubs.
Regionalised leagues and more importantly a pyramid structure are long overdue and it is a scandal that self interest has stopped it so far.
With change comes fresh opportunity, and there is nothing to stop ambitious clubs from all parts of Scotland rising to meet the level of their own ambitions in a new set up.
Clubs I had never heard of as a boy now prosper in England.
Clubs I grew up with on the Saturday results show, like Barrow and Workington are having to rediscover their ambition, having struggled to cope with the new order.
Many in the SFL will feel aggrieved about the change that is coming, particularly since it may herald its own demise as an organisation.
But, in truth, it has been a closed shop for years which has allowed some moribund and infirm clubs permanent membership at the expense of ambitious clubs who were reduced to looking at the sweeties through the shop window, knowing their chances of sampling the goodies rested on a club going out of busines every 30 years or so.
There are clubs in Divison Two who seem to have lost any real desire or ambition, yet they remain part of the set up while clubs like Spartans, Gala, and others with the desire and the means to have been part of a truly national league have been thwarted.
Who can seriously argue that junior clubs like Pollok, Irvine Meadow and Linlithgow Rose do not match up to many of the members of the SFL.
Who can deny that the top Highland league outfits are more than a match for some of the deadwood in the lower reaches.
The SPL has its critics, but with these proposed changes it has been sure-footed, stealing a march on a ponderous SFA, who, having commissioned the Mcleish report were meant to be steering the Scottish game to a bright new future.
Scottish football didn't have time to wait on a timetable working on the manyana principle.
So the SPL have taken control of the ship and are shooting for the moon.
Even if they only reach the stars let's congratulate them on their enterprise.