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Superhero needed to sort out Scottish game

Chick Young | 14:51 UK time, Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Henry McLeish might want to prepare for the job ahead by changing into his working clothes in a phone box and making sure there is no nearby kryptonite.

Although this is the mission even Superman might have body-swerved.

Until we can persuade Clark Kent to take a wee look at our dilemma we have turned to the former First Minister to launch his response to the game's SOS - Save Our Soccer.

We know what the prognosis is. Ailing attendances, television revenue in freefall, clubs walking in the shadow of the Grim Reaper, no pyramid system, no winter break and three bodies who couldn't work hand in hand with the help of soft music and a romantic table in the corner of the restaurant.

henrymcleish595.jpgThe prognosis is one thing: the cure is another altogether.

And that is why he is dancing on quicksand from the start.

Hired by the SFA, he can hardly recommend that his paymasters take a bullet or that at worst they amalgamate with the SPL and the SFL, fire a few clerks and blazers and form a Scottish Football Federation.

And then there is the curious world of the Juniors who are treated like another sport altogether. If football is the bread and butter activity of the Scottish working man and woman then it is ridiculously thinly sliced.

In 1967 when Third Lanark died of shame in the murkiest of circumstances it seemed inconceivable that a famous old name could pass on.

But now they are taken with alarming frequency. Clydebank and Airdrie and Gretna have gone. Clyde and Stranraer are in God's waiting room. And the Good Lord himself only knows what is happening at Livingston.

Kilmarnock are bleating about the potential abyss from which they may never again emerge if their fate is relegation.

You have, Henry, if you don't mind me saying so, a fair wee job on your hands here.

McLeish made a point of distancing himself from the dreaded phrase 'Think Tank', since the concept has a chequered history in Scottish football.

Former SFA secretary Ernie Walker formed one which included Rinus Michels and Tony Higgins among others. As tanks go it was about as popular as a Russian one on the streets of Prague.

I'm not quite sure they ever reported back, ever came up with a verdict. For all I know they might still be meeting up trying to find a solution to all the ills of the game, lost in their bunker, lost in another time.

The trouble is, you see, that we are not all singing from the same hymn sheet.

We need a pledge that we are all in this together, that stability is the by-word and that we can guarantee sponsors a period of longevity as a football family.

But every time the Old Firm hear the words English Premier League their ears prick up like a dog's when the doorbell goes.

It is an awful state of affairs although out of the gloom has come the beacon of a heart-thumping climax to the championship race and the aforementioned battle to plummet into the dark place that is the division below.

Something then to inspire Mr McLeish as he heads for the nearest phone box.

Good luck then, Henry. Just remember to throw your cloak over your shoulder and wear your underpants outside your trousers.


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