McLeish review points in the right direction
I really want to be positive about Henry McLeish's review into Scottish football.
But then I think of the old Karl Marx adage: "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."
Tragedy came in the shape of Ernie Walker's think tank set up in 1995, and for all anyone knows or cares is still pondering ways to change Scottish football.
At least the McLeish report has seen the light of day, whether it repeats as farce is now down to the Scottish Football Association.
They commissioned the report so it's up to them as the body responsible for the governance of the national sport to act on it.
With the report calling for £500m to be spent over the next ten years, there is every chance that the Scottish Government and local councils, from whom the bulk of the funding might be expected to come, will make sympathetic noises but plead poverty.
In his 74-page document the former First Minister claims our football is "underachieving, under-performing and under-funded".
Everything is relative but many would agree with his findings.
Similarly, most fans would concur with his desire for better facilities and infrastructure.
In an ideal world the money would be no problem and new indoor football centres and fourth generation playing surfaces would spring up like April daffodils.
But there's a financial crisis, money is tight and there are competing demands.
Here's how that cash crisis might affect the Spence family for instance.
My 18-year-old plays as a goalkeeper for a pro club at under-19 level. New facilities would mean he could actually risk diving about in training instead of potentially injuring himself on the rock hard out-of-date artificial surfaces he currently trains on.
However, my 15-year-old is a track cyclist, a sport in which the only two facilities in Scotland at Meadowbank and Dundee are very poor and also under-funded.
In football we haven't produced a world class player in years, while in track we have Sir Chris Hoy, Olympic and World champion, who had to train outside of Scotland to reach the top of his sport.
Why should the football half of the family be funded while the cycling half isn't?
Tennis offers the same dilemma. Andy Murray is truly world class yet we spend buttons on tennis facilities. Why should up-and-coming tennis players be disadvantaged to benefit football?
Personally, I think there is a good case for spending heavily on all sport. It would set us on the road to becoming a much healthier nation, emotionally and physically, and ease the burden on the health service in future.
It might also lead a generation away from the temptations and dangers of illegal drugs, where the annual bill in health care, criminal activity and other social costs has been estimated at almost £3.5 billion a year.
In that context Henry McLeish's call for £500m over ten years to regenerate our game is a drop in the ocean.
But that's not an argument the SFA can indulge in; that's one for society and government to confront.
There are undoubtedly flaws in the report, and cynics will argue the findings could have been jotted down on a fag packet over a couple of pints (or keeping in mind the brave new Scotland he hopes for, over a skinny latte and a veggie burger).
There are people in the game who perhaps should have been consulted, like former Scotland boss Craig Brown and George Adams, who was highly successful in his youth roles at Celtic, Rangers, Motherwell and now Ross County.
But that's nitpicking.
McLeish has laid a good few home truths on the line.
He was asked to review the state of the game. This overview of grassroots football is just the start.
A wider review of the other areas will follow.
He may have captured the mood of the nation with the recent Supporters Direct survey also calling for radical change in our football.
McLeish deserves some congratulations for his work.
In poring over the 74 pages in depth, no doubt faults will be found and mistakes pointed out.
But McLeish has put the main issues firmly on the agenda and it would be churlish not to give him due thanks for that.
It's now up to the powerbrokers and those who claim to have football's interests at heart to act decisively to sort out the crisis which McLeish has pointed up.