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Could Scottish football go the way of the dodo?

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Jim Spence | 20:11 UK time, Friday, 14 October 2011

Does Scottish football really face the same fate as the dodo?

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell thinks so.

Complaining of a "chronic lack of investment", Lawwell says our game faces extinction unless "radical thinking" can alter the current set up.

Is he right and if so what can be done about it?

Some, hearing his comments, will say that Celtic and their great rivals Rangers, are to blame for many of the ills in the game.

Their superior financial muscle has squeezed the life out of the competition, making Scottish football a two-horse race.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell fears for the future of the Scottish game

Many will also see his remarks as yet another signal to England that Celtic are ready and willing to join their top flight at the drop of a hat.

Whether the comments from the Celtic chief are based on self interest or not, there is a great deal of truth in them.

If matters are not addressed soon, our game could well be heading the same way as the dinosaurs.

At every level, finances are tight and cutbacks are in evidence.

It is getting tougher and tougher for Scottish clubs to compete with others in Europe whom we once regarded as minnows.

But having posted the apocalyptic warning of Scottish football's potential demise, it is now up to the Celtic chief executive and others in power to offer some radical solutions.

At SPL level the proposed move to a 10-club league is dead, with the 12-club format here to stay.

Just to get back to their original starting position was a long, tortuous process for our top clubs as self interest held sway.

So what hope is there now, of clubs engaging in a root and branch reform which will give us a truly competitive and vibrant set up, to allow us to compete at a decent European level?

Now we need an open, honest and transparent debate about the problems facing our top flight football and what the answers might be to safeguard its future.

Otherwise, Lawwell's dire prediction of extinction could come true.


  • Comment number 1.

    It is far too simplistic to blame the Old Firm.

    It's easy to say that their support and finances have made the league uncompetitive but are you really suggesting that they reduce their spending to the level of Hibs or Motherwell just to make the league more interesting? This would only mean they are less competitive in Europe (if that's possible).

    I am still a big fan of the Atlantic league idea. Say you take the top two teams from Portugal, Sweden, Norway etc and bundle them together in one league with the caveat that each team must also field a second string in domestic competitions. You could even make it compulsory for the players to be under a certain age and of home coutry origin to bolster the national game.

    Every season three teams get relegated back to their national leagues if they come bottom and the top domestic team of the same nationality replaces them. i.e Celtic come bottom of the Atlantic league and Hibs win the league they switch places.

    I know this isn't perfect but I think it could form the basis of a competitive and popular league taht could enable the Ajax's and Rangers of this world compete in Europe. Why not even let the teams negotiate their own TV contracts just as Liverpool is proposing?

  • Comment number 2.

    Couldn't agree more, without proper investment Were getting no further than where we are now. Though it's easier said than done I'm sure we all know by now, where would the money come from? To be honest unless the level of skill required to compete in European tournaments drops dramatically, or the price of quality player's goes down, I think we should just settle with what we have..
    Small country.
    Small league.
    Small clubs.

    IMO - Scottish football isn't dead. Just....tired, of trying to punch above its weight?

  • Comment number 3.

    it is interesting how in the very first post the proposed dicussion is to not improve the SPL at all, infact kill it but save the top two. i might almost run with that idea if in some kind of dream land celtic and rangers were like barca and real and played mostly their own youth produce and formed "a scottish way" like the spanish. i'd take our national teams success at the expense of my club anyday, but sadly many OF fans would certainly not. any such proposal is self preservation to the extreme and is in no way intended to develop football in scotland! NOT AN OPTION anyway, neither is EPL move...

    please discuss how we can help scottish football!!!. forget TV money, that is of lesser significance than gates and merchandising in scotland and will continue to be. before anyone throws the st johnstone example at me of 25% of their income from tv, that is in part due to the fact attendences have got so poor! furthermore even if for example all tv money dissapeared, which it will not, then only a 30% increase in gates would fill that, compared to needing to generate 200% increase in tv money to fill the financial gap of empty grounds. disgussing getting bums on seats is the only worthwhile discussion to save our clubs.

    our game can be saved, but we need to look within ourselves and not try to be some other country. we cannot be england, spain or italy. what we have as is always proved, passionate fans!! and it isn't always about the winning and glory hunting. just look at our national teams support! we haven't qualified for what will at least be 16 years. we need to get those fantastic fans back through the turnstiles of our clubs again. they really are the jewel of scottish football. anyone who is only interested in tv revenue and watching it on tv is not.

    i disagree that the quality if the SPL will be demolished by swithching focus away from tv blinkers. futhermore i am not convinced that playing in a top class league is important to youth development. look at Rhodes playing in league 1! and how many opportunities is even a class player like danny wilson getting in the EPL? we need to give the very best opportunities to our youth for their talent as an individual to shine.

  • Comment number 4.

    There may be some truth in what Mr. Lawwell has had to say but to pretend in any way that either of the OF are worried about whats best for scotland and scottish football is just pure nonsense.

    They couldnt care less about the SPL and everything that makes up the scottish game. He goes on about the lack of investment in the game. What have either the OF invested in the SPL over the last 20 years other than turn the screw harder and harder on the 8/10 other clubs in the league. They develop no players esp since the turn of this centuary, they cherry picked the best players in the league so as to kill of any competiton, causing those very players own abilities to stagnate in a competitivless league.

    How about some real thinking Mr. Lawwell. Rather than just crying about the EPL and hoping that one day they take pity on the poor wee OF having to survive in a league they themselves have suffocated with no concept of fair play and competition. Though with the example being set by the EPL ,FIFA and UEFA i cant really blame them to much for having lost any sense of a good sporting mentality.

    I've come to the conclusion that the whole game, no make that the whole of modern day sport is just corrupt, corporate and ultimetly un-entertaining.

    Make these teams charities, put players on a grading/capped salary. Make players have to come from the local surronding areas/nations. Therefore if its Man Utd vs Barcelona Champions league final, then they all are actually local lads done good. That would bring much more needed community involvment and pride from that. Get rid of tv investment, forcing fans to go along to watch the games in all countries without TV deals.

    Mr. Lawwell talks this league down. Am i the only person in the world who is sick of the whole thing. Champions league, yes best players in the world, but will i ever see 11 local lads fae glesge lift that glorious trophy in my lifetime. I doubt it. I wonder how many times the top 5 clubs will win it in the next 20yrs.

    I use to love my football, my hibs, my country. Nowadays football makes my head and heart ache. im full of ideas...ok some of them maybe just dreams, but my point is if i can think of a few why cant the powers at be come up with anything good other than pls let us leave this sorry soiled mess of a country

  • Comment number 5.

    The slow death that is scottish footy has been goin on for years.For 40 years we,ve been all talk,think tanks, and little action,hence scandavian(WHO PLAY SUMMER FOOTBALL) countrys etc who,ve got other national sports, by-passing us.Peter Lawell like most has known this for donkeys but why does he say so now?
    He talks of lack of investment,what about the thousands who stay away every week,has that ever crossed his mind.Also the ones who still go, voice their opinions in newspaper polls etc,only to be ignored by the amateurs who run the game.Far too many people at the top in our game have never kicked a baa! Two perfect examples,Neil Doncaster still thinks a 10 team spl is the way ahead,after 90% of fans told him no-way.Stewart Reagan thinks the national teams improving,since when??? We,re 2 to 3 months away from playing on rutted pitches in freezing conditions watching below average footy for about 25 quid a pop.Aberdeen need 3,000 fans back to break even,i can go on all night.I talk to footy fans of many clubs every day.Their no longer supporters, cos they would rather stand in the pub and watch a few games out the cold,plus a few beers for less money.April to october season has to be a start to try attract fans back.The 3 foreigner rule brought back to give our young players a chance.A bigger league say 16 or 18 to stop the boredem of playing each other too much.The one player up front adopted by many clubs is another put off.If the OF want to still play in an atlantic league of sorts fine,if they can fit it in round their glamarous friendlys,lol.I await a barrage of replys??????

  • Comment number 6.

    Much of what is wrong with Scottish football can be firmly placed at the door of the old firm. Over the last 25 years both clubs, especially Rangers, have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on transfer fees and wages, mostly on foreign imports. If they had spent some of that on youth development and grass roots football then by now they would be producing players of a higher standard, the ones who don't make the grade and go to the smaller clubs would also be of a higher standard therefore improving the standard of player across the board. They would also be worth more in transfer fees. Maybe the smaller clubs would have put a bit more into their own youth development by taking the OF's lead. It's pointless Peter Lawwell moaning to the press every 5 minutes about Scottish football when he and his cronies are the very people who can fix the problem. Next time he thinks about spending 3 or 4 million on Championship players from England in pre-season, how about investing a couple of million in youth academies instead?

    The OF can forget about moving to England, the Premier League is a global brand worth billions, they have taken great pains to eradicate the hooliganism and racism that existed in English football up until the late 80's, the prospect of introducing the much publicised bigotry which comes with the OF, which would then become an English problem as well as a Scottish one is not something the Premier League would want any part of.

  • Comment number 7.

    It's just as I've been saying for years; the problem with small clubs is that chairmen will live with the mediocrity which die-hard supporters will accept.

    "We support the local team", is all well and good if the local team is ambitiously trying to grow, to improve the standard, but supporting a poor product perpetuates a poor product.

  • Comment number 8.

    Un-truism: investment in facilities creates talent.

  • Comment number 9.

    Teams in Scotland are (generally) afraid to play attacking football. Why? Because they might lose. And losing costs money. However, fans don't like negative football, so they stay away and that costs money too!

    We have to move away from playing players thousands of pounds a week and start to think about accepting the facts before us. Gates are down. Reduce gate money (and wages) to encourage fans to come back, start to pay down these debts all the clubs have amassed too. We're never to be the Premier League, so stop trying to pay the wages to compete. The Old Firm, in particular, have no real interest in youth development because they can simply cherry pick the best of the rest. Clubs need greater rewards for developing players. I'll leave it to the experts as to what they should be.

    In summary, let's start to follow the exemplary German model, where gates are up and standards are rising.

  • Comment number 10.

    We need to forget about the English league and how much money they have and how much money the OF want .How do we get the fans back to watch the Scottish game ,how about rewarding teams who score 3 or more goals in a game [ an extra point ] summer football , clubs getting bigger rewards for playing home grown players the more home grown players in your team the more TV money your club gets the number one goal of our clubs must be to produce players for our national team ,Clubs follow the national teams coach's template for bringing through youth players

  • Comment number 11.

    There's so much doom about at the moment, but I've though of a couple of things that possibly could solve a few of the ills of the game. It's not fully researched so I throw it out for discussion.

    1 The Basic Idea
    Four or more 10 team leagues. Teams play each other once (nine matches), this is one round of matches. Promotion and relegation happens after every round. The bottom two are relegated the top two from the division below are promoted. Clear the points, whilst keeping a NETT points total for the end of the season. Repeat.
    1.1 Problems.
    Promoted and relegated teams fulfil the fixtures of the league they move into. i.e. They may have to play more away games over a season.
    Fixtures would have to be arranged on a more short term basis.
    Each rounds fixtures would have to be completed before the next round could start.
    Teams that “yo-yo” between divisions would have a poor standing in NETT terms.
    1.2 Advantages.
    4 leagues of 10 or even adding a regional two leagues at the bottom, to construct a proper pyramid system with the Highland league and the Juniors.
    Without huge expenditure or risk taking a team could go from part time 3rd division to SPL in one year. They would not need to gamble on going full time to stay up or bust, because the fall back a division or two is not a huge burden. The extra cash gained by one round of games in the top flight would allow sensible team building over many years and the loss of top flight football need not be a death blow. Assuming that gate receipts are spread more evenly.
    With this structure a winter break could be easily accommodated between rounds.
    1.2.1 Managers
    They would be given more time to experiment with systems and introducing young players would be less of a gamble.
    1.2.2 Less relegation panic
    The fear of relegation resulting in struggling teams giving up on creative football just to survive would be lessened. A more open skillful game should emerge.
    1.2.3 More fans come to the game.
    Instead of sitting in the pub watching the "old firm", fans could walk to their local ground and see a competitive match that is meaningful.
    Supporting your local team would be worthwhile again, because for the first time in 30 years the is a real opportunity of progressing to the top flight.
    2 Funding
    Gate money to be split more equitably.
    2.1 50/50 or percentage.
    The " we pull in the crowds and the TV audience so should get the money" reasoning does not fly. It takes two teams to have a game. So will one teams fan decide that they're subsidizing the opposition and refuse to turn up? I think it unlikely.
    But perhaps a percentage split would be fairer. Teams get a percentage of the gate money in proportion to their relative average gates. This would mean that the larger the home support was the larger the share of the gate they get. This means that smaller teams would proportionately be helped as their support grew.
    2.2 Corrupt practice
    Clubs ticket pricing would have to be fair. Changing ticket pricing to disadvantage a competitor should not be allowed. i.e. everybody gets in free day when the local rivals are visiting. I exaggerate for effect but beware of unintended consequences.
    2.3 Stadium Requirements
    In cup competition the requirements for stadiums are relaxed. This would have to be true for the league set up. Large capital expenditure should not be a requirement of playing a fixture. The pitch and public safety being the only exceptions.
    I believe with this set up it should not be a problem.
    3 Transfers and Contracts.
    This area needs more research.
    I don't want the NHL system of all the best players move to the teams in the play-offs, but I believe that there would be less concentration of talent in one or two teams with the biggest wallets as more teams would have the chance for bigger earnings and become competitive.

  • Comment number 12.

    Reading these posts and thinking what is wrong with Scottish football, i have one conculsion, the pathetic blame culture existing within the game. If it's not the SFA's fault or the OF's fault or the TV companies or UEFA or FIFA then its the newsagent down the road.
    Maybe if we all worked together towards a common goal; the betterment of Scottish football then perhaps we would get somewhere.
    I'm particulary exasperated with so called smaller teams blaming all of their problems and the countries problems on the OF. The worst argument being "they cherry pick our best players" This coming generally from Hibs fans. Well on that, the Hibs board was quite happy to take the £££ on offer and to be fair have used it wisely, new training ground to help keep producing good youngsters and giving curreny players a quality enviroment, a new stand to improve the stadium and club in general and oh of course going towards clearing debt.
    The same model which let's be honest is what the OF are doing now also. It appears to me Hibs have benefited in the long term from this and should we also then be led to believe that Hibs would never cherry pick the best players from other spl teams or 1st div teams it they could? oh wait they do. That's football, the bigger teams will always buy players from smaller teams, just like Real & Chelsea & Man Utd & AC Milan. Just like the OF will lose their better players to better clubs.
    If we get the best deal possible then is that not good business which can then be re-invested into the club, country and Scottish game overall?
    Strangley enough, there's a team that have been reasonably successful for a prolonged number of years who consistanly produce good young players and sell them on, think there called Ajax, you might have heard of them.

  • Comment number 13.

    agree/disagree with chuckjaeger in post #1 ... plainly any two sides in a small division that can outspend their competitors by an order of magnitude are a huge problem (this has been the state of play since the late '80s at Rangers and the mid '90s at Celtic - either way, it's a long time since Scottish football was seen to be competitive in any general sense)
    but the problem exists across Europe so the solution needs to be pan-Euro as well - which is why an Atlantic League or North Sea League or whatever makes sense, if the finances stack up... three clubs each at the outset from Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden gives you an 18 team division with some respectable clubs (although it should be done on merit rather than franchised - and promotion/relegation has to be built in) ... the aggregate population of that six country area would be a fair size and more attractive to advertisers/TV than Scotland's 5 million ... especially if games were played in summer across cities like Glasgow, Brussels, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm... the left-behind SPL would also have something meaningful to play for: promotion (a bit like Championship sides aiming at the English Premier)

  • Comment number 14.

    Too much of the thinking for those in charge of football clubs is all about greed. In a world where success is about how to maximise income for your club, whether Liverpool looking to change the allocation of international fixture tv money or Celtic and Rangers desperate to join the EPL. Your average punter is increasingly distanced from a monster fed on the massive money earned from satellite TV.

    If the SPL really wanted to be innovative they could say actually we want to start moving Scottish League football in a direction which is not about producing a few elite clubs who have the most money. We want our league to actually be more of a competition, so we will take steps for a more even distribution of money instead of less even and we will do more to focus on Scottish youth development. This would be bold, enlightened and inspiring.

    Will people ever get sick of a world in which Nottingham Forest could only ever achieve what they did before if they are bankrolled by some super rich tycoon

  • Comment number 15.

    Peter Lawwell will gladly talk about anything except Celtic's current performance in the SPL and Europe. Celtic have had the most investment in the team over the last 4 or 5 years and have lost the last 3 titles and are 10 points behind Rangers already and 1-0 down to Killie today and could fall 4 points behind Motherwell in the race for second place.

    If there is no investment in the SPL most teams will survive because they will live within their budgets (eg Hibs, St Mirren being the obvious examples).

    The OF can't lecture any other clubs about self-interest either. Are not all of their away games live on Sky or ESPN which hits the attendances for the smaller home clubs but hardly any games are broadcast live from Ibrox and Celtic Park... and any new TV deal has to revolve around 4 OF league games a season apparently even though it is very clear most fans want a bigger league and only a home and away game against the other clubs each season. And the OF have banged on about moving to England for their own financial benefit rather than for the good of the game in Scotland.

  • Comment number 16.

    Celtic and Rangers would still lose millions in the EPL... all the evidence points to them blowing whatever budgets they have at their disposal and paying over the odds for mediocre players and living beyond their means. If they did get entry to the EPL they would have to start paying decent sized transfer fees to compete and would be paying out ten times their current wage bill at least and they would probably do well to finish as high up the table as Everton.

  • Comment number 17.

    The cynical amongst us might be forgiven for thinking that the death of Scottish pro football is precisely what the Old Firm want and are trying to engineer - then the F.A. would have to let them play down South right ?
    Evidence ? what about all these OF merchandise shops in Scottish cities other than Glasgow selling their trinkets to the feckless dimwits who are encouraged to 'support' Rantic rather than their local sides ? What about all the 'diddy' team stars cherry picked by the OF to sit on the bench and weaken the source clubs ? What about the away ticket levy, a blatant attempt to further reduce the income of the others ?
    etc etc etc

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm a Rangers supporter.
    I have no wish to see Rangers play in any league bar the Scottish.

  • Comment number 19.

    "Their superior financial muscle has squeezed the life out of the competition, making Scottish football a two-horse race."


  • Comment number 20.

    Apocalypse now? I'd be more impressed if people like Lawell stopped indulging themselves and the media in this stupid panic-ridden rhetoric without offering a set of 'radical' solutions up for debate. More of the same scarey stories and a lack of any action just equals 'drift'.

    Not one SPL club offers anything beyond self-interest and we now seem to have a collective paralysis which will strangle any attempts at reform. If clubs cannot work out their collective strategic direction and define 'radical' change then everyone else is just wasting their time speculating about what this should be. The worrying aspect to all of this is that there is no one individual or body driving and taking ownership of change.

    Investment? Why would any sponsor or media outlet put serious dosh into an uncompetitive league? Why would anyone invest in teams that have next to no chance of winning anything and are generally happy just to survive in the SPL going mid-table?

    I wish I knew what club chairmen thought about reconstruction. I hear plenty horror stories like this about impending armageddon but nothing about what different clubs want, why and where they see the game going.

    Open, honest and transparent views Jim? You must be kidding. We still live in the world of locked doors to boardrooms and committee's, and whispers to their pet journalists about what they want to keep them in the 'loop'. The rest of us know nothing.

  • Comment number 21.

    I never thought I'd say this but years ago Ernie Walker and the SFA were right, when they tried to ban live games being shown regularly on the tv (especially ones from abroad and this includes England)
    What has happened since is that instead of people going to see their teams they go to the pub and watch the live games on tv. How else can you explain the amount of people you see walking through the streets of Scotland with ENGLISH teams strips on.
    If even half of these folk went to a Scottish game instead our game would be in a much healthier state.

  • Comment number 22.

    One word:


    If they can do it, Scotland can do it. Cut the doom and gloom

  • Comment number 23.


    It is far too simplistic to blame the Old Firm.

    No it's not. They vote down any changes proposed that don't benefit them. They refuse to share the TV money more equitably to make the league more competitive. Their fans are a constant embarrassment. Both clubs have profited for decades from the politics- and religion-obsessed elements of their respective supports. They blame Scottish football for their failures in Europe. They constantly talk down the Scottish game rather than propose solutions. They offer peanuts for good Scottish players at over clubs to deliberately unsettle them and force the transfer through. They buy up other Scottish teams' best players and leave them on the bench. They have far too much influence within the media and the SFA - just look at the differing reactions over last season's Dougie MacDonald decision-changing furore and the recent Ian Brines decision-changing furore.

    There are other ideas in Scottish football. Hibs tried to focus entirely on bringing through youth - and ultimately failed. Hearts tried to compete with the OF through spending and signing more money - though still nothing like what the OF spend - and failed. Dundee Utd tried to compete through a mix of astute management, young players and decent signings - and failed.

    Everytime another SPL team threatens - the OF and their pals in the media go into overdrive to unsettle the best players at the upstart club, write negative stories, and the refs always give the OF the benefit of the doubt (just look at Celtic's foul count this season compared to the bookings they get and the number of penalties Celtic got last season).

    The SFA only make a big deal of things when the OF is involved - again look at how the Brines and MacDonald incidents have been handle differently despite being almost identical.

    Is this a paranoid rant? No, it comes from watching Scottish football for the last 30 or so years.

  • Comment number 24.

    What a surprise Mr. Lawwell comes out with a statement like this when his team are on a poor run of form. Anything to deflect the obvious deficiencies in his management team.

    Could a continued fall of SPL revenues actually make things more balanced. As the old firm finally try and act on the bigotry which they allowed to grow over the last century and the teams are having less success in Europe, the glory hunters who never set foot in Glasgow but wear old firm tops 365 days a year will get fed up with this and either start supporting English teams or maybe even support their local team. I am sure there are enough fans in Glasgow who could fill the grounds.

    If Lawwell had come out and said the club were going to take action against those who held up the banner last November it would have been worth more media comment than this rant because he cannot get to play in the league he wants to.

    How long will it be before our usual troll from England comes on and makes his usual playing St Johnstone and Inverness 4 times a season holds them back. Before you do Tom have a look at the table and see which team is now only 1 point behind Celtic.

  • Comment number 25.


    Better find another new owner then. Your latest one, as long as he can stay ahead of the taxman, cannot wait to exit Scotland. Given that former Board members are rushing to the courts to ring-fence their compensation claims suggests to me that no-one, especially the EPL, would touch Rangers with a bargepole. Perhaps you should point this out to Mr. Whyte.


    Tee-hee ? Jim is trying to raise a debate here. There is nothing funny about the state of our domestic game.


    Get a ' Groundhog Day' feeling about all this Rob. Regular contributors will know what I mean. Nothing changes though. Until the Chairmen of the alleged top six or so sides abandon self-interest, nothing ever will.

  • Comment number 26.

    Welcome back Jim, I was beginning to wonder if you had pulled the plug!!

    The problem with this blog is that it inevatibly leads to the same old arguments being aired by those who either have an axe to grind or merely wish to have a dig at OF or one of OF.

    Lawwell is absolutely correct when he says that the game in Scotland will die unless there is a radical change.

    All clubs are motivated by self interest not just OF, which is why so many clubs spent money they didn't have in order to compete with Celtic & Rangers in signing foreign players and why there has been a complete failure to make any changes to either the league structure or even popular ideas like a winter break.

    It seems to me that most clubs live in a world of their own, totally divorced from reality.
    They continue to ignore the realities of life, attending football matches is not a priority at a time when millions are unemployed, millions more maybe and money is tight everywhere.
    Admission prices are high, you only have to look around and see how many season ticket holders don't attend cup matches because they are "extra".
    They sold their soul to television and complain when fans choose to stay at home and watch matches on the box rather than go to the ground on cold, wet days.
    Aberdeen are moving to a new stadium, why? Their crowds aren't going to rocket through the roof suddenly and their great support doesn't appear to want to move anyway.
    Hibs built a new stand and plumetted towards the bottom of the league leaving many empty seats
    If Rangers lose their tax case what will become of their financial muscle?
    I use the above as examples they are not the only culprits.

    Outside factors play a greater role in all walks of life and football can't remain immune to this.
    Clubs continue to pay wages that are unrealistic in relation to their turnovers which is a big problem in Scotland as gate money is the main source of income for the majority, if not all, of our clubs.
    The dilemma therefore is,should clubs cut their cloth accordingly and rely on living within their means and develop young players which would probably mean a drop in standards for a time at least or should they continue to stumble blindly into the abyss?
    Would fans be willing to accept the above or would most prefer to hope that it's all been a bad dream and will be all right eventually?

    It will require a combination of clear thought, a willingness to put the greater good first and all this would have to be achie

  • Comment number 27.

    SPL is the problem, juggling with the numbers in it is a distraction. The Celtic team that won the European Cup all came from 30 miles of Parkhead, Jimmy Johnstone walk out of the Stadium at the end of his career straight into a brickies yard. We have to forget about the SPL, dominated by 2 teams that buy in foreign talent. We have to invest in the grass root game, schoolboy, junior and lesser league teams. Develop rich and deep seams of talent at this level and international success, both for club and country will follow. Perhaps the SFL should tax the richer clubs or place a levy on foreign players, and the rewards in 5- 10 years would be great.

  • Comment number 28.

    Nothing will ever change and we all know it !

    They can't even make the simple decision to introduce play-offs when it will clearly increase crowds at the end of the season.

  • Comment number 29.

    The game is extinct for me Peter, the lights have gone out and it appears I am not alone judging by attendances. Every week come Saturday thousands of us have been saturated with high quality football at home or out socially via the media. The thought of handing over hard earned to watch our version of the beautiful game turns thousands away. Every football fan I have spoken to who saw it enjoyed how Shamrock Rovers played at Tottenham theres a starting point. I went to my first match of the season recently (SPL) both teams used their goalkeepers as attack builders with hundred yard punts up the park. why would I go back to watch that.

    Bringing back terracing is an absolute no brainer and should be done before next saturday.

    Referees are terrified of the old firm and gift them far too many points over a season to make our league competitive. Its a major factor in the old firms poor euro results proper referees making consistent decisions for both teams during the 90 mins.

    I could go on and on and do infact have that radically thought out league and scottish cup structure but the SPL and SFA wont engage on a consultancy basis.

    Ho hum

  • Comment number 30.

    Morbhoy and Rob04, i see you two as regular posters have long since learned this is way beyond the finger pointing of most of the posts on here. change will have to come in steps, measured ones. we have a problem and we have to do something to get more people attending our matches at all clubs at all levels. it isn't about finger pointing and accusations.

    i think we all agree summer football would be a good move, a better standard of football and also maybe when the EPL is in summer shutdown we could brand the SPL as the thing to watch. i'd personally like to see the new years games being the last game of the season for everyone, how massive might those fixtures be!!?

    i'd love to see new pricing strategies for tickets evolved, price ceilings in germany seem to work well, but we need to tinker to see what is best. I'd love to see a "kids go free" at all scottish grounds. a parent wondering what to do with the kids at the weekend might just start opting for going to see the local team alot more

    we need a new marketing strategy, that which highlights the plus points of all of scottish football as a whole. don't try to pretend its high level glamour just because celtic and rangers are there.

    i think that is three workable points to get started with that are implimentable easily. GET ON WITH IT.

  • Comment number 31.

    PS i meant the pitch quality would make for better play, hopefully. it might have read that i meant summer football and a better standard of football.

  • Comment number 32.

    now i have thought about it. promoting the spl as a family thing could work very well for it. if kids got taken along with their family not only might they go onto support that team they also will be given a keen interest in football from an early age and may apsire to be like the guys they watch. supporting your local SPL team as a family day out can only be good for scottish football.

  • Comment number 33.

    @Craig wrote:
    "now i have thought about it. promoting the spl as a family thing could work very well for it."

    Hearts offer £19 season tickets for under-12s (yes, £19 for a whole season!) - a great success yet barely reported in the media and I haven't seen them praised by the SFA for it. The SFA are far more concerned with fining Romanov at every opportunity.

    Likewise Hearts do community efforts like an after-school music club - something that Jim Traynor's Radio Scotland Paper Talk show chose to lampoon and make fun of when it launched rather than praise it.

    As long as the media continue to pander to the OF, pursue a vendetta of sorts against Romanov and focus on negative stories rather than positive ones, it will be hard to attract people back to games.

  • Comment number 34.

    hearts kids' season ticket is amazing. i think maybe there is scope for going the extra mile of free for kids though. we really need to put our local clubs at the centre of our local communities. i find it amazing that hearts' efforts were mocked. maybe now with all the reality checks in scottish football everyone will better see we need much more of a local grass roots approch including fanbase and our clubs and followers of scottish football need to be more humble. i would be immensely proud of my club if it was a cornerstone of it's communnity. that's somehting worth being proud of!! the glamour and the glory. NO! people who take pride in their club for that, what exactly did you achieve? well done you picked a club that wins all the time like everyine else.... i am more proud of hearts for things like the above than anything else.

  • Comment number 35.

    I agree Craig.

    You cannot help but be very pleased with the non-achievements of Hearts FC. They are not a glamour club by any means with and with very little glory. They probably are more suited to music than football.

    In fact I'm proud of them every time I think about that.

    Couldn't resist!

  • Comment number 36.


    Good shout. It will not happen. Our turkeys - my own club included - will not vote for Christmas.

    My view is to get back to one body. The SPL is one body too many. If that is an inconvience for the OF then tough ! They are not wanted elsewhere so let us get on with it. The OF must make their own bed.

    Both sides of the OF are courting the English leagues. Were it to pass it would be the best thing for our game. The snag is who would want them ?

    That is the essential point. Scotland needs shot of the OF. I would start with a good old fashioned 18 team top league. Morton- St. Mirren with something to play for, will put bums on seats.

    The OF are killing our game. Both want out. My fear is that it will never happen.

  • Comment number 37.

    Rangers & Celtic Complaining
    really ??

    Rangers want away to a place where the Taxmen does not exist, and Celtic bemoan the state of the League

    BOTH are unwilling to endorse or change the League format, yet more than willing to exploit it to their advantage by way of a passport to Europe every year !


    Simply will not happen until the Old Firm ACCEPT they are as much part of the NATIONAL problem, as they are the INDIVIDUAL solution. Any Doctor will tell you that you cannot treat a patient who is not even prepared to recognise their own symptoms.

    I can see the headline Now .. "Scottish Football RIP":

    So, when the "Post Mortem" on Scottish Football is finally completed, What will the rest of the World learn from its death?

    1. Just how selfish the Old Firm truly are, and have always been. They got everything they wanted and more yet still suffocated the game.

    2. Just how inept the SPL, SFA and all the other practitionars were. Surely there is a case for malpractice here.

    3. How the voices of all other decent NON "Old Firm " fans went simply ignored, un-heard, un-noticed and forgotten. Requests for help not even registered with the authorities - again any lawsuits pending?

    4. How can a Country like Scotland with its magnificent history and zest for invention, allow its so called "National Game" to die? Did it really mean that much to them? Did anybody really care?

    5. Did nobody see this coming? , or is it a case that everybody saw it coming and decided "not to Bother" any more.


    As I have said before in Rangers and Celtic have to go, or be invited to leave and find their "Own" Place. This may be by downsizing their Scottish "Operation" and opening up in England, Ireland or even Timbuktoo, but unless they go our game will eventually die, thorugh bankrupcy and/or boredom.

  • Comment number 38.

    Pleas guys stay away from the finger pointing. there are changes we can impliment.. i agree that we need one football body across the whole of football in scotland, not the current mess.

    finger pointing is exactly the wrong attitude. it achives nothing. those who blame the OF for everything and suggest to just get rid are mis guided. you dont have to look any further than the welsh league to see what is left behind when the big guys go away to england. if you live in scotland why would you support your local team playing against st merren, dunfermline etc if you could support a team that is playing liverpool, man u etc. the situation of everyone supporting old firm would only get worse!! we need OF to be a part of scottish football as a whole. and a united system that works as a unit across all scottish football.

    i really think the community focus has to be brought in. and i re iterate i think making a kids (under 12) go free to all scottish grounds is an amazing starting place. re brand scottish football as community based and family friendly... honestly i spent alot of my life growing up in burton on trent, they were a glorified pub team in conference north with a rough crowd. they adopted a more pro family stance and a more friendly atmosphere, moved to a new ground and now they are doing well in league 2.

    i honestly do not know how much this happens but i also think that every school should have regular contact with a coach from their nearest professional club. they wouldn't be the best coach so it wouldn't be more expensive than clubs can afford. it'd be great for youth development and keep local clubs at the heart of their local community.

    the scottish community cup is a platform we need to build on.

  • Comment number 39.

    there are several quick fix solutions that should be implemented for the sake of our game.

    1. Under 23 amateur leagues - no beer bellies just young fit men, a final development stage.
    2. Refereeing to a continental level of physicality ,we are stuck in the 70s on this regard and as a consequence our players dont develop the necessary defending skills for the modern era,they just kick the opposition into submission.In europe we dont have the skills to cope.

  • Comment number 40.

    To blame the Old Firm for the decline is ridiculous. Every other league in Europe has only a few title challengers with the rest following. Without the Old Firm our top league would be totally obscure (League of Ireland etc). All the other clubs should take a good look at themselves: Aberdeen have been mismanaged for years now building a new stadium outside of Aberdeen (in Kincardineshire actually) which they will never fill. Dundee having two clubs is financially insane.

    Solving our problems during a recession is not going to be easy. Summer Football is attractive but it does clash with major tournaments, if we ever actually qualify for any. A cap on non Scots on the pitch seems a great idea but that's what a lot of the non Old Firm are doing now already, but as soon as a talent emerges they will be off south to their lesser leagues.

    A league of 10 or 12 is killing the game. No more playing 4 times a season, 3 times can work in a league of 14

    The government should make mandatory sport education in schools from the start, teaching all kids the fun and healthy lifestyle all sports can bring. This would filter through in later years and produce a more active youth. All sports not just football, (Scotland has many world class sports people in harder disciplines than football), would benefit and a healthier population being the end result, yes there will always be many who will not see any benefit but at least there will be no excuse.

    One last point... Referees. Its clear the game is now faster and sad to say most players clearly cheat. Physical contact is becoming a rarer sight as players the minute they are touched fall to the ground like a sack o tatties, it's shameful. So the men in whatever colour they now wear have a very difficult job no wonder they make mistakes. So why don't the lawmakers employ two referees one responsible for each half, that would make them closer to the action see more off the ball actions. Many other team sports have more officials and this would hopefully see the players be more honset. Also no back chatting surrounding and pressurising the refs, a free kick or sin bin for 10 minutes would soon stop a lot of that.

    The governing bodies should be radically reorganised get professional forward thinking people voted in to improve sport in Scotland.

  • Comment number 41.

    #38 Craig
    Thanks for the kind words and the support in what is probably a vain attempt to halt finger pointing.

    This and many previous blogs provide an example of just how difficult it is to reach any kind of agreement on change, with the continual carping about the OF.
    There are 12 votes in the SPL of which Celtic & Rangers are but 2 and an 11-1 vote in favour is essential before any change can be implemented.
    This is how the clubs set the SPL up and we have seen how ANY club can make it work in their favour by obtaining just one other vote against any proposal they don't like, not just OF.
    Presumably the intention was to demonstrate what a democratic organisation the SPL was or could be.

    As I've said before ALL clubs act in their own interest and nothing will change until they examine and test alternatives to the current set up.
    In my opinion football in Scotland needs a boost in the form of a quick fix, the changes to grass roots, etc., are long term solutions, what the game needs now is a shot in the arm for next season.
    The clubs need to agree to changes that would benefit all and not lead to conflict such as a winter break,play-offs for the relegation/promotion places.
    If they prove they can do that without taking months and months of discussion to end up with the status quo, that will be major progress.
    They also need to consider but not necessarily introduce until the following season, changes to the leagues.If they want their businesses to survive and prosper change is essential and far better for it to come from the clubs themselves.
    Without going over all the points that we debated endlessly last season and the season before, they need to come up with proposals that are allowed a reasonable chance of success, i.e. if the SPL is increased to 14 or 16 clubs give it a chance not just one season.

    If we, the fans , can't debate this in a reasonable manner and propose solutions that will benefit all how can we criticise clubs for being self interested?

  • Comment number 42.


    Any initiative that encourages chldren to attend matches is to be commended not lampooned and especially not by people who make a living from football.
    Celtic also have good deals for kids and I'm sure they and Hearts are not the only clubs to do this.
    Children are the fans of the future, clubs ignore them at their peril.

  • Comment number 43.


    Agree with most of your points but not all.
    Not every other league in europe has only a few title challengers.
    Sweden has about 6 or 7 teams who have a shout at winning their title.
    Only a few seasons ago with 6 games left,5 teams were in the hunt.
    Now thats what you call a title run-in !!!!
    IFK Goteborg twice winners of the uefa cup in the 80,s has won the title once in about 12 years.
    A summer league would not clash with major tournaments as the scandanavian leagues have proved.The fact no games get postponed allows teams who,se players are away on international duty to catch up.
    How do you think scandanavian clubs & international teams(CANNON FODDER)
    for us 30 to 40 years ago have improved beyond us?Playing on good surfaces all the time with better facilities.The irish league you talked about happen to still have a part-time team playing in the europa league,they changed to summer football 5 years ago.What are we waiting on???? Never mind the 2 Dundee clubs,
    do you think pulling the resourses of Aberdeen & the 2 Dundee clubs together would have a different outcome on who would win the league? I for one dont think so.This answers the point of the 2 Dundee clubs joining ranks(which has as much chance as the OF getting into EPL).Sharing a ground & costs yes.Not sure of your team but why should years of tradition change in Dundee when there is no chance of changing the status quo?????

  • Comment number 44.

    #21 What is wrong with wearing a Premier league team shirt in Scotland ????.I have seen plenty of Celtic and Rangers shirts (no else mind).Are you so insular ... probably.Messrs Ferguson,Daglish,Moyes manage big teams in England.Double standards yes.

    #24 The Premier league teams are a global brand duh!!!. Stop being so defensive how many were at the St Jonhnstone match v Inverness CT .... 2,600. How many Scots bought Algerian and USA shirts in 2010 !!!

    #30 The SPL co efficient ranking is 16th ..... next year it will be 25th nuff said!.What will it be branded as then ?

  • Comment number 45.

    #40 League of Ireland osbscure .....???? Shamrock rovers look far better than Hearts (3rd best team in the Scottish Pub League).The Welsh and Irish teams are NOW a match for the wee diddy Scottish League

    Ireland are through to the European play offs (Scotland were pathetic ..only beating Lichenstein twice and Lithuania once).Scotalnd are ranked 55th! Ireland are way above you minnows

  • Comment number 46.

    Celtic should join the Swiss , Dutch or Portuguese leagues ..... Sion,Utrecht and Braga would welcome them ...... easy points !

  • Comment number 47.

    i strongly urge no one to respond to TOMSALFORD. pointless. he can mock the spl all day long but frankly don't teach your granny how to knitt. we all now it is in a mess and that is why we are posting on here. constructive comments only.

  • Comment number 48.

    the problem woth our leage put very simply is that in the 90's a revolution happened to football in big countries. it became big business and massive tv deals began to emerge. the mistake we made was we dumbly thought we were a big country and designed ourselves to fit the emerging model. but we are not a big country and even with the OF we have no way of generating TV income anything remotely comparable to even countries of 15million never mind 50million.

    so we need to scrap that whole model and focus on what we can do as a small nation. TOGETHER.

    the constructive points on here say that summer football and the promotion of youngsters attending our games is a good front line to start on. so what elese can we add to the list?? come on people there are good ideas out there, a bit of togetherness is needed.

  • Comment number 49.

    Simply put, we need to start looking after the best interest of Scottish Football. Dont let any business man with a vested interest in lining his pockets tell you he cares about anything else other than making money.

    Thats not to say that money is not important to allow a business to thrive.

    We need to look at the MLS and follow part of their business model

    We need to put wage caps in place
    Every club is allowed 3 "star players" (Whether that be foriegn players or not)

    Going back to the past, clubs should be limited to fielding 3 foriegn players in a match which would focus on allowing Scottish players to flourish in larger numbers.

    All clubs and players should come together to agree to make laws above and beyond the rules set by UEFA in terms of fairness. Players and Clubs need to come to an agreement which supercedes contractual law in terms of when a player wants to leave a club before their contract is up. For example, if a player states a desire to move to another club before their contract is up for renewal, the player is agreeing to pay out the club from their own pocket from the date they chose to indicate their desire to move. This would balance out greedy sales men agents from trying to look out for their own best interest before the player and club.

  • Comment number 50.

    This weekend St Johnstone ran a promotion where adults could get into the game for £10 when they brought along up to 2 kids who were given free tickets via local schools. even if the kid was not at a local school the child could get in for £5

    But as a certain club were having their AGM was this reported in the national press.

    My niece gets her East stand season ticket for £40, which is good value but not as good value as the ticket price quoted at Hearts. Teams are trying to attract fans but even with yesterdays offer the crowd was only 2909 which is pathetic when the team is doing so well.

    There is debate on this on the Saints forum and while price is being put forward as the main argument why people don't go I would think if the prices were halved the attendances would not double.

    in a way I am probably in agreement with some of what Lawwell and Reid said, however as it came from them most fans in Scotland will only see it as one of the old firm looking out for themselves which of course they have to do. reading between the lines the global appeal of the old firm is perhaps being diluted and they now realise they need to do something as if and its a big if anything does happen that allows them into a european set up they need to have a base to build from.

  • Comment number 51.

    both the wage cap and the foreign players rule would be extremely unpopular and i'm not convinced restrictions are a real way forward, no one agrees to them and ultimately what you are trying to do is avtively handicap OF rather than improve the situation as a whole. i can see how implimenting our own financial fair play in addition to the ongoing fair play issue could prove useful though. we need our clubs, including OF (£50m tax bill in waiting rangers) to invest more wisely. transfer fees even for the OF are a waste of money. what we need all clubs to be doing is producing players like James forrest, Danny Wilson etc and realising that those players are actually as good as anything any club in scotland can buy.

    i'd love to see a way that clubs could safeguard the value of the players they produce like you suggest but in truth the law is going to limit that. it is down to the clubs to give a youngster a contract until he's 23 before he really makes his impact and won't be thinking of moving on. after that let him futher his career elsewhwere if he needs.

    perhaps the u23 league is a good idea to help with that like was previously posted. does anyone else think scrapping expensive and pointless reserve leagues and replacing them with u23 leagues would be much better for scottish football. a better progression to senior squald and less irritating signings of blatent squad players. everyone you have on the books will be getting first team opportunities at the required leves. i wonder if there is scope to actually make that a 16 - 23 leage and have no u19's. maybe the youngsters would benefit from playing with older guys.?

  • Comment number 52.

    jeanfield_swifts. good example from st johnston. that is excellent. it needs promoting more. why do you think these things are not very well promoted? do you think a national implimentation of u12 go free would be simpler and a headline grabber?

  • Comment number 53.

    I think the OF would agree that any way that would improve the SPL as a whole would be a handicap for the OF. That is a complete given. Guess what though. Perhaps if all teams had a fair chance of winning the tournament every year. More Interest, More Fans through the gates. More Money spread equally through our game. More youngsters playing in the parks. Less people complaining about not having a fair chance so no point in showing up for a game and paying a fair price but not having a fair chance.

  • Comment number 54.

    #47 Craig your bang on.
    The outsider has added nothing to this debate.
    Same old,same old zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • Comment number 55.

    #53. agreeably any change should hope to improve competition, i'm just not convinced directly handicapping the OF is implimentable nor the only solution. i think a more level playing field will emerge as OF continue to become more skint and the other teams continue to improve the basic running and ehtos of their clubs. aberdeen have been a shadow of their former self due to debt and the move to the new stadium is absolutely the right thing.... to be honest as is a move away from tynie for hearts as much as i am sad to say. we killed off the old era and now we have to start a new really.

  • Comment number 56.

    at present we have a strategy based around a pretence of top end football with global interest. but while that was the league ethos only the OF ever had it so what was the draw to go watch other clubs? even the OF are losing that now so that will help but also the other clubs need to rebuild local links and support that stood them in good stead in the past. the clubs of their community, instead of come and see us we are trying so hard to be somehting we blatently are not. OF soon will have to adapt too.

  • Comment number 57.

    This isn't rocket science. It IS the Old Firm's fault. They are unwilling to give up two of their precious derbies. They vote together on everything to block change that might benefit the majority. We need to get rid of the 11-1 voting system. Then we need teams to only be playing each other twice a season with play-offs later on.

    The OF can plug their revenue gaps with 'glamorous' friendlies during the season, or 'showcase' Old Firm derbies in Australia and Ireland, which will give them ample opportunity to export their bile to foreign shores. The Glasgow police will be very happy indeed.


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