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Can big crowds ever return to Scottish football?

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Jim Spence | 21:53 UK time, Thursday, 29 March 2012

As the debate about change to our top league rages, I found myself nostalgically leafing through old league tables and attendances.

It was a fascinating exercise and left me wondering if we can do anything to return to a time when Scottish top flight football seemed much more competitive.

While by and large the big two of Celtic and Rangers have dominated our game, there was a period when that dominance was much less pronounced.

East End Park

Empty seats are a regular sight in modern day Scottish football. Pic: SNS.

In recent years, the odd Scottish Cup or Scottish League Cup win aside, the Glasgow pair have simply been far too powerful and rich for the others to mount any serious challenge to them.

That cannot be healthy for the future of the other clubs.

Celtic's turnover in 2011 of around £52m compares with a figure of around £8m for Aberdeen.

If Celtic cannot be expected to seriously challenge for the Champions League against giants like Real Madrid and Barcelona, who have turnovers which dwarf their own, how can other Scottish clubs make any headway in the Scottish Premier League against them.

It is difficult to know how to resolve this issue.

Celtic and Rangers have grown into huge businesses for many reasons.

At present, we have no idea how Rangers will emerge from their current

Irrespective of what happens to Rangers though, it is difficult to see how anyone can come close then to challenging Celtic with their enormous resources.

Historically the Glasgow duo, while the best-supported clubs in Scotland, did not average the huge crowds they draw now.

A few years after the Second World War, the big city clubs in particular were not miles behind them at the gates.

Let's take season 1948/49 as a snapshot. Average attendances in that era would leave current day chairmen weeping into their beer in a fit of nostalgia.

Aberdeen 24,200
Dundee 24,532
Celtic 37,171
Hearts 28,196
Hibernian 27,627
Rangers 44,600

It was a boom period post-war for the game and the clubs outside of the Glasgow pair never came close to repeating those enormous crowds.

However, while the Glasgow two were still better supported, the gap was much narrower than now and often the two were split by other clubs in the race for the top prize.

Dundee were pipped by one point as Rangers took the title in 1949. The season before, Hibs took the title by two points from Rangers and Celtic finished 12th.

In 1950, Rangers again nabbed the top spot, one point ahead of Hibs, who were followed by Hearts, East Fife then Celtic.

The following year, Hibs were champions with Rangers and Dundee level on points behind them.

It is a snapshot of a time when Scottish football was much more competitive than today.

Is it simply wishful thinking that we can find a way to reinvigorate our game and bring a real competitive edge back to it?


  • Comment number 1.

    Good Blog Jim.

    Our league is no longer run by our authoritative bodies. The league is no longer run for the benefit of fans. Its run by the TV for the TV. Heaven forbid we did anything to upset the TV.

    Our 'leaders' no longer have a say on when games are. A pre-season fixture list isn't worth the paper its printed on, its mearly a suggestion as to when games might be on. The actual fixture list based on when the TV companies want the game on to fill in some time before the next instalment from 'the greatest league in the world'. Second fiddle.

    Fans are taken for granted now Jim. Back in the 48/49 league you quoted figures from, I bet the majority of those games were concluded by 4:45 on a Saturday. They knew exactly when games would be on back then. 3:00pm on a Saturday. You could plan a Saturday around it, down the pub before hand, meet your mates, down to the game, home in time for dinner.

    Now-a-days it is impossible to guess when a game is on. Will it be the Friday night, will it be Saturday at 12, Saturday at 12:30, Saturday at 12:55, any time on a Sunday? Monday night?? How are you meant to plan ahead to attend game when at last min the game time or even day changes? or games are on a such ridiculous times that make it virtually impossible to travel too? Inverness from anywhere in the country for 12:00 on a Sunday? Enjoy your pint before that one!

    The league should be set up for the fans who attend games, not the ones on their sofa. Make match days fun again. Not the show up, sit down, shut up, get out experience we have now. Fans at games these days are treated like criminals!

    Turning our back on sky would remove the artificially augmented league set up we have now. It would be up to each team to find ways to encourage fans back to the game to increase revenue. Make the match day an experience. Not forsake fans for an easy buck.

    We should have a league that a TV company wants to show, not a league that the TV companies only want to show 4 times a season.

  • Comment number 2.

    There are far too many problems with the Scottish game to focus on just one. Celtic and Rangers, even taking into account Rangers' financial failings which will be short lived, will always be a country mile ahead of the rest. There is no getting away from the financial power and size of both clubs, never mind the fan base, which means there will never be any serious competition from any of the other clubs. Like you say Jim, the odd cup win here or there will be all any other club can look for. The easiest option would be for both to go down south and join the English set up. There can't be any legal reason why they can't, taking into account the two Welsh clubs plying their trade in the top two English divisions. It's more down to the rest of the English clubs boycotting it.

    TV has brought high quality coverage to the armchair fans which will always be an easier option than going to the game. As a result fans stay away from stadiums firstly because it's cheaper and easier to stay at home but also due to the fact that fans have great coverage of the English Premier leagues, Spanish leagues, German leagues, etc. Why would you want to go and pay through the nose to watch sub-standard football when you can sit in the comfort of your own home or local pub and watch a much better, entertaining football for a fraction of the cost.

    So in my opinion the much needed TV coverage that provides the life blood of clubs in Scotland is the original reason that we are slowly slipping into obscurity. Back in 1949 fans didn't have the option of watching the best games from around the world so wanted to go to games, and paid a very small amount to do so.

    In short we'll never get back to where we were but where we go from here is critical to the survival and longevity of Scottish football.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good blog and 2 good replies. Scottish football may just have a slight chance right now if for one thing my club, Celtic, would give up on this 11-1 voting monopoly the old firm has over the rest of the SPL and in turn the lower divisions probably.

    Sadly I dont think it will happen. We need a major shake up, which has been promised at least three times now in my lifetime of enjoying the game. This latest attempt has talked much but still nothing concrete has happened. Probably due to the power and looking after of self interest (or greed) of the old firm clubs.

    Rangers situation right now, while shattering for our game, has somewhat lessened their hand for the time being and been rightly seized upon (I believe) by the other SPL clubs to try and force change. I just wish Peter Lawwell would see the bigger picture and allow our great club to be proactive in a once in a lifetime chance to change the entire game for the better. For all the clubs.

    30 years I have followed Celtic. Since the times when we were always challenged for the title by the great Aberdeen, Hearts and Dundee United teams as well as Rangers. I sincerely long for that kind of comeptition again. And surely if that were the case, we WOULD have a product worth broadcasting AND have teams competing in Europe.

    It is only a small ask Mr Lawwell. Give up the monopoly for the good of the Scottish game. Lets have a more level playing field and we will all improve. Viva le revolution.

  • Comment number 4.

    Agree wholeheartedly with the previous comments.

    Another issue facing our game is that we have a lot of good young players coming through the youth sytems, but none have any long term comittment to their clubs. They are waiting to be cherry picked by Championship and League 1 clubs in England as Scottish clubs cannot compete with the wages on offer.

    My own club, Aberdeen, have recently lost a promising 16 year old to Fulham for practically nothing, 18 year old Fraser Fyvie has announced his intention to go at the end of the season and today Mark Reynolds has stated his desire to return to League 1 rather than stay in the SPL.

    These are just examples of what is happening with promising young playes at every club, as Dundee Utd can testify with the exodus of their young stars to England last summer.

    This results in promising teams being broken up before they have had the chance to do anything. Someone asked Gordon Strachan recently if Aberdeen's European success of the 80s could be repeated today. His answer was no as the team would have broken up before they could achieve.

    Therefore, unless a financial crisis spreads through the English leagues, this trend is going to continue and team's will not have the chance to flourish.

  • Comment number 5.

    Yes this is another thorny one but to some extent has always been the case. Not so much with our youngsters granted but Dalglish, Archibald, Strachan, McClair, Nicholas et al eventually went to england or elsewhere but our game was all the stronger for having their likes to begin with. So I think if we sorted our game and had a stronger league the youngsters wouldnt neccesarily be poached away as quickly.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good blog and good posts, all right in their way but we need to be careful about what we are comparing.

    In the period mentioned by Jim and for quite some time afterwards football was played on Saturday afternoons with Wednesday matches, in the afternoon before fllodlights, on occasions.
    There were fewer season tickets sold, fans could walk up and pay at the gate to sit in the stand or, as most did, stand on their favourite bit of terracing. Now a season ticket is the only way to guarantee being able to buy a ticket for a Celtic "big" game.
    It has to be said that the grounds are much improved from 50s/60s with actual facilities!!

    When football embraced TV those running the game at that time either didn't realise that they were relinquishing their power or thought they would be able to control the TV companies but as the latter has poured more and more money into the game it has become evident that "the piper calls the tune".
    It's impossible to show the number of live matches TV demands if they all kick off at the same time.
    I agree that television has harmed our game in many ways, kick off times, days matches played and a better standard of football to watch all contribute but that's only part of the story.

    In the "olden" days clubs didn't invest money back in the game, and some of them made big money, facilities were poor and fans were expected to turn up rather than being courted as now.
    Much of the money either went to directors or simply disappeared as few clubs were in a position to invest heavily when improvements were needed with the result that, when grounds were redeveloped, the capacities were all less than in the days when standing was the norm.

    The days of the big crowds at a number of grounds are gone unless there is a dramatic improvement in the standard of football on offer, the level of competition between clubs and meaningful opposition to OF.
    I have no problem with other clubs receiving a larger share of SPL TV money, but not gate sharing, they can't live off the big two and moan about them.

    That's probably enough for now.

  • Comment number 7.

    time for an 18 team spl i say

    18 team top league play each other twice

    winter break or summer football with international comp in place
    top 8 in league compete in group format then semi finals and finals
    sell rights to overseas (USA australia UAE Canada New Zealand)

    a 24 team second tier where loss in renevue may then be brought back in with more home games (23 in 2nd tier and 17 in 1st tier)

    bottom two from top tier relegated with 16th place team in play off with 3-5 placed teams in 2nd tier

    effectively two leagues

    18 team league spl
    24 team league sfl

    open up below that with rest of sfl clubs as well as junior and reserve teams

    opening up scottish cup to more teams

    also look at changing stadia criterion
    4k min seated in spl

    also look at player limits such as in CL (25 players with min of 6 homegrown or 22 players with 6 min in 2nd tier) where if there is any issues with players then youth players would need to brought in

    scottish football can get better we just need to go and try something different

    my main concern is that spl is stale as we play the same clubs 6-7 times a year
    players cant develop if they are up again same opposition

  • Comment number 8.

    I completely agree with Andios. The league is too small and needs expanding. Obviously from the outsider's point of view it means that there will be alot more "diddy teams" in the league but that will be the case initially. Then after a few years the smaller teams will be generating more money and can then start to build better teams and improve facilities. With 18 teams in a league it gives far more competition at the bottom of the league with enough excitement (taking into account 2 up and 2 down with play offs for a 3rd) at the bottom of the table to rival the top end. We may lose TV money initially but it'll be more of a case of one step backwards three steps forward and should hopefully raise attendances as well.

    Before we can do any of that my club, Celtic, and their Glasgow rivals need to relinquish some power so other clubs can get involved and move the Scottish game forward for the good of all teams involved, top to bottom.

  • Comment number 9.

    Guys, We need some new an innovative thinking if we are to bring back the fans through the gates. First off we need to accept that power and wealth will rise to the top in most industries and the bigger organisations will have more of these at their disposal. Football is no different, that will not change. Whether we reconstruct the league from 12 to 10 or 14 it is merely tinkering at the edges while Rome burns. We need to take a fresh innovative look at other sports to see how they make things interesting and competitive. Make no bones about it competition or lack of it is what drives football fans away in their droves. How many football fans do you know that have given up over the last decade and now sit at home and get their footy fix by Sky TV. Lets take a look at Golf. I will never be able to compete with Tiger Woods but the Handicap system used in Golf sets it up that I can still be competitive with him if the handicaper gets it right. Lets take this scenario into football. We could run 2 leagues in tandem, the first the usual set up where the biggest and richest clubs will invariably always win. In tandem at the start of every season there is a Handicap league run, whereby the smaller clubs are given a points start, this could see Dunfermline and Hibs say start with a 30 point advantage over the Old Firm. How exciting would it be for fans of the smaller clubs to see their teams fighting to hold their lead over a rapidly closing OF as we enter the later stages of the season. If the handicaps were well set and each team plays to their handicap we could have 4 or 5 teams in contention for the title. Of course the handicap league would be looked down upon as not being worthy.. however if enough finance was put into it and a way to get the winner into europe it could flourish and get the fan base excited and through the turnstiles in larger numbers.

  • Comment number 10.

    Andios hits it right on the head. This has pretty much whats been in my head for the past 5 years or so. A bigger league would help stop the stagnation and allow us a winter break. Isnt this what the majority of fans want? The powers that be should listen to the football fans.

  • Comment number 11.

    I agree with many of the points raised, particularly about league sizes. I'd even consider regional lower leagues, however I don't think that they will happen, as every club has its own self interest to satisfy.

    Sad to say but they are all companies that only really look at the short-term, since if they fail over this period, then there is no long term as they may be out of business by then.

    If there was some way of getting round this, then many of these plans may work.

  • Comment number 12.

    '48 & '49 LOL. get real Jim, who was it, working men spending a couple of shillings on entertainment. Local entertainment as they didn't own cars, travel was expensive, there was no disposable income.

    Face facts, there are small towns in England, whose clubs have no hope of winning anything, Yet they attract more fans than some SPL clubs. Not EPL or Championship, lower leagues. Most in Dundee, Aberdeen & Edinburgh are no longer interested in football. The idea of our town, our club as gone. Don't blame OF & TV, glory hunters or administrators.

    Hard to say, but majority of Scots no longer love football. They've other things to do, or entertain them. Especially the youth, which is the future of anything.

  • Comment number 13.

    For all those crying out for a bigger league, ask your board or chairman. What would he prefer, OF visit possibly twice a season. Or just once & Ross county ( no disrespect intended ) in place of another big gate.

    Be honest, the SPL depends on the OF, TV wants lots of OF games. Media thrive on OF games, ignore anything else. Make no mistake, if the OF ever moved south or to a European league, the Sottish game would be same as Welsh or Irish. Some would love it, just a couple of thousand brave-hearts doing what's right, supporting their team. Move on people, whatever fix, it as to be here & now, not some forgotten past.

  • Comment number 14.

    Of course it comes down to money and for the foreseeable future the OF will have more of it.

    However I think that a distribution of TV revenues in favour of the rest of the SPL could help to level the playing field.

    In the long run this would benefit all of Scottish football, including the OF. Unfortunately short term interest will most likely stop this from ever happening.

  • Comment number 15.

    Lots of good comments on the subject, although sadly, little in the way of optimism. As pointed out in the blog, when a couple of teams in a league can outspend the rest by a factor of 10, competition will be in name only.

    Is it not time for some kind of radical re-think to level the field? How about a handicap system, with a base spending figure of say £10m a season, and spending above this figure incurring a minus points handicap at the start of the season, below the base and you are rewarded with plus points.

    As it stands, the OF have what appears an unassailable financial advantage and the rest of the league are just making up the numbers

  • Comment number 16.

    My apologies, I didn't read post 9 from Newthinking, which more or less mirrors my own least I'm not the only one who sees this as a way forward :)

  • Comment number 17.

    13 is anyone that your suggestion is presumably that fans of clubs outside the Old Firm simply accept in perpetuity that their role in life is one of serfdom.

    Where do you think the game is going long term if there is no chance of any club outside of the Glasgow pair challenging for the title ?

    I spoke to UEFA recently. Celtic and Rangers going anywhere other than Scotland is "Cloud cuckoo land" according to them. What you have failed to factor in is that many fans of the other clubs may well be happy to see their clubs live at a reduced level if there was a more competitive league structure.

  • Comment number 18.

    I do like the handicapping idea espoused by Newthinking and others. But there are two major problems with it

    1) How are handicaps decided (and by whom)? If they are merely a reflection of last years points total - or league position - then how do you square that with the inevitable changes in personnel and/or managers over the summer. They are effectively different teams.

    2) Would UEFA accept a title 'winner' of such a league into the Champions League ? In the eyes of many, the title would be devalued and the best team would not feature in UEFA's premier competition.

    If the supporters across the country want a 'fairer' and more competitive league then I suspect that sharing gate money, bigger league, even split of TV cash and a strict limit on squad size may be more effective.

    Any attempt to effect such changes would be strenuously opposed by both halfs of the Old Firm as they would see such 'robbery' as the antithesis of fairness. But Jim Spence is correct. In the bad old days other teams did have a fighting chance and some, like my team Hearts, actually won titles under a regime similar to that outlined above.

  • Comment number 19.

    Those advocating a "handicap system are either winding us up or way off base.

    What kind of competition would be created if other teams start X number of points better off than others?
    Would it lead to more exciting football or would it be in the interests of the clubs with the advantage to settle for a draw?

    This is not the way forward or the way to rejuvenate Scottish football.

    There are some new posters here who may not be aware that the issue of league re-organisation has been discussed on this blog many times in the past couple of years and the concensus has been a bigger league preferably of 16, but most would settle for 14 teams, with play offs at the bottom of SPL/top of SFL and a winter break.
    Initially there may be some mismatches but the standard should improve as clubs outwith OF are able to offer players better opportunities and the fans should play their part by turning out to support their team which in turn provides more revenue for the clubs.

    No one has a crystal ball and no one knows what will work and what won't but the game will die if the status quo prevails which makes change imperative.

    Celtic and Rangers will always be the biggest clubs but it is possible for others to improve their situation but that must be done in a realistic manner not by spending money that they don't have and by retaining better players for as long as possible.

  • Comment number 20.

    19 morbhoy...."What kind of competition would be created if other teams start X number of points better off than others?".....Maybe a fairer competition than the present one, where 2 teams massively outspend the rest of the league COMBINED!

    As already pointed out, handicapping works in other sports, most notably horse racing. If a team can sign players several levels above that which other teams can field (leaving aside whether they can afford them or not), how is this NOT unfair competition. It doesn't help when the biggest spenders actually control the league, pretty much making up the rules as they see fit.

  • Comment number 21.

    .....further....your last paragraph perfectly surmises the OF attitude

    "Celtic and Rangers will always be the biggest clubs but it is possible for others to improve their situation but that must be done in a realistic manner not by spending money that they don't have and by retaining better players for as long as possible"

    Can you not see the contradictions running through this? How for instance, is it possible to retain players when the best are cherry picked by the OF and the English at wages the rest of the league would cut their arms off for.

    Needs must! Hibs had the foundations of a very good team under Mowbray, but they couldn't keep that team together purely and simply because the players wanted more money for their talents than Hibs could afford to pay. How would you suggest that Hibs retain these players for longer? Not by spending money we don't have you say, but fail to offer an alternative

    Hibs learned their lesson and didn't choose to follow the path taken by Rangers and Hearts, but they have suffered onfield as a result. Why should those who overspend have an unfair advantage over those who don't? Rangers took a 10pt hit for their profligacy, what difference has it made to the league positions?

  • Comment number 22.

    We often talk about sporting integrity. Arguably, that does not exist when very wealthy clubs can use vastly superior resources to outspend those who are less well resourced. It's not just a Scottish problem of course. Increasingly wealthy clubs in all leagues are distorting sporting integrity by buying success.

  • Comment number 23.

    When the top two teams control so much of the money and can outspend the rest by a factor of 10 or more then there isn't going to be any serious competition in the league. One off cup wins against them are all the glory that can be gained. One of the most competitive leagues is the Australian Football League where there are salary caps and the bottom teams get first pick of the best young talent. Can't happen here as soccer is a worldwide game and, as several posts point out, any Scottish talent gets swooped upon quicker and younger than in the past by other leagues - or by the Old Firm and stuck in their reserves!

    I agree with #18 Davie Holt's, and others, idea of a fairer system to create a more even system of competition. Under the SPL there has only been Rangers and Celtic winning. In the old SFL 1st division, Rangers and Celtic did win the league most of the time, but Aberdeen, Dundee United and Kilmarnock also had periods of dominance.

    No point getting too nostalgic though. For those that do want change, April 12 is THE day to focus on. The 10 non-Old Firm chairmen have called for a fairer voting system in the SPL. It can't be an 'Arab Spring" as Johnson (Killie chairman) calls it, unless the wee people join it. I suggest at the next match they attend, all in favour of a change hold up a positive little sign simply saying "Yes to 9-3". that will help to get the message out beyond the newspapers. All supporters clubs should energise their fans to do so. I've created a blog urging people to do this at: Unless the Chairmen can stick to their guns, all other talk is hot air.

  • Comment number 24.


    Every major league has clubs that are bigger & wealthier than the others and that's a fact of life.

    The way forward is Platini's Fair Play Iniative where clubs have to live within their means and this should be strengthed by transfer fees having to be paid in full by the end of the season in which the transfer takes place or the following season if the transfer is in the summer.

    Greed on the part of players and clubs is also to blame for football's ills across the continent and a salary cap would be the real answer but that would be difficult to achieve no matter how desirable.

    The question asked by Jim Spence was "Can big crowds ever return to Scottish football?" and the answer is, not in the numbers that there used to be.
    As has already been posted, times have changed, there are other outlets for leisure time, the economic situation also plays a big part, and the way that people sttend has changed. Season ticket sales are the norm these days benefitting the clubs who get the money early and guaranteed and giving fans access to the bigger games where tickets may be hard to come by.

    It's true that there is a bigger gulf between Celtic/Rangers and the rest but that's not just a result of their increasing wealth by having larger supports and bigger grounds.
    Some clubs have been badly managed by owners/directors and the majority have spent vast amounts of money that they didn't have and couldn't hope to repay, Rangers being the latest example.
    The wages/turnover ratios didn't lie when all clubs were desperate to sign foreign players because OF did, on salaries they couldn't afford , at the same time as their grounds needed updating.
    The banks were also complicit as they seemed to be willing to let clubs run with huge overdrafts without demanding repayment until the financial melt down changed that cosy arrangement.

    There needs to be change to Scottish football at all levels but it's at senior level where the money is and that needs to be addressed first in my opinion.
    No one forced Hibs to sell any player who was on a contract lasting longer than one season, the club took the decision to sell in the majority of cases whereas Dundee Utd. and St.Johnstone took a different stance last season with Goodwillie and Sandaza.
    It should be a partnership between clubs/fans, if clubs take the risk of retaining players the fans need to turn up and support them and not just in cup finals.

    As I said previously an SPL of 14 teams, a winter break and play offs at the bo

  • Comment number 25.

    At the bottom /top SPL/SFL would be a good first step and Celtic have indicated their support for this.
    A more equitable division of SPL TV revenue would also assist those clubs who struggle to manage without the fortnightly injection of gate money.

    Whatever happens some clubs will always be bigger than others and that will not change.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think the way forward has to be a model similar to the NFL in the states. Wage caps, shared gates, shared TV rights, all equal.

    Let's face it, if Rangers are liquidated, which according to press reports is not out of the question, then where is Scottish football?, Being a Rangers fan myself, if the club is liquidated and allowed to re-enter the SPL that in itself is opening a can of worms, so assuming they don't get permission to rejoin the SPL, we are left with 1 big club, little if no TV money and a mockery of a league. What then?

    If Celtic stick to their guns and refuse to cede power then I would strongly suggest the other 10 resign from the SPL (as was suggested on this site a few days ago) and let Celtic play in a league of 1.

    I am however horrified that given the precarious state of Rangers, that they themselves would also refuse to cede power, this is just a nonsense.

    Going back to my original comment about the US model, which may or may not save clubs money, but would certainly give them a more even footing, have a pooled central youth academy, funded by all clubs in the SPL, and in accordance with the NFL, have a draft system whereby the lowest finishing club gets first pick of the youth, with a clause in the contract that is binding for say 2-3yrs, therefore cannot be sold on the EPL or championship clubs (or others for that matter). Lowest finishers get the pick of the best players which (in the US at least) allows bottom finishes to become champions the next year.

    The league needs to be larger 14-18 teams, lower ticket prices (maybe if terracing is re-introduced we'll see that), a winter break, an earlier summer start and to hell with the tv companies. If they want to buy into the league, they play by the leagues rules. If that means Scottish clubs miss out on Europe then sorry but so be it, it's not like we've been a force there for many many years now, and even then it was a tickle at best.

  • Comment number 27.

    Just to be clear, IF Rangers are liquidated and allowed back into the SPL then that's a disgrace, they go to the 3rd division in my opinion, if for no other reason than to set an example.

    And from now on, if any club enters administration during a season, the penalty is immediate expulsion from that league. (during close season if different in that it doesn't affect other teams that much) It's a farce that a club in admin can sit 2nd in the league, with so many doubts over it's future. All points from fixtures played or unfilled go to the opposing team.

    Never has a business been run so badly by so many.

    My proposed solution (26) also has the advantage in that a team knows it's financial requirements at the start of the season, and allows for better adherence to the new FIFA fair play rules.

  • Comment number 28.

    The SFA also have to take responsibilty in what a "fit and proper owner" is, I was disgusted to read that they have guidelines, which when all said and done have done little to prevent the mess at Rangers FC, and then they issue a statement that it's the club's reponsibility, well surely SFA it's YOUR league and your responsibility to know who are running the clubs!!!!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    its lookin like liquidation ibrox way now jim, the administrators have made a real mess of things and appear way out their depth, the only thing it looks like they have protected is themselves !! a real chance to sort the game out then. here is the current day scenario of your black and white postcard. dufc biggest crowd is agin dundee, hearts is agin hibs, stj is agin dee or deeufc, stm is agin morton, killie is agin ayr, ayr is agin killie, hibs is agin hearts, dunf is agin raith or falkirk, falkirk could b v dunf, ict is v ross cty, ross cty is v ict. a league is forming here JIM. well gers tic and aberdeen slightly out on a limb but they could survive within. THE BIG THING THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE IS THE OLD FIRM NEED TO REALISE THEY ARE SO FAR AWAY FROM THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE POT THAT THEY MUST NOW PROTECT THEIR DOMESTIC SETUP AS PRIORITY NO 1. THE NON OLD FIRM TEN MUST BE RESOLUTE OR SELF INTEREST WILL AGAIN PREVAIL AND ANOTHER SCOTTISH SPORT WILL SUCCUMB TO STUPID VESTED LITTLE LOCAL INTERESTS PLUS TV, and we invented that too so in conclusion we will have only ourselves to blame !!!!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    there are some really great posts here!! Jim it is amazing you are getting people talking about this. we all know that getting fans back is best for the benifit of all teams and if we don't do it now then we will lose our footballing culture forever.. it is hanging by a thread as it is..

    we all agree on the following:

    1.expanding leagues to play only twice
    2. making attending matches more accessible and flexible, including stadium requirements and pricing strategies (kids u12 go free to all games the best place to start for my money)
    3. Youth must be the future, SFA recognise that hence mark wotte and the introduction of the dutch u20 leagues and no reserves from next season. we do however need to work on retaining youth or at least maximising talent as assets.

    There is hope people! many realise this and are working towards it! I'm all for an arab spring if that's what it takes. i would also like to see SCOTLAND put back at the heart of our game not TV!!

    Regards to handicaps it is too contraversial. clubs should be left to generate crowds in their own way and that is where they should gain their advantage. of course celtic and rangers will be bigger but it doesn't take the gap to close all that much for other teams to make them sweat.. celtic and rangers are set to get poorer more so than the other clubs.

  • Comment number 31.

    Bigger crowds? I've read other posts on previous blogs and in newspapers that Scotland has more people per head of population watching professional football than most other countries in Europe including England.

    Busting up the 11-1 voting structure may be admirable but if anyone reads the interview with the StJ Chairman in the SoS this morning, they will see that there is no unified view among the so-called 'Rebel 10'. Their unity has been vastly over-stated by the likes of Yorkston.

    Does anyone believe that these 10 clubs have the only view of how to improve the game? I've not read one policy of theirs and not seen one view about what they would do, not a one. They are a myth and unfortunately they are supported by those fans who look at newspaper headlines and just want to have a go at the OF for the sake of it. They are largely the clubs who supported the Setanta deal (except Aberdeen) when all the market evidence said don't touch it and there is no reason to believe that they no any better than anyone else at present. In fact the Setanta evidence should only highlight how clueless these people are.

    Scottish football needs a compromise among the 12 not the return of 'tail wagging dog'.

  • Comment number 32.

    We often talk about sporting integrity. Arguably, that does not exist when very wealthy clubs can use vastly superior resources to outspend those who are less well resourced. It's not just a Scottish problem of course. Increasingly wealthy clubs in all leagues are distorting sporting integrity by buying success.

    Yes Jim you should berate the Dundee Utd Chairman at the earliest opportunity because it really is unfair that your club have more resources than the likes of Brechin and East Fife.

  • Comment number 33.

    Under the SPL there has only been Rangers and Celtic winning. In the old SFL 1st division, Rangers and Celtic did win the league most of the time, but Aberdeen, Dundee United and Kilmarnock also had periods of dominance.


    Aberdeen and DUtd won the league of 10 version of the SPL in the late 70's/ 80's.

    The old 1st Division was scrapped after Celtic's 9-in-a-row. Rangers and Celtic dominated most if not all of the time.

  • Comment number 34.

    Liquidation is inevitabe for Rangers.

    It is vital that any Rangers newco starts in the 3rd division. If it is allowed straight into the SPL that will be the final nail in Scotish football's coffin.

    Nobody will want to watch a rigged league. It would have all the credibility of that WWF wrestling nonsense.

  • Comment number 35.

    League reconstruction is a must if Scottish football is to attract more punters through the turnstiles. The present system of one up, one down allows mediocre teams in the SPL to take their foot of the gas as one team gets cut adrift at the foot of the table. There's too much of a sense of protectionism with regards to TV revenue among the SPL clubs at present and it's stifling the need for change.

    An expanded SPL with 3 up from the SFL and 3 down, where teams play each other twice is more in tune with what your average fan wants. Problem is, most clubs have crippling wage bills, so directors can't see past the short term.

  • Comment number 36.

    Did having a semi-competitive league really boost crowd numbers? I'm not so sure. We'll NEVER see crowds like that again, and that's down to many things.

    1. KO times were 3pm Saturday. Not 12:15, in Inverness.
    2. 60 years ago nearly everyone worked half days on Saturdays.
    3. There wasn't much else to do other than go see your team. It's what 'men' did. My grandfather actually supported both Dundee clubs.
    4. There was no live TV games, never mind any foreign games.
    5. I bet it wasn't the equivalent of £22+ to see an SPL match in those days either.
    6. The late-night dull 40 minute BBC coverage does little to promote our game.
    7. Good quality football. Unlike some of the negative rubbish on display now.
    8. Kids nowadays all 'support' English teams or wear Barca & Inter shirts, they aren't interested in Scottish football. We've lost an entire generation of fans.
    9. And how many people has Scotland lost due to emigration? Dundee alone has lost 30000 natives in 50 years.

    A club like Dundee will never get 24000 again for a league match but that doesn't mean we can't improve our game. We need to get back to pleasing the people, not Sky. Expand the league and bring back playoffs and a EURO spot for the LC winners, relegation from the SFL into a pyramid, we NEED a winter-break/Summer football-no arguments, a Super Cup like every other country (that would give you an extra OF match most of the time as well, for those who care), cheaper ticket prices and finally, bring back alcohol & a standing area! We've moved on since 1980, surely?

  • Comment number 37.

    Good blog jim.
    The ALLSVENSKAN SWEDISH LEAGUE started this weekend.
    A 16 team league where 10 of the current set up has won the title.
    Only 14 points seperated the top six last season,Helsingborg being champions.In fact only a few seasons back 5 teams could win the title with 6 games remaining.
    Play each other twice,bottom 2 relegated 3rd bottom play 2 leg play off v 3rd top of 2nd division.Season is from april to october played on lush grass from start to finish which helps quality of play which is better entertainment for the punters.The weather is very good for the majority of the season with little or no postponments.The punters are allowed to stand at most stadiums and can have a low strength beer in plastic cups of course.The league easily works around internationals like world cups,euros etc.The cost like most european leagues is cheaper than here.One of the so called bigger clubs IFK GOTEBORG has only won the title once in the last 15 seasons.We need to get some or all of these points on board now.Never mind endless SFA meets(DINNERS)about the way forward,the fans have been telling them for years what they want.

  • Comment number 38.

    #33 Rabo4
    You are right about your dates but they refer to the Scottish Premier Division before it broke away to form the SPL. To quote from Wikipedia: "On 8 September 1997, the football clubs in the Premier Division decided to split from the Scottish Football League and form the Scottish Premier League, following an earlier example in England, which came into force during the 1992–93 season. This decision was fuelled by a desire by the top clubs in Scotland to retain more of the revenue generated by the game. Originally, league sponsorship money was divided proportionally between clubs in all four divisions; after the SPL was formed, this was no longer the case."

    Only Rangers or Celtic have won the SPL, and only once were they split, with Hearts coming second in 2005/6. - here are the facts:
    Season Winner Runner-up
    1998–99 Rangers Celtic
    1999–2000 Rangers Celtic
    2000–01 Celtic Rangers
    2001–02 Celtic Rangers
    2002–03 Rangers Celtic
    2003–04 Celtic Rangers
    2004–05 Rangers Celtic
    2005–06 Celtic Heart of Midlothian
    2006–07 Celtic Rangers
    2007–08 Celtic Rangers
    2008–09 Rangers Celtic
    2009–10 Rangers Celtic
    2010–11 Rangers Celtic

  • Comment number 39.

    #33 Rabo. Rangers and Celtic did indeed dominate the First division for a lot of the time, but there was a very competitive period after WW11 until the mid-1960's. In that period, Rangers and Celtic never achieved a first and second placing together. However, there was only one year (1964/65) when neither Celtic nor Rangers finished in the top four. Here is how competitive the league was then:
    Season Winner Runner-up Third
    1946–47 Rangers Hibernian Aberdeen
    1947–48 Hibernian Rangers Partick Thistle
    1948–49 Rangers Dundee Hibernian
    1949–50 Rangers Hibernian Heart of Midlothian
    1950–51 Hibernian Rangers Dundee
    1951–52 Hibernian Rangers East Fife
    1952–53 Rangers Hibernian East Fife
    1953–54 Celtic Heart of Midlothian Partick Thistle
    1954–55 Aberdeen Celtic Rangers
    1955–56 Rangers Aberdeen Heart of Midlothian
    1956–57 Rangers Heart of Midlothian Kilmarnock
    1957–58 Heart of Midlothian Rangers Celtic
    1958–59 Rangers Heart of Midlothian Motherwell
    1959–60 Heart of Midlothian Kilmarnock Rangers
    1960–61 Rangers Kilmarnock Third Lanark
    1961–62 Dundee Rangers Celtic
    1962–63 Rangers Kilmarnock Partick Thistle
    1963–64 Rangers Kilmarnock Celtic
    1964–65 Kilmarnock Heart of Midlothian Dunfermline Athletic

    In 1964-65 Rangers were 5th and Celtic 8th

  • Comment number 40.

    Let me simplify this for you killietesco. Only 17 non-OF teams have won the Scottish title since 1893.

    Do we need a more competitive league? Yes
    Should TV resources be equally shared? Yes but at least 4 non-OF teams will not vote for an 'equal' share
    Will there be a 16 team league? No SPL clubs will vote for it at present because of debt, because 9 clubs voted for a Setanta deal that the market said would fail and so it did
    Should the voting structure be changed? Until someone tells us all how these 10 clubs will save the game only a fool would be convinced (see my comment on the Setanta deal fiasco).

  • Comment number 41.

    Apathy has been the scourge of Scottish Football over last three decades,a result of the top flight football league being treated as nothing more than a by-product of the Glasgow Championship.

    The current model means that a non old firm club accumulates 23% of points for the season against the old firm.
    In a 16 or 20 team league where clubs only play each other twice, this %age ould be reduced to 13% and 11% respectively. Any wonder why the Duopoly want to retain the status Quo?

    As long as the league is bereft of competition then fans of clubs around the country will not return.
    Competition attract fans, bigger attendances attract more advertisers and an increase in advertisers attracts television companies.
    That is the business model for a successful football league.

  • Comment number 42.

    Basic fact Jim, OF are allowed to try to get into Euro comps, on the basis of potential interest IE finances from stadiums & TV. Level the playing field, I'm all for it, but not if it means let's get everyone back down to the basic common denominator. Weaken the OF to mediocre, ( many in Europe feel they already are ) so other mediocre teams can challenge them. It's nonsense, the whole Scottish game has to improve.

    Can you name any current Scottish national player, that could replace those who took us to major tournaments. The Sass used to buy our players by the dozen, and we still had damn good ones to replace them. Scottish football as been in decline for a decade or 2.

    I do want change, I want better football in Scotland. Bigger league will just be more meaningless end of season games. Would love 3 up - 3 down, like EPL maybe play-offs. Fans of those clubs would have interest until final match, rather than we ain't going to make it, or we're going to make it anyhow.

  • Comment number 43.

    Obviously, we all want the times when Aberdeen, Dundee Utd, etc, put in a great challenge to the OF (and in Europe). The circumstances that helped, were when the rest of the teams had no choice than to also have a serious go at the OF. The threat of relegation was overwhelming, that a do or die scenario was very real. Points taken from the OF were no-longer seen as a bonus, but a necessity. Provincial clubs being hammered by scorelines like 9-0 (Celtic-Aberdeen), would be extremely rare.

    The only way expanding the leagues would be beneficial, would be to increase the threat of relegation. Otherwise, having too many meaningless games would only add to the problem of the other teams being happy to settle for second best to the OF (like now). How many times would Alex Ferguson and Jim Mclean teams be beaten by the embarrassing score lines, their supporters have had to suffer in recent times?

    The football directors don't have the confidence to plan for anything, other than to fill their pockets as quickly as possible. If a second rate, dull and boring league, where their teams can stagnate, playing second fiddle to the OF, means that they just have enough supporters to keep their pockets full, then so- be-it.

    Provincial clubs show in cup competition that they CAN and DO compete against the OF. The problem is, competition in league-form, no-longer exists. There is no need to beat the OF in the league. There is rarely need to even fight against relegation, as there is usually a team to act as whipping boy. I think we should once again make them all stand up and be counted.

    Make the leagues harder and more competitive (more relegation, promotion, play-offs), not easier and boring. Then we'll see a better product, worth investing in, fiercer competition in Europe, etc. I know the OF do their best in Europe but.., oh dear, I think they need sterner domestic competition to bolster their chances of no-longer being a complete embarrassment, 9 times out of ten.

  • Comment number 44.

    Make the leagues harder and more competitive (more relegation, promotion, play-offs),

    Just posted similar, that's what creates competition, a battle at bottom as well as top. 3 teams in 2 leagues fighting to go up or down. No complacency, by club or fans, it's not just interest it's a battle every game. If I was a fan involved in that, there would be nothing to keep me from the stadium in the weeks leading up to it.


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