Chick Young's view on the financial state of Scottish football

By Chick YoungBBC Scotland football pundit
Cathkin Park
Cathkin Park, former home to Third Lanark. Is this where Scottish football is heading?

Accountants. Don't you just love them?

Their annual report into the state of the game should be wheeled in laid out in a hearse.

The latest, to be honest, states the bleedin' obvious: we are in a sad condition.

And allow me to parallel it with the sad state of the nation - there were nearly as many police officers on the streets of London this week as attended four Scottish Premier League fixtures last weekend.

It's Catch 22. Fans won't turn up with no superstars to watch: clubs can't afford big names because the turnstiles are rusting.

In the late 90s, I filmed a series for the late-lamented Friday Sportscene on BBC Scotland television called "Football at the Crossroads", which investigated the perilous state of our game.

Just to set the scene of the Tombstone Territory I reckoned the game was in even then, we did much of the camera work at the then wickedly overgrown and crumbling Kilbowie Park, once home to the dear departed original Clydebank.

But, if things were looking grim then, relatively speaking - compared to the current state of play - we were living in a kind of football Las Vegas.

Scottish football has proven to have quite the most remarkable power of self preservation. At one time, I even thought it was invincible, until, that is, they closed the doors at the wonderful Cathkin Park and on the blessed Third Lanark.

That was 1967 and I was sure that never again would I see a team in this country be laid to rest.

That was my dream in that summer of love, but the reality was that it was as likely to come true as songs of the day that called for love and peace and mercy in the world.

Wear flowers in my hair? I don't even have the hair now.

What is to become of us?

Our clubs couldn't buy their way into the Champions League - the very point, of course, because it takes big money to attract big players.

And the three remaining survivors representing this country face a nervous eight days trying to reach the haven of the Europa League.

At least Hearts can go down with the spotlights blazing and the full house signs up as they play the star-spangled Tottenham Hotspur in a tie that has "nothing to lose" written all over it.

But the Old Firm? They dare not stumble.

Celtic against Sion won't quite be the toddle in the park that the Henrik Larsson love-in against Manchester United in the Legends game turned out to be, but surely Neil Lennon has enough in his locker to undo the Swiss?

But red-faced embarrassment might morph to downright fury and foreboding if Rangers, who are currently being pestered by HMRC, tumble to Maribor and consequently miss out on the funds they desperately need.

And this, my friends, will be a tricky 180 minutes for the Scottish champions.

Their tax problems won't go away and it's a photo finish as to whether it is more urgent to sign a cheque - or a player.

But, as the people who tally books - or just stick their noses into the business of the Scottish game - for a living tell us, Rangers are not lonely souls in the financial wilderness.

Hope springs eternal. It always did. Even now, there are people who believe that Third Lanark - nearly half a century down the line - are just having a wee sabbatical.

And Motherwell, for one, boast of increased season ticket sales.

But the game does need to get real.

Madjid Boughera - mumping about the money Rangers offered him - might want to watch the news bulletins and thank his lucky stars.

Even the accountants will tell you - it just doesn't add up.

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