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Reconstructed Argument

So the radical plan to shake up Scottish football was unveiled yesterday by Neil Doncaster, chairman of the SPL.

He sounded like a politician when he was being quizzed about it. I may paraphrase slightly but Doncaster’s synopsis was roughly ‘It’s not a plan yet indeed it’s not even a proposal, it’s still an idea which will be put through rigorous consultation and everyone will be invited to submit their views’.

This is the kind of pish you hear when those in charge have decided what’s happening.

So lets look at what’s being suggested:

A top league of ten. Well no surprises there, there has been a top league of either ten or twelve since the mid 70′s. It’s been twelve for the last few years as a sop to the SFL for the formation of the breakaway SPL in the late 90′s.

An SPL2 of ten teams. If I’m reading things correctly then these ten teams will share the TV money previously enjoyed by the two clubs who will shortly be booted from SPL1

Then it gets interesting. The rest of the clubs will play in a regionalised league set up along with the reserve/under 19 teams of the SPL1 clubs.

Yikes.

The problem is that the lower league chairmen may actually go for this, attracted by games against Celtic/Rangers/Hearts/Hibs lite.

I look forward to the debate with interest.

One thing is for sure though, the wee teams supporters will be agin it.

If it happens I may have to find a permanent hook for my Sons scarf.

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16 Responses

  1. I don’t think you’ll be alone Rab in terms of finding a new home for your fitba’ scarf.

    The proposals are madness, utter madness and if implemented (still a big ‘if’) would see the death of Scottish football.

    Dramatic? Perhaps, but some of the ideas are just plain bonkers.

    There won’t be a rise in crowds with SPL reserve teams playing in the lower divisions, long term. And tehre are far too many problems with the whole idea over and above any benefit gained.

    As I said, bonkers.

  2. The whole thing appears led by the OF. That means it suits them and stuff the rest. Change is required and an 18 team league is the only way forward, sharing gate money. This just would not suit the OF and possibly Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen.
    How many SPL clubs would field a team in the lower league? Four, possibly six, and this may be OK for some clubs but appears to distort the whole purpose of the league. Better a smaller reserve league in my view.

  3. The very notion of fielding reserve teams in a national league makes me boak and instantly devalues the game.

    Interesting times ahead, methinks.

  4. The whole reconstruction debate is bound by the seeming necessity for there to be four OF games (and to a lesser extent Hibs-Hearts) a season to televise. That basically is the reason that a sixteen or eighteen team top division is a non starter.

    Pity.

    • Isn’t Scottish football a ‘non-starter’ no matter how much the pack is shuffled.
      The demographics ( 2 HUGE audiences, about a dozen average audiences, and the remainder being bijou tiny audiences) and finance skewed accordingly.

      Titanic and deck chairs again…….

      Personally I would like to see the SPL expand to sixteen or eighteen rather than contract to ten.
      This opinion is enhanced by my Beloved Reds currently sitting in twelfth position.

      The solution is of course for a nation of our size is to cut the capacities of Ibrox and Parkhead in half and redistribute the fans displaced back to their local grounds and let them be proper football fans. That’s what Kim Jong-il would do

  5. Ben Lo,

    Here’s an Email I’ve sent this evening to a Herald football journalist…..

    Dear Graeme Mac Pherson

    I seldom respond to newspaper articles but a facet of your piece in today’s Herald Sport caught my eye. In particular, your penultimate paragraph in which you make a rather partisan inference regarding those who would oppose the ‘fairly sensible’ idea of SPL clubs fielding B teams in the SFL.

    Perhaps the media misunderstands the depth of feeling amongst the lower order clubs and their supporters towards this suggestion. Speaking as a Dumbarton fan who has missed circa 20 home fixtures since January 1967 and as a founder member of The Sons Supporters Trust I can state categorically that should this situation come to pass then my involvement with Scottish senior football dating back to 1960 would cease immediately, full stop.

    Quite simply, if and when the game here surrenders the democratic principle of ‘one member, one vote’ then it is time to chuck it. Not only that, but the idea that, for example, Old Firm second strings would trail in their wake some sort of economic benefit is risble in the extreme. I believe that you are a St Mirren man, so we both know a bit about staying in towns where busloads depart for Glasgow of a Saturday and if experience has taught me anything it is that fans of big clubs seldom step down the divisions to watch their football. It’s a trite argument but a in reality non-starter.

    And it is also an extremely patronising suggestion, the idea that teams like my own, Montrose, Stenny, Cowden et al should be treated as mendicant serfs reliant on crumbs from the rich(er) man’s table. Hell’s teeth, Motherwell’s average attendance is hardly stratospherically greater than the Sons’. We’re not talking La Liga or the Bundesliga here, despite repeated allusions.

    Of course the whole current debate about the Scottish game’s future is something of a phoney exercise as we all know in our heart of hearts that we can never arrive at a format which address the imbalance created by the OF whilst simultaneously squaring the television circle. For commercial amongst several other reasons I don’t expect the media to address these important and dare I say obvious issues any time soon but rest assured Graeme that there is a large constituency of real football people out here who have just about had it with our smaller clubs being held responsible for everything from early European exits to being a continued burden on Scottish football.

    It may well be that we end up with SPL1 & 2 and the SFL is reduced to a much more limited concern. So be it, as long as the latter survives we’ll at least have something the ‘big league’ never will have – genuine competition.

    • Fantastic e-mail FC. I dropped a similar note to Mr MacPherson too – not as good as yours, mind you – based on his assertion that opposition to ‘B’ teams would not be sensible.

      There is no doubt that the Scottish game needs some sort of reform and I only hope, and it is only a hope, that supporters across the spectrum of the game in our country are properly consulted.

    • I could pick any comment on this thread really – I have nothing to add really. You do pick up on one of my pet peeves on how small clubs get blamed for dragging Scottish football down.
      I hope it doesn’t reach the stage where you – and others like you – are lost to football.

  6. What happens 10 years after implementation of this plan when the bigger clubs decide there’s no benefit to them playing in the SPL 2? Where they could find themselves forming the same top six but without ever being rewarded with promotion? Who will that leave behind?

    The SFL should not be reduced to a development league for the SPL teams.

  7. This subject does not merit a dignified response
    Madness
    If the SFL have any balls they should just tell them to Fuck off you left us

  8. Some fantastic responses. Ken, I agree entirely with (the serious part of) your post and as someone who doesn’t just support the Dons but is as likely to go to a game at Balmoor or Fraserburgh, you have a well rounded view. I wonder though if we need Kim Jong Il when we have Neil Doncaster?

    Excellent email Ferncake.

    I do wonder in the SPL will put this forward as a take it or leave it option to the wee clubs and in the case of the latter they will pull the drawbridge up for promotion or relegation to their elite. If that’s the case then the wee clubs should tell them to stuff it.

    It wouldn’t be a clear cut decision for some I’m sure.

  9. Curiously enough, if we are approcahing the endgame then I feel that the SFL is in the stronger position here.

    So many tinkered attempts have now come and gone that even the most optimistic cheerleader of the bigger clubs must privately realise that no shoe is ever going to fit the Ugly Sisters as long as they remain in the room.

    Clubs like QoS, Morton, Raith, Ross County etc., will need to think very long and hard about the merits of financially over-reaching themselves just to be in the big boys poker game.

    So then, isn’t it time that the SFL went on the offensive and invited everyone who wishes to be part of the Scottish League to pledge allegiance to that body, with one simple caveat; the SFL pulls up the drawbridge on the SPL and the two bodies run in parallel, with teams only ever meeting in the Scottish Cup.

    And yes, I’m being deadly serious. There is no trickle down of cash and most SFL clubs have learned to budget to suit their means. Paradoxically most who have suffered near-death experiences – Partick, Livi, etc., – have tried and failed to keep up with the big guys.

  10. I think it’s time the leading SPL clubs told the OF to leave. ‘You care nothing for us so we are dumping you’ should be the message. Give Scotland back its football.

  11. In the interests of fairness I should intimate that I received a very courteous and considered reply from Graeme MacPherson of The Herald.

    I won’t reproduce it here but reading between the lines it is interesting to note that the personal views of journalist sdo not necessarily dovetail fully with the editorial line being followed by their paper(s).

    We all suspected that anyway, but isn’t it dispiriting that any publication or media outlet which deviates too much from the establishment line will have the full wrath of the bullies to contend with ?

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