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Fool Time

I have been listening in recent days to the thoughts of Neil Doncaster (SPL chairman) and Stewart Regan (Chief Executive of the SFA) on league reconstruction.

I have become quite alarmed by what seems like a collective fixation, an obsession with maintaining full-time status for middle ranking clubs in Scotland. Hamilton Accies chairman Les Gray was on the radio at the weekend maintaining that if the wee clubs don’t fall into line with his thinking of everyone subsidising his vanity project, then Accies would possibly join a breakaway SPL2. Shortly after the interview, Les watched his team, along with 942 others (over 300 of whom were opposition supporters) being defeated by a part-time side.

Last night Sons visited New Douglas Park again and this time the crowd was 775.

It seems like Accies are a bit like Gretna, but without a benefactor slowly (rapidly) going broke by subsidising them.

What is it about club chairmen like Les? Haven’t they witnessed like the rest of us the vain attempts of middle ranking clubs at maintaining full-time staff and financial equilibrium?

Gretna, Partick Thistle, Livingston, Airdrieonians, Clydebank and Dunfermline have all either ceased or almost ceased to exist because of this policy. Morton, Falkirk and Raith Rovers have all had well publicised financial problems too.

Every single full time current middle ranking club in Scotland is on that list.

And yet club chairmen like Les Gray ignore the evidence.

They seem to all have embraced and jumped aboard a bus with no brakes bound for oblivion.

Donkeyster and Regan repeat the full-time mantra as if it were written in scripture. Indeed it is almost like some religious faith that is being placed in the thoughts of these guys, neither of whom had probably given much thought to Scottish Football before they were employed by it.

Neither will they have to pick up the pieces when they have gone and the consequences of their actions manifest themselves.

Here we have an ‘industry’ whose companies, individually and collectively, are in the eye of a financial shitstorm.

And yet all the discussion on how to move forward, focusses on how to maintain the high costs of a tier of clubs who are all pretty much struggling.

Donkeyster says they’ll get more money.

But from where?

The proposed new league doesn’t have a sponsor as far as I know.

Les Gray seems to think that his club will benefit to the tune of £250,000 should the proposals go through.

Last night’s box office at Hamilton, even if you include season ticket holders’ contribution, would not even have been £10,000. Just how will more supporters be attracted to watch a similar game next season just because it has a different label?

They won’t.

So Les wants subsidised. The £250,000 won’t be found down the back of a chair in the Hamilton boardroom.

The fans have consistently said that they want a bigger top league. Regan and Donkeyster say a sixteen top league is a non starter because there aren’t sixteen teams strong enough to compete at the top-level.

Yet they maintain there are 24 strong enough to maintain a fool time set up?

In what other industry would there be a market research which showed that the consumer didn’t like purple coloured baked beans and the industry responded by telling them it was purple or nothing?

I finish my rant with this point. Who is the better motivated player?

A full timer on £500 per week with a club struggling to pay that wage?

Or a player who has a job outside football paying him £500 per week and he gets £200 for playing part-time?

And which model would help the medium and long-term future of Scotland’s middle ranking clubs?


2 Responses

  1. Some excellent points there, Rab. I too think it’s madness.

    Here’s what I don’t understand. If all the clubs (including the SFA/SPL/SFL) all agree that the league structure needs one governing body, fairer distribution of what cash there is plus an opportunity to allow a pyramid below the professional leagues, why not just get on with it?

    The ‘all or nothing’ stuff that’s being rammed down everyone’s throat where the above 3 points are allied to, in my humble opinion, a bonkers league carry-on of 12-12 (3×8 after a handful of games)-18 is strange and baffling.

    Survey after survey after survey of supporters all say the same thing : bigger leagues, less games, better pricing and more competition.

    But, what do we/they know?

  2. All this just to get Rangers back in the top tier.
    What happens when the OF run off to another league as they wish?
    If 18 is good enough for the ‘diddy’ clubs why is 18 not good enough for the ‘big clubs?’
    No sponsor for this non existent league
    Forcing this through will mean less fans attending, not more.
    I have no easy answer, but at least I am not working for the SFA.

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