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No Bonus for the Game

I’m reading with complete incredulity that David Longmuir had a £100,000 bonus drawn into his contract with the SFL. Now don’t get me wrong, Longmuir has done some good things during his tenure. Sponsorship deals with Irn Bru and Ramsdens during tough times were a credit to him.

However £100,000 seems way out of proportion to the job he’s in.  Longmuir and Neil Donkeyster are now in a tussle to see who will be the new Chief Exec of the new SPFL.

As Keith Jackson puts it succinctly in this morning’s Daily Record, “Rome is burning. And the men in charge are fighting for the fiddle.”

The Absurdity of Scottish Football

Did anyone hear Stewart Milne, the Aberdeen chairman throwing his toys out of the pram in a rage at Stewart Gilmour, the St Mirren chairman for voting down the league reconstruction proposals? The voting structure of the SPL means that any new proposal requires an 11-1 majority (For the benefit of the Old Firm when both in residence of course)

Milne tried to get a motion yesterday where the voting structure would change to (only) a 9-3 majority being necessary. This would of course have swung St Mirren round because their declared reason for voting against the new proposals.

Wrong.

Gilmour voted against that too.

So it would seem that the new proposals fell because of the 11-1 voting structure and the failure to change it yesterday.

I cast my mind back a few months when the absurd 11-1 vote was last up for discussion. Of course Peter Lawell the Celtic Chief Executive was all for keeping it.

In this regard he had a staunch and vociferous ally.

Step forward, Aberdeen Chairman Stewart Milne!

Deconstruction Latest

SPL

Get the picture?

I attended the Raith Rovers v Dumbarton SFL division one game yesterday.

Starks Park Kirkcaldy is one of several monuments to the frankly barmy SPL. A 10,000 seater stadium which has never, and will never hold a capacity crowd.

Dunfermline, Livingston, Airdrie and Partick Thistle all have similar follies.

Yesterday’s attendance at Raith was just over 1,300.

100_1496

“Spread out and make it look busy”

Quite how this level of support is deemed sufficient to maintain a full time playing staff I just don’t know

And yet the administrators (sic) of the game in Scotland are running around like headless chickens precisely to try to keep clubs like the ones mentioned, full time.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who were second in the SPL at the time, attracted only 2,529 to their game against Kilmarnock in midweek.

Stark Choice

When business is tough, the first thing any sensible owner does is to try to maximise his income. Once every avenue and possibility for that has been explored, then he must look at his costs and try to modify them so that the business, by living within its means, can continue.

But We are All Crazy Turnbull Hutton….

However the path that Scottish football is on is to try to find a way for clubs like Raith to continue chasing a crazy, unattainable dream, and to continue living beyond their means doing it. The starting and finishing point of the proposed reconstruction in the game is apparently to keep the middle ranking clubs full time.

It won’t work.

It’s the economy stupid.

Re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

Rarely can the oft used phrase be so apt than when looking at what is happening in Scottish football.

Every so often when crowds are down, or several clubs have flirted with or gone into administration, or the SPL is all over by Christmas, or there is another season of European mediocrity, then the headless chickens in charge of the game here run around trying in vain to do something to improve things.

Invariably it involves league reconstruction and so this year is no different. As well as various tinkerings (three leagues to four, switch from ten to twelve and back again for the top league etc) there have been two sizemic reconstructions in my lifetime.

The first was in 1975 when the Premier league was formed. The structure went 10-14-14 from 18-19. A new club, Meadowbank Thistle were elected to make up the numbers.

Under the old system, two Scottish clubs (You know who) had won the European Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. Several other provincial clubs had reached the later stages of European competition.

Other than the quite spectacular feat of Aberdeen under Alex Ferguson winning the Cup Winners Cup, there has been no other European success for Scottish Clubs. To be fair, Dundee United reached the final of the UEFA cup and the semis of the European Cup and the Old Firm have had an appearance each in the final of the UEFA cup. However in the case of Rangers it was done on money which clearly didn’t exist.

The second big reconstruction was in 1998 when the top twelve clubs ‘broke away’ from the SFL and formed the SPL. This was to improve professional football in Scotland and ensure the future of the ‘big’ clubs. Since then most of these clubs have become financial basket cases, some have gone in and out of administration and one went bankrupt.

It’s hard not to sound like an old conservative harking back to better times. However I recall one of the pet hates of the media when I was young was the old league cup section format.

There were seeded groups of four teams. The top two teams would progress to knock out stages. I loved it because there was an opportunity to see different clubs from different levels competing against each other. In particular I can remember seeing Dumbarton beating both Hearts and Hibs in the competition in the 70s.

However the media got their way, the tired old format was consigned to history.

Well it would have been had the World Cup not continued with it or the Champions League adopted it in the 90s and stuck with it ever since.

Scottish football’s problems are not down to the need for reconstruction. Nor are they down to too few people watching the game. Per head of population more people watch football in Scotland than anywhere in Europe. The problem is that we are a nation of 5 million and our football is dominated by two clubs. Most clubs pay out far too much money in wages and there are at best, six or eight clubs here which can genuinely maintain a full time squad with the resources at their disposal.

No amount of reconstruction, splits, amalgamation of governing bodies or jazzing up of the game here can alter that.

Unless and until those at the top of the game here can address these matters instead of messing about with the league structure, the game here will continue to struggle.

If anyone thinks that reconstruction will mean bigger crowds for St Mirren, Motherwell or Inverness CT then they are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Fix the hole – don’t fart about with the furniture.

Quotes of the weekend

Saint Midden chairman Stewart Gilmour over the decision of the SFL to send Rangers newco to division three:

“This is horrific news for St Mirren Football Club. The consequences are terrible – catastrophic even. I just hope they realise the damage they have done to Scottish football. Five clubs in the SPL could be in administration within weeks – and we will have to do everything we can to avoid being one of them.”

Inverness CT chairman Kenny Cameron
For some, “this could spell the end of football as we know it”, he warned.

“Motherwell manager Stuart McCall does not expect to be able to make any summer signings as a consequence of the latest rejection for newco Rangers.”

Can these be representatives of clubs who 12 days ago in a bout of completely bogus sporting integrity voted not to allow Sevco 5088 into their exclusive club and expected the lower orders to sort out their mess?

Yes they can.

The SPL clubs meet again today.

Amidst the wringing of hands and the soiled underwear might there be another vote taken?

Quote of the Week

“Stick SPL2 where the sun don’t shine”

Henry McClelland, Chairman Annan Athletic FC

It is part of an inspiring statement which can be found here

As I understand things, there were assurances given that the full time first division clubs would not pursue or be persuaded by an SPL2 option. Furthermore I believe that there was information from the SPL that the settlement money is guaranteed for this season at least. These were the two main concerns I had about a no vote.

Whilst I think those at the SFL meeting required the judgement skills of Solomon and the forensic skill of a Philadelphia lawyer, I think that the right decision was made.

It is now up to the SFA and SPL to respect this democratic vote and not pull any surprises from the hat on Monday.

The buzz phrase has now moved from sporting integrity to 42 club resolution