The Last Drink In The Last Chance Saloon
12/07/2012 7,916 Comments
It is roughly seventeen months since this project started. Despite all of the revelations from this blog, and from other ‘new media’ outlets, little has changed in the world of Scottish football. This might seem a strange claim given that the largest football club in the country has become insolvent and now sits on corporate death-row awaiting its execution. However, the major institutions that feed on the blood of Scottish football fans: the SFA; the SPL; and the newspapers- appear to have learned little from events in this time.
They still believe that the people who pay their wages are imbeciles. They still dish out fatuous lies and peddle disinformation as if Sir David Murray was still in his heyday. The hysterical exaggerations and tales of impending financial doom should be transparent to the businessmen who fill most of the Chairman roles at Scottish football clubs. Anyone with even a few minutes of business experience will see through the lies of the Scottish football establishment. These scare stories are not the issue. It is the dangling of long requested changes in the structure of the Scottish game that will present clubs from both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League with a dilemma.
From their public statements, it is clear that the driving forces behind this attempt at league-rigging are SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan and SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster. Despite being paid to promote the Scottish game, they have spent recent weeks trying to convince advertisers and TV companies that their product is worthless without someone representing Rangers’ legacy playing in the SFL1 next season. It is as if Sevco Ltd was a panacea and that this new club will be guaranteed promotion to the SPL within a single season.
Let us be in no doubt. Scottish football faces a period of turmoil and some financial belt-tightening regardless of what happens in any of the upcoming votes. (If Servco Ltd are forced to start in SFL3, the nattering nabobs of the mainstream Scottish sports press will doubtless blame every player transfer and setback on ‘internet bampots’ and shortsighted fans of so-called ‘diddy teams’). The Scottish game became unsustainable and unhealthily unbalanced towards just two clubs. In an era when it is easy to watch the best football from every country all week long, we need to extract the cancers that have been devouring our game for over twenty years rather than battling to preserve them. Among the assorted symptoms of the illness facing our game are:
- Scottish football has failed to develop a single stand-out talent since the early 1980s
- Scottish football has been spending more than it takes in for far too long
- Scottish football has fallen far behind global standards in the quality of entertainment it offers
Scottish football had become dull and uninteresting for all but the fans of the two clubs that could entertain thoughts of ever winning the league.
There is a now a golden opportunity for creative minds to remake the game. Instead, we have intellectual pygmies telling us that everything in Scottish football is fantastic and must be saved at all costs. What is worth saving? Declining attendances? A terrible set of TV contracts that do not realise the full value of the Scottish game? A national team that cannot qualify for any international competitions? We have a game that is viewed with universal contempt for both its lack of technical quality and the lopsidedness of its top division. This is where our game finds itself almost three decades after the “Souness Revolution” started at Rangers. The false economies started by David Holmes, and placed on steroids by David Murray, eventually devastated all around it. Rangers embodied the ideas that financial might made right and reckless spending was the key to success. Their demise should be a cautionary tale to others to get their house in order. Instead, the Scottish football establishment wants to send the signal that if you are going to fail, make sure you do it on a spectacular scale: we will make everyone else carry you if it goes wrong.
Mr. Doncaster trained as a lawyer and has an MBA. If Scottish football was a case study at a business school, anyone submitting a paper that recommended crushing the last remnants of fairness in the game to prop up a failed old-order would not get a passing mark. Doncaster in particular is failing. (Funny that Messers Doncaster & Regan find it so easy to predict the effects of Sevco Ltd playing in SFL3, but could not use these same skills to anticipate Rangers’ implosion. Even when the aforementioned ‘internet bampots’ had warned years earlier of a crisis brewing at Ibrox, the men with the crystal ball today were unable to see something that was so obvious). When the dust settles on this disaster one way or another, one can only hope that Doncaster and Regan have absented themselves. It is clear that they lack the imaginations required to improve our game. Our hopes for restoring the thrill of Scottish football now rests on the men who run the clubs in the SPL and the SFL. We must hope that they have the backbone to stand-up to being bullied and the foresight to realise that all that is being dangled by Regan & Doncaster can be obtained anyway- without sacrificing the game and without the hired hands for whom this all appears to be just a job.
If fairness fails and Sevco Ltd is able to field a team in the SFL1 next season, it is for each fan to make an individual decision on whether it is worth returning to watch a game played with loaded dice. For those who do decide to go back (I am still undecided), something will still be missing in the game. An unfillable void will have opened. The men who will vote on this decision have to realise that they are not just voting on short-term revenues. They are going to irreparably alter the Scottish game whatever happens. Money will ebb and flow in football in proportion to the excitement and quality of the competition. If fans believe that there is no competition because a winner is preordained, money will leave and it will stay gone.
Trying something new. Bear with me if this turns out to be a bridge too far for my technical skills.