Posted in Football at 14:00 on 19 December 2010
But now we see it in all its naked self interest.
These proposals are not to the benefit of Scottish football as a whole.
They would do nothing – absolute zero – to improve the national team’s efforts to qualify for major championships.
They would do nothing to further the development of young players – quite the reverse: their appearance in first teams would be much less likely.
Neither would the base of the game be widened and strengthened. It would almost certainly mean the demise of the current SFL clubs who have little chance of ever reaching Division 1, far less the SPL. By and large these clubs live within their means and on occasion turn up players whom the bigger clubs have missed. They also have dedicated fans (albeit in small numbers) who are passionate about their allegiances and would be lost to the game if their clubs were to go under.
Any clubs who aspire to SFL membership will not gain from this either as very shortly there wouldn’t be an SFL to aspire to. The new SPL2 won’t let the likes of Spartans in, you can be sure of that.
What the proposals might do is ensure that the Old Firm continue to receive the lion’s share of television exposure – and monies – and entrench the current imbalance that is the true source of Scottish football’s malaise. (Two teams win most of the competitions and the rest barely get a look in.)
They will also make sure that the SPL1 and 2 is in fact a closed shop.
The SPL says it has canvassed thousands of Scottish fans about these proposals. Well; nobody asked me.
A discussion on the fan site Pie and Bovril did direct me to a survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com) after the proposals were announced, but this isn’t connected to the SPL, I believe. Just in case it is I urge you all to access this and opt against anything similar to an SPL1 and 2.
And as for regionalisation below the SPL, that would largely deprive me of the chance to watch my team as I no longer live in its area. At the moment I can attend lots of away games; under regionalisation that would probably change. From being a frequent attender at matches, I would become more or less a stranger to Scottish football.
The suggestion that SPL reserve teams should play in the regionalised league below SPL1/2 is simply outrageous. They had a reserve league of their own and disbanded it. Let them set it up again or else loan their reserves out to gain experience. Do not sully a totally different competition with teams you can’t be bothered to cater for otherwise. Foisting them on someone else is more than high-handed. It smacks of bullying.
I can’t tell you the despair that these proposals have engendered in me. Quite simply, without the prospect of promotion and relegation throughout the Scottish football system – I am by no means against a pyramid coming into being provided that there is a suitable league for demoted SFL clubs to play in – but, remember, for most of those located in West and Central Scotland there isn’t at the moment – then there is little point in carrying on.
The main things that would free up the current arrangements and lessen the staleness that abounds are either
1. immediately increasing the available promotion spots from SFL1 to the SPL, or
2. getting rid of playing teams four times a season (in other words increasing the size of the various divisions.)
That last would probably mean only one SPL league and two SFL divisions.
I do hope the teams at the top of the SFL Div 1 won’t be seduced by the mere possibility of games against the ugly sisters that they will go for this.
In fact, they’re probably going to do better in attendance terms if they are doing reasonably well in the SFL than if they were struggling in the SPL.
The response of the SFL to all this ought to be, “Two words; seven letters; three of them ‘f’.”