Saturday, April 24, 2010

A frightened moll wows

Another weekend, another SPL super six. Here's the last minute predictions:

The Bottom Six

St Johnstone v Aberdeen
Great to see the bottom six still getting live TV coverage at this stage in the season. Strange that ESPN are broadcasting the only one game that has absolutely no consequence in the relegation battle though. Home win.

Falkirk v Hamilton
Hamilton will be delighted to have got past the difficult second season syndrome while Falkirk are still scrambling for points and safety. The fixture list has come down in their favour but Falkirk still need to take advantage of that. Draw.

St Mirren v Kilmarnock
Big game this. I'm edging towards St Mirren going down but I'd not bet my house on it. Not even a doll's house. Neither of these sides seem capable of building up any momentum as they struggle to haul themselves clear of the mess. Draw.

The Top Six

Hearts v Motherwell
Both sides are still going for fourth place and a European trip. And both will have targetted this as a game to pick up points. For that reason I'd predict a scoring draw.

Dundee United v Celtic
I think second place is probably out of United's reach now. Given Celtic's season that is a rather depressing thought. They've certainly enjoyed a good season though and will be hopeful of halting Neil Lennon's (still rickety) bandwagon. Home win.

Hibernian v Rangers
The champions will retain their crown in this one. Away win.

The Prediction Totalizer: A confidence boosting four from six last week contributes to a confidence sapping 64 from 153.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The McLeish Report Part 1

Henry McLeish launched the first part of his much delayed report into Scottish football today?

Was it worth the wait?

I've not had time to consider it properly but he has at least admitted that the game is in desperate trouble. So that's a start.

Today's instalment focused on the grassroots. Here's how the BBC is reporting it:
And he urges the SFA, Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League to work together more closely.

He calls for summer football to be piloted at youth level and for the SFA to appoint a performance director to oversee a new network of academies and the development of youth and elite players.

"I have been greatly encouraged by the strength of feeling and diversity of opinion encountered during the process of producing this report," said McLeish.

"I hope that the recommendations will strike a chord with football fans throughout the country."

McLeish said he consulted a broad range of football interests, including those involved at the grassroots of the game, with questionnaires sent out to all professional clubs and 32 local councils, as well as meetings with government ministers, departments and agencies.

He also visited six SPL and three SFL clubs, the Dutch FA and Sporting Lisbon - and held discussions with SFA, SFL and SPL administrators and supporters.

McLeish described Scotland as "an astonishing football-loving nation" with one of the most fervent and loyal fan bases in the world but suggested that greater effort was required to match the country's ambitions.

His report highlights "serious weaknesses in our current approach which prevent the identification and development of talent and the tapping of this potential to produce world-class footballers and elite athletes."

"There is also evidence to suggest that a great deal of world-class activity is taking place in our recreational and youth development, especially in terms of the excellent approaches to coaching," said McLeish.

"But this is not reflected in either the provision of facilities and football infrastructure, the structure and governance of the game surrounding it, or any real sense of what a talent recognition and development model really needs.

"There has been considerable progress in grassroots, recreational and youth development over the last few years.

"Despite these significant achievements, it is clear that our national efforts still fall short of what is happening in other successful countries and against our own understandable ambitions.

"We are not tapping the potential and, as a consequence, there is a talent gap between the youth development at grassroots level and the performance and quality of players coming through to national and club level.

"In modern Scotland, the present provision is shocking relative to our ambitions for our national game and to the provision in other countries.

"In addition to the serious lack of overall provision and state-of-the-art facilities throughout Scotland, we have problems of availability, cost of use, poor quality, the chronic lack of access to school facilities outwith school hours and holidays and a crisis in relation to the lack of indoor facilities.

"Some progress has been made with new facilities in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Ravenscraig, but this is not enough."
As I've said before his recommendations - and I'm in full agreement that the long term footballing future of Scotland begins with a new vitality at youth level - cost money. Lots of money. Money that nobody seems to have.

He's made 53 recommendations. I presume he expects action on them all.

I'm not convinced. Here's George Peat:
"The Scottish FA realises the importance of improving the overall football landscape in this country.

"With Henry's guidance, we will help drive the implementation of key recommendations outlined to enhance the standard of our national game."
Is that all 53 key points? Or the few that For Peat's Sake and his SFA chums want to implement. The cheapest, the least uncomfortable, the ones that present the least threat to the SFA's luxurious status quo?

Might I borrow a phrase from Tom Nairn?

Scottish football will be free when the last SFA committee man is strangled by the last copy of the McLeish Report.

- This is all a but rushed I'm afraid. I predict I'll be returning to the subject soon though.

McLeish and the fans: Update

A bit more on today’s earlier post regarding the McLeish Report and the findings of the Supporters Direct survey.

James Proctor from Supporters Direct was kind enough to get in touch with a summary of the results. (They've got more on their website as well.)

The most striking thing for me is how closely a lot of the results (and there are some fairly overwhelming percentages involved) mirror a lot of the chats I have with other supporters, whether that be in the pub or through this blog and the Blogger's Manifesto idea.

I’d suggest, although this is purely anecdotal, that there is not only a consensus for change but that there’s also a lot of agreement about what that change should involve.

The fans care, they’re informed and their increasingly organised and vocal.

It’s up to the SFA, SPL and the rest to respond.

Here’s the introduction to the summary:
Two key themes come across strongly in the results; that football fans are disenchanted with the present league structure and that they feel disempowered by the current administrative set-up of Scottish football. In essence supporters know the game can be better but feel unable to influence the important decisions about how it is run.

By publishing these results Supporters Direct hopes to add the views of supporters to the current debate around Scottish football's future. Football fans are passionate and committed to the sport, are keen to see improvement in the way it is run and are willing to contribute both financially and as volunteers.

In a country the size of Scotland we must do what we can to allow talented people to be involved in the game, whichever constituency they happen to come from. This is why Supporters Direct believes that supporters should have a greater influence in the running of the sport. Adding the supporters’ voice to the existing pool of hard working people running the game can only be of benefit and help to reinvigorate the sport.
And the full Supporters Direct press release:
Football fans in Scotland have given their biggest thumbs down to the product they are currently seeing in a survey conducted by Supporters Direct, the collective voice of supporters' trusts in Scotland.

Over 1,300 fans of clubs at all levels of the senior game answered an on-line computer survey and the findings revealed that a hugely significant number of supporters are fed-up with the current league structure and they want to have a greater say in the running of the game.

The format of meeting opposing teams four times a season that is prevalent in all four senior leagues came in for the most criticism with a staggering 96% of fans advising that they would prefer not to play opponents that frequently.

Playing twice received 83% support and 13% even preferred an unequal three times a season. Just 4% of those responding to the survey went for the current option of playing four times against each other.

In addition the survey found that five out of every six fans would prefer a pyramid league structure with promotion and relegation below the Scottish Football League and over 90% would also like to see a streamlined administration with one body organising and running the professional game.

In addition 91% of respondents felt that fans were powerless to influence decisions and would like to see greater fan involvement in the running of the game.

Supporters Direct's Development Manager in Scotland, James Proctor said, “These results clearly show the depth to which fans feel disenchanted and disempowered by the current set-up of Scottish football. They think that there is a lot that needs to be improved but believe they are powerless to influence the required changes.”

“With the publication of the Henry McLeish report imminent, the message to football's hierarchy is that fans are passionate and committed to the game but want to see significant improvement in how it is organised and run. They have also stated powerfully that they want to be involved in those discussions.”

Proctor continued, “Supporters Direct would therefore welcome dialogue with the other bodies and hope that the publication of this survey, along with the debate around the McLeish report, can provide the momentum to bring about positive improvement in the game in Scotland.”

The survey, asked questions on who holds the power in football, what would improve the matchday experience and the fans views of regulation and club licensing. A summary report of the main findings is available at

Notes to Editors:
Supporters Direct in Scotland is the membership organisation for supporters' trusts. There are 31 trusts in Scotland covering all four divisions in the SPL and SFL and additionally one in Junior and two in non-league Senior divisions.

Supporters Direct in Scotland conducted an online survey, promoted through email and website links with Scottish supporters' trusts, to gain the views of a cross-section of football fans on a range of issues. During the three weeks that the survey was open it was completed by over 1,300 fans from clubs all across Scotland.

Key Findings

96% of fans disagree with the current system of playing opponents four times per season. 83% would prefer to play opponents twice per season.
The vast majority of fans (83%) want a pyramid league structure
91% would prefer one administrative body for professional football
91% agree that fans should have a greater influence in the running of the game

Headline achievements
34 Supporters’ Trusts
£3.5 Million investment in football clubs
15,000 members approx.
25 Trusts with shares in their football club
14 Directors on Football Club Boards
300 Volunteer Directors
2 Re-formed Clubs (Clydebank FC & Gretna 2008 FC)
Thanks to James for the information.


I made my podcast debut (or day-boo as Hazel Irvine would have it) on the twofootedtackle podcast yesterday.

Thanks to Chris, Gary and their guest Theo for the warm welcome.

I mainly rambled on about the SPL split and some of our other problems.

You can listen in all the usual ways as explained here: twofootedtackle

And please follow twofootedtackle on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook if that's your thing.

St Henry's Day

The wait is almost over. Henry McLeish will deliver the first part of his much anticipated report into the state of the Scottish football. Let's just hope he's not made a muddle.

I remain unconvinced. The leaked sections suggest he's looking for major investment. That might be needed but is it practical? Unless he's got The Great Soprendo on board I can't see where he's going to conjure the money from.

Nor have I ever been convinced that McLeish is the man to see the task through. We needed a dynamic report, a forensic analysis delivered by somebody with the charisma to insist on change. But there was nobody available so we turned to Hank.

The killer problem: Who the hell is going to implement the change? It's unlikely to be the dinosaurs at the SFA under the interim stewardship of George For Peat's Sake.

So watching with a sceptical but keen interest today.

And the need for change, the demand for some kind of major overhaul, continues to grow.

The BBC reported yesterday:
More than 1,300 fans from across 31 trusts in Scotland told the Supporters Direct survey that they want the league structure to be overhauled.

And 83% of those surveyed said teams should play each other twice a season.

"Fans feel disenchanted and disempowered by the current set-up," said Supporters Direct's James Proctor.

Of those who took part in the online survey, 13% said they would prefer sides to play each other three times a season and 4% said they were happy with the status quo.

Five out of every six fans, the three-week survey found, would prefer a pyramid league structure with promotion and relegation below the Scottish Football League.

And 90% would also like to see a streamlined administration with one body organising and running the professional game.

In addition, 91% of respondents felt that fans were powerless to influence decisions and would like to see greater fan involvement in the running of the game.
We're doing a lot of shouting. Is anybody listening?

Supporters Direct Scotland don't seem to have much more information on the survey at the moment but their site is here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Greatest Team

Decision time.

STV’s Greatest Team concludes tonight as Tony Roper reveals the eleven players and manager who have made it into the nation’s fantasy Scotland line up.

You may recall that I was ever so slightly sarcastic when I previewed the series. I’d still argue that the arbitary 1967 cut off point means that it should have been called The Greatest Team (…Sort Of) but I’ve actually enjoyed the programmes so far.

So a not bad show with a dodgy premise resulting in an essentially futile exercise. But there are worse ways to spend a Thursday night.

And, as promised, here are my picks based on STV’s shortlist.

Goalkeeper: Andy Goram

This is the only category where I can say that I’ve seen all the contenders play. And they’re all worthy of inclusion. Alan Rough I’ve written about before and will always defend against some of the lazier insults flung his way. That Craig Gordon is the only nominee still playing is testament to his ability and the reliance Scotland now have on him. But Gordon's not ready and Rough was steady but not straight from the top drawer.

That leaves the two old rivals. Leighton’s career was longer and his dedication to Scotland could never be questioned. I would have no hesitations about putting him in an all time eleven and will always remember his performance at Ibrox when we beat Sweden 1-0 in 1996. Simply outstanding.

But Goram, for all his faults, had an indefinable quality, a touch of genius that couldn’t be extinguished by his relative lack of height, his dodgy knees, his physique and his questionable attitude to living the life of a professional athlete.

For that reason Goram gets the nod.

Full Back: Danny McGrain

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of their footballer of the year award the English PFA released a book with a profile of all the award winners. They asked the surviving winners to pick their all time greatest eleven. Despite never having played in England McGrain was their top choice at full back. As the football cliché would have it, he’s the first name on my teamsheet.

Full Back: Tommy Gemmell

A toss up here between Gemmell and Sandy Jardine. You’d hardly worry about picking either of them. Gemmell gets the nod because of Jock Stein. Stein described him as “the best left back in the world.” That kind of puts my opinions in the shade. He also scored in two European Cup finals. Not many people can say that and it also shows that Gemmell could weigh in up front as well as getting the job done at the back.

Centre Half: Willie Miller and Alex McLeish

A tough one again. The contenders are all more than worthy of inclusion from the leadership of Billy McNeill and John Greig to the ruggedness of Gordon McQueen and the artistry of Alan Hansen.

But I’ve gone for the package deal. In the 1980’s Alex Ferguson pulled something off at Aberdeen that will never be repeated in the Scottish game. And Miller and McLeish were the foundation. Maybe others on the list would edge them for individual talent. But this, as STV keep reminding us, is a team we’re building. So we’ll build it on the Aberdeen pair.

Midfield: Billy Bremner

Diminutive, red hair, terrier like. The stereotypical Scottish midfielder might have been based on Billy Bremner but few have ever come along to match his quality. The terrier quality is perhaps too well remembered, the Charity Shield sending off, that picture with Dave Mackay and the Copenhagen night club sometimes cloud the memories of how good a footballer he was. You’d want him on your side in a fight but you’d also look to him play a constructive role in any quality side.

Sir Alf Ramsay, who nurtured a passionate hatred of all things north of Hadrian’s Wall, once said to Bremner: “You’re a dirty little so and so – but you can play.” And so he could.

Midfield: Graeme Souness

A complex man with an opinion of himself that borders on narcissism Souness is an acquired taste. But Scotland teams suffered when he didn’t play and as far as this selection goes that’s the only criteria that matters.

He liked a tackle and he wasn’t slow to go in search for revenge for any slight, real or imagined, but he could control games with a coolness that has eluded so many Scottish players. Scotland teams, it is said, often suffer from a lack of belief. That wouldn’t be true of any dressing room influenced by Souness.

Midfield: Jimmy Johnstone

Another diminutive red head makes the list. Give him the ball and watch what he can do. It’s a simple enough tactic but it might be all a manager needed to say with Johnstone at his disposal. They're enjoying a resurgence of late wingers but went through a period of being dismissed as a luxury item that teams could simply not afford to accommodate. Surely that would never be said about Johnstone who used his position on the flank to become a fundamental part of Celtic’s greatest ever team.

He’d take a kicking, pick himself and get on with it. They don’t make them like this anymore. He struck up a friendship with Robert Duvall late in life: an incredibly bizarre development that somehow seemed entirely in keeping with the man Jinky was.

Midfield: Davie Cooper

Maybe this is my luxury pick. And he gets the nod over Jim Baxter which will surprise some. But Cooper was laidback, modest and a fantastic footballer. There’s not enough of that around anymore. He’d be out of place in the modern game – he was hardly the sort of player you expected to find in Scottish football in the 1980’s – but he’d still be magnificent. And I don’t care if he couldn’t tackle. Souness and Bremner can take care of that.

Cooper also scored what has been voted Scottish football’s greatest goal in the 1979 Drybrough Cup final:

The fact that the only footage of it comes from such a dodgy angle has enhanced that status; it is football's answer to a bootleg of Spike Island or Hendrix at Woodstock. It was also a fitting legacy for the late Cooper, a humble genius – no hyperbole in the use of the word 'genius' here – who wowed Ruud Gullit, and who Graeme Souness thought was more naturally gifted than even Kenny Dalglish. Brian Clough famously noted that there was a reason why God didn't put grass in the sky. If he'd seen this goal, the great man – and God – might have had a different opinion.

Striker: Kenny Dalglish

The best of the best? Possibly but that’s an argument for another time. Already a Celtic legend when he signed for Liverpool, there were those at Anfield who worried that he’d struggle to fill the gap left by Kevin Keegan. It’s safe to assume that they no longer cling to that view. He was even world class when using his backside.

Not convinced? Try this:
Liverpool manager Bob Paisley paid tribute to his star signing, saying: "Kevin was quicker off the mark, but Kenny run3s the first five yards in his head . Of all the players I have played alongside, managed and coached in more than forty years at Anfield, he is the most talented. When Kenny shines, the whole team is illuminated."

Liverpool and Scotland team mate Graeme Souness was no less stinting in his praise. "I never saw anyone in this country to touch him," he said. "I can think of only two players who could go ahead of him – Pele and possibly Cruyff. He was better than Maradona, Rummenigge or Platini. I would say that on his day he was, without any shadow of a doubt, the best player in the world."

Striker: Denis Law

Ah Denis. Denis with the dodgy accent, dodgier anecdotes and even dodgier hair. But what a player. Of all the players that I’ve selected the one I would most like to have seen play in his prime is Denis.

With George Best and Bobby Charlton, Law formed a team within a team at Manchester United. The Holy Trinity that could transform a good team into a fantastic team, three very different players all touched with their own brand of genius. He gets in this Scotland team like he’d get in any Scotland team.

Manager: Jock Stein

I don’t need to repeat that I don’t think STV should have included Walter Smith or Alex Ferguson in a list aimed at finding Scotland’s greatest manager. So that leaves Jock Stein battling it out with Willie Ormond. Jock gets the job – although I’m not sure he ever felt comfortable as an international manager – with Willie as his assistant. They’d probably have liked having these players to choose from.

Dancing to a different tune

A new front has broken out in the tedious battle for one-upmanship between Rangers and Celtic.

It seems the Old Firm are now intent on invading what the young people used to call the hit parade. But now probably don't.

Rangers are launching Tina Turner's (Simply) The Best on a music buying public that probably doesn't care all that much.

Having been left behind in the SPL title race Celtic fans are determined to reach the toppermost of the poppermost before their arch rivals. To this end they've launched a counter campaign aimed at installing Gerry and the Pacemakers at Number One with You'll Never Walk Alone.

I don't go out much in Glasgow so I'm not sure where this slightly backward attitude to 1980's reinventions of American soul singers or sub-Beatles Merseybeaters comes from but I'm not convinced that either campaign will meet with much success.

Thankfully we've still got time to say "a plague on both your houses," time to rise up and get a true classic to the top spot.

Ladies and gentlemen, the campaign starts here:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where is everybody?

A report in Rupert Murdoch's S*n today about SPL attendances this season.

And, surprise, it doesn't make for a particular cheery read:
Figures calculated by the SPL up to the top-six split showed Hearts are one of just THREE teams whose average attendance has gone up this season.

Kilmarnock and Falkirk have shown marginal improvements, but for other sides the attendance figures make grim reading.

Celtic's average gates this season are down by more than 11,000 and Parkhead was half-empty for the visit of Hibs last weekend.

Aberdeen, Dundee United, St Mirren and Hamilton have also seen major drops, while Hibs and Motherwell made smaller losses.

Even Rangers, despite going for their second successive title, are being watched by an average of 2,000 people less than last season.
These statistics need more analysis than I've got time to do at the moment. But a quick check reveals that Hearts' growth still leaves them down on where they were a couple of years ago.

And Hibs are now well below the "break-even" figure that the club said they needed to hit a couple of years ago. Although having only three stands for part of this season is partly to blame.

Dundee United's drop would seem to be the most worrying - this is a club enjoying their most successful season for years with the press gushing about the belief at Tannadice. For those who turn up anyway.

Reasons for the slump? Not really got time for that either because there are a hell of a lot.

But I will jump on my favourite hobby horse (one of them) and say that the SPL needs to return to clubs playing one game at home, one game away.

Going to games is a habit (and it's difficult to get people back into the habit once they've gone) and a home game every other week is a far easier pattern to develop than the mess of a fixture list we've got just now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Prize guys

Back slapping all round as the Clydesdale Bank announced the winners of their Premier League awards for the season:

Manager of the Year: Walter Smith

Player of the Year: Methuselah...not really. David Weir

Young Player of the Year: David Goodwillie

Goal of the Season: Anthony Stokes v Rangers

Save of the Season: Artur Boruc v Hibs

There is a name in there that still makes me snigger every time I hear it. There's just something inherently, if immaturely, funny about the name Walter...

Boruc isn't the only winning Celt this week with Robbie Keane picking up an award as Celtic's Player of the Season, as voted for by the supporters.

Keane's scored a lot of goals since his arrival, although I feel his overall impact has been muted, but it says much about the season that his 13 or so games have been enough to take the award.

In other news the SPL has signed a new sponsorship deal with Clydesdale that takes them through to 2013.

Nice to know that the league will still have a sponsor even if half its teams go bust.

Brave new world

So I was reading The Guardian's Liberty Central blog yesterday - this blog's wishy-washy, lefty liberal credentials are so right on it's hard to believe I grew up the tough way on the mean streets of, eh, a leafy East Lothian commuter town - when I came across this:
Three weeks ago, the east Lancashire derby between Burnley and Blackburn Rovers took place in normally tense conditions, in which fans from both sides were isolated before and after the fixture at Burnley's ground, Turf Moor. Trouble after the match was reported in the media with Superintendant Terry Woods, of Lancashire police, issuing a standard statement about a few troublemakers. "Unfortunately we have had to deal with some disorder inside and outside the ground," he said. "However, the operation that is in place has enabled us to successfully deal with those pockets of disorder rapidly."

Yesterday, the Police State website publicised a video that shows shocking levels of violence by the police and which certainly puts a different slant on what actually happened after the game. Officers are seen wading into the crowd with batons flailing. It is only a 40-second video, but the fans did not appear to be presenting a violent threat.
As far as I can tell it was only really picked up in match reports, mainly in an "unforgivable crowd trouble" kind of tone, and was pretty much ignored elsewhere.

I don't know the rights and wrongs of this, who was to blame, who instigated it. The video does look like certain policemen are at least on the brink of losing control, although it's impossible to know what went before.

It's a reminder though that the global shininess of English football's brand continues to hide some ugliness.

And it's a warning to everyone involved with football that we can't be too complacent if we want to avoid a return to the dark old days.

If, and it is a big if, the police were to blame then it has to be addressed as it will simply increase tensions and make games more difficult to police. If, and again I stress if, it was fans that caused all the problems then action has to be taken against them and the club.

This is the video:

Flash Gordon

Is that a gloom descending to replace the cloud of volcanic ash?
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Yes, he's gone. Gordon Smith, who swept into the SFA with the scent of revolution, has abruptly departed under the stench of underachievement.

Is there are any mourning?

Not so much, although reports of a party round at the Winters' house remain unconfirmed.

There is much tittle-tattle. Maybe we're all now programmed to think like tabloids, the very mention of "personal reasons" in a resignation brings out the worst in us: "What's he done?" and "Who's he done?" were common reactions yesterday.

The rather more mundane matter of elderly parents seems to be the reason, or at least the catalyst, for this departure.

Maybe we'll find out more in the SFA statement tomorrow. Maybe, this being the SFA, we won't.

Boozegate and Burley will dominate discussions of the Smith era.

That's understandable but his real failure was to deliver any real (horrible, hijacked, now meaningless word alert) change.

Passionate about summer football and trial by TV he may have been. But he failed to even bring about proper discussion on the issues. The McLeish Report, built up to be the blueprint for revolution, lies half read on the desk he has just cleared.

As a former footballer and pundit Smith enjoyed a higher profile than any of his predecessors. Yet he seemed incapable of turning that into something positive, rather he became the lightning rod for every controversy in the game.

His handling of the appeals procedure, including a strange attempt to hide behind a FIFA rule that doesn't exist, was one of the final acts of a tenure that brought failure and ill feeling but very little success.

All his fault? Probably not. Craig Brown said that he was surprised by the news because he thought Smith was "settling in well."

Now I'm a stranger to the world of Chief Executives. But three years in the job seems a hell of a long "settling in" period. Nobody knows the SFA better than Brown and his comments would seem a tacit admission of how agonisingly slow the organisation takes to change.

Maybe Smith was frustrated by his failure to hurry the blazers towards the kind of changes he felt were required. If that is the case then I hope he speaks out. A noisy resignation could still do more good than his time in charge. Go on, Gordon, this is your Geoffrey Howe moment.

What next? The SFA blazers will need to pick a new man. His first act in the job should be to accept the resignation of every committee member.

Smith had the style but lacked the substance. Now it's time to start from scratch.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Deja vu

Glenn Gibbons' articles are always worth a read, not for nothing was he dubbed Scottish football's Poet Laureate in Graham Spiers' much missed Scotland on Sunday diary.

Couldn't help but notice that his Observer article this week seemed a bit familiar though:
Although "league reconstruction" had, improbably, become a more common phrase in Scottish football than "are ye fuckin' blind, ref?" in the previous dozen years, the terms under which the rebels were allowed to depart the SFL would ensure one more transformation.
Could it be that it jogged memories of his Scotsman column from a couple of weeks ago?
There was a time when "league reconstruction" was among the most frequently-used phrases in the Scottish vocabulary. It began in the early 1970s and was born of dwindling attendances as the boom years immediately following the Second World War receded into the past and football was challenged for the leisure time of the populace by other diversions.
Not a bad gig this journalism lark.

But it's hard not to agree with his conclusion that change doesn't guarantee success - although I suppose the argument could be made that most of the changes to date have been handled with the clumsy incompetence that passes for football administration in Scotland.

He also notes that most SPL managers have never supported the split, a format that exists for financial not footballing reasons.

Where do we go from here? Glenn's assessment - nowhere:
In the event, no change is likely, because the Old Firm's own insistence on an 11-1 majority vote being required on such matters has backfired, with at least four, but more like six, members favouring the status quo.
I'd disagree. These clubs have survived for a century or more in a country that really shouldn't be able to sustain them. They adapt to survive. If they are suddenly standing perilously close to the abyss, I think we'll see them bring about change quite soon.