Friday, July 13, 2012

Scottish football: Destiny delayed?

The time has finally come for Scottish football to greet the future.

What should happen when the Scottish Football League clubs meet at Hampden today?

Problems and issues should be fully discussed. Threats made by other bodies should be retracted. Fears over the sustainability of the current incarnation of the newco Rangers should be allayed.

Any lingering ambiguity on the resolutions laid in front of the clubs should be resolved.

When the votes are counted Rangers newco should be free to start life in Division Three.

That should be an end to it. For better or for worse we'll all need to embrace what that means for the future.

Scottish football will need to be proactive, people in positions of influence will need to overcome the fear that has undermined the game these last few weeks and be brave, inventive and resilient.

That shouldn't be too much to ask. With the power of being a "guardian" of the game comes the responsibility of building a sustainable model for everyone involved in the game.

Plans for reconstruction should be put in place. Those plans should be borne from rational, constructive discussion rather than panic and self-interest.

The SPL experiment - a 14 year exercise in greed, delusion and failure - should be disbanded.

The governance of the game - the governance that allowed cowardice to leave the SFL clubs with this decision and then allowed bullying and threats to try and influence that decision - should be revolutionised.

The new business model, whatever hardships it might bring, must involve all clubs in all divisions. We've tried thinking only about the elite. It's ended in debt, anger on the terraces and a whopping corporate collapse.

The fans who have shown commendable passion - whatever some might think of their motives - should be engaged, not disregarded as an inconvenient revenue stream.

That's what should happen.

It probably won't though.

The last few days have had the feel of a bizarre list of classified results as clubs hailing from what Jonathan Meades called "football pools towns" have declared their voting intentions.

There has been an avalanche of statements favouring the Division Three option. It says much for the unpredictability of recent events that I'm far from convinced the actual votes will be cast quite as decisively as that.

I'm tired and weary of the whole thing now. But am I alone in thinking that today is just another staging post, another day labelled historic that probably won't resolve very much at all?

Whatever happens it's unlikely that the uncertainty, the vitriol, the self-immolation of the last few weeks will end.

Expect the interchangeable malevolent cop-incompetent cop double act of the SPL's Neil Doncaster and the SFA's Stewart Regan to continue.

Expect this grubby chapter in the history of both those organisations to continue.

Expect SPL chairmen, silently hiding behind the contrived integrity of their "no to newco" vote, to continue to exert influence in the search for the outcome they want.

Expect them to pretend these are principled actions, the actions of men who know that the only way to save the game is to save the fans of all clubs from themselves.

Expect their very vocal supporters to champion them as the real heroes, the brave few doing their best to protect football from the wishes of the majority.

Expect them to ignore their own failings and the remarkable failure of the last 14 years, an intolerable status quo that they are determined to preserve even as they try and cover the unmentionables behind a fig leaf of "positive change."

Expect all that and more.

Expect to be enraged over and over again.

Expect this miserable story to run for a few more days or weeks yet, with a little more of what Scottish football should mean to fans dying with every hour.

But don't expect Regan, Doncaster or their organ grinders to meekly accept the outcome of today's meeting at Hampden if it doesn't end with the result they want.

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