Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Scottish football: Reconstruction rivals

"The battle lines were drawn months ago and the main players have been digging the trenches.

"But listen closely and you will hear the first volleys being fired as Scottish football edges closer, yet again, to civil war."

So spake the BBC's Chris McLaughlin as the latest contributions emerged in the eternal "reconstruction of Scottish football" debate.

Scottish Football Blog Hampden
The Scottish Football League will announce its plans first: a top league of 16, a 12 team second division and 18 teams in the bottom tier. Celtic and Rangers will be invited to enter "colt" teams. And the SPL will be disbanded, the "big" clubs returning to the SFL fold.

"Haud yer wheesht" say the SPL. They've their own plans and they don't include being disbanded. Rather: a top flight of 16, an SPL2 of 12 teams and a third flight of 12 teams.

Forget our romantic notions of a pyramid structure, of a constructive dialogue involving all stakeholders - including fans.

Where are we after our strange summer, the McLeish Report before that and the hints that the SFA were building up to bang heads together to get things moving forward?

We're nowhere. It seems hot air doesn't fuel the engines of change.

On one side the SPL, as defensive of its territory as ever, on the other a newly emboldened SFL.

And never the twain shall meet.

Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals - The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln is a brilliant study of how Lincoln weaved different points of view into his presidency, to shape the America he wanted to emerge from its most tumultuous period.

From Barack Obama down many have adopted the book as a leadership guide, towering narrative history as self help manual.

Lincoln strengthened his grip on the White House and the country by drawing opponents of different hues into his inner circle.

Now I've no idea of reading habits inside Hampden and it is a churlish habit of football - this blog included - to hurl military descriptions at events on and off the field.

But for the same to happen at Hampden we must rely on the leadership of Campbell Ogilvie and Stewart Regan.

We must rely on those with different views to air them openly, without agendas, and be prepared to sacrifice their own ambition to build a better future for Scottish football.

What we're likely to get is the SFA abdicating responsibility for as long as possible as an increasingly bitter argument between the SPL and the SFA results in either the status quo or a bad fudge, our promised utopia replaced by the worst of both worlds.

A leadership vacuum filled by selfish bickering, the fans ignored, the hope of lasting, positive change ever more forlorn.

It wouldn't take Lincoln and his team of rivals to sort out Scottish football.

Unfortunately Screaming Lord Sutch would be an improvement on the current mob masquerading as "guardians of the game."

Scottish football is not doomed. Too many people care too much.

But nor does constructive change look likely any time soon. And the longer the spectacle remains bald men fighting over a comb, the harder the recovery will be.