Thursday, April 11, 2013

Reconstruction: Yes? No? Who cares?

Another week closer to the reconstruction that will save Scottish football.

Or another week further away from the reconstruction that will save Scottish football.

On Monday St Mirren poked their head out from under Neil Doncaster's blanket of SPL unanimity to confirm that actually they wouldn't be voting "yes" to the 12+12+18 structure after all:

"The concept of playing 22 games prior to breaking into three leagues of eight, including the middle eight losing their points gained in the first series of games, is not a system we see as taking the game forward in the long term. You will be aware that other countries have tried this system and have since rejected such a set up.

"We also feel that this system is not fair to fans who buy into their club by way of a season ticket, who are then unsure of what they are purchasing. It is also against the basic wishes of the fans for larger leagues as highlighted in all recent fan surveys."

Ross County are rumoured to be planning to join St Mirren on the naughty step, which led East Fife chairman, Sid Collumbine, to warn County's Roy MacGregor about the pressure he'll face:

"It is bullying, there is no question about that."

The "aye" camp roared to the defence of the proposals.

Stewart Milne called them "absolutely vital" for Scottish football:

"We believe it’s the right thing for Scottish football. We’ve been working on this for nearly three years now.

"We worked on the initial option of a 10-12 [structure] which we believed delivered all the things that would help Scottish football move forward.

"Unfortunately we couldn’t get enough support for that. We worked on this revised proposal over the last eight month along with reviewing all the other options."

Neil Doncaster, fresh from making a hash of releasing the SPL's post-split fixtures, wasn't for mincing his words:

"It’s really important that 
we don’t decide against all the benefits that can be delivered with a positive vote. At the moment, we have a scenario where, every season, any number of teams are playing Russian roulette because we have one team relegated from 12 into the financial abyss. I do not see that is in the best interests of the game.

"The money that is distributed to clubs in the Premier League, you get a tiny fraction of that within the SFL First Division. We need to solve that."

Armageddon in an abyss?

Kenny Cameron spoke with forked tongue in Inverness:

"The numbers just don't add up, so a vote against 12-12-18 this time round would be a vote for the same again. That's also true as far as SFL clubs are concerned. This is not a 'pick and mix' offer that is on the table but one requiring a straight yes or no.”

"The majority of these requests are delivered by the new proposals, a larger top league being the only omission, he said

"Some 85 percent of what fans asked for is being offered. But defeat for the new proposals could mean defeat for all the elements of change, which is surely a step backwards.

"If the SPL gets its fingers burned this time, having come such a long way, then my fear is that it may be years before we come so close again."

Threats, half truths, a certain willingess to play fast and loose with what the fans think.

A new dawn indeed.

"85 percent of what fans asked for." Really?

Watching your team in a league structure that you want, a league structure that you actually understand, only accounts for 15 percent of what you want when you buy a ticket?

I must be doing it wrong.

We're five games from the end of the season. Can nobody find the handbrake and just ca' canny?

Why are the proposals not "pick and mix?"

Why not push ahead where there is consensus and take time to reflect on the one issue that is really not convincing the paying public?

Why can't we disband the SPL and the SFL, create a new organisation and agree on a model for redistribution within the current set up for just one more season?

Why can't we let that new organisation decide on the new structure, rather than lumbering it with a both a fix and a muddle bequeathed by the dying SPL?

This is Scotland, current world champions of the 'interminably long navel gazing over a simple yes/no question' division.

What's the rush?

"We’ve been working on this for nearly three years now," says Stewart Milne.

They've been talking about it, stalling and enraging fans for far longer.

It's never been suggested before that a "yes" vote is required weeks before the end of a season.

Is 12+12+18 going to persuade sponsors to fling money at the game, the irresistible lure of a failed Swiss model run by an organisation that doesn't yet exist?

Kenny Cameron indicates that if we don't do what the SPL wants right here, right now they're going to pick up their ball and go home.

Maybe that passes for constructive debate in the SPL, an organisation so addled it can still use Neil Doncaster as its spokesperson.

It's not healthy that St Mirren and Ross County can dictate the future to every Scottish club. It's not healthy for any two clubs to be able to do that.

St Mirren and Ross County didn't create that system.

It's a difficult decision though: stop 12+12+18 and everything is off the table and the SPL, perhaps after ushering in hand selected teams for SPL2, will raise the drawbridge.

A new start in a house divided by SPL's intransigence? Or the SPL going it alone and let them eat cake?

Bullying? It looks like it. Bullied by the SPL, the failed experiment that was going to "save" Scottish football in 1998.

What will happen on Monday?

I don't know. But whatever way the vote goes don't hold your breath for a brave new world.