Andy’s Sting In The Tale (01/03/24) “Style Over Substance”

Date: 1st March 2024


I’ve spent too long this week reading the Scottish Professional Football League ‘Independent Governance Review’ by Henderson Loggie.
And if Scottish football’s biggest problem and requirement is really sorting out the micro detail of how the SPFL board is set up then we’d be in a better place instead of managing and exacerbating a decline.

I was hopeful that there would be genuine strategic insight and direction for the good of our game in the report.
There wasn’t.
There is none.
Instead, I can tell you that the report has been cynically set up to be blindsided.
And the recommendations include ‘radical changes’ like increasing board position tenures from 1 to 2 years and in time 3.
Other radical ‘recommendations’ include board ‘away days’, ‘skills matrixes’, and the chairman having ‘one to one meetings’ with board members.
Stuff that should all be happening anyway and doesn’t need an expensive report or a meeting of members.

Behind the mid-Atlantic jargon that consultants seem to use the report has singularly failed to ask, or maybe has been prevented from asking questions like:
Why are 2 particular SPFL member clubs guaranteed a ‘Jack and Jill’ alternating seat on the board?
Why is the current SPFL voting system Putinesque?
Why are all SPFL members not just equal and treated equally?
And, why is there a recurring sponsorship and commercial underperformance?

A box ticking exercise? | theirishscouterTo be fair to Henderson Loggie, the report is what it was set out to be.
Job done guys.

But it is remarkably easy to read between the lines and see Henderson Loggie were heavily handicapped into simply tidying up some low-level dysfunctionality that spun out of Rangers conflict with cinch.
I wanted to be blown away by genuine new vision for the game but the dominant picture in my mind’s eye on my 3rd or 4th read was Murdoch the Chairman and Neil the boss re-organising the deckchairs on the Titanic and telling all the clubs, especially Rangers, that everything is just dandy.

School Board Closes their Doors – Hawley HeraldI’d love to be at the forthcoming SPFL meeting and find out what this really was all about.
But as per normal it will be behind the usual closed doors and most clubs will be polite and say nothing.
That will be a pity because:

Recommendation Number 10 in the report deserves some real attention.

“An exercise should be commissioned to produce an SPFL Business Plan”

In last week’s Sting I talked about being absolutely gobsmacked when I learned that the SPFL didn’t have a business plan, and needed a ‘recommendation’ from professional beancounters to produce one.

That explains why we have had 26 years of what we’ve had and why there are rebels seeking regime change.

Greybeards in Belek

1970s School Football Flashback: In my mind I was Günter Netzer | Away ColoursThis week I have been lucky enough to escape the grey for a very pleasant week losing golf balls in 20-degree blue skies with some old team mates.
Football brought us together and gave us all so much.
And it is no surprise that we all care deeply about the game and want to see it in a better place than it is now.

We all played football free as kids and for our schools.
Four of our wee group as teachers gave of their time and passion till the early 80s walk-away and in the rest of the group there are ex managers, a club chairman, an ex pro, and Mike, the best slide tackler I ever played with.

So we were talking in the bar about football and stuff and the wasted opportunity that is the Henderson Loggie Report and I asked them as individuals if they had the power what they would like to see changed in football.
What would they do if they were Neil Doncaster or Ian Maxwell or Murdoch MacLennan or Mike Mulraney?
And I qualified the question by saying I wanted real changes for the good of the whole game, not ‘board away days’, or ‘one to one coffee hours’ with the chairman.

What they said is this week’s Sting and our consultancy and recommendations cost the SPFL and SFA nothing.


Andy’s Sting in the Tale

1 .  ‘Jargon Free’ Greybeard Wisdom

The Scottish Premiership fixtures for season 2022/23 in full - Daily Record– Nobody sees the benefit of having a separate SFA and SPFL.
The consensus is the SPFL should be a department of a reset SFA.

– We need more women at the very top. We can’t poach Lise Klaveness from Norway but she and what she does and stands for is a beacon of light from the future. We need outside help to take our Victorian set up into something future proofed.
We need football fan champions like Ian Murray, Stewart Cosgrove, Mark Blyth, Val McDermid, Rose Reilly and others to explode away the paralysing self-interest and scope out the reset.
People would do it for FREE!

– The SFA should be run for the clubs, not by them and should be fully transparent.
A regulator might just be what is needed to force through the initial changes.

– The league structure should be revised as quickly as possible into two national leagues with regional feeders below.

– The bottom club in league 2 should be relegated automatically and the second bottom club should take the play off spot.

– There is no support for the ‘Conference League Wheeze’ with B sides which is still bubbling away and waiting for a relaunch. Instead, there should be a reserve league.

Football's plan to introduce blue cards 'is in danger of being SCRAPPED' after backlash from supporters - with lawmakers also 'not convinced' that the rule-change is needed in the sport | Daily– Dissent and cheating is a cancer throughout the game.
The four British nations and FIFA effectively control the laws and have failed abysmally to address player dissent, and cheating and diving, especially the constant manhandling in the box which would be a foul anywhere else on the pitch.
The proposed sin bin trial is seen as a positive but perhaps not going far enough because yellow cards as of now are meaningless.
Infantino has said no to blue cards for now but yellows need reviewed and IFAB is not just one man.
Rugby has also shown us a better way with only captains allowed to speak with the referee and immediate penalties for dissent.
Rugby manages time better too.

– Referees need more protection from players and spectators especially at grass roots.

– Schools football regeneration should be an immediate priority and interlinked with local clubs like happened recently between Musselburgh Grammar and Musselburgh Windsor FC.
There should be an urgent task force put on to this and the starting point is a fact find.
This is an area to work with commercial partners too.

– Big clubs should only be able to recruit local kids under and up to the age of 16 as happens in other European countries.
Right now football is building up and then damaging youngsters when they get dumped, as most do.

– All fans like banter and it adds to the atmosphere but the particular sectarian toxicity in our game needs to be addressed with new thinking and probably escalating penalties for early misdemeanours.

– There has to be a fairer distribution of wealth from the top and genuine long-term investment into the grass roots.

– All clubs should have to play a quota of Scottish youngsters, say under the age of 23.

So, thank you to the Spartans golf club for wanting to improve football and feel free to add to our wee list.

That’s it for this week.

Feedback input and wee stories welcome as always.


Andy’s Album of the Week

I’m writing this on the 29th of Feb.
It’s a day I used to hate, the day every 4 years when salaried employees are expected to work for free and nobody does anything about it.
Anyway that’s no longer my problem and I’m two finger typing on the 8th floor of a nice hotel looking over a constant parade of golfers donating their balls to a really sneaky water feature.
The kind that wheechs your ball away into the depths and renders the extendable ball retriever you got for Xmas a few years ago redundant.
And I’ve been playing ‘No Angel’ and ‘Life for Rent’ by Dido.
I love Dido and I’m smiling.

Posted in: Andy’s Sting in the Tale, Latest News