Date: 13th June 2020
This week’s chairmans blog from Andrew Smith:
Who needs football to be entertained?
No matches but four main stories have dominated the mainstream press, radio and BBC Scotland.
The first is straightforward and great news for us all.
Pre season started for some
Two clubs so far, Celtic and The Staggies, were back training on Thursday having purchased Covid 19 test machines from the Far East for a reported £35,000 each. They and our other 10 clubs in the current (and more likely than not 12 club division) are gearing up for an August start, probably behind closed doors, but with subscription TV options.
No other football or team training is allowed at present.
Thank you James once again….
Last week we collectively thanked James Anderson and his group for the incredible much needed donation. Now we also know the base sum has been channeled to an existing SPFL Trust to allow the amount to be increased by the “Gift Aid” Magic Money Tree.
One chairman’s insight to me he was delighted that the amount was now larger but said what had started off as a “no strings attached” Covid 19 gift to the 42 member clubs now seemed to have “conditions”.
One other chairman of a club in a sub SPFL feeder league made the valid point that his club undertakes significantly more community work than most clubs in the SPFL and asked why the very generous gift was not available to help sustain the good work undertaken further down the chain.
….“Immensely welcome, much needed, but also embarrassing”.
That’s a real quote from a club and I agree wholeheartedly.
The Covid Pandemic has highlighted real issues in the business that is football
In the constant battle to be as high up the tables as possible to please not just the owners but also us, the ever-fickle fans, our clubs have historically spent every last brass razoo they have been able to muster, and more.
This has left very little put aside for a predictable rainy day yet alone anything near enough for a full scale unforeseen depression.
It means that right now, in a time of unprecedented strife, our game is found wanting with empty cupboards and we have a sport where many of our clubs are running on fumes.
Furloughing has helped but the reality is football clubs will be well down any list if/when the SFA/SPFL go cap in hand to the government for extra help.
League reconstruction and Monday’s deadline
After the Budge and Gray task force proposals we had tried to help with were consigned somewhere into some very long Hampden grass.
But like number 23 buses we now have another two proposals (at least).
One from Neil Doncaster is still alive at this eleventh hour for four divisions of 14, 10, 10 and 10.
The other was from Rangers and broke last week courtesy of the BBC’s Tom English.
As I write this I hear on the radio that Neil Doncaster has asked for a “by 10 am” on Monday response. Fair enough and I hope it gets the backing of the members. Just please don’t ask me about how or when Dundee will vote on this one after all the fun we had at The Good Friday Disagreement.
The Rangers proposal was to increase the top division to 14, have a middle division of 14 and a bottom division of 18 including 4 extra clubs, Rangers and Celtic Colts, Brora and Kelty.
Well done first to Rangers for respecting the pyramid, more on the Colts proposal below.
Our recent FanQ research reinforced the fact that the majority of Scottish fans strongly favour permanent reconstruction with an end to 4 matches against other teams and larger leagues.
You also want the pyramid to be enhanced and respected and felt it was wrong to relegate members like Hearts, Partick and Stranraer.
The recent courtroom verdict in France suggests their courts feel the same.
The Rangers and Celtic Colts proposal
I have been told this is unlikely to go ahead but it was indeed a hot topic of conversation for few days.
The idea of our two biggest members having two teams in the SPFL and paying to “buy” their places is interesting.
I am wary of it but haven’t come to a point of view yet.
We will at some stage take this to the fans but in the meantime here are some comments I’ve heard from people it might directly affect.
“There is no doubt that every single club in the bottom divisions would like a more even spread of the money in our game but that will never happen”.
“The amount of money in the proposal would always be welcome but it’s not going to be game changing, Andy, and will not happen”.
“There is a real revolution happening at the bottom end right now with I can’t speak for the Highland League but the Lowland League is full of ambitious clubs.
Why would we sit back and accept the big two buying their way in ahead of us all. If it is allowed what does that say about both the SPFL and the SFA and how they treat their members?”
“If the big clubs say they can’t develop young players in the current system then that should be a priority for the SPFL and SFA to address and urgently. They’ve had plenty of time to do something about it. This is about power not young players getting ready to play for Scotland”.
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