Andy’s Sting In The Tale (23/02/24) “Years of Failing to Plan and Planning to Fail”

Date: 23rd February 2024



The ‘R 10’ Shocker for The SPFL

Our growing band of rebel SPFL clubs have been quiet this week and sadly so far haven’t taken me up on my suggestion that they start the whole transparency thing they said they crave by holding their 42-club meeting openly on Zoom and changing Scottish Football’s culture by the clicks of a few mouses.

I’ve also been told that the rebels meeting probably won’t happen anyway because a visible civil war like this will just fan the growing call from MSPs for football regulation North of the Wall.
Our brewing internecine fight between clubs and the administrators will still happen though because it is nothing to do with governance.
It is about leadership, performance and culture.
And like all things in Scottish football it is also all hopelessly confused and complicated by self-interest.

So take it from me, the Henderson Loggie report for the SPFL doesn’t even begin to address the Rebel’s issues.

Right now there is a lot going on around the edges of our game.

Edinburgh - Royal Mile, Palace, Abbey | BritannicaFollowing the Scottish Football Alliance’s seminal policy launch last June of what football really needs to do we had  Ben Wallace’s recent Holyrood debate about Football in Scotland needing a reset.
Minister Maree Todd whose over-busy health portfolio also covers football, and other sports briefed her fellow MSPs this week on Ben’s meeting.
She circulated the same spartan notes she had read from, verbatim, that night.
I’m not sure who prepared them for her and would guess a civil servant.
The minister is obviously over-busy with the demands from the NHS and Scottish Sport, all of it, needs and deserves a full-time Sports appointment.
That could and would be good for the health of the nation too.

Anyway let’s get back to Henderson Loggie’s report.


The Scottish Professional Football league
Independent Governance Review

Henderson Loggie - YouTubeWe now know that Henderson Loggie, an accounting firm were briefed by the SPFL after the cinch sponsorship walk-away debacle last July.
They were asked to produce a report.

And ‘Whoop de Do’, as of now the report is published and in the hands of all 42 clubs and other interested parties.
In reading these kind of reports it helps to first understand the process in play.

That, believe it or not, starts with the result the instigator wants to achieve.
It really is that simple and no, I’m not being cynical.

The SPFL simply wanted and needed a report to exonerate the self same SPFL from everything and for peace to break out across our game.

I’d say two things.
1. The particular brief to HL was cynical and for show.
2 And “He who pays the piper, calls the tune”.

I can also hear someone shouting out at the time, “Let’s make sure that any independent report is about stuff that won’t hurt us”.

So this report was never going to be about reviewing the actual job the SPFL do for football, the game we all love and want to see flourish.
Or about how one particular screw-up was screwed-up.
Or about growing the commercial value of our game.
Or how to play more Scots youngsters in our teams.

No, the response to whatever need was apparent on the 6th floor was simply blindsided into an ‘independent’ wheeze about ‘Governance’.

And cynically it became just about how a staff of 12 professionals and their various boards interact and operate and if their organisational policies for the interactions and operations are robust and legal.

What was never asked was, where are we going?
Are we treating our members fairly and equally?
And, are we delivering commercially?

What was briefed by the SPFL to Henderson Loggie to address an ongoing competence and leadership challenge was in fact just a broad governance review.
A review of ‘process’ by trusted Beancounters of the following daily business operations.

– Corporate Policies and Procedures
– Board Meetings
– Internal Control Systems
– Accounting Compliances

In the cold light of day, Henderson Loggie were paid an undisclosed but significant sum to audit the operational side of the SPFL.
The kind of stuff that annual external auditors look at all the time and that the internal SPFL auditor, Chris Gaunt from Hibs, is right on top of.

The review had nothing to do with strategic aims, achievements, culture, and interaction with members or a fight over a sponsorship screw up.


What a bloody waste of everyone’s time and our club’s money.


Maybe there is hope.

One of HL’s 30 routine Recommendations, R10, had me gasping in disbelief.

Here is part of it and I’m amazed it stayed in the report after the Drafts were issued and discussed.

Company CEO reading report, employee sitting in front, waiting for results Stock Photo | Adobe Stock“An exercise should be commissioned to produce an SPFL Business Plan, which should be in alignment with the business plans of member clubs, and which dovetails and complements the work of the Strategy and Innovation Group
and the activity of Scottish Football Marketing.  The approved Business Plan should set out the mission, values, strategic priorities, and target outcomes for the SPFL.  
Particular issues to be included in the said business plan are to include, community engagement, youth development, political lobbying, distribution of solidarity payments and environmental sustainability”.

So, Andy speaking again, R 10 sensationally exists because either,

The SPFL don’t have a current business plan.
The current SPFL business plan is not fit for purpose.

Both are in reality are one and the same thing.

And it is quite shocking.

This is all first-year stuff in any Business Studies Course.
Business Plans are everything in business whether you’re a global Procter and Gamble, or a Glasgow based football management organisation with 12 staff.

Business plan: what it is and why it is important to have itReal business plans are not just something that you make up on the spot and yes governance is part of it, but just a small part.

And in successful forward-thinking businesses the business plan isn’t just a vanity document in a velvet box to wave once a year to 42 pesky members.
It is the life and blood of the organisation and is, (or should be), integral to all decision making.

Real Business Plans are never easy.
They are living entities and it is disturbing that our SPFL doesn’t seem to have one worth the ink on the paper it is printed on.


But maybe, just maybe good will come out of this.

Maybe this one insight, R10,  justifies the whole HL process.

Leaked Whatsapps, missing votes & bullying claims - SPFL's five days of chaos - BBC SportThe SPFL needs to start by thinking differently and asking the three questions that we have considered regularly recently in Sting.
The questions that all real businesses live and die by.
And open up to outside expert help too and welcome debate on everything and not just views from inside the 6th floor tent.

Where are we now?
Where are we going?
How do we get there?

And while we’re on questions, the review did not get close to the elephants in the room.

Why is the SPFL voting structure so hackneyed and skewed to the point of dysfunctionality?

Is our current commercial performance satisfactory?

What are the factors that devalue our commercial returns and how can we change them for the better?

Why is there one ‘Jack and Jill’ board seat reserved for and rotated between our two Glasgow giants?

And finally.

How can anyone have a proper ‘independent review’ without speaking to all the clubs and to fans too.

But I’m smiling  because what goes around comes around.

Methinks this Henderson Loggie Review was a review to avoid having a real review that will in fact lead to a real review and change.


More later on this one, that’s for sure.


That’s it from me for this week.

Feedback welcome and the wee-est of stories you send that aren’t always wee.

Andy’s Album of the Week

1970s legends The JSD band are performing at the Little Biggar Festival - Daily RecordMy pals and I were lucky enough to catch a band from Rutherglen at Inverness’s Caley Hotel after the launch of their new album, Travelling Days.
I guess it was early 1973 and up to that point I thought that ‘folk’ music was the kind of stuff that Grampian TV highlighted in their couthy “Bothy Nichts” Doric series that used to go out at peak times.
It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to assume that I wasn’t a fan.
(But I liked Dylan, James Taylor, Joni, Carly and especially a new Geordie group called Lindisfarne so I wasn’t a lost cause).

In truth, we were at the concert because it was a boy meets girl opportunity rather than because we wanted to see a band who’d won Scottish Folk Band of the year in 1970.


The JSD Band blew us away.

I didn’t know at the time that immediately pre-Ziggy Stardust Bowie had sought them out to be his support act because he’d seen them, liked them and knew they could really warm up the crowd for him, ditching Peterhead’s very own Sutherland Brothers who had had the warm-up gig.

JSD Band Travelling Days UK Vinyl LP — RareVinyl.comThe JSD didn’t play folk music like folk bands with wooly jumpers and beards.
They brought it to life and was joyous.
I’ve just discovered my Travelling Days vinyl, going round and round as I write, is now worth around £100 but it is not for sale.

My conversion wasn’t alone.
The band were also loved and championed by John Peel, Annie Nightingale and Whispering Bob, appearing on the Whistle test a couple of times but they didn’t quite make it commercially and it ground to a halt.

Some years later around 1995 they tried a comeback of sorts, re-recorded their early material and released it in a new album  ‘For the Record’.
I bought it immediately but was disappointed.
It was more polished for sure but had lost the rawness energy and life.

Maybe it’s just hard to go back.
Michael Beale and Brendan might well agree with me. On that one.

The JSD were seminal and their influence lives on and both ‘Travelling Days’ and the earlier ‘JSD Album’ are reassuringly patchy, edgy, and superb.

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