Date: 4th July 2020
SFSA chairman Andrew Smith gives his views on another eventful week for Scottish football:
Who Needs Football?
You’d never guess it because in the dysfunctional world that is Scottish Football the fans don’t need a ball to be entertained.
Sadly some of it is not for the good of the game.
Herald Lose Two More Sports Staff
I’ll start with just a mention of further downsizing at The Herald. With circulation in free-fall and estimated at not much over 20,000 the faceless numbers men have decided on another round of cuts including two sports and one picture desk.
We have never more needed the 4th estate but with tumbling newspaper readerships and no successful on line revenue model this is neither the start nor the end of headcount reductions across all our titles.
It means more and more what we read in our papers is headed and tailed press releases from the clubs PRs and nothing from the clubs who don’t have that resource.
It makes for skewed coverage that is not good for our game.
Hearts and Thistle Versus Dundee Utd Raith and Cove
(Aka Hearts and Thistle Versus The SPFL)
Lord Clark’s decision from the estimated two hours procedural process that actually took three days was just announced.
He has ruled for arbitration albeit with a caveat “if for any reason, difficulties arise with whether the arbitration tribunal is able to deal with the issues in the time available and the parties change their minds and wish the court to deal with, time will be made available for that to happen”.
How it will work, I hear you ask?
It will probably be a 3-person tribunal and will be compiled from the existing Scottish FA Tribunal Candidate List.
First the SPFL nominate their arbitrator.
Then Hearts nominate their arbitrator.
The two nominated arbitrators then nominate a 3rd to act as chair.
(It is also possible within the rules that both parties agree to the appointment of a single arbitrator.
Either way, the findings of the tribunal “shall be final and binding on the parties”.
Is it Fair and are there Conflicts of Interest?
Time will tell whether it is fair.
Time will also tell how much any of us hear what goes on and if it is a case of a genuine attempt to find positive reconciliation or just the usual bludgeon.
As for conflicts of interest, well this is Scotland.
The SFA and SPFL live in the same building and share several close links.
So like Jeremy on Millionaire, I don’t know, what do you think?
Will Peace Break Out?
Not a chance unless there is new thinking by the likes of Ross County and Hibs (more below).
Without reconstruction or a change of plan or a genuine and fast U turn to finishing last year’s leagues this will continue to fester.
We’ve all talked about real reconstruction and its what our research strongly supports.
As for finishing last season – Ian Murray MP said earlier this week “I’ve no idea why the vote to close the league off was taken so early”.
Tam Cowan on “Off the Ball” has been saying the same for weeks and maybe they speak real sense.
Most of the emails I have received from fans on this subject think Neil Doncaster, his board and our clubs picked the worst of three options.
They could have enlarged the leagues so no club was double-whammied by Covid and a premature dumping (We at SFSA advocated that some time ago).
We could have said we’ll finish the season as and when and then decide about next season. (That was our second choice).
But instead we are where we are
Starting with Neil’s Good Friday Disagreement we’ve called the leagues relegated the bottom clubs except Brechin, broken the pyramid and gone round in circles ending up with friend against friend.
Roy MacGregor’s Hobson’s Choice
We know Ross County voted against the last SPFL indicative vote.
This meant their two closest neighbours and friends, ICT and Brora were effectively held back and damaged financially.
The Staggies were not however voting for that even though it maybe seems that way.
As a predictable lower-end and medium-ish in a good year, bottom-ish in a bad year County are one of tour group of yo-yo clubs.
When faced with a temporary fix that would save Hearts and promote ICT into the top league and Brora into the SPFL proper they looked at their own bigger picture.
A 12 club premiership becoming 14 for a year then back to 12 with at least 3 clubs going straight down and 1into the playoffs.
A nightmare for all but our biggest clubs.
County’s vote was understandable to avoid that scenario and nobody can really blame them for it.
Hibs Voting Against The Edinburgh Derby
I still don’t get that and neither do the Edinburgh fans, both Hibbees and Jambos who have been in touch.
Not popular at all.
Groundhog Day Week 2
Last week as promised I sent an email to Ian Maxwell CEO at the SFA asking what The SFA had done to fight the corner of his two members, Brora and Kelty in the SPFL breaking of the pyramid.
He hasn’t replied but I’ll resend it again on Monday and will keep doing so until we hear, the pyramid gets reinstated or I get fed up being ignored.
The Scottish Football Supporters Association is a voluntary and deeply independent organisation, by the fans for the fans.
That allows us to be honest when we address the issues you want us to raise.
We welcome new members and welcome your views on all aspects of the game.
We won’t always all agree on everything but that is part of the fun of football and opinions are welcome.
If you have friends or family who haven’t joined yet please ask them to sign up.
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