Date: 28th April 2020
The thoughts of SFSA chairman Andrew Smith on recent developments, in which the SFSA has established a positive dialog with the SPFL’S league reconstruction task force:
Les Says It is Time to Ask The Audience?
Saying the last couple of weeks has been colourful for Scottish Football would be an understatement.
We are now in a position where we have a Taskforce co-chaired by the heads of two clubs to look at what needs to be done in the Covid 19 landscape right now and into whatever future unfolds.
Representatives of the clubs first convened last Monday and Graham Tatters, Elgin City chairman told BBC Saturday Sportsound that the 2nddivision has already agreed unanimously to back 3 leagues of 14 as their preferred option.
On the same show Iain McMenemy, Chairman of Stenhousemuir effectively told us among other things that nothing in Scottish Football is ever easy and mentioned that he believed the fans should be involved in any process.
Around the same time a very welcome conversation was underway between Les Gray, Taskforce co-chair and Paul Goodwin of the SFSA with Les asking for and welcoming fan input.
Dave Allen Called Our Future Years Ago
His oft quoted “I wouldn’t be starting from here joke” is a remarkable insight into where we find ourselves.
Our game is on the cusp of internecine war following the confusing combination of events we’ve all see playing out.
The hastily convened Taskforce has co-chairs who have also been quoted in the MSM as having different agendas, one for an immediate solution and one for a long-term plan.
Nothing wrong with that, in fact brilliant, we need both because they are interrelated.
Collectively we have to ask not just how do we minimise the economic and social impacts of the pandemic but also how do we start to shape our game for a better future?
Both these needs are right nows and both are the remit of the current Taskforce.
Now is the Time to Circle Our Wagons
This unique, open-ended, revenue-winter hit our clubs unexpectedly and overnight.
It is already brutal and will get worse with no current exit plan and no future certainties.
We know Dave Cormack’s Aberdeen is currently burning £1M per month.
No club has Covid immunity and a world of salary reductions, deferrals furloughed staff, little in the coffers and no exit strategy or road map out is a stark reality.
It’s hard to imagine that footballers have become liabilities rather than assets in a blink of an eye.
But it’s not hard to foresee that the financial stress on our clubs will see casualties.
Never before have we needed inter and intra-club teamwork for the common good.
But not in Scottish Football where an internecine spat is about to flare big time.
Civil War Breaking Out?
The record will show the recent SPFL Good Friday vote got an 80% plus backing vote from the clubs but in reality became a farce as Dundee eventually changed their “casting” vote.
This was paralleled by the “whistleblower” outburst by Rangers interim chairman Douglas Park demanding immediate suspension of Neil Doncaster and Rod McKenzie and an independent inquiry that sort of happened but not to the satisfaction of some.
One week later it rages on in the media with words today like “damning evidence, serious concerns, lack of fair play, coercing and bullying” being the vocabulary fed to the MSM to share with their audiences.
It seems some clubs have become unhappy with how our game is run and want to do something about it, so welcome to our world guys, – us fans have been saying that for a long time.
Our game needs big change but it won’t happen overnight and a pandemic crisis is maybe not the best timing for internecine strife.
Closing Down 2019 – 2020
This season is already ended for all Scottish clubs outside the Premiership.
UEFA didn’t do much to help and could have been more proactive in stopping inter club squabbling but plus ca change.
Most football people I have spoken to (with their self-interest hats off) were not totally happy with the implications of closing the season early and pro rata-ing points to decide champions but pragmatically accept it is the best answer or the least worst solution.
Asked about teams being relegated while having a bona-fide chance of fighting back there is less support and indeed genuine heartfelt pushback.
Some more enlightened leagues like the Lowland League who took the decision to avoid further damage on some of their members at this time through a no relegation policy and a wait and see what’s best are seen as wiser.
What Needs Done Today?
We all know that out of the Budge/Gray Taskforce there will be a few options put on the table.
There is always the status quo of 4 leagues 12, 10, 10, 10.
A 14, 14, 14, setup was discussed and voted on by the current second division clubs last Friday.
Our own similar suggestion published on your SFM was 14, 14 and a bottom league of 16 to keep the integrity of the pyramid.
Two weeks on, a more pragmatic option and one to be considered by all might be to agree no relegation for now and to wait until more is known over the next crucial weeks.
We have time on our hands and no need to rush.
Why not take our lead from the sages at the Lowland League?
As a fan what do you think?
Should we plan for an interim period?
Should it be status quo?
Do we apply parameters (like no relegation) but accept that any other plan has to be kept flexible till more is known and agreed?
Your insights and views are welcome by Ms. Budge, Mr. Gray and their team either on this forum where I’ll read and collate them or if you prefer sent to me at
What Needs Done for Our Tomorrows?
We live in the real world and that means money is and always will be the prime driver and starting point.
Money is entwined with self-interest, status, power, politics and sometimes greed.
A given is every club will always want more and that is the easiest of several elephants in any room when looking at change to impact positively on the future of our game as a whole.
But maybe, just maybe now is different.
Post Covid many clubs will be on their knees financially and it will be a different world.
Les Gray’s Million Pounds Question For all Fans
No surprise it’s not an easy one
If you were charged with helping to create a sustainable and healthy future for Scottish Football is what would you do?
How would you advise Les, Ann and their Taskforce team about the right moves to make?
Once again insights welcome on SFM or to
As a starter for 10 some stuff that has come up in previous SFSA fan surveys about our game (in alphabetical order) includes –
Better Communication, Bigger Leagues, Community Involvement, Council Telly live games, Gate Sharing, Grass Roots Investment, Fairness, Family Friendly, Fewer clubs, Integrity, Kids Free, Leadership, Less leagues, No Bigotry, Openness, Outside expertise, Same rules for all, Schools Football, Simplicity, Standing Sections, Summer Football, TV Kick-off times, Regional Lower Leagues, Reserve League, Strict Liability, Transparency, Wholesome Sponsors etc.
The list is not exhaustive. Please feel free to add any others.
Some will be contradictory, some nice to haves but the crucial thing to do is to find the smartest moves and build on them.
We’re responding to Les and Ann in good faith
Never before have we the fans been asked in such an open way.
Collectively we have a short-term end of season issue and a need to set up our game for what comes next which might include an interim period.
The background to any responses you offer is uncertainty exacerbated by growing internecine chaos and increasing vitriol.
I’ll end with some wise and hopeful words by a Taskforce Co- chair
“Without openness, transparency and pragmatism we will simply keep making the same mistakes.”
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