12 May 2013

Scottish Reconstruction: A Sensible Step

by Lewis Carr

For those of you who don’t know much about Scottish football I won’t go into the complexities about the bickering that goes on between clubs about how the game should be run (it would take a full book to try and summarise). 

Instead I’m here to tell you that common sense seems to have finally prevailed in terms of reconstructing the game in Scotland. This week it was revealed that all 12 members of the Scottish Premier League have seemingly come to an agreement over the future structure of league football in this country. A formal vote will be held and the 30 Scottish Football League clubs will also have to approve the plans at a vote.

The casual football fan might scratch their head at fact that the league set up will for now remain the same using the 12-10-10-10 format however the proposal isn’t as simple as that. You would think that with Scotland having a historical precedence for producing great inventors, that someone involved in its football would have realised long before know that league football can longer be primarily be seen as a competition. It must be seen as a brand. 

So even if our football might be twenty years behind our adversaries, this latest move by those in power must be applauded. For a long time fans have recognised that football is a business yet those who run the game in this country have just began to brand it as such.

Considering we’ve had the English Premier League providing this evidence for so long it’s actually quite incredible that it’s arguably taken the German Bundesliga to show Scottish football chiefs what needs to be done. In Germany the stadiums are brimming and the atmosphere is sensational for a neutral to take in. 

Additionally the motif that the collective is greater than the individual has eventually led to a resurgence of German club sides on the European stage and the national team has come ever so close to glory in recent tournaments. While Scotland may never be able to attain the success of a nation as large as Germany they have set the blueprint for all to follow.

In order to improve quality on the park the league product must be attractive to investors and fans alike. It can’t get any simpler than that. Of course steps must be taken to improve the brand. To start off the merger of the governing body is a must in terms of how the decision making process can go forward.
With this collective mind-set they can look at how to immediately improve the attractiveness of the league. Improving the quality of player is something that takes place over time, and requires nurturing talent and financial security. The fairer cash distribution should go some way to steer clubs towards having a positive bank account.

At the end of the day the organisation in charge needs to look at how to generate more cash for its clubs and in football the quick fix is play-offs. These matches get stadiums full, and even might convince the casual fan into investing more time and perhaps money into watching matches in the league the next season. 

The greatest evidence in the strength of play-offs actually comes out with football with both American football and basketball showcasing the drama and fan pull these matches can produce.
Thankfully this issue has also been addressed in the blueprint for the new league set-up. Messing up the number of teams competing in the leagues just now would be foolish. There would be disharmony both financially and competitively.

Making Scottish football a competitive force won’t happen overnight. A dramatic reconstruction is not the answer and the footballing authorities look to taking a wise approach at this moment in time. Allow the teams to get their finances sorted out try to attract more viewers through the play-offs.

At the same time improve the individual match product and try to make it more family friendly because at the end of the day TV companies won’t really invest sufficiently into a league where its teams are playing to empty stadiums.

Each club should garner the opinions of their supporters in an attempt to improve the experience as a next step. Whether it be through a re-introduction of alcohol, or safe standing; satisfying fans should be the priority of clubs at this moment.

So while it looks like we won’t be getting the overhaul we were anticipating, at least it is a sensible step in the right direction.

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