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A Part-Time Football Future?

February 2, 2011

WHILE no-one expects Dumbarton to be anything other than a part-time club anytime soon, the assumption behind the SPL 1&2 proposals is that (somehow) “there’s gold in them hills” to justify the plan.

But that has been flatly contradicted by a number of leading lights in the SFL First Division, whom you might expect to be fizzing with excitement at ideas which are supposed to re-energise the game at the top – while consigning the rest of us to a shallow ‘regionalised’ grave.

“Several first division clubs are treading a very fine line between survival and non-survival, and it isn’t just us, but the likes of Dunfermline, Queen of the South, and others, who are really up against the wire at the moment,” says former Scottish TUC chief Campbell Christie, now a director at Falkirk. “If we are still in the first division next year we will have to seriously consider part-time football, and that is a reality for most other clubs in our position.”

Lack-of-enthusiasm noises about the Brave New World have also been heard from a Raith director. Financial journalist Brian Bollen didn’t pull any punches in his article The Changing Face of Football, in the programme for last night’s game between Airdrie United and the Sons, either.

So much for “living the dream” that is currently being concocted by Neil Doncaster and his cohorts. Reality bites.

Moreover, on the day that Supporters Direct in Scotland had further talks about league reconstruction and related matters with the SPL, the Herald newspaper  reports “a mounting frustration” among SFL fans “that their custom and goodwill is being taken for granted by the sport’s bureaucrats, who seem determined to press ahead with a top league of 10 teams from 2012-13 onwards.”

Meanwhile, in what will no doubt be the first of a series of promises from different quarters as the May parliamentary elections draw nearer, Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray declared: “Football clubs have a special place in the community and few institutions have deeper roots… [We] would be prepared to work with governing authorities to ensure that professional clubs are accountable to their stakeholders and run transparently on sound financial principles, with greater involvement of local communities and supporter representation.”

“Representation” and “greater” community involvement note; not a minimum stakeholding and community ownership. But it’s a start.

Dumbarton MSP and Trust member Jackie Baillie also commented last year on the desirability of supporter and community involvement in the running of football.

As the Supporters Direct campaign for a different way of restructuring the game gains momentum, political representatives of all colours will also be called upon to do their part to bring about change – rather than just talking about it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Alan Findlay permalink
    February 3, 2011 9:35 am

    Is 2011 the year that football (finally) gets a reality check? Scottish football in particular?

    The game, at the top level, has dodged the impact of the global financial downturn but it appears that this was only momentary, as monetary matters have finally caught up. Although that said, the madness of the Jan 2011 transfer window suggests that the loonies have really taken over the asylum!

    Some clubs are paying out over 100% of their turnover on player wages – not sustainable at all.

    And that’s the key objective – sustainability. Not rainbow chasing.

    Sustainability should be a guiding principle of a community club ; to only spend what is earned is the philosphy. It has to be. The real route to success and promotion in the long term is to grow resources and the fan base(s) collectively. That way it will be sustained rather than the quick fixes we have seen in the past.

  2. February 3, 2011 10:39 am

    Completely agree, Alan. Many say “the madness at the top of the EPL has nothing to do with us”. But it does. The knock-on in absurd levels of inflation and expectation is huge and measurable, normalising debt and what you rightly call the “rainbow” mentality, rather than sustainability. On the same day all that happened, incidentally, a small club – Windsor & Eton – died. Wound up in the court. A team most will not have heard of, but equally a side not that much smaller than some SFL3 or Highland League outfits.

    Campbell Christie’s comment makes the point precisely. It’s not just the smaller teams who feel the pinch in a potentially lethal way who are complaining, it’s full timers who are told they should be aspiring to be the elite – but who, in reality, need to think about going part-time.

  3. Proggie Editor permalink
    February 3, 2011 8:57 pm

    While there may be more important things going on in the world at the moment, from a football perspective, click on the following link for the saddest sight in our sport:

    171 people watched they’re last game and to many of them, this will be a sad day. Alan hopes that 2011 will see a reality check in football. Ah hay ma doots. Until or unless an EPL or SPL side goes under, the powers that be won’t give a monkey’s.

  4. Alan Findlay permalink
    February 3, 2011 9:26 pm

    Aye, a sad day for the fans of Windsor and Eton FC. Tangle with the tax man and it’s a tough tussle.

    We can’t give up on the principle that we believe in ; clubs must have governance and accountability to all both financially and morally. There will be changes in that respect this year.

    Edited to add : The debt accrued to HMRC was equivalent to Andy Carroll’s (new) weekly wage at Liverpool FC (following his recent transfer). Mad. Just mad.

  5. sonsdiary permalink
    February 4, 2011 11:51 am
    According to this ruling in the Europeam court it may well all change

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