Scottish football is in its death throes and only a blind man or an idiot would deny this obvious truth. There are simply too many clubs for such a small country. There have been a whole catalogue of catastrophic erors which point to systemic faults within the SFA. The league structure is flawed, the system of ‘cut offs” is impractical and makes no sense whatsoever. Key strategical mistakes were made when deciding how to allocate scarce funds. In retrospect, was Hampden really necessary in a city with already had two first class stadiums?
The formula of clubs meeting four times a season has clearly reached its sell by date.
Familiarity breeds boredom as reflected in the declining attendances which kicked in long before the current economic downturn took grip. With hindsight, the decision by the small clubs to outvote the big two when it came to accepting television money, can be seen as an insane suicide act. Less than a year ago, John Reid hit out at the short sightedness of other teams in the SPL in accepting a greatly reduced offer from SKY-ESPN. Aided and abetted by the powers that be, the dwarves were able to dictate terms to the only two teams who count in Scotland.
Common sense should have prevailed but it didn’t. Now years down the line, the chickens are coming home to roost. Put quite simply, the people running the game in Scotland are way out of their depth, unable or perhaps unwilling to see the void that lies before them.
I found it amusing recently to look at a picture of Michel Platini next to the late Gordon Smith in a Scottish newspaper. Two people could not be more different philosophically when it comes to how they think the game should be run. Smith was a football agent which in itself should tell us enough about him. The world of the football agent is the domain of the spiv, the conman, the chancer; the sort of person who is sucking the game dry with his pernicious practices. And yet Gordon Smith, a man with such a background was able to rise effortlessly to the apex of the SFA.
Celtic have already crossed swords with the SFA this season, the whole issue of appeals has been thrown into disrepute following some ridiculous refereeing decisions, many of which Celtic were the victim.
The SFA seems to have a simplistic faith in the ultimate judgement of Scotland’s referees, despite the best efforts of the latest technology in proving the opposite.
Red card decisions remain red card decisions when the camera says no. A dive is not a dive even when the camera says no. Critically a bad referee remains a referee in the SPL, even when the camera shows his appalling mistakes time after time, after time.
The most appalling evidence of biased refereeing I ever witnessed first hand was the Scottish Cup Final of 1970. Under the not so eagle eye of Bobby Davidson (later honorary chairman of Airdrie F.C. ) this terrible excuse of a man single handedly cheated the best Celtic team ever out of a Scottish Cup victory. Celtic goals were disallowed, a penalty against Celtic awarded for nothing and a whole host of disgraceful decisions were given against Celtic that day. The normally stoical Jock Stein had to be physically restrained from laying hands on the mason in the black.
Forty years down the line, have things really changed?
I think not, any review of the SFA requires a complete destruction of the rotten edifice, as it is corrupt from top to bottom. That time has come.