Revisiting Armageddon

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In July 2012 Stewart Regan, speaking on the day the SPL unanimously rejected Rangers’ application to play in the top flight,  warned to expect a long, slow death for Scottish football unless a newco Ibrox club are admitted to the First Division. This is what the SFA chief executive said:

“We are faced with a situation some say is meltdown and some say Armageddon and whichever way you look at it it’s not a healthy future for the game.”

What’s actually happened?

The national team is (finally) in serious revival under new management with Gordon Strachan. Motherwell sit second in the league under Stuart McCall heading for European football and having revived the iconic Mr McFadden. Hearts, despite being in a perilous state and facing certain relegation are moving towards the possibility of renewal and reinvention under fan ownership. Aberdeen are finding their feet again and seeing the crowds return to enjoy it with Barry Robson and Willo Flood supplying the experience and Ryan Jack, Peter Pawlett and Cammy Smith supplying the elixir of youth. Under astute management from Jackie Macnamara Dundee United have been playing beautiful free-scoring football with Ryan Gauld emerging as the stand-out young player of his generation. The Arabs have overcome the embarrassment of their captain being willing to drop two divisions – and have emerged as arguably Scotland’s most refreshing team of the year. Celtic – having generated over £20 million in revenue from European forays and wise sales are now looking at a signing that could bring one of Scotland’s best recent exports home.

There’s good news stories across the game.

Last night saw the biggest Edinburgh derby attendance for 20 years with 20,106 selling out Easter Road’s four stands. With a Stanton on the pitch and a third straight win under their belt, Hibs fans are jubilant. They should have higher aspirations than to beat a youth team from a threadbare squad, but there’s grounds for optimism that Hibs could join a competitive clutch of resurgent clubs giving the lie to the Armageddon thesis.

Hibs have a massive latent support – witnessed by numerous (failed) but very well supported cup final appearances. The capital wants to support a top flight club winning and playing attractive football. For the next year or two that’s not going to be Hearts. With zero debt and the infrastructure to go forward now’s the time for Hibs to step on.

The reality is Scottish football is in transition from a bloated, corrupt and unsustainable farce to … something else. Whatever it is that’s emerging it’s going to be a more resilient model based on home-grown talent and a different sense of economics and scale. Those pursuing the old broken model are likely to be left behind, bankrupt by their own intransigence and greed.

Armageddon was a tissue of inaccuracies from the outset. It tried to script a disaster-movie of chaotic failure and financial disaster and at the very moment when senior administrators should have been fighting for the livelihood of the league, they were briefing against their own business. – Stuart Cosgrove, ‘Why the Beast of Armageddon Failed to Show?’

The senior management is still culpable and showing a dramatic lack of innovation or urgency but the game is alive and well. We need a sponsor for the league, a far far better media package from the BBC (or other) and we need to reclaim the game’s running to attract rather than repel people to come and attend games. It’s all possible, now we know that Armageddon was just a scare us from the change that needs to happen.

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  1. garye1869 says:

    “now we know that Armageddon was just a scare us from the change that needs to happen”….hmm now where else is that happening at the moment….

  2. “The capital wants to support a top flight club winning and playing attractive football.”

    Well, except for those, such as myself, who couldn’t give a toss about people kicking a ball around a pitch.

    However, it IS interesting to see the positive changes in the game during the last year or so; and the lessons that can be learned from it are clear.

  3. bellacaledonia says:

    I don’t think its about football, it’s about economic power, vested interests, opposition (inability) to change, lack of imagination and ambition, a deadness …

  4. great read nice to see scottish football flourishing without cheating

    1. bellacaledonia says:


  5. Supporters of Glasgow Rangers FC and Cardiff City FC were sent a questionnaire asking
    ‘Are you happy that your once great club is now being ripped apart to satisfy the greedy, corrupt, spivs and conmen’
    The vast majority said NO

    Two weeks later

    Supporters of Glasgow Rangers FC and Cardiff City FC were sent a questionnaire asking
    ‘Are you happy that your once great country is now being ripped apart to satisfy the greedy, corrupt, spivs and conmen’
    The vast majority said CARRY ON CHAPS

  6. Abulhaq says:

    Does football matter? It’s a diversion, a pass-time, an antidote to intellectualism largely invented by the English through the Spartan-inspired public school system and called by them “sport”. Treating it as an existential “marker” of, for some, national integrity or “virility” is highly suggestive of the Banana Republic Syndrome. Governments notoriously use this quasi-religious cultic medium as an opiate. Given its historic divisive rôle in Scottish society ought we to care,if as a “business”, it faded into history and we actually concentrated on developing areas we might become good at. England, currently hand-wringing over the performance of its over-indulged and heavy-weight cricket team, has a lot to answer for.

    1. Bobby Motherwell says:

      Totally agree. I gave up on Scottish Football due to the mis-managemenet and corruption from those in charge that was all too apparent. I won’t spend another penny on it. It took me some time to get over it, but like any drug, I came out the other side and feel a burden has been lifted from me, I feel liberated. I watch my 2 sons switching channels constantly to get their fix, and all the while numbing any creativity i try to instil in them. I have no answers, I wish I had – it is indeed the new opiate of the masses. Ignoring it wont make it go away for my kids, it has for me though, and you can only treat yourself in the hope that it will rub off….

  7. bringiton says:

    There should be a rule that every club in Scotland must have supporter representation on the board.After all,they contribute a significant amount to the enterprise through gate money,club shirts etc.

  8. DJ says:

    @Abulhaq and @Bobby Mothwerwell – your comments about football as government ‘opiate’ are simply laughable. The joy, the tears, the passion football brings – look around the world and you will see the love of football. Tell us how the Scottish Government, for example, uses Scottish football to ‘quell the masses’. Your arguments are hysterical!

    1. Abulhaq says:

      The current Government has intervened re sectarian features in Scottish football, so that by implication indicates it has a societal function beyond its mere entertainment value. British governments during the revolutionary periods of the early 20th century have know the value of diverting the masses from bitter reality through this sport. Coupled with cheap beer it saved the British establishment from what ought to have been their due. Governments of the so-called developing world are keen on sport for the same reasons. Given the riches available to those with the requisite talent it is a very powerful drug of choice. Fortunately, as seen in Brazil over money spent on the World Cup and Olympic facilties, the exploited masses are beginning to challenge the pushers and dealers. Personally, I much prefer the passion, the joy etc of getting this country off its bloody knees than lining the pockets of pro-Union capitalists.

      1. well,left leaning miserablism lives on I see.Those poor,beknighted,masses.If only they could see the truth-like us!!Deary me,they perpetually choose the easy option of mindless babble while remaining perpetually oppressed by the media/capital/big business etc etc.Fuck me,yon Marcuse has a lot to answer for.No,he wasnt a right back for Juve!

  9. megabreath2 says:

    well,left leaning miserablism lives on I see.If only the oppressed masses could see the truth-like us!They continually choose to remain oppressed by the media/capital/business etc etc which of course is not really any choice at all given their beknighted state and so on.Jeez-yon Marcuse has a lot to answer for.No,he wasnt a left back for Juve.

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