Scottish Football Deserves a National Stadium
There’s some extraordinary things happening in Scottish football, not all of them good.
For a game run on a shoestring budget and in perpetual crisis and acrimony and without a national manager, this needs to be talked about, but so we avoid the trap of pure doom-mongering the Scottish game, lets look at the positives.
First tonight the Scottish Football Supporters Association reports on their ‘Scottish Football Evaluation’. They’ve done a really novel thing and actually asked the people who are the lifeblood of the game what they think. The fans who are routinely treated with complete contempt by the governing bodies, the broadcasters and the media have actually been asked their opinion.
The results are to be announced and poured over tonight at Firhill.
This is part of a now long-running resistance campaign run by grassroots fans groups to try and salvage the game from the people who run it.
The SFSA report:
The survey, which saw over 16,000 people participate during September, was carried out by the SFSA in partnership with Professor Dr Axel Faix and Dr Joachim Lammert, two respected German sports academics from the University of Applied Science and Arts in Dortmund and the University of Leipzig. Both have significant experience in carrying out similar evaluations in Germany and on a European level.
Key findings from the survey include:
- Stakeholders are very dissatisfied with the leadership of both the SFA & SPFL across a range of activities
- 73% believe their own club is committed to the good of football
- 65% believe their own clubs are open and honest
- 93% believe that Scottish football should be overseen by an independent watchdog
- 95% of fans believe it is essential to have an independent national fans body
- 90% feel that the Scottish Government should put pressure on football authorities to improve
- 60.5% said that they could lose interest in football in the future
- 32.5% attend fewer than 10 games a season
- 24.5% said they never attend away games
- 60.7% said they attend between just 1 and 10 away games a season
- 92.5% say football is important to them
- 13.5% don’t think football is more important than their other leisure activities
- 93.8% want more supporter influence in the SPFL
- 94.1% want more supporter influence in the SFA
- There is little difference between the key stakeholders’ opinions (players, managers, coaches, club officials , referees and supporters) throughout the research
Unsurprisingly, there is also a growing concern about the performance of the national game, and what that reflects about the health of Scottish football as a whole.
Second Steve Clark at Kilmarnock is a breath of fresh air – and precisely what the club and the game needs – an input of fresh-thinking and ambition from outside, just as we’ve seen at Parkhead where Brendan Rodgers refuses to take on board the assumptions of built-in inferiority that is endemic in the game. Clarks start has been magnificent turning a seemingly moribund club into a team with energy and a winning mentality.
Third, and closely connected are Hibs and Aberdeen. Despite the sometimes over-the-top media cheerleading of Celtic, the fact is they have upped their game and taken it to a new level. Despite this, and with a fraction of the budget, Aberdeen and Hibs are only three and five points behind them and playing beautiful attacking football with mostly young Scottish players. Neil Lennon is the Ladbrokes Manager of the Month (Hibs have won their last four games in a row) and if the extraordinary efforts to undermine Derek McInnes at Aberdeen are anything to go by, he’s doing great job.
But we have a problem with our football media in this country and Kris Boy’s latest elevation to pundit status is a good focus for this.
It’s a good thing to have ex-footballer’s give their view but this should be balanced by their ability to give some kind of useful insight to the listener. or reader.
Only two weeks after a bizarre outburst in which he blamed Dundee United’s recent problems for their chairmans attitude to Rangers in which he said:
“Dundee United are another club since, when you go back to the Rangers scenario, Dundee United have been in decline since then as well. It’s one of those ones where you need to be careful what you wish for. “Stephen Thompson was a big part of that. I think when you look at his club, that’s backfired on him, there’s no doubt about it.” When probed to clarify his comments, Boyd said: “The way they went about it. I feel it has been in total decline since then. They’ve went down into the Championship, they’ve struggled with Premiership players, they’re still paying the big money. “What I’m saying is, since Rangers have went down the leagues Dundee United have followed.”
This is just offensive gibberish. and begs the question why the licence fee is being used to pay him to have a platform.
Now he’s on the same programme coughing out more nonsense, this time a weird rant about Aberdeen FC whose Graeme Shinnie, Kenny McLean and Ryan Christie are all called up to the Scotland squad.
Plenty of ex professional footballers are pundits and being controversial is part of the gig. But Boyd seemed to be choking with rage and called the the uncapped players called up by Scotland a “laughing stock”.
Now the Scotsman reports his views on switching the home of Scottish football to Murrayfield [readers may have missed the point where his views gained universal credibility].
The SFA’s lease at Hampden is due to expire in 2020. The Scottish football governing body has asked the Scottish Rugby Union to submit a proposal for holding cup finals and internationals at Murrayfield. You don’t do that unless you are serious, and the SFA is seriously skint.
At face value its an attractive proposition. It’s Scotland’s biggest stadium (67,144 to Hampden’s 52,063). It’s a stadium you can actually get to and it has acres of room around it for what the SFA and the SRU coyly call “match-day entertainment”. And its a money spinner. If the SFA can sell tickets, ands that’s a big IF, they can make more money, but there’s no real evidence they have the nous to do that.
But there’s three big reasons its a terrible idea.
The actual pitch and stadium is shaped for rugby. That means huge areas behind the goals and a huge distance between the pitch and the supporters. This takes away from the atmosphere and all the commercial glee in the eyes of Stewart Regan won’t change that.
Kris Boyd is quoted as saying of Murrayfield: “You won’t get many better surfaces than that,” ignoring the fact that, when the rugby international series starts that’s unlikely to be true.
But the main reason that moving to Murrayfield is a bad idea is it shows a tragic lack of ambition within Scottish football. If the national stadium is crap do something about it, don’t just leave.
Scottish football deserves a national stadium.
Scottish football also deserves decent pundits and commentators. It has so many problems it needs to overcome – BBC Sportsound should avoid getting rent-a-gob who can’t speak well of young promising players getting a chance in a friendly and focus instead on the charlatans who currently run the game.
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