League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Football’s over, probably till August, probably longer. As the penny drops so to does the reality of having football “authorities” that couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery. Even in times of good health the SFA and SPFL can be guaranteed to make the wrong decision Every. Single. Time.

So what do we do?

Here’s the theories so far:

1. Option One – we halt the league now and the league positions stand, so Celtic win, Rangers and Motherwell get European places, and Hearts and Hamilton go down.  While few would argue with that, this would also mean Partick Thistle and Queen of the South going down too, and that might be terrible for Thistle in the long run.

2. Option Two is we could declare Dundee Utd as Champions in the Championship and promote them along with Inverness Caley, who sit four points ahead of Dundee.

This means that the Scottish Premiership will have 14 teams next season, something that many people have been arguing for for years.

3. Option Three is we just call this league void and start again whenever we can start again. This would cause Celtic fans to go into absolute meltdown, a possible comedy benefit.

4. Option Four – given the potential catastrophic economic impact on football clubs the ‘promote only’ option has it benefits. In fact not having the EPL’s bucket of SKY lolly Scottish clubs rely so heavily on ticket sales, with Uefa’s latest benchmark report revealing that 43% of the Scottish top flight’s revenue was made up of gate receipts in 2018.

For some, like Rangers, without a credit line to the bank and with no merchandising revenue, this could be catastrophic, if fun.

In that reality we either need to have an open situation where we are clear that we are just letting clubs go to the wall, or we create a system to save clubs and restructure the game on a more sustainable basis. That would probably mean state assistance or some form of sharing.

Perhaps the English league, awash with so much money it doesn’t know what to do could help us out? Pooling and sharing and that? Stronger Together and all that?

Perhaps the Scottish clubs need to recognise that “we’re all in this together” and institute a US-style system of equity and distribution to spread money throughout the league in pursuit of collective sustainability. I know this will be rejected by most folks but these are, as they say, “unprecedented times”.

Change or die. Change or die.

Comments (13)

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  1. Daniel Raphael says:

    As ever, informative and creative.

  2. Bill says:

    I endorse Daniel’s comment. The NFL model has much to recommend it – especially if we were to focus on home grown talent – the best going to the poorest clubs. This of course would not go down well with the ‘faithful’ who may have to wait more than a few years to win the league again.

    Sad for Liverpool and Leeds. 30 years is a long time!!!


    1. If only says:

      All time Scottish team from just Leeds and Liverpool.
      Goalkeeper. David Harvey
      Defence. Alan Hansen, Steve Nichol, Gary Gilliespie.Gordon McQueen
      Midfield. Graham Souness, Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray, Gordon Strachan.
      Forwards. Kenny Daglish, Joe Jordan
      Subs. Gary McAllister, Peter Lorimer,Bobbie Collins and Ian St John

      If only we had players of this calibre today….

      1. Bill says:

        I do not believe that there is not somewhere in Scotland young people of the calibre quoted by’ If only. ‘ The modern game with the massive amounts of money to buy foreign players and the lack of good academy facilities seems to legislate against the emergence of local talent. Even when local talent does emerge, they are snapped up by larger clubs elsewhere. The attraction of an NFL type system would create a more even playing field and encourage all teams to look for and develop local talent.

        Of course those currently in the dominant position would not find this acceptable – as it would threaten their dominance. However wouldn’t it be good to see Queen’s Park, Queen of the South , Alloa Athletic or East Fife heading the Scottish Premier league? Ah me – only a dreamer.


  3. david says:

    Hmm football. Change or die? Can I vote for die?

  4. alistair heather says:

    Since SPFL is 14th in coefficient table, o think option one should include Aberdeen getting a europa league slot, Rangers getting our 2nd CL qualifier spot

  5. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    I think that the idea put forward by Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager is very good. He proposes that once the restrictions are lifted the present season goes on to a conclusion. The following season the league competitions are curtailed – eg the premiership plays only two rounds of fixtures and then splits into a top and bottom 6, and the other divisions play three rounds of fixtures.

    1. This is dependent on an assumption that the virus crisis is over within a few weeks. It’s not clear that will happen.

  6. Juteman says:

    Promote 6 teams. No relegation. Two leagues of 18 teams. It worked in the past.

  7. Jo says:

    I think since we are so close to the end of the season, the vast majority of matches having been played, that the current positions achieved must dictate who wins titles and who goes down. Frankly, to nullify the entire season is just not an option this close to the end of it. It’s ridiculous. If we were a quarter way through the season, different story obviously. But more than three quarters? I think that’s outrageous.

    As a Liverpool supporter I obviously feel very strongly about this!!!!

    West Ham’s chair, Karren Brady, has made some comments about the EPL and how the season should be declared null and void. Well, she bloody would, wouldn’t she? West Ham are third bottom and potential candidates for relegation!

    “The only fair and reasonable thing to do is declare the whole season null and void.”

    What a quote and what a lie. Nothing fair or reasonable about it. It’s about saving her own team’s bacon and it’s about dosh.

    Meanwhile, Liverpool sit 25 points clear (22 for sure as City have a game in hand), with only NINE games to play, at the top. And Brady says that’s irrelevant? Outrageous! She’s a disgrace and would absolutely not be taking that approach if her own side did not stand to benefit. That’s incredibly dishonest. She should have the guts to admit that she wants the season written off for financial reasons related to her own club.

    Cancel the EUROS. Hang fire for now with a view to finishing the season, even if we play games behind closed doors. That’s my preferred option.

    If that’s not possible, with more than three quarters of the season gone, then simply declare current positions as final placings.

    1. Arboreal Agenda says:

      As (for my sins) a lifelong West Ham supporter, Brady is an embarrassment and her comments ridiculous. But it comes as no surprise. The current crew there have ruined the club. I don’t know what the solution is but nullifying the season is about the worst suggestion you could make and is clearly made because of the dire league position of WHU.

  8. Me Bungo Pony says:

    As a bit of a nerd about these sort of things (not to mention a little sad …. thought I’d get that in first), I’ve pondered the future of Scottish football quite a lot and come to my own conclusions. Covid pandemic not-withstanding and assuming civilisation doesn’t crumble around us, this is how I would restructure the SPFL if I had the power to do so (of course I don’t, and none of it will ever come to pass but anyhoo).

    League Format:
    A top flight of a maximum 20 teams (at least 16 though) split into two regional divisions (East and West) of 10 much like the MLS in the USA. The Premiership would be decided by a play-off system as most truly competitive tournaments are. I would personally prefer the top flight to be a stand alone affair with the rest of the current SPFL teams forming/strengthening Senior leagues below this level such as the Highland and Lowland leagues. They could, however, form regional divisions below the top flight with either automatic promotion and relegation or an old time “election” system that existed pre WW1 that would require criteria to be met (such as stadium, turnover, fan base).

    Games Played:
    To determine the number of games to be played against each opponent, the two regional divisions would be divided into two “local” pools. For example, in the East Division, I would have (others WILL disagree) ICT, Aberdeen, Dundee Utd, Dundee and St Johnstone in one pool and Raith Rovers, Dunfermline, Hearts, Hibernian and Livingstone in the other. Teams would play against the teams in their local pool 3 times, the teams in the other pool twice and the 10 teams in the West Division once. This gives a total of 32 games which is not a bad number, especially as it would leave time for the play-offs to be contested. It could be increased to 37 (which is the current number) by playing teams in one of the other regional division’s “local” pools twice. The asymmetry of each team’s fixture list is essential to prevent the ability to just tot up the points to see who is the best at the end of the “regular” season, no matter what Regional Division they are in, thus bringing the validity of the play-offs into question.

    Once the “regular” season has been completed, the top four in each Division would contest the Play-offs. My personal preference is a system based on that used by the “Aussie rules” AFL. It uses “Qualification” and “Elimination” games that favour the higher ranked teams to determine progress. In the case I am making, it would look like this;

    Elimination Round 1: 3rd East at home to 4th West and 3rd West at home to 4th East. Winner progresses to Elimination Round 2. Loser is eliminated.

    Qualification Round 1: 1st East at home to 2nd West and 1st West at home to 2nd East. Winner progresses to semi-final. Loser progresses to Elimination Round 2.

    Elimination Round 2: Losers of QR1 at home to winners of ER1. Winners progress to semi-final. Losers are eliminated.

    Semi-Final: Winners of QR1 at home to winners of ER2.

    Final: Hampden Park (other venues are available).

    ALL league sponsorship, advertising revenues and broadcasting revenues to be split equally between all teams regardless of whether they finished last or Premiers. Away teams to receive a share of the gate money. The first is a no-brainer if you want to create at least the illusion of a more competitive league. If the team that wins is given far more money than the teams that finish last then the “attainment gap” is only going to get bigger. This ties in with my second point. Teams that win will get bigger crowds (by and large), and subsequently more money, while teams that lose will get ever smaller ones. By “redistributing” the wealth a little, the competitiveness of the league can only be enhanced. Given the prevalence of Season Tickets it would be necessary to create a “tariff” per head to determine what the away team is due. For example, if we decide that away teams are due 10% of the “gate money” and that each spectator is “worth” £20, then a gate of 10,000 would mean the away team is due £20,000.

    Old Firm fans will likely hate this because, inevitably, it would reduce their revenue and probably see them win fewer Premierships. However, would it not make the many Championships they would still win just that little more special with much of the inevitability of them removed? Fans of the teams that didn’t make the cut for my preferred “closed shop” option would also not be keen on it. But, given that those teams have barely tickled the higher echelons of the SPFL in nigh on 100 years of competition, would they not rather contest a League they could conceivably win? The top teams in each of these Senior leagues could also contest a Scottish Senior Championship via a play-off system such as I outlined above. I realise this is just blue-sky dreaming, never going to happen and just a little irrelevant given the crisis surrounding us right now …. but it is at least distracting me from it all temporarily.

    Ah well …. back to the doom and gloom. Thanks for the opportunity to put my thoughts out there 🙂

    PS For clarities sake, my choices for the West Division would be Falkirk, Hamilton, Motherwell, Celtic and Partick Thistle/Rangers, Morton, St Mirren, Kilmarnock and QOS (others WILL disagree).

  9. TonyD says:

    Null and avoid is not an option.
    Among numerous other reasons: BT had a deal with the SPFL for 4 championships so if they only got three is next years deal deferred and they get to show their fourth league championship? Either way there is no prize money this year. Also fans could sue for season ticket refunds for a season that didn’t take place. At the end of the day like Marseille owner (2nd) calling out Lyon owner (11th) only those who have had poor season want null and void – its the losers charter and losers can’t be allowed to dictate anything.
    For me the best options is:
    1. Conclude the season behind closed doors as much as possible. Immediate Emergency fixture list to play every 2- 3 days at 2pm as public no longer need to be considered. All clubs then come under the same time pressure between matches so a level playing field.
    2. PFA are concerned about H&S of their members so test all players so that they know they are on the field (“working”) with others who are not affected. Many other “workers” are out working why shouldn’t football players go to work?
    3. Any player who can’t play is an injury – a standard risk in football and this is normally the time of year full squads are used anyway.
    4. This could resolve leagues in 3 weeks before peak is expected, and prize money and league placings are agreed.
    5. Scottish Cup delayed until Football restarts.
    This needs to be put in place immediately whilst there are still comparatively very very low numbers and still weeks away from peak.

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