In these difficult Covid 19 dominated times with no apparent roadmap for escape we are all on the cusp of financial pressures that will only get worse for our clubs and football communities.
Ahead of writing this I spoke with a couple of club insiders this morning looking for extra insight.
No surprises that both are genuinely disturbed about the current crisis and especially fear the financial implications.
Both commented without much prodding that we have never more needed leadership from the SFA, SPFL, UEFA and also the government.
“Making it up as they go along” and “Playing Peter off against Paul” were interesting quotes on the current plans to bring a partial end to our season.
There was in particular a lack of support for what they have been asked to cast a vote on tomorrow and how it has been packaged.
For those who have been gorging on Netflix here is an extract that summarises the SPFL position and plan.
the SPFL has therefore today circulated a written resolution to its 42 member clubs recommending that SPFL clubs approve:
- the immediate termination of Season 2019/20 for the Ladbrokes Championship, League 1 and League 2, without the remaining fixtures in the League being played;
- all play-off competitions being cancelled; and
- final season placings to be determined by the number of points per game earned by each club in the matches they have played. This would result in the following final divisional tables for Season 2019/20 in the Ladbrokes Championship, League 1 and League 2:
if approved, this would result in the promotion of Dundee United, Raith Rovers and Cove Rangers, and the relegation of Partick Thistle and Stranraer.
if the resolution is approved, the SPFL has also committed to consulting with clubs over the possibility of league restructuring ahead of season 2020/21.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Like This
The Scottish Football Supporters Association Board (all volunteers) is a mix of fans of different clubs, some big and some diddy. No club or club attitude dominates our thinking in any way.
As a group of fans we have been discussing the deepening crisis because the moment lockdown came into place all football fans suddenly became faced with a different world.
- Not just no football to watch.
- Maybe clubs disappearing.
- And a very uncertain future when things start happening again.
None of us know how much things will have changed if, or rather when, new normality returns but it is not difficult to challenge the SPFL proposals in tomorrows vote.
To us as a group they are perhaps well meaning to get closure but deeply misguided and will potentially drown in unintended consequences and hubris.
Our SFSA board member Henry McLeish is probably most proud to be an ex East Fife semi-pro, but also a well respected ex Scottish First Minister and also author of the insightful (but mostly ignored) McLeish Reports outlining where change was most needed.
Henry said that in his view there is no merit in going ahead with Friday’s vote as it currently stands.
His main reasons are it is confrontational between member clubs some with vested- interests. Furthermore it will damage the whole ethos of our burgeoning and vibrant football pyramid.
Maybe worst of all it is ultimately open to on-going expensive and damaging arguments and litigations because of financial claims and counter claims.
Time for Cool Heads and Clear Thinking
The Scottish Football Supporters Association don’t profess to have all the answers and have no vested interests but here we have created a 3 point strategy that we feel will help guide Scottish Football to best ride this crisis and allow the real planning and budgeting at all clubs ahead of whatever is coming our way.
This is Not a Time for Own Goals.
Covid 19 and the aftermath will cause enough financial hardship and stress to clubs and fans.
This is not a time to pitch clubs vs clubs or fans vs fans. And not a particularly good time to offer a possibility, of a possibility, of a possibility of reorganisation in time for Hearts and others not to get unfairly relegated.
We Need an Interim Plan Where There Are no Losers
This could be a 1 year’s solution, possibly 2 at most, where every club (and fan) gets a positive post Covid 19 start allowing the best possible financial move into the new season 2020 – 2121 for all.
See our plan starter for ten below (insights and other plans welcome)
Scottish Football Desperately Needs a Re-launch (But not in a manic rush)
How best should we set up our league structures to help our domestic and international game move into the future?
How do we look at an updated list of McLeish insights and incorporate them?
How do we involve the Scottish Government and the real stakeholders, the fans?
How do we capitalise on our football community for the greater good?
The recent surge of clubs coming into the fairly new pyramid system both in the Highland area but especially in the central and southwest regions is screaming out for a new and fairer framework.
Any long-term solution is likely to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary and grounded but it must be fit for purpose and fair for all from day 1 for all the members.
It has to work and be seen to work top down and bottom up.
How Might an Interim Plan Look for 2020-2021?
Here is a starter for ten that doesn’t change very much from what works today and incorporates the following.
- No relegation for season 2019-2020
- No need for play-offs.
- No Covid-driven negative vote on Friday 10 April
Scottish Premiership 2020-2021
14 Clubs (This year’s 12 plus the top 2 in the Championship)
Scottish Championship 2020-2021
14 Clubs (The 8 remainers from this year’s championship plus the top 6 from the current first division)
Scottish Division 1
16 clubs (4 remainers from current division 1, + all ten clubs from division 2 + the champions from Highland and Lowland Leagues.
Current number of senior clubs 42 Number in interim plan 44
League Reconstruction season 2021 onwards in a wide and open process involving the clubs, the Scottish Government and the fans and looking at how to best run professional and semi professional men’s football across Scotland.
Times are and will become hard enough
All 42 Clubs and Fans Should Be Working Together
Together We Can Stop the Own Goal Vote