New Year, Same Nonsense
Where to start? Well, before discussing the crazy ongoings of today, I suppose I should begin by politely and sincerely wishing you and your families a very happy new year, and all the best for 2013.
Moving onto the matters at hand, we have appear to have witnessed an outbreak of sheer lunacy in the south side of Glasgow, particularly focussed around the National Stadium, and the home of Glasgow’s newest Club at Ibrox. While those in the corridors of power at Hampden have announced a proposal for the reconstruction of Scottish Football, one James Traynor has made his literary debut on the official website of The Rangers. Whilst both outbreaks are serious, that which occurred at Hampden has the potential for longer and more serious ramifications for the city of Glasgow, and the country as a whole, so I will begin there.
Imagine it, the future of Scottish Football. How does it look? Rosy? With gleaming silverware adorning the trophy cabinets of Scottish Clubs who continually trounce across Europe, as fans pack stadia across the country on a weekly basis and all Clubs are free from financial worries? No? Well, if those at Scottish Football’s governing bodies have their way, this somewhat flippant example of my imagination may begin to look even more far fetched.
12-12-18. Those three numbers will soon become rather infamous throughout Scotland’s footballing circles, as therein lie the plans to “save” Scottish Football. For those of you who have missed the details of the proposals, I’ll provide a quick summary.
As early as next season, 2013-2014, Scottish Football may look distinctly different. The Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football Leagues will disappear in their current forms, to be replaced with Premiership consisting of twelve teams, a Championship made up of twelve teams, and a National League with eighteen participants. However, midway through the season, the Premiership and the Championship will simultaneously split and merge into three tables of eight. As one unofficial Aberdeen supporters’ account rather beautifully put it on Twitter, a “Super-8, Middle-8, and Releg-8″ style system could soon be a reality, as forty one of the forty two Clubs will vote on it at the end of the month (note – The Rangers do not have a vote as they are not yet a full member of the Scottish Football Association).
A similar set up has been trialled in several countries around the world over the years, with Austria being one notable example. Without going into any great detail, the fact that the system is no longer in use in Austria tells it’s own story. It was a failure, and, to my knowledge, there has yet to be any notable example of this system being regarded as a success.
On a practical level too, this idea appears to be rather ridiculous, especially when you consider that it could only be months away from implementation. Let’s look at Division Two, with Stranraer (on 18 pts) and Albion Rovers (on 14 pts), who currently find themselves in ninth and tenth places respectively. These two sides are in the midst of a relegation battle, to avoid the drop to Division Three. However, with the passing of this new proposal, the rest of their seasons could become irrelevant, as they could both be faced with bottom tier football next season, regardless of their endeavours thus far in 2012/13.
Meanwhile, Arbroath and East Fife, who currently lie in fifth and sixth places in the table, could suddenly have an enormous mid-table fight on their hands, with the victor gaining a lucrative place in the so called Championship next season. In Division Three, The Rangers could win the title by twenty or thirty points, all to no avail, as they could face the prospect of bottom tier football once more, when promotion should be their reward for their efforts (presuming they win their Division).
All in all, this is utterly farcical. You simply cannot move the proverbial goalposts midway through a season. Undoubtedly, Scottish Football needs to change if it is to move forward, both on and off of the field of play. However, this is not the way to do it. If things truly are to progress, then matters such as ticket prices, safe standing, television coverage, grass roots football, fan ownership, the introduction of a pyramid structure and the consistent and examinable financial management of our Clubs should be on the discussion table long before this proposal.
The three governing bodies, the Scottish Football Association, the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football league should be merged into one, singly accountable entity, not two as these proposals suggest. There should be a clear out of some of the dinosaurs who continue to stalk the corridors of power, and greater fan representation, even at the highest echelons of the game. Average Scottish Football supporters must be made to feel that their opinions truly matter, and that their voices can actually be heard.
Generally, when people rush tasks, in any walk of life, they are not completed to the same standard which they would have been had a more reasoned, measured approached been taken. I feel that this is clearly the case here, and I for one hope Celtic will vote against these proposals in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, at Ibrox, James Traynor has taken up his role at the new Club, and treated us to a statement worthy of any propaganda outlet. Whilst ranting and raving away about how “sporting integrity” and the big bad boys at other clubs (with Celtic being the only one apparently worthy of a particular mention) were out to get the Old Club, Mr Traynor produces a few lines which are both inflammatory and vaguely threatening in their nature.
Before discussing this though, he describes those articles which, in his somewhat bizarre view of the world, attempted to hurt the old Club as “…blogs clattered out by individuals who are no better than semi-literate.” Well, Mr Traynor, thank you for that ringing endorsement.
Continuing on the main issues I alluded to previously, Mr Traynor states: “Word of advice gentlemen. From now on be very careful when talking or writing about this club. To paraphrase something said about another club, Rangers will not be treated less than others. And although there is no desire to pick fights, be assured that no one will attack Rangers with impunity.”
Now, I’ll largely leave you to draw your own conclusions here, but I feel this is the sort of statement which you would expect to see on an unofficial supporters’ website, not the new Club’s own official outlet. Clearly, the superiority complex and bravado which were once badges of honour displayed by the old Club are traits which have remained strong within Ibrox Stadium, even through the bad times.
He then finishes with a rather amusing statement, “Tolerance and sanity. That’s what Rangers will demonstrate and maintain, especially when back at the summit. After all, someone has to. 12-12-18. Dear God.”
“Tolerance and sanity” Mr Traynor? This coming from the man who once described a favourite of the old Club’s support, the “Famine Song”, as “banter”? Incredible.
In summary, the outbreak of lunacy continues across the south side of Glasgow, and if it is not contained soon, then I fear all of those with an interest in Scottish Football may well see the negative results in the years to come.
Anyway, that’ll do me for now. After all, it’s a real struggle for a semi-literate individual like myself to pen an article such as this. Now, where’s my Lego? Quite impressive don’t you think? It even has a floating pitch!