St Mirren had to batten down the hatches after being blamed for the collapse of league reconstruction talks but manager Danny Lennon insists chairman Stewart Gilmour has his full support.
The Paisley club’s boardroom supremo joined with his counterpart from Ross County, Roy MacGregor, to sink the 12-12-18 plans on Monday over fears fans would not back it. That lead to angry rebukes from Scottish Premier League chiefs such as Aberdeen chairman Stewart Milne and Hearts chief executive David Southern as they blamed the pair – and Gilmour in particular – for endangering the future of Scotland’s clubs. But Lennon stressed Gilmour has to make the tough choices that he believes will be best for Saints.
He said: “It’s not been an easy week for us here, but the chairman is the voice of the football club and the decision he took was not done lightly. We’re all 100 per cent behind him. But I will ask you this question: Do you really think there is any other football club that doesn’t act with a little bit of self-interest for their own club? You have got to look after your own house.”
Had the reconstruction bid been passed, the SPL and Scottish Football League would have merged under one roof to offer Scotland’s 42 clubs a range of benefits including a fairer share of sponsor income and play-offs.But talks have been put on the back-burner following the SPL’s failure to reach the required 11-1 majority.
Lennon, though, insists a change of mentality is the most pressing requirement. He said: “Change has to be right for everyone but it has to be addressed – but then who can really say what is right and what is wrong with any confidence? What will work and what won’t? There is no league structure in the world that is perfect. None. But what we always seem to do is miss the opportunity to talk our game up. If there one thing that has to change, it’s that.
“It’s a Scottish mentality, not just in sport. We have to get away from all this negativity. We’ve just witnessed two of the best Scottish Cup semi-finals for years. The last six national cup finals have been won by six different teams. It’s been the most competitive SPL in terms of how close the teams have been from second bottom to second top in the league’s history. We even had 9,000 fans turn up for a First Division match between Partick and Morton.
“So I believe we have got to focus on the positive things in Scottish football, because who is going to come in and invest – whether that be sponsors or fans coming in through the gate – if our game is constantly berated, belittled and knocked down.”
There is little to be positive about, however, if you are a Dundee fan. John Brown’s side – 13 points behind St Mirren with five games to play – travel to Paisley today knowing if they pick up anything short of a victory and they will be relegated them from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
“Dundee are fighting for their lives but have lost just once in their last five games. However, it’s the last chance saloon for them,” said Lennon. “We have our own agenda, though. We want to pick up three valuable points and help us climb the table.
“We need to show the siege mentality, that gladiator mentality, because they are trying to get as close to the teams above them as they can and we are the nearest ones to them, so it’s either us or them.”