Letters to the Sports Editor
I HAVE little interest in football these days. As a teenager things were different. I lived within earshot of Ibrox and nearly all of my friends were Rangers supporters.
But one friend and I followed Queen’s Park. In some seasons the fixtures allowed us trips to Ibrox and Hampden on alternate weeks. In others, we were forced to choose and most often chose Hampden. But I moved to Edinburgh in the 1970s and my interest gradually dwindled away.
Why do I find myself moved to write to the press? Because football is Scotland’s national game and I am a tax payer.
Our national game should be a source of pride. Instead, the shambles surrounding the demise of Rangers brings shame on us all. I now read of plans that would allow Rangers to move directly into the First Division in the coming season. Among other things, Rangers newco’s entry into the Scottish FA would only be approved if they accept responsibility for the football debts and fines incurred by the previous club along with their (Rangers) waiving of rights to a legal challenge. How cosy! The football clubs owed money are being bought off while all the other creditors including the taxpayers get virtually nothing.
The football authorities seem bent on rewriting the rules in a short term expediency to make up for the loss of one season’s income following Rangers’ absence from the SPL. This loss of income remember stems from the lopsided attendance figures for the Old Firm where fans travel the length and breadth of Scotland rather than support their local teams.
It has been reported that a number of lower division sides in the Scottish Football League have been told they face being cut adrift from the top tier if they do not agree to proposals for league reconstruction.
What a fine mess. A mixture of bribery and coercion is the basisof a prosperous future for Scottish Football. Will this really provide a platform to promote interest in football throughout the land, develop strong Scottish talent and allow the national team and the nation to hold its head high?
The only glimmer of hope I can see is that the clubs may have realised that they are all in it together. But is it a game or a business? In normal business the “players” want to put their competitors out of business. In football, as the others have now so painfully discovered, that is the last thing they need. Football really is more a game than a business. The clubs are in the game together, otherwise there is no game. So why not get closer together?
In the past, there has been too much focus on the business side, allowing the dominant teams to become ever more dominant. Why not get closer together and pool all the revenues from the game, including gate, media and advertising revenues, replica shirts and beer mats with club logos and, of course, transfer fees. Then spread all those revenues around all the clubs including non-league clubs to support the development of Scottish talent. This would put the focus on winning trophies, spread footballing talent across the leagues and increase the competiveness of all the games and the enjoyment for those who support their local team. Some might argue that this would weaken the prospects of Scottish teams in European competitions but I believe in the long term Scottish teams would strengthen.
This approach will no doubt be too radical for most if not all professional clubs and a financial reward for excellence needs to be built in, but not at the expense of the game. There is a balance to be struck. For our long term success and dignity, we would to well to remember the Queen’s Park motto “Ludere causa Ludendi” – to play for the sake of playing.
Edinburgh Audited accounts needed if Newco is to be accepted
AS AN exiled Scot and a Dundee United supporter of some 40 years, I am following with interest the revelations surrounding the demise of the former Rangers Football Club thanks to your coverage.
I have noted that you are currently running a poll on your web page inviting votes on where a re-formed Rangers should play next season. To my mind this poll is (unusually for your normally high standards) flawed on two counts.
Firstly, there cannot be a re-formed Rangers FC as they are under liquidation and never to return. Your poll applies to what is referred to in business terms as a ‘phoenix’ company and cannot carry on as a business carrying the same or similar identity in the same industry using such association with identity of the defunct company to commercial advantage. Therefore, your title should read “Newco or Sevco5088 poll”.
The second flaw is that there is no provision for a reply option of “they should play outside of the national leagues structure”. This is a valid option as currently Newco or Sevco5088 do not meet the current criteria for membership of the Scottish Football League (SFL) – even at Third Division level – as they cannot provide the required evidence of three years of audited accounts which are a pre-requisite for applying for SFL membership. If you amend your poll, I would be happy to contribute by voting accordingly.
As Uefa says: ‘Football is a game before it is a product’
TO the SFA, SPL and SFL,
If the rumoured proposals go through, and Sevco 5088 were to start next season in the First Division, I have a question that I would like answered.
What happens if it becomes apparent that they are struggling, not going to earn a promotion or play-off place, or possibly even fighting relegation to the Second Division?
Will the rules be once again changed to accommodate a club that has so far made a mockery of football integrity in Scotland?
I fear these proposals are setting a dangerous precedent for, once again, damaging the majority to pander to the minority. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change Scottish football for the better. More competitive, more money spent on bringing youngsters up through the ranks and, more importantly, re-invigorating people’s love for the game.
As Uefa state quite clearly as one of its 11 values: “1. Football first: In everything that we do, football must always be the first and most important element that we take into consideration. Football is a game before being a product, a sport before being a market, a show before being a business.”
Might be worthwhile our authorities refreshing their memories of what is really at stake here.
BARTON UPON HUMBER
Rangers should have danced to taxman’s tune
WHEN I saw the headline to a short article in my local evening paper, “Rangers To Focus On Beetles”, my first reaction was that Rangers newco had turned to the Fab Four to find solace for the predicament they find themselves in. I then realised the spelling was different and the article in fact referred to a beetle walk being organised by the rangers at Crathes Castle near Banchory.
If the Rangers newco had decided to find comfort in the songs by The Beatles perhaps they could have turned to I Should Have Known Better or Help. I doubt, however, if they would have embraced George Harrison’s 1966 composition Taxman.
ROBERT T SMITH
Non-contact nature of football makes it a turn-off
HAVING sat through what must so far rank as one of the most boring football tournaments ever, it seems clear to me that the sport is fast becoming non-contact.
Any tackle regarded as even slightly strong is met by a shrill blast of the referee’s whistle and the inevitable dramatic play-acting of the “innocent” party who rolls around on the ground as if a vital organ has been removed without anaesthetic when at the very worst he may have a minor scratch. When football used to be exciting, with goalmouth incidents, if a player was hurt in a tackle he would do his best not to show it in the knowledge that he may be able to return the favour later in the game.
What was it that John Cumming used to say at Hearts? Blood doesn’t show on a maroon jersey! Today’s footballers are more likely to faint at the sight of blood, bless them.
In the English Premier League on cold days the prima donnas wear over-long socks to keep their poor knees warm and even gloves for goodness sake! What would hard men such as Billy Bremner or Norman Hunter have thought?
ROBERT S CLARK
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