SPL fans have their say on the latest news from around the league
Scottish football needs change and, while the proposal on the table may not have worked 100 per cent, it was a start and was always going to be a compromise.
Stewart Milne has his critics among Aberdeen fans but his observations on Monday about the motivation behind the no vote, while impassioned, were not misguided. St Mirren are fearful of relegation from the SPL but fancy their chances against the single promoted side each year and are happy to plod along. There were 6,000 at their home game against Celtic while 9000 watched Partick play Morton when promotion was an issue. How many would they attract vs St Mirren in a middle eight? We’ll never know. It’s unfortunate the SPL now finds itself frozen with the status quo.
Keep this to yourself but I don’t think the Ambrose and Wilson partnership is the most watertight defensive pairing. One has the ferocious tackling of a dead sheep and the other just doesn’t tackle. In fact, they make the pairing of Gillespie and McNally look solid.
Jackie McNamara’s young United team didn’t look out of place against an, apparently, experienced Celtic side apart from Willo Flood who spent all his time on the ground. You have to wonder if he is physically capable of playing top-flight football.
With restructuring having been scuppered by two clubs, it will be interesting to see what the next plan is. An SPL2 doesn’t look like an option as it does not satisfy the fans nor the revenue needs of the clubs. It took three years to get to this stage so I cannot see a new league structure being set up in three months!
FELT a bit left out at the weekend but fair play to all four Scottish Cup semi-finalists (even United) for two thrillers. And delighted that it’s a Celtic-Hibs final. Every year, we hear about Hibs’ hoodoo but, once they finally win the Cup, maybe Dundee’s hoodoo will get an airing. It’s 103 years, and counting. . .
The SPL vote wasn’t great news for next year’s First Division teams, of which we will be one. That will be confirmed at St Mirren on Saturday if we fail to win. Play-offs should be introduced soon but maybe not in time for next season now, so it’s back to that all-too-familiar slog for one promotion place.
If we can keep the players we want to keep, with Harkins a key figure, we’ll be in the hunt. But, for example, when you see the quality of the youngsters Falkirk have got, you can see how hard it’s going to be.
The Club 12th Man
AFTER the SPL vote it seems as though we are looking at another close season of in-fighting and recriminations. Quite how Neil Doncaster manages to keep his job after a series of failed initiatives is quite beyond me and makes you wonder about how effective he is at communicating with the clubs.
Hearts commence their bottom six campaign this weekend with a difficult looking fixture at Kilmarnock, who will be gutted after throwing away a place in the top half.
If we have any aspirations to “win” the split we will need to take three points and try to build some momentum. Our away form this season has been the worst in the SPL for wins and points gained and that is unacceptable even with our current travails.
At an absolute minimum we need to be finishing above Hibs to try to salvage something from this disappointing campaign.
Long-term supporters of Hibs probably thought they couldn’t come up with a new way of putting us through emotional turmoil. Until Saturday, that is.
Our Scottish Cup semi-final against Falkirk was always going to be tough but to be 3-0 down at half-time was truly stunning. At that point league reconstruction looked like a better bet than a Hibs comeback. Credit must go to Falkirk but Hibs were simply woeful. No player could escape criticism but Pat Fenlon’s decision to go with only one striker against a lower league team meant that for many Hibs fans he was most culpable. Whatever was said at half-time certainly worked though. Most of us probably thought that the best we could hope for was restored pride. To actually win the game really was remarkable. Now all eyes are on the final against Celtic. League form suggests it’s mission impossible.
THE current league system (not just the structure) is rotten to the core and we desperately need change. What is wrong is evidenced by the fact that clubs were given the option of all or nothing. Obviously, clubs might be for a change in the voting structure and against the restructuring proposals but were simply not given the option of voting separately on the issues. The current system with the 11-1 vote for change means that no meaningful change is ever going to happen. Voting for change today would have seen a change to the voting structure, the development of a pyramid structure and the first steps towards a much more sensible structure for the game. This opportunity for change has now been lost. What was wrong with giving it a try? If it didn’t work at least we’d have had the mechanism in place to change it.
THERE were a couple of decent televised matches this week and Killie fans were no doubt shouting on Falkirk who have installed Scottish Cup winner and Killie fan Gary Holt as their manager. As it turned out we will have a Hibs v Celtic final but both semis were seven-goal thrillers that went to extra time. Proof, if nothing else, that there are talented teams in Division One that can’t even get a sniff of top league football due to the current set-up. The 12-12-18 set-up has now been rejected and it was no surprise with the arrogant “all or nothing” proposals. The majority of changes are agreeable and long overdue but the crazy eight’s league format which already failed elsewhere in Europe was never going to wash. Michael Johnston voted for the proposals which was to be expected given his track record for doing what he wants despite Killie fans’ wishes.
Fans were able to see the best and worst of Scottish football in the space of a few days but the positive feeling of the remarkable semi-finals at Hampden has washed away already. It was always likely the reconstruction proposals would fail due to the well-known views of Ross County and St Mirren but it is worth noting that, had the 11-1 majority been removed – something that should have happened the instant Rangers left the SPL – the motion would have passed.
But, as the Motherwell board said, everyone needs to move on. Part of that involves finding a solution for next season and the years to come. Motherwell voted yes with only a wafer-thin mandate from the supporters. Joining and supporting the Well Society is the only way to ensure our voice is heard properly next time.
YET again the SPL reconstruction vote makes all the headlines. And, thankfully, the proposals have not been voted in. County’s Roy MacGregor and Stewart Gilmour of St Mirren were quite right to stand by their opinions and not to buckle under the extreme pressure.
However, the aftermath seems to be more about the fall-out between the SPL chairmen than what will happen next. Stewart Milne has been vocal and it was rather disgusting what he said about Gilmour. His gripe was Gilmour’s rejection of a compromise of a 9-3 vote but it was Milne who vetoed that back in October last year. If the other ten chairmen were willing to offer concessions on the 9-3 majority, why were they not open to compromise of keeping the current league set-up but with the other two main changes of a single governing body, and the wealth re-distribution?
Here’s a controversial opinion. I quite like the current Premier League set-up. In fact, the only change to the current league set-up that I would make is to introduce a play-off between 11th-placed club in the SPL and the teams placed second to fourth in the First Division.
If we had that this year, every single team in the SPL would have something to play for with five games of the season to go. The same goes for the First Division.
Think of the crowd that would be attracted to an Edinburgh derby to decide a play-off place, or for Hearts v Falkirk in a two-legged play-off final.
Get that in the package, along with the pyramid, the redistribution of cash and the voting changes, and we would be on the right track.
In the last few weeks I’ve learned a few things about how Scottish football works. An 11-1 voting system is fine as long as you don’t plan to team up with someone else to scupper a ridiculous plan. You’re fine to publicise your intentions ahead of a vote as long as you intend to go with the majority. And, in the eyes of some paranoid conspiracy hunters, St Mirren and Ross County are doing the work of Charles Green. But my enlightenment was complete on Monday when I discovered we have ruined Scottish football. We’ve done anything but. All I saw was my club voting against an abomination of a proposal. The man who was most angry needs to have a good look at himself – if he had agreed to bin the 11-1 vote then the plans would have gone through!
Thank goodness this weekend we can get back to football.