History has been made after members of Scotland’s oldest senior football club, Queen’s Park, accepted to embrace the world of professionalism after more than 152 years of being amateur.
A 75 per cent majority was required for the change at an Extraordinary General Meeting and the 120-plus members who participated voted 90.2 per cent to agree to the payment of players and 91.7per cent to deleting the word “amateur” within the club’s Articles of Association.
Club president Gerry Crawley said: “I believed that turning professional was the right thing for the club. It was vital that the members were involved in the decision-making process and whilst 75 per cent was a high hurdle to jump over the move has been very well supported.
“I played for Queen’s Park, so I know how big a moment this is. We can now start focusing on the future whilst remaining very proud of our long history in the game.”
The result changes the way of life for a club that won ten Scottish Cups only to be left behind when professionalism became the norm at the start of the 20th century.
Queen’s stuck to their motto of Ludere Causa Ludendi – “To Play for the Sake of Playing” and famous ex-Spiders including Sir Alex Ferguson and Andrew Robertson received only travelling expenses.
Opposition to professionalism remained strong until the Scottish FA agreed to purchase, against a backdrop of moving the heart of Scottish Football to Edinburgh’s BT Murrayfield Stadium, Queen’s Hampden home as opposed to leasing it last year.
A purchase price of only £5 million was secured due to funding that would have been required to be repaid to the National Lottery and Hampden Debenture Holders by Queen’s if Hampden was no longer used as the National Stadium.
The lack of rental money as well as the expenditure of converting their present training ground at Lesser Hampden, and a reduced ability to attract players willing to forego a wage for playing at the National Stadium every fortnight, led to the first moves towards last night’s historic decision.
Another significant factor is the lack of financial return that the club’s youth programme receives due to their amateur status and the decline of Berwick Rangers to the Lowland League via the pyramid play-offs in May strengthened the argument, as did the emergence of a clutch of clubs determined to grab a senior spot.
Had members not agreed, the club was facing what was described as a “managed decline” that included not building one of the new stands at Lesser Hampden as it would become a “folly”.
A bright future now looks assured as Queen’s will receive financial backing from Lord Willie Haughey who, along with Sir Tom Hunter, stepped in to bridge the gap when the SFA could not agree on the purchase price for Hampden, and has pledged a transfer kitty to help get a professional squad established.
One of the members present said: “A huge cheer went up when the results were delivered. In a perfect word we would have stayed amateur. However our world has changed.”