Chairman’s diary: Reconstruction talks are a sham and all about self-gain

Iain McMenemy calls for more meaningful discussions on way ahead for Scottish football
Stenhousemuir want to be involved in reconstruction talks which are 'more meaningful, more strategic and more intellectual'. Picture: Rob Casey/SNSStenhousemuir want to be involved in reconstruction talks which are 'more meaningful, more strategic and more intellectual'. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
Stenhousemuir want to be involved in reconstruction talks which are 'more meaningful, more strategic and more intellectual'. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS

I’m sure there’s many of us in the same situation, where we’re struggling to know what day of the week it is. Each day is much like the other. However, last Saturday is a day some of us won’t forget in a hurry.

Any preconceptions that there was a mood across the SPFL for meaningful league reconstruction were dismissed in a couple of short hours. Two Premiership clubs gave interviews on the radio and both confirmed they were only willing to support reconstruction as a temporary measure and then it should be back to more of the same. And throughout the whole radio debate that followed, there was little to no discussion around any of the issues, concerns, or impacts on clubs in the lower leagues of the SPFL.

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My phone went into meltdown. A number of colleagues from other clubs reached out with their concerns. It appears that on the face of it, the reconstruction talks are a sham.

In my opinion they should change the name of the ‘reconstruction task force’ as it isn’t about reconstruction, it’s gerrymandering; nothing more than redrawing the boundaries for self-gain.

If that is their objective, then so be it. However, if you want the support of other clubs for supposed reconstruction, then you need to aim higher. You need to reach out and involve us in something more meaningful, more strategic, and more intellectual. This means talking to us, and with us, rather than simply talking at us.

There are a number of clubs that want meaningful reconstruction, so I would advise the powers that be to start talking, otherwise their plans won’t make it past the first vote.

There is a willingness amongst an overwhelming majority of clubs to find solutions to the issues caused by these extraordinary circumstances, but there are other issues out there too that should be addressed. This is an opportunity to do more than save one or two big name clubs this season, only for other smaller clubs to pay the price in the year that follows.

I still believe that the SPFL has missed an opportunity to engage with supporters on reconstruction. Just this week, I have been contacted by two supporters with their own ideas for reconstruction. There are some good suggestions out there. We should listen. Nearly half of all money in Scottish football comes from gate receipts. Fans are big investors. We should ask them what they think.

Away from league reconstruction, at Stenhousemuir we have been continuing to support our local communities throughout this pandemic.

Our initial Community Help Initiative where we offered to help local people in need continues to expand. We now have a list of over 100 local people who are at home needing help through this crisis. This was for shopping, and picking up prescriptions and walking dogs. We then offered to do the shopping for NHS workers that couldn’t get to the shops due to their shift patterns.

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We then discovered that there were families self-isolating who were entitled to free school meals but couldn’t get out to get them. We started delivering for a handful of families but that quickly grew. Before we knew it, we were delivering for ten schools and around 800 lunches per week.

A local foodbank got in touch as they were dealing with similar issues, families who needed a bit of support but were unable to get there as they were self-isolating. This quickly became 120 food parcels being delivered for the foodbank each week.

Then we launched our Warriors meals plan. This is where we brought in our club caterer to prepare hot meals twice a week for the people on our list requiring help. We launched this last week and are now delivering 200 free hot meals every week.

We have only been able to do this through the generosity of a great many people. We have over 100 volunteers out helping. Local businesses have donated vans and drivers to help us deliver. Others have donated financially to help us buy the food for our caterer to use. The community spirit has been nothing short of exceptional and inspirational.

So whilst we may not be providing our community with regular football, we hope that our commitment to being a core part of community life continues.

*Iain McMenemy is chairman of League 2 club Stenhousemuir.

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