Iain McMenemy: New SPFL board must set us on path to progress

Let’s start by looking at how we govern ourselves and run our league set-up

Hampden would usually have been the host venue for this week's SPFL and SFA agms but they were instead held by video conference due to the current rules on gatherings. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

This week has hosted the Annual General Meetings of both of our football authorities. The SPFL held theirs on Monday, swiftly followed by the Scottish FA on Tuesday.

Both meetings made history as they were the first Scottish football authority agms to be held by video conference. Whilst this isn’t the best medium by which to host a meeting of this kind and with so many attendees, we continue to live in a period where we need to be fully respectful of the Covid-19 rules on gatherings. However, having 50 in attendance at the SPFL agm and 100 for the Scottish FA’s, it largely removed the ability for any real debate.

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No-one is to blame for this, we live in difficult times, but this is a time when we should be thinking, planning, discussing, actioning, and sadly, that is difficult to do in the circumstances.

At the SPFL agm we elected a new board. Whilst a number of former members remained in post which is good for continuity, there were a few new faces elected as well. I fully respect those who put themselves forward for these positions. They are unpaid and require a significant time commitment.

As we have seen over the past few months, it can be a thankless task. I for one, am grateful to those who volunteer to take on those positions. Whilst I can be critical of how we sometimes go about our business, I recognise the difficulties they face trying to function in a dysfunctional organisation.

It is ironic, that there are many representatives of professional clubs who want to see things done differently, who want to see our organisation be more progressive, and more responsive to our needs and the ambition of our supporters. However, we seem unable to effect change.

In truth, there is no higher power that stands in the way of our progress. There is no superior body that blocks votes or neuters our ambition. In truth, we are a members group so the power to change our organisation lies in our own hands. Perhaps the first step is to recognise that.

The board of the SPFL is key to delivering change. Even when they cannot always see a way forward to deliver change, they still need to be the ones who drive the agenda. We need the board, and the executive to develop and publish a strategy for the game. They need to set the destination, and the road map to how we get there, and they then need to win the support of the clubs to take it forward.

At present, we don’t plan enough. The old cliché is true – if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? How will you even know you are heading in the right direction?

So my hope would be that the new board decides to set us on our path, and declare that they are the ones to deliver improvements to Scottish football.

The past few months have been difficult for everyone involved. There is a clear desire amongst clubs for us to at least examine how we govern ourselves and run our league set-up. Let’s look at that now, as a standalone matter, away from resolutions connected to past failures, away from financial and political posturing, and away from perceived fair or unfair, temporary or permanent reconstruction discussions. In other words, let’s take the heat out of it and spend time to look at ourselves calmly and methodically.

Football has many supporters, and I don’t just mean the dedicated heroes who attend matches week in week out. There are many others who love the game. Many of them have skills that can help us reshape and reset our path. I heard the calls from Ian Murray MP for a UK Government review of our game. I have some sympathy with his position, but I don’t necessarily believe it needs to be reviewed at Government level.

But neither do I believe that we should do this internally. We need fresh thinking and input from people outside of the clubs. We need supporter involvement, and we need to take a structured approach. We can take our time to get it right.

Scottish football went to war with itself over the past few months. We need to not only recognise that through our words, but we need to do something about it through our actions. We exposed our weaknesses, we now need to reconnect to our strengths. We love the game, and have such passion for it. If we can harness that positivity and drive and focus it on improvements, then we can build our clubs and our game and inspire the nation to get behind us.

My hope is that our new board will take the lead and commit themselves to delivering the change we need.

*Iain McMenemy is the chairman of League 2 club Stenhousemuir.

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