Letters: Football and rugby better together

ALLAN Massie’s bilious attack on the state of Scottish football (‘Scottish rugby clinging on as football falls’, The Scotsman, 20 April 2013) as a way of painting Scottish rugby in a favourable light reminds me of nothing so much as one of two bald men fighting over the proverbial comb – rather pointless.

Development and youth football in Scotland, the grass roots of the game, have been undergoing a revolution in methods, attitudes and techniques in the past few years. This has still to properly bear fruit in the senior and professional game, and no-one thinks the situation is perfect yet by any means, but the sport in this country is moving in the right direction. Bemoaning the number of Scots who now feature in English football is meaningless, given that the world’s best (not just Britain’s best) of a global game now ply their trade there.

It is arguably in rugby’s best interests for youth football to be strong. Some of Scotland’s best rugby players started out as accomplished footballers – from Dave Rollo at Cupar Hearts through Andy Irvine, David Johnston, Chris Paterson, to Duncan Weir today.

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Both rugby and football clubs the length and breadth of Scotland are facing financial hardship. At the grassroots level, forces need to be joined if much-needed new facilities, clubhouses and changing rooms are to be funded. So, on a financial and a sporting level, rugby and football should not be in opposition – they need each other, and need to work with each other, and share facilities and ideas and, at youth level, players. There’s no time for sniffiness anymore – from either side. Allan Massie would do well to remember that.


Marly Green


Club spending curbs would give our game a real lift

THE domination of two teams for decades has ruined Scottish football, and those that allowed such a thing and those wanting it again should be ashamed.

Talk about Sky paying big money for what were Old Firm matches misses the point. They didn’t. We get a pitiful fraction of what they pay other leagues, and the screening of that match was not about the quality of football, it was about matters outside of football that got the viewers, entrenched in a bitter, older off-the-field rivalry.

I understand that whoever wins the league should get to benefit from European financial spoils, but that just perpetuates the inequality for the domestic competitions.

I would suggest, to regain national interest in our football, we allow all teams the benefit of their full squads for cup and European competition. For the league, though, restrict the transfer fee cost of the team to £2 million and the weekly wage bill (including all player freebies used to offset wages and circumvent the rule), to £30,000.

It’s not perfect but we need to get real competition into the leagues and to get away from big spenders going bust, and this addresses both.



Suarez’ lenient treatment takes a bite out of justice

IF I assault a pedestrian in the street and bite his arm, I would almost certainly face criminal prosecution and a custodial sentence.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez assaults a fellow player and bites his arm. The FA punishes him with a ten-game suspension. No criminal prosecution by the police, no custodial sentence. No mention of an earlier ban for a similar offence, nor for racial abuse. Are football players above the law?


Greenbank Gardens


League rejig ‘no’ men Saints and County right to revolt

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WELL done to Roy MacGregor and Stewart Gilmour for standing up to the obvious pressure from the other SPL club chairmen over league reconstruction. I have been a Dons fan for the past 65 years and I have yet to speak to another Dons fan who thought the 12-12-18 leagues was a sensible idea. All want a bigger league but the idea of splitting into three leagues of eight after 22 games, with all points accrued up to that point to be scrubbed, was clearly the brainchild of some demented soul.

At the end of the day, fans shall turn up to watch football not because of tweaking the leagues but because of the quality of football on show. The “must win” pressure put on players nowadays is, in my opinion, also a major factor in the deterioration of the quality of football over the past couple of decades. Football is supposed to be an enjoyable sport both for the spectators and the players.


Braeside Terrace