The great and the good (extensive poetic licence used) of the SPL and SFL will gather at Hampden tomorrow to shuffle the deckchairs of Scottish football. For reasons which no one has, or will, explain, it will be suggested that three leagues, with 12, 12 and 18 teams, will be able to resolve the problems of our game.
There will be no consultation with fans, Uefa or neighbouring associations, and no claim will be made that this reorganisation will be able to resolve a single significant issue.
For all its limited appeal, the Scottish Football League is in rude health. On the whole clubs live within their means and in places play important roles in their communities. This is as good as it gets for the likes of Alloa, Montrose or Brechin City. They could all benefit from a higher solidarity payment from above, but this would be the case no matter what level the trickle-down was set at. Their interests would be best served by ensuring that those sending payments down the pyramid are as fat as possible.
The clubs with most to gain from substantive change are those condemned to compete for second place in the SPL. Dundee United, Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts have been neutered in recent decades. United and Aberdeen have gone from being the two most impressive clubs in Europe at developing young talent, to clubs who cannot hold onto players long enough to put a competitive team on the field.
Scottish clubs with ample support, stadium and coaching talent have been left behind by smaller clubs in England, from Wigan to Burnley, who benefit from operating in a more lucrative commercial environment.
Hearts are trying to sell shares to raise a few million to keep themselves afloat at the moment. The club would be worth ten times as much if it was located 100 miles down the road, or structural change made it possible for it to benefit from a more valuable environment. Shares in clubs like Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hibs would also be worth many multiples of their current value.
Stephen Thompson has spoken of the financial burden Dundee United place on his family, a regionalised league structure would turn this burden into a vastly more valuable legacy. It beggars belief that Hearts, United, Aberdeen and the rest have not grasped this reality and started to make inroads.
It’s time for some radical thinking.
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