This morning was one of those, ‘why bother?’ times. The English game, already flooded with cash, is about to get a 70% pay increase. Our game, already ravaged by the destruction of meritocracy over the last decade, will be ever-more firmly put in its place.
Good for the English. They are notoriously rubbish at running football clubs but eventually there will be an amount of money which is so great, that they will become successful at it, if not actually ‘good’. The Premiership’s bounty is historic, the trickle-down to the Football League will be eye-watering by any other measure. The distribution to grass-roots football to build pitches, fund youth clubs and generally improve the technical proficiency at all levels, will be lavish, even if it is only 2%.
The economic impact at 20 Premier League locations will be significant. These games are worth tens of millions of pounds to host cities each year, employing hundreds of people from security guards to Bentley salesmen. On announcing the deal, Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, proclaimed that Burnley were currently economically more significant than Ajax, an astonishing fact. Before the new deal!
Scottish football can cry in its Magners or we can play with the hand we’ve been dealt. The first reaction has to be to clearly establish that Scottish football’s exclusion from riches available in the England and Wales’ football league structure is not the fault of the English (or Welsh). In the last decade the FA Premier League made it clear they didn’t want Celtic and Rangers, but the English and Welsh FAs, or the Football League, have not given any opinion on extending their federation to include Scottish football.
The immediate problem in Scottish football, is those running Scottish football have failed to address creeping structural threats. Those running our game are, to a significant degree, happy with their club blazer, tickets for Hampden occasions and of a Scot having a one-in-four chance of becoming a vice president of Fifa.
It may appear obvious to you and me that becoming part of the big game next door, allowing our better clubs (and I mean more than just Celtic) to compete for a place in the top league, for many of the rest to enjoy the enormously improved commercial deals available in the Football League, for the community clubs to plug themselves into the bountiful distributed benefits available over the border, and for our cities to benefit from the economic boom available for hosting a Premiership club, is enormously desirable. Those running our game have not figured this out yet.
So don’t blame the English, our exclusion from the party is a consequence of Scottish football not asking to join the English and Welsh structure. Until this question is asked, we’ll never know the answer and we will continue to face financial hardship, our towns will not benefit from the indoor facilities being built across Europe, and Bentley salespeople will have more time on their hands.
Scottish football needs a strategy for structural change. Such a move would benefit the entire game here, and would benefit the Football League. Every other response of comment on yesterday’s TV deal is just a distraction.
Looking forward to tonight, hope we see Gary and/or Stuart.
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