The plan to save all of Scottish football


So what do you do with a “dead parrot” (© Turnbull Hutton)?  Well, as anyone familiar with the Monty Python sketch (and if that doesn’t include you, go watch) will tell you, you need to admit that the parrot is, technically an ex-…

As soon as you have widespread acceptance of this fact, your problems appear far less intimidating

When I say “you”, I don’t really mean you, unless you are one of the 11 chairmen or controllers of a Scottish Premier League club.  In fact, we can probably narrow it down a bit more.  As far as Ross County are concerned, this is a boom time!  Their Highland neighbours will cope with whatever tomorrow brings, St Mirren and Motherwell are both morphing into community-owned-and-run clubs, infused with the kind of endeavour that got the sport of the ground a century ago.

The people who need to accept that the parrot is dead are in charge of Celtic, Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hearts, Hibs, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock.

Once this conclusion is reached, and before we  dive off into new league structures, we should really pause and ask the important question, what do we want from our football?

I haven’t really heard much about this question in recent months, so here’s my ideas:

The solutions to our problems has to benefit the entire game, not just Celtic and/or Newco.  It has to offer a real and substantial future for Dundee United, Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts and all the others who have been economically disenfranchised in recent decades.

SPL clubs have been good at developing young talent in recent years but most of them are swimming against the tide.  Dundee United lost Paul Dixon to Huddersfield Town last week while Aberdeen have spent most of this year contorting to hold 19-year-old Fraser Fyvie when there are around 80 clubs a few hundred miles away with higher wage budgets.

If these clubs emerge from the changes as paupers, unable to develop and retain talent in the face of Huddersfield Town, we have failed.

I want to see competitive football played in front of full stadiums.  Uncompetitive football in front of low crowds is another failure.

I want to see our top clubs compete in Europe, which is different than just participating in Europe.  Again, any plan which cannot deliver this is not good enough and should be rejected.

There are people across Scotland willing all of us who support SPL clubs to fail.  Collectively, you, me, Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, United and other fans need to use the unique momentum for change to ensure our clubs become unrecognisably successful.

There are others in positions of power within our game who are dis-incentivised to think grand enough to deliver what fans actually want when they buy their season tickets or pitch-up to see their team.

For the past decade or more Celtic and Rangers have tried to shoehorn themselves into the English Premier League.  This would have been good enough for both of them but there was little consideration given to other Scottish clubs.

If we are to invoke structural change in our game, we need to allow everyone in the league to fulfil their potential.  We need to stop clubs from the lower leagues in England plucking the best talent from teams who previously competed in European finals.

The solution is simple and achievable.  Scotland is not big enough to support competitive top-flight football where its clubs can develop and retain talent, but it has a league with many well-run clubs, who are more than able to match the resources of the likes of Wigan Athletic.

Our game should be reorganised along the following lines:

We retain our national team and Association.  We retain the Scottish Cup and Scottish Football League, funded by an improved solidarity payment.  We admit we cannot support top-flight football and ask to fold the SPL into the bottom of the English League structure.

In time we will all find our level.  Celtic will rise to the top but there is no reason for half of the SPL to achieve the same as Wigan Athletic.  The smaller SPL clubs will double or treble their income, no matter what heights they scale in the English system.  Scottish Football League clubs will be able to achieve meritocratic advancement through the system.  We will all flourish.

This is plan is deliverable.  It would benefit the entire game.  Our clubs would be able to retain talent as effectively as they did in the 1980s.  Football would be competitive as each club would find and compete at its level, stadiums would fill and commercial income rocket.  The giants of our game would be giants of Europe.

Instead of contemplating insolvency or social unrest, let’s agree on what we want from our sport and, with the cross-club grassroots movement we have, set about getting there.

It sure beats managing decline while others say, ‘told you so’.

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  1. Posted just prior to new article so again.


    Minceyheidman on 5 July, 2012 at 15:38 said:



    Looking for a safe way to travel and accommodation for myself , brother and 2 teenage daughters as I am trying to acquire tickets for the Aberdeen game on Aug 4th when I will be over on holidays.


    Coming from Manchester and would maybe go by train and stay in hotel but need info so that girls will be safe.


    Maybe pregame info and then Bairds or something to give them a real treat as I only make it back every few years.


    Any information would be greatly appreciated as well as closer to the date if any CQNers meet up it would be great to put faces to names.






  2. Buying a school kids Raith Rovers Season Ticket (£25) and giving it back to the club to use for local kids. Lets start a campaign of support for the SFL clubs.



    This is a chance to re-baseline the whole of Scottish football and have football clubs who do not rely on debt, who live within their means and who prosper.



    Our English Premiership neighbours will self-combust some time soon, so let’s get our act together now and start by easing the pressure on SFL clubs who will, hopefully, put Sevoc in Div 3.

  3. WeefratheTim on




    Do you think we have the people in the echelons of power in Scottish football to carry a plan like this through?



    Weefra HH

  4. Playing devil’s advocat,e Paul – this could well mean several years out of European competition for us, with the Scottish Cup perhaps the only route in.



    And what’s the incentive for English clubs to agree to this?

  5. I read the article,and yeah,something needs to be done.


    1st. Ogilvie,Regan,Doncaster,Longmuir,the 4 men on donkeys ruining the game in Scotland in order to promote bigotry incarnate,need to resign forthwith. Now. Immediately. Before any more damage is done.


    They are wholly corrupt and inept,and have proved themselves so.


    Anyone else with a shred of integrity would have had their bags packed long ago and returned whence they came from.




    p.s. kudos to all who have kept the spotlight on,and to the chairmen who put finance aside for the sake of the fans and our love of football.

  6. Son of Gabriel on

    Would we still play in the Scottish cup or league cup?



    ie. Have the grounds for that made my where your club is on land-mass but then deny us entry to the FA Cup????



    Cups aside…I think this could work. Can we start a petition of all SPL clubs-fans and maybe even English fans to try and show support to help further implement this??

  7. traditionalist88 on




    You can’t whack the Gallowgate for atmosphere on match days as you know!



    Alternatives- Brazen head run a bus(sometimes 2) from the pub to the ground about an hour before the game I think and have pre match music as well. Failte is a good pub which is more central(St. Vincent St, nr George Square) and has great live Irish music Friday & Saturday nights and a good Celtic minded crowd;)




  8. johann murdoch on

    Good idea Paul67


    But who do we disenfranchise down south to accommodate the scottish teams in?..what about those teams already there say in the conference league striving to gain access to the Football league?….I just cant see it happening unless another UK tier is created.



  9. Minceyheidman on 5 July, 2012 at 15:48 said:



    Safety shouldn’t be an issue for the Aberdeen game. Tons of hotels in city centre – within a short stroll of both stations. Have used Mark’s Hotel on Sauchiehall St (very resonably priced) and Carlton george (right next to Q Street station) myself on match weekends.



    Train in and out would be a good solution as no worries re parking, and you are whack bang in the middle of the City.

  10. Paul.



    My eyes were bulging as I read that. But my head was nodding at the end. Very very good.




  11. Interesting idea Paul67, however what about the small clubs in the SFL such as Sevco, what will they have to aspire to ?

  12. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!!..Truth and Justice HAS prevailed on

    Think Paul 67 means adopting the English League ‘system’ ….. Not moving to England…..

  13. sorry Paul, can’t see English football accepting us even at lowest league level, we need to keep the newco out of senior football first then go for a radical change in Scotland without reference to hun/masonic/ex-rangers and need to bring a sports administrator in from abroad with the wisdom to ignore the hun/masonic/ex-ranger faction

  14. LuxCelt on 5 July, 2012 at 15:54 said:


    Minceyheidman on 5 July, 2012 at 15:48 said:



    ”Safety shouldn’t be an issue for the Aberdeen game.”



    Next season might be different.

  15. Paul67, I would agree wholeheartedly .


    However, there are huge obstacles in the way.


    To name a few;


    Officials in the SPL,SFL SFA are well paid and hold prestigious positions. They will not relinquish them easy.


    Clubs in England/Wales will not vote for change that might effect their own standing.


    UEFA have never shown themselves to be in favour of league amalgamations, although they have accepted some changes(Derry City being one).


    It would probably be appealing to SKY, however, if we have learned one thing over the last few weeks, it is that you pay a heavy price to sip with that particular devil !


    It would appear to me that sheer economics and ease of travel will fundamentally change football over the coming years. A prime example is the Rugby Union Celtic league wherein teams from Scotland, Ireland and Wales play in a Premier style tournament.


    I just hope that the changes come soon.


    I have great respect for our fellow clubs in Scotland, they have to fight tooth and nail to keep going in a league that was dominated by two (now one) clubs.


    What must it be like to watch bus loads of fans heading to Glasgow whilst your own stadium lies half empty ?


    They should immense courage in the face of disgraceful bullying over the last few weeks.


    Football is tribal, but it flourishes on big stages.


    I for one look to the day where we play in a UK or European League with the added incentive of teams from Belfast, Dublin ect..

  16. How would promotion from SFL1 to this new league structure operate?







  17. Anyway…..Serena Williams is a drug fuelled cheat. Cheating in any sport/game annoys me mightily.

  18. HenrikTheGreat on

    Great piece Paul, nice to hear a genuinely original idea.



    I like it however the article doesn’t explain how English clubs would benefit. I think they would see it as increased competition.



    There would need to be a clear commercial benefit for the English to even entertain the idea.



    Btw as a very infrequent poster I must compliment Paul – your work in the last 6 months has been truly outstanding!

  19. 67Heaven ... I am Neil Lennon..!!..Truth and Justice HAS prevailed on

    Do ‘they’ really think the SFL Clubs will think differently from the SPL Clubs.



    Silly assumption, since football fans the world over will not allow their Boards to take any decisions which will negatively impact on THEIR Club’s reputation / integrity ………also, just can’t understand why SFA etc can’t see what has happened here ……. SCOTTISH FOOTBALL HAS BEEN DRAGGED THROUGH THE MUD …….. Now, move on, having caught the culprit, and having applied the appropriate justice ……..

  20. I think we must make a stand alone application to join the english league and to quote Hughie at a level the english authorities deem appropriate. I have always thought the spl would be a better league without us and the huns. As the huns are no longer with us( and I think they were a major stumbling block for many in the english game) now is the time to make our move.

  21. thomthethim CQN (genuine) Badge Wearer on

    thomthethim CQN (genuine) Badge Wearer on 5 July, 2012 at 15:35 said:


    Glendalystonsils likes a mr whippy with his lime green jelly on 5 July, 2012 at 15:11 said:


    Celtic have announced a glamour pre season friendly against serie A giants Inter Milan.


    Not to be out done Newco have announced a glamour friendly against bakery giants Inter Milanda. The game is dependent on Newco having 11 players who can stand upright and on a corporation pitch being available.



    share on F’book or Twitter







    inter Milan v Inter Nicene.



    share on F’book or Twitter



  22. WeefratheTim, the people running our game would need to give up some control to adopt this but they are talking like tomorrow is the end of the world anyway. Maybe they should consider the greater good, to borrow a phrase.



    Gordon_J, one issue at a time. The first issue is to get the SPL to agree we need this kind of solution. If we do this, I believe the English system would regard the proposal in a completely different manner than the Celtic and Rangers appeals.



    RogueLeader, yes, no point rearranging deckchairs.



    johann Murdoch, no one in England is disenfranchised. They remain open to meritocratic progress.



    Brimmer, cheers.



    Sheik Yerbouti, the English system is far from perfect but compared to what we have, it would allow us to build the world’s biggest football club in the east end of Glasgow.



    cardiffbhoy, meritocratic rise through the system.



    Ron Bacardi, as I said, one problem at a time. If this is what we want from our football, let’s see where we can take it.



    MadraRua, huge obstacles but I believe most of them reside in Scotland.



    HenrikTheGreat, thanks.

  23. Very interesting suggestion Paul. It would definitely benefit Scottish football but as always the question is will the English see any benefits with this? Scottish football is held in such low regard in England, unfortunately I think most of the press down there would laugh at the idea.



    Another reason, if we needed one, to do well in Europe.

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