The news of genuine proposals for reform into the structures of Scottish football have been met with sighs of relief by the majority of level headed football fans. I would be inclined to agree; the current four- tier structure is baffling due to the simple fact that there are 42 ‘senior’ clubs split into a needlessly complicated 4 tier structure involving playoffs, splits, promotion, relegation, and a bottom tier from which finishing bottom brings with it no repercussions, even when it’s done five times in succession (ahem, East Stirlingshire ’02-’07).
The new structure being proposed unanimously by the SFL clubs (that’s the clubs from the three tiers below the SPL, for those struggling to keep up) suggests the replacement of the 12-10-10-10 system with a shiney new 16-10-16 system compromising of a Premier League, a “Championship” and a “First Division”(a blatant copying of the English Football League structure) . This is a move that was greeted with fairly selfish reactions from the Old Firm, with Ally McCoist backing the changes, presumably as it would likely see Rangers hit the top flight again quicker, and Neil Lennon opposing the changes as it would gain his side no advantages over the other teams. SFL teams universally back the changes because, well, anything is better than what we’ve got now.
Now, my problem is not that I disagree with the changes proposed – although I am slightly baffled at a middle tier of just 10 teams – it’s that the deep rooted problems in Scottish football require significantly bigger reforms than changing the league sizes to rectify. Thankfully, the turmoil facing many top clubs in Scotland has provided an easy context to reflect the issues in the running of the game. Now avoiding the Rangers example entirely (being from Glasgow, one understands that this may be slightly divisive to those as passionate on the topic as I) a fine example of the problems facing Scottish football can be found over in Edinburgh with Hearts.
Following Vladimir “Mad Vlad” Romanov’s decision to leave Hearts in a state of financial turmoil for the seventh time or so (not including those times where he simply didn’t pay his staff because he couldn’t be arsed) the question has to be asked of why the SFA don’t seem too bothered that a man clearly unfit to run a football club is running a football club. Surely to ensure the longevity and financial sustainability of member clubs is in the interest of Scottish football, and is therefore the responsibility of the authorities to ensure appropriate people are in charge of the member clubs. The disastrous consequences in failing to perform this role can be found in the liquidation of the Rangers Oldco, and the demotion of the football club to the Third Division. The new league structure could very well increase revenue and interest in the league, but this does not necessarily mean that clubs will go to the wall less often.
With these reforms being proposed things are looking bright for Scottish football. Whether the future is bright, I’m not entirely sure, and to be honest, I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one. But considering SFL Chief Executive David Longmuir is the face of these changes, and also holds the distinction of being the only reasonable man of authority in Scottish football, that’s at least a small positive. But still, with Snoop Dogg’s apparent interest in buying shares in Celtic, the next few months will certainly be interesting if nothing else.