Is Scottish football finished?

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lbb
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Is Scottish football finished?

Post by lbb » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:53 am

Hearts 0 Tottenham 5
FC Utrecht 4 Celtic 0
Rangers 1 Unirea 4
Aberdeen 1 Sigma Olomouc 5
Steau Bucharest 6 Motherwell 1 (aggregate)
Maribor 6 Hibs 2 (aggregate)
FC Vaduz 2 Falkirk 0

These are only results over the last 2 years. We no longer just lose to the smaller teams; we get hammered. This happens on a regular basis, across the board. The only thing that's keeping our coefficient up is the aberration of the 2007-08 season. When that drops off, the Scottish coefficient will fall to that of the League of Ireland. No-one in Scottish football could argue with that. In fact, you couldn't be certain a Scottish side would beat an Irish team over two matches. We are where we deserve to be. In under 10 years we'll have slipped from competing with Belgian and Turkish clubs for additional European places to slipping behind Cypriot and Slovakian clubs in European competition. If we can't make an impact now with a seeding advantage, what chance when we're having to climb over a host of nations to even get a sniff of the group stages?

I'm not blaming Hearts for this but there was a time when you would expect a Scottish team to give an English side a bit of a fight over a two-legged tie. Especially at home. Now, it's pretty much conceded we can't compete with the top half of the Premiership or even the bottom half. Our top clubs struggle in transfer battles with Championship clubs and the standard is sinking all the time.

The national team manager throws in the towel and announces that he wants Scottish players to leave Scotland to maintain a decent standard of football (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/footba ... earch.html).

What's to be done? We have, on paper, a professional league with professional football clubs with professional footballers yet our game is in terminal decline. If this was a business, which we're constantly told football is, that was losing 'market position' so rapidly there would be heads rolling. Yet we continue to do nothing. We're not even a couple of years behind European football. We're decades behind. The game in England and abroad is looking an increasingly different sport. Our teams look panic-stricken when they go into Europe because they're playing against a pace, strength, technique and organisation that they simply don't encounter in their domestic league. The game in England and Europe has evolved so much and our game looks amateurish in comparison.

By all accounts, all three Scottish clubs embarrassed themselves last night (Celtic might have drew against the Swiss but they were booed off the park by their own fans which tells its own story). Surely enough is enough. Rangers and Dundee United have already been eliminated from Europe by ordinary sides. There is a very real possibility that all three clubs will be out of Europe by the end of August. When do we say enough is enough?

Skyline Drifter
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by Skyline Drifter » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:02 am

lbb wrote:What's to be done? We have, on paper, a professional league with professional football clubs with professional footballers yet our game is in terminal decline. If this was a business, which we're constantly told football is, that was losing 'market position' so rapidly there would be heads rolling. Yet we continue to do nothing. We're not even a couple of years behind European football. We're decades behind. The game in England and abroad is looking an increasingly different sport. Our teams look panic-stricken when they go into Europe because they're playing against a pace, strength, technique and organisation that they simply don't encounter in their domestic league. The game in England and Europe has evolved so much and our game looks amateurish in comparison.

By all accounts, all three Scottish clubs embarrassed themselves last night (Celtic might have drew against the Swiss but they were booed off the park by their own fans which tells its own story). Surely enough is enough. Rangers and Dundee United have already been eliminated from Europe by ordinary sides. There is a very real possibility that all three clubs will be out of Europe by the end of August. When do we say enough is enough?
I'm not really sure what you're expecting to be done here? We say "enough is enough" and do what exactly?

England is a bigger tv market than us, has comparatively ridiculous amounts more money to spend and does so accordingly, buying in top foreign players (as opposed to the not good enough to play there ones who arrive here) and developing their own ones to an extent. There isn't the money in the Scottish game to do that and there isn't going to be ever again. We're not big enough to do it. If we want to maintain our independence as a footballing nation then you accept that's the way things are going (we could do better of course but comparisons with England are pointless). If you aren't bothered about independence then campaign for a UK league and a UK international side.

lbb
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by lbb » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:16 am

Skyline Drifter wrote: I'm not really sure what you're expecting to be done here? We say "enough is enough" and do what exactly?
Well, that's a good question. Maybe the clubs can try and answer it sometime instead of resigning themselves to mediocrity. Otherwise, crowds will continue to drop as they have been doing.
Skyline Drifter wrote:England is a bigger tv market than us, has comparatively ridiculous amounts more money to spend and does so accordingly, buying in top foreign players (as opposed to the not good enough to play there ones who arrive here) and developing their own ones to an extent. There isn't the money in the Scottish game to do that and there isn't going to be ever again.
I don't think anyone expected Hearts to beat Spurs but to lose 5-0 at home? Should that happen to a professional team? I'm not sure it should. In any case, one could at least accept being turned over just by teams from the big leagues, if that were the case. However, we are losing, and losing heavily, to teams from countries all over Europe. The issue is not just a Scotland v England one but a Scotland v the Rest of Europe one.

macjackb
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by macjackb » Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:36 am

Or even Scotland v itself. There is no argument about the relative size of our market and how the economic dominance of the biggest clubs is more and more important to on-field success and power. As well as that I think we all accept that, since the days when our clubs could compete fairly regularly with Europe's best, the game is more global, the big clubs can tap into a far wider market, and the game at the higher levels is now more athletic and powerful than ever and therefore more difficult to keep pace with. None of that is the issue for me; it's about how poorly our football represents what we ought to be capable of. We ought to be on a par with countries such as Denmark, Norway and Slovenia, not below these and now threatening to slide beneath nations with tiny populations where they number their club attendances in three figures. It's been said before that so much of the game is played in the head, and the rabbits-in-headlights, we're-not-worthy attitude as expressed in the body language of our players and 'writings' of our media turns the stomache. I don't think we're finished, because it's the national game and there's only so far the bottom line can go. But turnaround will only start when there's a bit more honesty from those in positions of power about where we really are going. Maybe then we'll start to re-structure our game, so that playing the game is more fun than it looks from the stands, while the ability to enjoy watching it depends on the depths of your dark sense of humour.

sam peckinpah
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by sam peckinpah » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:11 pm

It was an awful night. Financial power aside, the devastating ease with which Spurs strolled to victory was truly sad. Thirty years ago, Spurs, LIverpool etc got that kind of result against an Irish club, but now they're doing it to us. At least it didn't get to 7 or 8...

Scottish football's at the lowest ebb I can recall in forty years of viewing.

We need root and branch change, so let's start with meaningful reconstruction. A 16 team top league and pyramid system. The SPL has been rubbish since day one and doesn't work, everyone knows it.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by HibeeJibee » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:19 pm

Except a 16-team SPL means less ££ (fewer games, fewer games and less exciting games for TV, fewer derbies, meaningless mid-table = lower crowds, 4 more clubs to be fed)... which means less money for each club... which means poorer players can be afforded/retained/developed... which means...?

League reconstruction's irrelevant.

And how big are the Swiss/Slovenian top divisions, anyway?

John Meffen

Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by John Meffen » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:54 pm

I know that this will never be overturned, but I put it back to the decision to allow clubs to retain the gate money for their home matches, this was always going to mean that the bigger clubs would get an even bigger portion of the pie, and mean that smaller teams 'if' they somehow got into the top league would get no really big paydays.

Let us face the facts, the concentration of more and more of the income generated from Scottish Football among a small number of teams has not caused those teams to be able to keep up with other Europeans countries.

Quite simply it would help the Leagues, their competitiveness, the European qualified clubs and ultimately the national team if the teams toward the bottom were not being further and further left behind, with little avenue for their own advancement, unless a sugar daddy comes in to 'save' them.

I just think the money would be better spent strengthening the whole of the league, than splashing it out on a couple of mediocre and/or has been players from abroad....

I might be wrong. but i don't think so :cry:

John

PS - and don't get me started on that great idea of saving money, the abandonment of the reserve leagues [talk about shooting yourself in the foot]

lbb
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by lbb » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:04 pm

macjackb wrote:None of that is the issue for me; it's about how poorly our football represents what we ought to be capable of. We ought to be on a par with countries such as Denmark, Norway and Slovenia, not below these and now threatening to slide beneath nations with tiny populations where they number their club attendances in three figures.
Yes. Hearts had a bad result - you really have to watch the game to appreciate the gap between the two teams, Hearts genuinely didn't have a clue when they had the ball - but you might disregard it if it came amongst credible results by other SPL clubs against supposedly inferior opposition. It doesn't. There's been a lot of bad results for a long time by Scottish clubs in Europe and we're really going to feel it soon barring a couple of unlikely, incredible runs.

Resources are important. Of course. The teams with most money win the trophies. That happens everywhere. There are some things you can do that don't cost a lot of money, though. Most SPL players are technically incompetent, for example. By this, I mean they are unable to control the ball with both feet, bring a ball down from height, keep possession under pressure, etc. This should be fairly basic for a footballer but the majority of SPL players consider such skills as optional extras. They have their professional contract and they certainly ain't going to work on their development, you must be joking.

You can always improve your strength and conditioning. Hearts were literally bouncing off the Spurs players at times. Maribor's 90th minute goal last night has been attributed in some quarters to the Rangers players being tired by the heat. Sorry, are you being serious? SPL players have all the facilities and time in the world to make themselves quicker and stronger. I'm not talking about Lou Ferringo stuff but there are training techniques you can use to develop high-end athletic conditioning. Look at the likes of Drogba at Chelsea - big, strong, not a bit of fat on him. In the SPL, we regard someone like Ross Tokely as 'strong'. No, no, it's a very different strength. Booting some 18-year-old in the air is not strength. A guy like Tokely would be beasted in a proper athletic environment - as would most SPL players.

It's not resources or money, it's laziness and a lack of ambition that is the problem. Why do our players not want to improve? They want professional contracts, professional wages but don't want to be professionals. It infuriates me.
macjackb wrote:It's been said before that so much of the game is played in the head, and the rabbits-in-headlights, we're-not-worthy attitude as expressed in the body language of our players and 'writings' of our media turns the stomache. I don't think we're finished, because it's the national game and there's only so far the bottom line can go.
I don't know if we have reached the bottom line. We could end up with a top-flight league that is majority part-time, for example. We could sink further down the coefficients to the level of Albania. We could start our pre-seasons in May. I hope we don't but it seems the alarm bells have been ringing for a long time and no-one with influence in the game is listening. I can see fans drifting away. I can see it becoming almost impossible to attract decent players to our league. I'm fed up saying this every year but the clubs never, never, NEVER learn. They never learn. It's criminal.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by lbb » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:14 pm

John Meffen wrote:I know that this will never be overturned, but I put it back to the decision to allow clubs to retain the gate money for their home matches, this was always going to mean that the bigger clubs would get an even bigger portion of the pie, and mean that smaller teams 'if' they somehow got into the top league would get no really big paydays.
Yes, it doesn't work. You already have the distorting effect of two 'super-clubs' (no sniggering please) in a small league so there was no need to distort it even further. Will Rangers and Celtic go back to sharing the gates? Probably not even if it would be to their long-term advantage. No-one cares. Rangers and Celtic will get over their European exits next week - if they happen - by gathering round the totem pole of the next domestic trophy.

I do think some form of wealth distribution has to occur. It's not the big answer but it would definitely help create meaningful competition. I would advocate an equal distribution of the TV money, for starters. Mind you, I would also consider whether it's worthwhile persisting with the TV contract in the first place. Kick-offs at weird times, in dreadful weather, people choosing to pay a TV sub rather than go to the game, etc. Presumably the clubs have done the calculations (stop sniggering again) and worked out that they gain more from TV rights than fans staying away from TV games. I have my doubts. Look at Easter Road and Pittodrie for Celtic's two visits in recent weeks. Crowds down in two of the more attractive fixtures over the season. Was it worth it for them? Presumably they thought so.

lbb
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by lbb » Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:22 pm

sam peckinpah wrote:It was an awful night. Financial power aside, the devastating ease with which Spurs strolled to victory was truly sad. Thirty years ago, Spurs, LIverpool etc got that kind of result against an Irish club, but now they're doing it to us. At least it didn't get to 7 or 8...
I thought Harry Redknapp conducted himself very well. He seemed slightly embarrassed and genuinely regretful about the state of Scottish football. He must have wondered what we've been doing to fix it. Not a lot would be our reply!

Gordon Baird
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by Gordon Baird » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:11 pm

The retention of gate money from home matches is a problem and one that increased when, as David pointed out in 'The Roar of the Crowd', the Old Firm managed to convince their supporters that they had to buy a season ticket. Their subsequent financial power has made them pretty much invincible domestically since then.
The lack of competition has been exacerbated by awarding three points for a win. Fair enough, it was introduced to reward attacking football but did it have any effect in that regard? In the old days if your team lost twice to Rangers they were only four points behind them - now, three defeats and you're nine adrift, no chance of making that difference up and that's before the possibility of playing them a fourth time come's into it.
There is a very real danger of part-time clubs in the Premier Division very soon. The First Division is a death-trap - if clubs don't spend money they won't go up but if they do spend and fail to get promoted they'll soon be bankrupt. Most clubs in this division are struggling and will be part-time eventually.
What about the playing side of things? Why are our younger players so bereft of ability? There's been criticism of the 'Largs Mafia' but surely they're coaching young players the same way as the rest of Europe? Do the problems start at an even earlier age?
As for the cost of Scottish football, don't get me started. It was £21 last week for the St. Johnstone/Dunfermline match - a lot of people just can't afford that.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by HibeeJibee » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:43 pm

I'm afraid to say I simply don't understand how returning to gate-sharing, 2x-playing in a 16-team SPL, 2-points-for-a-win and so forth changes anything about last night...?

EDIT: By that I mean - Hearts lost due to the vast financial superiority of Spurs, and using bad tactics. Celtic disappointed: but only need 1 goal in the away leg to advance (assuming Sion aren't expelled), against the Swiss cup winners. Rangers, leading before McCoist made a tactical blunder, also need 1 goal to advance.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by Skyline Drifter » Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:21 pm

I'm sorry, I'm not going to pretend by any stretch of the imagination that there aren't problems with Scottish Football, though we do tend to exaggerate the bad and not credit the good sufficiently. Nor am I going to claim the results of Rangers and Celtic last night were anything other than disappointing (as was Rangers capitulation to Malmo). However, those are still fairly delicately poised and the hyperbole that we're "losing easily" to diddy nations has no bearing on last night. Neither Celtic nor Rangers lost easily.

Hearts are absolute light years away from being competitive with a top Premiership side (and Spurs ARE a top Premiership side and a wee bit unlucky not to be in the Champions League). I don't know who ever seriously thought they could be. Tottenham were clinical last night and played some superb stuff. The suggestion made to me before the game that a full house at Tynecastle would be in any way intimidating for a club who won in the San Siro last season was laughable. Hearts may be Scotland's 3rd force but even they will barely pay the whole squad what Rafael van der Vaart earns in a week. The scoreline didn't really reflect the reality of the game. It COULD have been 10 -0 and not flattered them. It's the downside of Hearts having got through a round that they might meet such a side. They were a little unlucky with the draw but them's the breaks. They also got Tottenham on a night when they were absolutely flying. I don't see major need to panic about it.

lbb
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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by lbb » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:25 pm

HibeeJibee wrote:I'm afraid to say I simply don't understand how returning to gate-sharing, 2x-playing in a 16-team SPL, 2-points-for-a-win and so forth changes anything about last night...?
As I said, if last night was simply an aberration, fair enough. But it's not. Are you aware that, potentially, we face dropping to 28th in the UEFA coefficients next year? We were sitting 9th 10 years ago. Scottish football has had a run of horrendous European results for some time.
Skyline Drifter wrote: However, those are still fairly delicately poised and the hyperbole that we're "losing easily" to diddy nations has no bearing on last night. Neither Celtic nor Rangers lost easily.
After watching Malmo win at Ibrox - and they could have won by more - I said that Malmo would be hammered by the first credible team they faced. They lost 4-1 the other night to Dinamo Zagreb. They are not a good team.

After watching Maribor last night, I'll tell you right now that if they eliminate Rangers, Maribor will be ragdolled all over the place by the first credible team they face. They are not a good team.

Still, the Rangers manager has confirmed that 'the league is full of honest people' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/14595301.stm). That's fair enough, Ally. For a minute back there, I thought we were in trouble.

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Re: Is Scottish football finished?

Post by HibeeJibee » Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:01 pm

Well, OK - what should be done?

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