Last year, the Former First Minister Henry McLeish was commissioned by the SFA to lead the Scottish Football Review Committee. While this committee ruminates and generally chew’s the cud, several Scottish footballing bloggers have decided to put forward an alternative report. This includes Left Back in The Changing Room, The Scottish Football Blog, Inside Left and More than Mind Games.
To my mind there should be three aims towards any attempt to improve Scottish Football. The area’s that should be looked at are as follows…
1) Improvement of “Scottish” players: The stock of the home grown Scottish player has only been lower in the late 1990’s, when our clubs preferred to buy in ready made players from England, Scandinavia and all other points around the globe. Since the first crash in football finances though, more and more Scottish teams have turned to players from this country. The standard of the average Scottish player though is still not very good. For example watch a Scottish game and count the amount of times the ball is given away, and you will see my point. Ball control is appalling and should be a starting point for driving up standards.
Before i move on, can I also point out that we do not spend nearly enough on keeping our population healthy with exercise, by we I mean our politicians. For example every town in Norway has a large indoor sports centre not unlike the indoor football centre at Toryglen. Nice to see they’ve spent their oil windfall wisely.
2) Improvement of “Scottish” Managers: This might seem like some sort of misnomer. After all with the likes of Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Alex McLeish all prospering in the English Premier League the stock of Scottish football managers you would think has never been higher. So why is it that so many of the current crop of managers plying their trade in the SPL are content to use dull negative tactics, where most teams are playing if not 4-4-2, then 4-5-1. Gus MacPherson won the Scottish League Championship (Ok the First Division) playing 3-5-2, yet the moment St Mirren played in the SPL, MacPherson reverted to 4-4-2. Only recently has he reverted to playing 3-5-2, getting to a cup final but still going backwards in the league. Simply put, managers in the SPL are not that competent in setting their teams up to defend and attack. Not that the current football climate helps which brings us to…
3) Improvement of the Structure of the Scottish League Season: Yes the top division is too small, yet there are too many games in the top division, there should be a 16 team top division. And yes there should be a pyramid system. And yes we should have a mid-season break. And yes there are too many chief’s… But that still might not solve the problem in terms of marketing Scottish Football. For example how on earth is lunchtime kickoffs supposed to entice people to come and watch football in this country, especially in area’s of Scotland which still suffers from poor public transport. Ideas which might be useful to look at might be i) Going back to group stages for the first round of the League Cup, but playing these as a pre-curser to the League season ii) The mid season break starting after the Christmas/New Year programme and ending at the start of February with the 4th Round of the Scottish Cup iii) Playing the semi-finals of all national competitions at league grounds, with the exception of Old Firm semi final’s. iv) having specified reserve dates for matches scheduled between November and March and v) ensuring that there are clauses inserted into broadcast contracts which ensure matches are played at reasonable times and that highlights are released to terrestrial television companies a reasonable time after the matches (which hopefully would bring an end to Monday night highlights packages)
This i think is the 3 main areas that should be looking at.