Is this the beginning of the end for Scottish football?
Supporters have lost their passion. Money is almost non-existent. Players around the world avoid Scottish football. How can we turn it around? Can we turn it around?
I remember my first taste of Scottish football. I remember having lunch, in a local pub just down the road from my home team’s stadium, with my father, brother and my father's friend. The atmosphere was electric.
I looked around at all the die-hard supporters chanting football songs, downing pints and chatting about the formation and team they would play if they were in charge for the day.
Raith Rovers versus Motherwell and almost a full house. Not a 'clash of the titans' game, but a great game nonetheless. Raith Rovers were beaten and we trudge back to the car saddened by the defeat. The way the stadium is set out, we had to walk past Motherwell fans.
We shook hands with the opposing supporters and complimented the great display of football we witnessed.
My first taste of football. My first experience of football. My favourite memory of all time.
I now look at the abysmal state that Scottish football is in. Rangers have had to reform and we see both Dunfermline and Hearts on the brink of disaster. This puts every single club with in the Scottish leagues in danger.
Why? Three of the greatest teams in Scottish footballing history have suffered from this drought in money, so why can't it happen to any other team?
With these woes overhanging every club, this has led to a lack of top quality players volunteering their services in Scotland. Scotland have had a great track record of producing top quality youngsters. The problem that occurs is holding on to them.
Teams quickly jump to accept a bid well under the worth of the player. When this happens, it means we have to look at acquiring talents from elsewhere. This poses a problem.
If we look at Hearts, and their failure to pay their players on numerous occasions, who can blame them? Not only that, but with the demise of Rangers, what is there to play for in the Scottish game?
Before the season even starts, they should have Celtic's name engraved on to the SPL trophy for the next ten years. Scottish football’s ability to attract top quality players is laughable.
With the lack of quality players coming to play in Scotland, this has led to a great decrease in support. This is the particular part of the demise that saddens me the most. Fans have turned their backs on a team they once proclaimed to love. I have witnessed away support that can be counted on one hand. How can this come to be?
When I was young, football fans lived for Saturday. To see their team play with the precious company of their friends was the highlight of their week. These fans have also bailed on their teams. We can safely say that it is partially down to the increase in ticket prices, but I believe it is out of pure stubbornness.
People want to prove a point to the men in charge and to do this, they avoid going to games. What they do not realise is something simple. Not going costs their team money. This also makes people follow trend as the atmosphere at the games is dead, leading to a lack of quality in the football on display.
This is the one aspect in drastic need for change. If fans flock to games this leads to money, a rise in the quality of football and a quality that players outside the league will want to be a part of.
Money woes are undoubtedly the biggest issue in Scottish football. With small attendances at games, this leads to fewer profit margins being made. Unlike the big leagues around the world, there are no investors prepared to inject big amounts of money into teams.
No one can explain why this is, but we need to find some way of giving every team a more steady income. There are rumours of reconstruction on the horizon. With these reconstruction proposals, Celtic are prepared to give up a good amount of money in a bid to save the name of Scottish football.
A great gesture, but with the certainty of Champions League football, a gesture they can easily make. Unfortunately, smaller teams cannot afford losses such as this.
So, where can we find any positives to turn the game around?
A greater number of ‘Supporter Days’ have been introduced in the Scottish Football League seeing a greater attendance at a lower price. These days have been a great success and something that should happen more to see the football team repay their fans and bring the magic back to game day.
We also must keep hold of our talented youth players. The late, great Jock Stein puts a healthy perspective on this aspect, as he once said: "It is up to us, at Celtic Park, to build our own legends. We don’t want to live with history, to be compared to legends in the past. We must make new legends."
This philosophy must be used for the whole of Scottish football if we want to see a greater quality of football not only in the club side of the game, but also the national side.
The reconstruction will see every Scottish team earn a great deal more for their final standings at the end of the season. This is a step in the right direction to the big turnaround the Scottish Football Association wants and needs to see. This may then attract some wealthy investors to give clubs more money to spend.
With a healthy increase in budgets going to teams, this will begin the turnaround in the prospects of Scottish football. Money will make teams entering into administration a distant memory, which we will leave in the past, never to be rekindled again.
In years ahead, when teams have steadied their budgets, they will have more freedom to spend money on players. The influx in quality players from all around the world will make Scottish football more appealing and bring back the support of team’s hardy fans.
This prophecy may be far-fetched, but can the SFA not see that the smallest change can make a huge difference. The out-dated system they currently use is obviously not working.
Around four years ago I went to my home team’s football game. Just under one thousand people in attendance. An embarrassment.
The game was filled with terrible challenges and a fist fight to top it all off. A boring 0-0 draw to round off an atrocious day out. On our way back to the cars we pass the travelling supporters hurling abuse and lose change towards us. A few days after this game we read about disabled fans getting attacked after the game.
My first taste of hatred for the beautiful game. My first moment of realisation of what Scottish football has come to. My worst memory of football.
So there is only one thing that Scottish football needs to turn its fortunes around. Change.
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