THOSE who are saying that the decision to put the Rangers Newco into the third division is a ‘disaster’ for Scottish football are missing the point about how to make the game sustainable, the research director of FansFirst Scotland says.
Dr Alasdair Galloway, who teaches business at the University of the West of Scotland, and who is principal author of an alternative plan for the future of Scottish football, was responding to comments from ex-player, Davie Provan, in the media recently.
In a series of three articles for the new policy group’s website, Dr Galloway says that an overemphasis on corporate finance, lack of genuine football competition produced by vast inequalities between clubs, and lack of attention to the wishes of supporters, has been driving fans away and making the game suffer.
The football-supporting academic will shortly be launching a new edition of the FansFirst Plan, calling for bigger leagues and a different approach to the running of the football in Scotland.
Fans put most money into football and want a more attractive, competitive spectacle, he says. Returning to a status quo dominated by the two Old Firm clubs is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The current situation, though immensely challenging, opens up an opportunity for change.
“If Scottish football is to be competitive then we need to recognise the role that resources play in this,” he writes. “If one club has £1,000 to pay players, and another has £100,000 to pay its players, then it seems inevitable not just that the latter will win, but will always be expected to win.
“What attraction does a match between two such clubs hold out to spectators? Not much. Certainly less than one between two, approximately equally resourced, clubs. Actually it could be argued that this is one of the reasons for the popularity of the Old Firm match – it’s a competition between two approximate equals. The problem is that they have left the rest of the game in Scotland so far behind.”
FansFirst Scotland was formed to promote supporter-driven change in the game, in the wake of the furious debate over the Newco and how Scottish football should deal with the crisis at Rangers.
Dr Galloway points out that the Old Firm might actually benefit from a more competitive and financially fairer structure for the game in the long run, along with others.
The need is to think about what strengthens Scottish football as a whole, rather than to start with just a few interests and allow them to dominate, he suggests.
Contact: Simon Barrow