SHARING gate money and addressing the huge economic gulf between the top and the bottom of Scottish football must be part of the recipe to make the game much more competitive and get fans back, says a new policy group.
FansFirst Scotland’s research director, Dr Alasdair Galloway, made this larger point in responding to comments this weekend from Scottish football legends Walter Smith and Gordon Strachan.
Both men have joined a growing chorus of disapproval for the demotion of the Rangers Newco to the lowest tier of the Scottish professional game, regarding it as “disastrous”.
But FansFirst Scotland says that the challenge this will pose to the inherited financial structure of the game could have a beneficial longer term impact if it finally wakes people up to the crippling nature of over-dependence on one or two rich clubs.
In his article, Dr Galloway writes that Walter Smith’s suggestion that Rangers could have been required to split their gate money is “an interesting idea” and that “gate sharing ought to become standard practice on some formula (it doesn’t have to be 50/50) in order to address the inequality of competition that has become endemic in the SPL”.
The orthodox view that the teams that are the biggest attraction should have the biggest say in how the game develops has already been happening, and it has remained part of a pattern of continual decline, not renewal, the article points out.
“Something like 85 per centof the resources of Scottish football are allocated within the SPL. The winner of the SPL gets £2.7 million, while the team that wins SFL3 gets £45,000, according to the SPL 2010 strategy document,” says Dr Galloway, who is a Senior Lecturer in Management at the University of West of Scotland.
“Accepting that the resources available will be a strong determinant of the quality of football, is it surprising that the quality of football in the fourth tier of our game is less than in the top level? Is it surprising that fewer people go to watch it? But to be clear, this isn’t entirely dependent on the clubs themselves. It is instead, to the extent indicated by these figures, determined by the pattern of resource allocation which is already distorted toward a small number of very large clubs.
“If resources were shared more equitably, then crowds might be more equal than they are now because there was a higher level of competition in our game,” Dr Galloway, principal author of an alternative plan for the future of the game in Scotland, concludes.
An updated version of the FansFirst Plan for Scottish Football will be published shortly.