AS the new football season gets underway in Scotland, a leading commentator has praised the ‘fan power’ movement that arose around the Rangers crisis, and urged the pressure for change to continue.
In his article on the FansFirst Scotland website, Gerry Hassan, a regular columnist for The Scotsman and one of the country’s leading thinkers, says that what has been called the ‘Scottish Spring’ has consequences well beyond the boundaries of the game.
He writes: “It was only due to the unprecedented gathering of fan power that the football authorities were prevented from keeping a Rangers who went into liquidation in the top flight Scottish Premier League (SPL); they then stopped them being ‘parachuted’ into Division One rather than Division Three.
“This is a historic moment. For time immemorial our society has been run by an intricate network of elites, professional groups and vested interests… Fascinatingly, football is the first arena in our public life where the fresh, cleansing air of democracy has shown itself.
“Over the summer, football fans across Scotland have come together, agitated and organised and overturned a time-honoured stitch-up … They did this through a variety of forums from supporter’s trusts and associations to the internet and social media, creating an informal, powerful fans movement.
“We have now seen something stupendous and yet already the football authorities are attempting to engage in restoration of the old order. They are actively trying to conserve the old failed ways.
“Football has become infected by the short-term, massive debt and an addiction to Sky TV money which is related to the unsustainable bubble of the economy. Scottish clubs for the last decade have spent more than they could, binged on expensive second-rate imports, and ignored community and youth development. And yet this is the model the authorities and most of the teams are desperate to keep on the road.”
Hassan concludes that “whatever difficult and painful roads Scottish football faces, and it is going to have quite a few, things will never completely be the same again, no matter how hard the football authorities and some of the myopic football old guard try to turn back time”.
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. Hailed by the Sunday Herald as ‘Scotland’s main public intellectual’, he has written and edited a dozen books in the last decade on Scotland and the wider world.
He is an associate of FansFirst Scotland – a new policy and advocacy network working with supporters to help chart a fresh path forward for Scottish football.
Read the article here.