The Scottish Football League will be discussing possible changes to the structure of Scottish football at a Board meeting next week. And the Scottish Premier League will reveal the results of an internal review on Wednesday – with the SFL board meeting on Thursday.
But will these talks lead to radical change in light of the McLeish report?
In May 2009, former First Minister Henry McLeish was appointed to carry out a review of Scottish football. He published the first part of his report, dealing with the grassroots side of the game and youth development, in April.
McLeish was scathing about the state of our national game, stating that, “as a football nation we are underperforming, underachieving and are under-invested.” I don’t think too many fans would disagree.
53 recommendations were made in this report, covering everything from summer football and more PE in schools to the key issue of increased investment in football. McLeish concluded that, “Scotland needs at least a £400 million facilities and infrastructure programme for sport, including football, over the next ten years.”
McLeish has said that some initial discussions with the First Minister have taken place, although investment of the scale required clearly isn’t going to happen overnight given the current state of the public purse.
But while Alex Salmond has committed to doing what he can, he has admitted to not having actually read the full report as yet!
Salmond will meet again with McLeish to discuss action – sometime before Christmas, we are told. Not exactly an encouraging government response to the crisis in football, is it?
Part two of the McLeish report, which will deal with the lack of leadership and the urgent need for openness and transparency in football was expected in the autumn, which is now really. The official word seems to be that it will be published “soon”.
And this week, Scottish Football League chief David Longmuir has revealed Scotland’s leagues could be set to unite as one body again.
Scottish football was divided 12 years ago when the top clubs broke away to form the Scottish Premier League. But now with falling attendances and many clubs in financial trouble there is a mood for change.
McLeish has called for the various governing bodies that run football to work more closely together, but I hope he will go further in stage 2 of his report and recommend their merger.
Why does it talk two different organisations to run league football? And another, the Scottish Football Association, to run its cups and look after the national team? I would love to see one body having the strategic overview of football and the responsibility for developing the game.
Scottish football needs radical solutions. If we could see the reform of the bloated committee structures that currently run our national game it would be a good step forward.
And if a commitment to open and transparent decision making processes was made by the new body then perhaps football fans would begin to believe that those at the top of the game were genuinely acting in the interests of football.