Scottish football petition to appear before Holyrood

By Neal Wallace

A petition urging changes in Scottish football will go before the Scottish Government next week.

The petition is put forward by Iain Jack, who set up Help Change Scottish Football, and requests two fundamental changes; to merge the Scottish Football Association (SFA), Scottish Premier League (SPL) and Scottish Football League (SFL) into one representative governing body, and to investigate the SFA’s use of public funding.

Jack believes the SFA does not take enough responsibility for the problems facing Scottish football, saying that the task “beyond the scope of a lot of the clubs”.

Empty stadia can be seen across Scotland. Photo by Stuart Chalmers

With many fans affected by the recession, clubs have seen a sharp decline in attendances. Hibernian‘s average attendance has dropped from nearly 15,000 four years ago to 11,000 this season. Celtic recorded an 11,000 drop in their average last term. Sky Sports’ David Tanner believes the game needs modernising, and should look Stateside for inspiration: “If you look at American sports you can get all kinds of franchised food. None of these things are available at Scottish football. That has to be modernised or the game will die. I think the attendance levels dropping reflect that.”

In a statement, the SFA said this was an issue for the SPL and SFL and made no further comment.

Mike Riley, Chairman of the Hibs Supporters’ Club, believes the introduction of a winter break would encourage more fans to come to the game: “I think Scottish football’s seriously got to look at that. That would bring it into longer situations where we’re having good weather. Making it better for the young kids as well.”

Jack believes the SFA have not done enough, stating that: “The reality is that there aren’t any real sort of plans. That’s why the SFA have to lead it.”

A change in the system has to be decided at club level through a mandate, but without the backing of all three governing bodies it cannot be completed. A single governing body, Jack believes, would make changes easier to implement: “When two large companies merge to form a larger corporate entity, each company will be different in it’s business systems and it’s technical areas. The decision to merge is often a simple one. Scottish football has to undergo a similar process but has to see beyond the detail which hampers decision making by confusing the issue.”

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