Nice feelgood story for a Monday morning

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lbb
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Nice feelgood story for a Monday morning

Post by lbb » Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:30 pm

http://www.theherald.co.uk/sport/headli ... livion.php

"Scottish football has gone to the dogs. As Pearse Flynn prepares to end his expensive association with Livingston, one prospective buyer, Eddie Ramsay, has decided the only way to make the stadium economically viable is to lay a greyhound track around the pitch."

And so on.

Lot of unnecessary gloom from Broadfoot but there are problems - 10,000 at Pittodrie for an Aberdeen-Celtic Scottish Cup quarter-final tells its own story. A big factor is ticket prices, of course. In my view, we pay too much. When Kilmarnock first came back into the Premier Division in 1993, they filled the lower half of the Broomloan Stand at Ibrox for their first visit. If they paid the same as the rest of the stadium, that would have been around £8 a ticket. Today, the same ticket will cost you £26 - an increase of 300% when the average wage has probably only risen around 30% (I haven't checked).

Rangers were charging £24 for the Hibs tie yesterday but have sensibly reduced it to £13 for the Partick Thistle match. You will see the difference in attendance, I'm sure, between the two ties. To be fair to Rangers, they wanted to reduce yesterday's prices even further but Hibernian refused. They won't get much sympathy but it's difficult for a club like Rangers who aspire to some level of European competition. Across the border, mediocre Premiership clubs can get away with charging £45-£50 for, er, mediocre Premership matches. In comparison, £25 seems cheap but I do think it's too much for Scottish football as it stands - and if someone wants to take their kids to the game it becomes ridiculously expensive.

I broached the subject of splitting gate revenue on another forum. It was received with some hostility. Clearly the days of a 50/50 split are long gone but it has to be in the long term interest of even the OF to have some share - 20, 25% perhaps - given to the away club. The lack of competition is chronic and is not going to get any better without serious financial reorganisation. Some people, however, just can't see this.

StAndrewsHMFC
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Re: Nice feelgood story for a Monday morning

Post by StAndrewsHMFC » Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:51 pm

lbb wrote:I broached the subject of splitting gate revenue on another forum. It was received with some hostility. Clearly the days of a 50/50 split are long gone but it has to be in the long term interest of even the OF to have some share - 20, 25% perhaps - given to the away club. The lack of competition is chronic and is not going to get any better without serious financial reorganisation. Some people, however, just can't see this.
I think the lack of competition and general staleness of the SPL doesn't help either. The gap to the OF is only getting bigger, in terms of money and support. This is a very bad thing for scottish football, how you encourage better support for teams outside of the old firm I don't know, but its something everyone in Scotland including the old firm should be looking into if they won't the SPL to improve as entertainment going forward.

A case in point- I went to school in the west of Edinburgh, at my school about 80% of boys supported Hearts/Hibs, 10% Rangers, 10% the rest.
If the tops in evidence at the local park kickabouts are anything to go by now its 50/50 between Edinburgh teams and the Old Firm. I was also surprised to see a family in full Rangers tracksuits walking around the home terrace at Palmerston on Saturday.

lbb
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Re: Nice feelgood story for a Monday morning

Post by lbb » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:32 pm

The lack of competition is a problem and Old Firm supporters, in particular, can't bury their heads in the sand and pretend it's not their problem. I seriously wonder if Celtic have played in front of more than 45,000 at Celtic Park in an SPL match this season (that's unofficially, not the figure they give to the press). In one or two cases, it's been two-thirds empty. And that's during the closest title run-in for 3 years. Rangers have been marginally better but the gaps even in season ticket areas must concern them. And the myth of the season ticket waiting list has been quietly dropped.

I could understand that some people might be resentful of 'bailing out' incompetent administrations at other clubs and some SPL clubs haven't done enough in terms of developing their own training or youth facilities. However, the interest of the league, of the competition, has to trump both these gripes.

Interestingly, for being the home of capitalism, sport in the US seems to understand the need for some trade restriction and wealth distribution ahead of profit at all costs.

The Major League Soccer has some interesting rules and regulations regarding player acquisition. Allocated players are assigned to teams by the League based on the previous year's performance. Teams can sign players but are restricted in their activities and cannot even, in some circumstances, replace injured players.

In the NFL, every team gets exactly the same split of TV revenues every year regardless of where they finish and how many people watch their games. The worst teams get the best players coming out of college and even the following years fixtures are tweaked so teams have easier schedules if they've lost a lot of games the previous year. The salary cap means that if a team is doing well they simply cannot afford to keep all the stars that they have. The resulting parity means your team is usually always in with a chance.

For a team to be consistently successful, they need star players to play for a lot less than they can earn elsewhere, their scouting team has to continue to unearth gems at the bottom end of the draft and their coaches have to integrate new players into their system quickly.

Alternatively, the same two teams could just keep on winning everything.
StAndrewsHMFC wrote: A case in point- I went to school in the west of Edinburgh, at my school about 80% of boys supported Hearts/Hibs, 10% Rangers, 10% the rest.
If the tops in evidence at the local park kickabouts are anything to go by now its 50/50 between Edinburgh teams and the Old Firm. I was also surprised to see a family in full Rangers tracksuits walking around the home terrace at Palmerston on Saturday.
On another forum a few years ago, I once came across a QoS/Rangers fan who assured me that every second week at Palmerston half the crowd would cheer the Rangers score at HT and the other half would cheer the Celtic score. I didn't know whether to believe him.

It is a problem and it's not one that's easily addressed - particularly as the world gets smaller. The Old Firm themselves are not immune to it particularly if they go through a relatively unsuccessful period. Purely anecdotal evidence but I recall some Celtic fans I knew who affected a greater interest in the affairs of Manchester United during Celtic's trials and tribulations of the early 1990's. Ultimately, the problem would only go worse in Scotland if the Old Firm joined a British/European league and had even greater exposure. Working to make sure Scottish football is as successful and competitive as it can be has to be the way forward.

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Post by StAndrewsHMFC » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:49 pm

It also interesting to note from America that the NHL has changed to mirror the distribution of monies and salary caps like the NFL as Detroit and a couple of other teams splitting the Stanley cup wasn't seen as good enough from a competitive point of view.

The difficulty of applying that here, is how it would work in a european league, ie with promotion/relegation and not a closed shop (although the SPL...). I don't think anyone wants to see a franchise style system here, just look at the reaction to Livingston/ Airdrie United.

A British or european league, even a european league without the old firm, would as you say just kill the game of here for many supporters. Im' afraid I'm not old enough to remember but apparently the formation of a 10 team premier league really hit middle ranking teams both financially and at the gate, I suspect the effect would be just the same

Skyline Drifter
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Re: Nice feelgood story for a Monday morning

Post by Skyline Drifter » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:53 pm

StAndrewsHMFC wrote: I was also surprised to see a family in full Rangers tracksuits walking around the home terrace at Palmerston on Saturday.
I wasn't.

It's not that unusual and only likely to be exacerbated by Saturday's situation. It's not like we get over 6,000 every other week. We don't. Saturday was the first realistically winnable quarter final in most people's living memory and brought out a crowd reasonably commensurate with that fixture. Neither Celtic nor Rangers were playing and a lot of their local "fans", be they actual attenders or not, probably took the chance to take in the game. I wish these people would have a think to themselves and at least dress in non-club affiliate colours if they don't have any Queens gear but some it seems every week are determined to show up in what they consider "football gear". It doesn't seem to cross their mind that they are effectively showing support for a rival in the same sport. The way they see it they aren't in the same ballpark and they are quite entitled to walk around emblazoned in the gear of their "big team" whilst patronising their "wee team".

Pitiful really.

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Re: Nice feelgood story for a Monday morning

Post by Skyline Drifter » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:56 pm

lbb wrote:On another forum a few years ago, I once came across a QoS/Rangers fan who assured me that every second week at Palmerston half the crowd would cheer the Rangers score at HT and the other half would cheer the Celtic score. I didn't know whether to believe him.
I don't think that happens to any serious extent now. Maybe some wee boys who think of themselves as OF fans but aren't allowed to go there so are sent to Palmerston (@ £1 per game) instead.

Embarrassingly though I can recall that happening in the 80's. It certainly wasn't half the crowd but a sizeable enough minority to be easily heard.

lbb
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Re: Nice feelgood story for a Monday morning

Post by lbb » Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:17 pm

I wouldn't support a franchise system, no. Clubs are not businesses as such and can't be treated with a similar comparison. If Tesco are unsuccessful, it makes sense for them to move to another location. You can't do that with a football club. Another factor is that it's in Tesco's interests to put Spar out of business - they would gain their customers. It's not in Rangers, or anyone's, interest for half the SPL to go out of business.

It's not going to be a panacea. The Old Firm have always dominated Scottish football to one degree or another. That's not going to change overnight, if at all. What is happening is a greater gap between the OF and the rest and the likelihood of a 'third challenger' having a good season and splitting them or surprising them is diminishing. This is bound to affect interest. In the 5 seasons prior to the Premier League reorganisation of 1975, Rangers finished in the top 2 in two of those seasons. Now, they've finished outside the top 2 once in 20 years.

So, a third force would not immediately emerge to permanently challenge the Old Firm. However, it would allow greater investment in playing squads and facilities which should surely raise the standard of these teams.

My fear is that Rangers domestic TV money will only continue to decline as the league gets no better and we continue to struggle to attract even ordinary players to our league due its poor reputation. Both of these factors will force us to become even more uncompetitive, whether we like it or not.

Still, as I was told, let's not bother trying to improve the domestic product as that might make us uncompetitive!
Skyline Drifter wrote: I don't think that happens to any serious extent now. Maybe some wee boys who think of themselves as OF fans but aren't allowed to go there so are sent to Palmerston (@ £1 per game) instead.
I would hate to think that it happens. I've been at some Premiership grounds when the Scottish scores are read out and I wouldn't dream of drawing attention to myself by shouting like a lunatic. It's rude. There's nothing worse than sitting next to a tourist at the football.

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Post by Scottish » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:18 pm

Two points: yes, the gap does appear to be widening again now that the OF have reverted to their tried and tested method (which fell into abeyance when millions were being lavished on foreign signings) of signing other clubs best players even if they don't necessarily give them a game, working on the old principle that if they're in your reserves they can't hurt you.

But it's nowhere near as bad as the beginning of this century. In 2001-02 Aberdeen beat Celtic and Livingston beat Rangers. In nearly seventy league matches that season those were the only games the OF lost other than to each other.

Maybe M. Le Guen spoiled us last year as the OF lost 14 league games in total - an SPL record, the most since 1994-95 and a figure which hasn't been bettered since 1993-94 when each club had six more league games to navigate.


The business of OF 'fans' at other games is perennial. It was common pre-war when a trip to Glasgow was a huge undertaking in a society in which cars were a luxury for the privileged few. And it returned when wee boys and girls could no longer get a 'lift over' from their parents but had to shell out for an expensive season ticket instead.

Of course many of these 'fans' will turn out at big games to follow their 'wee' team. And the same thing happens at other levels. How many supporters of SPL sides also 'follow' a junior team and head there when their 'big' team doesn't have a match or is playing too far away from home?

Of course the difference is that (until recently) it was virtually impossible for the junior and senior side to meet unlike the SPL/SFL 'wee' team and the OF.

There have been plenty such OF 'fans' at big Kilmarnock games over the years - cup ties and European matches. And while virtually none of them would be able to give a stranger accurate directions to Ibrox/Parkhead I do have to say that I've never seen OF tops on display at Killie games other than when the OF have been the opposition.

And the only time a cheer goes up for a half-time OF score is if they're losing.

As to what happens when kids grow up there are two ways of going - the team they actually watch week in week out or the 'big' team they support. An example of the latter is 'die-hard' Rangers supporter Stephen Naismith who was just another ten-year-old in the crowd when Kilmarnock won the Scottish Cup. A despairing thought would be that if a club can't keep hold of its local kids when they're winning trophies and qualifying for Europe then the future is indeed bleak.

But the reverse can happen. I used to see the same father and two sons regularly waiting for a train to watch Wimbledon at Crystal Palace in the mid-1990s. The Dad was desperately trying to convince his offspring they were destined to be Chelsea fans - asking them which year Chelsea won the league, reciting the 1970 Cup-winning side etc. But to no avail. It wasn't that long before they were going to matches covered in Wimbledon attire.

The reason was a simple one. He couldn't afford to take his kids to Stamford Bridge - it was being redeveloped, capacity was restricted and Ken Bates didn't miss the trick of putting up admission prices. This, remember, was more than a decade ago. We now look back to those days as an era of cheaper football!

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Post by StAndrewsHMFC » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:52 pm

I think I should make it clear that I'm not critising Rangers fans for going to the game on Saturday and putting money into QOTS and Dundee. After all I'm a Hearts fan. I do wish that people in general would support the local sides more, but as had been said on another thread who am I to tell them how to live their lives. What I do find a bit strange is turning up in the full Rangers get-up. I've been to loads of lower league games, but I've never once felt a compulsion to wear a Hearts top and start blurting out H-E-A at any of them

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Post by lbb » Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:24 am

The Old Firm buying players and not playing them is a problem (how Derek Riordan doesn't get a game for Celtic is beyond me). How you address that, I don't know. The Old Firm will always want to buy players - surely it's better that such money that they do spend stays within Scotland. Hibs have gained to the tune of £10m - and probably paid for their new training ground - but this has had an obvious impact on their ability to compete on the park at present and is probably of little consolation to their supporters.

Ultimately, the Old Firm will always want to buy players and the other clubs will always want/need to sell players to them. Unless you bring in rules regarding squad numbers, youth development, transfer restrictions, etc. it's going to continue. Neither party is going to stop the transactions for the good of the game. We've already seen the objections about having 2 U-21 players on the bench (not even playing them!) so I'm not hopeful that the clubs (not just the OF) would be willing to implement any further rules restricting their management of their squads.

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