Gretna - The Cuckoos In The Nest?

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sam peckinpah
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Gretna - The Cuckoos In The Nest?

Post by sam peckinpah » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:18 pm

So, Gretna FC is almost no more. Should we mourn it's passing?

I have to confess about a scepticism about this club, and it's long-term prospects, since day one.

The club's meteroric rise through the SFL ranks to the SPL was as much an indictment on the current state of Scottish Football as it was tribute to the power of Mileson's chequebook.

This salutary tale surely tells us that a football club, and all that that implies, can't be 'invented' and parachuted-in. And that instant success always comes at a cost. What price the cultivation of a fan culture and the establishment of a club as an institution?

What had Gretna ever done for Scottish football before 2002? A big fat nothing.

As such, and if they do finally depart, there'll be more than few wry smiles (or more angry tears shed) in Airdrie and Clydebank...

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Post by Scottish » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:47 pm

Hi there and welcome to the forum.

Back in the early 1990s I asked the then President of the Northern League how Gretna were able to survive at that level given the travelling they ahd to undertake and their low attendances. His reply was that they were one of the bets organised clubs in the league and used the money made from their Sunday market to finance the club.

Somewhere along the line they've lost that organisation and ability to live within their means. Whilst I'm no great fan of Gretna and found the decision to admit them to the SFL a curious one, I would point out a few things. They rose to the top division on merit. Sure they had more cash than any other team in the SFL. But essentially there is no difference between the way Gretna were successful in the SFL and the way the OF have ruled Scottish football for over a century. Naturally that is bound to create resentment but they weren't the first and they won't be the last to spend their way to success.

Secondly, Gretna had nothing to do with what happened at Airdrie and/or Clydebank. They were not responsible for creating the vacancy in the SFL.

Right now the finger should be pointed at the SPL. Scared stiff of rejecting Gretna after the farces over non-promotion in the past they bent over backwards to accommodate them without it would seem due consideration of the financial situation there.

They will still bend over backwards to keep them in the league till the end of the season as they are holy terrified of the consequences of the title being won or lost as a result of Gretna's results being expunged from the record.

The SFL should now be making contingency plans in the event of Gretna not being able to function next season. These should include the play-off finals being scrapped (the semi-finals should go ahead and winners of these retain their place or be promoted) and provision made for the admission of a new club to the 3rd division next season.

A forward-thinking move would be for eligible clubs to be whittled down to four and play-offs insitituted to find a new league team as opposed to simple election.

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Re: Gretna - The Cuckoos In The Nest?

Post by problemchild » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:12 pm

sam peckinpah wrote:
This salutary tale surely tells us that a football club, and all that that implies, can't be 'invented' and parachuted-in.
Regardless of your viewpoint on Gretna, I don't think you can describe them as being invented or having parachuted in. They went through the required process, started at the bottom and had been in the SFL for a season before Mileson came along. If anything, ICT are the team that were "invented" to get into the leagues, as were Livingston pretty much.

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Post by Skyline Drifter » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:18 pm

scottish wrote:The SFL should now be making contingency plans in the event of Gretna not being able to function next season. These should include the play-off finals being scrapped (the semi-finals should go ahead and winners of these retain their place or be promoted) and provision made for the admission of a new club to the 3rd division next season.
A fairly bizarre notion.

So you're advocating the scrapping of playoff finals on the basis that you are presuming Gretna are done for? :?:

And if they somehow make it to next season (not that unlikely if they get to the end of the season), what are you going to do then under your plan? Suddenly play play off finals in July that should have been played in April and have two teams not knowing what division they'll be in all summer?

You do appreciate the play off finals are due to be played BEFORE the SPL season finishes?

Surely it would be much much easier to play the playoffs as per usual (presuming of course Gretna haven't already gone under before they arrive) and then in the event that they do go under in the summer you can ignore the final as irrelevant rather than presume you won't need it and suddenly find come August that you did?

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Post by Scottish » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:17 pm

Skyline Drifter wrote: A fairly bizarre notion.

So you're advocating the scrapping of playoff finals on the basis that you are presuming Gretna are done for? :?:
No, not at all, I think you've misunderstood me or perhaps I wasn't clear enough. I'm suggesting the SFL would be wise to consider this possibility now rather than simply wait and see what happens. I'm suggesting that in the event of Gretna folding before the end of the season or indicating they would not be able to continue next season that it would be in the interests of the SFL and Scottish football as a whole to be ready to act immediately. Especially as they would either have to admit a new club into membership or operate one division with just nine clubs.

If Gretna survive then all well and good but I think given the events of the past week it would be naive for the SFL just to assume this will be the case. I work on the assumption that the SPL don't give a monkey's regarding what happens next season in the SFL. Also that their 'concern' over Gretna completing their programme this season has more to do with worries about the title and European places (and there will be two of those in the event of an OF Cup Final) being decided without Gretna's games counting towards the final placings and the possible ructions that could ensue than it has to do with the survival of Gretna FC.
Skyline Drifter wrote:You do appreciate the play off finals are due to be played BEFORE the SPL season finishes?
No, I wasn't aware of the play-off dates and that would complicate matters. I only envisaged my scenario coming into effect in the event of Gretna folding or indicating they will be unable to continue past the end of this season. Obviously if they are still playing at the time of the play-offs then those fixtures would have to proceed as planned with, presumably, the finals losing their relevance if Gretna fold.

However I don't think the situation can be allowed to drag on through the summer. I think the SFL (who are blameless in the entire matter, unless you count their admission of Gretna in the first place) have to know well before the start of next season if Gretna will be able to participate or not. It's not just the financial aspects here there is also the question of the suitability of their ground - as you have mentioned in the past And it is also the question of admitting a new club if Gretna go under. I would prefer any new club to play their way into the league but in the light of what you say about play-off dates that may not be possible.

The SFL still remains an attractive option to many non-league clubs and there would be no shortage of applicants should Gretna fold. It's too much of a rush job to start thinking about that in July. I don't think it would be out of order for the SFL to set a deadline (say the end of May) to receive copper-bottomed assurances from the administrators/new owners regarding their participation in 2008-09.

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Post by Skyline Drifter » Sat Mar 15, 2008 10:11 pm

scottish wrote:
Skyline Drifter wrote:You do appreciate the play off finals are due to be played BEFORE the SPL season finishes?
No, I wasn't aware of the play-off dates and that would complicate matters. I only envisaged my scenario coming into effect in the event of Gretna folding or indicating they will be unable to continue past the end of this season. Obviously if they are still playing at the time of the play-offs then those fixtures would have to proceed as planned with, presumably, the finals losing their relevance if Gretna fold.
But that was precisely my point. And to be fair it's not like you to be completely missing such a basic fact before making a suggestion.

Pre-supposing for the moment that Gretna do get to the end of the season, which I took it was the implication of your "not being able to function next season" comment, rather than fold imminently and before completing their fixtures, then any suggestion about abandoning the playoffs is clearly utter nonsense.

The play off final dates are Wednesday 7th and Saturday 10th May. The SFL clubs play their last league games on 26th April (it'll be a problem for us to remain competitive for the Scottish Cup Final given we'll not have played for four weeks before it. :lol: ). I don't actually know when the SPL winds up but the last pre-split games are the weekend of the 5th April. I don't know if there's a bye week for the cup semi finals this year or not (12th April). I'm guessing since the cup final is the 24th May then the SPL finishes either the 18th or the 11th. Either way it's after the playoff finals.

Incidentally, whatever mess Gretna have gotten themselves into post-Mileson, it was utterly unforeseen and has no relevance to the worthiness or otherwise of the decision to let a very different Gretna into the league in the first place. The greatest tragedy of this entire scenario is that for all their 'Living the Dream' nonsense of the last four years they had a nice wee club down there, living within their means when they came in and could have offered a lot to the lower reaches of the SFL.

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Post by StAndrewsHMFC » Sun Mar 16, 2008 7:28 pm

I suspect there would only be wry smiles from bankies if Airdrie United went bust, although even then given that their current home is not up to league standards and there not in the top teir of junior football a chance of redemption and them replacing the bankies is very remote. If (when) the SFL sees sense and we get a pyramid scheme when Clydebank meet Airdire- that'll be a game.

As for Gretna, I've not given up on them, if they can make it to the end of the season then they've got a chance.

Burnie_man

Post by Burnie_man » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:54 pm

scottish wrote:A forward-thinking move would be for eligible clubs to be whittled down to four and play-offs insitituted to find a new league team as opposed to simple election.
Interesting suggestion.

The fact that Gretna were elected to the SFL in the first place suggests that voting may not be based entirely on the assessments put in front of those making the decision. Politics at play no doubt.

The SFL will not want to make the same mistake twice though and I would imagine they will scrutinise every applicant closely and may even recommend a "preferred" applicant to their delegates. On the field performances will be the last thing on their minds.

If I were a betting man, all my money would be on Spartans.

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Post by Skyline Drifter » Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:50 pm

Burnie_man wrote:
scottish wrote:A forward-thinking move would be for eligible clubs to be whittled down to four and play-offs insitituted to find a new league team as opposed to simple election.
Interesting suggestion.

The fact that Gretna were elected to the SFL in the first place suggests that voting may not be based entirely on the assessments put in front of those making the decision. Politics at play no doubt.

The SFL will not want to make the same mistake twice though and I would imagine they will scrutinise every applicant closely and may even recommend a "preferred" applicant to their delegates. On the field performances will be the last thing on their minds.

If I were a betting man, all my money would be on Spartans.
But the SFL didn't particularly make a mistake. They elected a nice wee village club living within their means who were capable of offering something to Scottish football. Mileson wasn't even a blip on the horizon back then and this situation could never have been foreseen.

If Mileson had come along and for the sake of argument stuck his money into Berwick Rangers instead then Gretna would most likely still be playing third or perhaps even second division football on a break-even basis playing guys who didn't quite make it with Carlisle United or perhaps ourselves. Berwick meanwhile might well have done exactly what Gretna have ended up doing and no-one would be even making pointless wee digs at the SFL for letting them in in the first place because they've been here for decades.

The fact that Gretna are relatively recent members of the SFL and what's happened to them under Mileson are wholly unconnected. They'd played an entire season in the SFL before they even heard from Mileson.

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Post by Scottish » Tue Mar 18, 2008 5:35 pm

Skyline Drifter wrote: But that was precisely my point. And to be fair it's not like you to be completely missing such a basic fact before making a suggestion.
Well, it never crossed my mind. I made the rather foolish assumption that the SFL would finish a week before the SPL just as the league in England ends a week before the Premiership. My fault for not realising (and I've had plenty of practice) how inept the SPL are when it comes to fixtures. Remember, this is the league that once failed to arrange games over an Easter weekend.
Skyline Drifter wrote: (it'll be a problem for us to remain competitive for the Scottish Cup Final given we'll not have played for four weeks before it. :lol: ).
Don't worry. The teams in Champions League final might well be in a similar situation. I'm sure QoS will be happy to fix up a couple of friendlies there.

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Post by Scottish » Tue Mar 18, 2008 5:42 pm

Burnie_man wrote: The fact that Gretna were elected to the SFL in the first place suggests that voting may not be based entirely on the assessments put in front of those making the decision. Politics at play no doubt.
Undoubtedly. The worst examples probably being the admissions of Edinburgh City in 1931 and the then Ferranti Thistle in 1974. Both seen as cannon fodder within easy travelling distance. In Gretna's case I think there was a determination to include a southern team given that the SFL had brought in clubs from the Highland League in 1994 and again in 2000.

Whichever way you look at it what happened in 2002 was bizarre. Gretna defeated Airdrie United in the vote yet the latter were able to enter the 2nd division by taking over Clydebank. In the latter case the SFL's hands were tied. The Receiver told them it was either the takeover or nothing. So a club not considered good enough by the league to take part in the 3rd division walked into the 2nd. At the same time the league had opted for a club with virtually no support over one with an all-seater ground and guaranteed four-figure gates.

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Post by Skyline Drifter » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:22 am

scottish wrote:
Skyline Drifter wrote: But that was precisely my point. And to be fair it's not like you to be completely missing such a basic fact before making a suggestion.
Well, it never crossed my mind. I made the rather foolish assumption that the SFL would finish a week before the SPL just as the league in England ends a week before the Premiership. My fault for not realising (and I've had plenty of practice) how inept the SPL are when it comes to fixtures. Remember, this is the league that once failed to arrange games over an Easter weekend.
Skyline Drifter wrote: (it'll be a problem for us to remain competitive for the Scottish Cup Final given we'll not have played for four weeks before it. :lol: ).
Don't worry. The teams in Champions League final might well be in a similar situation. I'm sure QoS will be happy to fix up a couple of friendlies there.
It's not like it's unusual. The playoffs have been here three seasons now. Neither the playoff dates nor the SPL season end has changed in that time. They are always done before the SPL finishes or about the same time. I remember some comment when Gretna reached the Scottish Cup Final that had they only been second in the second division instead of winning it they'd have had the Scottish Cup Final on the Saturday and the playoff final second leg the next day! And that's the only year the playoffs have been after the SPL season finished I think.

And given last night's result at Parkhead my slightly tongue in cheek comment about the Scottish Cup Final date might yet have genuine relevance!

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