10 Years of the SPL - Progress?

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the hibLOG
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Post by the hibLOG » Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:13 pm

bobby s wrote: A move away from playing each team 4 times a season would close the gap - it's football we're playing not world series baseball.
The Old Firm probably wouldn't - or at least shouldn't - object to a larger league. As David pointed out their season ticket marketing means that Celtic v Clyde will be no worse attended than Celtic V Gretna or Inverness.

Unfortunately it's the other clubs who will object to losing two home games against the Old Firm. Hibs would get say 30,000 people in over two games to see Celtic and Rangers at Easter Road. Substitute St Johnstone and Partick and you lose maybe 10,000 paying punters. It might give them a better chance of challenging, but the bean counters will have their say.
lbb wrote:I'm sure, though, Hibs attendances went up in the Mowbray years and the money they gained through sales will surely go to their new training ground. They didn't win the league but they've made progress as a club and it is definitely the way to go for the rest.
The quality of football on display was certainly key in rising attendances. It's true that the youth policy and the training ground will help sustain this, but only sustain. I don't see any championship challenge emerging out of this sensible management.
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Post by bobby s » Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:14 pm

bobby s wrote:bobby s, playing four times a year is a bit much. Would you be in favour of larger leagues, if only for the variety? Say two divisions with 16 teams, play each other twice, with the bottom 3 relegated, top 3 promoted from each league with a pyramid structure underneath that (Highland league, east of Scotland, south of Scotland) ..?
I was chatting to a queen of the south fan this morning - and that's almost exactly what I said to him about the structure.

He was of the opinion that no more junior clubs should get into the Scottish Cup because none had applied to take Gretnas place - what I said to him was that there was little appeal in Bonnyrigg playing Peterhead on a Wednesday night so regional leagues would be better.

Kind of.
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Post by lbb » Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:29 pm

bobby s wrote: A move away from playing each team 4 times a season would close the gap - it's football we're playing not world series baseball.
I can't really agree with that, tbh. I don't think we have enough strong teams to have a 16 or 18 team league. It comes down to self-interest - I don't see the benefit for the Old Firm of playing 2 fewer games against each other, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs for 2 extra games against the top half of the First Division. It benefits the top half of the First Division, and perhaps the bottom half of the SPL, but for the top half of the SPL I don't see the benefit.

People like to draw a line of pre-1975 and post-1975 but I'm not sure the line should be drawn there. And I think people draw the wrong conclusions when they compare the two eras and assume the competitiveness of the pre-1975 era was down to playing each other twice a season. There's other factors involved. Jock Stein was complaining about the standard of the Scottish League pre-1975 and I'm sure the 10-team league was introduced in 1975 as a result of such complaints - and because Celtic were winning it all the time. So we introduce a smaller league to improve standards and then we make it bigger to improve standards.

For me, the real question is how we play the game, how we coach the game and how we develop our players. But these are, if I'm not being too melodramatic, massive questions so we prefer to tinker with the league every few years.

There are things that can be done on a small level - such as reducing ticket prices - but the fundamental problems need to be targetted by the SFA, SPL and the Scottish Executive.

I'd also add that if you want good football played and you want families, etc. to come to the football then you must play in the summer and not the middle of winter.
Last edited by lbb on Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by lbb » Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:33 pm

I found this in my Drafts folder. This might be what SebGevers is looking for. Not sure where I got it from.


SPL Aims & Objectives

The objectives of the Scottish Premier League are to:

- Build a league competition with standing and recognition throughout
Europe;

- Represent and safeguard the interests of its members

- Modernise the league structure and support system

- Maximise the commercial value of Scottish Premier League football by
fully exploiting commercial rights and properties;

- Organise a league competition, adhering to rules and regulations set
down by the governing bodies of the game and - encouraging attractive
and entertaining football;

- Provide leadership in the development of key initiatives to improve
the quality of the game in Scotland, particularly youth development, and
to set a pace and direction for the whole of Scottish football;

- Liaise with other organisations to ensure effective co-ordination
between the Scottish Premier League and other football organisations
across the country and across the borders.

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Post by bobby s » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:09 pm

lbb wrote:I'd also add that if you want good football played and you want families, etc. to come to the football then you must play in the summer and not the middle of winter.
I agree with that.
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Post by SebGevers » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:55 pm

lbb wrote:I found this in my Drafts folder. This might be what SebGevers is looking for. Not sure where I got it from.
.
Cheers lbb, that's a start anyway. A cursory glance at the objectives and the results would suggest there's still some work to be done. I'll hang on for an answer from the SPL before a definitative review of the last 10 years can take place.

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Post by Scottish » Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:39 pm

On challenging the Old Firm: I agree with the comments made previously but would add that, historically, in order for a challenge to be sustained one of the OF must be in a bad way. For the first two post-war decades Celtic were generally poor. In the early 1980s Rangers were dreadful.

The commercial pressures of modern football virtually ensures these circumstances can never be repeated. One bad season and the manager is out, players sold and vast expense outlaid to prevent a recurrence. It's unthinkable that Rangers could ever again tolerate a few seasons like those of the Greig era let alone that Celtic could spend almost two decades in the wilderness.

Playing four times a year? It was a bad idea - IMHO - in 1975 and it hasn't got any better over the years. It should actually be easier to move to a 16 club league from a 12 club league for two reasons. One, it's only a 33% addition in numbers as opposed to the 60% necessary in a ten club league and consequently any drop in quality would be less noticeable. Secondly, most clubs would only be losing one OF fixture. In a ten club league eight teams got four games v the OF. In the present set-up only four teams do so. The other six get just three such home matches.

Falkirk v Dunfermline, Kilmarnock v Ayr Utd, St Mirren v Morton, Dundee United v Dundee for instance are all capable of drawing as many fans as a third OF game.

As for gaps in quality - just look at some of the results in the knockout competitions between sides at the top of the 1st and the lower half of the SPL. For the past three seasons one of the Scottish Cup Finalists has been either a 1st division side or a team on their way to that level.

I admit there will be a gap but the gap between 4th in the 1st and 7th in the SPL won't be as wide as that between 7th and 2nd in the SPL. It will take time to eliminate the existing gap but, remember, it also took time to create it. When the 18 club league was scrapped it was because of the gap between top and bottom, not between 16th and 7th.

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Post by lbb » Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:47 am

scottish wrote:It's unthinkable that Rangers could ever again tolerate a few seasons like those of the Greig era let alone that Celtic could spend almost two decades in the wilderness.
It is unthinkable that John Greig lasted 5 years - in his biography, he admits he asked chairman Rae Simpson for 'more time' at the start of 1983-84. This was down to his perceived standing at the club and wasn't the norm. David White only got 2 years; Willie Waddell lasted 2 full seasons and moved upstairs; Jock Wallace lasted 2 full seasons in his second spell and would probably have managed similar in his first spell if he hadn't won the league in 1975. Greig was an exception and it owed much to his brass neck and the club's reluctance to act against a supposed legend. A better man would have resigned much earlier than he did.

But, yes, it's unlikely it would happen again but not impossible.
scottish wrote:Falkirk v Dunfermline, Kilmarnock v Ayr Utd, St Mirren v Morton, Dundee United v Dundee for instance are all capable of drawing as many fans as a third OF game.
These are undoubtedly more attractive fixtures for these clubs than another visit to Celtic Park or Ibrox. As I said, though, there's not enough benefit for the top half of the SPL to pit themselves against the top half of the First Division to make it happen.

There's also a question about TV deals. I'm assuming Setanta sign up to promote certain fixtures and base their subscription model on those games. Would they agree to a reduction in those fixtures? Not without a reduction in the cash offered, you have to say.

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Post by Scottish » Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:17 am

lbb wrote:I'm assuming Setanta sign up to promote certain fixtures and base their subscription model on those games.
Yes, they do. They would still be able to show an OF away game every week. Very few matches are non-OF at present. Instead of Falkirk v Rangers or St Mirren v Celtic for a second time they'd be at McDiarmid Park or Dens Park.

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Post by bobby s » Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:32 am

scottish wrote:
lbb wrote:I'm assuming Setanta sign up to promote certain fixtures and base their subscription model on those games.
Yes, they do. They would still be able to show an OF away game every week. Very few matches are non-OF at present. Instead of Falkirk v Rangers or St Mirren v Celtic for a second time they'd be at McDiarmid Park or Dens Park.
And the benefit for me as a Hibs fan would be instead of 4 home games being shifted, it would be just two meaning another 2 home games at 3pm on a Saturday.
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Post by deltech » Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:21 am

lbb wrote:The English had managed in 1992 to, almost overnight, transform mundane First Division fixtures into must-see Premership matches. It was an incredible achievement and owed a LOT to Sky TV. The SPL tried something similar in 1998 and it didn't work. The fixtures remained as uninteresting as they were before. We needed some of Sky's magic dust to rub off on us and it didn't.


I can't disagree with you more.

Not withstanding the other comments in this thread, I truly do not see the attraction in these "must see" English fixtures you refer to. Having lived in England since 1993 and been to several TOP League fixtures, an watched an excrement-load (auto-editted) of games on TV, I can honestly say that the majority of the games in their Top League are arguably not worth watching. The real talent in that League lies with a small handful of teams, notably Manchester United (consistently) Liverpool (inconsistently) Chelsea (only recently) Arsenal (previously). Thats only 4 teams out of 20 or 25% that can actually win the League. Not a great variation from our own PREDICATBLE SPL.

There is no doubting SKY's coverage initially ran way ahead of BBC/ITV with multiple cameras, computerised replays etc, but the BBC/ITV have caught up.

Further, no amount of SKY razamataz can actually improve the quality of an otherwise mundane and insignificant match involving such QUALITY teams as Aston Villa, Birmingham, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton (post-McGinley of course), Derby, Fulham, Hull City, Leeds (remember them?), Middlesburgh, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading, Stoke City, West Brom, West Ham, Wigan, to name but a few.

Yes, some really exciting teams there that I would gladly pay SKY £40-odd a month to watch; NOT.

At least in the SPL there is genuine competition (sic) for THIRD place and relegation.

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Post by deltech » Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:36 am

SebGevers wrote:Between 1947 and 1965 the Scottish league was at its most competitive, when 5 different teams, other than the Old Firm, won the league (Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Dundee and Kilmarnock).

What was different then to now? I suppose no TV coverage, meaning people went to the games. Lower ticket prices?
46/7 - 54/5 = 16 teams

55/6 -64/5 = 18 teams

You can anlayse the excrement (auto-editted) out of different playing style/techinque now/then, fitness regimes, diets, tactics, etc, not withstanding the finaincial gulf between Celtic/Rangers and the rest, but I still believe the size of the League has an effect.

Anyway, the CURRENT financial gap is a manifestation of the success enjoyed by the top 2 in the last 20+ years. What was it that created that initial gap betwen those 2 and the rest?

Even during the period mentioned, when Celtic or Rangers won the League, the second placed team (invariably NOT Celtic/Rangers) was only a few points off. Nowadays there is always a huge points gap between 2nd and the rest.

It just seems that the larger League made for a more even playing field. I cannot explain why, but the statistics are there.

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Post by bobby s » Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:11 am

deltech wrote: It just seems that the larger League made for a more even playing field. I cannot explain why, but the statistics are there.
I don't think it's that simple: whilst I agree that we'd benefit from having a larger league and it would be more competitive it's not solely about league size - if you compare it to the english top division [which has remained relatively unchanged in size since the war]

1945 - 1975 - (13) Liverpool, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Spurs, Man United, Wolves, Chelsea, Burnley, Ipswich, Everton, Man City, Leeds United, Derby County

1976 - 2008 (9) - Liverpool, Notts Forest, Aston Villa, Everton, Arsenal, Leeds United, Man United, Chelsea, Blackburn.

Since the advent of the EPL in 1992, just 4 sides have won the league - Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea & Blackburn.

The obvious part of the equation is the miaximum wage, but the trends are pretty clear towards a less competitive environment.
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Post by Skyline Drifter » Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:14 am

deltech wrote: At least in the SPL there is genuine competition (sic) for THIRD place and relegation.
Third place is meaningless and no more interesting a genuine competition than there is for 5th in the EPL every year. I don't see why that's any more of an attraction really?

Likewise the EPL race for relegation is at least as 'interesting' as that in the SPL. More so in fact as more sides are involved and whilst in the SPL one side doing a Gretna ends all interest in it, in the EPL it's fairly unlikely that three clubs will be marooned with months to go.

Maybe it's a case of grass being greener on the other side but I personally find the English Premiership much more interesting than the SPL. I never miss 'Match of the Day', I rarely bother to watch 'Sportscene' even if I am in the house when it's on.

However, the fact is England is a much bigger country and it's probably impossible for Scotland to replicate the EPL to the same levels.

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Post by Scottish » Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:54 am

deltech wrote:It just seems that the larger League made for a more even playing field. I cannot explain why, but the statistics are there.
Hi there and welcome to the forum. To use those four little words that every man dreads to hear, size is not important. Celtic won nine in a row in an 18-club top division. While I would favour a larger top division I'm under no illusions that it would produce a stronger challenge to the OF. I stick to what I said in an earlier post that the financial imperatives are such that neither OF club can afford a sustained period in the wilderness and throughout Scottish football history (since the dawn of the 20th century at any rate) in order for a challenge to be made two conditions have to exist - a strong 'third' club and one half of the OF being weak.

It's much harder to create the first of those conditions and virtually impossible for the second to last for more than a single season.

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