In this morning's Daily Record Jim Traynor has utilised a full page within his sports section to vociferously attack the stance taken by Aberdeen, Hibs and Hearts in respect of the future of the SPL. He accuses us of attempting to ‘settle old scores rather that deal exclusively with the issues and there is no point in further squabbling'. Additionally, he complains that we are guilty of ‘name calling' and then proceeds to describe us as ‘blowhards' and ‘windbags'!
Sadly, those assertions are way off the mark as, contrary to his mistaken belief, we are not hell bent on destroying the Old Firm, rather we are concerned with the creation of a more competitive league and one that ultimately will benefit all clubs within it.
Given that I was a guest on ‘Your Call', Jim's radio show, on Saturday evening, I find it rather strange, and indeed disappointing, that none of the points raised in the paper today were mentioned to anything like the level they have been now. Call me cynical, but it seems a bit cowardly to hide behind the printed word, rather than endure face to face confrontation. Nevertheless I would like to thank Jim for giving me the opportunity to raise the weighty issues that are fundamental to the future of the game in Scotland.
Let me outline the facts as they are to outline exactly why I and others passionately believe that we simply must stand firm on this or face terminal consequences.
*The SPL is probably the most uncompetitive league in Europe and we are trying to address this on behalf of the fans.
*The reason for the uncompetitiveness is the lack of fixed revenue streams which we are trying hard to change. There is a domestic inequality between the Old Firm (with two thirds of SPL income) and the other clubs. In the space of the three seasons 1999-00 to 2001-02, the Old Firm generated an estimated total of £151.5 million as a result of their participation in the SPL.
*The ability of the OF to block youth initiatives that could improve the game overall in Scotland and the national team. In the three seasons studied, the OF spent a net sum (the difference between player purchases and sales) of £62.2 million in the transfer market, of which the vast majority was spent outside Scotland. Net expenditure by the OF within Scotland totalled only £8.8 million and only a small proportion of this is spent on Scottish talent.
*As indicated above, their contribution is exaggerated if we look at what they take out of the game in return for what they put in.
*Those within Scottish football have an obligation to generate more money for everyone, including the OF, by providing a league that will want to be watched internationally as well as domestically and build the brand of Scotland around the world. At present, the SPL's broadcasting income is £1.78 per capita, the lowest of six European leagues surveyed, and is well below the £9.50 per capita received by the English premier League. It is arguable that this is a direct result of the competitive imbalance within the SPL and this could only improve with a more competitive league, including the OF. A more competitive league could allow the OF to perform better in Europe than their previous form. Using a hypothetical model of European earnings, research demonstrates that the OF's European income would have been higher and more certain over the three seasons 1999-00 and 2001-02 than it actually was.
*The voting system has not been fully changed and we need to have a 100% fair system which the SPL deserves.
*Why should we afford any concessions to clubs that have stated as recently as last week that they want to leave Scotland – we have to plan for a future without them.
*True Scottish clubs whose future is in Scotland have an opportunity now to do something about this and must stand and be counted.
To summarise, this is not about blocking the future wellbeing of the beautiful game in this country, rather it is clubs such as Hibernian, Hearts and Aberdeen doing everything humanly possible to ensure that we get it right this time round with the lasting legacy of truly competitive, attractive football, something that patently we do not have at present.