Please, please, please let me get what I want
We have touched on so much....pricing, coaching, standard of play, quality of pitches, terracing, stewarding, lack of leadership, lack of competition. And they are all threads – there is no one solution, no ‘magic bullet’.
Every year someone makes a claim as regards recovery: a club challenges the Old Firm, a young player emerges, an U17 Scotland team wins a game or two, but the recovery is fleeting. The only solution is to spend time, money and effort looking at these areas and finding solutions.
Here are some solutions:
1. Invest in coaches, especially at youth level. This is England but we will be even worse off:
New UEFA data shows that there are only 2,769 English coaches holding the B, A and Pro badges, its top qualifications. Spain has produced 23,995, Italy 29,420, Germany 34,970 and France 17,588.
Between them those four nations have provided eight of the 12 finalists at all the World Cups and European Championships since 1998. England, meanwhile, have not appeared in a tournament final in 44 years.
There are 2.25 million players in England and only one UEFA-qualified coach for every 812 people playing the game. Spain, the World Cup favourites, have 408,134 players, giving a ratio of 1:17. In Italy, the world champions, the ratio is 1:48, in France it is 1:96, Germany 1:150 and even Greece, the Euro 2004 winners, have only 180,000 registered players for their 1,100 coaches, a ratio of 1:135.
2. Scrap XI a side games on gravel pitches for kids.....switch all resources to short-games, touch, technique and touches of the ball. We are not BORN less talented, we simply produce less talented footballers.
3. Bring back a sense of ‘matchday experience’ - think about bringing fans back to the game by asking them what would entice them back. Pricing, sensible kick off times, terracing etc.
4. Consider kids: SPL roadshows, coaching roadshows, highlights on a Sat evening (terrestrial TV) as there always was.
5. Consider increasing competition. Pooling resources perhaps, or sharing youth funding at national level and introducing a US style ‘draft pick’ system perhaps? A cap on debt to turnover? We cannot have teams thrashed every week by Old Firm – more people will drift off than have already done so.
But the answer really lies with a first move from someone, anyone. SFA, SPL, our own club; someone has to invite the other stakeholders to a meeting and get the ball rolling. Forget £500m for now – it won’t materialise – and let go of petty fiefdoms and fights. Until we have a group meeting to discuss this it won’t happen, nothing will happen, and our game will continue its decline.
It needs everyone interested to write to SPL and SFA: demand change and demand that we as fans are the driving force of that change. No-one will do it for you.