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Stephen Craigan

I fear Scottish football's public squabbling could result in lasting damage

Stephen Craigan


 

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Sore head: Celtic boss Neil Lennon faces a frustrating wait on title update

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Sore head: Celtic boss Neil Lennon faces a frustrating wait on title update

It's fair to say Scottish football has been dragged through the mud in the last few weeks. My biggest concern is, where does it go from here?

 

Public slanging matches, finger pointing and clubs criticising the governance of the SPFL leadership have been some of the issues carried out in full view of everyone.

All 42 member clubs this week voted on a potential independent investigation into the workings of the SPFL's board and although it failed, what it highlighted was that over 30% of clubs don't have confidence in the hierarchy.

That is a worrying figure moving forward and I get the feeling that we haven't heard the last on this matter.

With all that's been said, I do wonder what it's doing for the image of the game externally in such extraordinary times. For outsiders looking in, it must seem like Scottish football is about to implode.

The sad thing about it all is that we have a brilliant product on the pitch. Supporters love to watch their football in Scotland by attending games or watching it on TV, there is a real passion for the game and always a talking point.

For those that previously maybe didn't understand the impact their football club had on them, these unprecedented times have given them food for thought.

When you also consider the SPFL doesn't have a major sponsor for next season, I wonder what damage the recent squabbling will have done to the thoughts of any potential investors.

The big question is if a profitable company wanted exposure or wanted to market itself, would Scottish football be the right environment for it to get that exposure after all the recent negativity?

I would have serious doubts about it. I'm sure businesses will be having second thoughts if there was any prospective interest. When you consider that the economy is destined for a major downturn, big companies will be selective as to where they put their money and that could be another blow to Scottish football in tough times.

On the resumption of playing football, I have to say that initially I wasn't a fan of playing behind closed doors but I fear it's now the only way we can return in some form.

With the SPFL chairman Murdoch MacLennan saying this week that all efforts must now go into resuming football at the end of July, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

With the country still in lockdown and players needing a minimum six weeks of 'pre-season' training, I think it will be a big ask to get them all back together within the next four weeks in a safe environment to begin the process. Football isn't immune to the virus and footballers shouldn't get preferential treatment over frontline workers so let's hope common sense prevails if efforts are made to restart soon.

Another financial issue on the horizon is if closed-door games do get the go-ahead, clubs at all levels will have to find a way of generating revenue that would normally come from a match day.

So many are reliant on that income, so Scottish football as a whole is going to have to think outside the box and be innovative.

What that will be, time will tell but everyone must come together to give the national sport a chance to thrive once again.

- I must mention the incredible loyalty of Scottish Premiership fans. Clubs have released their season tickets, even if they don't know when the 2020-21 campaign will get under way, and Hibs have sold over 7,000 with Aberdeen, Motherwell and Hearts up on sales this time of year compared to last. Credit where credit is due, that's a terrific boost for these clubs and a positive during this period.

Belfast Telegraph