Football is a team game. It’s why I am such a fanatic, I absolutely love playing football and have done for as long as I can remember. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I am fanatical about watching professional football. I used to be; but not anymore. There’s no doubting that players like Messi & Ronaldo and these types of players are a joy to watch. The thing I love most about football is how the right attitude, application and combined efforts of 11 disparate people can come together and achieve sporting greatness against the odds.
It’s impossible not to enjoy the mercurial talents of the Maradonas and Messis of the football world. At their best they are a joy to watch and the much maligned Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the best example of hard work trumping natural ability that the sport has ever seen. When did Messi last win the Ballon d’Or?
The greatest enthusiasm I have, however, is for the great teams: Brazil 70, Italy ’82, Argentina 86, Holland 88, Greece 04 (I’m the only person I know that won money on them) and Germany. Just Germany! To me they are the team that consistently gets it right, dynamic and devastating but always controlled. True teamwork.
But here’s the thing, I would now always be happier playing 5-a-sides rather than watch the World Cup final and certainly rather than watch the lucrative leagues were players are being bought for 50 million pound / euros / dollars or more! I just can’t always get 9 other people to agree with me.
In the last 20 years I took comfort in Scottish football; not so much now though.
Because the ridiculous period of overspending that was ushered in by the arrival of Graeme Souness at Ibrox and the subsequent realisation (by most) that Scottish teams could not sustain this, resulted in many clubs restructuring and relying a bit more on nurturing their own players. Admittedly, it was because they had to make sure that costs did not exceed revenue but everyone needs motivation; even to do the right things. This meant that once again I could relate to players in these teams in some instances I even knew the families of the younger players; just like my parents when we were growing up in the 70s and 80s. When the financial walls started crumbling at clubs in the mid-90s, such as Celtic, I saw this as an opportunity. I could never understand this desire to bring IN players, I always thought teams were supposed to bring ON players from their youth ranks.
I thought we were starting to see the fruits of this when Celtic (2003) and Rangers (2008) reached European finals. I stupidly thought that this was the start of Scotland finding its place in the club football world. The Celtic team in Seville 2003 had two Scottish players starting and 3 on the bench. By the time Rangers lined up in Manchester in 2008 there was 6 Scottish starters and 5 Scots on the bench. There was even a Scotsman managing the team. You could see why I was becoming foolishly optimistic but there was no way for me to know that I was foolish. The murky and deliberately muddied financial waters of Scottish football at the time were not visible to me, they still aren’t. The blame for that lies at the door of only one organisation – the SFA.
When I look back now, the fact that the period from 2000 – 2004 saw 6 clubs go into administration only proved to me that the people who ran the game in Scotland did not see this either. In 3 years (2002 – 2004) 3 clubs went into administration – Motherwell, Dundee and Livingston – one each year. They quite obviously overstretched financially and have no one to blame but themselves; but it still absolutely beggars belief that this kind of consistent hit ratio, 1/year, did not result in a root and branch investigation of how football clubs were being operated in Scotland. In fact this rate of on average of, almost, 1 club going in to administration per year continued from 2000 until 2013 (10 clubs in total, although Dundee and Livingston managed to do it twice each).
It astounds even further that the independent body that is the SFA did not lead an investigation or at least insist that the SPL / SPFL (or whatever it was called then) carry out their own investigation and present their findings to the governing body. If that wasn’t within their remit then I’m sure they could have changed their remit as required and would have been able to count on the support of the followers of at least 13 clubs to do this and I’m sure others would have to, because who wants their club to be next.
Most importantly the supporters of these clubs are football fans first and would have welcomed a governing body that showed that it understood the need to protect supporters, their clubs and communities – Team work makes the dream work. This for me is the point that is missed; we are all the same team when it comes to making sure the game is run properly. We must work together to achieve this and the SFA must lead, if they won’t lead then the need to be removed.
As of today I am finding that I don’t even want to watch Scottish football, I honestly believe I would have stopped entirely by now if I hadn’t already passed the football fanaticus virus on to my eldest son. So I unwillingly continue, all be it only sporadically and when my boy makes me.
I would come back, willingly and enthusiastically, if I believed that the lessons had been learned and the structure put in place to protect the game in Scotland; but I’m not so foolishly optimistic anymore.
By Tin Tin Quinn The Karaoke King 🙂