What’s The Point Of Scottish Football?

The ignominy of seeing one of Britain’s biggest and most successful clubs this week finally accepting the grim reality of administration was one thing. Glasgow Rangers’ humiliation however, paled in comparison when the disparity that exists within Scottish football became glaringly apparent when the club had ten points deducted for its failure to balance the books. The upshot of this was in many respects the biggest indictment of football north of the border. Rangers were left trailing archrivals Celtic by fourteen points but nevertheless maintaining a nine point cushion of comfort from third placed Motherwell. The remainder of the season will inevitably be just a dull procession.

It’s been like that for years though hasn’t it? I wrote last season about the nature of duopolies and how their existence naturally allows for a mutually beneficial striving for excellence. However, the seemingly never-ending hegemony of both Glasgow clubs has done little to benefit the game in Scotland. If anything, it has contributed to Scotland’s long-drawn decline as a footballing nation that used to qualify for international football tournaments with a certain degree of regularity.

I grew up watching or hearing my elders telling tales of Scottish footballers of the calibre of Denis Law, Graeme Souness, Kenny Dalglish and Steve Archibald. World-class players. Before Bosman, Scottish footballers could be found at most English clubs whether that was Gordon Durie at Chelsea or Steve Nicol at Liverpool. The paucity of Scottish talent in the Premier League nowadays might be blamed on the influx of players from beyond the British Isles but if Scots were really any good, then they’d be snapped up in an instant for much less than an Aguero or a Torres.

The problem with Scottish football is that unfortunately, it is so utterly predictable. There are only so many times The Old Firm can clash before the rest of us lose interest. El Clasico it is not. In England at least, you can be certain that the balance of power isn’t a perennial tug of war between two clubs within the same city radius. Liverpool may have dominated the 1970s and 80s and Manchester United the 1990s to the present day but there have always been challengers and challenges to the traditional power bases: witness Brian Clough’s Derby and Nottingham Forest sides of the 70s or Don Revie’s Leeds, Mourinho’s Chelsea, Graham and Wenger’s Arsenal teams and this season the money-laden juggernaut that is Manchester City.

Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen aside, this does not happen in Scotland. What satisfaction can you derive from being a Hibernian or Dundee United fan other than the occasional ‘upset’ against one of the Glasgow Giants or victory over your cross-town rivals in one of the FOUR league meetings you have with them over the span of a season?

Of course, football is not all about the glory. Fans of Bury or Rochdale for instance, don’t support their teams because of a certainty that they will be Wembley-bound at the end of a season or because the local sports emporium is bulging with replica shirts to be worn by the easily-impressed masses. I have come to know many Scottish football fans during my time writing Dispatches and it’s because of some of these people that I affectionately take an interest in Hearts as my Scottish team and look out for their results. But it must be a disheartening process year after year, knowing that the outcome of a domestic league will only be fought over by what to all intents and purposes is an old firm in its mafia sense; something kept within the family.

Despite remaining as vitriolic and ugly as it always has, as was seen last season when Celtic’s manager Neil Lennon received death threats and the meetings between both clubs witnessed violent confrontations, the Old Firm is becoming an increasing irrelevance to the rest of the football family. I understand the grievances and beliefs that both sets of fans hold within their world views but most of these stem from events that happened years ago. It’s about time some of these ideologies were laid to rest; and I say this as a person of Greek Cypriot origin who knows all about grudges, vendettas and accusations that can be levelled from Greek to Turk and back again. What happened in Cyprus is someone else’s war, not mine, not here, not now. I’m more worried about making my next mortgage payment than wanting to remind Abdullah that his great, great grandfather stole my great, great grandfather’s plot of land. What’s done is done and perhaps some Old Firm fans could do well to remember that it’s Scotland’s future rather than its past that is of more pressing and immediate concern.

The Scots will soon have a chance to consider whether they will become an independent nation with a referendum looking likely in 2014. Something I’m a big advocate of. Personally, I have always admired the Scots for maintaining their identity and sense of individuality. Their education system is first-rate, they have produced some fine pieces of television in the shape of The Family Ness and Supergran and most Scots I have ever met have been nothing if not warm, hospitable people with a keen sense of humour. An independent Scotland might just be the making of a country forever trying to assert its uniqueness under the shadow of its English neighbours (or colonisers, as some would tell us).

I think many of us in England, whether we care to admit it or not, would love to see The Tartan Army at a major tournament sometime in the future. But unless steps are put in place to ensure a more competitive league, it doesn’t look like it will be possible for quite some time.

Here’s a thought to finish. Maybe Celtic and Rangers should start EVERY season on minus ten points. Other teams would have something to hold on to and the Old Firm would feel a common sense of aggrieved purpose in their mutual pursuit. No time for fussing and fighting and maybe some of us Sassenachs might even start taking an interest again. Then again, maybe not. Some old rivalries can’t ever be put to bed.

From the back of the Sofa: Chelsea Dagger: The Power of Duopolies 

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55 Responses to What’s The Point Of Scottish Football?

  1. Dougie Brimson February 19, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Love it!

    • Son of the Rock February 19, 2012 at 11:30 am #

      Whats the point of Scottish Football ?
      Whats the point of London Football, Cant win the European Cup.
      Whats the point of most of the teams in the premiership, cannot ever attract a full house and thats in the greatest league in the world…..
      Where else in the world would you get 15% of the population of a major city like Glasgow travelling to southern Spain for a football match, most without tickets.
      Scotland is a football hotbed, only nearly matched in Liverpool,and much more than most places in England.
      We dont follow Cricket, Rugby or croquet.
      Ask englishmen who have played here what its all about, its the highlight of their career,
      Whats the point of the Premiership, overpaid foreigners, a National Team that is suffering because of it, egoistic foreign owners who are playing fast and loose with the fans clubs, The clubs cannot compete with spain in the champions league.
      Oh how I wish I had been brought up in Bolton, wigan, Birmingham etc etc, and didnt have to watch the many evenings I have been at Celtic Park watching English clubs come up to beat the Jocks only to find it isnt all that easy, Your empire is built on SKY Sand, pretty soon most clubs will be under that sand.
      P.S. I was born in Romford Essex

      • Geography Police April 29, 2016 at 11:02 am #

        Romford was removed from Essex in 1965. Since then Romford has been in London. In the London Borough of Havering in east London.

  2. Jim MacDonald February 19, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Yet another piece of drivel from someone who very clearly does not understand what is still happening in Scottish football. The old firm is a term used by the Scottish media to try and lump Celtic in with Rangers. The reason we are not happy as I’m sure you wouldn’t be is that sectarianism is rife in Scotland. A place where it still matters sometimes what school you went to on a job application. Where the media constantly pander to a great Scottish institution. If all parties had done their job right in the media in stead of hiding up David Murray’s bum then Rangers would never have been in this predicament.
    As for the English premiership i think you will find that since it’s inception only 2 teams have been in the running for the title. That has been Man United and a.n. other. Whether it be Arsenal Chelsea or now Man City. So please refrain from writing about subjects you only know about through the papers. Have a look on google and see who the best supported team in the world is. I’ll give you 3 guesses, they don’t hail from the holy grail of the premiership, they are in fact as we speak sat atop the SPL with a 14 point lead. I wonder if you will print this? Hmmmm! maybe not. Hail Hail a chara.

    • Tom January 31, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

      You utter dimwit, you think celtic are the best supported team in the world are you deluded or just plain stupid, I suggested you ‘google’ it as you say and look again and it will be man utd, Real Madrid, Barcelona, celtic are not even in the top 10!

  3. Fergus February 19, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    There is only one thing that separates the epl and spl and its money.

    Before the sky tv deal started Scottish clubs could sign England’s best players and compete quite easily with them. Rangers beat the English champions Leeds in the champions league home and away. Then Sky came.

    There was the top European match-day incomes released last week and Celtic and Rangers were both in the top 20. But why can’t Celtic pay more than 6m for a player? because there is no tv money.

    You talk about it being boring because it’s a two horse race? I’m sorry but it’s like that in every top league. Whether it’s a 2, 3 or 4 horse race there is a massive gulf in quality between the top clubs and the rest. They only thing that makes it look good is there is shit loads of money going round all the other clubs to sign good players (apart from Scotland)

    I don’t get why people don’t want Celtic And Rangers in England. Surely it can only be a good thing to add an old firm derby and a 60’000 and 50’000 stadiums in the league? QPR,Wigan and Blackburn struggle to get 20’000.

    • RangeRooney February 20, 2012 at 8:01 am #

      The lack of TV money comes down to the lack of any real competition. While the EPL has an average of 3teams who have a chance to win the league, there is another 6-8 teams who are competing for the 4 Champion’s League spots. Then there is another 6-8 teams who are fighting to avoid relegation.

      That means that out of the 10 games every weekend, most of the, have relevance on one of these 3 races. The same cannot be said in Scotland. There are only 2 teams competing for the SPL title. This also means thee is no competition for the European spots. The only other drama is the relegation fight, and that end sup being a contest between only 2-3 clubs, so you end up with maybe one or two meaningful games a weekend.

      And the other downside, relegation fights down pull in near as many viewers as the fights at the other end of the table, so SPL seems doomed to having to accept cheap TV deals until they can get some competition at the top of the table. Until that happens, they have to live off of match day and commercial revenue, which will make them unable to compete with English clubs who get this, plus fat TV deals.

  4. ronnie February 19, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    whats the point of england …the most moronic people on the planet

  5. Greg February 19, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Before anybody else decides to comment on just the title alone, please read this article right to the end.

    P.S: I am NOT English.

    • Jim MacDonald February 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      Read your whole article pal, obviously a beleaguered Rangers fan, hail hail to you anyway. Come and support us, even you will be welcomed with open arms, in fact nip in the Irish Centre in Nottingham today and I will but you a drink and you can partake in some jelly and ice cream HH

  6. Steakheed February 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Thought provoking and a great insight to an insiders view on the SPL, I don’t agree with it all but you make a fair and accurate representation of the league from afar.

    Enjoyed reading.

  7. mike February 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    OK I’ve read your whole article – you have twice as many clubs as us now look at the following: what’s the point indeed!

    Season Champions
    1992–93 Manchester United
    1993–94 Manchester United
    1994–95 Blackburn Rovers
    1995–96 Manchester United
    1996–97 Manchester United
    1997–98 Arsenal
    1998–99 Manchester United
    1999–2000 Manchester United
    2000–01 Manchester United
    2001–02 Arsenal
    2002–03 Manchester United
    2003–04 Arsenal
    2004–05 Chelsea
    2005–06 Chelsea
    2006–07 Manchester United
    2007–08 Manchester United
    2008–09 Manchester United
    2009–10 Chelsea
    2010–11 Manchester United

  8. MaxX February 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Firstly, you’re talking about a country with a smaller population than London.
    So engurland is quite considerably bigger than scotland, the fact that you find the need to slag the country, in your not exactly covert racist manner, and it’s football, says more about the writer than it does about Scotland.
    In the past six years Celtic have been in the Champions league last 16 twice, beating teams like ManU and AC Milan along the way, and were very unfortunate not to progress.
    Rangers have been in the last 16 once.
    In the past 10 years both clubs have been in European finals, Celtic HUMPING Liverpool out along the way.
    Infact Celtic supporters are a bit fed up humping engurlish teams out of Europe, Man U, Liverpool and the souness Bolton wanderers ‘men against BHOYS’ home and away humiliation amongst them.
    So Scotland has two main teams and a country with, what?, five-six times the population has three!!!
    During the time you’re havering on about Notts Forrest and so, Dundee united where in a European cup final and Aberdeen, lead by engurlands most succesful manager of all time SCOTSMAN Alex Ferguson, won the Cup Winners Cup and the Super Cup.
    If Celtic and rangers had the kind of spending power EPL teams have, especialy given Celtics global fan base, we would leave your bloated, selfsatified, sanctimonious league in our dust, and you and people like you will fight tooth and nail to keep us out for that exact reason.
    You are bricking it at the prospect!!

    But hey! Don’t let facts and figures get in the way of your arrogant racist rant, some folk have to have a kick a the smaller guy every now and again just to make them feel big and like themselves.
    It’s called being a bully and a coward, enjoy.

  9. bhoylondon67 February 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    What a stupid article. Your argument is that a single team in the EPL normally dominates for a DECADE or so! Do you not see how ridiculous that sounds?
    First off Celtic have more fans than all but 3 EPL clubs, despite the league being dominated by the 2 Glasgow teams.
    Second, look at Spain, 2 teams dominating. It is not ideal, but it is better than the 1 team dominating as is usually the case in England.
    And third, no football is pointless. That is like saying why have any other leagues apart from the top leagues.
    Celtic has an almost Fairytale story, not one EPL club comes close to having such a wonderful STORY.
    Lets not forget, the EPL teams are SCARED of Celtic, they know that with our support and demand for success we would soon be dominating the league.
    Our club is about the fans, and our fans love their football more than any English clubs fans ever could. We put the silent glory hunters to shame with the way we back our club.
    Then you have the audacity to talk about Scottish players? Lets be clear, we know our teams limits, we do not get told by the media we are something we are not like they do in England. Just because you say England has good players and a good team does not make it true! In fact the proof and facts show they are NOT a good team. The English team has some decent players, but that is as far as it goes, and that is PROVEN every 2 years.
    Do not try and convince others the England team is any good, you just kee[p convincing yourselves and we will enjoy you flopping, over and over and over and over again.

  10. tictactic February 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Strange that Scottish football is always compared to other leagues. England (population as mentioned above, of London is greater than Scotland) or Spain (again 10 times the population)

    Nobody from Scotland ever argues that the league is perfect either. It’s always detractors on the other side looking in pointing out these comparisons. Again, as mentioned above there is no difference in terms of ‘duopoly’ between Spain, England and tiny wee Scotland.

    The gap between ‘opoly’ and the rest of the competition is more pronounced though, but it’s only here that the sheer scale of the population contrast comes in to play. Scotland’s 3rd place team Motherwell are based in a town of 30k. Etc.

    In truth us Scots see a comparison with leagues like the Scandinavians. Sure Celtic and Rangers are a complex standout, but it’s not as if the two Glasgow sides are stifling contest.

    Without Celtic and Rangers, it’s not as if Steven Whittaker, Gary Caldwell, Scott McDonald, and the whole host of players plucked from the SPL would still be at their original clubs. They would move to England!!!

    Sure the league’s not perfect, but there’s more grass-roots merit to the SPL than the mercenary egotistical shenanigans in England.

  11. Nico February 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    As always, another superb piece.

    You can’t fault Scottish football for it’s passion and commitment, but the fact is, the SPL is of a poor standard at the moment.

    Scottish football isn’t what it used to be, and with it, is losing respect from the neutral supporter.

    Something needs to be done to make the league more interesting and competitive. The fact is, Rangers and Celtic wouldn’t be certain to gain promotion from the Championship, let alone compete in the Premier League. That says it all.

    Scottish fans will hate to admit it, but deep deep down, they must realise the standard/structure needs to be addressed before the reputation of Scottish football diminishes further.

    Scotland, like many of you say, are a great footballing (and sporting) nation, so to see such a poor standard of football being played in their ‘elite’ league is saddening.

    • Nico February 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

      Might I add, I’m currently planning 2/3 trips up to Scotland to watch a few SPL games myself.

      I’m sure things will improve.

      • Nico February 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

        And may I also add, the Premier League is NOT the holy grail of football. Extremely average standard this season, for me.

        British football needs to improve all round.

  12. Brisbane Bhoy February 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    I have to feel a bit sorry for you to be honest.

    You are happy to hold hands with the Turks who stole your ancestors land and feel no grievnce towards them? Well good for you, but to compare the Greek Cypriot / Turkish situation to the Irish / Celtic issues is a bit farcical. I say this with a pretty comprehensive understanding of both issues (I have relatives in both Ireland and Cyprus). I wonder if your relatives who live in Cyprus feel the same way?

    in any case, the title of your article is inflamatory in the extreme.
    What’s the point of Scottish football? The arogance of a little englander (I don’t care where your parents came from you’ve clearly rejected your roots) who fails to understand anything outside of the EPL.

    Celtic are one of the best supported clubs in the world. Rangers also have a huge following. Both of these clubs support dwarf the vast majority of clubs in the EPL. All of these points have been covered sufficiently in the previous posts by Celtic fans.

    The “point” of Scottish football is the same as football in any league. To provide a focal point for the communities they come from, to bring entertainment, excitement and passion into our otherwise tedious 9-5 lives. Whether you support Mansfield Town FC or Man Utd FC is irrelevant. If you don’t understand that, as the title of your article implies, then should you really be writing about football issues???

  13. Korben Dallas February 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    You know I’m getting feed up listening to EPL followers running down Scottish football and making a big thing out of the fact that we are dominated by only two teams, most football leagues are dominated by two or three teams!
    The EPL started in season 92-93 and has been going now for 19 seasons (not counting this one) and has been dominated by Manchester United who have won it a total of 12 times. Arsenal and Chelsea have been the main EPL challengers both having won it 3 times. The only team out with these 3 to win was Blackburn in 94/95 when they pipped Manchester United by 1 point, having come second the season before. Along with Blackburn only Newcastle and Liverpool have challenged more than once for the title.
    EPL Stats: Team 1st/2nd/3rd
    Man U 12/4/3; Arsenal 3/5/3; Chelsea 3/4/2; Blackburn 1/1/0; Liverpool 0/2/5; Newcastle 0/2/2; Aston Villa 0/1/0; Man City 0/0/1; Leeds 0/0/1; Nott Forest 0/0/1; Norwich 0/0/1

  14. johnmcc February 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    a typical parochial english view of anything foreign they no
    nothing about.
    i doubt if i have seen more than four decent e.p.l games
    in the past year.
    this is a league propped up by debt and about to find out
    that what is happening at rangers just now is about to come
    over the hill in the near future and hit hard.
    i watched the sunderland v arsenal game yesterday and the
    stadium was half empty.
    i will be at the celtic v dunfermline game on wednesday and
    there will be 60,000 for an ordinary league match ,i doubt
    very much if there will be an higher attendance anywhere in
    europe this week and i include champions league games.
    once again it is a case of english arrogance.
    ask any fan from the spanish,german italian leagues what
    they think of the english premier division and they will just

  15. MaxX February 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Sorry, that should of course be Blackburn Rovers.

  16. pat February 19, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    What’s the point of English football?

    To foster a generation of overpaid celebrity footballers who have no connection with their fans and will jump ship at the prospect of a bigger pay packet?

    To price the original fans out of the market, remove terracing, outlaw standing up, pander to corporate benefactors and pretty much do everything to stifle the atmosphere?

    To systematically remove decrease the money filtering down to lower divisions and grass roots level?

    To have a distinctly average national side, talked up in terms way beyond their actual ability enter tournaments with totally unrealistic expectation. They perform to their true ability but this isn’t understood by much of the country who then look to scapegoat individuals or the manager or UEFA or anything but their lack of ability.

    To arrogantly bleat on about how brilliant the ‘English’ Premiership is despite the ever decreasing amount of Englishmen involved? (players, managers and owners)

    To constantly compare themselves with a nation a tenth of the size with a tiny fraction of the financial resources?

    To have senior figures suggest playing games abroad or ?

    In short, to slowly destroy most of what is good about the game.

    What is the point of any football? Surely, none of the above.

  17. Tim Molloy February 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    What a load of condescending nonsense. Quite apart from the laughable self perceived “superiority” of whatever fool penned that piece, you have other idiots joining in with the old arguments such as “neither Rangers nor Celtic could gain promotion out of the English Championship.” What these numpties don’t factor in is that the current SPL squads would be re inforced for a tilt at the Premiership and the certainty of guaranteed millions would see a huge financial investment from Celtic to ensure success not only in the Championship but in the Premiership too. And don’t forget that millions of Scots (and Irish) and SPL fans contribute the same hard cash as English fans to SKY TV’s coffers too, so taking a share of the football windfall would be no shame at all. Celtic have a solid support of around 60,000 fans on a regular basis and one of the best stadiums in Britain. Celtics huge world wide merchandising alone dwarfs that of most English teams, in fact only one or two English clubs come anywhere near Celtics retailing power. English clubs know full well that allowing Celtic into their league would beat the expense of one of their lesser top tier clubs and for that reason they will always oppose it. Celtic’s impressive history against the best in European football not to mention English football should be considered before talking such nonsense.

    Personally, I think modern air travel and the availability of satellite TV will gradually cause club football to evolve to a situation where the very top clubs with selling power will form a super European league, with clubs who can sell tickets and TV packages being invited to participate. Bums on seats yes, but TV audience sales will see that becoming a reality. Now. How many of your English teams can fill a 50,000 seater stadium every week ???? Hmmmmm.

    • shaunthebrummie July 30, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

      now lets talk about celtic raising money for bomb making equipment for the provo’s..the fact that said bombers are celtic fans..then there is the paedophilial history of celtic (being close to the catholic church..no surprise).now lets ask the english person in some of the towns where celtic’s heroes have planted bombs and killed men women and children…shall we allow celtic into english football………answer….NO..NO..NO…let them stagnate,wither and die in the SPHell…where they deserve to be……

  18. iain February 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    Typical english , we’re better than everyone else , we rule the world , blah blah . Foreigners are all corrupt and cheats we ‘re the only honest ones . They really are an unbelievable bunch of hypocrites and racists as their former captain and current manager prove.

  19. timomouse February 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    In all fairness, don’t all top leagues eventually turn into a duopoly – Barca-Real, Man United-Arsenal/Chelsea/City (in the end, there hasn’t been a season where there’s been a real three horse race), Inter/AC, Bayern/Whatever 1 season wonders there are that year. Even going to less established european leagues, Poland, Ukraine all have duopolies. In fact, Sweden is about the only country where the title has passed around lots of clubs in the recent past.

    Being a duopoly is not something to castigate the SPL for. Celtic and Rangers have massive supports and, lest we forget, the point about Rangers not dropping a place and being 9 points ahead of third forgets that Motherwell had a game in hand which, should they win, will be just 3 points behind Rangers. That’s hardly uncompetitive and the Champions League qualifying place that would carry for Motherwell would benefit their finances massively.

    Scottish football is not in a great state, but that is as a result of mismanagement of clubs – it’s why Rangers have hit the skids, it’s why Hearts couldn’t maintain their initial surge after the Romanov purchase, it’s why Aberdeen and Hibs have fallen so far. After all, the 2 best run teams not called Celtic in the SPL are 3rd and 5th.

    The standard of football has slipped in so much as the players at the top clubs aren’t as good as they were, but 10 years ago, we were watching Laudrup, the de Boers, Larsson et al play – is it any wonder that standards have slipped considering the outstanding players that were in the league at that point. Scottish football has, results-wise, only slipped back to the mid-90s, where everyone was out of Europe by Xmas. It’s not unrecoverable. It simply requires owners to run their clubs well and, as such, we should be grateful for Celtic, Motherwell, St Johnstone et all who have all faces financial oblivion, who have all recovered to balance the books and who are all seeing their diligence paying off with going upwards in the table.

  20. paranoidandroid February 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    What’s the point of Scottish football ? We Scots love it, that’s what.

    • shaunthebrummie April 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      well if you love it…will you tell your 2 biggest and vastly overated football teams….they aint wanted in england…

  21. Rob Marrs February 19, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Quite astonished at some of the comments here. Greg’s piece was entirely reasonable.

    A few points:

    (a) The Old Firm was a term coined a long time ago and not by the modern Scottish media. Both teams have, over the years, marketed that term so let’s just put that to bed.

    (b) Yes, generally, there have been two teams challenging for the league in England – they change though. In the Premiership years, that has been Man United and Blackburn, Man United and Leeds, Man United and Villa, Man United and Chelsea, Chelsea and Arsenal, Man United and Arsenal, Man United and Liverpool etc and now City. As far as I am aware only once since the SPL has been in existence has anyone other than Rangers or Celtic finished in the top 2.

    Indeed, the fact that the two clubs have won the league 96 times between them suggests that the duopoly is entrenched.

    (c) Four English Premier League clubs have reached finals of the Champions League in the last decade. That suggests some level of strength in depth.

    (d) If Scottish clubs had the spending power they’d be fine. If my aunt had bollocks she’d be my uncle. The reason English clubs have more money is because it is watched around the world and the FA can sell the rights for more.

    (e) The standard up here is gubbins. I watched Hearts vs Spurs and it was a disgrace how far behind Hearts were athletically let alone on a football level. I’ve watched St Mirren, Killie, Dundee United et al. All putting on a standard lower than the Championship.

    That isn’t to say the title isn’t inflammatory or that it glosses over certain elements (Scotland’s decline at international level can to a large extent be attributed to the massive influx of teams that were formerly the USSR and Yugoslavia).

    People here are looking to be offended and have found it. Quelle suprise.


  22. Colin February 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    What utter tosh. Obviously Scottish football isn’t the best in Europe but it’s not THAT bad. English football has been dominated by 4 clubs with occasional flirting by over achieves like spurs.

    When was the last time that neither Chelsea, Man Utd or Arsenal won the premiership?

  23. paranoidandroid February 19, 2012 at 6:14 pm #

    Robb Marrs, what’s the point of Greg’s article ? Other than the usual English nah, nah, nah, we’ve got lots of money and you haven’t. I dont see many suggestions on how we can improve. He’s not telling us anything we’re not aware of. But football is a game we love and we’ll still be playing it a long time after the English Premier league’s financial bubble has burst, and all your foreign imports have disappeared.

    Anyone who has to ask what’s the point of Scottish football obviously doesn’t understand the point of football, full stop. Is he one of the many Man Utd fans who dont even know where Manchester is ? Let’s just scrap every team in “the football familly” except for Man Utd and Barcelona so that people like you and your mate Greg can sit on your couch eating nachos and drinking coke watching them until your sick of the sight of them.

    If you dont like Scottish football, F.O. and dont watch it.

  24. Michael February 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    I don’t agree with all of Greg’s points – the English Premier League can be every bit as predictable as its Scottish equivalent and the dearth of young talent isn’t is just as much a problem south of the border, though it’s masked to an extent by the far larger population. However, some of the comments above illustrate exactly why lots of English – and, to be fair, other Scottish – football fans want nothing to do with elements of both the Celtic and Rangers support. If it isn’t the sectarianism that gets you, it’s the horrific sanctimony.

    To call the writer racist only demeans actual incidents of racism. It also makes you look a bit of a cock.

  25. perfume ponce February 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    wow, some of you really havent read the article have you. Greg is firstly of Greek/Cypriot descent and secondly is a Spurs fan so has seen his team consistently fail to challenge for the title until this season.

    The passion the Scottish fans have shown on this page should be commended but your passion is blinding the facts.

    yes the funding has gone down but both Celtic and Rangers have had year after year of CL football and failed to either a) make any real progress in Europe b) strengthen the team. There are countless EPL rejects in the Scottish League but Celtic and Rangers should have £30 mill from CPL to spend every year…so what is happening?

    As for the comments about the England team. Yes all England fans feel the team could play better and achieve more but we are still consistently qualifying for the big tournaments and regardless of whether the players fail to turn up they do actually get there!

    its all very well winning a CL game against Milan every once in a while but do it consistently like the top EPL teams and then maybe the league will be taken more seriously across Europe.

    Lastly, i personally know greg and he is certainly not a racist and he has a huge passion for football regardless of the team, country, level it is played.

  26. Rob Marrs February 19, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Greg is a Spurs fan – let’s not bandy around insults about being a United fan.

    Colin – last time was 1995. 23 different clubs have won the English league over the years and no two clubs have dominated like Rangers and Celtic have up here.

    Chelsea, for all their success, have won the English league as many times as Sheffield Wednesday. That isn’t long-term dominance I’m afraid. (Greg’s team, Spurs, have won the league twice).

    Old Firm have won the league on 96 occasions. All the other teams combined have won the league on 19 occasions. That is a proper duopoly and just isn’t comparable to England or anywhere else. Hell, it is one step up from the Scilly Isles.

    Sure, I absolutely accept that football isn’t about winning but the Old Firm clubs are almost so big, and so dominant, they are distorting (or have always distorted) the league enormously to the point where it is uncompetitive. The levels of sectarianism can be truly astonishing. The bile leads many – including commenters on my blog – calling for the Old Firm not to move to England but to be disbanded.

    If any of you read the piece – and it had a different title – you’d have come at it from a different angle. His point was he’d love to see Scotland doing well again. Who’d blame him for changing his mind after this reaction?

    As Michael says, it is the sanctimony that gets you down.

  27. Johnny Utah February 20, 2012 at 9:46 am #


    Family Ness was created by Peter Maddocks who was born in Leicester!

  28. Rob Marrs tranny uncle February 20, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    The SPL is what it is. It is loved and revered by those who support Scottish teams. The simple truth is that Celtic and Rangers will never be admitted to the EPL by any route because they would upset the apple cart hugely. Everyone knows this. To deny it is futile.
    You can keep your EPL, you can’t match Celtic for passion and atmosphere. I have been to Celtic games all over the world, we are always well received, well behaved and leave a good impression behind us. I wish we had a chance at the EPL BUT SHITTY TEAMS LIKE SPURS AND THEIR ILK WILL NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN. Because within a few years of being in the EPL Celtic would be challenging for everything. That’s a fact. Deny it if you will, we know the truth.

    That also applies to Rangers (FTQ RIP)

    • Poor Little Scotland July 19, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

      Another proud Scottish man talking complete shit,you sound like the type who has a tattoo of Celtic on one arm and a Scottish flag on the other…my advise is that you should have got then on your arse because that’s what Scotland is..ARSE
      epl doesn’t want you because of a simple fact..your not English!! The clue is in the name numb nuts

  29. Rob Marrs February 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    ”Rob Marrs tranny uncle” thanks for the comment.

    I actually agree with your train of thought.

    The lower tier Premiership Clubs would never vote to admit Celtic (if nothing else an additional relegation spot would open). Ask yourself, if you were West Brom or Fulham, would you vote for that? Of course not.

    The mid-tier teams would view Celtic as another threat to their occasional forays into Europe. If you were Newcastle, Sunderland, Everton or Aston Villa would you vote to allow a potential threat in the short-to-medium term? Of course not.

    The highest end – the guys who have enormous market shares (LFC, MUFC, CFC, Arsenal, Spurs) – are competing for fans globally. Why would they vote in someone who could challenge that market share? Again, of course not.

    I’m not opposed to Celtic (or Rangers) moving. I’d really like to see a British League Cup rather than two rubbish League Cups. I’d rather see more cross-border stuff than less. I’d like to see an annual ”Battle of Britain game” between the league champions. I just don’t see why the EPL clubs would vote in Celtic’s interest rather than their own.

    I don’t agree that Celtic would be ”challenging for everything”. I think they’d need significant external investment to be able to challenge the Top 6 but they’d certainly be in the top-half of the Premier League in a few years. They’d be the next bracket down from the big boys, I think.

    I disagree that Celtic fans are ”always well behaved” because, let us face it, they are not. That isn’t an attack on Celtic fans – most fandoms have idiots in their mix. I’ve heard IRA chants when I’ve been at Celtic games. That isn’t good behaviour and it shouldn’t be overlooked.

    I disagree that you can’t match Celtic for passion. I think you get similar atmospheres at Old Trafford and Anfield and, possibly, Goodison and the Britannia. That, again, isn’t denigrating a great club just saying that they aren’t the only people who can generate an atmosphere. I am categorically not denying that the atmosphere at Parkhead can be fantastic – it can be. I just don’t think it is unique.

  30. Rob Marrs February 20, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    And yes, before you jump in, I know that many clubs sing offensive songs – Liverpool (Munich), Leeds (Munich), Spurs (Sol Campbell and Adebayor), Man United (Hillsborough), Rangers (all the sectarian nonsense).

    I’m not condoning any of that. I just meant Celtic fans aren’t the angels that many people point out although, of course, the overwhelming majority of their fans (like the overwhelming majority of fans) are great.

  31. Rob Marrs tranny uncle February 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    Nobody is perfect Rob I agree.

    But songs about the IRA are less offensive to many than songs about Hillsborough and the Munich air disaster. It’s all a matter of perspective I guess. If you were Irish or of Irish descent you might understand that singing IRA songs does not mean we are all terrorist. Look to history for further information, I’m not going to labour the point.

    I take on board your points about passionate supporters in England, I’ve been to an awful lot of English football grounds. for me the English clubs that come close would be Liverpool , Leeds, Newcastle.

    Man Utd? The games I’ve attended at old Trafford have always been very subdued, but I know they turn it on occasionally.
    Rather than continue down this whole line of argument I think the author of this article should just appologise for the title of his article. As this is the real inflammatory point.

    Celtic fans have a pretty good idea of their clubs place in the world, once mighty, will be again, huge global following, passionate supporters, stuck in a league that they have outgrown. But the only thing holding our club back is the fear of the clubs in the EPL. That’s a fact you have acknowledge very well yourself.

    • shaunthebrummie July 30, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

      its more a fear of being blown up in a pub after the match actually….

  32. Armcheer Theatre February 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    Healthy debate spurred on by the irreverent title of the piece and the sense of interference from afar from a badly informed know it all. Well done Greg.

    Cross pollination of the EPL and SPL might well be a great footballing loss but migration of the old Firm to the EPL..what does that say about the hopes for Scottish football? Couldn’t such contests be more favourably fought in a cup situation and via the Home Nations and not by abandoning the rest of Scotland?

    Incidentally the absence of strong new footballing talent from Scotland is a mystery not explained by the size of the population.

    Speaking from Edinburgh there is very little aspiration here and disappointingly low levels of support accordingly. It is also demoralising watching coaches leave from towns up and down the country heading for Glasgow to add to the Old Firms support not to oppose it.

    Maybe a handicap is worth some thought but if 10 points doesn’t do it then the concept seems a little futile and the weakness of the rest of the football structure then seriously needs to be questioned from tip to toe without beating about the bushes.

    All of us here love football and know fine well the point of it but the outlook for the game in Scotland for the present is not fertile. Help.

    • shaunthebrummie April 9, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      no help for scottish football……anti english whingers…………..enjoying watching whats going on in scottish football

  33. Allan February 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Controversial title there.

    There are two strands to this piece, which are linked but could be delt with in seperate posts. Scottish Football stopped producing great players partly because of the teachers strike in the mid 80’s – which saw teachers stop coaching football in their spare time (i’m sure that there will be someone out there who will be able to put more flesh on these bones) and partly because of the influx of foreign “talent” that began to come to these shores post Bosman. I say “talent” because for every Laudrup and Van Hoijdoonk there was at least two or three Stennesas.

    The quality of Scottish Football is a diferent issue to the above, but is linked. Yes there is a duopoly and yes it is unhealthy. But then again there are similar duopolies in leagues accross Europe. Manchester United have won 12 English Championships since 1992/3, before that Liverpool won 11 English Championships in a similar 20 year period from 1970 onwards. Bayern Munich are always there or thereabouts in Germany, Lyon appear to have a similar (reciently emerging) dominance in France, while Lo Scuddetto is almost always won by either AC Milan, Inter Milan or Juventus. It’s only really in Spain where there is any kind of doubt that their big two will win their championship (both Deportivo La Corunia & Valencia have won championships in the past 10 years). Yet even Spain is showing signs of following this duopoly trend.

    The television deal’s the SPL negociated with BSkyB and ESPN, bring in money if nothing else. In terms of marketing the game, they are more of a hinderence, with games scheduled for the footballing equivilant of the graveyard shift – lunchtimes. Television money should be better split, and better deals should be negociated.

    BTW to stick up for Dundee United fans, they did win 2 League Cups, a Championship got to the UEFA Cup final (in 1987, beating Barcelona away in the quarter finals) and got to the semi final of the European Cup (in 1984) at the same time as Ferguson was smashing the Old Firm duopoly – they also won the Scottish Cup two years ago (they have not been beaten in that competition by Rangers since 1989). Not entirely sure why they’ve been picked out.

  34. Peaman February 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    I travelled from Manchester to Stirling for a match a few weeks ago.

    Whats the point of Scottish football?
    A top weekend away from Manchester and the premier league/ Sky overblown nonsense. ( Yes I do support a premier league team)

    Bring on the next trip – itching to go to Alloa for some reason

    • shaunthebrummie April 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      another bleeding scots parasite…..next time you’re in scotland……do us a favour….and stay there..

  35. Baron C March 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    Everyone should go to Alloa. I’ve travelled 300 miles from Lincoln to watch the Wasps and was warmly greated, invited into the boardroom, had a drink with the chairman and was generally treated by everyone astonishingly. Doubt I’d get that level of treatment at any English club.

    • shaunthebrummie November 5, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

      probably because you were the only one of the 3 there that paid to get in…you want to see what they charge to get out

  36. michael April 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    If the epl and spl wasnt full of foreigners then it would be a real competition but the epl and spl are so predictable now

  37. Craig April 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    It is hard to sit and watch the SPL go down the road it is. Calling it a poor standard of leauge is fair to be honest. What is not fair is compairing it to the English leagues and the Spanish. For the size of Scotland why have done well to have done what we have. Our two major clubs have two huge global fan bases and pull in 45,000+ per week to watch a very average game of footbal, something most clubs in England can only dream of.

    Now to your point about no teams competing for anything other than the title and relegation. I would say this season has been fairly competitive, minus the title race. There are 4 or 5 teams actuall fighting for a champions league place and a further 2 Europa League spots. So, there is competition. As for relegation, there are about 3 or 4 teams fighting relegation, it may not be exciting but again, it is still competition to stay into the SPL.

    Our league is far from perfect and yes, we do need change. But when not always being compared to the 3 premier leagues (Spain, Germany and England) it can make for a very watchable league at times.

  38. Andrew Russell March 18, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    A well written and thought provoking article.

    It would be nice to see this updated to the situation today 18-03-14, where you have a Celtic team a full 24 points ahead of the next team in the league.
    Here is a prediction … Celtic will win the SPL next season, and will win it by more than 10 points. I don’t think anyone will argue with that, and that is the problem.
    The SPL has been a zero interest competition since Rangers were demoted, and for fans of anyone other than the O.F. have felt it has been a zero interest competition for much longer than that.
    It would be better for Scotland if Celtic were to play in another league, but where could they play? The EPL don’t want them! To be fair to Celtic, it is hardly their fault they are so much better than the rest, but for them to play at their best they need to be pushed by other good teams.
    At the moment Scotland play second rate football, which is a pity. We don’t have the young player coming through in the numbers we had before, and there is a general lack of training / coaching available.
    To watch decent football in Scotland the Championship is better … (the old second division)

  39. Man utd vs Ross county!! July 18, 2014 at 12:31 am #

    Reading all the mad little terriers barking because someone dares to say a bad thing about the mighty Scottish league!! Typical Scottish reaction! Most of you are saying that the epl is boring yet at the same time you want to join?? But as usual with with Scottish it’s because the English are scared,I really don’t see how,it’s just that Celtic are not that good.
    Be honest and tell me,if the spl had the pulling power of the epl would you let a English team in?? Answer is NO

    Scottish football is complete garbage,like the worst league in the world,the players should be paid in stones and sawdust.
    Peace x

    • shaunthebrummie November 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

      well said….scots are ponces now…..and always have been.

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