Scottish Football’s Life Support Near Bust

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With the implosion then rebirth
of Rangers the catalyst, there then followed the predictable financial peril lesser
Scottish clubs have found themselves in, particularly Hearts who find
themselves staring at the brink of extinction, is Scottish football now truly caving
in;
Is the Scottish game now on the
slippery slope towards annihilation so widely predicted by the collapse of the
old Rangers company?
With Hearts’ health teetering
precariously on life-support, they have until the 3rd of December to pay the
£450,000 tax bill they owe HMRC or quite simply they face going completely
bust. Rangers survived by the liquidation of the rotten old company and birth
of a new one – same club, new company. The problem Hearts have is only one bid
has apparently been received and it was instantly rejected by Mad Vlad.
Otherwise it is down to the Jambo faithful to find £450k from their own pockets
in just under 3 weeks otherwise their club will cease to be.
Hearts do not have the global
attraction, appeal, clout, and worldwide support that Rangers do. The Govan
club is an institution, and it was unthinkable that no one would wish to take
the club on. Hearts do not quite have that ‘luxury’ and with the only bid
received effectively being from supporters who wanted control of the club in
exchange for clearing its tax bill, it is unsurprising that the Gorgie side is
in deep trouble.
Italian businessman Angelo
Massone has apparently stepped into the ring with a £4.5M bid, but how serious
it is is anyone’s guess.
But this, all this, is indicative
of a danger wider picture. Hearts are no St Mirren, or even Motherwell.
Historically the Edinburgh side are one of Scotland’s top 5 clubs along with the Old Firm, Aberdeen and Dundee Utd.
We are not referring to a
poverty-stricken ‘wee’ club without the waywithall to support itself. Hearts
are, while on the grand scheme of things no Real Madrid, are nevertheless one
of Scotland’s
marquee sides. Rangers’ absence from the SPL is not just hurting the league, it
is killing it.
It was widely predicted how many
clubs would be in financial meltdown following Rangers’ exit, and now Scotland is
seeing how right those prophecies were. The curious thing though is there
appears to be a delusive bubble right now; with rapidly declining attendances
in the top flight and money escaping through an ever-increasing black hole dead
centre of the game, Celtic’s success in the CL, particularly their hard-fought
victory over Barcelona,
seems to have given false hope to the Scottish fraternities.
There is a wave surrounding the
Parkhead club, one not entirely sincere such is their dwindling attendances
domestically, and it is being used to paper over the cracks of a dying game in Scotland. It is
all very well for the media to lavish praise on an admittedly well-earned
victory over a surprisingly limited and limp Barcelona side, but it is quite
another to use that result to paper over the cracks which are growing wider day
by day.
Will it take yet another club to
teeter on the brink of oblivion for the likes of Regan and Doncaster
to wake up and realise this country’s national game is going to collapse?
Restructuring is on the cards,
presumably with a new top-flight including Rangers – without this (or indeed
either Old Firm side being part of it), Scottish football has zero chance of
surviving in its present format for much longer than a year. Problem is, as Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels (who also foresaw the
serious damage Rangers’ loss would do to SPL clubs) has rightly said:
            “You’ve got the
SFA, the SPL and the SFL – they’ll have to have the Third
World War first before anything happens! So we’ll see who comes
out on top in that! People are jockeying for position, they’re looking after their own little empires. These things happen
but someone has to give ground.”
Adroitly put, Mr Shiels. It is
all about self-interest, preservation, and arrogant stubborn refusal to change.
With SPL clubs seemingly rejecting the SFL reconstruction proposals, it is
clear as to just how poorly the game is run and how all Doncaster’s
crowd care about is themselves. SPL clubs believe they will end up weaker as a
result of the SFL’s proposed changes – yet refuse to look at the wider picture
of the entire national game which is staring into the abyss.
This season only one club has had
consistently excellent attendances, and that club languishes in the third
division.
If something is not done to fix
the Scottish game before too long, no club will be languishing anywhere.