In the light of the SFA President’s unfortunate remarks in the MSM today, relegating every Scottish football club other than Celtic or Rangers to support role status, this blog by Auldheid on the need to have a conversation about the leadership and governance of the Scottish game is remarkably prescient.
It is also important in that it shows there are people out there (and not just us at SFM) who are engaged in finding workable solutions to our problems – solutions to which involve the major stakeholders in football, the fans (or customers as most boardrooms would have it).
The people involved in finding solutions are well-connected and not without influence, but most importantly they seek to give fans a greater voice in the game – and they do not represent a paid-for voice with a seat at the SFA table or a funding source that depends to a large extent on saying nothing when fan interests are damaged.
SFM is more than happy to endorse Auldheid’s sentiments.
The following extracts have been taken from an earlier SFM Blog (The Lost Voice of the Armageddon Virus), to emphasise the fact, if any were needed, that something is rotten in the state of Scottish football.
“Significantly for matters out with the confines of the (Craig Whyte) case – and this has been incredibly under-reported by the main stream media – David Murray also told the court earlier that he had used EBT’s in order to get better players for Rangers than they could otherwise afford, re-igniting social media exchanges over the validity of William Nimmo-Smith’s report into Rangers use of EBT’s.
You may remember that Nimmo-Smith himself considered that Rangers had gained no sporting advantage by their use of the scheme – a conclusion diametrically at variance with Murray’s – the man who operated the scheme to achieve exactly that end.
If Murray is telling the truth, then it puts Nimmo-Smith’s conclusions in doubt. And even if you leave aside for the moment the amended and extremely creative terms of reference set by Neil Doncaster which effectively excluded the already known to be unlawful DoS EBTs from Nimmo-Smith’s team, the SPL has been shown up as a bit a joke.
Another sensational piece of info the court heard, which again has gone almost completely unreported, was that in an email from Mike McGill of Murray Group, dated 17 March 2011, he says “the (wee tax) case only recently went from a potential liability and had not “crystallised” until recently” – this long before a Euro licence was awarded to Rangers on the basis, according to Stewart Regan, that the bill had “not crystallised” when the licence was awarded.
It may be that the laws of unintended consequences will prove to be more significant to football than the matter of Craig Whyte’s guilt or innocence.”
However the “revelations” only tell many of us what has been questioned or known since 2011 about Scottish football that has filled gigabytes of space on numerous forums and blogs about the handling by the SFA of the grant and retention of a UEFA Licence to Rangers FC in 2011 and the flawed creation of the Lord Nimmo Smith Commission whose Decision in February 2013 was met with incredulity by those who follow the game as the Decision bent all previous understanding of the intent of registration rules pretzel shaped in order to meet a desired damage limitation outcome.
More has yet to come arising from the Craig Whyte trial and the decision of the Supreme Court on the legality of EBTs as administered by Rangers FC.
Yet despite what has been known for several years (and has been or will be further confirmed as the wheels of justice grind slowly to an end), and in spite of all the words spilt, tweets tweeted and blogs blogged, nothing appears to impact on the SFA or SPFL.
Indeed, it was tweeted just the other week by Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News that regardless of the Supreme Court Decision there would be no taking title away from the history of Rangers FC using the LNS Decision as a defensive line in the sand in spite of the Decision itself being founded on sand.
How Doncaster is able to say that really needs examining in terms of his authority and the two fingers it gives to the integrity of the League he is CEO of..
But this is not another blog to rail against the powers that flee, who hide behind main stream media spin, and worse, use the loyalty supporters feel for their clubs to do nothing about the rotten state of football governance in Scotland. This is a blog about ending the biggest barrier to making change happen – the lack of an effective Scottish football clubs supporters union around which the fans can gather and press for change.
There is an organisation called Supporters Direct, who are invited to sit around the Hampden table but who lack the essential ingredient to make them effective – independence from the SFA (who partly fund them).
You don’t bite the hand that feeds you stuff. They are also an organisation whose roots are in England with a Scottish offshoot. You can read what they are about at
Improving football governance in Scotland is not their main aim – which is not surprising given some financial dependence on the SFA – so they do not represent a coherent and easily navigable way forward on the road to providing much-needed transparency and accountability to Scottish football.
However, all is not lost, there an alternative Scottish organisation founded in Scotland called The Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA)
whose nine point manifesto includes a commitment to improved football governance. The SFSA manifesto was launched on 7th Jan 2016 at Holyrood, and enjoys the support of a number of MSPs including former First Minister Henry McLeish.
A copy of the full SFSA Manifesto can be read at
and the relevant part in terms of football Governance is at Point 8 that says
Reclaim The Game
Regular Independent Auditing and Review of the Performance of Governing Bodies and Clubs.
“When a fan is asked how well the club they are following is doing they can point to a league table. This quickly establishes the quality of the on-field performance at any given time. Of course, the reality of football means that there will be fluctuations in performance depending on a range of variable factors. But the beauty is that a league table never finally lies. Its judgement is there for posterity. However, when we are asked to rate the performance of the club as a business there are few clear criteria. This is because of a complete lack of transparency throughout the game. Often it is only when criticism emerges that we get to see how a club is actually managed.
This lack of transparency is being questioned and changed in the banking and commercial sectors. It is no longer acceptable in Scottish football. Clubs have to maximise their effectiveness and live within their means. We want to see independent monitoring and evaluation of the off-field performance of clubs and governing bodies in all areas, from financial transparency to customer services. This includes performance tables. The SFSA will seek to reward high performance through annual awards. We believe that strong support and community focused clubs will find themselves in a better position to thrive and to attract new revenue streams, creating a virtuous circle for the game and breaking down the mistrust about transparency and fan engagement in boardrooms.
In recent times the reputation of both the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) have likewise suffered. This reflects badly on the game and hampers our ability to attract new investment into the sport. In modern commerce, most of the major brands and businesses evaluate customer feedback on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Looking at the SFA survey results from over 10,000 fans the Net Promoter score for our two national bodies is revealing and concerning.
The gulf between those who run football and those who love it and pay for it is far too wide to be healthy, which is why substantial reform in the boardrooms and throughout the governing bodies is in their interest, the fans’ interest, and the interests of Scottish football as a whole. “
We know that over the next 6 weeks the SFSA will be going live with a major campaign to highlight governance and transparency along with a plan to deliver it and will provide details at that time when preparatory work completed.
We at SFM believe it is the responsibility as fans who care about an honest game (and who doesn’t?) to take the opportunity to work with our new national fans organisation in not just talking about change but to make sure that change actually happens.
We can all start that process by joining the SFSA. It costs you nothing apart from 5 mins of your time and you can join at http://scottishfsa.org/ to become the means of making Scottish football something we all feel happy to support because we feel part of it rather than apart from it..