Towards a More Professional SFA

When the Scottish Premier League (SPL) and the Scottish Football league (SFL) merged in 2013 to form The Scottish Professional Football League, the word “professional” has been accepted as applying only to the football side of the business.

However, should supporters, the ultimate paying customers, not expect the administration and governance of the game to be a lot more professional than is evident from the handling, by both the SPFL (SPL/SFL) and the Scottish Football Association (SFA), of the descent into liquidation of Rangers FC, which started in 2000, as well as the subsequent damage limitation attempts from March 2011, that  have had serious consequences for the reputation of  Scottish football of being a professionally managed business?

Most folk would not argue that there is a glaringly obvious need for a more professional form of football governance, but the question is how can that be achieved? One way towards   achieving that aim is the subject of what follows.

there is a glaringly obvious need for a more professional form of football governance

Back in the 90’s the Government embarked on yet another an exercise to modernise the Civil Service using a technique known then as Market Testing. The idea was that units, like Information Technology, Human Resource or Office Maintenance within large Civil Service Government Ministries, should be compared with what was available in the private sector to see if the service the internal units provided in a Ministry could be provided more efficiently from external sources.

At the time, internal units operated to their own standards and were answerable only to themselves for the level of service they provided to the users in other internal units.  As a consequence there were no defined levels of service, the users were largely dissatisfied with the service they were receiving, the perception of the IT or HR or OM units was poor damaging their moral and, unlike the private sector, the customer was not the king but the serf.

Before such internal units could be tested there was a lot of preparatory work needed, the most important of which was a change in the culture to one where the customer became king. This was done through the reluctant acceptance that change was necessary in order for those in internal units to hold on to their jobs, followed by the joint establishment in discussion with service users of the level of service that was acceptable to them and the cost in financial terms to the Ministry of that service.

It was a painful and effort intensive process of itself but it did result in a change in culture that not only helped internal staff hold on to their jobs but changed the perception of those both inside and outside the units for the better.

All very fine you say but why am I reading this on Scottish Football Monitor, what is the relevance to the lack of professional governance?

 

Well I think it fair to say that the Scottish Football Association (SFA) has never at any time in its history been held in such low regard by their ultimate customers, the football supporters, without whom there would be no SFA.

In the public perception, measuring both football and governance performance,  the SFA would be lucky to score 10 for incompetency rather than the more likely and damning similar score for  corruption, where 10 was the worst possible score.

In spite of this and protected by the inertia in SPFL clubs who should be voicing the concerns of their paying customers to the SFA, there appears no appetite or indeed mechanism for change.  This is where market testing comes in.

When viewed from a business perspective the SFA is a service provider to the customers via their clubs. In a sense the clubs act, or rather should act, as agents for their supporters and become the “customer” with whom the SFA provide a number of Services. These services should not be hard to identify, for example.

  • Refereeing Services
  • Disciplinary Services
  • Licensing Services
  • Auditing as in Policing Services.
  • Fit and Proper Person Services.

 

 

The Refereeing Service

Given the current, one might even say perpetual, dissatisfaction of refereeing standards, it, is one activity that could benefit from being treated as the kind of service the SFA might provide to the SPFL.

Under such an approach

  • Refereeing would be split into two parts.

 

  • The SFA would be responsible for the recruitment, wage structuring, training and match appointments as the service provider (having taken the nature of the game to be officiated into account and after discussion with SPFL).

 

 

  • Monitoring and evaluation of a referee’s performance would be the responsibility of the SPFL as the customer.

 

  • Referees or ex refs from anywhere (not just Scotland) hired by SPFL would evaluate performance to a standard set by the SPFL after agreement of standards with SFA.

 

 

  • Splitting the appointment and evaluation process. would prevent any one person being able to exert any undue individual influence on referees which protects the integrity of individuals, the service itself and referees appointed.

 

  • It would lead to a higher standard of referee because the customer would be setting the standard not the supplier (as happens everywhere in business but football)

 

  • If standards were not met over a period or a particular game required meeting a standard not possible at the time, the SPFL would be free to hire their own referees from wherever they could get them.

 

  • This freedom under a service approach would reduce, if not remove entirely, the burden of suspected allegiance that bedevils every decision made by match referees by supporters to the detriment of the referees and so of Scottish football.
  • The corollary is the SFA would also be free to offer their referees to other national associations encouraging the SFA to recruit and train to the highest level possible (and charge the other associations for the service).

 

  • Competition for appointments would raise standards and if Scottish referees consistently reached higher standards, they would be in more demand outside Scotland which gives them a financial incentive to be the best referee they can be.

 

  • Any national association could adopt this service provider approach leading to an international professional refereeing occupation in a world where football is almost a daily event somewhere requiring a steady supply of good referees.

 

Feedback

Refereeing as a service has been chosen as but one example of how to establish a customer/service provider relationship between the SFA and SPFL, but the principle would apply to the other services listed. SFM readers are invited to give their views not just on the potential hurdles, like inertia, no driving force etc, but also the benefits of overcoming such hurdles if the approach were applied to those services plus any not on the list that would lend themselves to the approach.

 

256 Comments
  1. rougvielovesthejungle


    So much stuff going on with RIFC and TRFC at the moment so I was looking forward to see the MD, Stewart Robertson’ , interview on Sky Sports yesterday. Surely an opportunity to ask some searching questions one would think?!

    Au contraire, what we got was an interview Rangers media would have been proud of. The smile on the boys face was reminiscent of Comical Ali at his finest as he fielded questions on the identity of the new assistant assistant manager. 

    Are Rangers* fans happy with this standard of journalism on a week when 3 directors have resigned and the proverbial is arguably closer to the fan than it ever has been in the new clubs short existence?

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  2. John Clark


    HomunculusMarch 30, 2017 at 08:57
    ‘..A sustainable business model with clubs operating within their means is the only way forward, for any club (or business for that matter).’
    _____________
    Or,perhaps , and to put what you say in another way, the way forward is for Scottish Football to be made to have  a regulatory regime that is willing to come down hard on cheating club owners such as SDM proved to be:

    and on men in ‘regulatory’ office to be drummed out of office for complicity in protecting cheating and for cobbling up monstrous lies to continue that cheating.

    The shake ma hauns of the middle east are as innocent as lambs compared to what we have at home.

    There has not to my knowledge been any scenario in British/English  football comparable to  that which we have experienced in the ‘saga’, where the quite monumental and protracted cheating of one knight -of- the- realm majority shareholder of a club, which was known about by people in Football Governance at the very time it was being perpetrated, was  not dealt with.

    And there has certainly not been any true parallel to the idiotic nonsense espoused by our Scottish Football establishment, that a liquidated, lost- its- league -and- SFA membership club which  is still in the control of Liquidators, is somehow the same club that is known as TRFC Ltd, founded 2012!

    What, I ask again, is the point of paying to watch a ‘sporting competition’ of any kind when the belief is that there is nothing actually sporting about it, when cheats are allowed to ‘win’ for filthy lucre’s sake, and ‘sporting honours’ are dishonoured by being handed to competitors who never won them!

    The sheer absurdity of it all!
    And bad cess to those who have destroyed our game.

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  3. Allyjambo

    Allyjambo


    Possibly on the wrong track here, but I do wonder how Club 1872 wasn’t included as part of the concert party investigations. It may well be that the investigations were concluded before King got in bed with them, but having a representative on both boards (TRFC and Club 1972) in James Blair, must come pretty close to tying them together as part of the same party! There can be little doubt that Club 1872 would vote in whatever way King/TRFC board wants it to, and even if there was a dissenting voice (hence the recent resignation, perhaps), James Blair, plus King’s cohorts on the board, would almost certainly hold sway.

    And now, allegedly, James Blair allowed Club 1872 to purchase shares at 27.5p at a time when the most recent purchase, at the time, (by King/concert party) had gone through at 20p! He was also, at the same time, aware that the board were being investigated by the Takeover Panel, surely something that would have created a discount in the price, rather than a premium, if it was public knowledge; but as it wasn’t in the public domain, which hat was James Blair wearing when he discussed the purchase with his fellow C1872 board members? The minutes of that meeting might be very illuminating!

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  4. StevieBC

    StevieBC


    Latest ‘DR investigation’ from our Award Winning Keef;

    Scottish football’s pathetic TV deal is bottom of the Euro table
    A Record Sport investigation reveals the extent to which the SPFL is underselling our game as chief Neil Doncaster gets set to negotiate a new TV deal…”
    =======================

    Except Stevensaph had already shared his Euro leagues TV money comparison with the Internet Bampots on SFM etc,
    …about 4 years ago, [IIRC].

    And his eye-opening analysis was typically ignored by the SMSM at that time.

    The SMSM: learned nothing since 2012, and continuing to underwhelm supporters of Scottish football.

    222222

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  5. John Clark


    AllyjamboMarch 30, 2017 at 14:24
    ‘….I do wonder how Club 1872 wasn’t included as part of the concert party investigations..’
    __________
    Today, locked in with four increasingly hyper small children kept at home because of the closure of schools/daycare centres on account of the torrential rain battering down over Brisbane and Birkdale following on from Cyclone Debbie nearly 1000 miles north, I spent a couple of hours reading the Takeover Code and rules.

    The impression I get is that the whole financial regulatory system is as weak as Scottish Football governance.

    To be really cynical, one may as well ask  the CGs /the SFA/and SDMs of the world to police themselves !

    Ach, whit am I like? Those bodies have been allowed to do so!

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  6. Allyjambo

    Allyjambo


    Richard Gough, we haven’t heard from him for a while, I do hope he’s well.

    He used to be one of the go-to-men whenever an upbeat interview was required, but I suppose upbeat is a bit more difficult just now, and associating yourself with Dave King could be considered unwise nowadays. He seemed to disappear from our media round about the time JJ published some very disparaging remarks about him, and, I suppose, it’s given us a very welcome break from his sycophancy. In fact, it’s a relatively long time (a week or so when TRFC is the topic) since we’ve had anyone spouting random words of wisdom and amazingness about TRFC, other than in completely understandable moments like the appointment of a new manager. Has Baz the Raz stopped writing his column in the DR now that he’s free from the constraints of running Clyde FC? It seems a while since I’ve seen anyone ripping his words to shreds.

    It’s almost as though someone is no longer pushing the ‘feel good’ factor stories to the media stenographers, or it’s been decided that a low profile might be the best course of action for the foreseeable future, with only the firefighting hogwash to douse the rumours surrounding the boardroom changes along with the TOP Appeal (that’s not being reported as an appeal in some outlets) result being downplayed. In other words, the only PR is the necessary PR!

    If, when nothing very much is happening, we get lots of words, does reduced PR outpourings mean something they don’t want us (rather, the bears) to know is happening?

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  7. naegreetin


    Re conjecture of TRFC’ future – on the assumption King does not make an offer , the future would seem to be open for a wealthy group of RRM to step up & buy King’s shareholding & work with the Easdales – there are a lot of wealthy people who have supported the club in the past through Club Deck Boxes , sponsorship etc , people like Jim McColl (I know he is now not interested in investing but might change his mind if working with people of a similar mind) or Billy Walker ex Burn Stewart Distillers who sold out for approx £75 m a couple of years ago . 

    A new group with the Easdales could possibly re-negotiate a more productive deal with Ashley & keeping him on board at the same time – set up the club/company on a more sure-footed basis with transparency & honesty (for real this time) & work with Club1872 – then again I’m sure someone has thought about this scenario before looked at the numbers & ran a mile !

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  8. naegreetin


    AJ @ 15.05 – reduced PR outpourings – maybe that cost (PR) is being deemed expendable at the moment (isn’t Traynor closely aligned to Murray/King axis)

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  9. StevieBC

    StevieBC


    The Clumpany’s latest blog is his funniest yet, IMO.

    ‘Rangers’ confusing Friends along the journey ?

    [However, he is now off my Christmas Card list for having an indirect pop at the irresistible Rachel. 😉  ]

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  10. Cluster One

    Cluster One


    ALLYJAMBOMARCH 30, 2017 at 15:05
    It’s almost as though someone is no longer pushing the ‘feel good’ factor stories to the media stenographers,
    —————————–
    Maybe even the smsm know they went all out with MW (next England manager and all that) they know it’s to soon to start pedaling the same p..h so soon

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  11. Cluster One

    Cluster One


    Ps they are still going with the young trfc player to chelsea. That is four days that story has been running now. A player not even in the first team and four days feel good worth of news

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  12. Allyjambo

    Allyjambo


    Cluster OneMarch 30, 2017 at 19:55

    I’d put it this way, if Celtic were selling a young player, their very best young player, or even if his contract was up and they were getting a nice development fee, that would be reported, high and wide in the SMSM, as a very big negative!

    If TRFC are happy to see this young developing talent leave before the supporters have had a chance to see him play in the first team, something is very wrong!

    And if their supporters see it as a positive…heaven help them!

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  13. Allyjambo

    Allyjambo


    Cluster OneMarch 30, 2017 at 19:47 
    ALLYJAMBOMARCH 30, 2017 at 15:05 It’s almost as though someone is no longer pushing the ‘feel good’ factor stories to the media stenographers,—————————–Maybe even the smsm know they went all out with MW (next England manager and all that) they know it’s to soon to start pedaling the same p..h so soon
    ________

    That’s not really what I was talking about, and you give the SMSM hacks too much credit in suggesting they have the self awareness to realise the mistakes they’ve made. (Hope that doesn’t read like I am criticising you)

    What I was referring to was the random ‘feel good’ spiels they were in the habit of publishing, ‘Richard Gough says the young talent at Rangers (sic) are the best he’s seen in years’, kind of thing.

    There’s a reason for bumming up new managers, or deriding them if they’re called Delia or Cathro, as there is a story there (a club has a new manager), and that story arrives at an exact moment, but we have been bombarded with nonsense for the past 5 years, randomly, in a positive light about TRFC. These positive stories have arrived (it feels like) on a weekly (at times, daily) basis. There’s the usual damage limitation outpourings, of course, just now, but the needless sh*t hasn’t been spouted for a wee while now.

    I really do miss Barry’s insightful comments…not!

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  14. Cluster One

    Cluster One


    ALLYJAMBOMARCH 30, 2017 at 22:06
    That’s not really what I was talking about, and you give the SMSM hacks too much credit in suggesting they have the self awareness to realise the mistakes they’ve made. (Hope that doesn’t read like I am criticising you)
    ———-
    Not at all.
    Reading back it does read as if i give the smsm to much credit

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  15. Cluster One

    Cluster One


    ALLYJAMBOMARCH 30, 2017 at 22:06
    What I was referring to was the random ‘feel good’ spiels they were in the habit of publishing, ‘Richard Gough
    —————–
    Often wondered why Richard Gough no longer has his page in the papers as i never read he was going to stop. was he not given an ambassadors job at trfc. maybe that is why he no longer writes for the smsm
    often liked ripping his words to shreds.

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  16. Cluster One

    Cluster One


    Attachment

    ALLYJAMBOMARCH 30, 2017 at 22:06

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  17. easyJambo


    Allyjambo  March 30, 2017 at 21:45 
    Cluster OneMarch 30, 2017 at 19:55
    I’d put it this way, if Celtic were selling a young player, their very best young player, or even if his contract was up and they were getting a nice development fee, that would be reported, high and wide in the SMSM, as a very big negative!
    If TRFC are happy to see this young developing talent leave before the supporters have had a chance to see him play in the first team, something is very wrong!
    And if their supporters see it as a positive…heaven help them!
    ==============================
    I think it is clear that Rangers are keen to cash in on their talented youngster and there is nothing wrong in that as long as both the lad and his family are happy with the move. There is nothing that ties the lad to the club before he signs a full time contract.  I’m also sure that the sums involved are being inflated by the press coverage.

    However, I do think that there is a valid comparison to be had with Celtic’s promotion of their, then 13 year old, talented youngster whose 7 minute participation as a substitute in an U20 match received widespread press coverage. I said at the time that I thought the coverage was exploitative and appeared to be designed to promote both Celtic’s Academy as well as initiate interest in a sell-on of the player two or three years down the road.  I’m certain his subsequent selection for both Scotland’s and England’s U16 squads was a direct result of the publicity the lad received.

    I’m fortunate enough to have seen both players playing for Scotland U16s and their clubs in the last few weeks and I have my own views on their respective abilities, which is a topic that isn’t appropriate for discussion on the blog.

    However, I would like to contrast the above with my own club’s handling of their talented youngsters. Over the last couple of seasons, Hearts have featured 14 year olds in their U20 line up with some regularity without a murmur in the press. Four players also appeared in the same Scotland U16 squad as the pair above. The first significant coverage they received was just in the past week, in the Edinburgh based papers, with the signing of eight current 15 and 16 year olds from the Academy on full time contracts for next season.  

    Both Celtic and Rangers are masters of using the press to promote their brands and the value of their squads, young and old.  I don’t think it is a Rangers – good, Celtic – bad issue. 

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  18. John Clark


    From today’s “The Scotsman” online at 09.48:
    “Former Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys believes the decision to have Rangers “sent down” to the fourth tier of Scottish football was “extraordinary”.
    The 59-year-old, who currently works as a freelancer for Talksport and Al Jazeera among others, said he “didn’t understand” the decision made by Scottish clubs when Rangers suffered liquidation in 2012. The Talksport host made his comments when speaking with the Daily Record, where he also stated his belief Scottish football fans should “boycott” Sky Sports in order to force the company into paying more for SPFL TV rights. He said: “Scottish football has made some extraordinary decisions domestically which I didn’t understand but which have had a very detrimental effect on the game. And you know what I’m referring to. “All these years on still no one can tell me what Rangers were guilty of when they were sent down to the bottom tier. “The expectation was they would be found guilty but my understanding is they were never convicted of any wrong-doing. But I guess that’s another matter entirely.”
    __________
    Keys is right up there with the Richard Wilsons and Radar Keefs as wilfully ignorant scribes demeaning themselves and their ‘profession’.

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  19. blu


    JOHN CLARKMARCH 31, 2017 at 12:06

    He said: “Scottish football has made some extraordinary decisions domestically which I didn’t understand but which have had a very detrimental effect on the game. And you know what I’m referring to. “All these years on still no one can tell me what Rangers were guilty of when they were sent down to the bottom tier. “The expectation was they would be found guilty but my understanding is they were never convicted of any wrong-doing. But I guess that’s another matter entirely.”

    This suggests a culture in the media, as in highly paid sport of “only poor people pay the taxes they’re due.” Mr Keys is not unfamiliar with aggressive tax management. It obviously makes his brain porridge and he unable to establish any facts before speaking with authority on matters fiscal relating to RFC 2012 (IL). Why is any media outlet even speaking to this guy? 

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  20. Hoopy 7


    John Clark says,
    “Keys is right up there with the Richard Wilsons and Radar Keefs as wilfully ignorant scribes demeaning themselves and their ‘profession’.
    John, people like Mr. Keys would be better to go and crawl back into the hole from which they crept out.
    For the avoidance of doubt Mr. Keys,  Rangers cheated, both on and off the park. They stiffed the tax authorities and sundry creditors for in excess of £175 Million.
    It should be noted that the previous owner Sir David Murray/ MIH also took the tax payer of this country for almost a BILLION pounds. He should be stripped of his knighthood for that alone.
    Rangers are currently lying on a mortuary slab in a BDO repository awaiting final burial.
    They were not demoted, relegated or otherwise sent to a lower division. They died!
    An ethereal entity called Sevco, arose, in 2012, from the basket of assets purchased by Charles Green.
    Sevco changed its name to “The Rangers Football Club Limited” and were allowed into the bottom division by a corrupt SFA and SPL.
    The last five years history is the first five years history of this club.
    Let us hope that they do not have another five years history.
    Do your homework Mr. Keys.
    You more than anyone should know what a cheat is.
    Better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and confirm it.

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  21. Hoopy 7


    Don’t know if this is appropriate but it gives you a measure of the type of person Mr. Keys is.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3816459/Shamed-Sky-TV-pundit-Richard-Keys-59-betrays-cancer-stricken-wife-daughter-s-friend.html

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  22. easyJambo


    One for JC

    The SFA have appointed a new “I am the SFA” representative to replace Darryl Broadfoot.  It is Greig Mailer, the current Head of Marketing and Commercial Operations at Hibs.

    http://scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=1961&newsCategoryID=3&newsID=16869

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  23. Homunculus

    Homunculus


    Mr Keys is strongly against tax avoidance apparently.

    One wonders why he doesn’t object to it in relation to Rangers.

    https://twitter.com/richardajkeys/status/561835333164085248

    Putting that aside, Rangers were never demoted. He knows that as well as anyone else. The current club applied to join a league and were rejected. They applied to another and were accepted. There is nothing even remotely confusing or ambiguous in that. 

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  24. goosygoosy


    BBC today
    Hibs fan who tried to punch Rangers player Lee Wallace avoids jail
    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,
     
    Thousands of Hibs fans jumped the barriers at the final whistle after their team won its first Scottish Cup Final in 114 years.
    A number of Rangers fans also came on to the pitch.
    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Seems the BBC only count in multiples of a thousand

    apart from sectarian singing when its multiples of zeros

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  25. StevieBC

    StevieBC


    Breaking: Bomber Brown been appointed as Pedro’s ‘local assistant’ !  

    https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.learnenglish.de%2Fimages%2Fculture%2Ffool.png&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.learnenglish.de%2Fculture%2Faprilfool.html&docid=HjTFb84lFnQCCM&tbnid=yEeK9dknS7TRIM%3A&vet=10ahUKEwipmqTZj4HTAhVEYyYKHcDFALMQMwiFASgkMCQ..i&w=237&h=215&bih=770&biw=1440&q=april%20fool&ved=0ahUKEwipmqTZj4HTAhVEYyYKHcDFALMQMwiFASgkMCQ&iact=mrc&uact=8

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  26. aclydefan


    Cant say I’m over the moon about Clyde’s latest signing.

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  27. Big Pink


    ACLYDEFAN

    What have we missed?

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  28. gunnerb


    BIG PINKMARCH 31, 2017 at 20:13       Rate This 
    ACLYDEFAN
    What have we missed?
    _________________________

    Think maybe its the signing of David Goodwillie .

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  29. aclydefan


    Indeed. I know things are bad at Broadwood, but I’m disappointed in this move. Good player, probably too good for this level, but way way to much baggage. Bazza  drew attention to us for all the wrong reasons… and this will too. Are we trying to become the most disliked club in the lower leagues?

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  30. Big Pink


    Hadn’t seen anything about Goodwillie guys. Agree that it will attract the wrong kind of attention.

    I suppose it’s a cost/benefit thing.

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  31. Big Pink


    New post up – by AllyJambo

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