Here we go again.
Neil Doncaster has been handed another crusade. This time he will appear in media interviews, newspaper reports and on the SPL website to promote the latest edition of the master plan to reinvigorate our game. Yet again the top down model has been adopted as the generator of ideas while the poor bloody infantry who troop through turnstiles every week are left on the sidelines.
The debate around the structure of the league competitions, SPL version 12+12= 8:8:8 + 18 or the SFL's preferred 16:10:16, is a frantic attempt at splitting a decreasing financial pot among the senior teams. The events in the last year have made it abundantly clear that supporters would opt for the model that offers a bigger top tier and avoids a system that involves clubs facing each other four times.
Important as the structure is, there are issues that are probably more pertinent to increasing interest in our game. The cost of attending matches has closed the gates to many longstanding fans and acted as a barrier to those who are building a family or at the first rungs of the housing ladder. While many clubs offer good deals for home fans' season tickets, the cost of following a team to away matches is downright silly. The travelling fan is fast becoming an endangered species.
A small travelling support in mid-August
Fewer than 600 Hearts fans came to Fir Park for Motherwell's last home game and can you blame them? The gate price was £22 and the match was live on TV. Whatever short term pain it will cause, ticket prices must attract fans instead of raising barriers.
A few weeks ago Motherwell had a Sunday lunchtime kick off in Inverness. Barely 100 fans populated the away stand. Is there any justification for such a stupid arrangement? Does anyone care about encouraging people to attend matches or should we simply subscribe to $ky or E$PN and watch from an armchair?
By all means let's review the shape of our football leagues but at the heart of it should be the views, hopes and expectations of the fans. That the SFL and SPL should develop their proposals without full and meaningful consultation with supporters is both insulting and stupid. A perfect structure with empty terraces is doomed
Motherwell fans will have an early chance to express their views when the board of the Well Society meets its members at Fir Park from 7pm on Thursday. Although the meeting is primarily about the continuing development of the Society, the opportunity to channel supporters' views to the club board about the reconstruction plans should not be missed.
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