GLF77: Christopher gazes into his crystal ball
Future – Proofing
As Scottish football stands at a crossroads, our club also faces a number of challenges, of which the decisions made look like shaping our destiny for many seasons to come. So what major questions are being posed to us at present;
Who will run our club?
As the peacock becomes a feather duster, how likely are MFC to become a community-owned club?? The utopia of not being subject to the whims of but a single individual sounds appealing, yet not having a 'Mr Big' to turn to if and when required within the current climate surely must have the nerves jangling somewhat. Those within Fir Park are continuously criticised for their lines of communication with us supporters, so it will be fascinating to see what, when and how these ground-breaking proposals are shared with so many potential part-owners. I can appreciate that if we haven't been able to find one owner with mega-bucks, then it's more feasible to pool a collective of like-minded locals, yet I worry that if this offer is met with another bout of Lanarkshire-style apathy, then what other options do we have?? For example, did you complete the recent Supporters Survey? How many people do you know bothered?? And if the answer to either of the previous questions was more than zero, what do you think will change in light of the comments submitted??? For those who decry the easy option of continually rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic when faced with a recurring problem, then they cannot charge the board with that on this occasion - but the outcome to this bright new dawn must ensure that we steer the good ship 'Well into calmer waters and not just put our combined foot down harder towards that massive iceberg on the horizon ......
What will League Reconstruction achieve this time around?
Continuing the ocean theme, which of the thousands of leagues will we be competing in shortly? So much hot air has been expounded on this subject, but I personally must come clean and admit I don't really care what size of league we play in. As has filled so many column inches and TV/radio space, there are pro's and con's to all options - do we want to continue to play the same teams three and four times a year? What sort of draw would the visits of Morton or QOS to Lanarkshire provide?? To me our ills will not be remedied by a magic number of top division teams, rather a total rethink on matters such as pricing, wage caps and revenue streams.
A Fine Balancing Act
Football as a business has never been so under pressure, and our yearly accounts now seem to be of more interest than transfer deadline days. The most recent report saw us make but a small profit (£18,884), and only due to the sales of Clarky and Coach coupled with the compensation for McGhee and Leitch (transfer fees receivable totalling £1.1206 million). Some figures remain truly frightening, none moreso that employment costs of £3,350,343 for our 115 staff against Turnover of £4,380,101 - 76.5% !?!?!? Despite this, we have no bank overdraft facility and with the depature of Mr Boyle now have no major shareholder/owner to fund any cash shortfall. Our 105th Annual General Meeting was a momentous one - it will be fascinating to see who and how many are custodians of MFC come the 106th ............
Pitching For Relocation??
The twin perennials of our pitch and the mooted move to Ravenscraig were both covered at said AGM. The latest problem to befall out lamented playing surafce is an attack from a type of algae that has resulted in the loss of much of our grass covering. Despite the monies spent on it, it seems that as the annual winter festivities begin, so too does the demise of our pitch for another season. Two recent games have highlighted what an easy target this has now become - our humbling of Celtic was partly covered up by the lack of cover on Fir Park whilst our loss to St Mirren saw Randy beaten by a goalhanging divot in his box. As regards our possible flitting, it is still very much a realistic outcome that future generations will not walk done Fir Park Street for their fortnightly slice of all things Claret & Amber. However, now that we don't have a main benefactor to preside over the grand opening of the BoyleDome of what have you, It seems increasingly unlikely that we'll be seeing the back of the structural delight that is the East Stand anytime soon......
Thanks For Dropping By......
As you'll read elsewhere in this issue, Joe Wark made over 450 league appearances for our club. Over the last few years, our signings have done well to start a tenth of those games before moving on to pastures new. The twin threat of being more than ever a selling club and being restricted to bringing in mainly loan signings has many fans bemoaning our inability to build any sort of team before the sum parts of dispersed, usually across Hadrians Wall. I would love for my son to be able to have an idol like Stevie Kirk or Phil O'Donnell to follow but as the home and away shirts change every season these days, so too are the names printed on their back. Like it or lump it, the best we can do at present is continue to enjoy the beginning of the careers of the likes of the McAllister's, O'Donnell's, McFadden's et al whilst kick-starting those of your Ruddy's, Jutkiewicz's and Porter's from one season to the next whilst trying to achieving as much as we can before the next batch are brought through. It's far from perfect, but the chance to see the stars of tomorrow for a season or two isn't half as bad as watching a settled team of journey slog through another SPL 2 campaign.
The Next Roller-Coaster Driver Is......
If you think the lack of consistency on the pitch is frustrating, what about the movement in our dugout?? It should be of no great surprise that we are continually an up-and-down team when Stuart McCall's appointment made him our fifth gaffer in some fifty-five months ?!?!?!!? That amount of instability and change can only have a negative effect on the players, fans, board and sponsors alike, but exactly what we can do to stop recent history repeating itself?? The only obvious suggestion is to stop making innovative appointments such as McGhee and Brown and instead go for the usual subject like Calderwood/Williamson/Hughes etc who are unlikely to be poached - with good reason. Not for the first time (but you'll be glad to read that it'll be the last of this article!!!) this may well change going forward as it was the artist formally known as JB who was given the well done's for making these left-field appointments. As budgets get ever-more miniscule and squads are reduced to the bare bones, it is of no surprise that, with all due respect to our current incumbent, that employed football men like Sbragia and MacDonald will pass on the offer to join us whilst those out of gainful employment are more keen to give us a whirl.
So, remember when your questioning why Hateley's played in midfield or why left-footed players are asked to cover at right-back, that there will be even bigger decisions to be made in the forseeable future.
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