Leagues apart

As The Scottish League changes its structure, and Premier Division teams gear up for a 44 match season, Tom Lappin looks at the implications for the peOple who really matter, the fans and the players.

They might not have achieved much on the football field of late (or ever. come to think of it), but mighty Montrose of the Second Division pulled off a nasty shock for the Premier Division big boys last Thursday. Contrary to their previous promises. they voted with the alliance of clubs demanding a change to the League structure. and by the narrowest ofmargins

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It‘s a change that has caused dismay among the

. . . . Ally McCoist (left) in a rare Premieroivision appearance. Premier Division‘s leading clubs, facing the

prospect of a 44 game Championship campaign clearly demonstrated by their silence on the Motherwell v Hibs pointless. Pdfhzyppto concur next season. on top of Skol Cup and Scottish Cup queSttt’h t’tttttt’wmg teasehtthty SueeeS-‘tu' w'th people who 5‘1) that 50m“ 0 I_ f .rcmlsr games. and possible European ties. There have Highland League clubs access to the League. clubshave voted for it out of pure self-interest. It been acrimonious recriminations from both tn the mtdSt Of the et’httt’vet$Y~ the Views 0t the "t ‘1 dtsaswr‘ mUCh as I hate to agree With wallacc sides. Montrose changed sides to oppose their tWO mt’St imPOttttht groups in 50eeet~ the Ptttyets Mercer" , . . I . influential neighbours Aberdeen~ when they and the fans. seem to have been overlooked. The There seems little likelihood ofwhat the fans realised the voting would be public. Meanwhile PlayerS Wt“ he the ones retltttted t" Steg through are pit-“net”. SF“) Improving “then rhc nature 0f Btechtn (‘ity and Berwtek‘ wh0 voted with the another eight tough games a season. The Scottish Premier Dmsion football hasalready caused big clubs. face the prospect of their officials never PmteSSt‘m‘tt Fttt’tb‘t” Asmcmtt‘m‘ White (’mcm? souncss‘ With “me dlSE‘cmtblc mm)" to. holding SFA posts again. The grudges that have aekOWtedgthg the demand h" it tWetVe CtUh et’mPtath 0t:htttttmet‘thm“fet5 masquetftttthg 35 emerged between clubs could drag on for vears to Premtet DtV’tStOW SUPPt’Tted it et’mPrt’mtSe tt’Otb‘mm; rh? mcrcascd Stzc 0f the Dwmon come. ' whereby. for instance. clubs wouldn‘t have (0 seems to offer little hope of improving standards. 9 The attitude of the top Clubs is summed up by Play the ttt“ tltmttt 0t game5~ thstettd Ptttythg etteh thts "m ggmg‘ [OFnuMMgc anaCkmg fomba”. Hearts Chairman Wallace Mercer's comment other twice before splitting into play-off sections. says Archie McOregor; it CW CChOed hl'Tt’hy' ‘Disastrous. These are very negative steps for ‘The math t’hleetteh 0t the Players t5 the number HtggthSI ‘Nt’t many teftms etm afford a t‘ttSt'team Scottish football.‘ They express dismay at the t’tg‘dmei‘ Sit.“ SPFA Seetetttty Ten." “tggtm. pm” that has Strengthtn depth‘ 50 I qt)“ “hulk 3 Prospect of an even more-congested fixture list. ‘Thetets 80mg t" have t" he mtttehes heart." eVetY twelve [cum league my Change the mg [cams and see standards declining. injury problems Wednesday and Saturday. and they‘ll have to try monopoly very much. he says. face a increasing. and possible Chaos if there are regular to get in as many games as they can before the bad prospect ofsinaller teams With limited resources. postponemehtst Feteluhsattemptihgtomake weather setsin. [is conceivable that a successful regularly tryingto play containing games against progress in European compettttom the increased team could end up playing ()0 games a season.‘ the top clubs. . . domestic commitments win he a serious From the hard-core fans‘ point ofview. more Andy Roxburgh was complaining about the handicap. games mean more travelling and more expense, strenuous nature of the Premier division even For those in favour of teeonsttuetttmt the an important consideration. as following football before last year‘s World Cup. This change could reasons are principally financial. The loose becomes a more costly pastime. ‘With travelling seriously disrupt the national side‘s chances of allianccofprcmicrclubs whose economic expenses. I reckon the cost to regular supporters qualifying forthe finals ofthe European _ survival depehde theitstttythgih the top night. will be around £20021 year with eight more games Championships. and in the longterm put Scottish and First Division clubs ambitious for a share of t0 See‘t Comment“ Mark Dingwall. CdilOf 0f the Sides at a hefty disadvantage against European the lucrative gate revenue avauablc from games Rangers fanzine Follow Follow. ‘and let‘s face it. sides. who in most cases. play substantially less against the tuptettms with large travelling who wants togo and see Falkirk fourtimes a than 36 gamesaseason. Adding upthe adverse suppmtst may talk of bringing an end to the season'." Archie McG regor. editor of The factors. it is easy to come to the conclusion that. ‘claustrophobic and sterile‘ Premier Division. but Ahmtttte (tame “(we “the titet thttt thtS t00k Place th terms 0t ‘dtSaStetS tt’t set’ttahd ~ thts Change essentially their priorities lie in keeping their in the middle of the season is a total con. With no could have a rather more long-term effect than clubs solvent. In fact. theirown insularityis relegattt’h atStttke~ tt makes gttmeSItke defeats by Femorme Rlca'

58 The List 8— 2l February 1991