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Felicity Kendall

In common with most Scottish football fans this morning, I’m angry. Whether we like it or not, for the last twenty-five years, since Alex Ferguson moved from Aberdeen to Manchester, and since Jim McLean went into decline,  the international prestige of our national game at club level has been dependent on two sides, Celtic and Rangers, listed here alphabetically. During that period they’ve had their moments of achievement; for example each has reached the final of an international competition, although Aberdeen remain the last Scottish club to win in Europe. Overall though it has been a picture of steady decline.The nadir was reached last night when our two flag-carriers (I’m leaving Hearts out of this  argument) were eliminated from the second tier Euro tournament by sides that would not survive in the English Premier League and would probably be mid-table in the level below.

What’s gone wrong? Every Scot and his dog called Bob will have an answer to that. Mine is that it is a consequence of the parsimony of one club and the extravagant ego of the owner of another. Celtic have never really got their heads out of the sixties, although they did have a period under Fergus McCann’s ownership when they appeared to be heading in the right direction. Rangers were fed big dreams by David Murray, and that was fine while his business empire was booming and could sustain them, but disastrous when he ran out of money and bottle. The idea that this is a mere blip will not hold water. Without any Euro income and confined to an impoverished league structure, these so-called giants will be unable to balance the books, and we can expect to see an exodus of players maybe before next Thursday, but certainly in January.

There can be no quick fix, but surely the Ancient Firm must now look to the example of Barcelona. That club didn’t get where it is overnight and it didn’t buy its way there either. No, its success is founded on its legendary academy, a football university where they hand-rear the teams of tomorrow, and turn out honours graduates. Celtic and Rangers have such structures, but their products cannot win regular places in their top teams because the way is blocked by foreign signings, most of whom, in the words of a guy I used to work with, could not kick a door at Hallowe’en. That has to change; the top two should commit themselves to three years without a transfer budget, to Good Life football where they grow their own. It might not win overnight, but it will and when it does it’ll taste magic.

However while they are doing that, the example must be followed throughout Scottish football.We have to go back to being home grown; I would begin that process by firing the guy we imported from Yorkshire County Cricket Club to be chief executive of our national association. I would replace him with someone who actually knows Scotland and knows football, and give him executive powers to develop the game free from the input of the clowns who have free-loaded off it for too long. I could go on, but I won’t. Sod it, I’m still too angry.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Always a interested fan of reading about the old firm, many thanks! Blues fan.

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