Last week I was filled with excitement at the prospect of watching Scotland play at Wembley. This week I am wondering how Gordon Strachan still has his job. I have grown up and never watched Scotland in a major tournament and I fear that I may not until there is a complete overhaul of the SFA. Throughout this week I have read articles and blogs correctly slagging off our nation in the footballing world and the ridiculous comments being made by our ‘professionals’. One way or another the SFA are to blame for all of Scotland’s failings.
Common sense would say, get rid of Strachan and let a new manager come in and find his feet before the next qualifying campaign. Even the most positive member of the Tartan Army will admit that it is inevitable we will not qualify for the World Cup in 2018. The SFA will not pay Strachan off as it will cost too much and Strachan is probably waiting to be sacked to earn a nice pay off. The SFA only care about the incomings and won’t put out very much money to help build for the future, they are all in it to make a quick bit of money. Personally I would take Derek McInnes or Neil Lennon as Scotland boss, ok the latter is a bit excessively passionate but at least he shows it ,something that always lacks in our national team management. Strachan has won 3 games in the last 2 years, one against Malta and the other 2 against Gibraltar, nothing screams sacking material more than that.
The SFA do not pump enough money into our youth system. How can you expect to build success without any funding. They’ll happily take but will be stingy when handing back out. The FA are miles ahead of us. In one of the first few weeks here I went to watch my wee cousin play for his local team. He is in primary 1 and his games are every Saturday morning and all have referees. Instead of just encouraging playing out the back they enforce it at that level. 5 and 6 year olds recognise a referee signal that they must retreat behind the half way line from a goal kick and they have referees at that level that are all qualified, which in turn helps out the coaches as they don’t have to do both of those jobs. Straight away the kids are allowed to get a feel for the ball, let them practice their passing etc. but of course they will still go for the glory. However this is not the only game on this pitch on this day. They have 9/10 pitches with various age levels all playing at the same time. The difference in quality and service from the FA is unbelievable, they just continue to pour money into their youth football as they are looking for success and understand that you have to put money in to get it back out sometimes, something that the incompetent SFA can’t get into their heads, this is why we suffer ‘glorious failure’. The coaches have far too much to do in Scotland, they aren’t given enough support from the SFA, it is impossible for them to give up the amount of time required to help the young boys and girls trying to break through. When they do finally unearth a good player, they are taken off them by the big teams youth systems. Of course this is good but a player needs to experience playing with the more skilled and not so skilled to develop into the best that they can be.
A recent programme about ‘Scotland’s Game’ on BBC revealed the SPL rejected a TV deal from Sky because it wasn’t enough money, Sky went straight to the English Premier League with the deal and they happily accepted and we all know how that turned out. Another TV offer came in, this time from China, £20m for 58 live Scottish games, just a little bit of quick money going into the back pockets of the SPFL and SFA. To be a member of the Tartan Army it is £55 (+£2 booking fee) per season. For the English it is free. £55 for a ticket at Wembley, which was not pre-planned of arrangement so I was sitting nex to people who paid £20 less than I did. I paid £112 to go watch an effortless side, set up by an uncaring management staff. Every single major league and cup competition in Scotland is sponsored by betting companies yet the SFA have the audacity to fine players for having a weekend accumulator on. Ladbrokes, William Hill and Betfred all have a naming rights to the biggest domestic competitions in the country. I’m not saying that this is right but surely someone in the SFA looks at that and thinks that is a bit weird. In short, the SFA are happy to take in a quick bit of money but there is no real long term plan.
Non-related to the on pitch events but upcoming referees have very little financial support from the SFA. £40 a year to be registered, then £45 per top, £25 for shorts and £7 for socks. Yet the guys at the top, Willie Collum, Steven McLean all get there’s provided for free. How does that make sense? The guys earning roughly £1,000+ per game get provided with all kits for free yet the guys doing games for £15 have to provide for themselves, it is literally a very long list of how to be the biggest incompetent organisation in the world.Yet we are always looking for success. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed refereeing while at home, it gives different perspective on the game and we have some very good officials in Scotland but compared to England even on the referee front we are poor. English referees are ahead as well with the majority of major finals being refereed by English officials such as the World Cup,Euros and Champions League finals.
Maybe because the English are struggling in these competitions. But that is the major difference between Scotland and England, We won’t qualify but the English struggle when they get there. I know which position I’d rather be in, just maybe not in Russia.