In reply to Michael Gannon’s ‘Big Five’ SPFL column


Michael Gannon of the Daily Record wrote a piece, entitled ‘It’s time Rangers had a place back at the SPFL top table‘ today which has caused a bit of a stir.

The headline is (of course) eye-catching and not entirely reflective of the piece. Michael probably didn’t come up with it himself leaving it to the subs.

But the gist of the article is that, with the SPFL Annual General Meeting and board elections coming up: “our big five clubs – those three [Hearts, Hibs, Rangers] plus Celtic and Aberdeen – should arguably have seats nailed down at the top table.

No matter what divisions they may occupy at present, they are the major pillars of our game. Their fan bases alone give them a combined responsibility to be custodians of our game”.

Michael also talks about the advantages of streamlining the game: perhaps with a 20 pro-Team set up. He has also (and fair play to him for this) taken to Twitter to discuss his piece, for example explaining

“@MichaelGannon: @scotzine The ‘whole of Scottish football” needs a complete rip up and start again. Big clubs should lead.”

Now, The Clumpany has quite a bit of sympathy for the point of view that the game needs some sort of shake-up.


And that really does mean clearing out the SFA and SPFL’s leadership (sorry Messers Regan and Doncaster) and making the SFA into a modern forward-thinking organisation rather than a 19th Century blazer-wearing time-server’s paradise.

Getting the right people on to the governing boards of the SFA and SPFL is of course absolutely crucial.

Let’s face it, if you have Muppets, you always tend to end up watching The Muppet Show.

I am less sure about league reconstruction. We have been round and round that one a million times and there is no easy answer.

For the Scottish game to go for a 20 pro-team set up (with say a regionalised set-up below it as Michael suggests), there would need to be a compelling case that would incentive all concerned (or at least a sizeable majority) to go for it.

And that would probably mean that there has to be enough money sloshing around to make it attractive.

I just don’t see where that money is. Or where it is coming from.

The merger of the SPL and SFL was ultimately an exercise in making the best of the hand that everyone had been dealt. And doing it in that glacially-paced cumbersome way in which almost all sports administration operates.

It really would be a distracting pain in the neck to revisit league construction any time soon.

The Scottish game can probably best expend its energies by pursuing a more lucrative TV deal (or developing its own in-house coverage as others have suggested), and utterly shaking up the governance of the game.

Which brings us back to Mr Gannon’s main point about the ‘Big Five’ needed to be represented at the ‘top table’…

Leaving aside the fact that Dundee United should feel aggrieved at being excluded from the Gannon Pantheon, I have one big problem with Michael’s argument.

It suggests that certain clubs and their representatives should have power because of who they are rather than what they bring to the governance table.


Most football fans in Scotland would have loved to see the late Turnbull Hutton occupying a place of authority within the corridors of power at Hampden.

There was a man who really would have ‘brought something to the table’. But with the best will in the world, Raith are not one of the ‘biggest clubs in Scotland’.

As far as I am concerned, if you are good enough to play a role in governing the game, then the club from which you come is big enough.

In my opinion it should be down to the member clubs of the SPFL to take a view on who would do the best job when they cast their votes at the AGM.

Notions of ‘meriting a place on the board because you are a big club’ are absolute hogwash.

On a more specific point, Mr Gannon further piques the interest of his readers by providing some specific reasons why Rangers might merit being brought “in from the cold”.

“You wouldn’t have wanted any of the succession of charlatans at Ibrox over the last three years anywhere near influencing our game.

“You wouldn’t have trusted that lot to run a tuck shop for fears they would be munching sweets on the fly.

“But while the new regime is not exactly off to a spectacular start, they have began the cleansing process. It’s time for them to get back in the tent.”

Really Michael?

Where exactly is this cleansing?

Wasn’t Graham Wallace billed as something of a cleanser with his 120-day review?

And wasn’t every single new person through the door at Ibrox – from Charles Green onwards (with the probable exception of Llambias) – greeted by the media as someone likely to ‘sort things out’?

The current regime of ‘Real Rangers Men’ is no different, and as far as I am concerned I can see, Rangers are mired in some of the worst difficulties they have ever faced in their short history.

No Nomad, no listing, no auditor, living on hand-to-mouth loans, board members who were around when Rangers headed towards oblivion, and a chairman with a string of tax convictions.

Cleansing? I think the jury is still out on that one.

SPFL clubs will doubtless bear these matters in mind when casting their votes at the upcoming AGM.

But if they do elect Rangers’ Stewart Robertson to the SPFL board because they think he’s the best person for the job, then “fair play” to him.

But please don’t appoint someone to the board just because their ‘club’ is ‘big’.

That would be madness. And we already have enough of that in the administration of the Scottish game!

Written by The Clumpany | @TheClumpany


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