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I think the best thing about this long piece is the trailer, but anyway, here's your Sunday morning...

 

When we got kicked out the SPL, one thing I thought would be good was that when international breaks came around, we at least would have a game to look forward to. The idea that we could have internationalists playing for us down amongst the dead men never occurred to me, and while these dreary weeks without even a competitive international game to watch are dull, they do at least give you a chance to look a the bigger picture.

 

As usual, it's a dispiriting one, with the main news of note being the appointment of a raft of directors at Rangers - temporary or otherwise, time will tell - and celtc's continuing attempts to remove Rangers entirely from the game in Scotland. Booooring!!!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsSbhdo0kQI

 

So instead of waxing gloomical about the same old stuff I've groused above before, I shall this week offer a menu of possibilities for the future, things the game could engage with and maybe create a freshness about that stalest of products, the SPFL.

 

These are all nicked from other sports, but that's no reason to dismiss them. Other sports are booming, thriving even, in these difficult financial times by innovating: we could learn from them.

 

First up, a boring marketing/community bonding opportunity. BT show French Ligue 1 games, and you see every side has the regional tourist board advertised on their strips. Watching the Aussie football this weekend, I see they are the same. 'Do the CG experience!' exhorts the brightly coloured either Adelaide or Perth shirt (my Australian geography is not great). Given that there's plenty of space available on SPFL shirts, they ought to employ this device to get as much exposure (limited, I admit) for each club's region or city.

 

Given how fast Scots clubs are declining, anything which re-engages them with their communities ought to be embraced.

 

The current rugby world cup is attracting huge audiences in England, Wales & France; at the end of the game, both teams take a lap of honour, during which players pose for photos and sign autographs for fans. Perhaps this ought to be home fans only, and only then after a win, but it's an idea which would take an extra 10 or 15 minutes for the players and which would reinforce the bond between fan and player. And to any player who couldn't be bothered, they would have to shoulder the consequences should they dip in form!

 

Cricket's 20/20 competition has brought in many innovations since it appeared about 10 years ago, nowhere more so than in the magnificent Indian Premier League. Features include an audio link between a fielder (usually the skipper) and the commentators while bowlers are walking back to their mark, or during a drinks break; while the heat doesn't require such a break in Glasgow very often, there's no reason why keepers could not be linked up by an audio tech behind the goal while their team are up the other end of the pitch - in cricket the interviewed player just breaks off should he have to, and goalies could do the same.

 

Likewise, since there have been trackside reporters for decades, let's get them broadcasting the actual sounds of the sideline, rather than some mediated, filtered, cleaned up version. If this causes issues for managers or coaches who can't go 45 minutes at a stretch without effing or blinding, that is their problem - if they want TV money, they can behave to minimum live TV standards. This kind of technical innovation would allow the SFA or SPFL or whoever to approach broadcasters with a fresh product, offering superior access to players or staff, rather than a pale imitation of England's success.

 

The IPL also require their grounds to build a little VIP booth, which is for competition winners rather than high heid yins, and include big comfy armchairs and fridges filled with Pepsi products. Practicalities might make this hard, but we are too much in the habit of saying 'we can't' when we need to be saying 'we have to'. Such competitions and prizes must be a money spinner as well as ideal product placement, an area we need to maximise in order to tempt what appears to be a highly reluctant commercial sector back to our moribund product.

 

Joint managerial press conferences could be introduced, which ought to go some way to enforcing managers to act like adults. I think we can think of the one exception who would still stick out his petulant lower lip, and no doubt the media would be annoyed at losing their precious controversial moments, but the aim is to make the product better and financially healthier. Childish and whiny complaints will not bring in investment, a relatively mature product might.

 

No doubt every reader will have ideas of their own. We all know that the game needs radical change at a purely functional level, especially the 4 games a season nonsense, but there's lots of room for tinkering around the edges and freshening up what is a sorely tired product. Just sometimes we need to turn our thoughts toward what we can do to make the game better, rather than the understandable constant harping on about what's wrong with it.

 

Let's hear it for positive thinking, even just for a week!

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Let's hear it for positive thinking, even just for a week!

 

Ach, that's too easy.

 

1. switch to summer football resulting in increased interest from out Southern neighbours when their league is in hiberantion, better playing surfaces and probably increased attendances.

2. two up, two down and a play off between 3rd top/bottom in every league in a national pyramid system.

3. sell Murray park and whatever celtic call their place to the SFA, implement a national development program independent of clubs and adopt the US system of draft picks; So that the bottom club gets first choice of the top rated youngster from the SFA school and if we or celtic want to get this kid, then we have to pay the bottom club top dollar for the boy. Spreads the financial love but still lets us get the cream of the crop.

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Spot on Papa Bear, the point about playing our football when other leagues are on summer hols is a complete no brainer. We have a population of 60 million next door who would warm to Scottish Football if it was the only game on for those 6 long weeks without a fixture card.

 

Good read on a Sunday morning Andy.

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I'm not sure that summer football will increase interest, particularly from England. The League of Ireland switched to summer football a decade or so ago without any discernible increase in interest locally far less from further afield.

We could improve our football fairly easily if their was any appetite to do it. Increase the size of the league and reduce the number of times clubs play each other would result in a marked improvement within a couple of years.

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I'm not sure that summer football will increase interest, particularly from England. The League of Ireland switched to summer football a decade or so ago without any discernible increase in interest locally far less from further afield.

We could improve our football fairly easily if their was any appetite to do it. Increase the size of the league and reduce the number of times clubs play each other would result in a marked improvement within a couple of years.

 

Agreed PapaBear - I remember too many midweek games in mid winter where I seriously asked myself if I was a masochist. Recent one to come to mind is the 7-1 drubbing we gave Dundee Utd when Boyd scored 5. It was absolutely Baltic that night, and no weather to either watch or play football.

Watching football on a balmy summer evening in summer clothes and shades appeals a lot more.

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I'm not sure that summer football will increase interest, particularly from England. The League of Ireland switched to summer football a decade or so ago without any discernible increase in interest locally far less from further afield.

We could improve our football fairly easily if their was any appetite to do it. Increase the size of the league and reduce the number of times clubs play each other would result in a marked improvement within a couple of years.

 

The LoI is, in terms of attendances similar to our third tier and their top team has an average attendance of the likes of Falkirk, so I don't think you can use the LoI as an indicator of how attractive the Scottish game would be. Any league with us and them in it is always going to get some level of interest and if we're playing each other when there is no EPL in competition then viewing figure would certainly increase substantially.

A bigger league is something we used to have and it was dire come the New Year or February, by which time the bottom two clubs were invariably decided, the championship was between two and the great bulk of teams had nothing to play for. I agree it would improve the quality of football players, but not the quality of the league or competition (if that makes sense).

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That seems like reason enough to do it, though?

 

Not really. You could have 10 teams full of Peles, but if they are ten teams with nothing to play for, you're still going to end up with a league of 18 where most have nothing to play for, for a large part of the season. The idea died a death 30 years ago for a reason. Even back then when football was the only game in town (sic) people were turning off from it in droves. To reinstate an 18 team league would be to simply hasten the demise of the game.

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The LoI is, in terms of attendances similar to our third tier and their top team has an average attendance of the likes of Falkirk, so I don't think you can use the LoI as an indicator of how attractive the Scottish game would be. Any league with us and them in it is always going to get some level of interest and if we're playing each other when there is no EPL in competition then viewing figure would certainly increase substantially.

A bigger league is something we used to have and it was dire come the New Year or February, by which time the bottom two clubs were invariably decided, the championship was between two and the great bulk of teams had nothing to play for. I agree it would improve the quality of football players, but not the quality of the league or competition (if that makes sense).

 

The top flight in Scotland started the season knowing who had won the league and who was getting relegated, stretching it to February sounds like a dream. Plus that didn't happen every season, often the championship was still being being contested right up until the end.

 

You make my point for me with regard LOI attendances. The standard of their league is on a par with any Scottish side outside Celtic currently, yet interest remains sparse.

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