A Question of Trust (Updated)

by Auldheid for the Scottish Football Monitor

On these pages at least there is a mounting lack of trust that the Scottish Football Association can or will govern our game in a fair and honest manner that recognises the principle of sporting integrity as paramount.

This mistrust is equalled only by the frustration at being unable to do anything to change the attitude and action of those at the SFA (and Leagues) responsible for that governance, a frustration compounded by the reluctance of the mainstream media to focus on the very issues of trust and integrity that concern us.

Back in early 2010 Celtic supporters represented by the Celtic Trust, various Association groups and individuals felt the same frustration and found a way to make their voices heard at the SFA – by using their club as a channel of communication to articulate their concerns.

A resolution was agreed and passed to Celtic to convey to the SFA and it was heeded by the club. There is no reason in why a similar conduit cannot be used by supporters groups of all clubs.

The enormity of the task, to get the majority of trusts and associations of all clubs to support this approach and give it sufficient weight, should not be underestimated, but in the interests of amplifying our voice, it is worth the effort.

Based on that 2010 experience, and on the discussion that has taken place on TSFM we have arrived at a (now amended) resolution below under the auspices of TSFM and which has been sent to all representative club supporters groups.

We believe one of the reasons the SFA and SPL were able to mislead (or simply fail to provide leadership) was because of the lack of clarity surrounding who should take provide that leadership and what principles should have been paramount.

The SFA were as tied to the commercial impact of Rangers demise as the SPL and indeed had to be reminded by the supporters of the importance of that sporting integrity. In the aftermath of the Rangers implosion, both the SFA and Leagues on the face of it appear still too commercially oriented to act in a way that balances commercialism and sporting principles.

We have attempted to address this in the resolution below. It also contains additional points raised already on TSFM and elsewhere. It is designed to assist in the widening of accountability in the sport.

We are not wed to the draft or the language. It is there to be revised but we hope it contains enough food for thought to be acceptable to the supporters groups and the clubs.

As recently as today, the SFA has published a Fans Charter. We welcome this development, and although it does not address our specific concerns with respect to governance it is a step in the right direction (http://www.fanscharter.com/).

Some of the principles published are;

  • Challenge is to make a National Fans Charter known, accepted and influential
  • Getting fan involvement in drafting charter important to acceptance,  influence and growing awareness.

We think our resolution is an even bigger step in the direction of those principles.


DRAFT Proposal for Representative Supporter Groups e.g. Trusts or Associations to send to their club to convey to the SFA/SPL/SFL Boards.

We [Insert Association/Trust name here] and in association with fans’ groups of other clubs, ask [Insert Club name here] to convey the following to the Scottish Football Association, SPL and SFL on our behalf.

1         We believe that the commercial viability of Scottish football at the professional level depends absolutely on the belief by supporters that sporting integrity is at the heart of all competition, and that those governing them and the rules by which they exercise governance, must hold sporting integrity as paramount above ALL other concerns. This belief can be summed up in the one word “trust” Without trust in those responsible for governing Scottish Football, commercial viability will suffer, to eventual ruin of our game.

2         There is a perception (accompanied by some dismay and anger) among football supporters throughout Scotland that those who were charged with upholding the rules of the SFA and SPL/SFL, only did so partially – and even then only because of the threat of supporter action if they did not.
3         There appears to be no distinction or order of hierarchy between those governing the game (the SFA) for whom we believe preservation of sporting integrity should be the prime purpose, and the leagues (SPL/SFL) for whom commercial aspects are (understandably) uppermost. As a result sporting integrity lost its primacy and it was left to supporters to insist on it.

4         Consequently many Scottish football supporters have lost confidence that the Scottish Football Association will fulfil their purpose of safeguarding the sport. Indeed their silence following the revelation of a 5 way agreement last summer on the future of the liquidated Glasgow Rangers has exacerbated this loss of confidence in the SFA’s ability to administer professional football in Scotland in a manner that reflects their duty of care to all aspects of the game and everyone who takes part in it.

5         Decisions and deals have been taken by the SFA, SPL, and SFL without any public scrutiny. The operations and decisions of those bodies lack transparency and they are not accountable in any recognisable form to the football supporters throughout the land, without whom there is no professional association.


6         In our view this loss of trust can only begin to be restored by the SFA publically committing  itself to:

(i)                  The production of an unequivocal “mission” statement of purpose/intent which will state (in whatever form they may exist) that maintaining sporting integrity is and will always be their prime goal. The statement will also describe how they intend to ensure this principle is followed in their interactions with Leagues and Clubs, particularly when commercial decisions that might undermine sporting integrity are implemented by the Leagues. (e.g. In the case of TV contracts, sponsorship or any significant league reconstruction).

(ii)                Further: in recognition of the inability of some individuals to provide leadership during the past year simply because of conflicts of interest, take steps to remove any such conflict, and in doing so enable the organisation and its office bearers to function unhindered.

(iii)               In the interests of transparency, publish the “five point agreement” that allowed The Rangers entry into SFL and SFA, provide a supporting rationale for entering into the agreement, and confirm that the terms have been or are being complied with.

Along with other trust restoring measures (see attached Annex) these steps should mark the end of the continuing lack of trust in the authorities.

7.         We appreciate that it may be the start of next season before there is any visible evidence of our concerns being addressed although the statement of purpose/intent by the SFA (i) and action at (ii) can be readily put in place – would be a welcome early development.

8.         All club’s supporters groups will be watching closely for signs of progress before advising our members and our other supporters if we feel the necessary trust restoring steps are being taken and advise that they can purchase their season books for 2013/14 knowing that sporting integrity is once more absolutely paramount in Scottish football to the betterment of our game.

Signed __________________________ on behalf of

[Insert supporter trust/association name here]

Date ______________

Annex to resolution.

The following is a list of other measures that the SFA should take in order to satisfy supporters that they should be entrusted with the job of governing Scottish football.

  1. To increase transparency and accountability in a meaningful way – possibly via creation of an active supporter’s liaison group drawn from representative supporter groups of each club. Its remit, using an agreed consultative mechanism to generate dialogue, to hear supporters’ concerns and consider them before key decisions are made. In an industry that is totally interdependent it is folly to exclude a major stakeholder from key decision making.
  2. A tightening of and an annual and independent audit of the process for granting UEFA Club (FFP) and National Club licensing reporting to the representative supporter liaison group as well as other SFA members to ensure all clubs are living within their means.
  3. Introduction of a rule requiring all Scottish football club directors to declare any financial interest/shareholding in any club other than their own and to rule that disposition of those shares/interest should be a part of a fit and proper assessment of a person’s qualification to hold office at an association club.
  4. A feasibility review of Scottish refereeing to assess the potential for creating a professional service that the SFA provide to the leagues by recruiting and training referees, but where the leagues monitor and reward consistently good performances to an agreed standard. Given the sums dependent on referee decisions, the current system must change for everyone’s sake including the referees.
  5. A full explanation about the circumstances (including dates) surrounding the award of a UEFA Club licence to Rangers in spring/summer of 2011 when there was unpaid social tax that prime facie did not meet the conditions for deeming the granting of a licence acceptable under the UEFA FFP rules on unpaid tax (the wee tax bill).

The [Insert Club Name here] Trust/Supporters Association asks [Insert Club Name here] to convey our concerns above with their provenance to the appropriate authorities as they see fit viz:

    • Football Authority in Scotland (The SFA)
    • Europe (UEFA)
    • Scottish Government (on the issue of accountability to supporters and       proper checks and balance governance.)

A Roman God, a New Year, a Paycheque a Sports Jacket and that thing called football!

Guest Blog by Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan

Good Morning,

Can I start by wishing everyone who reads this blog a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2013.

In a few weeks’ time a couple of working class lads from Walsall and Wolverhampton will receive a reasonably sizeable cheque through the door. The money will be entirely expected and meticulously accounted for. A similar cheque will have arrived last year, and both will expect the process to repeat itself automatically this time next year.

The sum concerned will be sizeable—many thousands of pounds— and does not come from any insurance policy, institutional pension plan or other type of financially regulated investment. Further, in order to receive a similar amount next year, the two men will have to do precisely nothing! The money will simply come automatically!

Magic eh?

Well no—not really.

You see Neville and James ( for that is what they are called ) earned this money many years ago by completing a job of work, and they have been getting paid for the same job year in and year out ever since!

Except that you don’t know them as Nevile and James! No you may know them as Jim Lea ( who? you may say ) and Noddy Holder (aka Neville John Holder MBE ) the co author of that perennial Christmas classic “Merry Christmas Everybody”.

These two clever boys came up with their “pension” song by making a Christmas cracker out of tunes they had written and discarded in the past. Lea’s chords from years before provided the tune for the verses, while an earlier rejected composition of Holder’s became the chorus, and in this way it was the past work of both men that secured their future—even back in 1974!

As the song is played to death on Radio, in clubs, in pubs, in shops, on TV and everywhere else at Christmas, the New Year always brings a cheque of sizeable proportions for Messrs Lea and Holder.

However there were four members of Slade and not two, I hear you say!

Whilst that is correct, not every member of the band shares the royalties for ever more, with only the actual composers receiving the big bucks year on year — unless of course the gang of four agreed otherwise between themselves – as sometimes happens—but often doesn’t — in bands and other artistic collaborations!

And that, dear reader, neatly takes me to the current topic of the day on this here planet!!! The reconstruction, reorganisation and profit sharing in Scottish Fitba!!!

It strikes me that the SFA, SPL and SFL all want to come up with their own version of the pension song or product — Something that will make future performances interesting and lucrative for ever more without anyone having to put in too much effort in future.

Of course it is recognised that the clubs at the top of the financial tree have the greatest influence in composing this song, but there is an insistence, and so a desire, that even the minor band members should get a greater share of the royalties going forward.

All very honourable. All very interesting,— and all completely missing the point in my humble opinion.

Now, there is a clamour from the fans that the proposed structure of 12 – 12—18 is flawed and leads to daft consequences when worked through. We want 14- 14 – 14 say many fans or 16- 14 – 12 or some other composition altogether!!

Oh—and the fans want the chairmen to consult the fans before making a decision on anything, and they want Messrs Regan, Doncaster and Longmuir to stop telling fans that they need to be “educated” about what is best for the game!

All very noble! All very interesting, —and all completely missing the point once again in my humble opinion.

Jock Stein once famously proclaimed that football is nothing without fans— almost everyone knows that. Yet how many actually stop to consider those words and what he meant.

There is nothing without fans!!!!!

How many times have you heard commentators, journalists, ex players and even fans refer to the fans as “the paying customers” ?  This phrase has made its way into common parlance and is rarely- if ever- challenged or qualified.

So I will ask—is that what the football fan is prepared to be called—“The paying customer”?— is that it?

Are you, dear reader, a paying customer?—and nothing more?

Or is a football fan a “member of a club”—a “ supporter of a club” or even “part” of a club?

If you are just a paying customer does that mean that anyone who turns up at a ground and pays over some money on a solitary Saturday afternoon is to be seen in exactly the same way as the guy or gal who has been a season ticket holder for years and years?

Does the person who sits behind their keyboard and blogs and comments for Britain on matters football—but who never goes to a game or who does not spend a penny following or promoting their proclaimed club – have the same strength of voice as that season ticket holder—or even the guy who stumps up the cash to view a game once a year?

Not a chance in my view!!!

Equally though, if you have a Football Club Board who do nothing whatsoever to attract people into the club apart from throw out a team on a Saturday Afternoon with mixed degrees of success – are they worthy of support from the “paying customer” or anyone else for that matter?

In my view the answer is no— a very loud —NO!!!

If we are going to reconstruct Scottish Football then I am sorry you have to start by looking at exactly what it is you are trying to reconstruct—reconstruct being the appropriate and important word.

The job is to reconstruct—and regain— viable and important interest in Scottish Football and the teams—or clubs—who play in Scotland.

League reconstruction is only part of that process, and the redistribution of television money is only part of the league reconstruction part of the process!

The month of January is named after the Roman God Janus—who had two heads— one for looking forward and one for looking back. Janus was the God of transition—The God of change— and it was always clear that you could only have change going forward by casting an eye back to the past—to see what you wanted to keep from that past, to see what you wanted to jettison, and to see what could be learned from past times.

In the past , football crowds were far larger, revenues proportionally bigger and closer together when comparing clubs, and consequently it might be said that the football product was much better on the park—with various teams outwith the two big Glasgow teams—please do remember the Jags come from Glasgow too and that in the past Clyde and Third Lanark were also natives— competing for and winning trophies.

Nowadays, football clubs have lower attendances—unless of course one of the smaller teams ( I refuse to use the derogatory and well hackneyed phrase that is banded about re smaller Scottish Clubs ) gets to a Hampden final when low and behold anything between 20,000 and 30,000 lost football fans appear as if out of nowhere!!

And hey—if you happen to be a fan of the Ibrox Club or the Parkhead club—don’t go getting too comfy in your seat— where the hell were some of you before Seville or Manchester?

The point is that football is like politics — it all means nothing without participation— real participation. That means fans buying into, spending money on and in, and promoting their club at every opportunity. It means the clubs and their boards using every trick in the book to generate income away from the football pitch. A “Club” in law is no more than a collection of people coming together for a common purpose and a football club is perfectly capable of having genuine “club activity” which does not primarily involve football.

Where are the regional and local initiatives to promote the social aspects of football clubs? Do the facilities for women need upgrading to help persuade more mothers and girlfriends to come to the ground whether that be for games or other events or functions?

In a time of never ending football memorabilia, how many people went to their club shop this Christmas and bought merchandise for family and friends – even if the same family and friends support another club? How many people invite visitors or non football supporting friends to a game on a Saturday—even if it is only every now and then?

In short what do you do to support your club—and what can that club do to get more and more people involved in the club itself or its functions? And what functions could that club become involved in using existing facilities and resources?

Is there a kids club? A  weekday crèche? Are there facilities that are not used six days a week which could be used for community groups who have nothing to do with football—or even sport? Should the club hold daft things like race nights, bingo nights— functions that may well attract people who would no more likely  go to a football ground on a Saturday than suddenly develop Noddy Holder style sideburns?

How many people take an old shirt or T shirt or towel bearing the club colours on holiday to give to a waiter or a stranger or someone who has no connection with the club—with a view to creating a fan or someone with a bit of interest who might just one day become a season ticket holder or even an occasional “paying customer” at the door?

Further, are there folk out there who could actually go along and volunteer services for their club for nothing and so save the club from spending hard earned cash out of necessity? Could you be a gateman? Could you perform a task for your club on a voluntary basis?

You may think that a daft or utopian ideology but sports clubs traditionally always had a social purpose as well as a sporting one. Clubs were a focus for a locality, or a workforce, or a congregation or just about any group of people who want to come together for sporting or social purposes. Further those who volunteered their services for the common good often got great local recognition for their dedication and spirit.

Ask any Dons fan about Teddy Scott—who although a paid employee was Aberdeen FC through and through—pay or no pay!

The clamour for change in football should not be blinded by the words of the three official bodies and the more vocal chairmen of the clubs that want to play in the league – or not as the case may be. Change should come from the fans of the game up—but to be honest until the fans—or should I say the mysteriously disappearing armchair fans—actually come out and support their clubs a lot more often, then we are not going to see valuable and worthwhile change no matter what the league set up or composition.

On Saturday, I listened to Off The Ball on Radio Scotland where the contributors waxed lyrical about journalists of yesteryear who made the game and broadcasting interesting. Jimmy Sanderson, Bob Crampsey et al – they all got a mention.

The discussion sparked a memory for me when they came to discuss the legend that is Arthur Montford—famously referred to by Jock Stein as “ The Sportsjacket” with reference to his never ending collection of blazers.

Arthur was a journalist—both print and broadcast— with the BBC and then STV since 1957 in terms of television—and with the Evening Times and other papers in terms of the written press.

A lifelong follower of Morton and a keen Golfer and golf commentator, Arthur has been retired this many a year although he can still be seen walking up and down Byres Road occasionally. At one time he became Chairman of Morton and he used to write in the club programme on a regular basis—possibly still does! He is by all accounts a nice man—a good man— sufficiently good and of sufficient standing to have been elected as the Rector of Glasgow University in 1975—beating George Brown and Janey Buchan ( if you don’t know who they were then look them up! )— in the process.

He was the first sports journalist to hold that post.

In his Rectorial address Arthur went to great lengths to highlight what can be achieved if volunteers— individuals— club members if you like— put their shoulders to the wheel and strive for change, for a common purpose, and for society in general. He stressed that such communal effort brought about change—brought about improvement— brought about advancement in numerous situations. This was only three years after Jimmy Reid had used the same platform to denounce the “Rat Race” declaring “ I am not a rat!”.

For football to change in this country we need action—action by the fans—action by the clubs—action by the journalists and commentators to highlight initiatives and opportunities for our football clubs to play a greater part in our communities— from kids to pensioners, from toddlers to mums and dads, local residents to occasional visitors.

That is the way to make your voice heard and to make that voice count. That is the way to bring about the change that you want for the future.

There were four members of Slade—but only two wrote the words and music to Merry Christmas Everybody and it is they who earned the right to the pension royalties for ever more. The other two bit part players did not!

Janus was meant to oversee transition to the future by casting an eye on the past and learning from what went before—as should we when considering Scottish Football—and in that spirit you will find a link to the whole of Arthur Montford’s address below— there are things worth learning there.

Here’s to the future—-NOW—– its only just begun!

http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/documents/UGSD00029.pdf