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A Winter's Tale

The State Of Scottish Football

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Celtic have won the SPL today in what has been another disapointing season. This season has seen one of Britain's most famous clubs - Glasgow Rangers - go into administration, all teams being knocked out of Europe; another season with where the other teams find it hard to compete and poor quality all in all again with only the young Scottish players showing any talent amongst a group of old, talentless second rate foreign players. Scottish club football is in a state - the National Team is a better scenario that is improving.

The increase of foreign players, lack of youth development and general poor management, selfish football clubs has lead to a decline in quality and excitement in the Scottish Premier League in the past 20 years - and the other leagues don't even have television coverage nor a play-off final of any interest. Despite all of this gloom, the National Team have narrowly missed out of qualification for tournemants and have reached 13th in the world; both Celtic and Rangers reached the final of the UEFA Cup in past decade and both have reached the Last 16 of the Champions League. But what's clear now is that fewer Scottish players are playing in the Old Firm let alone National Team players and now qualifying for Europe has become a difficulty. The other clubs have been another big disapointment where teams that do play good football are shunned by other team's negative tactics and the only talent is the young Scottish players that aren't always first team choices due to clubs playing on average foreign players. These talented players in the league will develop, but only to the standard of current Scottish internationalist due to clubs restricting player development.

In the past, Scotland has been a nation that qualified to tournemants, produced many great players that played in the league and in England and Scottish clubs were succesful with Celtic being the first ever British team to win the European Cup, Dundee being only one of a few UK Cities to have two clubs reach a European Cup Semi-Final, Aberdeen winning the European Cup Winner's Cup and so on. And before this, Scotland is believed to have brought football to South America, took part in the first international against England and were involved inventing the passing game. It's not hard to agree that the current state of Scottish football just isn't good enough. But it's not hard to agree that Scotland is a nation that loves football.

The SPL, SFL and SFA realise that things need to change and Scotland has appointed Mark Wotte - Scotland's first Performance director - who has been involved with the youth systems in the Netherlands and he has analysed the entire Scottish Game and plans to change the way it functions by focusing on youth development aswell as whole load of other plans. Wotte's native country the Netherlands along with Germany and Spain have pioneered in youth development. Germany in particular look like becoming an even greater force in European Club football and International football with the tons of talented young players that they have. Not only they have talented players, all the clubs work together and their style of football is great. In Spain, Athletic Bilbao have showed that you can create great teams by developing and playing local players and good tactics and management can lead to success.

The SPL is in such a state that I think teams can now afford to experiment as the league almost doesn't matter and won't matter until things improve. What we should be doing is developing intense youth development plans with co-operation between youth schools, clubs and local schools. There should be a theory to the way the game is played and if the quality, entertainment and sucess value of the game is poor already, why don't we train football teams to try and play the game without using the long ball - a style that doesn't bring any of the clubs sucess. More Scottish players should play as current players aren't going to improve and if you can't attract players that bring success, then surely creating and using local players should become a priority. The interest of Scotland's second league should improve and if that league is something that seems to not exist, then why don't use that league for playing young players or for a Celtic and Rangers B team to play there.

If we completly change our ways, the benefits can be great. If Scotland was to reach it's potential, we would have more noteworthy teams playing in Europe, an increase in quality in the league that could interest people from across the world, more players playing in quality leagues and teams across Europe and subsequently a better national team. It may not work out perfectly but things will improve and at least there is some talent and excietement, potential for European football and that the SPL will continue to be a feeder league for the English premier league and championship that will sustain a half decent national team.

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