First published in Sons View, 23 April 2011, Dumbarton -v- Ayr United
A few weeks ago, Dumbarton fans were given the opportunity to vote on issues being mooted as part of a radical restructuring of the game in Scotland. The results were overwhelming – for a national (rather than regional) set-up for the second and third divisions, for fan representation on the governing bodies of Scottish football, and against the idea of SPL ‘colt’ teams in the lower leagues.
Now the SPL have decided, at their meeting on 18 April, that a vote on restructuring proposals will probably take place later in May. Supporters Direct, among others, will be urging SFL clubs to make their own preferences clear on issue such as those Sons fans voted on – in order as not to be left on the sidelines when the big boys vote.
Meanwhile, the politicians hawking around for votes of a different kind in the Scottish Parliamentary elections on 5 May have also been giving the beautiful game some consideration. All told, they have produced some interesting ideas and commitments. But will these still be on the table after our votes have been cast? Again, it will partly depend on grassroots pressure.
So, for the record, the Labour Party have backed greater community involvement in football and are considering a specific Sports Bill. The Scottish National Party, in their manifesto, have pledged their support for an enhanced role for Supporters’ Trusts. The Liberal Democrats say they want “involvement of democratic community organisations and co-operatives in the governance of football and other sports". The Conservatives have not pledged anything particular, though several of their candidates mention football connections in their biographies.
But the most specific idea has come from the Scottish Green Party. They have proposed a £1 million ‘leverage’ fund to help communities purchase their football clubs – “giving supporters first refusal if their club comes up for sale, and providing grants and loans to support buy-outs,” says co-leader, and Son of the Rock, Patrick Harvie.