Colt team system was good enough for Barcelona

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Colt team system was good enough for Barcelona

Post  TinyHandsOfConcrete on Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:52 pm

It was good enough for Lionel Messi and Barcelona. But in the upside down world that is Scottish football it’s not good enough for Turnbull Hutton or Rodger Morrison. In fact, the very idea is an affront and an absolute deal breaker to Raith Rovers and Peterhead. Sometimes David Longmuir must wonder what he got himself involved in when he took on the role of trying to fix our broken game and bring its many different warring factions together.

It has been a bumpy old ride for the man who would be mediator and on Tuesday he was left battered and bruised once more when he was rounded upon by some of his own members for offering up his latest idea on how to drag Scottish football, kicking and screaming into a brighter better place. Now, if you can, let’s forget for a minute that that place might be an utter abomination. Two 12s with its head-scratching three eights? An 18 or a couple of 10s? Frankly, the cure sounds worse than the disease.

Hell, even Longmuir admitted yesterday to having his own misgivings over the proposals. But the SFL chief executive insists he is trying to make the best of it which is why he has been left somewhat scalded by the furious reaction to his rehashed blueprint for Celtic and Rangers to have colt teams in Scotland’s lower leagues. In an exclusive interview with Record Sport, Longmuir hit back at his critics and explained why he feels his 11th-hour suggestion is for the long-term benefit of the entire Scottish game.

He said: “Look, the very idea of Old Firm colt teams will always be a reasonably controversial issue for non-Old Firm fans. But it’s an issue which should be looked at because it has the ability in the short and long term to deliver something at the bottom end of the game, both from a commercial and player development point of view. It’s not just about bringing in more fans and more money – it’s also about developing players. Lionel Messi played 30 games for Barcelona’s B team before he made the top team – it seemed to work quite well for him.

But I’m not saying we should follow the Spanish model just because it worked for Messi. This is a model they have used for 20 seasons and many more players than Messi have been developed by Barcelona and Real Madrid in that time.

I was also criticised for saying that AC and Inter Milan currently have colt teams. They have maybe changed the way they structure their youth teams now but they did have colt teams previously. I think it’s a debate that we should be having in this country because we have to be prepared to look towards the future.”

And Longmuir insists that future – one without Celtic and Rangers in the domestic set-up – may be closer than many think. In fact, he revealed yesterday he’s already had a high-level visit from the men who might one day take these squabbling siblings away. Meantime, his plan would ensure that at least they have some form of continued presence on these shores, even if Saturdays in Stranraer might never be the same again as Stair Park and the likes become the world’s most unlikely creches.

Longmuir added: “What people have to realise is that as far back as a year ago I met with senior UEFA officials who came to
Scotland to tell us their thinking on cross-border leagues. That thinking might not have been at an advanced stage but it was pretty in-depth stuff. They were looking at how to match up specific countries to their position on rankings and co-efficients. They were looking at a way of trying to cluster countries with similar standards. And then look at how to cluster teams – by that I mean the top teams who could come together in a new set-up. So work is being done and these things are being looked at, even if it’s hypothetical just now.

I used to work in the drinks industry and the big brands – Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff – drive the global profit. But there are domestic
products which survive perfectly well in their own market and which also benefit from the profit these brands bring back to the whole country. I’m not saying that’s a perfect analogy but it’s not a bad one. Big brands that have global appeal should go and develop that brand wherever they can.”

It has been argued also that if Celtic and Rangers are allowed to nurture youngsters in the lower leagues others should be given the same opportunity. Longmuir, though, believes “an element of realism” is required. Which is a gentle way of pointing out that every other top-flight club currently has a job on its hands just attracting enough fans to watch their first teams, never mind their kids. Indeed, this game of ours has seldom faced so many challenges or been placed quite so close to the brink.

Which is why the idea of copying a league system which crashed and burned in Austria and Switzerland and forcing it upon Scottish fans against their will, remains utterly terrifying. And deep down Longmuir may even feel the same fear, bubbling in the pit of his stomach.

He said: “You might not be too keen on two 12s and three eights, I’m not a great fan of it myself. But I’m taking a strategic view on the whole thing and where we can go with it. You must remember I came out with a 16-team proposal a while ago which was roundly welcomed by fans but which soon became clear was never going to be deliverable. With regards to the new proposals we are all a bit afraid of the unknown and that uncertainty is the biggest concern just now. I understand that.”

All of which begs one rather obvious question. If, as we are so regularly assured, everyone around the table agrees on two fundamentals – one league body and fairer distribution of wealth – then why not simply do that? And then argue about the creation of the all new, Whacky Races league for another day?

Longmuir would probably bite your hand off for such a compromise but the offer has not been forthcoming from the SPL. Nor will it be. He said: “I’m having that debate regularly and I can assure you it is one I am very familiar with presenting. But you have got to ask the question of Neil Doncaster, why is this is the only proposal you can get total alignment with?

It’s a strange one. It’s probably because they can’t get 11 out of 12 to agree with any of the other options. The two 12s and three eights seems to be the only thing they can agree on and so it binds them together. Does that mean the game is being thought of first? Or is it their alignment that is being thought of first?”

The question doesn’t need to be answered. This, after all, is the decaying, panic-stricken world of Scottish football. A world where nothing much makes any kind of sense. A chaotic world where the Turnbull Huttons call the shots.

Messi? It doesn’t even come close.

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Re: Colt team system was good enough for Barcelona

Post  therrawbuzzin on Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:28 pm

It is my firm belief, as I've stated before, that the only reason the 2x12->3x8 is being proposed is for it to fail.
The top 12 clubs (once Rangers is back) can then state that they tried reconstruction, it didn't work, and so we are going back to our old money-grubbing ways. They need Rangers' media earnings in the meantime, and the reconstruction process is just about getting their hands on those earnings, mainly at the expense of the SFL 2 & 3.

The more they behave like this, the more I hope reconstruction is delayed. Their desperation will soon be public.

Longmuir's stated position, that reconstruction might not be agreed in time for next season is, imv, deliberately designed to chasten the SPL.

Colt teams were proposed in the McLeish report, so to suggest that it is solely for the benefit of Rangers, is frankly, irritating nonsense, deliberately designed to inflame non-OF fans bitterness.
It is absolutely no surprise that Turnbull Hutton is the darling of these idiots, and my suspicion is that he's making his bid for Chief Exec of any new league body. God help us.
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