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Thread: Competition in Scottish football.

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    Lightbulb Competition in Scottish football.

    It's been a while since the topic came up, but we do live in a footballing world that's been dominated by two clubs to the exclusion of most others. The thing is, I often felt that the tales of "there are only two teams" was something of an urban legend. I figured that it couldn't possibly be that bad. So it was time to look at the numbers.

    Here are some uncomfortable things to think about:

    There are 42 teams in Scotland professionally, which means Celtic and Rangers have compiled 4.8% of all clubs. The numbers haven't changed much in terms of team numbers, so we'll stick with 42.

    I also figure that a generation is good enough for assessing the numbers, so I'm going to look back thirty years (coincidentally when I started watching Hibs, ish); this is from the 86/87 season. The three major honours are the league title, the Scottish Cup and the League Cup so we'll count what's been won by the Old Firm compared to the rest.

    It breaks down like this -

    The Old Firm have won the league thirty of thirty times.

    They've won the Scottish Cup 19 of 30 times, or 63%.

    They've won the League Cup 22 of 31 times (adding in this year's), or 71%.

    What this means is that out of the 91 major honours won over the last three decades, one of the Old Firm has lifted the trophy 71 times out of 91; a whopping 78% won by essentially 5% of Scotland's clubs. For additional numbers, the next three biggest clubs at the moment are Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen. Collectively, they've netted ten of the 91 honours (five each for the Scottish and League cups), which is 7% of clubs taking 11% of the major honours.

    So, all in all, that means that 88.2% of clubs in Scotland duke it out for the remaining 11% of the prizes.

    In numerical terms, that's 37 clubs hoping to win ten trophies.

    Now, these numbers are obviously depressing enough straight off the bat. But they're not terribly instructive without a bit of context, so let's have a look at what's been happening south of the border over the same period. To work this out, we'll look at how the top 4.8% of professional clubs have done - there are 92 clubs to League Two so 4.8% of that translates into 4.4 clubs; we'll round up. To figure out which are the top five, we'll consider those who've won the league the most times in the thirty year period. They are:

    - Manchester United (13)
    - Arsenal/Chelsea (5)
    - Liverpool/Manchester City (2)

    For argument's sake, because we can't split Liverpool and Manchester City, we're including them both. It'll make the English numbers less competitive in comparison, but it's easier than splitting them up.

    So, some figures from the top five:

    They've won the league 20 of thirty times, or 66%.

    They've won the FA Cup 27 of thirty times, or 90%.

    They've won the League Cup 17 of thirty times, or 57%.

    What this all ends up amounting to is a winning rate of 64 from 90 major honours in England, or 71%. As erstwhile hinted, the rounded down numbers are a little less than that, but the result is roughly the same. The English game is more competitive than ours, but not by the magnitudes that we're often told. Perception is more important than reality in this regard, and the English Premiership is nothing if not well marketed.

    Perhaps that's where we need to be putting more attention.

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    Off the top of my head the last ten is made up Dundee United 2, Kilmarnock 2, faith rovers 1, st Johnstone 1, Inverness 1, Ross county 1, Motherwell 1 and Livingston 1.

    There’s 13 different winners - all full time - out of 20 full time teams. There’s no point or need to have more than 20/22/24 teams in a league set up us there?

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    The first thing to say is that I really don't think it is helpful to compare our country with England when it comes to competitiveness in football. England has ten times our population with many more big populated cities and mass urban areas than Scotland does. Sky TV money ensures that many clubs in the Premier League can compete with each other and even the top clubs like Man City, Chelsea, Man United etc all have many millions of pounds flowing into their coffers every year to enable them to attract the best players in the world to them. There is no comparison between the game in Scotland and the game in England.

    Scotland does quite well in terms of competition given it's size and population base. The big fly in the ointment in Scotland is sectarianism and "religious" bigotry which is the sole reason Celtic and the Rangers exist to the size and power that they do and the influence they have. Their collective drawing power is enormous in Scotland and their influence on the game and Scottish society even more so. No other nation of a similar size to Scotland (Denmark, Belgium, Austria for example) has their major football clubs influenced in this way by such a poison. With that in mind the Scottish Cup and League Cup are the best chance of success for the next trio of clubs down...Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen to compete for honours. All three of those clubs should have won more trophies than they have but that has came about for various reasons. It is however evidently very difficult even to win these trophies in this country. Winning becomes habitual for Celtic and they have the resources to run with a squad which can dominate every competition. In essence for the size of country Scotland is in football terms I reckon to have three clubs who can seriously compete for the two knock-out trophies every season is not too bad. All three should be competing for the top four places every season.

    On a slightly different topic, I believe that Scotland has too many clubs and too many leagues. Two leagues of 16 clubs would be fine for this country. We need to play less games as well as IMO we play too many matches, we start the season too early and we don't give players a long enough close season break.
    Last edited by Greenmachine; 08-02-18 at 07:09.
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    Ive followed Hibs for as much as my 50 years has allowed. I would stab a guess that I started being aware , leading to obsession, when I was about 5.
    Sadly maybe but true , never have I expected them to win the top league. That however goes for most supporters , from most clubs, here, the U.K. And much further afield .
    The ugly 2 will continue to dominate , I have no doubt. Religion is a factor, but not as much as we think. They simply stem from a huge city, hence the resources, hence the glory hunters, it's a snowball effect. The future ain't bright, but it never has been.

    Glory days are our aim, and the fleeting ones we have had are special. Very special. Your team is your bond, your religion, your togetherness, your reason for trips away with like minded people. It's life defining. We are not alone . Many clubs get many thousands turning out every week, with less glory days than us.
    But, nothing, absolutely nothing stays the same forever, and our day will come. We might not be here to see it, but the peeps we have passed the batten onto may just be around. It might happen sooner or later, we may witness a Leicester, who knows, that's why we keep the faith.
    There is too many teams and games in Scotland, but really there is only TWO many teams. But , if they were to disappear ( one did but came back in a guise) another couple of forces would dominate.
    Celtic supporters must be seriously bored with league games just now, where as we live for Saturday's .
    It's a strange world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zellviren View Post
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    It's been a while since the topic came up, but we do live in a footballing world that's been dominated by two clubs to the exclusion of most others. The thing is, I often felt that the tales of "there are only two teams" was something of an urban legend. I figured that it couldn't possibly be that bad. So it was time to look at the numbers.

    Here are some uncomfortable things to think about:

    There are 42 teams in Scotland professionally, which means Celtic and Rangers have compiled 4.8% of all clubs. The numbers haven't changed much in terms of team numbers, so we'll stick with 42.

    I also figure that a generation is good enough for assessing the numbers, so I'm going to look back thirty years (coincidentally when I started watching Hibs, ish); this is from the 86/87 season. The three major honours are the league title, the Scottish Cup and the League Cup so we'll count what's been won by the Old Firm compared to the rest.

    It breaks down like this -

    The Old Firm have won the league thirty of thirty times.

    They've won the Scottish Cup 19 of 30 times, or 63%.

    They've won the League Cup 22 of 31 times (adding in this year's), or 71%.

    What this means is that out of the 91 major honours won over the last three decades, one of the Old Firm has lifted the trophy 71 times out of 91; a whopping 78% won by essentially 5% of Scotland's clubs. For additional numbers, the next three biggest clubs at the moment are Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen. Collectively, they've netted ten of the 91 honours (five each for the Scottish and League cups), which is 7% of clubs taking 11% of the major honours.

    So, all in all, that means that 88.2% of clubs in Scotland duke it out for the remaining 11% of the prizes.

    In numerical terms, that's 37 clubs hoping to win ten trophies.

    Now, these numbers are obviously depressing enough straight off the bat. But they're not terribly instructive without a bit of context, so let's have a look at what's been happening south of the border over the same period. To work this out, we'll look at how the top 4.8% of professional clubs have done - there are 92 clubs to League Two so 4.8% of that translates into 4.4 clubs; we'll round up. To figure out which are the top five, we'll consider those who've won the league the most times in the thirty year period. They are:

    - Manchester United (13)
    - Arsenal/Chelsea (5)
    - Liverpool/Manchester City (2)

    For argument's sake, because we can't split Liverpool and Manchester City, we're including them both. It'll make the English numbers less competitive in comparison, but it's easier than splitting them up.

    So, some figures from the top five:

    They've won the league 20 of thirty times, or 66%.

    They've won the FA Cup 27 of thirty times, or 90%.

    They've won the League Cup 17 of thirty times, or 57%.

    What this all ends up amounting to is a winning rate of 64 from 90 major honours in England, or 71%. As erstwhile hinted, the rounded down numbers are a little less than that, but the result is roughly the same. The English game is more competitive than ours, but not by the magnitudes that we're often told. Perception is more important than reality in this regard, and the English Premiership is nothing if not well marketed.

    Perhaps that's where we need to be putting more attention.
    I've just read a news item on Celtc's interim accounts where it states they have £31M in the bank. How can anyone in Scotland even contemplate competing with that. Essentially Celtc, if they so chose, could buy one of their rivals
    They're gone, not here, forgotten
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dub View Post
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    I've just read a news item on Celtc's interim accounts where it states they have £31M in the bank. How can anyone in Scotland even contemplate competing with that. Essentially Celtc, if they so chose, could buy one of their rivals
    They could buy out the Huns and then shut them down. I reckon that could start a civil war in Scotland.
    Game's rigged, why bother?

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    I'm not even convinced it's possible for other clubs to "do a Leicester" and pip Celtic to the league at present. In the minuscule chance that a side managed to be within 3 points of them with 5 games or so remaining we'd see all the dirty tricks in the books pulled out, with the complicit media on their side too to help out. Cos they don't really want competition either, unless it's from one particular club... 😉

    But it never gets to that stage as any side starting to look remotely like they might mount a challenge has their best players snatched away from them. FWIW I reckon you could probably win the SPL with a £50m investment and therefore secure champions league fitba, surely better value for money than the £250m-ish Ashley's looking for for NUFC!?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hibee Kev View Post
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    I'm not even convinced it's possible for other clubs to "do a Leicester" and pip Celtic to the league at present. In the minuscule chance that a side managed to be within 3 points of them with 5 games or so remaining we'd see all the dirty tricks in the books pulled out, with the complicit media on their side too to help out. Cos they don't really want competition either, unless it's from one particular club... 😉

    But it never gets to that stage as any side starting to look remotely like they might mount a challenge has their best players snatched away from them. FWIW I reckon you could probably win the SPL with a £50m investment and therefore secure champions league fitba, surely better value for money than the £250m-ish Ashley's looking for for NUFC!?
    I think it would cost considerably less than £50m.
    Space to let

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    Figures would have been even worse if rangers didn't go down the pan. Nothing is going to change, no billionaire is going to take over provincial clubs here like they do in England. But makes winning sweeter when we do

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    I get the argument that England might not be that great a comparison, given the amount of money pumped into it from outside of football, but that’s kind of my point; despite the overwhelming advantages they have with regard to competition, their system isn’t substantially more competitive than ours. The top 5% (roughly) still dominates their domestic game, just as it does in Scotland, and the financial playing field is a lot more even in the top league than it is in Scotland. As I hinted, the problem is perception – just as it is with, for example, crowds. Per capita, Scotland sees many more people through the gates on average than is seen south of the border.

    So the problem isn’t that Scotland is uniquely uncompetitive, or badly supported. Quite the $#@!ing opposite. Were an injection of cash to hit our game, as it did in England, we’re probably well poised to see a flurry of competition and a bigger advantage in crowd size.

    One of the more interesting things to note, for me, is actually the national cup competition. In Scotland, that’s where we see the most variation (63%) – in England, it’s where we see the least (90%). In reality, this is a mathematical imperative, and probably an unavoidable one. At the last sixteen stage, it’s the last sixteen whether you’re in Scotland with its 42 clubs or in England with its 92 clubs. That means that there will always be more of the top 5% you need to beat, while Rangers and Celtic only need to avoid each other in order to guarantee one of them lifting the trophy.

    That said, it’s extremely rare to see both of them beaten by the same club (I think Hibs are the only recent team to do so, only to lose to Livingston in the final) and, when they do draw each other, that means only one of them needs to be beaten.

    I’d also quickly touch on the fact that no billionaire is going to touch the Scottish game, which I agree with, but I don’t think such things are sustainable long term. Whisper it, but I agree with Bill Leckie – the bubble is going to burst south of the border, because spending is absolutely out of control and clubs just don’t have the business models to deal with such expenditure independently of TV/sponsorship money… Which I doubt will last forever.

    Where I think a big difference can be made, is in two regards:

    1) The media and press coverage of the game in Scotland.

    2) Inter-club transfers in Scotland.

    The media, predominantly west-coast based, is simply only interested in one club – “Rangers”. It deals with Celtic by necessity. This duopoly is extremely powerful in influencing supporters, who subconsciously start to think that’s all anyone cares about. Yet, we know that it’s fundamentally untrue. In my personal view, some pressure needs to be put on the west-coast bias in our media but, sadly, I’ve no real idea how you’d manage that. Ultimately, they just print utter rubbish and they do our national game a real disservice with this bias.

    Secondly, it’s now well-known that Rangers, “Rangers” and Celtic are more than happy to complain about a lack of competition, but they’re explicitly culpable in propagating the status quo. I’ve lost count of the promising youngsters at Hibs, Hearts, Aberdeen, Dundee United and the rest who’ve been hoovered up mid-season in order to stop them from playing. It’s not done to strengthen Old Firm squads, it’s done to weaken non Old Firm squads. The SFA should look to do something about this, because it’s a key contributor to both the degradation of competitive domestic football, but it also contributes to the retardation of Scottish talent development when it happens.

    That’s my two cents, anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy View Post
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    Figures would have been even worse if rangers didn't go down the pan. Nothing is going to change, no billionaire is going to take over provincial clubs here like they do in England. But makes winning sweeter when we do
    Point of order Davy my man. Hibs are not a provincial club because we come from the capital. Every club outside the capital including Celtc and Schrodinger FC are provincial clubs despite what the press would have you believe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dub View Post
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    Point of order Davy my man. Hibs are not a provincial club because we come from the capital. Every club outside the capital including Celtc and Schrodinger FC are provincial clubs despite what the press would have you believe.
    Been a while since we had that schoolboy error
    Hibs are standing on the brink of history...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dub View Post
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    Point of order Davy my man. Hibs are not a provincial club because we come from the capital. Every club outside the capital including Celtc and Schrodinger FC are provincial clubs despite what the press would have you believe.


    My humble apologies runs to dictionary to find out definition of provincial




    this part of dictionary explanation would assume Glasgow is a province ... of or concerning the regions outside the capital city of a country, especially when regarded as unsophisticated or narrow-minded.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy View Post
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    My humble apologies runs to dictionary to find out definition of provincial




    this part of dictionary explanation would assume Glasgow is a province ... of or concerning the regions outside the capital city of a country, especially when regarded as unsophisticated or narrow-minded.
    Correct. We, being in the capital cannot be classed as provincial. Fans of celtc and Schrodinger FC and I include the meedja in that, like to pretend it was otherwise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dub View Post
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    Correct. We, being in the capital cannot be classed as provincial. Fans of celtc and Schrodinger FC and I include the meedja in that, like to pretend it was otherwise.
    The latter part of the dictionary meaning would include those two even if they were in the capital city...unsophisticated and narrow minded

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davy View Post
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    The latter part of the dictionary meaning would include those two even if they were in the capital city...unsophisticated and narrow minded
    The Gunts could qualify under that too mate
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    I’m pretty sure ‘provincial’ definition was put to our sports journos before. Can’t remember if it was Jabba, Jackshun, or Chico, but one of the arseholes claimed that Hibs were indeed a provincial club because Glasgow was ‘the football capital’ of Scotland.
    Says it all really.

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