urgent thanever, if it’s nottoolatealready
faith, of course, because every follower of any Scottish team that has had success in Europe knows where and when it happened, and no matter their age, fans can usually give you exact details such as team lists and scorers.
Those folk memories are indicative of the importance which Scottish clubs and their supporters place on participation in European competition, a love affair started in the very first year of the European Cup by Hibs, who reached the semi-final.
It’s instructive to look at this week’s biggest failures, Celtic. From 1963-64 to 1973-74, Celtic reached the European Cup final twice, made the semi-finals twice more, and the quarter-finals a further twice.
They also twice reached the Cup- Winners Cup semi-finals. In other words, in 11 seasons of European football, they reached the quarter-finals or better eight times.
Now, after the week of death, we are relying on Rangers to carry the Saltire once again, and look what happened to them last season.
With a national team that has not qualified for the major championships for 12 years, Scottish football is now surely not at, but way beyond, the crossroads.
Thankfully, former First Minister Henry McLeish will publish his muchanticipated review of Scottish football’s professional level in November.
We are assured that McLeish will turn a gimlet eye on the shortcomings of everyone involved in the game, and the SFA has promised to act on his recommendations.
One conclusion is unavoidable. Scotland simply no longer has the class of player or coach in this country – our best managers work in England – that once made us a force to be reckoned with. Why did that happen and what can be done about it?
That is the issue which underlies all the debate, and if he can answer that single question, McLeish will do Scottish football a huge service. All our clubs, leagues, administrators, coaches, politicians, parents, businesses and the media must then listen and act.
For the sake of the game, we have to do something so that our young people can believe in the future of Scottish football. Over to you, Mr McLeish.
a two-goal lead by going down 4-0 in the second leg of their Europa League qualifier in utrecht