Iain McMenemy:Ridiculous not to support a review of poor SPFL governance
It almost felt like the build-up to the SPFL EGM held earlier this week was like the build-up to a cup final. We knew there were two sides, we knew there could only be one winner, and inevitably, at least one of the Old Firm clubs was involved. That’s Scottish football.
Within our own club at Stenhousemuir, we thought long and hard about what our approach would be. Would we support the resolution put forward by three clubs, Rangers, Hearts and Stranraer, that called for an independent enquiry into “Vote-gate”, when the decision was made to call the lower leagues? Or would we stay on the sidelines?
In the end, we decided to support the resolution. We also joined the ranks of the many clubs who had decided to issue statements. We wanted to make it absolutely clear that we were not picking sides, but were instead calling for change to the culture and governance in our league set-up which we believe is not working as effectively as it should for the benefit of all its members.
We had raised issues on governance and culture repeatedly over the past few years so it would seem ridiculous to not support an independent review of at least one aspect of arguably poor governance from the past few weeks.
We hoped that an investigation and a fresh pair of eyes could lead to greater transparency in our decision-making within the SPFL and provide a foundation for ending the mistrust that has crept into our league organisation.
As expected, however, there was not enough support for the resolution to pass. It would have required a 75 per cent margin across the divisions. However, around one-third of all clubs supported it. That signifies that there are issues, and that there is indeed an appetite for change.
A significant number of member clubs have issues with governance and culture so I would hope that the league executive and the Board recognise the strength of feeling. I’m encouraged that they will. I’ve spoken to Murdoch MacLennan, the chairman of the SPFL, and Neil Doncaster, the chief executive, over the past few days.
I have always maintained a positive working relationship with them both, despite the fact that I offer constructive criticism of our organisation when I feel it is necessary to do so.
I am encouraged that they both see a need to ensure that the views of all member clubs are listened to.
There is a desire to put the events of the past six weeks behind us. We must do so. The resolution failed. That must be respected. But as an organisation we must also be prepared to listen to all of our members, and just as importantly, we must be reactive to the mood of supporters who are the lifeblood of the game.
We need a league body that is more reflective of all 42 member clubs. We need to look into how we can maintain commercial confidentiality, but at the same time ensure there is greater transparency in how we go about our business. We need to encourage debate and opinion. We must continue to evolve as a group and as a game. Fresh thinking should be welcomed, and we need to cast our net wider and ensure that we hear what others think of us and listen to ideas and suggestions from football supporters.
We’re still in the midst of this pandemic, therefore we can only do so much right now. But when the time is right, there needs to be a greater sense of unity and a stronger desire to come together for the good of the game.
The next key test will be when the Premiership season is called. The eternal optimists that believed we could still play the season out are slowly and steadily accepting the reality that we just simply won’t be able to.
So when the time comes, and the decision is made, we need to accept it and move on. Will everyone be prepared to do so? I doubt it.
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