SPFL meeting: Falkirk call for 'urgent change' in Scottish football after 42-club summit and decisions which 'baffle, but don't surprise'

Falkirk chairman Gary Deans says he and his club are ready to lead the charge for ‘urgent change’ in the national game.

Falkirk chairman Gary Deans. Photo: Michael Gillen
Falkirk chairman Gary Deans. Photo: Michael Gillen

The decision to shutdown Scottish football – outside the top two tiers – along part-time and full-time lines has left the Bairns, and fellow full-time colleagues in League One Partick Thistle, out of action until at least February, and both sent stinging statements in response to the Scottish Football Association’s decision earlier this week.

Mr Deans and Falkirk, who were vociferous in their calls for reform in the early stages of the national game’s first shutdown, have hammered the ‘unfairness, inconsistency, and double standards on display’ from the decision which he says adds to a ‘disproportionate’ allocation of Scottish Government funding.

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Following on from similar calls he made last year for reform in the game, he has called for change in Scottish football, and quickly.

At today’s scheduled quarterly conference for all 42 SPFL clubs and officials from the SFA and league, questions were raised over the call-off but the Falkirk chairman said: “Unfortunately that meeting did not provide any clearer understanding of the justification for the decision.”

His statement went on: “Our staff have worked incredibly hard to ensure we comply with the varied and numerous pandemic directives and protocols from Scottish Government, the SFA and the SPFL. Quite frankly, our staff and supporters deserve greater respect from Scottish football’s decision makers who threaten their livelihoods and our club with decisions which we believe are ill-thought through and poorly communicated.

“We all recognise the wide-ranging and serious impact that the pandemic has had on every aspect of society and of course we commend and support the efforts of the Scottish Government to safeguard life and to protect the NHS.

“Football has been granted unique concessions which reflect its importance to our national consciousness and we are all aware of recent failures which have brought these concessions into focus.

“Unfortunately, only some clubs (namely those in League One and Two and those outside the SPFL) have been made to carry the can for those failings, whilst those in the upper reaches of the league pyramid have been allowed to continue on top of having been rewarded disproportionately with Scottish Government funding.”

Falkirk fought for league reconstruction having been a point behind League One leaders Raith Rovers, with a vastly superior goal difference, at the point of shutdown last March – a call which was ultimately unsuccessful and now leaves the Bairns, and their counterparts at Firhill out of action for the foreseeable future.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell admitted earlier this week he did not know when football would return for the lower leagues.

Mr Deans added: “ Some decisions, such as those to stop us playing and training while allowing other part-time clubs to continue are baffling.

“Many of you will feel you have heard this record before, but the continued inability of our sport’s most senior decision makers to take decisions that seek to safeguard the future of all of Scotland’s clubs continues to baffle but not surprise.

"We have called for change and we are ready to play a leading role in the much-needed reform that our national game requires. Change is required and urgently.”

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