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Why Scottish Football Is Still in Better Shape Than Wales

Paul MullaneyContributor IIApril 22, 2013

Why Scottish Football Is Still in Better Shape Than Wales

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    With Gareth Bale arguably the most dangerous attacker in the English Premier League, Swansea winning the English League Cup and Cardiff City winning promotion to join them as the Principality's second team in the top flight, things seem to be going rather well for Welsh football.

    Quite a contrast with Scotland.

    Teams in financial turmoil, unrest over proposed league reconstruction, dwindling crowds, and awful performances by the national side (including, notably, two defeats to Wales in the past year)...the list of problems currently facing Scottish football seems endless.

    All the same, it's not really as simple as that. While Welsh football is going through a period of renewed optimism, they still trail Scotland in most areas - and quite possibly always will.

    Here are five reasons why football in Scotland is still in better shape than football in Wales.

Scotland Has a Professional League

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    Swansea have been a massive success since their promotion to the English Premier League a couple of years ago, and Cardiff will look to emulate that as of next season, but the fact remains that there isn't really an awful lot else to football in Wales.

    Their semi-professional domestic league attracts precious little attention, and is dwarfed by the neighbouring presence of the EPL, even more so since Welsh clubs have started to play there.

    In Scotland, we often complain about the lack of coverage our league gets, and about the difficulty of trying to compete with football down south, but the SPL remains the focus, as opposed to a foreign league.

    As long as this is the case, we have at least one reason to be optimistic.

More People Go and Watch Scottish Football

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    Despite the fact that crowds in Scotland are falling, when you look at the numbers of people going to watch football regularly in Wales, there really is no comparison.

    Swansea and Cardiff average crowds of 20,366 and 22,475 respectively, but that really is just about all there is to it.

    As of April 20th, Bangor City sit top of the league in Wales for attendances - with an average of 575 people going to their home games. This is roughly comparable to Brechin City (573), a team from a town of scarcely 7,000 people, currently third in Scotland's Second Division.

    Interest in football might have risen in Wales, but it hasn't had much of an impact on attendance, even taking into account the resurgence of their top two clubs.

Celtic's Success in the Champions League

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    Emerging from the pessimism surrounding Scottish football this season came Celtic's surprising progress from their Champions League group to the Last Sixteen.

    They qualified from a group containing Benfica, Spartak Moscow and Barcelona, beating the Catalan giants in the process, and showed the sort of steps they're making towards rejoining Europe's elite.

    In doing so, they raised the profile of the Scottish game, and reminded those around the continent that Scottish football is still on the map, if only just.

    Swansea will compete in the Europa League next season, becoming the first professional club from Wales to play in Europe since Cardiff City back in 1993-94, but they'll be representing England.

Scotland Has a Better Group of Players

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    Admittedly, this one is a bit more difficult to argue.

    Wales have beaten Scotland twice in the space of a year, and although the first victory was dismissed as being entirely Bale-inspired, their star player wasn't even on the field as they came back to win 2-1 at Hampden back in March.

    Ignoring this, Scotland still has a stronger pool of players to choose from. Even if we overlook the fact that having a professional league will always mean there'll be more Scottish players available, there are more Scots playing in the EPL, and while this isn't necessarily the most worthwhile or illustrative stat, it is one which is often used in order to demonstrate a country's development in footballing terms.

    Even with Bale, Wales are still a pretty terrible side. Scotland are too though, which makes you wonder if there really is much of an argument to be made here.

Scotland Have Been to the World Cup More Recently

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    If you thought the last slide was scraping the barrel...

    Much has been made of the fact that Scotland haven't qualified for a major tournament since making it to the World Cup in France in 1998, almost 15 years ago now.

    They've made the playoffs since, but have unable to take it that step further.

    For Wales, you have to go even further back for the last time they were at a major tournament - to 1958 to be precise, and the World Cup in Sweden.

    It's not much to cling to, but at least most Scots can remember France '98 - fewer and fewer Welsh fans will be able to recall their Scandinavian exploits from 55 years ago.

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