Just when you think Scottish Football is improving, things hit a brick wall and it all comes crumbling down; only this time all the kings horses and all the kings men won't be able to put Scottish Football back together again.
Like GULLIVER, Scottish Football is tied down, not with little people but with administration, bureaucrats and self preserving club chairmen.
You would think it's quite easy to solve the issues that hold back the progress of our sides but in a time when the majority of the football supporters in the country openly voice their opinion on a 14/16/18 team top tier, it appears the fans knowledge and wishes for the game falls on deaf ears in the corridors of power.
In order to help our top sides perform better in the qualifying sections of European competitions this season, the SPL started the season early to help these sides get match fit in time for the all important money spinning matches.
They couldn't have got it more wrong!
This early start failed to help any of the sides and the lack of positives that could be taken from all the matches that involved Scottish sides is nothing short of embarrassing but where do we go from here?
The SPL needs to be expanded, pure and simple to help competition within our country and that's where it needs to start. This notion we have of being a major footballing powerhouse is extraordinary and a little bewildering as we have failed to do anything major in Europe at club level since the heady days of Aberdeen and Dundee United in the early '80s. This history is great but that's where it should stay; in the past.
For us as a nation to move forward we have to look to the youth-plan for the future before it's too late to turn back. We have some excellent youth setups in the country and some fantastic training complexes around the towns and cities in Scotland. So why are we not seeing progress?
The problem lies with the pressure of surviving in a 10-team top division. With one team being relegated every season, the managers have a must win scenario every single week irrespective of the performance. They are forced to bring in veteran players who have the experience of playing at this level-the flip side of this for youth is that there is very little space left in the squad for the future star players to show what they are capable of.
Politicians and the footballing powers of Scotland have put together countless 'think tanks,' gathering information, visiting clubs, talking to chairmen to find what the problems are and how to resolve them.
I'll tell you what the problems are, it's these think tanks that are put together, they are a waste of time, effort and money, all things that could be spent on solving and helping move the coaching, development and training of young players forward in the right direction.
People constantly call for a change in grass roots football but there is already a huge youth setup at most senior clubs throughout the country. All of these youth teams play under the SFL & SFA guidelines which operates a coaching and development policy which puts more emphasis on the coaching and development of the players as opposed to a results driven mindset.
Younger players are also playing 7v7 on smaller pitches, which befits the age groups and size of players. This is much more attuned to the European coaching setups that have been in place for many years;we may be relatively late with these setups but we have them in place now and we have to learn to adapt to changing formats to allow progression within the game.
If you ask any 40-year-old that's involved with one of the SFL youth setups in the country, they will tell you that what's available to the young players now is like night and day to what they had available to them when they were the same age.
We trained on the local playing field come wind, rain or shine. The kids now have three or four G pitches to train on all year round. We had the magic sponge, they have fully trained professionals catering to their every strained muscle, sports scientists, dietitians and physios on hand at every outing.
The youth set up may need some fine tuning but that isn't the problem, the players are being produced, they just aren't getting the opportunities to play at their desired level, which goes back to the pressure placed upon managers to succeed. Untried youth players are classed as being too risky a proposition to throw in at the deep end but in most cases they excel when called upon. But more often than not they are then demoted back to the reserves or under 19s when things go badly for them or the team.
In light of the early season European departures by our clubs, an emergency meeting should have been called for all the leading figures within Scottish football that run the clubs to change the set up of playing staff for the remainder of the season.
A minimum of five under 23 players should have been implemented in the team's playing squad for match days to help bring through young players. If every team was to implement this immediately, every team would be in the same boat, no one loses from this and the up point from this is the term of time we would have to run with this.
A full year to play in this manner can only reap benefits for the whole country and with no European competition to participate in, the so called larger teams that would normally play in Europe at this time would be under no pressure from this rule change.
It will be interesting to see how or if any changes are made over the coming weeks to help with the shortcomings of our European exploits but if past committees are anything to go by, instead of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' we'll probably have 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,' instead.
Marc Roseblade is a Contributor for Bleacher Report as well as Not Just Scottish Football and youth development reporter for Ayr United Football Academy. All quotes are obtained first-hand unless otherwise stated.
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