Scotland’s most recent endeavor in a major tournament was twenty years ago. Similarly to what’s since followed, it proved underwhelming. The lack of progression by the Scottish National Team since is concerning and the blame lies with it’s governing body. The Scottish FA.
A detailed look into the SFA’s efforts to rectify the nation’s failings in recent years does little but dishearten. The evidence is damning.
Coaching in Scotland is undoubtedly an issue and recent managerial appointments such as Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan only personify the underlying issues.
‘The UEFA A Licence is a coaching licence mandated by UEFA, the official governing body of European football. The licence is one level below the UEFA Pro Licence and allows holders to be head coaches of youth teams up to age 18, reserve teams for top-flight clubs and men’s professional second-tier clubs.’
In short, the UEFA ‘A’ Licence is integral in order to become a manager / coach. In Scotland, the cost of obtaining this license solely is £2,740 comparatively to an estimated cost of £700 in Germany and £1,000 in Spain.
If a Scottish coach took the conventional route to earn their coaching badges, following the main (youth/adult) coaching pathway, upon completing the UEFA ‘A’ Licence they’d accumulate at least £5,257 worth of debt.
It’s unrealistic to expect an influx of successful Scottish coaches when the progression is so inaccessible.
Similar issues have arisen in terms of player development. The SFA’s dismal attempt at youth development, Club Academy Scotland, has done little other than cause further issues.
It was founded upon unrealistic targets that projected a figure of 75% of Scottish Premiership players would be of Scottish nationality by this point, a target way off the mark. In fact, that statistic currently shows as a mere 45%.
It’s these unrealistic targets that are harming youth development. Overestimations of the talent pool available to a nation of Scotland’s size and stature have resulted in the programme becoming oversaturated with players. Club Academy Scotland’s capacity for youth players is currently over 3000, spread over 31 pro-youth academies, while a country of Germany’s footballing success, stature and populous accepts it has capacity for merely 500 more.
While failing to cultivate the nations coaches and players, the SFA also continues to fail the countries league structure, Scottish Professional Football League.
An underwhelming TV deal has left Scottish football behind other European leagues in terms of resources. The SPFL has merely the 18th best TV deal in Europe, £18.75 million, and is paid insufficiently in comparison to other leagues. Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and Poland to name a few have healthier TV deals, while Norway and Greece’s deals eclipse the total granted to the SPFL. SPFL’s joint deal with Sky Sports and BT Sport clearly isn’t as financially beneficial for the league as it should be.
Amidst the current speculation that Sky Sports and BT Sport are battling it out for the acclaimed SPFL TV rights, it’s important the correct broadcaster is selected. While Sky Sports are rumoured to be offering a greater sum of money, an estimated £40 million, BT Sport’s refined and refreshing approach to presenting the SPFL leads many to believe that they should be the sole broadcaster of the Scottish game.
It’s not like a country of Scotland’s standing shouldn’t be able to compete on the international front. Scotland’s populous of over 5 million eclipses that of successful footballing nations, such as the 4 million inhabitants of World Cup ‘18 finalists Croatia or the infamous Iceland, with a populous of little over 300,000. Even the home nations have improved in recent international tournaments. Scotland were the only home nation who failed to qualify for the most recent European Championships, while all other home nations progressed through their groups.
It’s reasonable to critique the SFA for it’s recent questionable choices, such as the league cup semi-final stadia issues alongside the Paul Gascoigne hall of fame debacle. Yet it’s the fundamental failings to correctly serve the nations coaches, youth players and league itself that is truly unforgivable.