Scotland can take heart from Australia’s transformation
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As the Socceroos prepare to meet Scotland in the early hours of Thursday morning, it will be one of the few times in recent months where events off the pitch will take a back seat to the action on it after a very eventful off-season.
Whilst an A-League club has bitten the dust and another has been hastily added, it pales in comparison to events in the Scottish Premier League.
The SPL’s most successful club, Rangers, have been forced into liquidation and start this season in the country’s fourth tier and the debate on the merits of their punishment is unlikely to stop any time soon.
It is a vastly different football landscape than the one I expected when I moved to Scotland just over 12 months ago.
For years, Australian football fans could only dream of having a competition anywhere near the standard of the SPL. Now, many in Scotland, are predicting the slow death of the professional game in the country.
I am not one of them. The game is in need of reform in Scotland, but it still has the most important commodity inherent in a huge amount of the population – love of the game.
Within days of moving here, the passion for the game was obvious.
I would drive to matches for my old team Arbroath past countless people decked out in full-kits on their way to watch their team’s match; message boards were all over the net devoted to teams I had never heard of, with countless posts about them; the papers were packed with football; and every radio station seemed to only talk about the sport.
To witness this passion for the game and then see the trouble that the SPL finds itself in is difficult to comprehend for someone from a country where we still dream of football evoking such devotion.
How can it not be thriving?
The answer is simply that too many wrong decisions have been made, whether it be overspending or not moving with the times.
The good news is that this can all change. Just take a look at the transformation football has undertaken in Australia in just seven seasons of the A-League.
For years, the sport had limped along on life support in a state much worse than the one the SPL finds itself in now. With bold change and reform, the game can once again thrive in Scotland.
Many predicted that the game would never flourish in Australia.
Thankfully, they are being proved wrong. Many have predicted the death of the game in Scotland, but if I know one thing about the sport it is that it is enduring.
Scotland may never reach its previous heights due to financial restrictions, but this does not mean the game is failing.
Not everything can be measured in monetary terms.
The future will be a different one for the Scots, but just as Australian football needed to change, so too does the Scottish game.
Thankfully, the sport can count on more than its fair share of passionate supporters.
Follow me on Twitter @beaubusch
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