Supporters have made their voices heard.
The announcement of the prospective European Super League (ESL) has achieved the seemingly impossible in the disharmonious world of football discourse: near uniformed agreement.
Fans, increasingly seen as faceless consumers (not helped by their absence from stadiums for the last year), immediately rebelled as the avaricious plans of the breakaway 12 – including Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal from England — were outlined.
It’s not right. Football should be about performances on the pitch, not just the size of the club and how to make more money. It’s no surprise to see fans come together against it; I’m not sure what those clubs expected.
Online seethe, protests and a renewed sense of community pride were the response.
The latter was particularly visible in Scotland, with the impromptu avalanche of ‘This is Football’ posts on Twitter — sparked by an inspirational SPFL video — providing a stirring reminder of the relationship between punters and their local clubs.
That's not football.
— SPFL (@spfl) April 19, 2021
How wonderful it will be, then, if the crescendo of the Scottish domestic campaign is played out in front of supporters.
It was reported last week that plans are being discussed to allow 2,000 spectators into both legs of the Premiership play-off final, which Raith Rovers — currently in second spot in the Championship — hope to be a part of.
“It would be an awesome feeling to see fans back in stadiums before the end of the season, there’s no doubt,” Rovers boss John McGlynn told the Courier. “Everyone wants the fans back and they are desperate to come back so, if that can happen, then it is a win-win.
“If you are in the situation that we are in — with the potential of some success — then you want to share those moments with supporters. In sporting events across the world, we need them back. It can’t come quickly enough.
“For us to have this type of season, punching above our weight and with some big results, and not have the fans here to witness the performances, has been tough.
“I know they have been with us all the way, either on TV or Raith TV, but I’m sure they’d be the first to admit it’s not the same. It’s no substitute for the real thing.”
On the topic of the ESL, which media reports on Tuesday morning suggested was already on shaky ground, McGlynn is withering.
“You can’t do away with the competitive aspect of football, with regards to promotion and relegation,” he continued. “Even in the context of Scotland, that would rob a club like Raith Rovers of the chance to climb the ladder and achieve success.
“What about a West Ham or a Leicester looking to get into the Champions League?
“It’s not right. Football should be about performances on the pitch, not just the size of the club and how to make more money. It’s no surprise to see fans come together against it; I’m not sure what those clubs expected.”
On the topic of felling comparative Goliaths, McGlynn has asserted that Rovers’ onerous final Championship fixtures are actually ideal for the Fifers as they seek to carry momentum into the playoffs.
Raith travel to Dens Park on Saturday before a Friday night finale at home to Hearts the following week.
“They are really good games for us to have,” he added. “There is no room for dropping off and it keeps your intensity high. We’ll need to upset the odds again, but I’ve got all the faith, trust and confidence in the players that they can do that — because they have done it so often.”
McGlynn, meanwhile, is hopeful that defender Kieran MacDonald may be fit to face the Dee, somewhat assuaging the injury crisis which saw Dan Armstrong — a mercurial, creative forward — deployed at left-back in last weekend’s 2-1 victory at Alloa.
“We had run out of options,” he added. “We simply had no-one else who could play left-back. Fair play to Dan. He didn’t make an issue of it. He just got himself in there and did a good job for us.”