The Demise of Scottish Football

By Cameron Crawford

Scottish football has suffered as of late, with one of their biggest clubs still healing the wounds of liquidation. The national side has not reached a World Cup finals since 1998 and Celtic have not progressed further than the Champions League group stage since the 2012/13 season – where they lost to Juventus in the round of 16.

The fall Rangers suffered in 2012 inflicted damage on Scottish football as the Old Firm was only possible in cup competitions. With 541,000 people tuning in to Sky Sports for the Old Firm in the 2017/18 season, it proves that this game is the main event in Scotland. It not only brings in revenue for the clubs, but also brings in audiences from outside Scotland. Without the Glasgow giants going head-to-head four times a year in the league, the most attractive domestic game is taken away.

However, the main issue revolves around the production of home-grown talent, which is reflected in the national team performances. Scotland have not been to a World Cup finals since 1998 and have failed to get into the European Championship finals since 1996. Not only have they been poor in qualification for major tournaments, there is a lack of significant Scottish players enjoying success away from Scotland. Notable mentions are defender Andy Robertson, who has played in a Champions League final with Liverpool and is a key figure in Jurgen Klopp’s side, along with Kieran Tierney starring for Celtic and gaining interest from Manchester United.

If you look at the 1998 World Cup squad, the majority of players played in England. Two big names that come to mind are Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness. Dalglish played for Celtic 204 times scoring 112 goals. In 1977, he went on to join European giants Liverpool. During his time in Merseyside, Dalglish made 355 appearances, registering 118 goals. For Scotland he was awarded an impressive 102 caps – where he scored 30 goals. With a forward of this calibre Scotland already had a better chance of success on a worldwide scale, but with Leigh Griffiths now the first-choice forward for the country, they struggle to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Spain, Germany and fellow British nations. The players now are not seen as world class, they are good in Scotland, with Robertson and Southampton midfielder Stuart Armstrong among the few to do well in England.

Souness was an integral member of the Scotland squad. The former Liverpool midfielder played for The Reds 247 times scoring 38 goals. Souness also had stints with Middlesbrough, West Adelaide, Sampdoria and Rangers. The Edinburgh-born pundit earned 54 caps for Scotland, ending his national career with four goals. Clearly, this is a problem in the modern day. Scotland simply are not producing those top-quality players on a regular basis.

Without a strong, successful and ambitious national team, the interest in the country and domestic football drops. Opportunities to put yourself on the map are thrown away. Therefore Scotland must begin to invest in youth and create a foundation for the Scottish clubs which will enable the national team to succeed, and allow Scottish footballers to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Dalglish and Robertson.

Edited by Ben Knapton

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