Fore-sighting Can Become Score-sighting!


Today sees a Guest Article from REBUS67 suggesting a way forward for The Scottish Game. Nothing I can say by way of introduction could properly do it justice-other than to suggest that we need him back over here now!


As we work our way through the Covid-19 crisis spare a thought for those who administer our game. Yes, I know, but someone has to administer the game! Now they are faced with an even more uncertain future as individual clubs struggle with their costs with no appreciable revenue coming in. Whilst both the SFA and the SPFL have to deal with these current problems, the Covid crisis is an opportunity to reshape our game into a more relevant, more competitive format. 

We have already had suggestions of league reconstruction which appears to suggest that there is awareness that change is necessary, even if the motivations of some clubs are self-serving. However, what we do not need is a quickly devised and poorly thought outreconstruction that is designed only for the short term. Planning for the long term is required if we are to see significant improvement in Scottish football. If we are realistic we should not expect to see significant improvements in the next few years. 

Scottish football has been declining at both the national and club levels for quite some time.  There is no quick fix. However, surely a plan can be put in place so that the quality of Scottish football, at both national and league levels can be improved. We only have to look to Belgium to see the positive effects that longterm planning can bring.

In the early 2000’s, Belgium appointed Michel Sablon as Technical Director with the remit to improve Belgian soccer at all levels…a tough order. By 2006 he had developed a vision and a plan that would fundamentally change Belgian football. As a result of Sablon’s plan, Belgium has produced “a golden generation” of footballers, including Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukakua. All of this from a country with a population of only 11m, with just 34 professional clubs competing across two leagues. 

Belgium’s success did not come overnight. It took 10+ years for Sablon’s plan to bear fruit. This is the type of time frame that those that govern Scottish football have to consider. However, how does one plan so far into the future? Strategic plans are normally for 5+ but thinking in terms of 10, 15, even 20 years ahead requires a different approach.

One such approach is called Foresight. It is particularly appropriate in situations where new challenges are posed and the old ways of working may no longer be valid. 

So, what is Foresight? Perhaps it is best to start by indicating what Foresight is not. It is not strategic planning, because it is more long term than that……10+ years as opposed to 5+ years. It is also not forecasting, although it can use forecasts. So, what is it? 

It is a method that:

1. Explores possible futures for the game.

2. Provides descriptions of what these futures will look like.

3. Indicates what we have to do today in order to participate in a desirable future. 

Foresight is not new but it is not used as much as other forms of planning. However, it has been used by many companies, regions and nations to help with the reshaping of economies, innovation and investment policies. 

One country that has benefited from its use is Ireland. In an earlier comment on SentinelCelts I illustrated how it was used to reshape the Irish Economy. To show that I am not a one trick pony, I shall use another example from Ireland. I call it the BMW Foresight study. Nope, it is not what you think!

BMW stands for the Border, Midlands, and the West of Ireland. These are rural areas that felt that they were not getting the same economic benefits as Dublin and surrounding areas.  These regions decided that they needed their own economic plan to promote their brand. They used Foresight to create a vision for the future and a plan to reach that vision. What follows, if you are still reading, is a rough outline of the process…..a process that I believe could be used in Scottish football.

One of the objectives of the BMW project was:• To prepare a commonly agreed development program amongst policy making bodies.

IMHO this is relevant for the Scottish game. The key words here are “commonly agreed”. This is one of the strengths of the Foresight process in that it creates consensus on a way forward……..not always an easy task.

The BMW process took 12 months to complete and it consisted of 4 Expert Panels of volunteers each with a particular focus, e.g. one focused on competitive aspects of the regions, another on aspects of innovation. Each panel met four times over the year.

You will have noticed that the SPFL has recently formed six expert panels to examine the impact of Covid on our game. For example, one panel will deal with necessary changes to regulations, another will deal with supporters’ issues.  So, the League has the resources and the ability to create the expert panels that are required to run a Foresight on the game.

The process is complex but in summary it consisted of identifying the important forces that shaped the BMW regions. The first meeting is presented with these results and discusses them. At the end of the meeting, consultants create scenarios based upon the discussions. Usually, the number of scenarios is limited to 3-4. These scenarios are presented at the second panel meeting and refined by discussion. 

At the third meeting, each scenario is considered separately. The panel is asked to imagine that this scenario represents the future. Participants are then asked to consider what must be done today to take advantage of the future outlined in the scenario. For example, the panel may examine what kind of player development program needs to be put in place. This is repeated for each scenario.

Consultants take these findings and examine them for overlap. For example, no matter which scenario considered, all of themmight indicate that foreign coaches need to be brought in. This would then be regarded as a key component of any player development program. 

The final meeting considers all of the results, looking for overlaps and devises the elements of a plan. It may also discuss which of the scenarios is most desirable. 

In the BMW study here is the main output:

1. A profile was developed for the regions, including what should drive policy.

2. An agreed vision statement was created.

3. Innovation was seen to be dominant, under all scenarios.

4. 10 strategic objectives were developed, with suggestions on how they can be measured.

5. 10 additional priority projects were described to be implemented now.

If we could get even some of that coming out of a Foresight study of our game, we would have a way forward.

I hope that the above has not been too technical. I think the time has passed when we merely call for change. We need to suggest how that change can occur. Our old friend, Machiavelli knew a thing or two about  human nature. Here is one of his quotes which hits the mark:

“Shortsightedness is part of human nature, 

which the wise princes have overcome through the use of foresight — “



Many thanks for this article,REBUS67. It is probably too much to hope that someone in Scottish football has the good sense to even attempt something as ambitious and successful. We live in hope. 

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Am sure we havn’t met Puff Dandelion….but we may live regret it lol


Great read Rebus. Proud of the fact that someone like you, who grew up round the corner from me could write something as good as that. Wish you still lived in Knightswood. Would love a blether over a few pints with you. Did you know our most famous Celtic player neighbour Billy Stark? Great player.


Glad you enjoyed the stuff I used to post on CQN. Did you post on there?



A truly brilliant piece of work,and I’m really grateful to REBUS67 for his efforts on our behalf. It came about from a couple of weeks back when I asked him if he would be interested in expanding on a comment that he had made. The above is the result.

The problem is,of course,that it’s too forward-thinking for the powers-that-be in the game. They have too much to lose from following any of the ideas REBUS67 has outlined-and believe me,I think he will only have scratched the surface here on what really needs to be done. We saw before,with the Henry McLeish report almost twenty years ago that there is little support in the upper echelons for losing their power base.

But the game in Scotland needs to modernise,and to move into the 21st Century. It might make a start by fast-forwarding through the 20th Century,cos I think they kinda missed that one!


Good morning all from Govanhill. Life is a carnival.


I have read it twice now, and it excites me more on second read. We need ideas and this type of thinking to progress our game. The French, Germans, Belgians and even Icelandic football federations are years ahead of us. We have no foresight whatsoever. All we have in Scotland is the Old Firm then the make up the numbers teams. I am fed up with that, as are many others. The most exciting time in Scottish football in my memory was the 80s, when Aberdeen, Dundee United, Hearts, Rangers and Celtic started the season all in hope of competing for the 3 prizes. I hate the duopoly, especially since the second horse in the race is that rotten mob of a tribute act. No fun.

Fairhill bhoy

Good morning all


What I would give to share a few pints of Guinness again with you in Stanley Bar Kinning Park. Then a kebab in Istanbul before late buses home. Little did we know that they were precious times in our Celtic supporting lives. This Clampdown is doing my nut in J.



No word of a lie,I’ve read it about six times all told,and the more you read it,the clearer the opportunities that it describes. I’m glad REBUS67 dumbed it down enough that I might eventually grasp enough of it,because I suspect that if it was an official representation it would be about twenty times as long,wi a lot of big words!

And I’m only half-kidding,btw. The game has to take seriously suggestions of this nature or it will soon cough its last. COVID-19 has only served to crystallise the issue,it has been a steady spiral downwards since about the mid-80s. And they were but a pale imitation of the heady years beforehand.

I remember about fifty years ago reading the report on Scotland v Denmark. We had won 1-0,I think John O’Hare scored it. My papa,who would have been about 78 at the time,was none too complimentary. Should be taking ten off teams like that,countries that know nothing about football.

And he was right! In fact,I think the Danes were still amateurs at that time. But they were eager to learn,and they and a good few others whizzed past us while we were still fighting battles from the 17th Century,and picking our sides accordingly.

Scotland gave the game to the world,and taught them everything we knew. We have learned nothing since,and they’ve learned plenty. As always in such as situation,you search for the common denominator. And it occupies offices at Hampden Park.



Howdy,mucker. Big weekend planned?



Up early! You got a homer or summat?


Still prefer Frank Zappa to Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead, but would love the opportunity to debate with you again on that score ??


You know my son Ryan who was 27 last week. He had just turned 5 the last time his country was in a World Cup tournament. He is a proud Scot who wishes to see his country compete in a tournament. At this rate, he will never see it happen in his lifetime. He thinks the domestic game in Scotland is boring. He loves Celtic but many of his mates are chucking Scottish football due to boredom. These are mates who once were season ticket holders at Celtic with their dads. I understand why it is happening, but I don’t think those at SFA, SPFL level do. We are about to lose a generation of fitba fans. What are we doing about it?



Putting the prices up and criminalising the younger fans! It’s the way forward,I tell ya!

Got time for a quick chat?


Garry, Mick. Dropping missus to work then shopping for Mum then Dad. My cup runneth over. ?

Twists and Turns

Fantastic article.

Developing the up and coming talent was being discussed earlier in the week on this forum. Player development should be the foundation for the future. It’s on the decline, and has been for some considerable time.

The German model is another example of what can be done when the correct amount of focus is applied and everyone is pulling in the same direction.

As I read Rebus’ fine article I was taken back to something I read a year or so ago re German football, so I went to look for it. It appeared in the publication “ these football times” and was penned by Alex Clapham.Brilliant article which I’ll link a bit later. I’ll leave it until Rebus’ article gets the full attention it deserves.

The bones of the article though are about what the German FA, and clubs did to improve their game.

The German FA and clubs spend almost €100m per annum on youth football. They have over 50 centres of excellence.

When Bertie Vogts ( remember him?) was the German national team coach he complained about the lack of talent coming through the German ranks. Youngsters were being passed over. They decided to address it.

They set out to make sure if there was a single youngster with talent , located in even the remotest part of Germany they would find him.

They introduced their talent promotion programme. That was in 2002

I’d like to cut and paste one excerpt only at this point:

“ Fast forward 12 years and millions of Germans gleefully leapt for joy as Mario Götze crashed home an angled volley in the 113th minute of the 2014 World Cup final, however, none jumped quite as high as a man named Christian Guttler. The Berlin-born technician has invented numerous gadgets and devices in hope of offering individuals the one percent advantage over opponents that they desire.

The ‘Footbonaut’ was thrust into creation and pitched to clubs around the country and staff at Borussia Dortmund fell head over heels for the machine that fires balls into the expectant trainee in the middle of the cage whilst lighting up one of 64 panels in which the player must pass the ball into having taken a touch to control. BVB are said to have spent close to the €3m mark on the spaceship-like machinery that gives players the ultimate test of reaction, innovation and of course technique.

The way in which the Dortmund academy graduate collected the ball on his chest before firing past a despairing Sergio Romero in the Argentine goal to award Die Mannschaft their fourth World Cup victory was a great testament to the fine piece of machinery as he adjusted his frame before rocking with the drop of the ball and picking out the far corner, a technique that the Bavarian practiced daily in the “football cage” when in Westphalia.”

As I say, more later.

The above section though I feel serves to support the premise of Rebus’ article in that we need to plan.


A fabulous read, clearly you put a lot of hard work, into it
In a world of “short termism” it’s lovely to see that someone is thinking of the future.
I hope you are coping well after your recent loss.
Stay safe.

Fairhill bhoy

Rebus-good article.Have read it a few times now and still a bit complex for this ejit ?
I honestly think all chairmen/clubs only look far enough into the future season fixtures hoping they get 2 visits each from us and them.The rest hope they get a cup draw and a day out in Glasgow.Thats all that will ever matter to most of them.
BMCUWP-what’s a homer ?Got up at 5 read back last night and fell asleep again on the couch.Its going to be a long day?

Fairhill bhoy

Garry -hi buddy enjoyed the stories of Leeds.My big cousin Alfie was down there early 80’s .
Starry plough grew up with him when they were all daftys ?
If anyone else has cars getting washed like the one McCaff put up,please feel free to share ?

A thing of beauty

Fantastic article rebus. I hope some people of influence have the opportunity to read it and can take it forward for the good of our game.
To my mind we will never have a better chance to change the game in this country. It is a ludicrous situation where we have 40 professional clubs in a country of 5m. Way too many and gives far too many people a living from something they’re clearly not very good at. It’s time for it to be whittled down to 30 max, two leagues and promotion for clubs who can show a a level of professionalism that show cases our game. That means no plastic pitches and no decrepit grounds. People are panicking that Lots of clubs are going to be lost through corona. I prefer to see it as them finding their level, which is in the juniors.
I would also consider a situation where no youth footballer can travel more than 30 miles to train with a club. That would level out the young players and stop clubs stock piling youngsters when they know so few of them are of the standard. I know there are flaws in that but it is also what brought about the level playing field of the game right up till I would say the 90s. Most players trained with their local teams and played first team there before moving on, giving their club a transfer fee but also giving the player a proper grounding in the game.
I will not go on to my pet hate of how we select youth in this country now but suffice to say that if Gordon Strachan was trying to make it now he’d have no chance, none at all. We need to get away from promoting boys who can kick it the furthest and love a tackle. It’s shite and is denying us skilful players who take you to the next level and make it the game we love.
And to quote a well missed poster from here – sort the refs, sort the game. We need to get on to the same page as the rest of the world and ref our games accordingly. Allowing cart horses to make a living kicking skilful players is criminal. It’s not ok to say ah but he got there as quick as he could, aye but he was only holding one arm, it wasn’t two footed so it’s not a sending off. All that talk is what holds our game back. I hold Walter Smith responsible for a lot of this. He built the physical hun teams of the 90s and made sure the refs were on side. It’s no coincidence our game has gone down the toilet since.
Honestly this is a fantastic opportunity to change our game and for it to be missed will be a national tragedy. In 10 years time we have the opportunity to be seeing the fruits of ten years of proper foresight or we can look forward to more of the same. Time to grasp the nettle.


Morning All.

I was listening to BBC news this morning and had to smirk as the female correspondent highlighted the safety measures being put in place for the Bundesliga re-start.

She explained that in Frankfurt they’ll be disinfecting their balls at half time. ?

Cue Awe Naw liberally applying the Clorox as hes getting a refill from the fridge…


Sorry to hav woken you Mick…appreciate the chat..thank you?




Happy Monday’s-Step On ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?


Great article .
Unfortunately the tribalism in Scotland would make a consensus on the way forward almost impossible.
The recent shenanigans in Scottish football were not about the good of the game.They were a typical exercise in self interest.
Best chance would be by many clubs going out of business due to financial implications and a sobering reality hits the remainder even those drunk on their own self importance.
Though cruel especially for the supporters of those teams realism is needed if Scottish football wants to stop its terminal decline.
Having a bunch of Scotsmen around a table reaching a positive consensus would be a challenge even Solomon would struggle with.

Many years ago in London i went to a dinner party at a fellow Scot’s house.
There was about 12 people mostly all Scots.
I was with an American girl.
When we left she said to me you guys all really hate each other?
I asked what makes you think that?
She says all you guys did the entire evening was argue and at times it got really nasty.
I told her no we all like each other but in true Scottish tradition we can’t agree on many things.
Reading a few Celtic blog’s tends to confirm such.


I am just up. It is 8.00am here and that was a nice surprise to read while still crusty-eyed!

Thank you for the nice responses. Foresight has its origins in the Military where it was important to consider different scenarios and decide how to respond to them. Since then it has exploded(excuse the cheap pun!) in its use. Countries have used it, particularly, Ireland. In fact, one of the conditions of entry to the EU is that a country complete a foresight study of its economy.

When I first came across it, I had my doubts about it, to be honest. But seeing it in action in Ireland convinced me that it had a future!

Now, where is my coffee!



A fan.?



I take your point. It would be a challenge. However, you could say the same about the Irish and yet it has been used successfully there. One study I came across involved looking at how flexible time could be used in the civil service…..working from home etc. We could certainly be doing with some advice on that at the moment.

There are many factors that build consensus. iMHO, facing a crisis is an important one. Scottish football is certainly facing one now.

However, you are correct, it would be a challenge, and something that needs to be discussed up front.



Now Now Hoopy….




Yes, I am a Knightswood boy. I spent a lot of time down at the park trying to chase girls! No thoughts of the future then, only the moment!

I played football on the Temple pitches and still carry some of them in my knees.

I was back in Scotland in early to mid March to say goodbye to a brother, who I love and miss dearly. I considered buying his house and moving back there, but it would be a mistake for me. Too much has changed as I have. However, once the restrictions lift I intend coming back to Glasgow and I shall take you up on the pint!



Rebus a fine articulated article, we all know for it to happen that the top tier have to agree to relinquish at least something, which will be very hard for them to do, unless they can be convinced of the greater outcome for professional and national football.

I recall many years ago, going on tour with an amateur football team to Holland. The hosts were PSV Eindhoven, and from the minute we landed in Amsterdam, until reaching our digs, which were a University complex in Eindhoven, even travelling to our games, meals, training complex, the attention to detail of the organisers PSV was absolutely incredible. In contrast we were a young team with more interest in how drunk we could get, what duty free goods we could get, how the girls looked dressed in the shop windows.

I know the above is only a very small part of an understanding of foresight, and it is merely a personal example i encountered of how organised the dutch were, even way back then, they were absolutely miles ahead of us in their organisational skills, if memory serves me right, I don’t think we won a game in that tournament, and we were not too bad a side, and i put that down to their organisation, training, tactics, and their knowledge, rather than their being better players.

The current crisis, I agree should be the perfect time for some careful planning, a sense of togetherness and most of all some foresight. Thanks for the article glad to see you back. ?

I’d also like to point out that ATOB response at 11:43 am, is one of the most insightful I have read in my time here, well said.



Thanks for posting this. However, if it took six reads before it became clear, then I have failed to communicate! Just joking!

I am not sure many blogs would have posted it, so power to you and Mahe.

Here in Canada, the feds started a small unit to offer foresight studies for particular industries. It worked well for some and, in my humble opinion, not in others. It was under funded and relied on the efforts of one person. If we can find support from some within the football hierarchy then it could fly.


The Gombeen Man


Good to see you back. This morning’s article is another strong one in a very good week for articles on the blog.
Wishing all the best to all the posters who are on sabbatical.

Just a couple of thoughts,

Ireland endured An Gotra Mor, The Fenian Rising, 1916, The War of Independence, The Civil War and religious totalitarianism before many of the embedded rivalries began to be gradually eroded.

That’s still an ongoing process. But that erosion of historic division allowed space for creativity to nurture. It was/is a painful process but Ireland is a young, confident place.

To me football in Scotland is organised in a modern day Clan like basis. Almost with the Campbell’s at Ibrox with their followers at provincial clubs.
The MacDonald’s are at Celtic Park and dominate the scene. That dominance has been hard earned and but for the cheating at Ibrox, with the acquiesce of administrators Celtic would be celebrating 20+ in a Row.

Celtic have successfully benefitted from years of struggle and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Irish people.
The years of entitlement and privilege and subsequent failure has left much of Ibrox in a desolate, resentful place.

Until there develops a commonality of purpose beyond the antiquated clan based structure we are condemned to a perpetual cycle of animosity and lack of foresight.

Why would Celtic PLC want to change that? Why would the majority of the support want to sacrifice dominance?

Sevco have signalled they are tired of the status quo.

Does that mean an awakening or a craving for a return to the good old days of yore?

Personally I’ve very little enthusiasm for the national game in Scotland. Many Celtic supporters share that view. I’m not sure that Sevco supporters even support Scotland?

There needs to be a way of highlighting the shared frustrations across Scotland and starting at a fundamental level.

The problem is that the current situation suits vested interests very well. In the 26 Counties the ongoing and painful recovery only began when a way was found to break the corrosive attachments of the past.

The coverage by the media in relation to current events in contrast to 2012, gives us an idea of what we are up against.


Borussia Dortmund v Shalke Live on BT Sports ⚽??


FAN-A-TIC. 112

It’s one of our favourite social pastimes,mate. Violently agreeing with each other!



My pleasure,mate. Thoroughly enjoyed our chat.





(Giggles like a wee child…)


The Gombeen Man
The clan analogy is fairly accurate.
Those in the position’s of power do not want change.
One club whose supremacy was built on cheating and corruption have a desire to return to such ways.
The others are scraping around for whatever they can get and toppling the top dog would be their best chance.
Celtic as you say are the top dog and it was well earned through the persistence and defiance of our forefathers.
But does being the captain of a sinking ship bode well for the future?
It’s a conundrum but real and honest change would see our dominance eroded to some degree.


Is that nasty Nick Cotton reffing the Dortmund game? ?




The further reading was only because it fascinated me more every time,the possibilities it throws up and the surefire knowledge that vested interests will never put the future of the game against their own wee sinecures. I referred to the McLeish report earlier,and I still view that too as a wasted opportunity. Doubtless it was far from perfect,but to discard it completely shows what we are up against in any attempt to move the game forward.

Look at the example from ASWGL above re Netherlands,or mine earlier about Denmark,which was still amateur fifty years ago. Or any number of countries outside of Europe and South America. They have motored forward,and we haven’t even managed to stand still. Our only nod to the future,as something that wouldn’t have been considered in the 70,is undersoil heating and seated facilities.

And when those seated facilities are on three sides only of the ground and face onto a bloody carpet,it’s difficult to call that a step in the right direction. The game is crying out for change but the only people who can effect that change aren’t interested-because they’re alright with their blazers and expense accounts as they wait their turn for the Hampden gravy train.

bada bing1

‘Dortmund are in good form….’

Steve McManaman…

Not missed this bellend….


Dortmund-Schalke has the feeling of a training session.
Ref is taking social distancing very seriously as any time a player approaches him he firmly tells them to GTF.


Dortmund score a good goal.
And the celebration was funny .
Was like a dance in a sparsely populated disco with everyone far apart.

A thing of beauty

Thanks for the compliment. I am very passionate about football, not just Celtic and how far our game has fallen is a national scandal. It’s because people in power don’t want to give it up even though they are clueless as to how they should use it. As we speak of often, the sfa is a mirror image of an Ayrshire bowling club committee.
I would be happy to give up total dominance to see our game flourish. When I started going to games in the 80’s there were some cracking teams and games were always competitive, with no little skill. I’ll take those days again. Of course I want celtic to win but I want there to be competition too. It helps improve us. Look at the 80’s. Aberdeen won the cup winners cup, we may have won it but for rapid cheating and Dundee Utd were in a semi final of the European cup (I think). That’s because our league was strong and our players could play football. Not hoofball that is so prevalent today.
I like that our club is cosmopolitan but I’d also be very happy to go back to the days where the first team was populated with great Scottish talent ala Burns, McStay, Nicholas, McGrain to make a few.
Let’s use this opportunity to get the national game back to the level it should be,


I agree with you that for a more purposeful set up with better competition the price for us would be less trophies. Once we achieve the ten I’ll be happy to accept more clubs competing for available silverware! 😉 (tongue only slightly in cheek there!!) Re hoofing the ball I’ve stayed back after my wee fella’s team training sessions to watch a couple of lower league friendlies. I won’t name names to protect the guilty but the standard is garbage!! The teams are super fit but on a high school astro the ball was in the air 90% of the time. No wonder the guys are superfit all they’re doing is running. It reminds me of playing Sunday League doon the 50 pitches the centre hauf would punt the baw the length of the pitch expecting you to take a touch as it bounced 20 feet in the air before the wind carried it 15 yards away from ye!! FFS that was over 30 years ago and how much change has there really been!!


Sportsound has been on for 90 mins and not one mention of the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ or the call for an investigation into the SPFL. Discussion now about how Celtic should share its money with the rest of Scottish clubs.

A thing of beauty

Celtic in talks with police at the moment about how to keep fans away from the stadium on Monday when we win 9 in a row.
The players are doing videos etc and I assume these will be free to view on Celtic TV. Let’s hope everyone is sensible and don’t go to the stadium but in all honesty lockdown fatigue has set in and it’s a bit of a worry. Right back to the bundesliga. Mon the Wolfsburg

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