Friday 26 April 2013

Morton vs Accies Sat 27th April 2013

The penultimate match of the season takes Accies to Greenock for a league game against Morton. A few months ago this looked like it could have been a massive game for both sides. At the time Morton's title challenge was strong while Accies were perilously close to the relegation play-off battle. As it happens, it might now be viewed by some as a meaningless end of season game. However, Morton still have their pride to play for and Accies can still finish in 3rd place.

Last week saw the team's 5th victory in what has been a fantastic April for the fans, players & new management team. The big question is can they round off the month with yet another win on Saturday? The confidence levels are certainly high and the players all look relaxed and incredibly fresh. In addition our record against Morton recently has been excellent.

Morton on the other hand will surely find it difficult to get motivated for this one. The disappointment of losing the league is bound to have had an impact on their players - will it be a negative or positive impact?

Looking to the Accies team, it's hard to imagine that there will be many changes from last week's squad. Louis Longridge must be pushing strongly for a start after impressive perfomances as a substitute in the last 2 games. I also wonder if the manager might be tempted to give a couple of the younger players an opportunity?

Thursday 25 April 2013

Accies women back to business

Accies women have had a busy start to the season so far having already played 3 league games with mixed results. An opening day 2-2 draw with Forfar Farmington, a 7-0 demolition job on Falkirk Ladies and a 5-2 defeat to Rangers sees Kevin Murphy's side go into this weekend's league game with 4 points on the board.

Sunday will see Accies return to the John Cumming Stadium in Carluke where they will host a talented Aberdeen side. The premier team are looking to pick up there second victory of the season as they try to build on their relatively decent start to the SWPL however there will be one noticeable absentee in the Hamilton lineup with Helen 'Dibsy' Tempelton having suffered a broken leg during an Accies development team game on Tuesday night at Glasgow Green. 

She now finds herself on the sidelines for the remainder of the season. It's a devastating blow for the team but the dedication of the player and the club will be second to none on the long road to recovery. 

If you are looking for a game to watch on Sunday come along to the John Cumming stadium for a 2.15 pm kick off where you will be treated to a high intensity match between two talented and committed sides. Look out for Helen 'Dibsy' Tempelton's weekly column  in the Daily Record online, where she details the life and times of a professional female footballer in Scotland. 

Friday 19 April 2013

Accies vs Raith Rovers - Sat 20th April 2013

Next up for Accies is a home match against our closest rivals in the league Raith Rovers. The remarkable month of April will see Accies ultimately play 7 league games. So far it's been going pretty well - with 4 wins and 1 draw under the belt and 13 goals scored and 3 clean sheets in the process. The winning streak was halted on Tuesday night at Livingston with a slightly disappointing 0-0 draw, however there is a confidence in the team at the moment that can hopefully see them get back to winning ways on Saturday.

Our opponents Raith Rovers also come into the match on the back of a 0-0 draw at Firhill where, according to media reports, a fine performance from them delayed the league championship winning party for Partick Thistle. They've had a very respectable season under the leadership of their promising young manager Grant Murray. With only 3 games remaining I'm certain they'll be looking for a victory in order to give them a chance to overtake Accies and secure a 5th place finish.

Accies will still be without the suspended Page while Ryan is now free from his suspension. Hendrie and Longridge both made claims for a starting place with fine substitute performances at Livingston. Given that this will be the 6th game in 18 days for the players it might be appropriate to bring in some fresher legs. 

Wednesday 17 April 2013

League restructuring?

If league reconstruction is the answer, it must have been a pretty daft question.

Scottish football has been thrown into disarray by the SPL decision the day before yesterday to reject the latest proposals for league reconstruction. The SPL voted 10-2 in favour, but their rules require a majority of 11-1, so the proposals fall, before they have even been tested by the requirement for 75% of SFL clubs also voting for them.

If the reactions to this seem disproportionate – anger shown to the dissenting clubs, St Mirren and Ross County, and Aberdeen Chairman Stewart Milne looking close to tears when interviewed on television after the vote – so too were the warnings issued before it.  We were told that the package of proposals was not negotiable or divisible, that there was and could be no ‘Plan B’, meaning failure of the proposals meant reverting to the status quo, and that restructuring had to be voted through for the end of this season – it couldn’t wait for a season (which would be normal practice) to allow everyone to consider the detail and get used to the idea.

So what’s all the fuss about?

To external observers the restructuring proposals seem bizarre.  Three divisions of 12, 12 and 18, with the top two divisions splitting into three divisions of 8 each (with the points tally wiped clean) after 22 games.  It seems contrived, but it’s a copy of a model that’s been tried elsewhere (Switzerland) and abandoned for not working. The details are so bizarre that they invite the suggestion they are designed to distract attention from the details that really matter.

I think this is about money. And I don’t mean the extra payments being redistributed below the top flight, important though that is to clubs like Accies. I don’t believe that’s what Stewart Milne was so upset about. The SPL clubs desperately need a new sponsorship deal, and a lucrative TV deal with SKY. I suspect these depend upon the new structure being in place for next season, and without it, many SPL clubs will see significantly reduced income next season (and some of them are sailing very close to the wind before these cuts - including Aberdeen, Hearts, Kilmarnock and Dundee at least). This would explain the urgency about putting the new structure in place this year, and would explain why we have no information about any new sponsorship deal, nor projections of SPL income, nor any valuation of the SKY deal for next season. This is only a hypothesis, but it’s the only one that fits all the known facts.

We clearly have deep-rooted problems in the Scottish game. The long term trends are all the same, over several decades – falling attendances, falling income, poorer performances by our national team, poorer performances by our clubs competing in Europe, and fewer top-quality players being developed or exported abroad.  We are seeing clubs’ debts rising, greater incidence of insolvency events, and the threat of several clubs going out of business altogether.

We introduced a new league model in 1975, we’ve been tinkering with it ever since, and all of the downward trends have continued. When we examine these problems now, do we really think league restructuring is the answer?

Simplifying governance into a single body would be a step in the right direction (these proposals don’t actually do that, but at least they would merge the SPL and SFL, which is a start).  Reducing the number of clubs sharing the game’s funding would be another (this is what is really meant by having fewer senior clubs).  Other possibilities include considering summer football, more artificial surfaces, indoor football, greater emphasis on youth development, more family-friendly policies, and new media deals.  But before we can agree on solutions, we need to agree on exactly what the problem is we’re trying to fix. We don’t seem very close to that, despite Henry McLeish's endeavours, and as things stand, league restructuring is at best just a disguise for other reforms.

How does this impact specifically upon Accies?  Our Chairman Les Gray expressed his reasons for voting for the proposals as being about a greater share for Accies of Scottish football’s collective income from sponsorship and TV deals, and better chances for Accies to reach the top flight – in the past eight years we have never been lower than fourth in the SFL, which means we would have permanently been in the second division of 8 after the proposed split. These are good reasons for Accies to support the proposals: they clearly favour us in the short term, but are they in the best interests of the game as a whole, or indeed Accies in the longer term?

Our financial situation may be more secure than many debt-ridden SPL clubs, but it is still precarious. Les has called a summit of first division clubs for next Monday, and that can surely only mean an SPL2 proposal on the table.  Will a group of the larger SFL clubs be able to quit the SFL and form a second tier of the SPL? Will that leave the rest of the SFL cut off from any top level funding coming into the game?  Can this be accomplished without civil war breaking out in Scottish football? A lot of questions need to be answered.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Livingston vs Accies (x2) - Sat 13 and Tues 16 Apr 2013

Another double header, this time away from home against Livingston.  First of all, well done to Livingston for their dogged determination to succeed in making entry to a game against Accies this season cost only £5.  I do hope they will be rewarded big crowd.  Accies go into the first game showing their best form of the season, having won their last 3 games and 4 of their last 7.  Livvy are not far behind with 3 wins in the last 7, and will have some confidence, having taken 4 points from the 2 fixtures between the teams played at NDP earlier in the season.  Accies will be without the suspended Devlin (for the first game), Fisher and Neil continue to have injury worries and Canning was taken off after 77 mins on Tuesday as a precaution.  Lets hope that spine of the team is not too badly hit by these doubts and the suspension.  Lee Kilday to come in to the squad?  It seems to me to be a possibility, as cover if nothing more, but he took a knock at one point in the U20s game vs Aberdeen on Wednedsay (which we lost 4-1, although it was not, apparently, a 4-1 game!) and there is no info at time of writing as to his fitness.  For once we have no worries up front, with some strong competition for places, although I can't see any change to the May, McShane and McKinnon combination, despite pressure from Brophy and Ryan.  Accies have every reason to be confident going into these games and I would like to think we can collect 4 points out of 6.  A 4th place finish to match last year might be on the minds of Neil and McAvoy - I reckon it's a long shot, but not wholly out of the question.     

Dunfermline ramifications

Further to last month's blog post Dunfermline on the Brink, the Court of Session has today confirmed that Dunfermline are in full administration.  The league table has now been updated to include the 15 point penalty Dunfermline were given by the SFL the day before yesterday.  Dunfermline face a further penalty of 10 points and a fine of £150,000 if they fail to exit administration by a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) by the start of next season.

First of all, is this fair? The SFL has no "points tariff", no fixed penalty (unlike the SPL) for clubs going into administration. Dunfermline are the fifth SFL club to enter administration, and only the second to suffer a points deduction - Morton and Clydebank in 2000 received no points penalty, nor did Livingston in 2009, while Dundee were docked 25 points in 2010.  Much is made of it being Dundee's second offence, but it was their first in the SFL, as they were in the SPL when they first went into administration in 2003.  The fact is, the SFL take breaches of rules very seriously, and have a record of issuing draconian punishments - when Accies were penalised 15 points in 2000 for failing to fulfil one fixture on time, it seemed excessive (I don't think I was biased, especially considering the context of Morton and Clydebank that season).  In this instance, a penalty of 10 to 15 points was widely predicted, but is it just?

It's hard to fix a penalty for this sort of thing.  It isn't "cheating" to manage your financial affairs badly, but it could be construed as a deliberate means of obtaining an unfair advantage. The added penalty for an administrative delay into next season is more difficult to understand, even more so the financial penalty ("you've spent beyond your means - here, have some more debt").  The same financial lack-of-logic applied to the fine Accies received in 2000. Bear in mind that if Dunfermline fail to achieve a CVA, and go into liquidation, further penalties may await them.

Second, what is the impact on Dunfermline, Accies, and the rest of the SFL?

Dunfermline are now favourites for the play-off place (I discount the possibility of their automatic relegation, as I can't believe Airdrie will pick up the nine points, at least, they would need.)  If they go down, it will impact on them financially, but if they stay up it's hard to see them competing effectively next season.  Further pain, in financial and footballing terms, awaits them, assuming they can survive at all (my bet is they will, but it's not a certainty at the moment).

As of today, Accies have avoided the play-offs, unless Dunfermline successfully appeal their points penalty.  That won't happen, judging by precedent.  Airdrie's inevitable relegation has been postponed, but surely not for long.  Dumbarton and Cowdenbeath's contest for the play-off place has been joined by a third club, and my guess is both of them will be saved at Dunfermline's expense.

It's sad to see these events overtake Dunfermline.  Even sadder is the knowledge that this will not be the last such instance.  We all know that many other Scottish clubs - such as Aberdeen, Dundee, Kilmarnock and Hearts - have been living beyond their means and have large debts, arguably unmanageable.  Football clubs rarely disappear altogether - see Soccernomics for a full discussion of this - and no Scottish club has done so since Third Lanark, nearly half a century ago, but this may be of little comfort in the times ahead.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

There was a young man from Limerick (AKA Stuart Taylor)

This blog post is contributed by Ian Todd.

The discussion of who might replace Billy Reid has thrown up many names with ex assistant manager Stuart Taylor not surprisingly amongst them. After leaving Accies he joined Qatari club Al Khor Sports Club as coach last year. Not for long though, as in January 2013 he was announced as manager of Airtricity League Club, Limerick FC on a three-year deal. To many in the Irish media who had been listing some well-known figures this was a surprise appointment.

The vacancy at the club was also a surprise as then manager Pat Scully had secured the club's first promotion from the Irish first division in October 2012 after some 19 seasons out of the top flight. But having done so the club and Scully parted company with no real explanation being offered buy either side. It appears that Scully did not fit the profile to take the club forward and they were looking for someone who had a background in developing youth and their Academy.  Step forward Stuart.

Not only is the club looking to develop its youth system but it is currently having the former Limerick greyhound track, Markets Field redeveloped into an 8000 seater, Astroturf stadium courtesy of local boy and Ireland’s richest man JP McManus, to a rumoured tune of 5 million Euros. In the interim Limerick are playing their homes games at the 26,000 Thomond Park Stadium home of Munster Rugby.

Well how is Stuart doing? Remembering the Irish league starts in March through to October, Limerick have played 7 games so far. Under Stuart they have managed 4 draws, 1 win and 2 defeats. After last Fridays 2- 2 draw with Dundalk, a game they led 2 – 0 until the last 20 minutes when Dundalk came back and scored two goals in 7 minutes, they currently sit in a respectable 8th place in the 12 team League. I would imagine that to finish the season secure in the division in a similar league position after 19 years adrift would be considered by most as a success. So what’s the likelihood of Stuart being in the running for the Accies job? Well given he is less than 6 months into a 3-year deal I can’t see Accies paying the necessary compensation. This assumes Stuart would want to leave and given it is his first season with a progressive club on the up I’m not so sure he would be interested. We will just have to wait and see.

And here’s one for the pub quizzers amongst you. Who was Limerick’s manager the last time they managed promotion in season 1991 – 92. You may be surprised with the company Stuart keeps.   

If you want to follow Stuart’s progress here is the link to Limerick’s official site
Ian Todd

Monday 8 April 2013

Accies vs Airdrie - Tuesday 9 April 2013

Accies face Airdrie (United?) on Tuesday at NDP having registered a very good win at Dunfermline on Saturday.  On paper, this should be an easier match to predict, with Accies having taken 7 points out of 9 against Airdrie so far this season, scoring 9 goals in the process while conceding only 2.  If Alex Neil and Frankie McAvoy's men were to maintain that scoring average, (which matches their own scoring average as a management team!) I suspect that we will see another comfortable Accies victory.  I have no reason to suspect that Alex will drop himself back into the team for this fixture and Gary Fisher remains out with an injury.  Page could be recalled, depending on whether Neil/McAvoy wish to give Devlin 2 games in 4 days, with another game to come in a few days  (repeat ad nauseam).  Otherwise, I expect to see an unchanged side.  Accies are free from any lingering direct relegation worries but are not yet mathematically out of the play-off equation. 4 more points, Cowdenbeath dropping 4 points or Dunfermline suffering a draconian administration punishment will resolve this issue (for Accies).  

More worrying for this commentator is that Accies picked up another 5 bookings on Saturday.  Ill-discipline has been an issue over the last couple of seasons and while Alex Neil may not be the individual best placed to resolve the matter, I suppose a job share allows his colleague to major on this aspect of player management!  It would be disappointing to see the start of next season affected by suspensions held over from this year, especially at a time when the job for the season is complete, bar the last lick of paint.  Victory tomorrow night will bring us to the point of watching the paint dry for the rest of the season!  

Friday 5 April 2013

Dunfermline vs Accies - Saturday 6 Apr 2013

Who would have guessed a few weeks ago that Dunfermline would play Accies on 6 April with the hosts missing Gallacher, McMillan, Barrowman, Kirk (among others), and with Accies being managed by Alex Neil and Frankie McAvoy?  The most unpredictable of leagues strikes again and quite how tomorrow will pan out is anybody's guess.  Accies should have the skill and experience to prevail, even without the suspended Gary Fisher and the likely absence of player/interim manager Neil, who was described earlier in the week as being 30/70 against for this game.  The away team will have been boosted by the victory on Tuesday against Dumbarton and will travel to EEP with the confidence boosting memory of a fine cup win there a couple of months ago.  The younger and lesser known Dunfermline players will no doubt use the rest of this season as a showcase for their talents, but despite this factor I'll take Accies to win this game convincingly and give our new management team their first 3 points at their first attempt.

Dunfermline- past times

My first sight of Dunfermline came in March 1973. During that topsy turvey season,  we jumped from bottom place to 7th in the old second division, took massive away cup supports to Brora, Elgin and Montrose, and had the second biggest crowd I ever saw at Douglas Park for the Montrose replay,- the alleged attendance at which continues to rise in Seville like proportions. And yet we also contrived to ship 7 goals on two occasions, to St Mirren and, yes, Dunfermline.

The 7-2 reverse had come during a period of managerial instability, but by the time of the return fixture Eric Smith was directing operations very impressively, and we had begun a stable rise which continued into the following season's promotion campaign. I remember viewing the pars as a bit exotic, big time; something that we had not been used to at Douglas Park for some time. Within the last 12 years, and initially with Jock Stein as manager, they had reached three Scottish Cup finals, winning two of them. They also brought with them a large travelling support, which settled under the shed, and forced us home fans to listen rather sourly to songs about earlier European campaigns, when in fairness they had knocked out  Everton and West Brom amongst others.

Our subsequent 2-1 win was richly deserved, and  probably our most impressive result of the season. I can no longer remember who scored, but hope it was the legendary Neilly Hood, as he got most of our goals that year. It was in fact around this time  that I witnessed for the first time in my young life what might  properly be described as true and  unconditional love - shown by  the Accies supporters  towards Neilly, not least because of  his Ryan Giggs like runs along the touchline not before, but after, he scored.

Like all true love affairs, ours ended prematurely  when Neilly was first sidelined, and then signed for Clyde,  the footballing equivalent of ending it all. However back to the pars and they duly returned to the top league not to be seen again until 1976 when they stopped off briefly, en route to successive relegations ( hee hee!)

Subsequent matches were few and far between,  as we continually passed them either on the way down or up the leagues. Special mention though  must be made of our 1981 win at East End Park in the League Cup, when we came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2,  a performance redolent of our 3-1  win there 15 years later, when Jose and Paul Hartley both gave sparkling performances. They also knocked us out of the Scottish Cup in 1990, after we had fought hard to draw away from home.

The two matches which all current Accies fans will remember are the first two from the 2007-08 season.  A massive away support camped up at NDP on the opening day to watch their team, cup finalists and promotion favourites, take their first step towards an expected Championship. Instead it was Accies, inspired by Mark Gilhaney and Richard Offiong, who emerged victorious. That day also saw the graduation of James McArthur from  promising youngster to pivotal player in our midfield. He pressed the ball, won tackles and changed the flow of the match with his performance - and all this at the age of 19.

On leaving the stadium, for the first time the thought formed in our minds that this might, just might,  finally be our year. After all, we had yet to reintroduce the precocious talents of James McCarthy into the team- at this point he was not in the starting eleven. And so it proved to be. With regard to the second fixture, you all know what happened,  and the highlights remain available on Youtube. It is instructive though that we were 5-0 ahead with more than half an hour left,  and would  have scored more but for substitutions, and a wish simply to see the game out. And for all the magnificence of Richartd Offioing's strike, you will go a long way to see a better goal than the team move extending throughout the full length of the pitch for goal number five.

In closing, Dunfermline are a true footballing club, and one whose current troubles we can readily understand. We somehow managed to find a way back, albeit  the grindingly difficult task of financing a football club never goes away.  I wish them well on their road to recovery.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

An appreciation of Billy Reid

Billy Reid first came to Hamilton Accies, from Clyde FC, as a player in 1991.  Along with Gary Clark, who arrived at the same time, his transfer was part of the deal whereby Clyde became tenants of Old Douglas Park for two seasons.  A bustling, box-to-box midfielder, his industry quickly made him a fans’ favourite, and he formed a good understanding with George McCluskey at the apex of Accies’ attacking formation, rushing up to augment the strike force when Accies pressed forward.  He made 102 appearances, scored 7 goals, and was part of the team that won the Challenge Cup in 1991/92, beating Ayr United 1-0 at Fir Park.  He left in 1994 to join Stirling Albion, and Accies fans probably thought we had seen the last of him.

He returned in 2005 as manager, and went on to become the longest serving manager in Scottish football in the twenty first century, and the most successful Accies manager since the 1930s.

In almost eight full seasons in charge, he finished third, fourth and first in the SFL First Division, then ninth, seventh and twelfth in the SPL, and fourth in the First Division, prior to this season (incomplete).  He also reached two Challenge Cup finals and three Scottish Cup quarter finals, achievements that eluded all his predecessors, for 20 years in the case of the Challenge Cup, and for nearly 80 years in the case of the Scottish Cup.

He introduced a crop of young talent to the Accies first team, including the so-called “three diamonds” of James McArthur, James McCarthy and Brian Easton, who all starred in Accies most successful post-War side before signing deals to join Premiership clubs.  His other signings included long-serving captain Alex Neil, the flamboyant Paixao twins, Marco and Flavio, Simon Mensing and Dougie Imrie.

Highlights of Billy’s time as manager include:

·        a fightback to beat Clyde 3-2, after being 2-0 down at Broadwood in January 2008,a key moment in the title-winning season
·        a 5-0 demolition of Dunfermline at East End Park, also in 2008
·        a 1-0 crunch win over Dundee at NDP the same season
·        a 2-0 league cup win over Kilmarnock at NDP the same season
·        a 3-1 win over Dundee United in our debut SPL game, before a live TV audience
·        back-to-back wins over Hibs, 4-1, and Kilmarnock, 3-0, en route to a seventh place finish in the SPL in 2010
·        historic wins over Aberdeen and Hearts, and draws with both Celtic and Rangers

In his last couple of seasons Billy suffered criticism from a section of the Accies support, who had perhaps grown accustomed to unprecedented success, but continued to play the game the way he believes it should be played, keeping possession with patient passing football.  Hopefully even his sternest critics will recognise that he leaves Accies much stronger than he found us, and with a legacy that will be very hard for any other manager to follow.
I'm sure he leaves with the good wishes of the overwhelming majority of Accies fans.

Billy Reid

Billy Reid has left Accies 'by mutual consent'.  Billy was Scotland's longest serving manager and Accies' most successful post-WW2 manager.  The Club has posted a statement on the official site.

Monday 1 April 2013

Where have all the fans gone? (the third division, apparently)

This guest blog is contributed by Ian Todd.

The just published Begbie Traynor Football Distress Survey for Scottish football makes interesting reading particularly in relation to crowd figures.   The report identifies that the “Rangers effect saw the average gates in the SPL fall by almost 30%”.  While it also says average attendances across the top 3 leagues have fallen, overall gates across the 4 leagues have gone up 5% and not surprisingly the Third Division by over 1000%.

It got me thinking about the claimed 500 drop in Accies attendance figures for this season compared to last, something that Accies chairman Les Gray acknowledged in the Advertiser recently.  Well first the good news. According to the attendance statistics on Football we are actually only down 448 on average this season so far. Before the Dumbarton double header, we had averaged 1322 fans compared to 1770 for the whole of last season. Every 52 extra fans help.  Whatever, I appreciate a 450 drop is significant. Lets assume they all bought season tickets, this would be £67,000 additional income this season. So where have all the Accies fans gone and why?

While some will claim many have departed on principle because of the Clubs’ position in relation to Rangers and its admission to the SFL, I think the impact has been over estimated. Looking at posters comments on the Accies World I find it difficult to be convinced this accounts for 50 at the most and even that is stretching it. I think what really has impacted is the psychology of a downward spiral over the last two seasons.

If we take season 2000-01 as the starting point, many younger or more recent Accies fans up until relegationfrom the SPL have never known anything other than a team on the up. Promoted to the Second Division and playing back in Hamilton at a brand new stadium (well, half of one), attracted a remarkable 2011 fans on average that season compared to 670 the season before.Throughout the rest of that decade Accies went from better to better. Ronnie McDonald's takeover of the club, debts and all, saved us from financial meltdown and at the end of season 2003-4 we were promoted back to Division 1. Average attendances that promotion-winning season however were only 1403. In the three seasons that followed as we consolidated and developed the promotion winning team our attendance average across seasons 2004 to 2007 was 1778. That figure I guess represents what we should be expecting but assumes a club building for promotion. Our promotion season 2007-08 attracted even more fans and we averaged 2405. Our figures for the SPL were 3823, 3005 and 2898 respectively. So up until season 2010-11 more recent Accies fans had only known relative success culminating in our best ever season performance wise 2009-10 and a top of the bottom six position.

We all know what happened next. Relegation was followed by a first season back in Division One when we failed to mount a serious promotion challenge. The average attendance for 2011-12 was still 1770, back where we might expect an Accies support to be. The end of that season led to a clear out of experienced players, no headline grabbing signings and a publicly stated aim of building on youth. That has meant a season rebuilding slowly and scrapping away at the end of the table. Silky smooth football? No, but nor has it been the dross that others have claimed. So in the face of future success being some years away it is not surprising that crowds have fallen and until the evidence suggests we are back on the up these figures may not increase. Success breeds success and attracts fans back. Decline loses fans. So what can be done to kick start numbers up the way rather than waiting for the next promotion winning team to come along?

We need to rebuild a positive spiral and this needs to focus on performance, economics, politics, marketing and scheduling.  Alongside the continued development of youth I would like to see Accies signing one or two experienced players who come on board to build for promotion. We did exactly that when we signed Alex Neil. That requires money and that's about the economics and the politics of the game.

Accies have offered one of the most attractive season tickets prices in Scottish football but for stay away fans that might be inclined to turn up on the day I am sure the gate price of £16 is a killer. John Boyle at Motherwell tried to slash prices but to no lasting effect so I’m not advocating £10 at the gate but at least take it down to £14 next season, keep the season ticket at £150 and see what happens. Oh and half way through the season offer up a £75 season ticket. Economics is also about restructuring. I’m no fan of what’s proposed and want a 42 club solution but that’s a whole other debate. I hear what Les says that the proposed redistribution of income could mean a significant figure for Hamilton and others which could support a bigger or more experienced playing pool but if restructuring doesn't deliver a more attractive package it's not going to help increase our gates in the long term. Nor is that money guaranteed if sponsorship and the TV money aren’t forthcoming.  We have to get this right.

Marketing is also important and Accies appear to have woken up to this with the appointment of Shaun Fagan. I await the impact of this with interest but aside from setting up a lottery, I would like to see a much better match day experience. From improving the tannoys, the announcing, half time entertainment, catering and the Accies Shop. Take catering for example as one fan highlighted for the Falkirk cup game, advertise the packages prominently on the club site just as most other club do. I’m not ignoring communication as part of marketing but I’m not one of those critical of the club. Between the official web site, Twitter feed, fans forums and communication direct to the forum I think the club does well. The problem is (tongue in cheek) it doesn't respond to some of the messages received like sack the manager!! Finally, scheduling. Attending football games is a habit. Get out the habit and many stop going. Never mind Friday fixtures or lunchtime Saturdays. Never mind international breaks other than the SPL whose players might be affected.  Saturday afternoons are for sport. Lets try and get through next season with a regular consistent Saturday scheduling. Oh, and don't even start on summer football!

Ian Todd

Great News!

There is some great news for Accies supporters on the OS.  This date in history has always been auspicious for Hamilton Accies in announcing important news.  I often wonder how the Ferniegair Stadium deal fell through...