The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) are the minnows of European football, but don’t tell that to a Celtic or Rangers’ fan.
Rich in history and tradition, football in Scotland has a strong following and until recent years, was an entertaining league to watch albeit the domination of two teams.
However, the entire dynamics of Scottish football changed when Rangers Football Club fell into administration some two years ago.
The Light Blues may have won more league titles and trebles than any other club in the world and were the first British club to reach a UEFA tournament final but this did not stop them from being relegated to the bottom tier of Scottish professional football due to mismanagement.
It was only in 2008 that Rangers came in third runners-up in Europe but without proper competition at the top, football in Scotland were in dire straits. Another fan favourite, Hearts also went into administration.
However, with a successful restructuring process that united all 42 senior clubs, SPFL is set to look beyond the highlands and is ready to rebuild once again.
The merger of the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League gave birth to SPFL and a new league structure.
One man who was instrumental in this merger was Neil Doncaster, who was appointed as chief executive of the Scottish Professional Football League last July, having previously held the same position at the Scottish Premier League from 2009 to 2013.
Highly regarded in the football world, Doncaster served as company secretary and chief executive at Norwich City FC from 1997 to 2009.
Doncaster led the drive to position Norwich City FC not only as a financially sound organisation, but also one at the heart of its community as a consultative, accessible family club. Under his stewardship turnover increased from £6mil (RM32.2mil) to £19mil and season ticket sales more than tripled.
Speaking to MetroBiz, Doncaster said the new structure is to ensure all 42 clubs can reap the benefits of a range of new TV and radio deals covering Scottish league football, which combined are worth a substantial six-figure sum.
“Every cent post cost will be given to all clubs. This will help the clubs with equitable sharing of finance for all clubs,” said Doncaster via a telephone interview. The new contracts, with BBC Scotland, STV and the Bauer Group, are effective from the start of the new SPFL league season and this will ensure even more coverage this coming season.
South-East Asia has been a popular destination for football clubs off season. Most of them travel to the far east to create a following and interact with fans.
As European Clubs seek alternative revenue streams and commercial deals, many major European clubs including Barcelona had their biggest ever pre-season tours of Asia last year to tap into what many believe is an under-exploited market.
And Doncaster knows for SPFL team to continue thriving with commercial success, Asia is the place to be. With that in mind, leading international sports rights agency MP & Silva have been appointed as the SPFL’s International Development Partner for Season 2013/2014.
MP & Silva is a leading international media company that owns, manages and distributes television and media rights to some of the most prestigious sports events around the world.
With an annual turnover in excess of US$350 million (RM 1.11bil), the MP & Silva’s portfolio includes FIFA 2014 World Cup, Italian Serie A, Barclays Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, French Ligue 1, the Asian Games and more.
MP & Silva have been appointed as the SPFL’s overseas broadcast partners for nine years, from season 2014/2015 to season 2022/2023.
As International Development Partner of the League for Season 2013/2014, MP & Silva will be the sole licensee of the SPFL’s broadcast rights in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia in the current season.
“We are delighted to announce that we will be working with MP & Silva, one season earlier than planned, in the key territories of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, including important territories such as China, Japan, South Korea. This will extend the coverage of Scottish football around the world, as well as delivering a financial boost to all clubs in the League,” said Doncaster,
MP & Silva Group CEO Andrea Radrizzani said: “We are very excited and proud to work on this long-term partnership with the Scottish Professional Football League and to share our strategic expertise to elevate the league’s profile internationally, especially in Asia and in the Middle East.
As media advisers, we look forward to developing a strategy to increase the SPFL’s appeal based on our leadership in sports content and our ability to leverage on our robust network to increase the popularity of the SPFL.”
MP & Silva will be the SPFL’s exclusive distributor of live rights across cable, satellite, terrestrial, betting, mobile and internet platforms (apart from those retained by club channels) outside of the European Economic Area with effect from Season 2014/2015.
Scottish football is definitely making a comeback under the watchful eyes but whether it will return to its former glory is still a major question.
For now, the right path has been paved for all the clubs to achieve football and commercial success.