Monday, November 16, 2009

Not for the first time in recent seasons, East Fife fans were faced with a Club v Country clash on Saturday afternoon. Should we spend our hard earned cash watching our beloved East Fife or stay at home to watch the Scotland game live on Sky or even make a long trip to Wales to cheer on Scotland, in what was a pretty pointless friendly exercise at this stage of the season?

To some this will have been a no brainer. Club will always come first and why would you spend all that time and money to just go and watch a meaningless friendly between two depleted squads?

To others, country and following the Tartan Army on their travels will always be the winner.

Why should we have to choose though? And why is it always the lower league Scottish football fans that are penalised for supporting their local team and giving them a vital source of income?

On occasions, unlike Saturday, kick off times are either moved forward or delayed to the Sunday, both of which are more of an inconvenience to the fans than a valid solution and it’s no help at all to the fans that want to actually physically attend both matches.

Some fans will even have been happy to have an excuse not to come out in the cold and watch the Fife, in what’s been an up and down season so far and that’s what becomes worrying.

We’ve debated this point often on AFTN over the years. Why do regular faces start to disappear from Bayview? What is it that turns them away from being regulars in the Fife faithful and what is it they find to do instead? And why is it easier to find other things to do than to follow your team these days for many?

The football authorities shouldn’t be giving the more fair-weather fans this get out clause and the chance to not go and support their team. Surely everyone connected with the game should be trying to do everything to increase regular attendances? Clashing any Scottish League club fixture with an international does not do this.

So many of the lower league Clubs, including the Fife’s opponents on Saturday Stirling Albion, face serious money worries this season and every pound they can bring in through attendance, food and anything else on a match day is vital for many teams. For the football authorities to have yet another clash like this, eating into this possible money, is disappointing.

The fans have made their feelings well known many times before regarding this matter, but it just seems to fall on deaf ears. You’re left wondering if anyone in authority actually does care about us lower league sides and supporters.

You have to believe they do, but it’s just another issue, in what is becoming a very long list of things this season, that adds to the calls for a complete overhaul about how Scottish football is currently run at all levels.

As it turned out, both games were painful. Scotland were embarrassed and the Fife were hurt by yet another late loss. Even with that, I’d still say that those that made the decision to head to Bayview on Saturday were the ones that made the right decision. It’s just a shame they had a choice to make in the first place.

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