Sunday, April 4, 2010

Your local Club is in crisis, whilst at the same time chasing not just promotion but still outside chances of a Championship. There's rumours varying from them leaving town to going out of business altogether. A call has gone out to rally round and save the Club and show what they mean to the community. Who could resist such combinations?

Well, clearly the people of Cowdenbeath.

A paltry crowd of 438, the lowest in the Scottish Second Division yesterday, turned up to see promotion chasing Cowden beat Stenhousemuir 1-0 and, to me, I think that sends a very strong message about the desire of the people of Cowdenbeath to have a football team in their town and throws open the question, do they deserve to survive anyway?

We mentioned Cowden's troubles in the blog on Wednesday. Could it be groundsharing? Could it be a merger or a takeover with Spartans? Either way, their long term future in the town of Cowdenbeath, if not in the Scottish game as a whole, seems bleak and very limited.

In our original article we mentioned that a Club with a 129 year history shouldn't be allowed to die, that franchise football shouldn't be allowed to creep into the Scottish game by the back door and how if the Club do die, it's the local Cowdengelly public that are to blame (as highlighted numerically yesterday).

In the days that have followed the Spartans story breaking though, we've given the matter a lot of careful consideration and chat and want to look at the other side of the story today.

Why should a Club like Cowdenbeath who don't bring anything positive to the Scottish game, and never have done, be allowed to survive? Yes, it's a controversial subject, but let's have that debate.

Whenever a Club is in a perilous state, we all rally round and say "you can't let any club die" and how it's not fair on their fans and how would we feel if it was our Club? I think the latter issue in particular really clouds our judgement and reasoned thinking on the matter. I know it does for me personally.

Whether a Club is our rivals, much hated, whatever, it IS sad if a Club goes out of business. We're always complaining about the state of the Scottish game though and how it needs to change. How can it change though when you have Clubs going nowhere and others that bring little to the table?

Cowdenbeath may have been going for well over 100 years but they have won no major honours in that time, just four lower league Championships to show for all that time and effort. Their current ground is a disgrace when it comes to facilities. Their attendances have been pitifully low for seasons and show no signs of ever turning around and a section of the fans that they do have are just complete trouble-seeking and trouble-inducing pricks, which fans of many, many other lower league Scottish clubs will attest to.

So how exactly does saving a Club like them help the game in Scotland? The harsh answer is that it doesn't. Who would miss them really a couple of seasons down the road? A few hundred hardcore supporters and that's about it. Does anyone really miss Gretna? Clydebank are different because of the way of their demise but only a little.

Moving to a new location, especially a 'new town' like Livingston and Clyde have done, isn't going to help them attract new fans and put them on a firmer financial footing. The moves of the two sides above have gone horribly wrong in recent seasons and both are lucky to still be in existance it has appeared on many occasions this past year alone.

Many reading this may say it's a case of pot and kettle, as East Fife's attendances don't exactly set the heather on fire at the moment. Highest in the division though yesterday and we know the numbers are there when the Club are competing and challenging at the top of the table. Cowdenbeath are having a season like that just now and they have nothing going for them fan wise. Plus we have a proud history. One that involves winning four major trophies, but yes, you can't live on that alone.

If East Fife were to go bust I'd be devastated. A part of me would have died. I'd be inconsolable, just like the Cowden fans would be. All of us East Fife fans reading this would be. How many fans of other sides that are reading this would really care after the initial hoo-ha had died down though?

We have ambition and have tried to show that in recent seasons, almost to our detriment if things had been allowed to continue as they were going, as has been the case with clubs like Livi and Airdrie. Cowdenbeath never seem to show any sense of ambition. How far do they realistically think they could go in the Scottish game with the numbers they attract? They'd be slaughtered if they went up to the First Division next season, so what's the point you could argue?

Then you have a team like Spartans. They have a very impressive set up. A men's Senior team, Juniors team, both Saturday and Sunday Amateur sides, an under 19's team, various youth teams and an over 35 legends side, along with a woman's first, second and third team. It's the way forward for the Scottish game. A community club that invests in the game at grassroots level and reaps the reward. Why should a team like that be deprived from the Scottish League set up that has clubs like Montrose, Albion Rovers and Cowdenbeath dragging it down season after season?

Cowden do have a good youth set up, but that will not save them alone. They need fans. They need money. And it would seem that no amount of success is going to get them either.

Spartans deserve their shot at League football. Not as part of a takeover, merger or some kind of franchise backdoor bid though. If it's at expense of a club like Cowdenbeath going bust then so be it.

I think the reason that a lot of us get up in arms about situations like we have just now is that we're worried our own club could be next. Well, maybe it could be, but we maybe have to look at the longer term picture.

If we can grow the Scottish game positively then that's the way that our clubs, clubs like East Fife, will survive and thrive. So will the national team in the long term if youth players can actually be nurtured and encouraged.

So if Cowdenbeath do die, I'll shed no tears and have no disappointment unless it's been through franchise football. Then I'd be angry and worried about the game's future, otherwise, in all honesty, good riddance.


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