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Is the SPL and Scottish football in terminal decline?

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Europe’s incredible last gasp victory in the Ryder Cup was the icing on the cake of an tremendous year in the history of British sport.

And at the heart of their triumph was Aberdonian Paul Lawrie.

Lawrie joins a long list of Scots sporting stars who have lit up our screens this year, alongside Chris Hoy, Andy Murray, Michael Jamieson and Katherine Grainger.

However for the bulk of Scottish football fans, 2012 has been a year to forget with the national team struggling to lift our spirits and our clubs, outside of Celtic, failing to make any impact whatsoever in UEFA competitions.

And now, after a summer dominated by the fiasco surrounding the fall of Rangers, it appears more and more people are turning their backs on our beloved game.

Despite assurances they would stick around, it does seem supporters of clubs have not followed through with their promises and stayed loyal to a Rangers-less SPL.

The figures don’t lie. From Inverness down to Kilmarnock, attendances have dipped considerably as clubs struggle to make ends meet, raising real concerns in boardrooms across the country.

Just look at last Saturday for example. Only 8,282 people bothered to forgo Saturday shopping and visit Pittodrie, to see Aberdeen versus Hibernian, a match which once drew crowds in excess of at least 15,000.

Okay, the game was live on telly but nonetheless it was a real worry to see so many empty seats.

A paltry 3,706 bothered turning up at St Mirren Park too. Shame, as they missed out on a terrific goal fest.

Even Celtic are suffering, albeit slightly. Obtaining a match ticket for a game at Celtic Park is not the struggle it once was.

So whats going on? Surely Saturday afternoon TV isn’t so great?

Whilst it cannot be argued that many punters may find it a more and more difficult to fork out during these financially difficult times, surely if the product on the park was of a higher standard there would not be such a problem with stay-away fans?

Yes, last Saturday was indeed a good advert for the game in terms of goals scored, but is the quality there? I don’t think so and neither it appears do many of the fans who would not have thought twice about purchasing season tickets in days gone by.

Perhaps some chairmen would do well to take a leaf out of Arsenal’s books.

Last week, the Gunners charged their followers only £10 to watch their League Cup clash with Coventry, whilst kids tickets only cost a fiver.

And, as a result an incredible 58,351 turned up at The Emirates for the midweek match.

The days of children getting their first taste of sampling a big match atmosphere by getting lifted over the turnstile may be something of the past, but surely the clubs could do more to attract them back into our grounds?

We must remember that today’s kids are tomorrows fans and if radical thinking isn’t considered, the days when Neil Doncaster and co can proudly say that we have “one of the highest ratio of supporters per capita in Europe”, will be nothing more than a memory.

Sponsors are already walking away from our national game. If steps are not taken very soon it seems the masses will follow them never to return.

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