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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 18:27 GMT
Football needs 'radical' overhaul
Dundee and Livingston in action
Three clubs in the Scottish Premier League are in administration
The sports minister has urged "radical changes" to the way Scottish football is run as the game battles to survive its current cash crisis.

Frank McAveety's call came in a Holyrood debate a day after six Livingston players were sacked as the club moved into administration.

Mr McAveety said the Scottish Executive was willing to invest in the grassroots of the game.

But he said there also had to be major reform of the game's governing bodies.

The minister said: "It is a major challenge and we think some people have to face up to that challenge and responsibility much more than they have in the past.

It's not players hanging up their boots we need but buffers hanging up their blazers
Kenny MacAskill
"If we want to invest in youth football, we want there to be a radical change in the way football is run.

"If we can do that, then I'm convinced that what we already see in the emerging talent coming through in the national team can be developed."

Scottish Premier League (SPL) clubs Motherwell, Dundee and Livingston are currently in administration, while others are struggling with mounting debts.

Nationalist MSP Kenny MacAskill called for the Scottish game to model itself on other smaller nations such as Norway and Denmark rather than England and Spain.

He also called for the streamlining of the bodies which run various levels of the game.

Cherif Toure-Maman leaves the City Stadium
Livingston sacked six players on Tuesday afternoon
"It's not players hanging up their boots we need but buffers hanging up their blazers," he said.

He said public cash must go hand-in-hand with structural change and that the Scottish Football Association (SFA) should get tough on financial mismanagement.

Tory sport spokesman Jamie McGrigor called for a return of the home international championship between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland to generate extra income.

Some of the Scottish clubs were accused of showing "a reckless disregard for their financial position" by Scottish Socialist Party sport spokesman Colin Fox.

On the running of the game, Liberal Democrat Central Scotland MSP Donald Gorrie suggested a trial sale of alcohol at some football grounds could actually reduce drunkenness, while helping clubs financially.

Foreign players

And Scottish Tory leader and Edinburgh Pentlands MSP David McLetchie, who is a small shareholder in Heart of Midlothian, said a lifting the of ban on the sale of alcohol at football grounds would be a "modest step" to help boost income.

Falkirk West MSP Dennis Canavan claimed the financial affairs of some clubs were "like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland", and he attacked the large-scale import of "overpaid, mediocre" foreign players.

"Football is a multi-national sport, but the influx of so many foreign players stops many young Scottish players from getting a game, and some clubs don't seem to have anything resembling a genuine youth development policy," he said.

Mr Canavan also called for greater opportunities for fans to have a stake in their club through supporters' trusts.

Meanwhile, it also emerged that money set aside at the time of the failed Euro 2008 bid could be used to rejuvenate youth football in Scotland.

BBC Scotland's Glenn Campbell
"Megabucks wage deals are crippling clubs"

MSPs debate football 'crisis'
08 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Bank pledges SPL support
05 Feb 04  |  Livingston
Livi in administration
03 Feb 04  |  Livingston
Motherwell plans still on course
27 Jan 04  |  Motherwell
Dundee face point deduction
22 Jan 04  |  Scot Prem

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