Cost of the Game 19/20: Henry McLeish says clubs must take 'radical' approach

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Can Amy Irons get to an SPFL match for £25?

Scottish football authorities need to take a "radical" approach to bring in the next generation of supporter, says former first minister Henry McLeish.

McLeish, who authored a report into the national game in 2010, believes the SPFL must play a lead role in revolutionising how clubs attract fans.

BBC Scotland's Cost of the Game survey highlighted a wide disparity in pricing and initiatives among member clubs.

"The SPFL can offer great support for clubs with lesser means," McLeish said.

"They can help with wider ticketing, making good ideas available for everybody, where the best becomes the norm. All these things are not financial draining. It's about ideas, culture, institutions changing.

"This idea that each club has to look after themselves come hell or high water. I'm sorry, that's not football."

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster told BBC Scotland that attendances in Scotland are the highest per head of population in Europe.

The governing body also announced in May that attendances rose for a fourth-straight year, with Doncaster praising work by "individual" clubs, many of whom offer free season tickets for children with a paying adult.

However, McLeish says far too often work done to attract new fans is left in isolation and not rolled out for the greater good of the game.

"One of the problems is the SPFL say 'there are 42 clubs in Scotland and they are all businesses, we don't want to interfere'. That approach is completely wrong," he said.

"All of these clubs play to the rules and regulations laid down by the football authorities. There's massive influence on these clubs. But, when it comes to ticketing, collectivisation, schemes to attract young people, they are pretty much left to themselves.

"There seems to be a resistance to doing things outside a comfort zone. Most clubs in League One or Two sit not even a quarter full.

"But, if you had 500 extra sitting there not paying, they may bring parents, they may buy a shirt, a Bovril. I can't understand why so many simple ways forward are not even being considered."

McLeish also believes a massive opportunity to engage young female supporters has been missed on the back of Scotland reaching the Women's World Cup for the first time this summer.

"We are not changing the demographic of the game," he said. "Older people are still going to the games, we're not attracting young people, young women, girls, families.

"The total financial fragility of the game in Scotland brings the pressure to put up prices, put up costs.

"The women's team getting to the World Cup was a success. What's now been planned afterwards? Are we going to have a festival of women's football? Are young girls going to school going to get invited free of charge? They may buy a pie, they might by this or that. There's no enterprise.

"Everyone seems content to leave it to others."

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