Which donkey would you rather have in charge of Scottish football?
"What have the Romans ever done for us?" goes the famous quote from Life Of Brian.
So, when I thought to myself, "what has the SPFL done for Scottish football?", I imagined that, if I looked reasonably hard, I could, like the People's Front for Judea, find a few positives about the organization that took over the running of Scottish league football in June 2013.
I'm still looking. And I can't find anything.
Life isn't getting any better for the clubs - at least, not going by Motherwell's AGM results, which revealed that, during the 2012/13 season, the club lost £180,000. That's despite finishing second in the league, and despite playing European games at the beginning of the campaign. Whilst I haven't managed to see their accounts, you'd be hard pressed to claim that their wage bill was high, given that the size of the squad was relatively compact and, aside from James McFadden, it wasn't exactly filled with big names either.
The Fir Park directors did make one particularly cutting comment - "The directors also express disappointment that no main sponsor has been found to replace the Clydesdale Bank. The effect on this season's commercial distribution is clear". Let me remind you once more - the Scottish Professional Football League remains without a title sponsor. It's now safe to say that there won't be one before the summer.
As for the other sides, it would be a push to claim that many top flight clubs strengthened this summer. The standard of the Premiership certainly is not an improvement over the SPL of recent years. We have a second tier where nearly a third of the clubs are part-time.
The treatment of fans isn't improving, either.
Yesterday, the league announced that St. Mirren v Aberdeen was being moved to a Saturday lunchtime kickoff for TV reasons. In less than 3 weeks time. In February. I know it's worse in Spain - where kickoff times are routinely decided with less than 2 weeks notice for all games - but away supports in Spain are almost non-existant. Aberdeen would normally take a thousand or more to Paisley; what odds that their support will hold up now?
And, this weekend, we have the League Cup semi-final between Inverness and Hearts...which is being played on neutral ground in Edinburgh (hands up how many of you did a double take there? Exactly) at 1215 on a Sunday. Ever driven the A9 in the dark in winter? I bet Neil Doncaster hasn't? He would probably take the train...but there aren't actually any trains early enough to get fans from Inverness to Edinburgh for kickoff. After promising to aid ICT fans, the best the SPFL could come up with was subsidized supporters buses, which are being subsidized mainly by the Scottish Sun.
Well, it seems like less than 2,000 will trek from the Highlands for this one. I'm one of those staying at home. Three and a half uncomfortable hours each way in a bus (I'm 6ft 4in), travelling down a potentially treacherous road in the dark, to pay 20 quid to sit at Easter Road in early February temperatures, when the game is on telly? Bugger that. Call me a fair-weather fan if you like. But I'm a fan who is sick of high ticket prices and poor value for money. I already pay far too much for a season ticket at Inverness. I draw the line at being shafted by this, too.
So the fans are screwed, and the clubs aren't benefitting. So who on earth is doing well out of it?
Well, Neil Doncaster got a pay rise of £28,000 last year, and now has a salary of £200,000.
And he and his fellow donkeys couldn't even find a sponsor for the league.
The problem is, of course, that the name of the organization is the only thing that's really changed. The same old people are in charge. And the quality of the job they're doing is about the same.
So, in the first seven months of it's existence, what is the SPFL doing for Scottish football?
Why, they're making it worse.