Talking Point: Should There Be An Angus United?
Written by RockSport on March 21, 2018
There are some footballing records that experts say would never be broken but Brechin City stand on the verge of smashing records that have stood for over 100 years. With only eight fixtures remaining in the Scottish Championship, Brechin remain rooted to the bottom of the league, where they have been since September, and are remarkably the only side in the top divisions in Scotland and England yet to record a league victory.
You’d have to go back to a time where football was played with a pig’s bladder, without nets and colourful boots to find a team winless throughout a full season. In 1891-92, Vale of Leven only managed to amass five points before Clyde, a season later, also failed to record a single win on their way to a measly six points. In 1999/2000, Clydebank mustered only 10 points in an equivalent league but the Bankies managed to record a single victory against Raith Rovers.
Brechin approach this weekend’s fixture away to Greenock Morton knowing that a defeat will seal their fate and relegation back to League One. There is a depressing acceptance amongst both players, fans and manager Darren Dods that the club are punching above their weight amongst bigger full time sides. Whilst it has been a lucrative season off the pitch, aided by a Scottish cup tie away to Celtic, it is perhaps no surprise that Brechin are joined at the bottom of the league by the only other part-time side, Dumbarton. Two recent defeats to their part-time rivals has deprived Brechin of their best chance to record that elusive victory.
It would be foolish to advocate that part-time sides should be able to consistently compete and excel at this level. Brechin could draw full-time Raith Rovers in the play-offs and they would realistically be underdogs in that tie. Brechin’s struggles this season have led to the regurgitation of the controversial and often ridiculed idea that four clubs from the Angus region, Brechin, Arbroath, Forfar and Montrose, could amalgamate and form a new team under a pseudonym name like Angus United.
The idea was floated in 2016 when Hearts owner Ann Budge stated her belief that Scotland has twice the number of ideal clubs. Her idea to half the amount of senior football clubs was quite rightly ridiculed amongst football supporters but there was a method to her madness. Lower league clubs are constantly up against it to break even and the demographic of supporters tends to be unbalanced towards older generations. There is a romanticism about supporting lower league football outfits that the younger generations fail to comprehend, choosing instead to follow Rangers or Celtic on television.
Dumbarton and Brechin’s struggles this season reaffirms the ceiling that exists for part-time teams competing at the championship level. These teams simply cannot compete with the financial packages that full-time sides can offer players. There would be many benefits but also negatives from the possible merging of the four clubs from the east coast of Scotland.
There is common misconception that attendances across Scotland are dwindling in recent years but, for the Angus clubs, that is simply untrue. Moreover, the table below indicates that three of the four clubs are seeing a resurgent rise in attendances across the last decade.
If Angus United, or another name form, were established then there is no guarantee that all supporters from these clubs would happily join and support the new team. If anything, the opposite is more likely and they will stay away. Football supporters are a blindly loyal bunch and the thought of their beloved club ceasing to exist would be unthinkable for many.
While the idea may seem like a supporters worst nightmare, there are unquestionably positive motivators behind a possible merger. If the club was properly backed and supported then it could lead to a full-time side with the financial resources to compete successfully at a level where all four sides could only dream about.
Scotland has a brief and controversial history when it comes to football clubs merging. In their previous incarnation, Inverness Caledonian Thistle were formerly two Highland League sides named Caledonian and Inverness Thistle. While the merger has undoubtedly been a success, ICT have surged up the leagues and historically won the Scottish Cup, their example is different as both sides came from one city. Perhaps a better example would be that of ES Clydebank, a failed merger between East Stirling and Clydebank in the 1960’s. The fact it proved impossible to successfully merge two teams from different locations should be a warning sign to those in support of merging the four teams from Angus.
Before further discussion on RockSport, what are your opinions on a possible merger? Do you believe this could be a good idea to spice up Scottish football? Or do you side with the idea that smaller part-time clubs are what makes Scottish football so special to so many? Let us know your thoughts on facebook and twitter.