Hearts owner Ann Budge plans to make her voice heard on SPFL board



Hearts owner Ann Budge insists she will not be scared to confront the major issues facing Scottish football, and believes there are too many senior clubs for a start.

The IT guru is now in a position to initiate change after being voted onto the Scottish Professional Football League board last month along with fellow newcomers Leeann Dempster of Hibs and Patrick Thistle’s Ian Maxwell.

Budge plans to make her voice heard at the top table and admits that having 42 clubs in the senior set-up at it stands is double the ideal number.

annbudgeThe successful businesswoman is also keen to examine other issues such as voting structures, attracting more fans and the potential for summer football.

The SFPL was formed in summer 2013 following a merger between the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League but Budge insists the changes implemented then do not go far enough.

She said: “Everyone says 42 clubs, it’s far too many clubs for Scotland. We all know that and I do think that.

“You’re looking at about half that number, without being too exact.

“We all know the challenges facing a part-time club versus a full-time club. I think we should be look at how we can change things so different problems can be addressed differently.

“We’re not throwing people to the dogs and saying you don’t matter, we’re not at all doing that.

“We should be saying, ‘this is the area you’d fit into that fits your profile’. What do we have to do to make that a successful part of Scottish football?

“Going around the clubs in the Championship, it made my realise how tough it is and how different the problems are.

“I valued that and it gave me a bit of an insight in how we offer support.

“We have to stand back and say, what are the four or five big things that will make a difference over the next five years or whatever, not just continuing the today with little tweaks here and there?

“We have to stop tweaking, we had a big change three years ago and that’s fine, we learned a few lessons.

“We shouldn’t be frightened of asking the questions.

“We have to revisit some of the fundamentals that everyone talks about and say, ‘if this is a good idea, how do we make it happen?’”


But Budge admits that one of the major barriers to change are the current voting procedures.

Speaking to the BBC Radio Scotland, she explained: “There’s significant change on the board now and there’s a chance to really look at things differently.

“I thought with more people going in, surely things will change in some way, shape or form.

“The whole voting system around Scottish football is one of the big frustrations, the fact that for certain decisions you need 42 clubs to vote yes.

“One club doesn’t turn up or one club votes no, whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea it can be stopped.

“That’s a hard one for me to get my head round. I have a growing understanding for some of the frustrations of the SPFL board because there is a limit to the decisions they can make.

“They can recommend but it’s the clubs that vote. I don’t know how we can fix that but it’s one of things we need to talk about.

“I do think that if we have a central body, they have to have a bit power and resource to support the whole membership.

“Keeping that at the limited level it is at isn’t going to help anyone in my opinion. I think there’s more we can do from the centre.

“We must be able to help and make a contribution that will help Scottish, but it’s making people believe that they will get something out it.

“We’re not taking something away from you, we want to give you more but that means we have to spend a bit more on some things. If we’re starting again, what’s the right model for this?”