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Cork Jag

Why do we yo yo ?

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Just been wondering (and not for the first time), why do some teams, us being the one I care about, but Dundee, Ross County, St. Mirren , Inverness and a couple of others, bounce up and down from the top flight, while others of similar size (St Johnstone, Motherwell and Kilmarnock) remain there for a decade or more ?

What do they have we miss ?

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59 minutes ago, Cork Jag said:

Just been wondering (and not for the first time), why do some teams, us being the one I care about, but Dundee, Ross County, St. Mirren , Inverness and a couple of others, bounce up and down from the top flight, while others of similar size (St Johnstone, Motherwell and Kilmarnock) remain there for a decade or more ?

What do they have we miss ?

Better players

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We don't just yoyo. We bungee. Generally drop a lot further than the likes of Dundee, Ross County, St. Mirren , Inverness before climbing back up.

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Budget mostly, when in the top flight we've almost always been near the bottom of the top 10/12 since the Premier League era came into effect.

We've nearly always been a middling team and were okay when it was a top flight of 18 or over.

Outside the top flight our support quickly drops off or we've been saddled with too much dead weight in players on too high wages. 

I'm not sure what our overall league placing would be but I'd guess it would level out somewhere between 12th-18th, certainly since  the reconstruction of 1975.

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17 hours ago, Cork Jag said:

Just been wondering (and not for the first time), why do some teams, us being the one I care about, but Dundee, Ross County, St. Mirren , Inverness and a couple of others, bounce up and down from the top flight, while others of similar size (St Johnstone, Motherwell and Kilmarnock) remain there for a decade or more ?

What do they have we miss ?

One of the major differences I think, as jagfox points out, is money. Also in the case of most of the clubs mentioned a wealthy benefactor (s) who was willing to put money into the player budget to fund signing the club couldn't otherwise afford. 

For example, Kilmarnock (Johnston and now Boyle),  St Johnstone (Brown), Motherwell (the Amerkcam/Canadian businessman prior to fan ownership),  Ross County (McGregor),  Dundee (various businessmen over the years) and St Mirren (Sale of Love St - £16 Millions). 

I know the above isn't the only reason as some of our managerial appointments and signings has been very poor. However could Kilmarnock have appointed Mackie as their manager or signed players like SOD on the level of  revenue generated from attendences of around 5000 and related merchandising. I doubt it. 

Also their accounts for last year showed a small profit with a footnote that the club owed a Director (assumed to be Boyle) £800000!

I acknowledge we have/had Colin Weir but as far as I was aware his support was focused on the Academy and more recently the proposed training centre that has evolved into club ownership and eventual transfer to fan ownership. I am not aware he funded any football related appointments or signings.  This is not a criticism of how Colin Weir supported our club. 

If the rules of Financial Fair Play (not sure this is correct designation) were applied consistently to clubs in the SPL, Kilmarnock, Hearts, Dundee, Ross County, St Johnstone, Motherwell and others would all have been punished years ago for living beyond their means. 

 

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Good points been made by jagfox & exiledjag. Motherwell would've been a yo-yo but for lucky circumstances. If I remember the "Motherwell Rule" has been enforced three times otherwise I believe they would've spent a fair amount of time in the 2nd tier. St Johnstone thru a combination of luck and good club management have enjoyed a steady time of it. Luck in as much re how they found themselves at McDiarmid in the first place. And secondly finding themselves close by to Perth Crematorium. 

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Money and a benefactor should help but Dundee, Motherwell, Dundee United, Kilmarnock,Livingston (first spell in the top flight) and Hearts have had spells in recent years where money was lavished onto them but they didn't really improve their fortunes for anything more than a couple of seasons.

St Johnstone have had a benefactor and some financial luck but have had success over a number of years. So there's something more than money at play in Perth.

Hamilton and Livingston appear to have massively over archieved without a benefactor. Arguably both clubs should be yo-yo teams between the championship and league 1 not clubs that are premier league mainstays. So why do Hamilton, Livingston and St Johnstone survive in the top flight and St Mirren and Thistle yo-yo? I suspect part of the answer is that Hamilton and livingston with the plastic pitch have an income that reduces the earning gap between us but that doesn't explain St Johnstone.

 I suspect a big part of the reason Hamilton and St Johnstone have stayed much longer than us in the SPL is to do with expectations. After 4/5 season in the SPL  Thistle start to think about top 6, Europe or a cup and forget that survival should be the only thing on their mind. Hamilton and Livingston have one mission every season and thats to finish 10th. 9th is probably acceptable to both those clubs but for Thistle or St Mirren 9th is a failure, 8th after 2 seasons in the SPL isn't good enough. St Johnstone have finished top 6 and won a cup but I don't think they set out to do that or expect it, they make sure they avoid 9th and the rest happens if you stay there long enough. Hamilton and Livinston don't rely on their crowds so if the play isn't nice to watch they'll cope better than at Thistle were we want to win and be entertained.

Also if you look at our last 3 longest spells in the top flight  under Auld, Lambie and Archie there is another lesson . Lambie left after a few seasons for Falkirk to my mind because he got bored doing the same thing at Thistle season after season. Equally Archie got stale and made a lot of mistakes towards the end of our last spell in the SPL. Auld left for a better offer. We seem to be too loyal to managers and woefully unprepared if we lose a good one. St Johnstone and Hamilton have a much better track record of mangerial appointments and a more ruthless approach if required because they have confidence that can identify a replacement.

We've had almost as many owners as managers over the last 30 years and unable to keep continuity of focus in the same way that St Johnstone have under the Brown family or Hamiton have had with Ronnie MacDonald. We've been most successful when we had our best chairmen (Jim Oliver, David Beattie) but as soon as they go or lose interest we falter. Our recent Chief exec appointments have arguably valued sentimentality and loyalty over proven experience.

So I think we are a yoyo club because the clubs ethos is to prioritise entertainment and loyaltly over a ruthless focus on league position and winning football games.

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7 hours ago, laukat said:

So I think we are a yoyo club because the clubs ethos is to prioritise entertainment and loyaltly over a ruthless focus on league position and winning football games.

That's showbusiness!!!!!

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Some great thoughts and thanks to all.

 I think Laukat hit the nail in terms of us doing better when we’ve had strong board leadership and if we’d avoided sentimentality over managers.

I know money is very important and while Colin Weirs money didn’t go on the first team it did leave more budget for it with not having to divert from first team funds to fund youth.  So for a short while we may have had an advantage over the likes of Motherwell.  

Then again United, Hibs and Hearts have all squandered fortunes and been down here. So I think there’s a lot of truth in the point made about teams expectations as that can force poor decision making, whether over budgets, hasty signings or sackings and appointments.

I think the choice over managers has been key for some clubs. Motherwell rarely makes mistakes. Even when Butcher was there he’s had a good spell. Who’d even heard of Steve Robinson?

St Johnstone are desperately poor to watch but Tommy Wright works wonders.

Killie haven’t had a great season this year but Clarke last year. Of course whoever you appoint is always a gamble as we’ve sadly learned the hard way.

I really felt that in our last spell and while under Beattie I’d never felt the club to be more stable and having a better chance to establish ourselves for the long term. I almost think the top 6 achievement was bad as there was only one way to go and we were ahead of plan. Just seemed to turn to crap so quickly. Anyway that’s history now and no point dwelling just love us to find the right long term solutions. McCall in the dug out is a good start.

Lets hope we can start to get the rest right across this season. 

 

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For the past forty years Thistle have been a lower leagues team with the occasional burst of overachievement. A more apt question is what do we have that Morton, Falkirk, Dunfermline, Airdrie, etc., don't?

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4 hours ago, West of Scotland said:

For the past forty years Thistle have been a lower leagues team with the occasional burst of overachievement. A more apt question is what do we have that Morton, Falkirk, Dunfermline, Airdrie, etc., don't?

That’s certainly a more positive way to look at things. We have always seemed to be too big for the lower leagues and too small for the top one. We’ve certainly done better than those teams you list.

However, I don’t see the question as an attack on us or what we’ve achieved, more just trying to understand the mystery of the success of a few teams that have managed to stay up there so long in the hope we can one day replicate it.

Motherwell as has been said have ridden  their luck with league changes a few times ( though if it had been us V Rangers in the season they sank to the play offs we’d have collapsed and not won comfortably like they did under that pressure, which adds to the mystery of how they deliver at that level).

Hamilton over the last 2 decades have had remarkable success ( for all the negatives we could throw at them for style of play and plastic pitches).

Got be something in the comments above about strength and stability in the Board room (though thinking of Killie and Motherwell I’m not so sure).

Like many I’ve always enjoyed watching Thistle most when they were challenging in the Championship and going well, rather than up in the SPL. Got say though I’ve seen more seasons when they were struggling just stay in the 2nd tier and given our history of as allyo says “bungeeing”, to me getting up to the SPL and staying there long term is more about keeping us safe and healthy and solvent and out of League One, rather than pushing for Europa league qualification  or Cup wins or any of those large dreams. 

 

Edited by Cork Jag

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Interestingly I saw  a table of overall performance in top flight Scottish football since records began and we were 10th.....I suspect since 1975 we would be lower....

we are not really a yo-yo team though as we struggle to get back quickly into the top flight indeed relegation seems to be quite traumatic for us !

in the studies done by economists on football the biggest predictor of success on the park is the amount you spend on players , not surprising , and you see that in Scotland .....but given the budgets of us, killie , st mirren, livi, st Johnstone, Hamilton etc the differences in finances are not huge nor sufficient in themselves to explain why we struggle and say Hamilton are in the premier

the biggest role a board has is picking the right manager and here - for reasons hard to work out - our record isn’t great and hasn’t  been over a long period .....there is clearly something in the culture, structure or management at Hamilton and St Johnstone that works though from the outside it’s hard to identify what it is 

in a league of 12 with 5 or 6 teams financially ahead of the rest - Celtic, rangers, Aberdeen , hearts, hibs and poss Dundee U - it’s hard for the rest to over achieve and we have struggled even to stay in the division when there are teams with less money than us 

one point about Hamilton is their youth system which has been highly regarded for a long time
 

but in the positive side: we have a well regarded manager, we seem to be financially stable and are investing in youth development so the foundations could be here !

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Think our average league placing over the last 15 seasons is about 13-14th..  which coincidentally or not is perhaps where we are in terms of level of our average support. Clearly we've been struggling recently but in terms of support we are probably/definitely a bigger club than Ross C, Livi and Hamilton, maybe St Johnstone too, but smaller than both Dundee clubs, Dunfermline and Falkirk, so maybe 13th is our spot in terms of support. Other things being equal (which they aren't) that would mean in an average season we'd just been relegated or just being promoted. So right in the "yo yo" spot.

As posters have pointed out, other factors come into play. One thing that does seem to remain constant is the general size of any clubs support. You cannot manufacture an increase and even tho' Thistle have been letting Kids in for Free it hasn't yet, and maybe never will, lead to an increase in support. Maybe our support would be lower without it. But we do seem to simply tred water in terms of our support over the last 20-30 years. Maybe it's the same for every club.  I recall ex chairman Jim Oliver saying that the best time to be chairman was when we were chasing promotion, everyone was excited, then ecstatic when we won it, fairly chirpy during the first season back in the premier league, then critical thereafter i.e. struggling in 10th position in the SPL wasn't as much fun as the 3rd, 2nd, 1st in the championship. So the solution seems to be to be perpetually in 3rd, 2nd, 1st spot...........

For me the most obvious differentiatior in terms of are we "punching above our weight" is the manager. Davie McParland, Bertie Auld, John Lambie and Archie are the few that managed it. The vast majority over that 50 year period failed. I think McCall has the talent to do it, so provided he is given a workable budget, plus if the academy keeps going and yields some more talent, then there's no reason why we can't do what Livi, Hamilton, Ross C, St Johnstone are currently doing - but it's possible that Dundee, Dunfermline and Falkirk may get their act together soon (along with Dundee U) and be competing with us for promotion. 

But the real challenge comes after promotion - how do you sustain it, how do you become an established premier league club that no longer yo-yo's...  in terms of support we should be aiming for the St Johnstone template (Motherwell I think have a consistently bigger support than us?). But St Johnstone have benefited from free land to build a stadium (which in turn was funded by the sale of Muirton) and Jeff Brown was constantly writing big cheques for many seasons (according to the late Brown McMaster), and they have a talented manager, and stability. But if we are debt free, and if St Johnstone are now living within their means with no external funding (?) then perhaps we can realistically target it too? Of course my argument gets crashed if St Johnstone are now living within their means and slowly slip out of the top league in the next season or two!

Meanwhile, we've been around the bottom of the championship for about 15 months, so let's get that sorted first! But with McCall in charge i'm confident about the future.

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Worth taking into account the ridiculously small leagues. Prior to that if a club wavered over two seasons between say 10th place and 14th place it would be of little note. Today it's more likely than not to cost a manager his job. I've pointed out before that we won the League Cup one season and finished in 13th place the following. In today's terms 12th place is automatic relegation yet nobody as I recall thought Davie McP should've been sacked. 

As pointed out we are historically the 10th most successful club since the leagues began. As javejag suggests we've probably dipped a little since the wee leagues came into being. Just guessing but if we're anything between 11th and 13th since '75 then it's hardly surprising to be considered a yo-yo club. I thought at the time that David Beattie's aspiration of making PTFC an "established" top tier club a tad on the hopeful side. To accomplish that in such a small league you really would need to be what you'd describe as a "top six club" to provide the necessary cushion to avoid regular flirting with relegation and thus yo-yo-ing. The three clubs mentioned in the OP are obvious exceptions to the rule. Perhaps what David Beattie was meaning was that the longer a club is established in the top tier, where what money there is lies, the relatively richer that club will become in comparison to the newly promoted club from the 2nd tier? That would certainly help explain why those three exceptions (none of whom have an exceptional support) have not been a yo-yo-ing. Provided you're well run, the longer you stay in the top tier the easier it becomes to stay.

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Excellent topic and some really great posts and with all the recent boardroom movement something that has occupied my mind.

For me Thistle are a club which should be somewhere between 8th and 16th in Scottish football, given its size location and history.

Given the information above that is pretty much on average where we are.

I would be interested in other peoples thoughts but the jags are a pretty unusual team to follow, smaller core support (due to location, wealth, recent success) than Killie, Motherwell maybe even St.Mirren or Falkirk but i think we have a higher percentage of that core support which go home and away.

So it seems to me that it is more difficult to hide at Thistle, maybe why managers are very hit and miss, we are a very passionate support (which is good and bad).

If we could get our season ticket sales up to 2000 and our home support up past 4000 consistently then I think we can look at moving the goalposts up a place or two, Killie and Motherwell survive on being somewhere between 6th and 11th usually. 

I do think we would have to knock one or more of the established teams out of the league to do this.

I would happily spend many hours over a beer discussing how possible this is to achieve.

 

Edited by Juanito

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Can't disagree with any of the posts. Every post consider yourselves liked. A good subject to discuss. Lets just hope we can find the winning formula before to long, get back into the top league and stay there for a good number of seasons.

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2 hours ago, lady-isobel-barnett said:

As pointed out we are historically the 10th most successful club since the leagues began. As javejag suggests we've probably dipped a little since the wee leagues came into being. 

A similar survey was published in 2000, at which point we were the 8th most successful club since the leagues began, and the highest placed team to have never won the league.

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Very interesting topic & don't think there's an easy answer.

However, I do think the size of the leagues has to be a factor - there's simply no 'hiding place' for a poor season (be it injuries, manager leaving, poor run of form) - and that leads to constant upheaval & uncertaintly.

Can't help but feel we've missed the reconstruction boat now Rangers are challenging again, but for the good of the game in Scotland, it should never be far from the table. More clubs would be secure in their league position, likely to mean less chopping & changing of managers, more variety for the fans (not the same 9 teams all season), more youngsters being given an opportunity...) - what's not to like? Oh yeah, less OF games for Sky. 

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22 hours ago, laukat said:

So I think we are a yoyo club because the clubs ethos is to prioritise entertainment and loyaltly over a ruthless focus on league position and winning football games.

A good point. Steven Anderson is a legend at McDairmid while Chris Erskine is a legend for us. Which of these would you rather have to keep you in the top flight ?

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The comparision with Dunfermline, Falkirk, Morton and Airdrie are interesting.

Dunfermline has larger attendances on average than we do but is still recovering from chasing rainbows under Masterton. Which is similar to were we were after the "save the jags" season. I suspect Dunfermline will be back challenging for a spot in the SPL in about 2 or 3 seasons. Dunfermline have made 3 cup finals and played in Europe in the last 20 years so arguably the did better than us.

Falkirk have comparible crowds to us and have similar ups and downs with owners. Right now they are underperforming and desperate for a new owner and chairman to take over. They would still probably be in the Championship if they hadn't experimented with importing non-league english players last season under Hartley. However Falkirk have made the Scottish Cup Final and qualified for Europe in the last 10 years. So their highs are aguably better than ours.

Morton and Airdrie (current incarnation) are clubs that have less support and less financial backing than us. They are on a par with Hamilton and Livingston. However Morton have never dealt with Cappielow properly to develop the income streams that Hamilton rely on and the Hugh Scott era almost ended them so getting a benefactor like Douglas Rae wasn't enough to repair the damage caused so far.

Airdrie overspent in the 90's to get to top league then went bust with a stadium thats now a white elephant and have never recovered. They could adopt a model similar to Hamilton and Livingston but it will take a long time for that to bear fruit and with crowds down its hard to see how they will be much more than a team that yoyo's between League 1 and the championship. Arguably Airdrie are more comparable to Clyde than they are to us.

Personally I think there is a group of clubs outside of Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts and Dundee United that we are in. That group contains Motherwell, Kilmarnock, St Johnstone, Dundee, St Mirren, Falkirk and Dunfermline. So if we are well run for a 15/20 year period we should be consitently in the top league and have the ocaissonal cup final appearance. However we  have not appeared in a cup final or major European competition in nearly 50 years. All the others in the group I described have achieved that in the last 20 years or less.

ICT and Ross County may in time be clubs that sit within our group but I suspect they are being financially supported beyond their true means and over the next 20 years may settle into being solid Championship clubs rather than yoyo clubs. However both of them have again appeared in a major cup final in the last 20 years and ICT have appeared in europe.

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Excellent posts. Not much more to add other than being a yo yo club has allowed us to enjoy three promotions to the premier. Small beer perhaps. That said real frustration that we went from 6th in the premier to where we are now. We will return but the jury is out when....2021 would be appropriate. Our destiny?

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