When Falkirk were relegated to League One a few years ago, few expected the Bairns would need more than a single attempt at winning promotion out of the third tier of Scottish football – but today’s 6-o thrashing at the hands of Queen’s Park leaves Paul Sheerin’s side looking further away from the Championship than they ever have.
Even the most ardent Bairns fan would struggle to find much positive to say about things at the Bairns over the last 18 months as they’ve lurched from shambles to shambles on and off the pitch.
The ill-fated fan forum that was hosted by the club became the thing of internet legend as now-deposed chairman Gary Deans’ ‘that’s a statement not a question’ response to once concerned fan was mocked by supporters of clubs around the world while German giants HSV poked fun at it following a penalty shoot-out win.
While the Bairns are never likely to be one of Scotland’s elite clubs and pushing to break the Old Firm’s dominance of the league title, the two-time Scottish Cup winners can very much be a strong addition to the Premiership.
But as fans make their way home from the Firhill drubbing by the Spiders, it’s hard for even those with no affiliation to Falkirk wondering just how much further they can fall?
Already in their third year in League One, failure to win promotion this season would seriously risk Falkirk’s full-time status and leave them on the brink of become one of those clubs whose entire existence sees them stuck in the lower reaches of the SPFL.
What makes things worse for the Bairns is that the last 12 months are, probably, only the tip of the iceberg of the problems at the club – with some Falkirk fans still adamant the rot began when Paul Hartley was allowed to close the club’s impressive youth set-up to funnel the cash towards the first-team and a procession of highly-paid duds.
Spending good money in recent seasons trying to get their way back into the Championship has seen countless gambles by the Falkirk management and, in truth, few of them have ever paid off.
Bringing back Blair Alston, keeping Mo Gomis and Connor Sammon ahead of last season, not making good enough use of the loan market and not showing enough faith in some of the younger players at the club have Paul Sheerin’s side looking utterly bereft of ideas and every bit a third-tier team.
Even off the pitch, the Bairns seem to have lurched from shambles to shambles with the long-running will-he-wont-he saga over a potential investment from Mark Campbell (he didn’t) and Phil and Carrie Rawlins’ brief tenure on the board setting the tone for everything else at the club.
As someone who lives locally, the Bairns have always been an important part of the local community but even that has been overtaken by Stenhousemuir in recent years – although both clubs still do some excellent work.
The arrival of Jamie Swinney at Falkirk after an impressive stint as chief executive of Stenny, sees a capable set of hands at the helm and it will be interesting to see just how much change he can implement at the Falkirk Stadium in the coming months.
However, there’s going to be no quick fix for the former Warriors supremo in his new role with their local rivals and the one thing he doesn’t have on his hands is time.
Another season in League One could be catastrophic for Falkirk, no matter how anyone wants to try dress it up, and there’s still plenty of time for the Bairns to salvage a playoff spot at least this season.
NTOF now offers a YouTube channel featuring exclusive interviews, post-match discussion, in-depth debate, and much more – LIKE and SUBSCRIBE and don’t miss any of our videos.