ALONG with a pie and Bovril, they have been a staple of the football terraces for decades.
But the season could soon be over – for good – for the traditional matchday programme.
The SPL is considering the introduction of a nationwide publication, which it hopes will be more appealing to supporters, while driving down costs and increasing revenue.
But today fears were voiced from both Hearts and Hibs fans who fear that if the proposal goes ahead, it could put the identity of individual clubs at risk.
Chairman of the Hearts Supporters’ Trust, Derek Watson, said: “I think a club’s identity is in its programme and it would take some of that away from the clubs having a one-stop SPL programme.
“Personally, I like having a look through the programmes. I don’t like the sound of it.”
While having club specific content – such as the front cover, messages from the respective managers and information on the opposition – the new programmes would also contain news and features from around the SPL, Scottish football and players in general.
Mike Riley, chairman of the Hibernian Supporters’ Club, said: “I would rather keep to tradition.
“Hibs produces a good programme and it’s quite interesting to read.
“I’m not interested in reading about the rest of the clubs.”
From humble beginnings as a single sheet of paper simply listing that day’s teams, programmes became hugely popular among fans.
Rare copies bought by collectors can sell for thousands of pounds.
But in recent years their popularity has been on the wane as the programme – regarded as the voice of the club and a historical record – has faced competition not only from increased newspaper coverage of football but television and the internet.
The SPL said: “The matchday programme has experienced falling sales in recent years across the entire division and so the SPL, in agreement with all the clubs, are exploring an opportunity to potentially develop a new programme designed to appeal to supporters.”
Although some clubs are understood to be keen, others remain to be convinced that what is being proposed would be commercially viable, on how a one-size-fits-all programme would be received by fans and whether it would be an improvement on their current offering.
Fife Hyland, managing director of Hibs, said: “We are quite happy with our programme. It does need a lot of time and a lot of work goes into it. It’s a nice product, well researched and well produced. It’s commercially viable and well received by our supporters.
“But we’ll be watching with interest.”
No decision has yet been made and the SPL is keen to gather the views of fans. The SPL survey can be accessed at kwiksurveys.com?u=SPLmatchprogrammes