Scotland: Is the independence referendum splitting the dressing room?

By Laura Jones. Scotland are on the cusp of deciding their future as a possible independent country but Laura Jones asks whether this will cause a permanent split in the dressing room.

The ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns are entering the final minutes, no extra time. On the 18th September, the people of Scotland will decide whether they become an independent nation, breaking free from the United Kingdom.

This vote will impact people across the UK. Politics has been brought into every profession and football is no exception. At the weekend the ‘Footballers for No’ campaign group brought together former Scottish footballers and managers who are supporting the ‘Better Together’ campaign.

The campaign backers include: Alex McLeish, Jim Leighton, David Moyes, Alan Hansen, Willie Miller, Paddy Crerand, Davie Provan, Barry Ferguson, Bertie Auld, Denis Law, Ally McCoist, Derek Johnstone, Murdo MacLeod, Ian Durrant, John Brown and Frank McAvennie.Scotland legends say Vote No

Some of these ex-players, like Hansen, were abused online for airing their political views. Aerial shots of the former Liverpool defender’s home were posted online. Many pro-independence supporters were unhappy at an England based Scot speaking out. When the ‘Yes’ has LA living Sir Sean Connery as a figurehead, it’s a difficult point to argue, though.

Rangers manager Ally McCoist also received some online backlash as he is believed to have previously hinted that he would back an independent Scotland. His alleged words being: ‘I wouldn’t say I support the SNP (Scottish National Party) on many of their policies, but I do support the idea that Scotland should be ruled by the people of Scotland, maintaining the monarchy like Canada’. He disputed this and rejected calls for independence back in 2007.

The ‘Yes’ campaign is also bringing together unlikely collaborations in Celtic and Rangers fans. Rangers fans are historically pro-union but you only have to look at Facebook to see joint Old Firm groups who are united in the reality of an independent Scotland. This may be a minority but the chance to govern laws and set their own political agenda makes football rivalries redundant.

Independence politics have even brought together people either side of the Old Firm divide

Independence politics have brought together people either side of the Old Firm divide

Footballers are unlikely to sway undecided voters but they have every right to voice their opinions on which way they want to vote without repercussions.

The independence referendum could affect Great Britain’s influence on world football. FIFA have already intimated that there could be a change in the home nations voting capabilities, an issue that has caused consternation in some countries that one political power can effectively have four votes on the laws of the game.

The Basques and Catalans will also be watching the outcome of this vote closely. It may set a domino effect of new nations and new leagues in the not too distant future.

Whether you are ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, the fallout from the referendum will affect relationships. There will be a winner and there will be a loser but the people of Scotland will all still play on the same side. Whether the losing side acquiesces to the decision remains to be seen.

Are football-based political campaigns such as ‘Scotland Legends say Vote No’ powerful enough to sway public opinion? Will home nations football be drastically affected if Scotland do become independent?

Read more from Laura Jones here!

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