An industry underpinned by talent and ambition is an industry that is primed for growth. But for growth to be sustainable, it also has to be affordable.
The football industry is no different. It is an industry in which affordability must anchor talent and ambition.
In Scotland, we have been struggling for decades to build a truly successful and sustainable football industry that is capable of competing at a decent level in Europe.
It is a tricky balancing act between talent, ambition and affordability that we have just not been able to get to grips with. Not so much because we are never going to be able to develop the talent required, and I genuinely believe that; but because we have been conditioned to perceive ‘talent’ through the lens of ‘unaffordability’.
An honest glance backwards will tell us that the few successes we have enjoyed in recent years, Celtic and Rangers reaching UEFA Cup Finals, for example, have been achieved only because of unique or non-repeatable circumstances.
These have included the temporary presence of one or two extraordinarily talented individuals, such as Henrik Larsson and Lubo Moravcik, the likes of whom we are unlikely to see again; or an unaffordable gathering of hard working players who displayed outstanding collective dig, the likes of which will never be allowed to happen again.
The problem is that we have allowed the link between talent, ambition and affordability to become distorted.
It has become distorted in the same way that magic mirrors distort our physical appearance.
But at the fairground, we understand the illusion.
There is absolutely no temptation to run out and buy new clothes we cannot afford to fit our distorted size. Our own clothes already fit perfectly well.
Not so in the case of football.
Our ambition fools us into believing that we need to buy expensive and unaffordable talent in order to be successful, rather than finding a way of maximising what we already have.
We wilfully stretch affordability beyond its natural breaking point.
Not only does this jeopardise the sustainability of our game, it also distorts our perception of what we need to do to become successful and it changes our definition of talent.
And that is the root of the problem.
Think how easy it is to assume that high transfer fees and salaries guarantee superior ability and success in Europe. And think how often this proves not to be the case.
We need to realign ambition with affordability.
And we need to redefine talent in terms of both.