EVERY journey, as they say, starts with a single step. The target of raising £50m in revenue a year for Scottish clubs that was posted in last year’s SPFL strategic review may seem some way off at present, but in launching a centralised marketing hub, Neil Doncaster believes the game’s governing bodies have indeed meaningfully set off on that journey.

“We are not going to get to that target overnight,” Doncaster said.

“We know it is a very stretching target. We are just under £30 million distributed to members as fees at the moment, so it is clearly a stretching target, but Ron was clear that it should be. It is right that we shoot for the stars.”

READ MORE: SFA, SPFL & SWPL announce Scottish Football Marketing plan

The Ron that Doncaster is referring to is of course Ron Gordon, the late Hibernian chairman whose recent death sent a shudder through the game he had so influenced in such a short time, but whose passing should not mean the work he put into the betterment of Scottish football comes to a shuddering halt.

SPFL chief executive Doncaster appeared shoulder to shoulder with SFA and SWPL counterparts Ian Maxwell and Fiona McIntyre yesterday to launch Scottish Football Marketing, billed as ‘a centralised commercial hub to revolutionise the promotion and marketing of the national game in Scotland.’ More than that though, it seemed a symbolic gesture, signalling that at long last, collaboration for the greater good was now de rigueur on Hampden’s sixth floor. And that initiatives such as these can help to bring that magical £50m figure into sight.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Scottish Football Marketing will take us closer to that target,” Doncaster added.

“And by working together we stand the best chance of maximising the revenues not merely for the SPFL member clubs but, through the SFA, for all the members of the SFA and the members of the SWPL as well.

“I do think it’s a genuinely positive, good news story and my only sincere regret is that Ron is not here to see it announced having put so much of his own hard work into it.

“The concept of a one-stop shop for Scottish football and drawing together all of the various assets within the SPFL, SWPL and Scottish FA is something we have been working on for quite a while.

“I mentioned at the service for Ron Gordon earlier in the week that what we achieved by working together as three bodies to create the SWPL last season barely raised a ripple of surprise, that we were able to do that.

“A few years ago, I think it would have been astonishing that such diverse parts of the game could have come together to create something so groundbreaking and so positive.

“Fiona deserves huge credit for the way that has come on leaps and bounds in such a short space of time but it’s a good example of the way in which co-operation can grow the size of the whole pie.

“What we want to do is ensure that we are in collaboration with each other and not in competition.

“It doesn’t make sense for the three bodies to send separate decks to a potential when, actually, a proper commercial director can turn up on the steps of a potential major sponsor and say, ‘Here is Scottish football, here is what we can do to help you achieve your aim, what part of the game would you like to engage with?’ “Hopefully we can be that one-stop shop.”

READ MORE: Neil Doncaster hopes to fulfil legacy of late Hibs chairman Ron Gordon

Aside from hard cash, Maxwell believes the marketing hub will allow Scottish football – so often perceived to be run by ‘dinosaurs’ and ‘blazers’ – to embrace new audiences.

“The revenues are obviously important, but there is a real engagement opportunity here as well,” Maxwell said.

“When we look at the way people now engage with any sport or any activity, it’s completely changed.

“You think about the Netflix documentaries and the way they are driving new fans to engage with sports they didn’t previously. “I’m watching ‘Drive to Survive’ at the minute and I’ve never watched a Formula One race in my life. I still don’t think I am particularly likely to, but I’m really enjoying that different element and getting under the bonnet of that sport and understanding it. “We have a younger generation we need to engage. Football is a really popular sport, but how do we grow that and maximise it and think about it differently off the pitch.

“The Scottish FA is 150 years old on Monday and we need to make sure we are future-proof for the next 150 years.

“We do need to change, we do need to grow, we do need to evolve and we do need to understand the landscape we are in.”

From the perspective of the women’s game, McIntyre firmly believes that a collective approach to marketing will benefit the SWPL, but also allow the league to showcase its own unique proposition to potential audiences.

“Passion and drama are now synonymous with Scottish football,” McIntyre said.

“But the USP is also the diversity across Scottish football and there will be partners who want to work within the women’s game with a far more family friendly audience. We have Rangers Celtic games on Saturday night and no segregation at cup finals.

“There will be other partners that want the drama of an Old Firm cup final at Hampden with 50,000 people. There will be others looking more at the grassroots of the game and the national team.

“So, diversity is something that we want to celebrate and bringing everyone together allows us to do that in a compelling way, and tells the story of Scottish football without losing the drama.”

Even with the outbreak of harmony between the governing bodies, that seems unlikely.