Date: 18th May 2017
Imagine sitting in the car, driving somewhere and with the Sportsound podcast blaring in your ears. Now go a little further and listen in your head to the words of Graeme Speirs, and you are nodding,. No I swear to God, I was nodding.
Before I found myself sitting in an ambulance, having crashed the car in some kind of shock, I reflected and spent some time trying to think back at what I was nodding my head – Graeme Speirs talking sense? Now I actually like him though the delivery he uses can at times be a tad annoying but there are points in his speaking that I often find myself finding merit in what he says – well apart from his spat with Andy McLaren about the working-class origins of my sport.
The reason I had for agreeing with Speirs was his retort to PFA Scotland Chair, John Rankin’s assertion that most people get taken to their football matches by their dad when young via the pub and the bookies. Therefore, so went the thinking, gambling is a part of football culture.
Like Speirs I did not grow up hanging outside bookies nor pubs whilst being taken to the games. Speirs had a Baptist minister as a father so his divine reasons for neither betting nor drinking are dissimilar to mine; my dad only took me once and we drove.
My dad also did not bet. The point is that there is a presumption that fans go to games for similar reasons. The danger of lumping us all together is simple; you miss the point.
What Rankine did make a very valid – and pretty poignant too – point was that the gambling thing was not just a footballer’s thing. Within 7 days a Chairman was cited. Now the Chair of Annan Athletic, Henry McClelland, is a much easier target than the Chair of a Premier League club but the message that Rankin found himself championing was suddenly real. He suggested referees, coaches, managers, directors and the whole infrastructure of football will have people who like to bet.
IF that is the case then fans are being robbed weekly.
People who use their positions to try and gain a personal financial advantage is unfair. To hear also of directors who would go out and place a bet on their team winning that was large enough to cover the win bonus is also a bit weird. It may demonstrate more fiscal sense than half of a Craig Whyte takeover plan but it leaves you wondering just why these people have control of anything more dangerous than Velcro.
As long as the SFA are willing to take the money of betting companies and we as fans demand the best deals in the pipeline for sponsorship we either have to put up with the hypocrisy or we need to find a new outrage. The SFA have a problem, because they perpetuate the hypocrisy whilst seemingly willing to try and attend to the issue.
As for the future I like the idea of an amnesty to allow clubs, players, officials and all the footballing community to come clean, own up and then get the game back on track.
Then we can agree on what the policy should be…
I think no betting on any football is clear, clean and unequivocal. It is the policy just now and anything else could see scarce resources spent on deciding what constitutes a breach of a complex policy and what does not. I have been up against the compliance officer, Tony McGlenan with a coach and it’s an experience I would rather avoid in future. These investigations tie things up in ways that are unhelpful to the effective use of scant resources.
Then again that seems sensible to me and I refuse to agree to propose it until Graeme tells me it is OK. I wonder when the nurse comes round, with my medication… hope it’s soon…
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