Date: 2nd September 2022
Last week thousands of Scottish fans got involved with @FSFScotland and donated tons of food at games to help most at need.
Well done to all.
It should have been front page news but good news stories don’t sell papers.
Instead the headlines focussed on some Motherwell fans misbehaving badly in and around The Clansman bar in Kilmarnock.
And on Friday night there were also scuffles between Ayr United Fans and Dundee fans outside Somerset Park.
I don’t know what kicked either off, and I’d guess ‘drink had been taken’.
They may have been isolated stramashes or the start of a trend back to the nonsense of the ‘70s.
Time will tell.
I was contacted a couple of days later by Rory Cassidy, a journalist at the Record, for my thoughts on this non-normal upsurge of violence and it got me thinking that Scottish Football might become an innocent victim of the growing anger and despair that is in our communities.
3 years of a government we didn’t vote for, populism with all its soundbites covering up the lack of real policies, lies, and now a huge cost-crisis exacerbated by energy prices exploding because we have had no national energy plan and an energy pricing model that was never fit for purpose.
Football can be an outlet for good like fans demonstrated last weekend but it can also be an outlet for the growing anger and despair throughout the communities fuelled by rivalries, alcohol, and testosterone.
I hope it never happens but here is some of what I said.
“Football is at risk because it is an outlet and some people have no other release.
We are potentially on the edge of civil disobedience not seen since the poll tax.
Anger, despair and a lack of control are a dangerous cocktail and football can be a spark.
My fear is people in Scotland will be angrier than they have ever been.
Football and it’s fans reflect the state of society and there is a deep and suppressed anger that needs a release.
I’d ask supporters to remember two things.
We are all in this together and away fans are our guests and should both behave and be treated as such”.
The way to stop the fans being vilified yet again and again is to see football as something we all love and the current inter-club loyalties as something that unites us all rather than the petty division that some seem to think it is.
We really are interdependent and in this together.
This Week’s Sting
1. Grass Roots- Our Biggest Ongoing Own Goal
This week Radio Scotland featured a young Stirling goalie who has been blocked by the SYFA from playing.
So far, he has missed 5 or 6 games.
He has cerebral palsy and has been part of a programme where he has to apply to the SYFA to get annual permission to play for a team one year younger than him and also the Scottish CP team.
He needs dispensation to play and the nonsense is instead of it being person-centred, it is an annual rigmarole involving GPs, his club, his family and the SYFA!
This year the SYFA have decided in their wisdom to change the system at the last minute.
He has not received his special dispensation so cannot play either for his team or the Scottish Cerebral Palsy team.
Contacting the SYFA is like trying to get your tax back from Ryanair.
No names, no easy route, and no replies to emails.
I know too that the goalie’s team used to have 7 or 8 local Stirling rivals and one by one they have fallen by the wayside because running kids teams is too bloody hard.
It shouldn’t be and this should be one of Ian Maxwell’s priorities.
Every kid who plays football should be treated as a potential fan for life and the game relies on revenue from fans.
In the meantime, here is an insight into amateur football for all ages.
Ashfield FC a North Glasgow club without a ground found out the cost of booking a pitch at North Kelvinside Primary’s new pitch.
£120 for 2 hours plus a £46 add on for ‘Janitorial Services”.
And we ask why kids don’t play football like they used to.
2. In Liz We Don’t Truss
I’m doing a lot of shouting at the telly and the radio these days.
The Blue, End of Pier, Ugly Show’ is nearly over and we will soon have a new PM who was part of the old cabinet, who were part of an ever increasingly right-leaning political party, who despite having less than 44% of the UK vote have a dominant position and act like they actually have more.
They call it democracy and then swiftly forget that 56% didn’t vote for them but think they don’t need the likes of us anyway to get re-elected so don’t care.
Next week will see a procession to Balmoral and a new ‘Maggie Wannabe’ in Westminster.
She has promised tax decreases, not because it will help our economy, nor our ordinary workers in the approaching time of need.
No it is a simple gambit that will get her elected by her particular voting elite.
History will show her tax reductions will not be the silver bullet she professes but she’ll be toast by then anyway.
Before that the energy and other costs of living rises will have had huge impacts on the UK.
As I write the FTSE and the pound are not having a good day.
We are on the cusp of what economists call a ‘Negative Multiplier’.
A quick definition of what that means right now to us all is: – A sharp fall in active consumer spending caused by sudden and large energy price rises will lead to knock-on effects. These effects will be considerably larger than the total amount of the original spending fall. This is because when people spend less money elsewhere then people and businesses will have less income to spend too.
This will impact in waves, multiply and affect all areas of an economy that rely on discretionary spend”.
We are there right now and unless she freezes the energy price rise then here is an insight on how Clach, Caley and most clubs will be affected.
Fewer walk up and away fans.
Less spent on food in the ground on hospitality, on the raffles, and in the club shop.
Less bookings for function areas.
And for their hinterlands on match days and indeed all week.
Less spent in pubs and cafes.
Fewer local papers and treats bought.
General trading down and spend reduction because if you no longer have it, you can’t spend it.
3. Ticket Prices Before and During the Coming Storm
First an insight from the oval ball.
I know someone who happens to have 6 good debenture seats at Murrayfield where the seats for next Spring’s 6 nations are on sale at eye-watering prices.
He has always bought all his tickets which are good and classed as ‘platinum’ but yesterday cut back.
At £123 per seat you can’t blame him.
He ordered all his Irish match seats because people are already travelling over to see the match but only took 2 for the Wales game and none for the Italian match.
The SRU might just squeak full crowds for next year but ‘golden goose and killing’, come to mind.
It got me thinking about football prices.
The Champions League gives good insight.
For good seats rather than the cheapest for a fair comparison the amount per ticket is: –
Barca, 70 – 90 Euros each.
Leipzig, 70 Euros.
Man U, £45.
Much better value but still pricy.
4. Amazing Women’s Euros Final Numbers
365 millions watched matches live on tv, up from 178 million in 2018.
87,192 at the final and no trouble
50 million plus watched the final live, up from 15 million in 2018.
The football world has changed for ever.
And good luck to Rangers Women against Benfica on September 20 at home then away on 28th.
Benfica are ranked number 37 in the Uefa rankings and it could have been so much worse.
5. Knock, Knock
That’s American owners for you.
I haven’t seen much of United this year so I’ll just give you two quotes that explain and analyse just what has happened.
First Dundee Utd’s Owner and Chairman Mark Ogren, who hired and fired Jack Ross.
“A string of poor performances and unacceptable results led to the board, making the decision to remove Mr Ross of the position of head coach.
I am confident the players, staff, executive team and board in place are the ones to take us forward alongside a new coach”.
(i.e. I appointed him, I sacked him but everything else here including my judgement is just, apple pie and peachy keen, fine).
Now what Billy Brown Chairman but not owner of The Scottish League Managers Association, said.
“The players let their manager down and he’s getting the blame.
They gave him the job on the premise that he’s a good manager.
He had a good reputation.
He’s taken the job and everyone thought it was a good appointment.
Now 10 weeks later he’s not a good manager?
How does that work?
This is just crazy.
He had 7 matches and is gone, unbelievable”!
6. Well Done Big Chis
Fans of big clubs always think that the big clubs have a monopoly on doing the right thing for the game but that really is not the case.
This week Alec Chisholm, Chairman of Highland League side Clach, did two things that provide insight into how fans think and how clubs can prepare for the coming financial storm.
In a poll in the local paper, Clach fans came out strongly in favour of early kick offs in the dark months if such a move saves money for their club.
Makes total sense to me for all games outside the Premiership.
Chis also said the club are conscious that the club has a duty to help its fans, calling them “The Lillywhite’s Lifeblood”.
“Clach are a fan owned club” the chairman said, “And cutting costs for the club will prove crucial and can only be a good thing to help our support where possible too because it’s going to be hard for people.
We are discussing how we can help them and listening to them”.
I’d say ‘listening’ is a skill most clubs have forgotten and need to relearn.
7. Qatar Vs Ecuador Just 79 Days Away but There is a Hot Chile Contest.
This is already a saga and will test the honesty and integrity of Fifa.
I hear you smiling out loud already.
Ecuador’s defender Byron Castillo seemingly used false information to become eligible to play 8 times for them in the qualifiers.
The Chile Football Federation claim to have proof that he was actually born in Tumaco, Columbia in 1995 and not in the Ecuadorean city of General Villamil Playas in 1998.
So three years younger, Columbian not Ecuadorian, a false passport, birth certificate and ineligible.
How easy is that to adjudicate?
Bizarrely Fifa have already ruled on this one on June 10 using the old SFA chestnut, “Nothing to see here so move along” and thus avoiding fuss and clearing Ecuador to play the opening game vs Qatar.
Now on Sept 1 after a protest that could be embarrassing and costly legally, Fifa have reopened the case with a Sept 15 hearing where Chile will claim that the rules dictate that the 8 games should be awarded to Ecuador’s opponents for each match.
And guess what, Chile would then qualify instead.
The world will be watching Chairman Neil Eggleston, USA, Christian Anderson, Faroe Islands, and Salman Al Ansai, Qatar, who have asked that Byron Castillo is present on the video call.
So, it seems transparent but time is increasingly tight and despite the rules about eligibility being clear and simple, a fine is more likely than the rules being followed.
And Byron will get a smacked bottom or whatever that means now in Fifa speak.
For now, I’ll give the last word to Chile, “We have provided a significant amount of evidence proving the player was born in Columbia and is playing on a fake passport. We trust for the sake of fair play that justice will take its course”.
See you next week.
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