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Andy’s Sting In The Tale (05/05/23) “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions”  

Date: 5th May 2023

(Photo:@Homesoffootball)

 And frequently the wrong ones.

This week we heard that way, way past the 11th hour, and over a year since the June 3 date was chosen as our annual flagship day that our Scottish FA Cup kick off was being put back ‘for tv reasons’.
Cup final clashes between Scotland and England have happened regularly for years with no need to change.

But someone, somewhere at the SFA, decided earlier this week to move our game back to a 5.30 pm kick off.

Was there consultation with the clubs?
Not really.
Not much more than the usual notification even to Celtic who normally wield substantial power on the sixth floor and in Scottish football in general.

Both clubs publicly expressed unhappiness after the event, especially Inverness who have further to travel.

Was there any pre-consultation with the fans?
Don’t be stupid.
Why would the SFA speak to customers who might not agree with what they want to do when they can just go ahead and do it?

The decision was made knowing it could financially hurt fans of both clubs, especially those who had already made travel bookings after the semis.
Inverness in particular are more affected, but they are a wee club and not that important in the SFA scheme of things. And a discussion about times would also help take the focus away from how the SFA split the ticket numbers available to clubs when one is big and one is wee.
Scottish Cup Final kick-off time confirmed as Celtic vs. Inverness CT ...

Do we know who at the SFA  actually made this late, late decision?
No.
We never do, and if nothing changes, never will.
No accountability.

We do know from years of experience that both the SFA and the SPFL are effectively run as secret societies, allegedly for clubs by clubs.
They hide behind it when they need to, and inherent short termism, lack of vision, and a lack of customer focus, means we get decisions like this all the time.
And disturbingly the hard fact is like the ruling pigs in George Orwell’s masterpiece,
“All animals in Scottish football might be equal but some animals are more equal than others”.

SCOTLAND 150th Anniversary Special Edition - LARGE ✅ 100% Authentic ✅ - Picture 1 of 2Sometimes I wonder who signs stuff off at Hampden.
It was just a few short weeks ago that we had the £90 Anniversary shirt that can be bought on line for less than £14 at DHgate.
The decision to sell it to us fans for £90 to didn’t just happen arbitrarily.
Someone somewhere at the SFA decided it was OK to rip the fans off?

Corporate nonsense.

And another current piece of nonsense that is heading to a club vote in June with almost no public discussion and no public input is Mike Mulraney’s ‘In B Tweener’ league reimagineering.

In a weekend of coronations, let’s think about our soon to be SFA President, Mike, and what he is pushing hard for, no very, very hard for.

Some PR person working for him has said let’s call it “The Conference League”.

This planned new league will have at least 4 “colts” or B teams from the current 3 paying to play in the Lowland League plus one other, and clubs from the current Highland and Lowland leagues to make up the numbers.

It is part of a long term gambit by Rangers and Celtic to have their colts teams playing in the SPFL proper.
And yes that would be at the expense of current community and regional sides like Montrose, Clyde, and in reality maybe any one of 25 out of our 42 clubs.
Obviously entities not as important as fee-paying colts teams.

Alloa chief Mike Mulraney defends facial recognition idea: Big Brother isn't watching you.. he's protecting you - Daily RecordMike seems to want it to happen so badly that one of his advisers has even come up with a word that encapsulates the solution he thinks we all need.

Seemingly our leagues, all of a sudden, need “Ventilation”.

I have no idea what this new jargon actually means.
But after a lifetime in business I do know it it is total ‘Corporate Nagumbi’ and just gets in the way of what needs to be done despite all the nodding heads from people round his board table.

Scottish Football needs a President who has the vision and imagination to see that among other things the pyramid needs a full and open review.
Top down and bottom up.

Change can indeed be very positive – the right common good change.

Pausing for a moment – it is easy to be critical about the SFA and how it runs the game.
Yes it certainly does deliver some bloomers but maybe that is because both the SFA and SPFL need outside help to change their ways.
Below I will suggest some simple and obvious ways for the SFA and the SPFL to start the process and change their game for the mutual benefit of all.

Your input is welcome.

This Week’s Sting

1. Why are the Fans Not Onboard?

2. All Roads Now Lead to Brechin

3. Best Game Since 4-5 at Wembley?

 

1. How to Become Fan Friendly and More Successful

Just imagine three conversations that never happened at Hampden and without change never will.

Everyday conversations about what to do concerning the clash with the English FA Cup, about a plan to celebrate 150 years of Scottish international football, and a proper review of stuff that really matters, like a pyramid that needs “Ventilation” and a much vaunted under 20 programme that simply fails to deliver first team players to Celtic and Rangers for their teams and selling programmes.

The kind of everyday business conversations that happen between different departments in any company.
Please imagine these are snippets from between the appropriate SFA person and a fans representative, me, somehow beamed in to be part of the 6th floor decision making process. A process that dictates that all decisions directly affecting fans had to be properly discussed and signed off.

Let’s address each one at a time .

 

The 11th Hour Re-Schedule of Kick Off

Inverness and Hearts fans set record attendance as Highland club announce incredible ticket sales for Championship clash - Daily RecordUnnamed SFA Person,
“I need to discuss the 3 pm cup final kick off.
It clashes with the English final and we will lose TV revenues and audience too.
Do you think we can put it back to 5.30 pm without annoying too many fans because we stand to gain substantially in the revenue stakes”?
Andy,
“How much will we gain and can we agree that no fan will lose out financially.
And why make this change now, why not last June when we saw the clash of dates and timings were confirmed?
I know some of the fans have already booked non changeable train tickets after the semis.
USFAP
“Viaplay are our new partner and don’t want to clash with the Mancs’ local derby at Wembley”.
Andy,
“Sorry no, think about the people from Inverness who have already bought tickets and also the huge Celtic travelling support. We can’t as an organisation work that way.
Next year either avoid the English clash or move the time before the competition even starts”.

150th Short Sleeved Tops

Scotland fan frustration as new £90 home shirt launched - BBC NewsUSFAP,
“We have a plan to produce 150th commemorative tops”.
Andy,
“That’s a great idea, can they be made in Scotland and maybe in high quality natural material”.
USFAP,
“No somewhere abroad where we can make them for $10 dollars. If we make a wee PR fuss we think we can sell them for £90 in an exclusive at JD Sports where each of us makes circa £40 per top. They are up for it too but only as an exclusive. Kids tops a little cheaper and margins pro rata”.
Andy,
“Go and talk to the retailer about an idea for £30 tops so we’ll see them all over Scotland, in the Costas, at Disneyland and all over.
Times are tight for all our fans and we should respect that.
So sorry, but a big no for £90 tops costing less than a tenner to make.
Come back with a £30 proposal and it will fly”.

B Teams and Mike’s In B Tweener League

USFAP,
“Our new president wants to create a new league and insert it above the Highland and Lowland levels and call it the ‘Conference’.

The plan is 4 Colts teams, 4 Highland and 4 Lowland and funded by the Colts teams paying annual fees.
For some reason the clubs in the SPFL lower divisions and especially below level 4 are not yet convinced.
President Mike’s pals at Celtic and Rangers say they think this is the missing link in developing under 20 talent”.

Andy,
Conference League set for Scottish football as Premiership clubs paying six figure premium for new division - Daily Record“We already know that Stewart Regan’s original pyramid vision was badly compromised by a revolt of SPFL lower clubs and with the consolidation of the junior clubs the whole pyramid idea needs rebalancing.
Developing kids is a different issue to be treated differently.
Fans of lower levels clubs want the pyramid to work better and there are wonderful newcomer aspirant clubs like Darvel, Pollok, and Linlithgow wanting to find the real levels for themselves  and their communities.
Likewise East Stirling, Berwick, Brechin, and Cowdenbeath want to know that there is a fair way back.

The whole pyramid needs reviewed and fans want that”.

 

USFAP,
“Mike’s plan, is part of his ‘Ventilation’ programme as a new president that ultimately sees a legitimate place for colts to play in the SPFL proper, obviously after a few years”.
Andy,
“There is a real pyramid imbalance and fans would back a root and branch review.
But there is something totally wrong with big clubs paying to jump the queue.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This This caper is way off the sporting integrity gauges.
We have an urgent need to revisit the under 20s dogma that was introduced a long time ago and fans would welcome a proper review of that.
But conflating these two needs that are facing our new president does neither justice, so sorry, it’s back to the drawing board on both.

How can I get fans to help you and Mike?
All he has to do is ask”.

Now that would be presidential.

 

Andy’s Guide to
‘How (if you are the SFA or SPFL) to Become Fan Friendly’

First, undertake genuine fan research to get to know your customers, build a rolling programme, and also develop a mechanism for fast response initiatives for insights on immediate pressing issues.

Then have elected places for fans on both boards.

Meeting Room in a Modern Office Stock Photo - Image of discussion, learning: 173460694Be serious and appoint an executive fan liaison employee at a high level in both organisations or even better across both.

Open Up and have all board meetings and key committees free to air on zoom.

Publish all board papers and welcome input via a fan liaison programme.

Publish minutes of all SFA SPFL external meetings, like those with Fifa, Uefa, Scottish Government etc.

And that is just a start guys.

It will make a hell of a difference.

 

2.  Brechin 0 Spartans 1

We've got nothing to fear' - Spartans playmaker Bradley Whyte says they will look to end Brechin's unbeaten home recordLast week’s tussle at Ainslie Park had a first half sending off, a should have been sent off but wasn’t, a late goal and a whisker between two fine sides.

A great advert for the level 5 leagues and the game as a whole.

The winners will face Albion Rovers or Bonnyrigg and it could be either.

This whole annual mini-series is worthy of TV airtime.

And as an aside the ‘Spartans Ultras’ alone are worth watching and show support and supporters can be friendly and joyous.
The Spartans Ultras – North Edinburgh Team – YouTube

 

3.  Great Football Games  

The Retro Celtic🍀 on Twitter: "Afternoon sorted. The young Paul McStay was magnificent 🍀England v Scotland Schoolboys - Wembley 1980 4-5 Final ... https://t.co/GhSdKXW6b3 via @YouTube https://t.co/yX5Sd1VusW" / TwitterI remember watching an England schoolboys v Scotland game in 1980 where a Scots team containing Paul McStay, John Robertson and Stirling’s prodigious talent Ally Dick won 5-4 at Wembley.
Earlier this week there was another cracker in the same vein when Rangers played Celtic under 18s at Hampden.
The game was a pure joy to watch, well done the BBC Scotland channel, with great goals including an outrageous back heeler.

Watch it, and watch the whole match not just the highlights.
And imagine a Celtic v Rangers game without the bile.
It happens with the youngsters and the women.
I shouldn’t even be mentioning the difference because it shouldn’t exist.

Maybe another one for new president Mike.

 

 

BBC iPlayer – Sportscene – Scottish Youth Cup Final 2023/24: 1. Rangers v Celtic

Every player a hero.
These kids and those playing elite level football need proper care and a programme that gives them the best chance and looks after them all, not just the lucky ones who ‘make it’.

Watch the OUTRAGEOUS backheel that sealed remarkable Youth Cup win for Celtic in 11-GOAL thriller against Rangers | The Scottish SunThe hard and sad fact is Scotland has no proper plans for elite kids first team development other than Colts teams in the Lowland League or Mike’s In B Tweener League Concoction.

The truth is we need more than that and deep down we all know it.

This problem needs real resource not sticking plaster and favours for pals.

Have a great weekend and as always comments, and insights are always welcome.

 

andrew@scottishfsa.org

 

 

Scottish Football is Everyone’s Business.

 

 

The SFSA do not claim to own any of the included images which will be removed on request of the owner.


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