Andy’s Sting In The Tale (07/01/22) “Bullishness or Bluster?”

Date: 7th January 2022

 

  1. Without Fear or Favour
  2. January 17th in History
  3. Last Week’s ‘Secret Sting’
  4. The Puskas Short-List
  5. Make a Positive Out of a Sale
  6. BT, Those Helpful Chaps Bringing us Sportswashing
  7. 2030 Vision is Fading

 

1. Following the Rules Aussie Style

The Djokovic stand-off continues at a crappy Melbourne Airport hotel.
The world number 1 tennis player has spoken openly in the past, on the record, about his lack of support for the vaccination programmes.
The same jags that scientists tell us every day have saved lives.
That knowledge led to media discussions about his visa, and a genuine public outcry while he was in the air en-route. After an acute border examination of his ‘exemption’ he is now relying on a legal technicality to defend his title in front of hostile home fans.
One of his arguments was that he is being singled out politically and the down-under response to that is to revisit and re-examine all the ‘exemptions’ handed out.

It may have been a difference of opinion between the Federal State and the Government but Mr Morrison the PM, with an upcoming election has the bit between his teeth.
Speaking to my pal in Melbourne this morning, he says the people there are overwhelmingly siding with the government.
After 5 or 6 lockdowns and brutal Covid laws they don’t see why anyone should get exceptions.

See the source imageThe same rules for all.
Without fear or favour.
Clear and simple.

Sounds like a good way to run football in Scotland too.

 

2. Beetles, Storms, Breakfast TV, the Puskas Award, and a Wee Decision for Nicola

 

The 17th of January may go down in British history as the day when our arbitrary 500 crowd maximums ended, just as it was the day of Desert Storm, the launch of the VW Beetle and the premier of Breakfast TV.

If the Scottish Cabinet agree to revert back to normal it will be just in time for Celtic’s home match vs Hibs on that very night.
That would be a huge confirmation of the common sense the SPFL top division adopted in bringing forward the winter break.

With record Omicron cases, continuing huge uncertainty prevails, but word in the tabloids is that Hampden is bullish.

I don’t know if this ‘bullishness’ represents a collective football challenge to the politicos or is coming after discussion with them and the agreed joint plan.

The JRG, (aka the SFA/SPFL Covid-inspired love-child) doesn’t think it fit to tell the fans anything or have records of their meetings with the government for us to read.
(That particular fact remains an enigma as our government is accountable to its stakeholders, us, even if the SFA/SPFL seem not to be, and any and all government dealings should be in the public domain).

Anyway, the JRG have somehow come to a conclusion that Scottish football crowd limits will rise from 500 to 60,411 on the 17th and briefed this to both the media and the clubs.

 

See the source imageThe words quoted in the Hampden briefing to the Scottish red tops was ‘business as usual’.
That didn’t come from the First Minister though.
She’s taking the Dalglish New Year approach and for her it’s a mibbees aye and mibbees no situation, and we genuinely don’t know the outcome.
I’m not sure she does yet either.

I smiled at Keith Jackson’s unattributed ‘Hampden source’ quote too after Nicola had spoken.

The well known and well used ‘unattributed’ is said to have said, ‘Based on the First Minister’s announcement today the JRG has instructed clubs in the Premiership and around the country to prepare for an imminent return to full capacity.  There was some confusion about when this full return might be permitted given that the date of January 17 was mentioned during today’s update. But it has subsequently been confirmed that Celtic’s match with Hibs, on the same date, can also be expected to take place in front of a full house’.

Not confirmed by Nicola though.

Ms Sturgeon simply stated that current measures are in place for the next 10 days and would be reviewed next week.

Her ‘attributed’ quote is ‘I hope very much we won’t have to go beyond January 17 with these restrictions. All of us, including myself, want to be able to cheer Scotland on at Murrayfield in the Six Nations.’

The Nonsense of 500 at Bonnyrigg 

 

See the source image This weekend sees Rose host Spartans.
If the weather-Gods permit that is, and it is all ticket.
Many fans who wanted to be there, like me, will not be paying our money at the turnstiles and no bumper crowd.

What have the JRG done for all fans locked-out, all around the country?
I don’t know and I suspect the answer is nothing.

Fans feel let down.
One concerned fan, Larry, asked a question on behalf of us all on Radio Scotland on Thursday.
It was a phone-in with Prof Linda Bauld and Stephen Jardine.

She has been great right through, and Larry asked her why there was such severe restrictions on fans in the open air at football when indoor shopping centres have none.
A fair enough, non-aggressive question read by Stephen.

 

See the source imageI’ve typed up the question and full response because Linda’s answer was a classic for when you’ve been bowled a ‘Yorker’ and just want to clear your lines and move on to the next bowl.

Here’s Larry’s ‘Yorker’.

‘Can Linda explain why in Scotland I can’t go to the football with my family who are all vaccinated, sitting in an outdoor space, with other vaccinated people, but I can walk around a major shopping centre with maybe 5000 other people there who I’m completely unaware of their vaccine status and certification’. 

 

Linda responded immediately and this is also verbatim.

‘I mean, this is a good question Larry, and Larry the first point I’d make is that policy makers are making decisions all around the world which, you know, if you compare one environment with another don’t always seem to make sense for everyone. But there are some distinctive features of football but more generally mass events. You’ve got lots of people coming together and even when you are sitting in the stands you’re not facing other people, you’re facing away from them, you’re not necessarily in close proximity, there are pinch points in those venues whether you’re getting a hot drink or coming in and out of a turnstile, those types of things and, we know that mass events generally have been associated with infections so what the government has decided to do is treat, you know, a shopping centre where people can distance and walk around, differently, from that kind of event, but I recognise that when it is outdoors you’re asking questions about that and I think that in the future, again, we know the Scottish Government will be looking at what are the guidelines for mass events and when do we need to change them, and I’m sure, I’m confident they’ll change that as soon as they feel it is proportionate to do so’.

I like Linda, but that was a ramble going nowhere fast.
She is normally sharper and incisive.
Here it was skating on thin ice.

See the source imageHer response backs up my view that the decision to limit us to 500 fans was precautionary and ahead of knowing enough about the specific impact of Omicron. i.e. ahead of the Omicron science.
She didn’t answer Larry’s question because there was no answer that would have justified the current situation.
And according to her all we can hope for is ‘change when ‘they’ feel it is proportionate.
Here is a quote from me.

 

‘The JRG should have been pushing at this ‘open door’ on behalf of all the clubs who are losing out on the unscientific 500 limit that started at 2000 and was chiselled down to 1000 and then less’.

Press reports are also saying the game will ask for £2M from Nicola’s £5M announced ‘Compo Pot’.
Fair enough for the clubs but what about the fans, including season book holders who have been kept away from matches?

And why is it that football can’t seem to fight its own corner hard enough when the bigger clubs are not involved and not calling the shots?

 

3. New Year Resolutions Update

See the source imageLast week’s ‘Sting’ went out as normal, in fact a day early on our SFSA site, and also on our social media output too. Somehow it was not part of our weekly mailing and apologies if that is how you get it.

Thanks to those of you who missed it and emailed asking if I was OK.
I am, thanks, and much appreciated.

Here are some postbag responses to the Hogmanay Sting and a link back to it too, as the main subject we discussed remains very much alive.

Andy’s Hogmanay Sting In The Tale (31/12/21) “New Year Resolutions?” – Scottish Football Supporters Association – SFSA (scottishfsa.org)

Mike from Stirling responded, ‘Bang on the money about the nonsense of Berwick Rangers having no limits while every other Scottish club has an enforced economic shut down’.

Gemma from Inverness said, ‘Thanks for talking about football’s response to the Covid rules. I like your balanced approach and totally agree that football doesn’t look after its lower levels. They forget that we fund them and prop them all up. We need to be on their case’.

And retired doctor Brian from Glasgow ‘I can’t actually fault the Scottish Government for the initial decisions but fully agree that science and not politics should become the driver. The 500 limit was arbitrary, is arbitrary and should be reviewed. Even downwards if and when needed because it should all be based on science.
And I’d have bitten your hand off for a 24% chance this time last year’.

 

4. Another January 17th Diary Note

It started with a long list of 11 ‘drawn up by an experts panel’ and now there are just three goals battling it out to be crowned goal of the year on the day we hope crowds return to our game.

Each is worthy of a link and spoiler alert one was at Hampden against us.


Eric Lamela and his ‘Rabona’ goal for Spurs against Arsenal. (My favourite)

Lamela scores Rabona AND gets sent off as Gunners win derby! | Arsenal 2-1 Spurs | EPL Highlights – YouTube

Patrik Schick’s lucky cross come shot for the Czech Republic v Scotland. (A cracker and so visionary)

HIGHLIGHTS | Schick Screamer Spoils Scotland Party At Hampden! | Euro 2020 – YouTube

Mehdi Taremi’s overhead screamer for Porto vs Chelsea.

Chelsea v Porto (0-1) | Taremi Scores INCREDIBLE Bicycle-Kick | Champions League Highlights – YouTube

Unlike the SFSA goal of the season there is no fan vote, so it is a wait and see if we agree with whoever the experts are but these are three cracking goals and all in the UK.

5. The Mushroom Principle and Nathan

See the source imageI am sad to see Scotland full back Nathan Patterson head south but wish him well.
I hope he gets more game time with Everton too.
A wonderful prospect for them and Scotland.
I also understand why the Ibrox PR machine worked hard to spin something as negative as the sale of their top youngster into a positive.
The £11M record fee and a five and a half year deal is impressive.
And in some reports the fee rises to £16M with add-ons.
Great business.

However some of you didn’t believe the £11M fee.
It seems on the Everton club site there was a picture of Nathan standing in an Everton shirt with the figure £4.5M posted beside him.
A £6.5 M difference in what the announcement said.

I’ve been told some web sites went wild and that there were more than a few ‘discussing’ the difference on line and on newspaper sites.
There were stooshies aplenty and as usual in the west it developed into ‘us and them’.

I wondered what was really going on.

Yes, Scottish football has long treated its fans like mushrooms, you know – ‘keep ‘em in the dark and feed them bullsh*t”!
Was that the case here as well?
The gap was surely too big.

Then the reason for the difference became apparent.

Nathan is valued at £4.5M on the Fantasy Premier League where every player comes at a nominal cost.

The real £11M deal does suggest clever bargaining and salesmanship.

But it is still a sad day for Scottish football and a sad day for all Rangers fans.

6. BT Sport Charging us for Sportswashing

 

See the source imageJust this week, BT Sports announced with pride that they had scooped a last minute deal to show this seasons’s Supercopa de Espana live from Saudi Arabia.

They got it cheap because no other pay per view channel in the UK wanted it.

Anyway it is a four team tournament between Barca, Real, Athletico Madrid and Althetic Bilbao.
It starts on Wednesday January 12th with Barca v Real , then Thursday 13th Real v Barca and the final on Jan 16th.
(I’m glad it wasn’t on the 17th as we have too many other events that day).

Why is it played in Saudi Arabia?

$36.5M Dollars and the Saudis have an 8 year deal.

 

 

7. Bad News for Hampden

See the source imageWilliam, our future king, has said he is wary of being involved in any bid for the World Cup if success was not likely.
He says this because he was badly compromised and angered by the abortive English attempt to win the 2018 finals.

That means the much talked about Britain and Ireland hosting in 2030 almost certainly won’t happen because the English FA are not popular enough in Uefa, especially in the Eastern bloc.

The World Cup 2030 is likely to be a joint Spain/Portugal tournament followed by China in 2034.

The 5 British Isles nations, including Ireland, are being nudged to pitch to become the hosts for the 2028 Euros and that is possible.

The reality of decisions like this means any necessary Hampden renovations and upgrades will have to be funded from within Scottish football.

World Cup 2030 would have been good news for Hampden.
It would have delivered revenues and much needed government help.

 

The Old Lady of Mount Florida needs a plan.
 

 

Comments and input always welcome

Andrew@scottishfsa.org

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

 


Posted in: Andy’s Sting in the Tale, Latest News