Andy’s Sting In The Tale (08/03/24) “Thoughts Inspired by Jeremy, a Man With a Wee Red Box”

Date: 8th March 2024


This week we experienced an ultimately futile attempt to corral a few votes and a less bleak future with another National Insurance reduction bribe, some feisty rhetoric to hide his attempted sleights of hand, and other stuff that the commentators and analysts could immediately see right through.
Yes, it was a well-polished mixter-maxter of robbing Peter to pay Paul except for the unwritten ‘blue’ rule that the richest and most powerful always have to come out of it best.
Sadly for us all, Jeremy, despite his characteristic schoolboy smirking, the rehearsed bonhomie and back slapping, and the all-round confident posturing with the wee red box, didn’t deliver.
He couldn’t.
He isn’t a magician.
Nor does he have the right toolkit to glue his proverbial Humpty Dumpty party back into an efficient wall-sitting entity. (Nobody does).

Jeremy and his successor Rachel are, and will be, caught up in a constant short-term view of the world where long-term planning is 6 months away at most.
And poor Jeremy has the additional handicap that his organisation currently doesn’t sit happily together having been hopelessly divided from years of power-hungry infighting.

Parallels in ‘North of the Wall’ Football

The budget and all the nonsense around it got me thinking.

Scottish Football shares Jeremy’s biggest economic and strategic problems and is well used to mimicking his style of using mistruths to prevail.

Just like the UK economy we are not growing our cake to its full potential and haven’t for years. And because of elephants in rooms we do nothing about it.

Our economy is blinkered, unbalanced and we don’t share revenues fairly enough throughout the game, and to complicate it some prefer it that way because they win out.

Everything we do is short-term in its very nature, secretive, and driven and controlled by self-interest.

Our factions inside our unified tent seem to be incompatible.

If nothing changes all we are going to get is Henry Ford’s cliche.

“If you always do what you always did you’ll always get what you always got”.

And that means managing and indeed exacerbating a long term decline.

Pitfalls Course - Efficient Frontier and Composite Index - Procifics Consulting Inc.But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We can be in a better place, if we choose to be.

In Sting last week I shared some thoughts last week from a bunch of ex footballers who like me want the game to be in a better place.
My mailbox showed that you thought what we said made sense but you also shared the abject frustration that currently the game is incapable of helping itself from within.
Nobody disagrees with that one.

If in good faith I had sent the ideas to the 6th floor I wouldn’t even get a response.

Why I hear you think?

The reasons are institutional and deep-seated.
Scottish football says (hides behind) that it is ‘run by clubs for clubs’.
(It only needs pesky fans to fill its coffers).

Scottish football also doesn’t think it needs outside help and not only that is set up in a way to avoid inside help too.
It is not set up to listen or to seek or welcome any change.

‘We’re Better Than Allright Jack’

I can hear the response already, – “Don’t talk about problems, Andy with your ‘Sting’ and proposal for an Independent Regulator, or radical change from within, to reset our structure”.

Gianni Infantino spotted at Scottish Premiership match as Fifa chief takes break from high-power talks | The Scottish Sun“Scottish football is in a better place than it has been for years.
We’re an unprecedented commercial success.
The feelgood from our international team and the revenues it will bring mean all is rosy in the garden.
We’re selling out Hampden too.
And we welcomed Gianni Infantino twice in the last year”.

“So nothing to see here, please move along, smartly”.

OK, But What Did the SFA or our SPFL Leagues Do to Deliver Unprecedented Scotland’s Success?

They appointed Steve Clarke and he built a team that qualified and fired up the Tartan Army.

–  An economic fact is Steve Clarke has delivered millions that the SFA CEO could never have budgeted for.

– A wise insight might suggest that his success is a lucky unforeseen bonus for us all.

If We Were Procter and Gamble or If I Was SFA Chair Instead of SFSA Chair.

We’d be celebrating, ringfencing the ‘Clarke Windfall’ revenues, investing them into infrastructure projects for the future, and fertilising two levels of grass roots.
Basic grass roots that recruits and keeps players and fans for life.
And our current elite pathways would be more fully integrated, modified and geared up for ‘second chancers’ to avoid the current child carnage and lost opportunities.

But We’re Not

Oil Rig Graveyard – Highland, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Like Scotland’s oil revenues from the ‘70s, 80s, ‘90s, – right up to today we’ll end up soon enough with Steve as a memory and having nothing to show for the unbudgeted purple patch he has delivered.And when it finishes we’ll not know where it came from or how to replicate it.

Scottish Football Doesn’t Need Much
There is so much that is good in our game and the right kind of changes can be built from:

And when united they create ‘culture’.
We need to create the right ‘culture’.

Scottish Football needs the right ‘culture’.
A ‘culture’ where things are different.

The late Gordon Baxter’s (of Speyside fame), own corporate manta is perfect to tweak for us and our game.
How about?
‘Scottish Football is Different and Better”.

I’d buy into that any day of the week so let’s steal it.

Lets all combine to make Scottish Football Different and Better.

That will need a big change and has to be led from the top.
Ask yourself this question.
Does Cultural Change Come From Within or From Outside?

The answer is Both.
And it’s like a dog for Xmas not a one-off, one time tick-box

Reset, indeed constant reset from within is the way top businesses keep their eye on the ‘red light’ they are aiming at and allows them to point their ship in the right direction.

And we could be a top business in our field.

What would that take Andy?

As of now from the outside you’d think our voting set-ups and meek acceptance of the status quo by 35 out of 42 members suggests that everyone is happy and all is dandy.
But that is not the case.
Our clubs have been corralled and browbeaten into thinking they can’t change anything so they no longer try.

“Treat them like mushrooms”, has been and still is the mantra. “And hide it behind some pretendy democracy too because, –  don’t they have real work to care about and keep themselves busy”?

That alas is a truism.

Most clubs have enough to do with their own micro-knitting and survival in small untenable leagues and are further hampered by poor central commercial income streams.
These facts alone keeps them far too busy to worry about the macro issues screaming for change.

And that’s how they are constantly divided and conquered by both our governance systems in play.

What Does ‘Treat Them Like Mushrooms’ Mean Andy?

By the Lights of Their Eyes - TV TropesThe stark meaning is ‘Keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit’.
Stuff like when club chairmen ask ,”What is all this independent regulator stuff all about?

Tell them a ‘made-up’ scary story like, “It will cost millions and you will have to pay”.

Don’t tell them that the numbers you have just made up are a ‘big bad wolf’ scary concoction or that at worst it would cost less than the wages for 1 or 2 squad footballers, or that in England those in the know say it will be ‘cost neutral’.

Don’t tell them that an Independent Regulator would almost certainly increase revenues into and across the leagues by dealing with some long term elephants in our room that keep wholesome sponsors and fans away.

Don’t tell them that an Independent Regulator would probably not accept the current voting structures that mean some members are more equal than others.

Don’t tell them that under a fairer system that more monies would flow down from the very top so the majority of clubs would be better off.

Don’t tell them that we’d have more home-produced players, playing, in our leagues.

history of the phrase '(but) some — are more equal than others' | word historiesGeorge Orwell was writing allegorically about political self-interest for personal benefit when he wrote Animal Farm but football is riven with parallels of some clubs wanting to and succeeding in being ‘more equal’.

That’s plain wrong but it can be recognised and addressed.

Like it or not we are all in this together and our game need to modernise and future proof or stay locked in our Henry Ford cliché.




That’s it from me for this week.

Feedback welcome and the wee-est of stories you send that aren’t always wee.





Andy’s Album of the Week

Sticky Fingers [VINYL]: CDs & VinylThis week it is the Rolling Stones and ‘Sticky Fingers’.
I bought an original pressing the week it came out.
The one with the now very desirable ‘Andy Warhol’ zip.
I got it from the Concorde Record Shop in Perth in May 1971 and nearly wore it out as it was never off my turntable.
I still love Wild Horses, Dead Flowers, and Sister Morphine.

A wee throwback is records were expensive back then and we used to swap with close pals and then record each other’s albums on our wee Phillips cassette recorders, the one with the build in mike.
The down side was when you took a top album into school that everyone wanted a ‘lend’ especially girls you liked.
They didn’t always look after your scratchable albums.

Sticky Fingers was hot so I used to take it into school in a ‘Round at Calum’s’ sleeve.
Nobody ever wanted to borrow ‘Round at Calum’s’.
And that is why even today my Sticky Fingers is like new.

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