Andy’s Sting In The Tale (08/04/22) “Monetising Anger and Hate”

Date: 8th April 2022

(Photo:@Homesoffootball)

  1. Overdue Decisions at Uefa
  2.  Are Some Internationalists More Equal Than Others?
  3. Play Offs and Pyramidical Politics Blocking Bona Fide Access
  4. Marching Songs and Bottle
  5. Scotland’s VAR Debut Ahead of a Crucial Vote
  6. Who Needs the Champions League?
  7. If You Haven’t Already Watched this

Was Obama Taking About Scottish Football?

This week Barack said big organisations are ‘monetising anger, resentment, conflict and division’ and in some cases making people very vulnerable and leading to violence.

After last Sunday’s sell-out at Ibrox, most supporters outside the two rivals, and non-fans too, could be excused for thinking he was on about our particular and unique Duopoly.

Speaking at the University of Chicago he was talking about the high tech companies and the downsides of misinformation, but what he said rings true about some of the issues in our game.

And bloody hell, they were there writ large, embarrassingly, on the screen, for the world to see last Sunday.

Not just the lunacy of at least two individuals, one of whom thought throwing broken glass into the six yard box was a good thing to do to ‘enhance’ his peer-group status.

Man arrested and charged after glass bottle thrown on to Ibrox pitch during Old Firm matchThere are idiots everywhere.
More worrying is in the cold light of hindsight the mass throng singing a rousing chorus or two celebrating what they all know to be a racist Glasgow razor gang of yesteryear.

It sounded like the vast majority of the home support were in unison.

It is a battle anthem too.

Nothing wrong with the tune but the words and sentiment don’t fit in any decent society.

More on that later.

 

 

 


1. Overdue Decisions Mr Infantino?

i) What is your thinking and plan concerning Ukraine and the play off that won’t happen for our men and the deferred game for our women?
ii) Does the Russian women’s team and Group C also need a plan ahead of the women’s Euros this summer in England?

The June Play-Off

TSee the source imagehe SFA and the Welsh FA were at Mr Infantino’s world cup draw and congress last week when Lise Klaveness the new Norwegian head burst into our consciousness.

I’d guess at some time in Doha the Ukraine situation and options were discussed by those who represent us even if the SFA still won’t tell us who was there.

Maybe it is naïve to expect that there should have been an update.

It almost feels like there is a Fifa embargo on the plan and the contingencies.

In the meantime,

– Ukraine is about to be re-attacked by the reassembling Russian forces and will not be in any kind of place to play Scotland.
– And Mr Dyukov the Russian oligarch, RFU President, Zenit St P’s President and Gazprom Chairman remains an active member of Uefa’s Executive Committee.

Uefa can do the right thing and offer Ukraine a bye straight into the finals this year, or as Richard, one of us, cleverly suggested why not look ahead and give them a straight bye into the next World Cup in USA/Canada/Mexico, because the stark reality is they won’t be anywhere near ready for this November.

The Women’s Euros

See the source imageESPN, the Disney owned sports channel, discovered this week that the Russian women’s team were only ‘suspended until further notice’ and still technically slated to play Group C matches against Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden at the 12,000 capacity Leigh Sports Village outside Manchester.
Switzerland are already on record as saying they would not play the Russians, and Sweden’s men had already spoken out about not playing the Russian male side in the men’s play-offs.

As of now Russia’s name is C3 on the Uefa Euro’s site and the earliest the situation will be addressed will be the next Executive Committee meeting on May 10.

Not good enough Gianni.

2. Girls Aloud

A wee stooshie between the Scottish International Women’s side and the 6th floor.
The girls had tweeted that only a fraction of Hampden’s 52,000 seats had been made available for Tuesday’s game vs Spain.
The SFA said “Its staff were hugely disappointed by the players reaction, that the sales system is the same as for men’s matches, and that negative headlines and ill-informed sharing could have been avoided had the players approached the SFA for answers”.

Be clear, this is not a row over ticket sales and methods.

It is about the Scottish Women’s team demanding equality.

See the source imageRachel Corsie captain and spokesperson said, ”It comes down to the fact we know the resources aren’t provided (for us) to the best level.
In comparison to what we get at club level, to what other national teams are given, and to what other Scottish teams are given, when you become aware of it, it makes you feel like you’re less important than others”.

Press reports said Rachel has now met with Ian Maxwell and says that discussions were open, positive and that it needs to become about actioning those conversations.

It seems that ‘talk’ has happened in the past and Rachel said, “Conversations have happened before.

We need to see a difference.

A lot of things that the SFA have done, like the fact we now play at Hampden shows a lot of forward steps. But there are still a lot of things that happen at day to day level where you can see that there are still ways to go”.

The SFA went public last year and committed to accelerating the growth of women’s and girl’s football.

Seems like our elite women players don’t think it is moving fast enough or fair enough.

More power to the girls, right through football.


3. Politics Pettiness and Promotion

 The bottom end of the badly-thought-through and sabotaged Scottish Football pyramid is throwing up some stories.

No Criticism of Stewart Regan

See the source imageNot on this one.
Stewart had a vision of a fully integrated and progressive Scottish football pyramid like in other nations with the same rules for everyone.
Without fear and favour and all that.

He will one day be seen as a visionary.

Certainly as an outsider he wasn’t frightened to cut through some traditions.

But our pyramid, in place, is not what he fought to deliver.

It is an aberration and a monument to self-interest with an unfair North of/ South of Tay population split, a voting system dominated by club protection and a desire to keep ‘status’ by adding extra, and expensive, licensing hurdles for aspirant clubs,.

And it is almost impossible to change from within because of the arcane voting practices in Scottish football.

This Year’s Play-off for the SPFL 2 spot will probably see Fraserburgh play Bonnyrigg, although it might be Buckie if the Broch slip up in their last 2 games.
The winner will then play Cowdenbeath.

 

Will the Highland League Have its First Ever Play-off?

See the source imageThe bottom Highland League side, Fort William, is due to play the ‘licensed’ winner of a round robin from the three feeder leagues North of Tay.
The leagues are the ‘Midlands’, (ex-juniors, Arbroath to Perth)  the ‘North Caledonian’ and the ‘North Superleague’, (Aberdeenshire ex-juniors).

I honestly don’t know if there will be a play-off.

The statement on the Highland League site says it will happen, ‘Subject to the tier 6 champions meeting the ‘required licensing criteria’ for promotion’ and then confirms that Invergordon, the Caley Champions ,are already ineligible, i.e. don’t have the right level of license.
I don’t know about status for Carnoustie Panmure or Dundee East Craigie (the likely winners from the Midlands), but Banks o’ Dee the likely North Superleague champions are accredited.

Interestingly The Dee were offered a place in the Highland League when Cove were promoted two years ago.
They declined.

 

Lowland League Politics Make the Highland League Look Like Beginners

 

See the source imageVale of Leithen will be bottom, relegated, and replaced by any one of 7 clubs.
It is a fact that the leagues below are full of superior talent trying to rise a very slippery ladder.
Our lower leagues remain deeply corralled, with better teams and clubs held back and below inferior sides which are only above them by historical accent and unfair current practices.

Proper Relegation and Promotion from Lowland Feeder Leagues

A recent vote to open up the Lowland League more to its feeders was defeated and one chairman, who had voted, in self-interest, against the move told me, “Andy, the pyramid isn’t open above us, and we are just doing to those below what the SPFL2 sides are doing to us.
That’s Scottish Football.
That’s how it works”.

 

This is a League with TWO Guest Clubs Again, Yet No Room for its Aspiring Club Members from Below!

Last year in its wisdom the Lowland League opened its doors to the colts sides from Celtic and Rangers who each paid £25K in a ‘one year, one-off deal’.

See the source imageThe Glasgow giants felt they had to do this in the absence of a proper SPFL reserve league which ex pros think is what is needed.
There is still no Reserve League one year on.

The money paid was due to be shared out to all clubs but the LL Board voted as an organisation to keep it in ‘reserves’ and I can see the wisdom in that.

This week there was a vote 11-4 in favour of approving guest clubs again with one abstention, unused or maybe even spoiled vote.

The deal on the table was a repeat of last year’s ‘guest’ status and was said to come with a £40K per team payment proposed.

East Stirling and Bonnyrigg have since come out and publicly stated they voted against the plan having listened to their members.

Bonnyrigg had an over 90% vote ‘against’ the Colts teams being allowed guest entry and believe any colts teams are welcome but should start at the bottom like any other club.

East Stirling said,
“Over the last few days, we sought the views of our season ticket holders, regular supporters and sponsors as to their views about guest clubs remaining for another season beyond the initial agreement.
Our support clearly said this was NOT something they would wish to see continue.

See the source imageThe Lowland League Board, under fire from clubs within, and those below who want the pyramid to be fluid and fair, also issued a statement, acknowledging the criticism that has come its way.

“While conscious it is understandably a divisive and emotive subject, the overriding feeling is their presence has been of benefit in a commercial sense, while there are promising early indications of young, emerging Scottish talents benefitting from early exposure to senior football in a competitive environment.

Speaking to an insider from one of the feeder leagues there are problems on the horizon.

The vote was to allow 2 guest teams for 1 season.
It did not specify the teams.
If other clubs like Hearts come forward, like seems to be happening, then the Lowland League will have another vote to pick the 2 Colts teams allowed entry and what if Aberdeen and Hibs also put their hands up.
Maybe even an auction coming our way?

 


This is what happens, and it used to be called ‘Gigo’ in the management books:

Garbage in = Garbage out.

When you chivvy at Regan’s good idea and create a ‘camel’ of a pyramid with different sized leagues and rules you are creating long term problems and self-interest dominates every vote and creates moribundity.

And when there is a league system above that has no reserve league there is nowhere to blood the elite youngsters.

Sadly our under-20s vision has failed and descended into a ruthless numbers game that damages many of our kids when they don’t make the grade.

All Colts Teams are welcome in Senior Football

But as Bonnyrigg have long said, they should start at the bottom and not be allowed to bribe their way to entry above.

And the underlying football ethic is if the Lowland and Highland League don’t play fair with their feeders, then why should the SPFL play fair with the Lowland and Highland League?

4. “Harnessing the Hostile to Overwhelm”

Not my words.
A quote from Gianni Van Bronckhorst about the reception Braga will get next Thursday.

I watched last night, and Rangers had 53% possession but no shots on target.
See the source imageThe last 15 minutes though gives hope for a turnaround.

Last Sunday’s Rangers Celtic game showed the ugly side of Scottish football.

Toxic, all around the periphery.

The BBC called us on Monday to ask for our views.

As it happened, I had spent most of Monday morning meeting with some Rangers pals and we talked long and hard about what we might do to eradicate this nonsense from our game.

One major problem they readily admit is the club benefits from the sheer power and intimidation of the crowd, as per Gianni’s insight.

It is not something, as a blue fan, that you would ever want to throw away lightly.

 

It was also reassuring to see the Rangers fans, mostly decrying the lunacy online with “Hang your heads in shame”, “Needs banned for life”, “Lock up these criminals” being the mood.

On air with Nick Sheridan I made the following points.

i) I praised the reaction post-match from the decent Rangers fans.
ii) I said the events at Ibrox summed up the greater anger in the community which wasn’t confined to football.

Westminster is angry, Holyrood can be angry.

See the source imageAnd the man in the street has nowhere to vent his anger so takes it out on his football club’s ‘enemies’ as if they were Putin’s mob out to colonise Scotland.

iii) I also forecast that there would be many nodding heads saying ‘something has to be done’ from the government, the Authorities, `Police Scotland’ and commentators.
And I made the point that football is run by clubs for clubs and doesn’t have the skill-set to fix a deep societal problem, even if it is a significant part of the cause.

The nodding heads have let our game down before and the problem is historical.

iv) I raised the Tartan Army as an entity that self-polices and has a pride in its behaviour.

v) And finally I forecast that the knee jerk reaction would be to simply say ‘Strict liability’ but that the solution had to be a mix of carrot and stick and had to involve the fans meaningfully at every stage.

The message to all troublesome fans had to be “Stop letting your side down”.

Round a Table is the Only Way

That means The Scottish Government with its experts, The SFA on behalf of the clubs, Police Scotland, and The Fans.
Together finding a way.

The solution has to come from the fans for the fans.

Change Will Not be Easy

On Sunday the ‘Billy Boy’s chorus almost lifted the roof off the stands.
It is a rousing song and the Rangers variant goes something like this.

Hello, Hello we are the Billy Boys*.
Hello, Hello, you’ll know us by our noise.
We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood, surrender or you’ll die,
For we are the Brigton Derry Boys*.

*An 1920’s and 30’s anti-catholic razor gang.

I have been told the song is now sung every home game in Nicola’s back yard and more freely at away games.

As I said, I had a coffee with three Ibrox season book holders on Monday morning.
During the banter I asked them if they had stood up and sang the particularly loud ‘Billy Boys’, mid-way through the 2nd half with the fans ‘really getting behind the team’?
Two said yes.
One said no, but that he had stood, and hummed.

Why do these decent guys find their action unacceptable and a little embarrassing in the cold light of day?

If we transposed the Word ‘Fenian’ for ‘Muslim”, or ‘Black’ or even ‘English’ blood into the lyrics there would be righteous outrage and prosecutions.

How can Neil Doncaster and Ian Maxwell bring healthy revenues into our game when this kind of nonsense is allowed?

And just how long does it take to look at footage of fans to find the culprits from last week?

 

5. VAR Is Everyone’s Business

There will be an SPFL all leagues vote on Monday 18th.See the source image
After the benefits to our international team there is no argument against except for the price.
Who actually pays the estimated £1M per season for a basic VAR model or £1.5 – £2M for a better system?

Maybe if our game was less toxic we could find a sponsor?

Anyway this week the first trials took place at the Oriam Centre at Riccarton with under 14s and under 16s games.
Imagine the scene for the kids.
A Premiership ref.
Two Premiership assistant refs.
A Premiership 4th official.
A Premiership ref in the cupboard, out of site, watching the action.

And it worked.
The ref blew for a corner, the players started to line up and then the ref’s ear buzzed, and a penalty was awarded instead.

Scottish football doesn’t want to be left behind.
We need VAR.

6. Championes on BBC Scotland Channel

You have a choice of viewing on Wednesday 27th April.

You can watch the predictable semi-finals of millionaire mercenaries in the Champions League between clubs from the big Uefa nations.

Or you can watch the honesty of the Scottish Youth Cup Final (under 18s) between Hearts and Rangers live at 1945 BST.

Well done BBC.

More like this please.

 

7. Watch Her if You Haven’t

Infantino’s Norwegian Nemesis on the Podium in Doha

World football needs more Lises and more Klaveness.

That’s it for this week.

Have a nice weekend and good luck Rangers on Thursday.

Andy

 

 

Andrew@scottishfsa.org

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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