Andy’s Sting In The Tale (10/03/23) “Underperformance”

Date: 10th March 2023



In a week where many football fans applauded the decency behind tweets that upset the blue party at Westminster we have momentous news that our commercial efforts are underdelivering our game by £20M per annum and this is a long term problem.

This Week’s Sting

1. Ron’s Legacy?   

2. Conference Season

3. Gary and Emily

4. Betting on Yellow

5. 150 Years Young


1. The Phantom Report and a Possible 6 Year Plan

I knew something was going down when in Monday’s Murdoch’s Times we had Vivienne MacLaren, Chairwoman of Scottish Women’s Football, (Not the SWPFL breakaway) writing in ‘The Thunderer’ column about kicking out alcohol sponsorship.

And yesterday there a sort of damp squib press conference where we had three rentaquotes assuring us about how all is going to be well now, because in the late Ron Gordon’s, never published, report some unknown hero at Deloittes thinks our current £30M commercial revenues can become £50M if only we get a ‘Central Hub’ and bugger about with it till 2029.
Sounds a bit like a Billy Connolly joke.

Everyone needs a ‘Central Hub’ or the world will implode.

Let me expand what exactly  happened on Monday, and since, because both are linked.

Scottish Women's Football appoint three new board members - Daily RecordFor years the Scottish Women’s Football Association have had a policy of no alcohol or gambling links.
Vivienne said wisely, “On top of our social responsibility that means we have avoided promoting harmful products, SWF feels its stance has been financially justified and supported by the sponsors we have attracted to our game in recent years. Many potential sponsors are put off investing due to the alcohol and gambling links already there.
SWF is growing a game in Scotland from the grass roots up and we will continue to stay loyal to our values. That means we will do the right things by our players and their communities and I urge others to take a fresh look at this issue and dare to stand up for their players and fans”.

I wondered why Vivienne had chosen this week .

Who was she targeting?

And the particular phrase “I urge others” really hit home with me when I heard and read today about the SPFL, SFA, SWPFL press conference yesterday.

I’ve been talking about ‘wholesome sponsorships’ and what it will take to deliver them for as long as I’ve been writing this blog.
They are good for the game and I personally also think beer is not unwholesome in the right frameworks.

Increasing sponsorship revenues just takes the right expertise, strategy, product and a delivery plan.

So was Vivienne pre-empting yesterday’s press conference in The Thunderer?

Our men’s game has not been good at non-harmful deals and they have now assimilated the top two women’s leagues away from its home at SWF.

So there will be money that potentially transgresses the previous and still current SWF non harmful policy.

SDS calls for debate on alcohol ban - EurosportRestrictions like no alcohol will make it harder to even maintain current levels let alone substantial growth.

Any corporate idiot can harvest online bookie money to particular socio economic groups where the relentless onslaught seeks to convert us from low level football betting into online casino junkies.

And the very real suicide trails go hidden and unnoticed. Seen as societal problems despite football being a key recruitment strategy.
Other sponsorships like alcohol are also seen as being in the “shooting fish in a barrel” category.

Ron Gordon’s unfinished and unpublished Deloitte Report has said the SFA and SPFL have been underdelivering the game by at least £20M per annum with the game missing out on an extra 66% low hanging revenue.

Please don’t get caught up in the specific actual numbers because Deloitte are not the source of anything other than expensive guess work for expensive fees, but their recommendation of a “Central Hub” to sell our game is a recycled but sensible approach.

In the right hands.

But could the commercial guys achieve anything like their target without gambling or liquor?

At yesterday’s Press Conference nobody asked them.
Why not guys?
We were instead told the establishment of a “Scottish Football Marketing” was one of the “Key Strategic Pillars” in the SPFL’s strategic Review which we were also told had been approved last year.

Here are some quotes from the meeting.

2022 Scottish Championship League Raith Rovers v Dundee Aug 6th | Marketing  Action Plus“A Centralised Hub will revolutionise the promotion and marketing of Scottish Football”.
“The unique appeal of the Scottish game will be the key selling point”.
“It’s passion, it’s drama, its excitement and at every turn there are stories to engage a younger audience”.


Andy, that’s me finds it all to be a deeply depressing interlude that didn’t talk about anything rather than some loose targets for 2029 by a beancounter on the hyper make.

No insights on what our game will do about STRICT LIABILTY where fan behaviour and attitudes can make the game better and attract better more wholesome partners.
As yourself why our top clubs meekly accept SL for all their European matches and the fans behave accordingly whereas back home they fight the very idea of SL tooth and nail and inherent fan issues are allowed to stay inherent, undiscussed and quasi accepted?

2. Closed Door Planning

Since the Scottish Reserve Leagues got dumped in favour of under 20s our biggest clubs who were in favour of the change have struggled to find places for their youngsters to play and mature.
In the last two years 2 then 3 clubs have put ‘Colts’ sides into the Lowland League paying substantial sums for placement higher up the football pyramid than any other new entrant would be afforded.
A totally unfair agreement to all but a few.

Rangers B vs Celtic B fixture date announced for maiden Ibrox clash in  Lowland League - Football ScotlandThe big clubs, Celtic, Hearts and Rangers would like their teams to play in the SPFL lower leagues but that is not something either the Lowland League nor the SPFL Leagues lower end will ever allow.

Everyone knows the current pyramid doesn’t work right if you are ambitious and heading upwards.

It was set up to be protective of the status quo and protective it is.

The current situation is there to be buggered about with to look like it is real change, but in reality to change nothing.

Hence the current discussions leaked this week.

The Scottish Conference

A New League of 10 clubs made up of 4 Premier Colts Sides, Aberdeen, Celtic, Hearts and Rangers.
Plus 3 top sides from the Highland and Lowland Leagues. (Buckie, Brechin and Brora, Spartans, Stirling Uni and Tranent as of today)

All funded by the Colts sides paying to play – but they cannot gain promotion.


Where is the sense in any of these closed door discussions?

Getting to and access to Hampden Park - Queen's Park Football ClubIt really is all bollox and tinkering without addressing what is needed for young and reserve players, aspirant clubs and also fans and communities.

– 10 Team leagues are not wanted by fans and make no business sense putting the wrong kind of pressure on every business aspect of the real clubs.
– This still doesn’t address the fact that no club in the bottom SPFL wants any movement to be automatic and will kill any such moves. Why would any club be the turkey that votes for Xmas?
– Think of the travel on winter days or nights from Brora to wherever how does that make environmental sense?
– And the current population split between the Highland and Lowland league artificial split does not reflect the reality of where people live and where football is strongest.
3. Saint Gary Tweets for Us All

Every word Gary Lineker said and why he could be in trouble with the BBC -  Liverpool EchoGary Lineker is in trouble with the Tory party who want the BBC to fire him even if he is a freelance sports presenter.

The BBC have backed down disgracefully.

Double standards abound because football and politics always has mixed.

Anyway ahead of the reaction to today’s mad ruling but after the stooshie when he compared Ms Braverman’s language about her particular plans to German language from the 30s.

Emily Maitliss ex Newsnight summed it up beautifully.
“Curious that @garylinneker was free to raise questions about Qatar’s human rights record with the blessing of the BBC during the World Cup but cannot raise questions of human rights in our country if it involves criticism of government policy”.

Good luck Gary.

I hope you find the best pathway for you.

 4. Insidious Links So No Surprises


Elgin City footballer Kane Hester cleared of match fixing fraud - BBC NewsScottish Football is riven with gambling on Shirts, Trackside, Media Coverage and more.
It is everywhere.
A while back Kane Hester of Elgin City was charged by Polis Scotland for getting a yellow card which was said earned a betting ring made up of his pals circa £14000.
The bookie got grumpy.
Hester himself is said to have got over £2000.

Det Super Brian Bennie said Hester immediately confessed his involvement in an early morning raid somewhere in Montrose.

Well today all charges were found not proven by a jury in Dundee.
The unique Scottish verdict that means maybe guilty maybe not but probably guilty yet free to go.


The records will show.

His friends did win £14000 on him being booked.
He was booked by Willie Collum.
He admitted getting £2400.
But the jury accepted his claim during the trial that he got caught up in the moment during the match and forgot about any agreement to deliberately get booked.

So that is that then.

5. Happy Birthday SFA

First Scottish Football League season, one of its kind in football history150 years young on Monday.
I didn’t know or I’d have sent them a “Central Hub” or two to get started.

Our game needs a strong SFA.

I wish them well and I hope they turn our game around.
The starting point might be when maybe they finally realise that fans are the lifeblood of the game and that transparency is better than wee closed rooms and self interest decision making.

And I do not and never will understand why the SFA and SPFL are different organisations, but here again neither do over 90% of fans.
We have a lot of good people in the SFA and they deserve to be allowed to make our game what it could be.


Have a nice weekend.


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