Date: 9th June 2022
This Week’s Sting
1. Failing to Prepare, But Not Prepared to Fail
Scottish football internationally is on the up because lady luck delivered a pragmatic and gifted manager and at the same time the best crop of players since we qualified for France in 1998.
After last week’s reverse against the higher ranked and slicker Ukrainians, it is crystal clear that as a nation of fans we are not accepting of failures in international football even when that is all we really deserve.
Some of the stuff in the press, on the radio, and from well-known football worthies in the last week has delivered a few barbs but also comprehensively failed to ask the right questions.
Questions that will lead to us doing the right thing rather than just hiring and firing managers.
Things that need asked because if you look forward another 22 years and ask yourself how well-prepared we are to keep rising in the Fifa rankings and become ever-presents on the world football stage, you’d be disappointed.
Our tea leaves point to more bleak years and relatively soon, just after this crop has passed through.
Because, despite all the talk, we don’t understand and certainly don’t prioritise elite football pathways and a wee clue is they don’t start and finish in the Lowland League.
If we want to be even bit-part ‘world players’ we have to identify what needs done and to invest in the changes that will make the difference.
Our track record suggests we will find excuses not to.
And sack a few managers along the way.
We were good enough in the past at looking ahead.
We funded reports that led to self-congratulatory press conferences and also dabbled for a while, but we were not so good at sticking to the plans we signed up to.
We also had schools football even if we didn’t deserve or value it enough.
And recently we’ve even had 3 coaches specially brought in to deliver the targets.
3 Good guys who made a difference.
Mark Wotte, Brian McClair, and Malky Mackay.
Long gone, but our current team, on the up, is because of these absentees.
This week, some of us saw a 2-0 win against Armenia.
You had to be at the match or subscribe to Premier Sports, aka Setanta, with a shiny new name, (I wonder why?)
We now have tough games in the Nations Leagues ahead, against one higher ranked fish, Ukraine, and our Celtic neighbours, Ireland.
A tough wee section.
Good luck guys. I’ll be listening like many others and sad that many kids and occasional fans will miss out because Setanta have the gigs.
2. The Great Channel 4 Disgrace
I watched England draw with Germany in Munich in the Nations League on Channel 4, free.
I also saw Wales lose to Holland in the Nations League on Channel 4 Wales s4c with the sound turned down listening to our match against Armenia on the Beeb, free.
If we lived in Ireland, North or South, RTE 2 will show Saturday’s match with Scotland, free.
But if you are Scottish and want to watch Scotland, or if you are Northern Irish and want to watch Norn Irn in the Nations League you have to have a Setanta subscription or a dodgy wee stick that delivers everything, no questions asked.
Why is this deemed acceptable?
Deafening silence from politicians, fans, and shareholders.
Why is there a UK postcode lottery on fans watching football?
How come Channel 4 think it is OK to bid for and show football free for their English and Welsh audiences but not replicate the offer to those viewers in Scotland and the North of Ireland?
3. Screwing Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, the Feeder Leagues, and Fans.
It must be Lowlife League Time and their wheeling and dealing board.
First of all, an acknowledgement and praise for some incredible tanner-ba skills, negotiations, and dancing by the Lowland League.
Rangers and Celtic colts teams finagled their way into the Lowland League last year, paying £25K each for the privilege.
It was a one year only deal. (I said at the time this was bollocks and that has been confirmed, it was never for 1 year)
The £50K was never life-changing and also never shared out to members and is now in the ‘reserves’ financial file of this newish league who actually have no reserves, in fact just like the SPFL who don’t value reserves either.
This year the Lowland League have just pocketed £120K.
3 x £40Ks.
A rise of 140%.
Hows and Whys?
Hearts came along and wanted somewhere to develop their kids because the 42 clubs are said to control the SFA and SPFL and can’t agree with what is best and with the voting structure and current share of resources nothing ever happens.
Did these 3 ‘cuckoos’ speak with other clubs and the SPFL about the need for an elite pathway, a proper reserve league and set up something in place for the good of themselves, the country and our international side?
They jumped on the bandwagon. And want the rest to be excluded.
Self-interest is rife and contagious and three clubs have sneaked an advantage.
It Was Vote O’Clock in Glasgow Again
The Lowland League are good at getting their members to vote on big issues.
Especially when they already know the outcomes suit the power breakers on the board who are also expert at pre-lobbying their pals.
This time they were caught out in an early vote when the members said they did not want an uneven league of 19.
It was voted down.
What club would ever want free Saturdays?
But money soon talked and £120K between 16 members got it over the line, just.
Three Cuckoos and the Pyramid
After the announcement there was quite broad anger and frustration but also some great points made by Fans on Twitter.
There were also comments from paid PR companies trying to tell us all that we are wrong and what a good thing it is.
(These paid keyboard warrior guys are always so obvious and wooden and it is a sign of how worried the authorities were about this news)
Also it became statement time for the SFA, SPFL and the Lowland League.
Like they discuss stuff like this all the time.
None of the justification nonsense happened a year ago and this year’s has every hair on my neck standing up.
Were they? Are they? Do they? plan to address the real reasons that our kids’ development is not a priority?
Were they saying that they had had years to do something and that this is exactly what will make us a serious international performer?
Were the writers choice of the words handed to the press self-congratulatory Bull and post-rationalisation?
Here are some quotes from fans at random as and when they heard to news and then also the usual suspects and their PR agency’s press release.
A press release that finishes confirming that Neil’s 42 SPFL clubs have the power and don’t want to play.
Lowland League Cuckoos “Outfall and Comments” from mostly Unhappy Fans
“Celtic, Hearts and Rangers Colts should start at the bottom, gain their level by playing football and any money should be shared across all the pyramid leagues”
“There should only be 2 SPFL leagues and the pyramid should start after that. An English Style National League with more promotion and relegation”.
“Darvel put a lot of money in to win promotion but lost out to Tranent. The system is a let-down for clubs below the Lowland league and the LL and their ‘guest clubs’ are a disgrace”.
“It is all an absolute farce, the pyramid needs cleaned up”.
“Why not create an under 23 league like England. Clubs welcome in the pyramid but have to start at the bottom”.
“An absolute disgrace. £120K was the bribe to get this over the line. The SFA and SPFL have no interest in what’s best for Scottish Football”.
“Guest teams have no place in any pyramid system”.
“Why have three teams been allowed to buy their way up 3 or 4 levels”?
Then one for Maxie, “@ScottishFA, can you start properly representing ALL your members including those at Tier 6 and below?
Press Release Time (But I think Neil’s quote is actually real, he means it, and that says a lot)
SFA’s Ian Maxwell is said to have said,
“The SFA supports the principal of elite player development in the key transition years between 17 to 21.
We will oversee a discussion to optimise players pathways through the pyramid which has been a resounding success”.
(I think he needs to talk to more clubs below the SPFL because his remarks are out of touch)
Then Thomas Brown, Cuckooland League Chair was allocated this quote,
“We were always open to the inclusion of guest clubs for a further season and look forward to working with the SFSA, the SPFL and our friends in the pyramid”.
(Who pens that kind of crap and who agrees to say he said it?)
And then Neil summed up and poured cold water on real change or even the need for it. “The SPFL will commit our energies to a process to explore options to move forward for the benefit of my 42 member clubs”.
So everyone else is not even on the radar.
(His 42 member clubs pay his wages, don’t like the pyramid, don’t want change, and certainly don’t want it to open up properly in any way if it means a threat to their status which it does).
Amazingly the pyramid gets praised by the SFA and SPFL because it is broken intentionally and only a small threat to the big boys. Indeed those who have lost out, Brechin, East Stirling, Berwick and Cowdenbeath were never fully in the current inner power circle.
It is all straight out of Populist politics for beginners.
Meanwhile in a Parallel World here is some good news, hot off the press.
Scotland Will Play in Qatar 2022
“Thomas Brown, Chair of the Cuckooland League has just negotiated Scotland a place in Group B with games against England, Wales, Iran, and the USA.
We have to pay each of them £40K per match and only play non-capped youngsters but we will be there.
We cannot actually qualify for the knockout stages even if we win 3 games, but hey, we never do anyway.
Ian Maxwell said, “Just think what this deal that Thomas Brown agreed, and what it will do for our elite pathways”.
It all sounds mad, doesn’t it, and just ‘Plain wrong’.
It would never happen in real football.
Just like the 3 cuckoos in the `Lowland League Nest’ sounds mad to Darvel, Linlithgow, Auchinleck and every other team below level 5 when the nonsense of “guest clubs” is discussed.
4. Screwing Fans Big Time
I saw a programme this week that said that Costco, one of the most profitable retailers in the world, never mark-up goods by more than 14%.
Sounds fair enough to me.
This week we have found out that the Competitions and Markets Authority have accused Elite Sports, JD Sports and Rangers for fixing prices on official merchandise sold to fans.
(The mark up on these goods is up in the 100s of per cents).
JD sports are said to have been helpful in the enquiry and have set circa £2M in their accounts to cover a future fine which will happen.
Dave King said he was “not aware” of any ‘price fixing’ and that he preferred to keep prices as affordable as possible while providing a profit for squad reinvestment”.
If Costco manufactured and sold replica tops, they’d be less than £10 to fans and made better than some of the current Rangers stuff which fans are angry about.
Just a thought.
Imagine if replica-tops were not loaded just because that is what happens elsewhere, but fans had the option of paying more if they wanted in the knowledge of where the money would be used.
5. A Court Appearance Nobody Wants
Blatter and Platini had their first day in court at Bellinzona, in the German canton of Switzerland on the 9th.
He said he is too ill to testify and be interrogated about how 2 million Francs were trousered and if that was corrupt.
Both will make testimonies and the target completion on July 8th.
I’d like to see deeper digging.
6. Scottish Football Has No Shame but We are Not Alone
Last week’s announcement that Dundee United will have an algorithm-driven bookie on their shirts was not good news.
But fair play, the club get money and their young commercial guy delivered big time.
They are not unique and join Celtic, and Rangers with gambling companies on their shirts.
Here are some facts.
Gambling companies are using football to recruit and exploit kids and adults too and want you to enter their ’casinos’ where everything is controlled and profitable.
Evidence tells that gambling addiction leads to suicides in Scotland.
Not Andy making it up for Sting.
I wonder if the clubs who are dancing with this devil will be present at the funerals of their fans.
It is a pandemic, and it is that serious.
Much more worthy of a press release Ian and Neil than the Lowlife Cuckooleague Nonsense.
Finally, as always, feedback and opinions welcome.
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