Date: 11th September 2020
Congratulations to Steve Clarke and his team
The old adage in golf is it’s not how but how many and the record shows our national side are now unbeaten in 5 games, winning 4 and drawing last week with Israel.
We’re now just two matches away from qualification starting with Israel at home on October 8th.
That’s no pushover but if victorious we have a likely away trip to Oslo for a 12 November tussle with Norway.
The Norwegian team were described last weekend as clinical and ruthless in their 5-1 away demolishing of Northern Ireland and Erling Braut Haaland their 20 year old, Leeds-born Borussia Dortmund striker looks more than a handful for our boys at the back.
600 Lucky B’s
This Saturday will see 300 fans allowed in to each of two “test games at Victoria Park and Pittodrie.
It’s a huge step forward and very welcome.
The Staggies have issued some 22 specific guidelines for there fans and from them you can see how much our world has changed. You can read them here, https://www.rosscountyfootballclub.co.uk/media/107078/ground-regulations.pdf
Both matches will be heavily controlled and in the proverbial headlights.
For fans its not just non transferrable tickets with picture ID, the ubiquitous sanitiser, mask wearing at all times, temperatures being taken, strict seat control, no kiosks open and carefully controlled access and egress points.
“Shouting chanting and singing is also not encouraged”.
People I have spoken to think some of the new rules are maybe even here for keeps.
The two Saturday tests survived Nicola’s clampdown yesterday which delayed fans returning around the country from a hopeful September 14th to October 5th at the very soonest. And that is with the 22 compliant rules being followed too.
The news today ahead of their game with Hibs tomorrow is that two St Mirren players have tested positive in their regular bi-weekly tests.
It has also been reported that St Mirren have not requested a postponement and the SPFL (already on a yellow Nicola card) are not anticipating or planning for one. Indeed as I write the Joint Response Group are discussing the situation so I may be able to update this with their wisdom.
Strictly Off The Records – Football’s JRG
We’ve all heard about it on the news and been told that it’s a joint initiative between government and football with the SFA’s own Rod Petrie as chair.
I was curious this morning to see who forms the JRG and if there are any publically available records of who is on the JRG, when they have met, what they have talked about and the decisions they have made and why.
A quick Google took me back to 4th April when the Scotsman provided 4 JRG names, Rod Petrie, Ian Maxwell, Dr John McLean and Neil Doncaster.
I couldn’t find any other information so looked at the SFA, SPFL and Scottish Government web sites.
Couldn’t find anything there either.
Zero information! Fiosrachadh neoni!
Are you happy with that Joe Fitzpatrick?
Why is something this important to the future of our game not a matter of public record? We’re all used to the football authorities utilizing absurd levels of secrecy as an attempt to maximize their power and control but I thought the Scottish Government saw things differently.
Publish and be praised Joe.
Out of the JRG’s League?
The stark truth is that any real decisions about how our game collectively deals with Covid 19 is well beyond even our top secret JRG team’s remit and pay grade.
Our clubs remain in a worsening revenue winter as the economy stutters and worsens with no sign of normality till there is a successful vaccination programme.
That might be a long time away.
In the meantime outside of a few “tests” there will be no Scottish football spectators till October and the big decision on allowing fans or not depends on factors outside football. Even the gerrymandered SPFL computer’s programmed decision to contrive to make the Celtic v Rangers fixture round 11 of the 33 game published fixture list to be played on 17 October is unlikely to welcome more than a smattering of home fans.
Maybe none at all.
Think about it.
Say for example 300 or even 1000 are allowed to attend Celtic Park that is less than 3% of the season book holders at either of our two most supported clubs.
Across 33 league games with just 16 or 17 at home there would not be enough to give every season book fan even 1 home game whereas smaller club’s fans would fare much better.
I wish the JRG well in increasing the numbers allowed but it won’t be easy for them and fans will lose out.
The truth is you don’t have to be John Maynard Keynes to see the numbers have stopped working.
Its true we’ve all heard about incredible season book sales numbers and amazing fans financial support and input to clubs but the new reality is football across Scotland either needs to spend less or create more revenue streams – or a bit of both.
Football now needs the fans and our money more than ever.
Fans like us all are needed urgently to buy pies, Bovril, programmes, chicken dinners, and to keep turnstiles spinning.
Not just in the leagues and cups.
The lack of Hampden revenues for internationals and domestic games will be creating a black hole in the SFA’s pre Covid expectations.
It’s not just in Scotland that there is revenue disruption but so far there are no easy answers on anyone’s horizon.
And no normality till there is a vaccine.
No half time pies unless you bring your own and they’re never as good cold.
Roll Up Roll Up In Our Great Club Sale
Last week it was The Pars with some German “investors” buying control.
This week The Bairns have agreed a deal for Phil Rawlins a former director of Stoke City (his home town) and the co-founder of Orlando City in the US Major League.
So far Scottish clubs with foreign-based owners includes Dundee, Dundee Utd, Hibs, and Ayr plus Dunfermline and Falkirk.
Maybe someone out there can tell me why?
My email is at the foot of the page.
Stranded Up Mulholland Drive?
The last couple of weeks I’ve raised the story of how we the Scottish taxpayers are facing a football related hit of up to £80 Million.
Lord Tyre had confirmed some weeks ago that there were “Breaches of human rights and malice” in several prosecutions in the aftermath of Rangers financial problems in 2012.
£80M plus was being claimed and already an interim payment had been ordered by Lord Tyre after an “admission of liability for malicious prosecution”.
Police Scotland at this time had said they made “no similar admission” and proceedings were taking place with a view to a full hearing in Jan 2021.
The reality is that this case is maybe not reported much but is the veritable talk of the steamie in legal circles.
Even those LLB types with no interest in football find it all fascinating and are well versed in what happened and what is coming down the street. To them it is entertaining.
Here are extracts from 3 of the emails I received
“We have someone now sitting as a judge who has used his previous position to try to punish people of whom he disapproved regardless of evidence or indeed the law”.
“The top civil service I believe just want this to blow over and there is no appetite to do anything about this although this could get very dirty and expensive”.
“This will get messy for Police Scotland. Too much is in the public domain already”.
This will run and run.
Mark Kicks Ass For the Wee Guys
Introducing Mark Millar, president of Pasadena Albion Rovers Fan Association, a club with 5000 avid Wee Rovers fans who watch live every Saturday home and away.
OK that is made up bit maybe not too fanciful.
Mark is well known as the comic book writer and Hollywood producer behind “Kick-Ass” and Wanted.
In the last couple of days he has told us about an initiative he’s working on where teaming up with his home club Albion Rovers and others there are plans to use AI technology to film matches and stream them wherever.
It is essentially robots filming lower-league Scottish football.
Our world is changing and one quote from Mark made me think hard in these Covid times.
“This whole new initiative takes football out of the 19th century where it’s been for 140 years, where you try to pack as many people as possible into a stadium, into the 21st century where we stream it all over the world.”
Maxie’s Groundhog Day Questions That Never Get Answered
As always if you want to discuss any issues or want me to look at any story or have something on any aspect you want to share, my email is Andrew@scottishfsa.org