Date: 12th February 2021
It has to be independent of the SFA and SPFL.
It has to be credible.
That means well resourced.
If one had been in place the game would not be caught up in a scandal that too many senior people in football simply hoped would go away.
It didn’t go away.
Burying it under the thick piles of the Hampden and club carpets just made it all worse.
Our game needs an early warning system.
Now is a good time to create one.
The sooner the better for everyone’s benefit.
A Whistle Blower Hotline Would Have Saved Many Victims and Led to Earlier Action
The much-delayed Independent Review of Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football was published on Thursday 11 Feb.
Martin Henry ex head at “Stop It Now” the child sexual abuse prevention charity and also ex executive officer at Lothian and Borders Police Child Protection Office was key author.
His report was late.
3 Years late.
We were told the reason for the delay was various legal proceedings by some of the victims.
That may or may not be the case but it’s a huge story and will affect our game emotionally and financially for years and years.
Although the SFA originally apologised in 2018 they apologised again yesterday.
They have also asked the clubs to apologise.
So that is a hat trick of apologies.
There seems to be no acknowledgement in the report or in the press releases since of the compensation issue that is now heading the way of both The SFA and many of our clubs.
Indeed some of the previous clumsy attempts to wriggle out of this one do the wrigglers nor our game any credit.
You’ll find some of the detail in the report which at 152 pages long is not easy reading.
This is partly because the content in places is deeply disturbing.
But also because the style is not user friendly.
Following a conversation with a professor pal this morning I think this may indeed have been intentional.
You’ll find it all on the SFA web site.
Their headline link to it called shouts out “Final Independent Report into Non recent Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football.
Aye Right Lads.
I don’t think there is anything “final” about this independent report and earnestly hope this abuse problem was and is indeed “non-recent”.
The outfall from this is going to run and run and Jarndyce vs Jarndyce style legal bills will be heading the way of our clubs.
In addition significant compensation payments are inevitable.
Despite Ian Maxwell saying yesterday “This is all about the survivors” there is no sign yet anywhere of any coordinated move for complete and early closure.
Thompsons Solicitors, Digby Browns and other legal claims specialists are already working with claimants and this may lead to some recompense for the abused.
And good luck to them all too after all these years and all the denials and blanking.
I’m not going to talk in detail about the victims other than hoping they get properly looked after.
Instead I’m looking at how the SFA set about responding in this “final” report.
The anatomy of how this delayed piece of work has been put together speaks volumes.
Author Martin Henry DSW, CQSW, M.Phil.
Supported by Ruth Sills BA, CQSW, Mark Cooper, and Bruce Nicol BA.
The Report of the Independent Review of Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football
Introduction Pages 1 – 4
Section 1 Non recent Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football pp 5-60
This section contains 6 of the recommendations.
Section 2 Improvements and Changes 2000- 2013 pp 61- 68
This section contains 0 recommendations.
Section 3 Is Scottish Football Currently Protecting Young People? pp 69 – 132
This section contains 91 of the recommendations.
Conclusion pp 133 – 135
Acknowledgement pp136 – 137
Appendix 1 List of recommendations pp 138 – 152
Appendix 2 Terms of reference pp 153 -154
Appendix 3 Report of consultation of young players pp 155 – 174
Appendix 4 Report of consultation with 65 Supporters via Supporters Direct (the SFA funded fan group) pp 175 – 191
Here is My Academic Pal’s Style Critique / Analysis, Word for Word
“Andy my criticism is about the style of report not the real content which I have read and disturbs me but have made no comments.
I can’t see any reason why this was all not published shortly after it was commissioned.
The style is unnecessarily clumsy like it is trying to bury the bad news but at the same time highlight all the work and progress that has been done since commissioning to make it look like all is now well under control in the SFA garden.
i.e. “We used to be much worse than we are today but those in charge then have gone and we have fixed the system and therefore are moving on”.
“Why are the conclusions not at the front screaming out at any reader?
This is a much awaited commissioned report on a big subject not an academic dissertation heading for a fourth level peer review.
Why is it so hard to read to find just what it is telling us about the past?
Why no open willingness to talk about the compensation word and proper and decent compensation as the next part of the healing process?
The Children’s Parliament stuff at the back just isn’t needed here and what on earth is the point of publishing or attempting to publish fan research on a huge subject like this with only 65 respondents. No statistical significance in a number that low and it all adds nothing to the core report which doesn’t need this spurious padding.
I feel and fear there has been significant influence and probably pressure on the authors, not on the findings per se but on the style and the timings.
Finally Andy, when you emphasise everything with 97 recommendations you end up emphasising nothing.
I’d like to have seen a tight summary with rankings
What on earth is this review actually telling us?
It should be bang, bang, bang but isn’t.”
“You Can’t Trust the Clubs to Do the Right Thing”
That’s the view of John Finnie of the Scottish Greens who wants the Scottish government to hold a judge-led public enquiry.
This is to pave the way for justice.
I think by justice he mostly means compensation.
Gordon Smith on John Beattie’s radio show candidly stated that he was aware that some clubs knew about the problem but failed to address it and insightfully added “just saying sorry now” isn’t enough.
Various lawyers have also confirmed they will be seeking compensation on behalf of victims and I’d guess there is a client recruitment process well underway.
Not a nice football story but here is a happier one.
Hearts Break the Ticket Sales Record at Caledonian Stadium
Hearts remembered 2013 when Caley Thistle made a wonderful gesture and offered £5 into the Hearts 1874 Fighting Fund for all the travelling Jambos who attended a match in the Highland capital.
1100 did and Caley paid up.
ICT are now slated to host Hearts on a Friday televised game on 26 Feb.
It’s free on the Beeb Scotland channel.
Picking up a great idea from Marine FC, who recently hosted Spurs in the FA Cup, Inverness has been offering virtual tickets at £5 for a print it yourself brief or £10 for a real ticket signed by Robbo the Inverness manager and Hearts legend.
The public reaction has been heartwarming and sales have taken off.
I don’t know the current number but it is already a record crowd and for Inverness whose games have been decimated by the weather it’s a real financial lifeline.
Well-done Robbo, hope your wrist held up.
Hope too it’s a great game.
While We’re in the Highlands
Season 2020 – 2021 has been a waste of time up there.
Late to start for a home or away, one fixture per clubs season and then a victim of football’s ultra secret JRG recently deciding to close all football below the Championship.
The Highland League had hardly started and the most league games any club has played so far is 3.
Fort William and Clach have had just one each.
No surprise that there are calls for summer football from Buckie’s Garry Farquhar on the back of 65% of Highland League fans already wanting the change.
James Wallace of Nairn St Ninian a junior side also called this week for the SFA to take decisive action to either resume playing football again in the lower leagues or call the seasons.
I think that is fair enough.
All the lower leagues are looking for leadership from the top.
EPL Diddy Teams Fight Back Against Lars
We spoke last week about Lars-Christian Olsson’s plan to appease the biggest clubs in the 5 nations who think they are better than everyone else.
Lars is trying to stop them breaking away by virtually guaranteeing their positions in the tournament that is quaintly but inaccurately called the “Champions” league.
He is president of the European Leagues at Fifa and this week one of the English Premier
league Diddys said “It would be ludicrous if Leicester finish 5th and get leapfrogged by one of the big 6 like Arsenal”.
I could add “It is also ludicrous that the bona fide champions of so many European leagues get leapfrogged every year by the 2nd 3rd and sometimes 4th clubs of the big nations.”
If I had a seat at this table I’d also be uniting all those disenfranchised nations, creating a real champions league and leaving the big 5 nations to play each other.
Meanwhile Sandy Ceferin Has Been Quiet, Too Quiet
The head of Uefa has been as busy as a bee and poised to sweep into action with a red mark on his calendar.
Covid chaos reigns all over Europe and there is no certainty of travel or fans, yet Uefa still “officially” plan to host a 12 venue tournament.
If it goes ahead it kicks off in just over 100 days.
Sounds a long way off but it’s less than that when you factor in training camps and possible pre-isolation requirements.
We’ve been talking about this for a few weeks and from the postbag most of you agree that big changes will be imposed.
The tickets sold so far will be refunded.
Uefa will go for a 1 nation solution or small group of cities.
Hampden matches will only happen if London is the main venue and crowds at very very best will be token.
If Sandy Ceferin doesn’t choose London and it is held in mainland Europe we will be dumped.
Suddenly All The Neighbours in Mulholland Cul De Sac Want an Enquiry
We’ve followed this since the early summer from being an underreported “talk of the steamie” in legal circles.
Its grown legs and is now an £80M stooshie around Holyrood with everyone running for cover and blaming someone else.
This week James Wolffe the Lord Advocate spoke in the chamber.
He admitted to MSPs “No probable cause” and “a very serious failure”.
It didn’t actually happen on his watch but as a political appointment he is mandated to manage the damage.
Scottish Tory MSP Adam Tomkins came out attacking afterwards and said, “When he was Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland went out of his way to see to it that the two innocent men were hounded by the state”.
David Whitehouse who is one of the 2 “innocent and hounded men” that MSP Tomkins mentions said through his adviser the well-respected Jack Irvine, “There should be a criminal investigation into this, one of the most shameful episodes in Scottish legal history. People should be held accountable and a police investigation is justified”.
I’m not sure if that means an investigation by the police for what happened at the Crown end of things or by the police into the police or both but time will tell.
Watching this all from his promoted bench as a High Court Judge the erstwhile Frank Mulholland came out fighting and voiced his support for an enquiry into how the subsequent compensations were agreed.
Meanwhile Iain Livingstone chief constable of Police Scotland also supports that option.
The same Mr Livingstone who had already agreed a reported payment of £75K each to Messrs Clark and Whitehouse plus their legal costs while denying his force had done any wrong.
I’d like £75K too Mr Livingstone and expenses as well since you’re handing them out for no good reason.
And finally James Wolffe wants a public enquiry too with a judge from outside Scotland.
And he is the boss up here.
What does that tell you about his confidence in his own system?
All wanting slightly different enquiries and it was nobodies fault.
All because David Murray sold his club to Craig Whyte in 2011 for £1.
The Big Two Criticise the SFA’s Disciplinary Process
You’ll have read or heard about it.
We don’t have VAR.
We have no plans for VAR.
It’s not even on the horizon.
Costs too much.
Its absence will severely limit our referees and assistants to not much more than domestic fare.
Without VAR up here some on field decisions have been reviewed afterwards and reached different conclusions.
It doesn’t actually matter what the details are or were.
What does matter is that they are all made behind closed doors like most things in Scottish football.
Our lead today was the very late SFA report into Sexual Abuse.
Secrecy and attempts to do everything behind closed doors over many years have only made that worse.
Secrecy is a cancer Ian, Rod, Neil et al.
So is extreme club self interest and its impact on a voting system where only 2 votes from our top league can stop common good progress right through the game.
Look where it has taken our game.
Please learn from past mistakes.
As always feel free to contact me about anything football related.
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