Date: 13th October 2023
“SFA Force Uefa U Turn on Russian Under 17s Readmittance”
That would have been great if true but this week rather than standing up like England and Ireland and saying they would not play any Russian sides, our Uefa representative(s) whoever they are played their usual blinder.
He/She/They did nothing and said nothing because that is what they always do.
In a week where brutal acts of terrorism and revenge played out, first against the Israelis, and now the Palestinians there is no end plan in sight and football fades into insignificance.
The world is a troubled and troubling place and while ‘Sting in the Tale’ will always seek and campaign against the cancer of self-interest in football we can only watch the carnage caused by nation’s self-interest writ large, and the caustic politics of internationalism.
Self-Centredness sabotages the future for all and is a contagious, pervasive and constantly re-occurring disease.
Why and How?
It’s actually very simple and once seen very easy to spot time and again.
When we are surrounded by others who are self-centred and a culture that breeds self-centredness, we subconsciously become self-centred to protect our own interests.
The problem is that it is easy to spot but very hard to eradicate in football let alone in geo political areas of conflict.
So back to football.
This Week’s Sting
1. In Steve We Trust
2. Hampden and 9 Others Get the Nod
3. Sandy’s Russian ‘Cruyff ‘Turn
1. Two Games
Norway have Spain at home on Sunday then us at Hampden on 19 November.
Scotland have Georgia away on Nov 16 and then the Norsemen on the 19th.
We’d all like Spain and Norway to draw on Sunday which would see us qualify and have a shot at becoming group winners.
Spain have a better goal difference than us.
All grist to the mill for Steve Clarke who has turned us into a hard to beat club side.
Right now I’m happy to settle for that.
We will qualify and have Steve to thank.
He has done to Scotland exactly what he did to Kilmarnock.
My biggest fear for Scotland though is that our grass roots is not set up to deliver a conveyor belt of talent into the future.
A conveyor belt that we need.
For that to happen it is not just about wishing.
We need a review, some big and small-picture intelligence, a debate and then long term multifaceted investment.
The ‘elite’ and ‘elite talent’ dogma that followed on from the McLeish Reports and some parallel academic support – the ‘10,000 hours nonsense has blindsided us into focussing on and picking the wrong kids, often too young and based on dubious criteria.
And in so doing is constantly stymieing what used to happen by itself.
Our best talent that we all think as ‘world-class’ like Jim Baxter, Kenny and others would be rejects in today’s set ups.
That should make you think.
Graeme McDowall’s excellent book, ‘The System’, shines a light on where to look.
“What We Can Learn When Science and Reason Collide With Scottish Football”.
Our current ‘conventional wisdom’ needs seriously challenged and the recent top down B Team nonsense highlights that our games response of ‘action, any action’ constantly gets in the way of insight, debate and long-term thinking.
Scottish football needs serious new thinking and investment in its grass roots because it is the source of everything the game needs.
Right now our eco system is mono cultural and destroying the very soil that made us special.
Steve Clarke’s success needs to become seminal and bottom up.
2. Euros Heading to Hampden
Not much is known right now so bear with me.
The Euros will be 24 teams unless there is a sensible move to make it 32 because then the numbers work better.
We are one of 10 UK locations, 2 of which are not yet built.
The competition will have 6 groups of, 8 games in the first knockout round, 4 quarter finals, 2 semis and a final at Wembley.
51 games would suggest we get a minimum of 4 or 5 games and I guess are fighting for a semi at best.
Nobody knows whether a group will be based in Scotland to make sense for travelling fans and indeed Uefa are under pressure to minimise the travel requirements on ecological grounds.
It is also likely that there will be 2 host spots.
Fair play to England who have said they want to see all hosts competing and the 2 allocated host spots to go to the best 2 non qualifiers.
The anticipated windfall financial gains from the games held on the SFA site already have the SFA beancounters and senior management wringing their hands in glee.
There will be pressure already put on the Scottish Government to help fund Hampden upgrades and vague promises made of reinvesting the revenues heading our way into undisclosed and fuzzy ‘development projects’.
I’d like to see the SFA becoming more open when it comes to what happens to the revenues.
Especially the windfall stuff.
Maybe some legacy projects and investments that are for the good of the game rather than just the biggest clubs.
Maybe replacing the current broadcast funding and the SFA making all Scotland games free to air like in England, Germany, France and others.
As of Now Fans Will Have to Pay to Watch Scotland in the Euros Where We Will Be Hosts
If you haven’t taken part in our 3-minute research please do so.
It is a hard fact that to the core Tartan Army foot soldiers that £180 per annum to watch Scotland matches is a small part of their spend on being a fan.
I get that.
But there are many potential Scottish fans who don’t get to see the team, and if they were English, French or German could or would.
Some of these are youngsters who could or would grow up as fully committed Tartan Army fans.
The Scottish Football Teams belong to all the people and not just the committed, very, Tartan Army.
We owe it to the future of the game to shown matches free on council telly, free for all.
3. What Really Happened at Uefa HQ?
Two weeks ago Sandy Ceferin, Uefa’s Grandest Fromage, pre-worked the room in Cyprus and delivered his nonsense as stage 1 of a plan to help his old comrades, sponsors and pals.
A wedge in the Uefa protective dam that would only get bigger.
It was a cynical gambit.
The Swedish and Danish Uefa reps and Vice Presidents were told by their associations and nations to vote against his motion but didn’t.
Last week , ex Champions League Swedish Ref, Karl Erik Nielsen, was comfortably sitting as chair of the Swedish Sports Federation in charge of £150 million of public government money.
He was also the second person to speak in Cyprus, immediately after Sandy Ceferin and in support of Sandy’s plan.
I don’t know how he had been got at but got at he was.
This week he isn’t a chair, having been ‘resigned’.
The whole stramash was discussed in the Swedish Parliament and the Swedish Minister for Social Affairs, Jakob Forrsmed, called Karl’s pro Uefa vote, ‘Remarkable”.
It is reckoned that Jesper Moller of Denmark will go the same way as his Swedish pal having done the same.
Meanwhile I have 3 questions for you.
Do you know who represents us in Uefa meetings?
Do you know how Scotland voted?
Was our vote ever discussed in Holyrood?
The secret society that is the SFA should be opened up or no more public money should flow into football.
Imagine a fan group asking their government not to fund their game till it becomes more open?
That’s it for this week
Feedback input and wee stories welcome as always.
Andy’s Album of the Week
This week I’m in warmer climes where the seagulls shout in Spanish without a lisp.
‘Migrants’ by the Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra is keeping out all distractions.
An amazing band who don’t come from where you think they do when you hear their music.
I first heard them by accident a few years back and was blown away by their version of ‘Wayfaring Stranger’.
They were just a live band then, had no albums and the only way I could play them then was on a great live YouTube live concert from a concert in of all places, Oslo.
Hayde Bluegrass Orchestra – Live at John Dee (Full set) – YouTube
The wonderful town where the Tartan Army got sunburnt this summer, where we stole a few points, and where we’ll all be in spirit on Sunday night.
If you didn’t know, and I didn’t, ‘Bluegrass’ combines elements of old-time mountain music, square dance fiddling, blues, gospel, jazz and more.
Its roots are seminally Scottish/Irish/Plus, and it will tickle the hairs on your neck, and frequently.
Anyway this album is a cracker and one you will never hear on the radio or see on TV.
Rebekka’s voice is quite amazing and Moa’s bluegrass fiddle is up there with Dave Swarbrick in the very old days on stuff like ‘Crazy Man Michael’.
You will find it hard to believe the band are not from somewhere over the hill in the deepest Appalachians.