Date: 15th July 2022
1. Fiddling While all our Kilnockies Burn.
While the Tory party is so bloody self-engrossed in its own particularly gauche, ugly, end-of-pier parade, there is an economic tsunami heading Scottish football’s way.
It will hurt our clubs and affect your team.
Forget reports of ‘Season Book Waiting Lists for the first time in years’ at Tynie.
That believe it or not is already in the past for economists.
Think differently and prepare for an economic wave that nobody wants but will affect us all.
The impact will be bigger than the 10 or 11 per cent inflation quoted.
Energy costs are going through the roof this autumn, and are much higher than forecast.
These rises will hurt every home and business including you and your club because they are cash hoovers and will drastically suck up fans spending money.
Scottish football has to factor in a massive but guaranteed reduction in the discretionary spend that it actually over-relies on.
Every club has a slightly different amalgamation of revenues.
Things like walk-ups, spends on the day, pay per view subscriptions, future season books and more.
Kids football will be affected too as hard-pressed families won’t have money to pay for their kids to play.
It costs my pals kid’s team £100 for a pitch and £45 for the ref for home games, before the cost of transport, strips and the like.
What’s heading our way really is that serious especially when many families will have to choose to ‘heat or eat’.
It is embarrassing writing that in 2022.
And football comes a distant third in a 3 way race with heating and eating.
There have been no press releases with plans to help members from the SFA, the SPFL or even the Lowlife League who like a story.
I’d say they are well off the pace and indeed some enterprising clubs initiatives are already making them look that way.
The Rome that is our football economy is burning and you might think those running our game are fiddling.
I get the ‘external factors argument and their influence on our prices.
By that I mostly mean the effects of Brexit, the Pandemic and the war in Ukraine with its impact on Russian and world energy prices.
I don’t however get quite why the bills from wind-generated electricity on our Moorfoot hills or the bank of visible whirlies off ‘the Donald’s’ golf course at Balmedie have to rise so much.
Makes no sense to me and is false, based on inherently bad thinking rather than reality.
The price of wind hasn’t been affected by Putin’s invasion, to the best of my knowledge.
Maybe if our elected rulers were less obsessed with their internal beauty parade, one of them, ideally a chap with the name of Greg Hands, who is meant to be responsible for energy might show leadership and cojones.
Instead of sitting on his surname he might have told us why the world pressure on gas has been allowed to rocket the price of electricity produced in Scotland.
His priority should be changing the mis-functioning energy price model that is about to strangle the UK.
And why oh why should power companies be reaping huge, unplanned windfall profits.
And meantime Boris is keeping his own hands so tight on his wee tiller until September, with a manic desire to close off what he sees as the loose ends affecting his ‘Legacy’.
He cares about his legacy and treats it like Gollum treated his ‘Precious’.
Boris plans to then milk it to fund his future income streams as he tours relentlessly till audience boredom sets in.
I’ve been told he has a hand-written list in green ink on a yellow stickie on his kitchen noticeboard . It says ‘Look what I delivered’.
The basis of his book, tours and status.
For Boris and the remainder of his cabal, his list also includes things like ‘Shafting Europe and Ireland’ over a deal he had already negotiated, agreed, signed and ignored.
That is higher up his personal cabinet room list than sorting the UK energy model out for the poor people in distant SNP-land.
That is not even on his stickie.
And while I’m on the soap box, the rocketing price of fish means it now costs me between £8 for two biggish, fresh haddock fillets from Ian my Saturday fish van-man.
That is a bargain too, even if it has risen £2 since last year.
Haddock is £18 a kilo and cod £22-24.
Don’t ask me about monkfish or sole, you have to pay just to look at them.
Ian tells me diesel price hikes alone mean the price of setting to sea is rocketing, and his fish supply is also affected by the big guys pre-buying all catches up at Lerwick and making it worse.
(Ian has even been subsidising the price of haddock for his older customers till he sees where it will all go.
A wee trick football might consider to keep fan numbers up after the energy rises hit in 3 months)
My Economics Professor pal from Edinburgh Uni said last night as we were talking this through, in wee Bennet’s that “Businesses simply have to gear up and prepare for an overnight reduction in real income into the foreseeable future. Football will feel a very cold draught that will also have a time lag”.
I want to but can’t disagree.
And the soft government handouts that baled-out our clubs during Covid won’t be on the agenda for this hiatus.
‘Oor Kate’s’ budget is already over committed and football is not at the top of her or Nicola’s agenda.
There are signs that some of our clubs are smelling the wind of change and taking action now.
It is great to see and we will compile what is happening out there and share the initiatives with all supporters and clubs on our SFSA web site.
My Prof says all clubs should be taking action now and factoring in this scary new reality into their business plans.
As usual some clubs need more help than others.
2. Euros 2022: A Veritable Fiesta of Football
I have been well and truly hooked, and captivated by the Women’s Euros. In a way that has pleasantly surprised and blown me away.
Here are some of the things that are making me smile out loud.
I’m no England fan, but I’m not anti either.
I cheered the awarding of their early penalty against Norway.
The Norwegian defender, Maria Thorisdottir raised her arm and caught England’s White.
Not hard but intended to impede and just about enough to off balance the striker.
The yellow card put the defender on her bestest behaviour for the rest of the match and she suffered for it.
The BBC panel unanimously sang out at half time that the award was soft.
I disagree and suggest that it is all about perspective.
In the ‘60s and 70s it would have been seen as a clear penalty and awarded.
What has changed is that we have been collectively poisoned to a stage of false ‘immunity’ from the industrial cheating in the box. We see it every match.
Defenders grabbing and forwards running into defenders legs to make what Billy Dodds would say justifyingly, “Definite contact, Penalty” in his excited commentator voice!
Why do footballers cheat?
Because it works and Fifa and Uefa have ignored this cancer for too long.
I’d like to see a game where cheating is always properly punished .
The Euros is making a start at showing the rest of the game how.
But it is a long road.
There is definitely more honesty in the women’s game, although also darker hints of what might come as it quickly evolves.
The Spanish already have a more cynical approach, and are probably closer to the men’s game than others.
What I love though, and cheer is players taking on opponents again and again.
Do you remember dribbling?
I don’t mind if they lose the ball a few times.
And there is tackling too, something I also just about remember.
Finally it is great to watch wingers who wing too.
Cheapest ticket is £5 for kids and most other briefs are £10.
That’s great and it’s wonderful to see so many families.
Low score here for Uefa and their system.
Local fans are asking why even at the ‘sold-out’ matches there are swathes of empty seats.
The Swiss organisation, Uefa, knows about things like selling tickets to matches and organising local venue arrangements.
Like their recent co venture with Stade de France that screwed up the experience for Liverpool fans and ‘of course it was the fans fault’.
This week the power of social media recordings and the amazing good nature of the Liverpool fans consigned all the early aspersions to the bin.
The gangland culture in that part of Paris makes it a dangerous venue for anyone daft enough to go.
But well done Liverpool for inviting all kids affected to a free game and experience.
Back in Euroland another fan niggle about ticketing, and this applies also to our good old SFA’s ticket policy.
Why can fans not buy the tickets they want, anywhere in the stadium as long as they are available, like at the theatre?
Imagine Maxie and his missus wanting to see the Panto from the upper circle and being told they had to sit in the gods.
Ticket choice would be far preferable to the Hobson’s choice of having to take the next tickets in the section they happen to be selling!
For TV and internal organisational purposes.
Buy the software guys.
It’s all mechanised and computerised nowadays so should not need anything more than a recognition and commitment that fans deserve better.
Make the TV visible seats cheaper would be my advice and the cameras will see and show a full ground.
Football has a lousy customer approach.
And finally why is there not a Euro’s Ticket Booth, virtual or real for on-the -day local demand.
I despair when you realise the last people these guys care about are the casual fans who just could become engaged.
The Euros have been presented beautifully and lavishly by the Beeb 1 and 2 with Gaby Logan a fine anchor.
It is easier with a bigger budget than Alba have not just for the SWPL, and Championship.
The Beeb budget for the Euros is probably bigger than Alba’s total annual budget!
All international football in the UK should be on council telly.
That would be good for the game because it would allow youngsters, especially those in less well-off households to buy into the game early doors and keeps the link open.
We’ve talked about this for a few weeks now and I’m glad to say you like this idea.
I’ll put it on Andy’s Stickie.
My interactive list of things needing done and I’ll post it every week at the foot of ‘Sting’, starting today.
Why is this even important.
All football should be suitable for all families.
All the time.
Ask yourself if all our club matches are?
If not, why not ?
And who is doing anything about it?
3. Neil’s Sponsorship Crisis?
I haven’t spoken with Neil for ages and assume he is busy with integrating the SWPL 1 and 2 into his organisation.
But I have noticed a wee problem he needs to get his team onto pronto.
The (Scottish) League Cup.
Wikipedia tells me that the Scottish League Cup was first played in 1946-47 and is the oldest national ‘League Cup’ in existence.
This year the cup is sponsored.
Sponsored by the ‘pay per view’ organisation that used to be known as Setanta.
In a wee yet almost certainly technically legal ‘switcheroonie’ Setanta are now called Premier Sports and also have the rights to some Scottish international matches.
Bidding money they don’t have, yet in the hope it all adds up.
Just like last time I’d guess. and we know what happened then.
Quite why were they ever allowed back into our camp after the mayhem they caused is a good question?
Money, even ‘phantom future money’ is the only answer.
This week the competition we were told months ago in a press release was now called the ‘SPFL Premier Sports Cup” actually started.
Look on the SPFL site and its name is The Premier etc.
But look on the BBC or Sky or here and it is the (Scottish) League Cup.
We are all choosing to ignore Neil’s cup sponsor, just like Rangers do to his Cinch pals in the league.
How very dare we?
4. Joe, the Man in the Know
If only there were ‘listening ears’ in the right places
Thanks Dave from Inverness for sharing some wisdom from Joe Jordan, the only Scot to have Scored in 3 different consecutive World Cup Finals.
I’ll just let Joe speak.
“The authorities need to create a pathway from the most deprived communities because for over 100 years that is where our best players come from”.
“Why does it cost a family with 2 kids around £100 per month to be part of a football club? When you add in the un-repaired damage from teacher’s strikes in the 80s you get a clear picture of what we’re not doing”
“Politicians talk about kids being obese. Let’s find them a way to play football for free”.
“Schools have a part to play too”.
“The SFA needs to be proactive in addressing the lack of gifted footballers coming through. We should be visiting countries like Uruguay and Denmark and finding out what they are doing different to us”.
Our Grass Roots Financial Crisis
My pal’s son plays under 18 and daughter under 14.
Match day pitch hire is £100 per team.
Refs cost £45 (shared or home side)
Training is £30 per hour.
Under this pressure vital clubs are closing, and mental and physical health is suffering.
And it affects the poorest kids the most.
Our politicians are happy to comment freely on the Tory nonsense down south but this is real stuff and much more worthy of their, and our attention.
Marie Todd our minister is simply overloaded.
She has responsibility for all sports and a bunch of health stuff too.
Nicola I’d say it’s time to look for a Sports Minister as part of our Health Department.
No action now will see damage to our kids and their communities.
5. What do Livvie, Falkirk Glasgow Rocks and the Lowlife League Have in Common?
(But not Whitletts Victoria).
The answer is links to Hugh Clarke of Clarke Epos the company who sponsored all of them recently.
Some now think Clarke Epos doesn’t seem to deliver the agreed sponsorship amounts.
While yer man was being heralded as the Lowlife League Sponsor in March this year, Whitletts Victoria were dropping him because of financial failures and contractual issues.
Some of his staff who claim to be owed significant amounts even went legal to try to get payments due and one said, “He owed tens of thousands in salaries and refused to pay us even though we could see him in the hospitality are at Livingston, doing the whole VIP thing”.
The company is no longer listed on the Falkirk or Livvie web site but the Lowlife League site still hails it as a sponsor.
Maybe they got their money up front like the Colts deal. Maybe not.
6. Everton Fans Fight Back
20,000, and rising fast, have signed the petition that tells the club that shirt sponsorship by a ‘crypto casino,’ betting sponsor is not acceptable.
Doesn’t matter a toss how much it brings into the cash strapped club owned by a non-Evertonian from afar.
Fans are increasingly aware of betting addicts being driven to despair and sometimes suicide.
As per normal the petition has been arranged by an Evertonian, Ben Melvin who is a gambling ‘survivor’.
He reckons to have personally lost hundreds of thousands to gambling cos in the last decade.
“Everton are the people’s club and used to care deeply for the supporters setting high standards and trends for others to follow.
More power to the Evertonians. I hope they rope in the players too.
Meanwhile three clubs in Scotland are actively normalising casino style gambling to all their fans and all fans who watch them live or on TV.
Why no voluntary ban Neil?
That is what England’s Premiership hopes to finagle to harvest these toxic ‘fan suicide revenues’ for three more years.
Does our game no favours.
7 “Abbie’s Football and Gambling Survey
Abbie, one of our helpers has some really interesting primary research underway on ‘Gamblers in Scotland’ as part of a Stirling Uni initiative and needs your help.
It will take less than 3 minutes and if you do nothing else this weekend, please share your thoughts and beliefs with the researcher team.
8. Finally, Some Barca Madness, Leeds United Style
Rory Smith writing in today’s New York Times paints a worrying storyline for fans of the Catalan giant.
He says there are two Barcas.
The one that has no money and in accountant’s terms needs to raise $3 for every $1 it spends just to survive, and the other trophy-driven free-spending Barca-machine.
However to fund hungry short term Barca Presidential ambitions, they have stupidly done what Peter Ridsale did at Leeds when he sold future Leeds season book income to the market not realising he was going to need it just to pay his inflated squad’s bills.
Well a few short weeks back, Barca sold 10% of their La Liga TV rights for the next 25 years to Sixth Street a US fund who don’t care a jot about them and just want the money streams.
205 Million Euros.
And that means the Barca with an ego to maintain are currently signing players like cash is not a problem.
Rory does say, “The new do players make Barca stronger.
And there always is a ‘but’, he also says sagely.
“But are they worth gambling with tomorrow”?
Is the idea of a couple of trophy-less years nurturing a new generation so unpalatable that the club is spending money it does not have?”
Hope you found something interesting in ‘Sting’.
Finally my stop press is that Russia have failed in their CAS appeal in Switzerland to be reinstated.
Andy’s Scottish Football’s Wee List
Scottish Football Needs …
(In no order of importance and just a start)…
– A regenerated Schools football network
– Free and subsidised pitches for kids
– Kid friendly elite pathways
– An external Ombudsman and a link to `Audit Scotland’
– Proper Ownership criteria and a fan ‘casting vote’ share for key issues
– A dedicated Sports Minister and links to the health programme
– All international matches on council telly
– No damaging sponsorships or links
– A proper pyramid from the lowest of the low to the very top
– A plan for regionality
– Bigger Leagues
– Less self interest
– Open administration with fan representation
Would any of these harm our game?
And finally, Julie singing a song about the Euros.
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