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Andy’s Sting In The Tale (16/02/24) “SPFL Rebels Meeting to Go Out Live On Line?”

Date: 16th February 2024

(Photo:@Homesoffootball)

 


Murdoch and Neil’s Meeting Now Also Scheduled, But Behind the Usual Closed Doors 

The 6 ‘Rebel’ SPFL clubs couldn’t, and didn’t wait for ‘The Official Meeting’ as promised by our SPFL over the ongoing spat triggered by the comedic, cinch screw-up, and a subsequent governance review by an accounting firm.

No, to the 6 Rebel Clubs, ‘Time is of the Essence’.

They have called their own meeting for February 27th and invited all 42 clubs.
(It’s a technique from the business manual called, “He who pays the piper usually calls the tune”).

The press were briefed that the 6 want to talk about and fix ‘governance and transparency.’
I don’t think they have invited anyone from the SPFL.

Confused like most, I’ve been told this internecine squabble is about ‘regime change’ rather than opening up governance and giving public access to core stakeholders like wee unimportant clubs and fans.
But I welcome open and honest debate and anything that improves Scottish football. Low hanging fruit to change at the SPFL would be the current voting structure.

We’ll hear all about it all in good time, but it is not every day Scottish Football looks at its own governance, so that has to be a good thing.
Thinking some more, the Rebel’s meeting would have been better called for the 29th.
A day that usually doesn’t exist, for the kind of discussions that never exist either.
And also a day when salaried employees, paid by the year work for free, mugs that we all are.

Anyway all football eyes and ears are now on the 27th and some resultant politics, no doubt,  (it has all already started) until some kind of tawdry deal is done in a dark room and normal self-interest breaks out again across football.

For what it’s worth, our SFSA fans research overwhelmingly supports opening up the game fully and not just for the 42 men’s clubs in the SPFL entitled loop.
Integrated and open football, top to bottom across the land.
Doesn’t sound so daft does it?
Meanwhile, here is a question/suggestion to the 6 rebels.
Why not make the meeting on the 27th open to all and BROADCAST it on line guys, ‘fully in the public domain’?

That would say more about ‘open governance’ than any press release or post meeting interview.
That would also shake up the system big time and set an important precedent.

 In the Meantime

Top View of a Conference Room. a White Round Table and Six Chairs Around. 3D Interior. Stock Illustration - Illustration of seats, furniture: 55977312The SPFL today tried to head this all off at the pass and have now called their own meeting for all 42 clubs on Tuesday 19th March.
Ahead of that they have also circulated a ‘Governance Report’ by accountants Henderson Loggie to all 42 clubs.
But not the public, it’s all secret, for now.

And like a papal decree, the wisdom from the 6th floor, aka the Press Release by ‘The Big Partnership’ said,
“Now that clubs are each in possession of ‘The Review’ we are confident they will see for themselves how thorough and detailed the exercise was”.

I’ve read that sentence a few times and have no idea what is being said but we have been told in the media that there will be “group discussions” and the SPFL is confident that these will answer all criticisms and make the world “a shinier and brighter place, with more flowers, wall to wall sunshine, no pot holes, and free wine passes for all”.
(Ok I added some stuff at the end to make it read better).

 

 

This Week’s Sting

 

1. The Pyramid is Broken

Brechin City Football ClubThe Brechin City Chairman Kevin Mackie has the scars that came from the horrendous journey his club have been on.
He deserves  some attention.
Anyway he came out this week and slammed the SPFL over a particularly quiet rule change which means all 5th tier sides have to shell out an extra
£20K-ish to meet the now mandated requirements of having an SFA Club ‘Bronze Licence’.
It is a protection device by SPL 2 clubs scared of the growing push from below.
And a licence that is not needed nor necessary at the 5th level.
Just for the record, not a single Highland League side currently meets the new criteria and only Cumbernauld in the Lowland League have a Bronze licence in their pockets.
In fact a few teams in the top 4 levels like Cove Rangers don’t yet meet this bronze level.

I’ve said for a long time the pyramid should be a source of strength across the football nation and should be properly open for clubs to go up and down.
One up one down should be automatic, and a play off for the second spot.

In the meantime here is a suggestion for Neil Doncaster and his team, or maybe it’s for Ian Maxwell and his team, – probably both.

Andy’s Pyramid Prize Proposal

Find a sponsor for the level 5 /level 4 play offs.
Televise the finals on a non-football day.
Give the cost of an SFA Licence (Fast tracked) to both as part of the prize money.
Allow it to be done in the year after promotion.
Don’t use it as a bollocks, pathway-blockage for ambitious clubs.
Problem sorted.

2. 13 VAR-iations

Scared Premier League refs chicken out of ALL 49 VAR monitor checks this season | The Sun

VAR is here to stay and yes it will improve and the delays will shorten.
It won’t always be right but it has taken us to a better place.
At least now Scottish football is talking openly about referee mistakes rather than saying, “Nothing to see here, move along”.
I like that.
And well done to Phillipe Clement for his helpful and sensible comments that made someone at his club look small minded.

And to the St Mirren manager who says £120K would give me two players I agree, VAR is currently a huge cost to clubs.
The SPFL has a commercial department and I’d love to know what they do all day.

Why have the costs of VAR not been met by sponsorship?
Our commercial revenue gathering is appalling on both the SFA and SPFL sides.
Wake up guys and earn your big wages!

 

3. Community Clubs Are The Future

Ainslie Park - WikipediaI remember a Friday afternoon visit to Ainslie Park over ten years ago when Spartans were holding ‘Foot tea’.
Kids came along, played football and afterwards got fed.
For some it was their main and only meal that day.
It was an amazing sight.
This week I came across a welcome copycat/development/tribute programme running in Dalneigh, Merkinch and Bishop’s Eden Primaries in Inverness.
I now know it is a pilot scheme/trial for The SFA’s ‘Extra Time Project’.

This is what football should be doing through our communities from Stranraer to Shetland.
And don’t bugger about with trials.
Just do it.


4. Council’s Bloody Councils!

It’s not just the potholes all over Inverness that are upsetting the locals.
Last week Highland Council voted 3-2 in favour of ICT creating a Battery Storage Plant 4 miles from their ground on a green field community site up the hill towards Inverarnie.
A82 'death trap' warning after spate of accidents caused by potholes - Daily RecordNow we hear that the outcome of the vote is on hold, and there will be a council review after 30 councillors signed a “notice of amendment” seeking a further investigation by the full council.

Nothing is ever simple in local politics.
The 3-2 vote was because only 5 of the normal 15 person committee voted and the vice chairman, Paul Oldham said, It’s not a good look when only one vote was from an Inverness councillor, and not from the affected ward. This will go to full council in March.”
Caley Thistle said they will robustly defend last week’s decision in their favour and use ‘Thorntons Law’, some legal Stormtroopers,  to combat what they see as ‘Nimbyism’.
They will meet strong resistance.
Dr Kate MacDonald who lives near the site said, ‘The approval was an astonishing decision and a flagrant breech of the local plan”.

I’m an ex player and a fan but ICT are a business who have had several financial crises in their short history with significant bail-outs needed.
The club now says they need to construct and run this Battery Storage Plant/Farm Initiative to stay a full time team and to fully fund their community programme.
Like Jim from Beechgrove, ‘Ah hae ma doots about that’.

The club do have a link into green energy through their main shirt sponsor, ‘Intelligent Land Investments’ who lodged the application for the wholly club-owned subsidiary.

Maybe it’s a great idea and every club in Scotland should open a Battery Farm 4 miles away from their stadium on green field community land?
Maybe that is the Intelligent Land Investments plan?

What do I know about anything anyway?

 

5. A Short Form of Honey?

Hun' IS a slur says Orange Order after top judge rules it's not sectarian term for Rangers fans | The Scottish SunIn 1983 both Celtic and Rangers fans joined simultaneously to sing ‘Go home you Huns’ to show disapproval of the half time entertainment.
Fast forward to last autumn when Glasgow Sheriff Tony McGlennan found David Di Pinto guilty of a breach of the peace aggravated by religious prejudice for using the ‘Huns’ word derogatorily towards Rangers fans unknown.
David appealed.

Now Lord Carloway and Lord Matthews have decided in a higher court that there was no religious aggravation then and is none in using the Hun word, and upheld Mr Di Pinto’s appeal.
“Whatever perceptions may exist about Rangers and their supporters, neither can be described as a religious group or similar”.

I don’t remember when the insult started being used at matches and wondered what the origin was.

Googling, I found 3 options.

Don't Let it Be Forgot: You'll know us by our noiseIs Hun ‘a short form of Honey’, to someone you love or want to be friendly to?

Is Hun a derogatory term inspired by a poem by Kipling?
“In sight of peace
From the Narrow Seas
O’er half the world to run
With a cheated crew
To league anew
With the Goth and the shameless Hun”.

Or is Hun a newspaper quote from Wolverhampton when on April 19 1961, 10,000 Rangers fans allegedly went on a wee rampage in the rain after reaching the final of the European Cup Winners Cup?

 

Let’s just settle for ‘Hun, short for Honey’.

 

6. James Dostoyevsky writing to Fifa’s Gianni Infantino About Double Standards

FIFA president Infantino suggests abused migrant workers in Qatar given 'dignity and pride' | Goal.com UKThe geo political world we live in is confused, confusing and brutal.
Navalny has now gone, almost certainly by state intervention.
Banned Russia are now paying Serbia and Paraguay to come and play them at football while still trying to  steal chunks of Ukraine as a first step in regrowing past Stalinistic glories.
And Israel are still playing as normal in Uefa competitions and as I write will also be heading to Malmo for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Some people don’t think they should be allowed to keep their seat at the ‘normal table’.
I’ve taken the absolute and outrageous liberty of lifting a whole football-framed article written by James Dostoyevsky to share it with a broader audience.
I read it yesterday on “Inside World Football” and it shocked me.
Why Andy I hear you think?
Well, we all know deep down that we watch edited and politically-sculpted versions of all the news every day, presented as factual and balanced.
What happened on October 7th in Israel to Israel was horrific and wrong.

But what has happened since in Gaza is deeply shocking and needs more honest reportage and balance.

James Dostoyevsky was a Washington-based author until the end of 2018, where he reported on sports politics and socio-cultural topics. He returned to Europe in 2019 and continues to follow football politics – presently with an emphasis on the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.

In Dostoyevsky’s piece there are three particular quotes that will stop you in your tracks.
Two from holocaust survivors, Dr Hajo Meyer, and Dr Israel Shahak and one from Shulamit Aloni, a former cabinet member and Israeli Prize winner.
Three short, simple but moving statements that show the very disturbing gaps that are not being covered in the UK by our fourth estate.
And I hear today that MSPs in Brussels are asking for Israel to be removed from Uefa fixtures, but you probably won’t read that in out press.

 

 

That’s it from me for this week.

Feedback welcome and the wee-est of stories you send that aren’t always wee.

andrew@scottishfsa.org


Andy’s Album of the Week
Steve Wright: BBC Radio 2 presenter dies aged 69 - BBC NewsIt’s a sad week with Steve Wright joining Annie Nightingale on the wrong kind of year-end tribute list.
Both did the same job in different ways and both were parts of my life at different times.
Wrighty made me smile, always, and was a friend I never actually had.
His was a show rather than an introduction to his music, – I loved his characters like Mr Angry so much “It makes my blood boil”, so farewell, RIP and “Andy Loved the show Steve”.

Annie was different.

BBC Radio 2 - Steve Wright in the Afternoon, Annie Nightingale and Baz and Nancy AshmawyShe was like the wild big sister I’d have loved to have lead me astray when she came home from Uni.
And her Sunday Request Show was the best radio programme ever.
I have to thank her for leading me to Nick Drake whose albums, ‘Nick Drake’, ‘Bryter Later’ and ‘Pink Moon’ are playing in my sunny room as I type Sting to drown out the squealing from the recently returned seagulls on the tenement roof at the bottom of the garden.

I can’t pick my favourite Nick Drake album, but my favourite tracks are ‘River Man’, ‘Bryter Later’ and ‘At the Chime of a City Clock’.

Thanks Annie and Steve.

And before you read what comes below, I’m proud that Sting can sometimes be hard-hitting but James Dostoyevsky makes me look benign.

 

Original Article: James Dostoyevsky: It’s enough, Infantino. – Inside World Football

James Dostoyevsky: It’s enough, Infantino.

How many more children need to be slaughtered until your defunct admin takes action?

At the post-Congress media conference in Paris last week Wednesday, UEFA were asked why the European body was not applying the same sanctions to Israel as it does to Russia, which has been barred from international football since the invasion of Ukraine. Although well-meaning, it was the right question put to the wrong body. Russia was suspended by FIFA, world football’s governing body. And as a Member of FIFA, the European body automatically complied. Had to.

Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes, under the heading “Human rights” states:

FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights”

You could have fooled me.

Article 4, paragraph 1 of the Statutes, explains further, and under the heading “Non-discrimination, equality and neutrality”, it reads (my highlights):

Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnicnational or social origin, gender, disability, language, religionpolitical opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.

Really FIFA? Where is the suspension then? You know, the one that your Statutes demand and justify?

The ruling of the International Court of Justice, a few weeks ago, spoke exactly of “acts against a group of people” that could be construed as genocidal acts. It is abundantly clear to any sane person – clearly the US/UK/EU leadership are not part of that group of sanity but their populations are – that Israel is in flagrant breach of an entire raft of FIFA Membership obligations.

So where is the quick suspension that Russia got when it invaded Ukraine?

In his response, the UEFA general secretary suggested that Israel was an entirely different case, the country having initially responded to the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks. He said, quote: “There was no such discussion or such intention from the UEFA administration”Fair enough, although this writer thinks that the esteemed GS is mistaken. There were such discussions, there are such discussions, and there are many. But it wasn’t UEFA’s call. It is FIFA’s. He continued: “There are two completely different situations between the two countries. Don’t forget the start of the war in Russia and Ukraine and the start of what is happening now – which is regrettable, of course – in the Middle East.” OK, then.

Karim Khan: Independent or bought?

He seemed rattled and certainly didn’t expect the question. What he should have said is that only the FIFA Council can suspend a Member Association. In urgent cases, the Bureau of the FIFA Council – which is composed of 7 Members, namely the FIFA President and the Presidents of the six Confederations – can issue a suspension. If a suspension is issued by the Bureau of the Council, it must subsequently be approved by the full Council of 37 Members, and if upheld, submitted to a vote by the FIFA Congress at the next Congress:

Article 16, Paragraph 1. of the FIFA Statutes, says:

The Congress may suspend a member association solely at the request of the Council. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Council may, without a vote of the Congress, temporarily suspend with immediate effect a member association that seriously violates its obligations.

It is my view that Netanyahu’s Israel does.

So much for the Statutes and who can do what.

Theodoridis can’t, and he was the wrong recipient of the question (his President can always table such a motion as a Member of the Bureau and Council but he needs allies to follow suit and share his concern).

The CEO’s response came hot on the heels of demands by a group of Middle East football associations for Israel to be suspended, led by Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah IIand the president of the Jordanian FA and the 12-nation West Asian Football Federation (which comprises Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, Yemen and Iran).

Infantino would not be FIFA’s President today without Prince Ali’s votes in 2016 that shifted to Infantino in the second round of the extraordinary Congress in Zurich (and the handful of votes Champagne got). But who is surprised? Decent people find it easy to give and difficult to take. Not Infantino: he loves to take and give nothing in return.

Prince Ali fell for the bald Mephistopheles but got nothing in return. Now he rightfully expects return-action, now it matters because people, above all children, are being slaughtered every single day – while Infantino sits in his various gifted jets and flies around the globe, sitting on “Cloud Nein” (he does speak a little German).

FIFA’s, the world governing body’s, position is unacceptable to those who observe what is going on. And who doesn’t. Well, other than Infantino.

The invasion of Ukraine started two years ago and, while it created and still creates lots of damage – far too many lives were lost, infrastructure destroyed – that war did not, nor does focus on slaughtering civilians, above all children.

That horrible war produced hundreds of thousands of victims: soldiers above all, on both sides. Nevertheless, FIFA acted swiftly and suspended Russia, while that suspiciously unmoved Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (not to be confused with the Intl Court of Justice, which did act thanks to South Africa’s initiative), Karim A. A. Khan KC, the London Barrister who issued the arrest warrant for President Putin based on – what again?

That same guy, overweight and overpaid, raced to the conflict zone very quickly. Well, kind of: he forgot to visit Gaza, where massacres have become the norm. All he did is suck up to Netanyahu’s government, quickly shake hands with Abbas – and fly back home. Nothing to see here, he was told, I assume. The man is under pressure, as he should be. So he issued a lamentable tweet on X, trying to claim that he was working. Working for whom seems obvious. Some say that he is biased, if not bought. Clearly that would be an unsavoury allegation, wouldn’t it.

In contrast to Russia’s invasion, Israel’s devastating invasion of a territory that it already occupied and has always controlled, that small stretch of coastal land, which is unable to survive on its own because it is stifled in every which way and has always depended on crucial supplies like water, power and food, controlled by the occupiers (who famously turned off both  a war crime –  and whose insane settler gangs continue to block the passage of trucks that are supposed to deliver food and medicine – another war crime), that cut-off piece of land without ports, airports or autonomous international borders of its own, is indeed a “completely different”situation:

  • Gaza is an open-air prison camp inhabited by more than 2 million civilians, without the ability to defend itself (other than through the Hamas Military Wing), and without any logistic support by “allies” (see WAFF above). Palestine’s natural “allies” are mostly silent. The regional support is reserved to a large army full of foreign mercenaries armed to their teeth (by the US above all, although the UK, facilitator of what is the State of Israel since 1948, plays a remarkably repugnant role, as does Germany and the EU).
  • Prince Ali, Excellency: what is your half-brother’s position? Those trucks that are loaded in UAE ports and deliver goods to Israel via Saudi and your own land, how does that comply with your and WAFF’s sudden interest for a cease-fire and your initiative to suspend Israel? A timid question, no more…

The situation in Gaza is indeed “completely different”, isn’t it.

In Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of soldiers lost their life to some perverted insanity.

But only a comparatively small number of civilians – not to mention children – have become victims of deadly aggression and “dumb bombs”.

How “completely different” the situation in Gaza really is, can be illustrated by these figures released by what is left of the Gaza Health Ministry (quoted by Haaretz, and accepted by the UN, among others):

  • 2 million Gazans have been displaced in the Gaza Strip since last October. During the 128 days of the horrific blood-bath in Gaza, the number of dead and missing has climbed to 35,176.
  • The number of massacred children has now reached 12’300 – mounting rapidly with every insane missile attack on civilians who find themselves squeezed into an area of Heathrow airport, 1.5 million of them.
  • The US-supplied bombs and weapons destroy refugee camps and the “tent cities” that house over a million refugees from the North of Gaza (they were instructed to flee South to escape the bombing of their homes).
  • 8,400 women have been murdered and the missiles tore 340 medical workers to shreds.
  • In this disgusting war 124 journalists were killed – more than in any other war ever.

But the daily massacres are only one thing.

The “completely different” situation faced by millions in Gaza affects tens of thousands of civilians for whom no help is available any longer:

  • 11,000 civilians need critical treatment,
  • 10,000 cancer patients are at risk of death,
  • 70,’000 Gazans suffer from infectious diseases,
  • the cases of viral hepatitis have surpassed 8,000,
  • and over 60,000 pregnant women are now at risk.
  • More than 350,000 chronic patients cannot be helped or treated because
  • 30 hospitals have been bombed to pieces,
  • 53 health centers are destroyed and
  • 150 are partially destroyed.
  • 123 ambulances were blown up by Israel’s US bombs and mortars – and the madness continues.

But Israel does not stop there:

  • 70,000 residential units are completely, and further
  • 290,000 are partially destroyed.
  • 100 schools and universities have been flattened, and
  • 184 mosques and three churches have been blown up.

These too, are atrocious war crimes but it doesn’t end there:

  • 200 heritage sites were bombed to bits when the insane amount of
  • 66,000 tons of American made bombs flattened large parts of Gaza.

And FIFA? FIFA condones it all because FIFA does nothing.

Indeed a “completely different” situation though, is it: a country that never had any freedom, not to mention the freedom of movement or the freedom of expression is being annihilated before our eyes: ever since this insane revenge on Palestinians began,

  • 99 health workers and 10 journalists were arrested and dragged into Israel.
  • The 142 Government offices that were erased from the face of Gaza are but a further addendum to the genocide.

Meanwhile, FIFA does what it does best: the FIFA President jets from the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar to AFCON 24 in the Ivory Coast – and says nothing.

The very man who took residence in Qatar (while his office is still in Zurich, we believe), and who has now apparently moved to Miami to help organise the next World Cup, which, without his physical presence could not be organized, one assumes) is deaf and blind to the Gazans who keep dying by the ten thousands.

If the war in Gaza is “completely different” to the war in Ukraine, then the facts and figures and the horrorand the International Court of Justice would probably beg to disagree. As would any thinking person who cannot see how the attack of October 7 can be proportional to the mass slaughter of Gazan civilians.

So, FIFA, do what you are supposed to do as the sentinel of the game that you claim to be loving so much.

Act to protect not only footballers but, quite simply, human beings.

Listen to Prince Ali and listen to WAFF that he presides over: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar (you have a house there), Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE, Yemen and Iran – they can’t all be wrong.

You are.

James Dostoyevsky was a Washington-based author until the end of 2018, where he reported on sports politics and socio-cultural topics. He returned to Europe in 2019 and continues to follow football politics – presently with an emphasis on the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

 

 


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