Date: 2nd October 2020
Congratulations to Celtic and Rangers
Two tough groups to navigate with Celtic one of the top seeds drawn to play Slavia Prague, their old adversaries AC Milan and Lille.
Rangers are facing the mighty Benfica, Standard Liege and Lech Poznan.
AC Milan only qualified after a last minute penalty drew them level with Rio Ave FC from Portugal then extra time and finally a marathon 24 penalty shootout that saw them prevail 9-8. (I think Dalneigh Dynamos actually beat Rio Ave or a similar sounding team in the 1968 Inverness Street League final at Grant Street Park). Maybe I’m wrong, again.
Anyway Good Luck guys from all of us.
A wee Euro note for Mr. Maxwell and his team is the fact that this success of our two biggest clubs doesn’t change the fact that the current European competitions unfairly favour and reward the teams from the big 5 (England, Germany, France, Italy and Spain).
Celtic, declared bona fide Scottish champions, should quite simply be playing in a Champions League competition, with no qualifying rounds, against other champions not just big clubs from the big 5.
It is a fact that as of today the big 5 have 19 out of the 32 teams in the 2020 – 2021 Champions Leagues.
60% of the total. Ridiculous.
How was that ever allowed to happen?
How can this be in any way good for football?
Last Week’s Heading was Football Without Fans …..
……This Week it’s No Football Without Those Fans
Italy’s reported pandemic financial related loss of £580 Million pounds in revenue is hard to take in.
The Italian League‘s CEO Luigi De Servio is quoted saying “Our whole system is on the verge of collapse”.
Who knows where that is headed?
Our very own Highland League has just announced that in the absence of fans and the resultant and very real lost revenues it is postponing the 118th season till at least Nov 28th.
The reality is it just makes no economic sense to play, lose money playing and threaten the very existence of the clubs.
As I write the Lowland League still hopes to start as planned on October 10th but like all our clubs don’t own their own destiny and there are issues aplenty.
However once again their board is demonstrating real leadership through dark times.
Lowland League clubs have all been given the option to decide individually whether or not to take part in this season at all.
As long as they say so before the season starts next week they can sit it out.
And if by December football is still in a situation with no fans and no fan revenues coming in then clubs can choose to withdraw then from season 2020 – 2021 with no penalties due.
And if stuff like that happens and the Lowland League season doesn’t reach any conclusions, which is possible, and more and more likely every day, then last years declared champions Kelty will get the SPFL play off spot.
That is a big if.
Neil and his pals might decide to block it again on another whimsy and Ian and his pals might again decide not to fight their member’s corners as part of the old pals act with Neil and his pals.
Deja vu and c’est la vie to the pyramid from the top of our game.
We’d hope not.
It’s not easy anywhere in Scottish football just now.
We spoke about Stenhousemuir dropping £100K in a no fans world and right through our game fan revenue is crucial if clubs are to play at all.
Here are some realities I heard earlier yesterday and today from a few lower-end chairmen I called to discuss this strange season and the options.
“We’ve cut our expenditure to the bone since March, things like no new kit, reduced payments agreed with players and only when playing but even then without fans our numbers don’t add up. We are at 20% of normal budget and can’t afford to play or even open our ground for training without turnstile income”
“Even if our players play for free, and they all would too, it costs over £200 just to have referees and assistant referees for a match. Haven’t heard them offering yet to officiate for free or just expenses but that would help a lot.
Maybe we should ask.
Maybe the SFA are on to this one to help their members.
No maybe not”.
“A team bus big enough to meet last week’s social distancing rules for nearby games starts at £500 and that was introduced overnight. How do you budget for single person car trips when not all our players drive or just accept £500 buses? And how do we socially distance changing rooms and shower areas”?
“Our ground could easily hold 200 spectators more distanced than walking down the street or in a public park. We feel let down and never got the option. Our game is too dominated by thinking dominated by the two biggest clubs. Nobody thinks about it any other way than top down and that is a huge mistake”.
“We’re not touching any of our season ticket money. It’s in an escrow account and could be refunded if that is what fans want. I can see problems multiplying for clubs who have already spent it all trying to stay afloat. Who knows where it is going”.
“We get emails from the JRG most days. They have a difficult job with things changing all the time. I know pretty much who is on the group but like you have no idea why the group is not a matter of public record and why it doesn’t publish its advice to member clubs. I’ve never understood the secrecy”.
Still On the Trail of the Lonesome JRG Info (and less secrecy in our game)
Joe Fitzpatrick and his team now have up to 10 working days to reply to “Case No 202000088184” where we asked a few weeks ago who is on the JRG and given the government involvement why the JRG is not a matter of public record.
Scottish Football’s Lowly Place in Boris’s Begging Bowl Queue
In a week of rising cases we now have the concept of “circuit breaking” i.e. 14 day lockdowns being publicised as if it was a normal and inevitable place to be.
With actual paying fans at football matches so far away we can’t touch it we are heading into non-funded unknown territories.
Most sports and many sectors of industry are forming a queue (albeit a rabble type queue) to get a share of any special and new government bailouts.
Who knows what will happen?
Something Even The Hampden Long Grass Can’t Hide For Much Longer
Martin Henry is Chair of the Independent Revue into Sexual Abuse in Scottish Football and produced a document commissioned by the SFA that was due to be published in 2018. (2 Years ago Ian!)
It has been reported it has been held back on numerous occasions most recently blaming the pandemic. Well known politician Johann Lamont was quoted this week saying “I am gravely concerned that this serious and important report has not yet been published. Survivors need to know there has been a thorough investigation. The SFA must make a firm commitment to publish”.
Survivors and their legal representatives have suggested the SFA and other prominent Scottish football institutions are perhaps instead looking to sideline the report that is said to highlight their historic failures.
Malcolm Roger a spokesman for the survivors group “Settle the Score” said The SFA’s remarkable reluctance to publish raises questions over whether their main priority is protecting their own reputation rather than vulnerable youngsters”.
Patrick Maguire of Thompsons solicitors who represent six people allegedly abused by SFA officials and dozens more abused by senior or junior clubs said “Perhaps its time for the Scottish government to impress upon the SFA the need for this report to be made public now in its original form without edit or redaction”.
Today’s Times reporting on this on page 21 said “The Times understands that the final report will recommend that the SFA and a host of prominent clubs including Celtic, Motherwell, Hibernian and Rangers must acknowledge past failures to protect vulnerable children and teenagers”.
The SFA were asked but didn’t comment, maybe too busy tending the long grass patch where stuff like the ten-year-old Mcleish Reports and Ernie Walker’s “Think Tank” of 1995 are also concealed.
Mulholland Cul De Sac Rumbles Towards £80M Public Payout
We’ve already discussed the underreported court proceedings that I previously described as the “The Talk of the Steamie” in legal circles.
Its part of the outfall from Rangers financial issues in 2012 and the administrators Duff and Phelps and other people involved claiming up to £80M pounds damages and costs from our public purse.
It’s a mess and will get messier.
This week there was a virtual session and here is an update from my friend who was virtually present.
“The Lord Advocate has already admitted liability for the malicious prosecution and all events that followed Messrs Whitehouse and Clarks detentions. However he also placed responsibility for two arrests in 2014 and 2105 on Police Scotland. (Who have so far admitted no liability for anything).
Lord Tyre is quoted as saying that it was not acceptable for a public body such as Police Scotland to behave in that way.
A very old pal summed it all up beautifully as “Early days but a lot of establishment interests at considerable divergence here”.
Long way to run.
Meanwhile the man who our Cul de Sac was named after is judging away merrily as if nothing had happened.
Well done to Aaron Hickey the ex Celtic kid and Hearts youngster who made his debut in Serie A to rave reviews and a standing ovation.
We’re getting good at left backs.
Maybe because we’ve been so good at getting left back at home when big tournaments happen?
Grounds For Divorce?
Gavin one of our founder members from Aberdeen sent me a link to a wonderful BBC photo quiz about our old grounds.
“Andy we’ve seen huge changes from not that long ago.
That is everywhere in our game except for how we run it”.
Stadia have moved with the times but that’s all”.
If you haven’t already then have a go, its fun and thanks Aunty Beeb.
Maxie’s Groundhog Day
Ian, the longer you fail to answer our questions the more mail we get about them and the more people think you failed your members. Maybe it’s a cunning plan:
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