Andy’s Sting In The Tale (21/01/22) “Never More Has Your Game Needed You and Your Opinion”

Date: 21st January 2022


  1. Football Needs Outside Help:
    • On Governance
    • On League Structure
    • On Kids
    • On Making Our Game Sustainable
  2. Its All History Now but it was a Daft and Costly Decision
  3. Betcha by Golly and Wow
  4. Get Stung Every Friday

1. The Scottish Football Alliance Wants to Hear Your Views

Imagine it is the year 2050.
A delegation of football people from Denmark, Iceland and Brazil have just been to Scotland to see what we are doing right and why they as nations are lagging behind in both the men’s and women’s games.
Our slightly smug, but oft quoted rationale, is that it all dates back to 2025 when we finally wised up, and then rationalised and changed our game bottom up and top down.

Known colloquially as Scotland’s  ’25:25 Vision’.

Forged by the coming together of a group of stakeholders for the common good of our game.
The Government, the SFA, the SPFL, the Clubs and most of all the fans.

It can be done.
Even in just 3 years.

The Scottish Football Alliance is a growing group of people in the game who realise that football is incapable of making the changes needed from within.

The Alliance consists of fans from all walks of life, players, chairmen, politicians, journalists, referees, academics and you.

People who want the game to be in a better place.

It is the start of a genuine and unstoppable fan movement, and we are glad to be working with them.

Fans can collaborate and see the big picture, and the need for consensus and common good.

Please help – it starts with some simple Yes/No questions and we need you to take the 2 minutes to tell us your views.
You can click on it and fill it in now or at the bottom of the blog.

It is stage one in a long process with constant fan input and most importantly we also welcome more in-depth views on what you think are the key tasks that need done and how you think our football world should look.


Send me those thoughts to

For now, here is a brief insight into the four main research sections in our first questionnaire.

SFA agree 'seven-figure deal' to buy Hampden Park | The ScotsmanGovernance and Stuff 

A virgin-territory survey.
The people who run our game never ask fans what they think about stuff.
You might ask yourself why?
So tell us what you think.

League Structure 

Leagues of 10 and 12 are brutal environments.
Plus, 4 games against every team, just because TV wants to see two particular outfits play each other at least 4 times a year.
Most clubs however are in the yo-yo category.
I have an old friend who is chief bean-counter at one such club.
He hates promotion, he hates relegation and most of all hates the chaos when either is on the cards which is most seasons.
He wants bigger leagues where his team can find and survive at their own level.

Scottish FA JD Performance Schools | Performance | Scottish FAKids 

What we have doesn’t work for anyone.
We need to constantly bring kids in to football because they are the future players and fans.
Keep them all playing.
Find a way to make kid’s football free, for all youngsters.

Find a way of identifying and developing elite talent.
And manage disappointment along the way.

Finally we must work with outside stakeholders like the Scottish Government rather than keeping everyone outside the football tent.


Football has to take this seriously.
Clubs need help.
This will not be negotiable.


2. A Daft 3 Days in January

See the source imageMany of you heard us appealing on various media channels on behalf of all the clubs below the SPFL Premier Division to get Nicola’s 17th January deadline ended just three days earlier.
Here are some quotes from supportive emails I received.
Dave from Dunfermline, ‘The JRG should be fighting for all clubs not just the top 12’.

Karen from Haddington, ‘Why does football forget that not all fans support the big two clubs? Your logic was bang-on and should have been front page news’.

And Danny from Kilmarnock, ‘The madness is that the government could have saved taxpayers money in an instant and spread a bit of joy to many communities. It is like an episode out of Yes Minister, except it’s not funny’.

3. Beating the Bookie but Sometimes Getting Caught

My old man had hard-earned wisdom.
He often said there was no point in gambling if you weren’t sure you were going to win.
He also said, despite the way it looked, that bookmakers never took risks and that is why you’d never find a poor one.
Instead they simply take a percentage.
The more people bet the bigger the bookies’ percentage adds up to.

See the source imageAnd the only way my dad could figure out to beat the bookie was to keep your money in your pocket.
But he was essentially honest and it seems others see it differently.
Football is a rich source of  opportunities ‘to shorten the odds’.

The last 25 years has seen gambling grow exponentially and internationally online.
Betting companies have seen football as an easy target for normalising interactive betting and the recruitment of mug punters.
And the younger the better and that alone is a disgrace.
Football in Scotland and elsewhere has grabbed the easy betting marketing money with both hands and failed to see  the downside of the damage done to fans and communities.
By integrating gambling with all things football the market has just kept on growing.
And the government has lapped it all up because betting has become a growing source of easy and reliable revenues.

But some of the shine is tarnishing a little.

‘Operation Clean Hands’ In The Low Countries

Herman Van Holsbeeck arrested in case of football broker Henrotay - Then24In Belgium earlier this week the largest investigation into match-fixing and corruption saw 57 people including top football administrators, referees and coaches being given court summons.
Steven Martens, a former CEO of the Belgian FA (KBVB) , Francois De Keersmaekcker, the ex-Chairman of KBVB, and the current Belgian Men’s International goalkeeping coach, Erwin Lemmens were all said to be on the Belgian federal prosecutor’s list.
And on Thursday, Herman Van Holsbeek (pictured) , former Anderlecht General Manager, also one of the 57 summonsed earlier in ‘Operation Clean Hands’, was actually detained by the authorities as part of an investigation into alleged fraud and corruption involving agent Christoph Henrotay, and concerning various ‘dodgy’ transfers at the famous club.

A continuing and very dirty story.


Is Belgium unique?
And Did Janny, the Zambian Ref, Call Time Intentionally, and if so, Why?

Afcon referee was suffering heatstroke during disastrous Mali-Tunisia match, official claims | The IndependentWe talked last week about the bizarre and farcical antics of Janny Sikazwe, the Zambian ref who blew early for full time, not once but twice at the recent Mali vs Tunisia match at AFCON 2021.
Anyway I had a couple of pints last night with an old pal who after deciding he was never going to cut it as a combative centre forward became a man in black.
And a good one too.
I told him I thought the ref twice calling ‘time’ early was funny and a sign of incompetence.
He saw it differently.
His view was that someone somewhere would have had a bet on something as obtuse and unlikely as two early full time whistles.
That made me think.
Then Arsenal popped up.


The club who became Eric Morecambe’s favourite swear alternative are currently under a yellow spotlight with gambling overtones.
One of their players, said to be of European origin, picked up a yellow card in December.
Nothing unusual in that I hear you think.

FA investigate Arsenal player for bet-fixing - Could it be Xhaka? (plus video) - Just Arsenal NewsUntil you hear that bookies (who don’t like paying out) reported an unusual number of bets, in fact a surge that specifically wagered that a particular player, the nameless European, would get a yellow card in the last 10 minutes.
He did.
The ‘benefit of the doubt’ has since offered a soft way out to the football authorities on this one and that currently means no action is planned but the FA are said to be on standby.

I was intrigued enough though and wanted to know more so Googled ‘Arsenal + yellow cards in December’.

David Moore on the ‘18 Futbol’ site googled-up with a piece and footage.

He reports ‘On the 18th of December with 8 minutes against Leeds to go, Granit Xhaka, stood over a free kick for an inordinate amount of time, did nothing but a few gestures and eventually was carded by a ref who had told him to get the finger out a couple of times.
(So an innocuous yellow for time wasting and all under one players control).

The suspicion at hand is known as ‘spot fixing’ and it is when a player, referee or member involved in a game has knowledge of a bet and purposely influences a specific aspect or moment of the game in favour of that bet’.

It’s a short article and worth a wee butchers and a look at the film.


The top five players of all time - where does Johan Cruyff rank on our list of greats? - EurosportThe number made famous by Ajax’s Johann Cruyff is also the number of Scots players and coaches accused this week of historical betting on matches by the SFA, in some cases back as far as 2011.
Hearings will be held, and punishments handed out.
There is no suggestion of match fixing or betting against their own sides, just contravention of an SFA rule that prohibits players betting.

Rules are rules but there is a certain level of hypocrisy here.
Our game has been riddled with betting and betting-sponsored competitions during the period these 14 are alleged to have made bets.

Everyone and his granny also knows there are more than 14 persons involved with Scottish football who bet regularly including backing their own teams so why single these guys out?

The energy would be better spent doing three things.

The first is putting in place a GamTalk style education programme targeted at youngsters coming into the game.

The second is distancing everything to do with Scottish football from the very aggressive gambling industry including shirt and all other kinds of sponsorship, all marketing and anything else that people more knowledgeable than me would suggest.
Take a stance, Ian and Neil and be the first to eschew all links with the gambling industry.
Now that would be a statement.
That would be the way to run a national sport.

The third would be to realise that betting can be and often is an be an addiction and instead of punishing those with this particular illness to provide genuine help.

The Westminster government have been looking into the betting industry and how it uses sport but they are hopelessly conflicted because of the revenue they raise from gambling.

They are also hopelessly occupied with trying to find out if someone who has allegedly been sacked in previous jobs at least twice is still capable of telling ‘terminological inexactitudes’.

Of course he is.

4. Sting on a Friday

It is half past eight o'clock. The time is 8:30. Retro clock isolated on a wooden table. White background. Stock Photo | Adobe StockMost readers of ‘Sting’ get it sent in the weekly SFSA mailing that usually hits the email web on Sundays.

It is usually available two days earlier on the SFSA web site at around 8.30pm on Friday nights after Murray my picture editor does the needful.

I also have a Friday mailing list too that is growing by the week and Sting is sent to them after my final edit.
(Very helpful too in picking up my typos).

If you want me to send it to you direct on a Friday when it is published rather than waiting till Sunday then send me your email address and I’ll add it to my Friday mailing.
Free like everything to do with SFSA.
Free to join.
Free to be a member.
Free thinking about our game.

Comments and input always welcome

The SFSA do not claim to own any of the included images which will be removed on request of the owner.


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