THE REVIEW OF THE GAME - HELP US TO TAKE ACTION NOW!

Andy’s Sting In The Tale (22/03/24) “A Call Off That Speaks Volumes” 

Date: 22nd March 2024

(Photo:@Homesoffootball)

It was the only game in the UK to be called off last Sunday.
The only game.
And the lateness was unfair to all fans and Sky TV too.
But Dens Park is not the only Scottish ground that has ever had late call-off issues and I remember how angry everyone was on  the 15th of Feb 2020 when Storm Dennis, not Stormy Daniels, was imminent and Ibrox was similarly abandoned at 12.30 with Livingston already in Glasgow.

Fans are right to be unhappy about both last week’s cancellation but also the preparedness of our stadia for our climate.
Scotland gets a lot of rain especially in the West.

I had some correspondence about the lateness, the havoc it caused for fans and the now very stark difference between Scottish and English top level pitches with one of my oldest pals, Dave from Tain who was a tricky winger back in the day.

In our WhatsApp conversation, the late, late, cancellation in Dundee raised 3 concurring issues.

i) Hybrid pitches are expensive but deliver better football and more reliability.

They make the game more enjoyable and a better spectacle.
The days of Derby County’s ‘Baseball Mudbath’ should be long gone.

Kenny Miller backs Livingston's new plastic pitch - BBC Sportii) Some of the top level pitches north of the wall, like Livingston, are just not good enough and unacceptable.
I can well understand why pitches are currently on the agenda at the SPFL. (But I would ensure time for ambitious clubs to upgrade rather than use it as a blockage to their elevation).

iii) The cancellation caused a righteous stooshie in our 4th estate and somewhat deflected attention from the biggest football story. The unasked and unanswered one about the resignation or whatever of referees’ head Crawford Allan. I’d say it has a way to run.

Anyway, back to Dave, the goal scoring, wing genius from Tain, and his valid concerns about the state of our pitches compared to England.

First, I didn’t actually know how many of the SPL clubs have hybrid pitches.

The answer I think is 4, Celtic, Hearts, Motherwell and Rangers.
Not many out of 42.
Because they cost from £500k upwards to £2Million.

Rangers fury at Dundee pitch shambles boils over as Hotline has 3 questions for Dens chiefs to answer - Andrew Newport - Daily RecordAnd when you are in a 12 club league and if you are outside the top 5 clubs with bigger supports and significantly more income, you have to spend every penny on the journeymen mercenaries from wherever just to try to stay up and avoid the financial carnage that comes from relegation.
Like an overnight 50% staff reduction because of revenues falling off the cliff when you hit the Championship.

It’s a huge national problem and dominates Scottish football.
We simply have no mid ground safety zones in Chilly Jockoland football because of our 12, 10, 10, 10 division set up.
No safe business planning for smaller clubs.
No safety for any club outside the top 5 and even Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs have shown our top 5 can be dragged into the quicksand.

In that kind of reality pitch surfaces come a distant second because ultimately clubs want points, revenues and status rather than infrastructure.
Long termism is something for economics textbooks like Lipse or Samuelson.
And our current money-splits favour the top levels and exacerbate the pressure on the ‘bottoms of our tops’ and the ‘tops of our bottoms’ throughout.

Bigger leagues are a screaming requirement in our game.

Maybe delivering that needs some imagination that transcends our current leadership or duopolistic control?
And there should be nothing wrong with being a Championship Club.
My own club, ICT should be happy with that and keep working to own their community.
Much better than a failing yo-yo, building un-payable debts.

In the meantime some clubs, especially community operations, are happy with their plastic parks and see their G3 and G4 pitches as 24/7 assets and very real revenue streams.

To confuse matters and deliver what is probably an urgent  need for un-budgeted expenditure the G3 pitches are now seen as cancerous because of the ‘crumb-rubber’ infill.
That’s a problem because the current reality is G pitches have usage levels that would simply destroy real grass and hybrids too.
The pitches are much needed, much used and much loved.

I’ve even played on a few of the very early G pitches and yes they make money and allow intensive usage.
But the truth is they don’t help the quality of the game at the top.

But I’m smiling too because ironically if Dundee and Rangers had G3, or G4 pitches the two cancelled games we talked about would have gone ahead and Dave the winger from Tain would have been able to watch his heroes last Sunday.

Nothing is simple in Scottish football, David.

Andy’s Sting in the Tale

1. More on That Euros Strip (And what £75 really says)
2. Waspi Women Football Regulations and 24/7 Normality
3. In Steve We Trust
4. Infantino’s Wee Salary Rise
5. Behind a 4-1 Result

1. Commercial Cynicism From the 6th Floor

Scotland fans block Glasgow driveways around Hampden as they abandon motors to head to game - Glasgow LiveI’ve written before that Scotland’s International teams belong to the nation and that the SFA seem to have forgotten that.

The reason is money, it’s always money.

The SFA see the Scotland men’s team and the fans as a cash cow and are delighted to the point of ecstasy with what Steve Clarke has achieved for not just the team, or the fans, but the bottom line.
It’s been an unexpected, un-budgeted and probably also an unwarranted bonanza.

But who cares,?
Hampden is full, every fan wants a slice, and if the SFA commercial team cannot increase revenues on the back of our boys success then they shouldn’t be there.
But as the wonderful ‘Melvin ‘Sy’ Oliver’ and ‘James Trummy Young’s song told us: ‘Taint What You Do It’s the Way That You Do it”.
The deep irony is the current success of our team is nothing to do with how Scottish football has managed or run itself since well before the millennium.

Last week I spoke about how in a country where 25% of kids and families are below the poverty line that some bright spark at the SFA thinks it is OK to sell ‘The New Scottish Euros Top’ for £75 adults and £55 for kids.

The tops cost buttons to make in foreign sweat shops.

I googled Ali Baba today and found our new tops are already available freely from the dark side for between $5.50 and $6.98.
A bit cheaper than £75.
Like just 6% of the sales price!

I’m not saying to buy them but that the Ali Baba producers demonstrates the real production cost.
It bears no relation to the selling, or if you prefer ransom price.

If our jerseys were retailed at £20 for kids and £30 for adults we’d grow the replica kit market, sell 10 times as many and maybe even make more money.
New Football Jersey Hot Football Jersey Shirt Football Jersey Suitable For Teams And Clubs Scotland – Buy Scotland scotland Football Shirts football Jersey Product on Alibaba.com

2. Marking Your Own Homework is Cancerous in Any Industry  

I have personal cause to thank the Financial Ombudsman who stopped a particular financial organisation closing ranks on me and mine.
Post Office scandal: Ministers consider options to speed up justice - BBC NewsI also hope the Waspi women get what they deserve too and welcomed yesterday’s report.
Having driven in Mexico I’m glad we have regulated MOTs here and road rules.
And, if the Post Office had had a Regulator with teeth would we have seen the Sub Postmaster carnage and need for a very messy and expensive clean up?

It’s also worth remembering that a certain still ‘Very Secret-Squirrel 5 way Agreement’ forged in a dark and very secret room by our SFA and SPFL has led to an estimated £100M cost to Scottish taxpayers in addition to the unpaid taxes from a prior, outlawed tax avoidance wheeze and complicity everywhere.

Regulation is normal in all aspects of life in 2024 and protects the consumer from the excesses of commercial self-interest.

So I welcome the news that England will introduce a regulator into football to protect fans and communities and while we are a little different we can learn from that because we do share the cancers of self-interest, and self-marked homework .

Anyway we are not beginning from scratch having held a fan led review in Scotland followed by two meetings at Holyrood.
The SFA and SPFL i.e. the dominant clubs who control them, don’t want any outside interference or vision.
They are not thinking about the best future for the game, just the best future for themselves.

round table for meeting - OFF-63% > Shipping freeBut the minister Maree Todd has now called for a roundtable meeting on May 8th and we’ll be there.

It can be a positive start.

And forget the big bad wolf stories from the SFA/SPFL PR machine that regulation will cost £10Million.
It will be cost neutral like in England.
It could even grow our game.

Scottish football needs a reset.
We need to know where we are, where we want to get to and how to get there.

None of it is rocket science and moving forward starts with ‘Common Good’.

 

I’m happy to help because in 40 years people will thank us even if by then we’re just historical names like Matt Busby and John Stein.

3. Olive Tree Thinking?

Who will win Netherlands vs Scotland? Our writers predict the glamour friendly in Amsterdam - Record Sport Online - Daily RecordThe results of our upcoming friendlies and even when we exit the Euros don’t really matter.
Steve has changed our landscape but dig deep and it’s hard to see what we have actually done differently now compared to the doldrum years.
Except for an exceptional management team and players from one booming foreign league.

No better time to think about the real future and by that I mean 20 years rolling-forward.

Scottish football needs to think hard about its roots and future and our un-budgeted current windfalls should be concentrated on long-term growth strands.
We need some ‘olive tree thinking’ and future proofing for future generational success.

 

 

4. The Wages of Sin

Not just a free Qatari mansion from grateful World Cup Hosts, Gianni this week trousered a nice wee 33% pay rise to £3.6 Million plus bonuses and ‘whatevers’.
And fear not.
Football Scotland ⚽️ on X: " FIFA president Gianni Infantino is present at today's Premiership clash between St Mirren and Aberdeen He's taking in some action while in ScotlandWe have been told it was awarded by household Fifa names, retired Indian judge Mukul Mudgal, Alejandro Domingues, a Fifa South American Something, and the Swiss bean counter Bruno Chiomato, so all is well.
North of the wall we have Mr Doncaster said to be on over £400k with a two year notice lifebelt and Mr Maxwell on a little less.
So stop complaining.
They are cheap!

And I wonder if Gianni charged our game in Fifa recharges for the 2 days he spent in Scotland in the last few months?
I estimate Mike Mulraney, our SFA President has had about £25K of Infantino’s time.
I wonder if he left some gold dust?

 

5. Geo Politics and Football are Confused and Confusing

Last night in Hungary, Iceland despatched Israel 1-4 and progressed to meet Ukraine next Tuesday in Poland.

A story bubbling this week but under reported has been The Palestine Football Association (PFA) demanding that the Fifa Congress consider ‘Appropriate’ sanctions against the Israeli Football Association.
The PFA is actively invoking articles 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Fifa statutes citing human rights and IFA’s complicity in the Israeli government’s violations against Palestinian football.

With 31,00 people including 13,000 children already killed comparisons have been drawn against Fifa’s instant and firm stance against Russia.

Here is some other stuff.

“Sport is part of our resistance”, said PFI chief Jibril Rajoub.

Mohammed Balah, Palestinian International who is trapped in Gaza and said to be malnourished like all Gazans said, “ Fifa is hiding behind its stated humanitarian and equality campaigns. I wish all players and officials would support us during this genocide. The world has to look with both eyes to see the truth. It’s not the first time we have been killed oppressed and subjugated”.

In the 2018-2019 Nation’s League 14 players in Israel’s squad were Israelis and 8 were what is called Israeli Arabs.

Last night out of a 23 player Israel squad in Hungary, 18 were Israelis born and bred, 1 was Portugese born, 1 Ethiopian born and 3 were Arab Israelis.
All 3 Arab Israelis played a part.
Anan Khalaily started the match, and Mohammed Abu Fanni and Ramzi Safouri came on as subs.

I’d say they were amazing humans.

And my own view is I think Fifa have been found lacking and that they could and should be doing more.

But who am I?

 

That’s it from me for this week.

If you are not an SFA member, Scottish Football needs you.

Please join.

Join over 80,000 Scottish football fans and let’s #reclaimthegame – Scottish Football Supporters Association – SFSA (scottishfsa.org)

It’s free, always will be and if all `Scottish fans were members we’d see different behaviours managing our game.

andrew@scottishfsa.org

 

 

Andy’s Album of the Week

Steve Harley: ‘Come Up and See Me Make Me Smile’

Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) - WikipediaSad news last week with the passing of Steve Harley, one of our finest lyricists who was superb live and whose best tracks really stand the test of time.
Apologies for it being a ‘Best of’ compilation and it doesn’t even include ‘Red is a mean mean colour’ but I wanted to showcase some of his other great lifelong tracks.

That boy could write and insight.
The opening words from ‘Come up and see me’ really hit home today in the money-infested world that football has become.

‘You’ve done it all
You’ve broken every code
And pulled the rebels to the floor
You spoiled the game
No matter what you say
For only metal, what a bore’

 

And as I listen to ‘Mr Soft’ while writing this week’s Sting I was zoomed back to the Trebor Soft Mints ad from nearly 40 years ago and smiled out loud.

Trebor – Mr Soft (youtube.com)

Most ads spoil the tracks the advertisers pay through the nose for and distort/rob the consumer of the existing musical relationship but Malcolm Green the genius Creative Director and Filmmaker behind the campaign really hit the bulls eye here.
He even changed the words, with Steve’s blessing.

Thanks Steve,
I was hooked on Cockney Rebel within seconds of hearing that violin riff in Judy Teen that replaced the normal lead guitar on  most songs.

‘Judy Teen’ was great, no fabulous, and yes Dexys borrowed your idea later but your track was a love story then and still is.
Great memories.

And finally here is a verse from ‘Red is a mean, mean colour’ that foresaw a certain Russian President when he himself was just a junior KGB flunky at the time and possibly was even working in New Zealand as a shoe salesman.
(Maybe he bought Steve’s album in Kiwiland and played it on his ‘Rigonda Party Time’ hi-fi at his sea view apartment?)

‘He keeps his money under his mattress
And his conscience in his pocket
He heart runs on batteries
He has two eyes to each socket’


Posted in: Andy’s Sting in the Tale, Latest News