Date: 23rd September 2022
It’s been a strange few weeks constitutionally and in the media which somehow went into predetermined, pre-agreed, ‘message overdrive’ with little or no real discussion or debate on any aspect of what we were being told to do and how we were expected to behave.
One size doesn’t fit all.
Scottish fans are no different to the rest of the Scotland population.
We are a broad church with a full spectrum of views.
Some have loved and supported it all.
Others have done what they can to avoid it.
Some are somewhere in the middle.
Some even took their frustrations and deep-seated political beliefs to the terraces in banners and chants.
Any such protest has mostly been painted as ‘deeply disrespectful’ rather than a peaceful political protest from people who feel different to what we have all been fed by those who feed us these things.
I personally was respectful but I value that we should all have the right for open, peaceful, political stands anywhere and anytime.
I’d just prefer it wasn’t at football matches.
It is a personal choice.
I also didn’t actually know that our late queen, for whom I have nothing but praise and high regard, was also the patron of the SFA.
(That says a lot about how active or necessary such a role has been).
Anyway earlier this week someone at the SFA decided that fans at Hampden would have a mandated minutes ‘applause’ after the anthems, ahead of our game against war victims Ukraine.
For the queen, the late SFA patron.
It duly happened and despite the best attempts by the TV Cos and their turned down sound machines there was a significant booing to be heard throughout the otherwise overtly-polite and low-key applause.
Many fans felt the original decision was OTT and not all those booing were of a republican persuasion, just a few ‘passively disgruntleds’ feeling disenfranchised, yet again.
I understand that but also understand that the SFA had every right to publicly thank a previous patron even if most fans didn’t know we had one.
And a minutes applause seems an appropriate enough thank you and for me was better than another minutes silence.
As always, the essence of good comedy and tragedy too is timing and this is where this was always heading.
Sadly, whichever SFA committee made the suggestion and came to this particular decision maybe didn’t think through the situation and created an unnecessary lose/lose scenario.
I think it could all have been handled better.
But it didn’t upset the players on the night and now we are heading to Hampden again on Saturday.
My first match ever on ITV4 and it was free, unlike tomorrows and Tuesdays.
I just wish I and others could be able to see the next two matches.
A Hampden Welcome to this Week’s Sting
When the new Scandi company, Viaplay outbid others for the rights to our Nations League and the upcoming World Cup qualifiers you could sense Scottish fans were immediately getting the thin edge of the TV wedge.
What was outrageous was that National UK TV companies were happy to successfully bid to show and sponsor the coverage of English games.
Not for Scotland games though.
All we were fed, in a pre-constructed press release (which always makes me think we are being spun), was that the Uefa commercial department had awarded our games to a start- up, PPV, channel, Viaplay, from Sweden.
A company that almost immediately had to buy an existing smallish PPV company owned by the people who used to be Setanta, called Premier.
Otherwise Viaplay could not have delivered the games it had bought.
So ‘Viaplay’ has now morphed into ‘Premier’ and they want our money.
A company where currently less than half a percent of Scottish households have subscriptions.
Why is it agreed by those who frame the sale of Scottish rights that the Tartan Army at home are happy to pay PPV all the bloody time?
It is myopic.
Most bona fide Scottish fans won’t now see the game tomorrow or in Poland on Tuesday.
That doesn’t help anyone or our game.
Tell kids whose parents use foodbanks why they can’t watch Scotland.
It also doesn’t attract proper and wholesome sponsors.
It is short term cash-ism for all the wrong reasons.
Scottish games should all be on council telly.
There has to be a way to frame and deliver this.
2. Qatar Countdown
It is just 58 days.
I don’t yet know how Chile’s appeal about Ecuador to the CAS in Switzerland is progressing but will find out as news seeps out.
Sponsors Unite and Countries Support the Workers
Meantime the English and German and Australian FAs among others have come out in support of the workers.
German FA President, Bernd Neuendorf, said “Fifa has adopted a human rights policy which expressly states that Fifa will pay compensation where it has taken responsibility for tournaments. Fifa has to live and comply with its own stated principles”.
The trickle is growing into a torrent.
Meantime 5 major sponsors, Fly Emirates, Coca Cola, Hyundai, Sony, and Visa have also upped the ante for Fifa and Qatar to offer compensation to migrant workers injuries and fatalities and also to respect human rights.
Captains ‘Rainbow’ Bands
The captains of 10 European sides will wear anti-discrimination bands in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.
It will be visible.
Players Will Not be Shushed any more by the money machines and we are now seeing the start of real player power in France.
This week, Kylian Mbappe shocked the French Football Federation (FFF) by refusing to take part in national team sponsorship activity and there are now worried commercial men and sponsors all over.
It wasn’t about money or personal gain.
Kylian already donates his cash share of all sponsorships but has said he has issues with certain brands.
This is a Gamechanger going forward because his stance will be copied by other principled players.
Just so you know the FFF have deals with Betclic, KFC. Uber Eats, and Coca Cola.
This new wave of player power started at the Euros and is another unstoppable trickle building.
More power to them all.
3. When Does a League Become a World Series?
It started in 1903 in baseball where the newspaper, The New York World, was sponsor hence the misleading ‘World Series’ title.
Despite that and the name baseball has never quite conquered the world.
But the EPL is doing just that and the Americans are charging to get in on what they still see as the ground floor.
Currently 8 EPL teams are either fully or partially owned by Americans and 4 Championship sides.
And according to reports Bournemouth are now in play with Bill Foley, the owner of Vegas Golden Nights ice hockey team close to a deal.
Because it will become the most important world media driven broadcast opportunity.
Any other reasons?
It can deliver revenues, fame, and power.
Gary Neville is in warning mode, “US investment into English football is a clear and present danger to the pyramid and fabric of the game. They just don’t get it; they think differently and won’t stop till they get what they want.
Four more American owners, and they can change the constitution and do things like stopping relegation”.
An insight into Premiership Numbers Glazer style.
(Remember they bought the debt free club with a few bags of air and by then re-mortgaging it).
So, your club posts a £115 M loss (up 23%) for 2020-2021 with the highest wage bill in history at £385M.
Debt is up £515 M and borrowings £636 M.
Sacking Rangnick and Solskjaer also cost £25 M.
What do you do as 69% owners of the biggest club in the world which is losing money?
The simple answer is ‘take more dividends’ at £23M, up from just £7M last year.
The United fans are not happy but to use a good old Scottish word, they remain stymied.
Most English fans of the big clubs are stymied too.
4. Russian Aggression Fall out
Germany’s Interior Ministry want Belarus kicked out of the Euro 24 qualifiers for their support for Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Russia are lobbying hard with the promise of Gazprom dollars to be allowed back, but this week Sandy Ceferin Uefa’s biggest cheese said, “The suspension decision is until further notice. We don’t have to take tournament by tournament decisions”.
Here is a question heading our way.
What would Scotland do when Russia are allowed back having annexed 20% of a sovereign country if we were drawn to play them?
Geo-politics is complex and the current Israel /Palestine reinforces the confusion.
5. Taxi for Fountas
Phil Neville’s Inter Miami beat Wayne Rooney’s DC United 3-2 in Washington.
Nothing special about that Andy, I hear you think, but the game was nearly abandoned and two old English team-mates saved the day.
Anyway, Wayne’s star striker, Taxi Fountas, was heard to use the “worst word in the world”, against Aime Mahika, Phil’s black defender, with an hour on the clock and the score 2-2
Phil took his boys off and well done to him.
A melee was ongoing and developing.
Ref Ismail Elfath tried unsuccessfully to get the teams back on the park. But his only punishment was a couple of insignificant yellow cards.
Wayne broke the stand-off.
He simply took the accused racist off, subbied him, and sense broke out allowing the game to be completed.
6. A Spanish Stand Off
Fifteen of the Spanish Women’s squad have sent the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) an ultimatum that if current coach Jorge Vilda is not sacked then they will refuse to play for their country.
They are said to be unhappy with, a toxic culture, team selections, training sessions, the management of injuries and the atmosphere in the dressing room.
High flying Spain were defeated by winners England in the Euros quarter finals after extra time.
At present the RFEF have puffed out their chests and said, “We will not allow the players to question the continuity of the national coach and staff since making these decisions is beyond their competence.
This has gone from a sporting issue to a matter of dignity. The players who have submitted their resignations will only return to the national team in the future if they admit their mistake and ask for forgiveness”.
Sounds like something from the ’50s when men didn’t want women to play and women’s opinions were seen as irrelevant.
My prediction is the girls will win and the puffed chests will soon be un-puffed.
7. Insider Trading in Maryhill?
If you are a genuine Thistle fans group and want to know how shares are being sold in closed rooms to a different ‘fans group’, how do you find out how to become part of the process and join the bidding?
That and a lot of good questions need a lot of good answers too.
I don’t know enough but it doesn’t smell right.
Have a nice week and good luck Stevie and the boys in both matches.
Cuirtear fáilte i gcónaí roimh aiseolas agus tuairimí.
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Feedback and opinions are always welcome.
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