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Andy’s Sting In The Tale (24/03/23) “Pay Per View North of the Wall?”

Date: 24th March 2023

(Photo:@Homesoffootball)

You can put Your £90 Shirt on it.

 

I’ve just heard the shocking confirmation that 1 in 4 Scottish kids is living in poverty.

Just think, that is a quarter of a million children.
The disgrace is they mostly come from working families too, despite extra government funding in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK.

Parents working full time to live in bloody poverty in 2023!

That’s an open sore in a week when our SFA and their retail partner, JD Sports think £70 is an acceptable price for cheap, foreign-made, synthetic fibre replica shirts for kids, whether they are in poverty or not.

And adult tops with more than double the material are surely a comparative bargain at £90.

Not.

We’ve been told they are a limited edition and after months of hype to the Tartan Army and hangers on, the tops have allegedly sold out with some people brainwashed into thinking they are positive endorsements of being a footsoldier, and other purchasers erroneously seeing them as investments.

14 April 1865 « Common American JournalI’m minded of Abraham Lincoln’s quote, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time.

And  I fervently hope the Monty Python’s “Watneys Red Barrel Effect” comes into play and the shirts soon get left in the drawers at home after one embarrassing outing, or get sold to eBay speculators in a non- bubble where the reality is everyone except JD loses.

Yes the SFA will no doubt garner some revenue into their new “Central Hub” but the reality is this in on the way to becoming a pariah garment representative of a commercial department, and maybe even some people in its organisation too, that are out of touch.

And supporters, even those with money burning a hole in their sporrans should know better.

Poverty is not unique to Scotland.
There are deprived kids and families in England and Wales too but at least they can watch their international team on free to air Channel 4 or the C4 Welsh channel.
Lifetime links being forged.

 

I guess we can watch England or Wales free too, like England’s fine victory in Italy, but watching Scotland comes at a price and many fans are excluded.

I find it deeply worrying that someone somewhere at Hampden makes or rubber stamps these decisions.

Deeply concerning that they are not fighting our corner on our mutual behalves in these tough times.

 

This Week’s Sting

1. Own Goals and No Defence?

2. Bernd Neuendorf Agrees with Us

3. When Gary Met Sandy

4. Kick Gambling Out

5. It’s Not the Equipment

6. Free Football for Kids

 

1. 150 Cream Eggs and Pay Per View

On Wednesday morning after huge fan backlash and a media stooshie, I was invited on to BBC’s morning news programme, Good Morning Scotland to give fans reaction to the limited-edition JD Sports deal.

The background was we had been told last week that The SFA were celebrating their 150th ‘something’ on March 13th and the tops went on sale 8 days later.

School Time Capsule Ceremony - Kirkcowan - What's Going On?First a couple of things on that.
150th Anniversary celebratory programmes are no big deal.

My house hit that milestone last year and we didn’t think of doing deals with JD or selling acrylic foreign-made tops to passers-by.

150th Programmes are no more than invented excuses, mostly by golf clubs,  to partake in quasi-important activities to celebrate nothing specific and in reality not very much.

That Being Said

Once the decision was made let’s think about who the stakeholder actually is in Scottish football.
You might say it is not the SFA but the clubs.
I’d argue it is the fans and as the late John Stein said, and is oft quoted, “Football without the fans is nothing”.

Jock Stein was left in tears after his initial Celtic managerial hopes ...

And my dad would have added “If a Job is Worth Doing”.

Agreed John and Donald, but maybe those old values are just from a different time and nowadays the adage is “Money, Money, Money”.

 

Roll Up and Celebrate Our Collective Anniversary

So we are where we are.

There will be 150th anniversary celebrations  as decreed by someone. And Scottish Football could have, should have, and maybe even will have celebrations planned for us all, not just the idiots with £90 burning their way into JD’s tills.

Time will tell if any future plans are more inclusive but for now the launch of our collectively owned 150th celebrations have focussed on a niche group.

Just think if we had nice tops, maybe cotton, and sold at £40 for adults and £20 for kids.
They might have been made in Scotland, proudly.
They would have sold gazillions and you’d see them worn proudly all summer in the streets, in the Costas, in Florida and even Down Under.

What a wasted opportunity.

 

GMS, Phil, and the Bigger Picture

On Tuesday, the day of the JD Shirt launch, it is fair to say that fans and fan groups were unhappy at the price.

It was the talk of many steamies.
We were contacted by members wanting to make the point and the media for a comment.
A quick call-round confirmed that the tops were actually selling, that the promised discount for using some app was not working but overwhelmingly there was general anger about Scottish fans being taken for mug-punters by an out of touch SFA.
Much more agin than for, so to speak.

There were also hearsay rumours about tops for sale on eBay at more than face value because of the “rarity”.
When GMS contacted me we they asked if I would be available just before the 8 am news.

Touts sell 'work of art' Scotland anniversary strip on eBay for eye-watering prices to desperate fans | The Scottish Sun
The next morning as I prepared, I was listening to the show.
One running gag had emerged and it concerned Phil Goodlad’s ‘second breakfast’ habits.
A silly o’clock early starter he seemingly has this daily around 9 am after the first show to keep going in his busy world and was recommending microwaved porridge with his secret ingredient, a cream egg, melted and warm of course.

 

Cream eggs cost 60p and it was spooky that if Phil had 90 pound notes looking for a home that he could choose to buy a JD, Scotland plastic fibre top to keep in a drawer or 150 cream eggs that would last him, one per day, till August.
He could even create a 150 event.

Just imagining “Phil’s 150 Cream Egg Porridge Festival”.
That would be just as relevant as any other 150 celebration and better than most.
He could sell the tops for £30 and still make £20 profit on each

 

Getting serious again – at a time of unprecedented pressure on household incomes Scottish fans are being asked to shell out £90 /£70 for man-made fibres tops, factory made somewhere abroad for less that £10, and flown in to JD.

 

What does that say to youngsters whose working parents just can’t go there?

 

(As an aside, The Doddie Foundation who are making money for research into MND in memory of Rugby’s Doddie Weir seem to think £45 is a reasonable price for a comparative-ish top)

 

Have a listen to the GMS interview, it’s just a couple of minutes long but for me the ending was the most important.
Good Morning Scotland – 22/03/2023 – BBC Sounds
It’s on just after 0755.

We talked about tops but in the scheme of things they are no big deal.
Yes someone at the SFA called it wrong.

Yes someone at the SFA failed to recognise that if we are having a 150th celebration then it is everyone’s and not just those who are buying the top, maybe to go with their mankinis at their next gauche festival.

But.

While we are talking about this and the media focus is on tops and spurious anniversaries there are bigger issues that should be addressed.

We want Stevie and his boys to start the group well.
Good luck guys, and according to Nielsen Gracenote the researchers, you have a 42% chance of qualifying (62% when you factor in the playoffs we’ve already qualified for.)

But sadly, many of us, including kids in poverty, are excluded from what we hope will be Stevie’s finest procession.

Television Camera Broadcasting Football Match Editorial Photo - Image ...Why?

Scottish international matches are only available on Pay Per View.
English international matches are on free to view Channel 4.

A station that is meant to be a national channel owned by the people of the UK including Scots.

Why is media attention not on this disgrace and asking the right questions about how it happened?

I’ll forecast that the SFA if pushed will hide behind a mantra that would do Conservative Central Office proud like when they brief ministers ahead of the Kuenssberg Sunday Show.

It will go something like, ‘Uefa sold the rights not us, and it’s not our fault it went to a Scandi media organisation who didn’t even have representation in Scotland. Just think of the money we will make’. (A big boy did it and ran away approach).

Wales were cleverer and made our negotiators look stupid by ensuring a foundation for free Welsh international matches on the S4C Welsh channel.

How?

Don’t know and none of our 4th Estate asked those who do on our behalves.

 

The Very Next Day

 

I was having breakfast on Thursday morning when my wife said, “Andy, you’ve just been on the radio again”.

GMS had picked up what I had said and used the last part of our interview the day before to introduce SNP MP Gavin Newlands who shares our collective view on the scandal of PPV for Scottish Internationals.

MP Gavin Newlands tops list for ticket freebies - Daily Record
He has long called for a round table summit with broadcasters and interested parties and on hearing our Wednesday plea for action has arranged a meeting.
It is happening.
We’ll be there and will tell you about it.

In the meantime, the only organisation to really gain is Amazon whose sales of Firesticks are, I’ve been told going ‘through the roof’ all over Scotland.

If you don’t know why, ask any 14 year old.

 

2. End the Secrecy in Football

I’ve said it many times but this week the German DFB (FA) President said it too.
It was aimed at Gianni Infantino and Fatma Samoura his Fifa General Secretary.

FIFA President Infantino's gross salary climbed to $3.2 million in 2019“We asked so many questions about Qatar and its humanitarian legacy, and the promised Legacy Fund.
Lisa Klaveness of Norway had several requests for compensation for migrant workers and her demands were quasi-answered in Rwanda by the President of whatever the Gibraltar FA is called in his role as chair of some Fifa committee.
His name is Michael Llamas and he said, “Following a Fifa investigation they will deliver a report”.
Ahead of the report, he framed the predictable outcome saying, “The World Cup has served as a catalyst for wider and important change in Qatar”.

So, the deck is already stacked, but we knew that.

And good luck to Germany’s Neuendorf when he stands for the Fifa council.

 

3. Worth the Watch

Gary Neville on Twitter: "Tomorrow on @wearetheoverlap … Aleksander Čeferin, President of UEFA . This is a must watch ! https://t.co/fgiaMc1uOG" / TwitterGary Neville had Aleksander, aka Sandy to us in Scotland, on his U Tube Series, The Overlap.

Aleksander Čeferin reveals all on the Super League, football integrity & Liverpool’s UCL Final – YouTube
Not a bad way to spend 45 minutes especially with a nice glass of Malbec.

“We have to keep our football from these sharks that are swimming around and trying to ruin the pyramid”.
“Uefa distribute 97% out of all revenues we have and I don’t know any other NGO who does that”.

Lots more too.

 

4. And it Will Fight and Bite Back?


The UK Government is ‘sort of’ having a gambling review which might or might not have an impact on future football revenues.
And be cognisant that the gambling industry is not built on ‘a fiver on the National’.

The hard facts make unpleasant reading.
4 gambling reform ideas from overseas to save Australia from gambling loss and harmEvery 20 days or so Scotland sees a young person take their own life because of gambling addiction and hopelessness.
Gambling Harm has been categorised as a ‘hidden pandemic’.
In our own wee country, Rangers shirt sponsor have just been fined again for ignoring their responsibilities to problem gamblers some of whom will be Rangers fans.

But our government like some clubs like the taxes and revenues they harvest from the industry, and are complicit and cynical.

Since 2005 we have seen a gambling driven ‘Free for All’, and developed into an algorithm based and heartless industry that has seen our domestic game as an inside track to our fans especially the younger ones.
They want you into their on line casinos where statistically you can’t win and football is a recruiter.
And the shirt sponsorships legitimise their brand names in places where gambling is banned, like China.

Britain has seen a huge kick back to the growing threat from the gambling industry who have responded with powerful lobbying and what started like a serious move against the industry and its harm has been significantly watered down.

In Belgium we’ve just heard that Football is joining other sports in mounting a courtroom based government challenge on the Belgian Governmental plan for a total ban on gambling advertising.

Belgian football argues it will lose 12% of current revenues.

It is all sad.

Time is long overdue for a player fightback like we saw at Sponsor’s Tables at the Euro’s.
‘Footballers against the wrong sponsors’.

How can any decent human play in a gambling emblazoned top knowing what it does to fans.

Sometimes football really does self-harm and then hides behind spurious money excuses.

5. Baillieston Blues

VAR equipment does not know the rules of the game.
The equipment doesn’t decide what gets reviewed and who reviews it.

The ref is the boss and VAR is here to stay and it’s still new.
But it is highlighting problems that used to be ignored in the cut and thrust, and possibly a lack of competence  or maybe training for those in black shirts.

VAR in Scottish football: How will it work, who makes the decisions and what can it change? | STV NewsBilly Brown of the Manager’s Association was saying his members want more consistency and speed.

John Greechan writing in Murdoch’s Times today said he likened some decisions to Scotland’s infamous ‘Not Proven’ verdict and asks “Which incidents get chosen for review and why?
I like his summary “Some VARs ought to be reminded that football is a fast and ferocious contact sport and watching replays frame by frame can remove the context”.

The problem is not the equipment.

The current offside and hand balls rules deserve a lot of the flak.
But maybe our officials in black need more training, support, and screening.
They should certainly be allowed to talk to us.

 

 6. Humza and the SFSA 

 

Humza Yousaf promises free football club membership to children from low-income homes | Edinburgh NewsMaybe I should become a policy adviser to the politicians.

Humza this week was quoted,

“In my current role I have already started talks with a view to entering into a strategic partnership with the SFA to see how we can work together to maximise the reach of football for the benefit of our communities.

Fans should have a real influence over the future.

I’ll accelerate the SNP’s (Actually the SFSA’s, that’s us) bold ‘Football Fan Bank’ that will give fans access to funds that will give them a real say over how their clubs are run”.
(Working with the Scottish Government our ‘Fan Bank’ plan is currently well down the track of helping two clubs stabilise under fan ownership models).

Humza also promised free football club memberships for kids from low-income households.
“I want to help develop our grassroots clubs where every community in Scotland has a football club that gives boys and girls access free of charge particularly in areas of deprivation”.

 

Football should be free for kids, all kids I’ve been saying that since this blog started.

 

andrew@scottishfsa.org

 

Keep the comments and insights coming and enjoy the extra hour light at night.

Andy

 

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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