Date: 24th September 2021
And if he does, has he the cojones to make it happen?
This Week’s Sting
1. Dave’s Question for Neil Doncaster and someone at the City of Glasgow Council
I remember Dave when he was wee Davie and an exceptionally speedy winger running rings round me but he also has a sharp legal mind.
He picked up on the last minute substitution of Ally McCoist and David Weir for two ex-Celtic players when Stewart Robertson told BT that he ‘could not guarantee the safety of their employees’ at a public match at Ibrox.
Accordingly his question for those who make decisions is, ‘ If any member of the public’s safety was genuinely in question why was the match given a licence to take place at all’?
I’d say he is bang on the money but not to expect anyone to want to honestly answer him.
Elephants in rooms and all that.
2. Good Health Tracey
Tracey Crouch was the tory Sports minister who took the honourable decision to resign a few years ago when No 10 stitched her up over the prize pay-out values on slot machines at High Street bookies.
She is principled, loves the game and a good-un.
Currently just a back bench MP she has been involved in the current, independent ‘fan-led’ review of football in England.
You won’t have heard much about it but in England it is big, backed heavily by important football people, and fronted by Gary Neville.
It will lead to real changes and not just a reorganisation of the deck chairs, Titanic style, like usually happens up here.
One of the first things she has intimated is that she will recommend a pilot test allowing the serving of alcohol at clubs in the national league and League 2.
She said, ‘We have this bizarre situation where you can go to Headingley and enjoy a drink but not Elland Road. And Dulwich Hamlet play in the National League South and don’t want to get promoted to the National League because they currently generate income through their bars during the game and the next league up, The National League, operates under the ban’.
Up here in Scotland the newly opened Edinburgh Rugby ground serves alcohol to fans watching and there is no trouble there or at cricket internationals.
At our fan zoom call with Ian Murray this week, Mike from Dundee made the point that he was convinced that most clubs could serve alcohol before, during and after games with negligible risk.
Further, he said our blanket ban is not because of Brechin vs Forfar or Stranraer vs Queen of the South.
So how about a similar trial to England where all clubs below our Premier can apply to sell drinks to fans subject to sensible protocols?
And if that is a success then look at our top league on a game by game and club by club basis.
3. Arsene, Fifa’s Dog of War with a Warchest
The proxy finance and power battle’ between Fifa and Uefa even made the News at 10 last night.
Arsene Wenger is now Fifa’s ‘head of football global development’.
He is a man on a mission.
For now, it is a war of words about whether the world cup should be biannual or quadrennial, (I had to look up that word).
It is really about the power and money being used to try to gain an advantage by both parties.
Arsene is recruiting support, but the reality is that there is no honest or open debate.
People and national associations are taking sides and declaring unwavering loyalty rather than fleshing out the options and seeing if they are good for football as a whole from the bottom up.
Fifa revenues for the Qatar World Cup will be c $4.8Billion and costs are estimated at less than half of revenues.
Nice little earner.
(Revenue split is $2.4B TV rights, $1.5 B sponsorship and $550M ticket sales.)
The prize money alone for the 2022 World Cup is quite astounding at $700M. (This is up a massive 80% since Brazil 2014).
This prize pot is then allocated thus:
All 32 qualifiers get $2M before the tournament (for preparation).
All 32 are then guaranteed a further $10.
From then on, the extra one off prize payment prize depends how far the countries progress.
Reaching last 16 $12M
Last 8 $18M
So, the winner will get $62M, in total, from Fifa in addition to what they generate themselves from their own commercial activities.
Players don’t play for free, and federations negotiate with and pay their own players and then are recompensed from a Fifa fund of $209M backed with additional ‘insurance benefits’ valued at $134M.
So prize money is an extra for most qualifiers.
I wonder what Arsene’s bonus will be if he pulls a biannual tournament off?
I also wonder why Fifa don’t channel more of the prize money into real grass roots developments around the world rather than simply handing gazillions of dollars to those countries and associations who least need it.
Now that is something that would be worth campaigning about Arsene.
4. Meanwhile, Trevor Birch is Lobbying Hard
Westminster is coming to the ‘money-end’ of its gambling law reform and the likely direction they will take is being publicised in wee leaks to gauge reactions.
At the moment the EPL is effectively the ‘World League’ and gambling firms use it to legitimise and market their names and products into countries where gambling advertising and sometimes gambling itself is not allowed.
It then happens on-line and out of sight.
It is big, big business.
And slots and casino games i.e., games they have total control over, are where they want users to migrate to.
Gambling has used football cynically to normalise interactive betting and attract new users. Current UK legislation doesn’t know how to handle this fairly new, aggressive, algorithm-driven, money-machine.
It is collectively running rings round laws here and elsewhere.
People who know more than I do estimate there is a young gambling-related suicide on average most weeks in Scotland and our two biggest clubs unapologetically carry betting firms on their shirts.
In England 9 of the 20 Premier Clubs also have gambling shirt sponsors, as do 6 in the Championship and combined that means over £100M per annum.
Trevor Birch CEO of the EFL came out this week and suggested a ban on shirt sponsorship would be ‘concerning’.
I’d rather he had come out and said the influence of betting inside and through football and the damage being done by the intense marketing was ‘concerning’.
Or if he had said the suicide rate among young fans was ‘concerning’.
But he didn’t say these things.
What we know is the shirts will go but it looks like pitch-side advertising will be allowed.
That is what is being floated by the government’s PR machine.
After all, think how much money the government makes out of tax from the betting industry.
Why would they slay their cash cow?
Politics is dirty whether it is in Westminster or at Fifa/Uefa or I dare say closer to home and in Scottish football.
5. Stop Complaining
Two American owned clubs decided to move the Dundee vs Aberdeen kick off on 16 October back to 6pm.
If that doesn’t suit those who have already shelled out their money for a season book and like 3pm kick offs as part of a planned and normal weekend, then that is tough because it is a done deal.
It is seemingly to appeal to viewers in the US who can watch the match at 12 noon rather than 9 am, (the early time suits my son fine when he watches UK football every Saturday morning over there).
And also, as an afterthought in a P&J interview, it has been suggested by Aberdeen owner, Dave Cormack, that 6pm might suit some of those who play football themselves in Aberdeen on a Saturday at 3 pm and his hopes they will come along after their own game.
I’d be a bit cynical and doubtful about that one Dave.
The reality is that too often fans who have already shelled out on season books are taken for granted when there is a whiff of TV money.
My friends up there in the City of Dundee have told me they are not impressed.
They are an uncouth lot as I have said before and in telling me used the kind of words they used some years back to welcome Ally McCoist to Dens Park. (As told in last week’s Sting).
But they are right.
Stop treating fans like mug punters guys.
6. Make the First Move Maxie and Give Something Back from us All
Our Scottish Cup 2021- 2022 is well underway.
If you didn’t watch the Berwick Rangers vs Annan game earlier this week you missed a great cup tie.
Well done BBC for picking two wee teams albeit with big histories.
I hope you continue with quirky ties going forward too.
Anyway, the cup is unsponsored and that is such a waste but also an opportunity.
Think about two of the good things that happened amidst the last 18 months of pandemic mayhem.
Government money came into our game as a bale out.
Our National Health Service stood up to the plate.
Here is an idea for the SFA.
Why not call Maree Todd on Monday.
She is Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport.
Tell her you want nothing from her.
I’ll say that again.
Tell her you want nothing from her.
Then tell her you have a media opportunity that can give something back.
Something to go part of the way to thank her on all our behalves for the government help to our clubs and the work the NHS is doing for us all.
Ask her to pick a positive public health message and GIVE the cup sponsorship and all its media value to her and her team.
Millions of pounds of media value GIVEN FREE in good faith by a grateful football family.
Bread cast on the water and all that.
So it could be on mental health, diet, whatever, let Maree choose.
One positive message from both sides working together and showing football is an integral part of our communities and a potential power for good.
It will then become easier to sell the Scottish Cup to a future wholesome partner.
As always stay safe and feel free to contact me about anything in Scottish Football.
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