Andy’s Sting In The Tale (26/11/21) “In Stevie We Trust”

Date: 26th November 2021

  1. Could Have Been Much Worse
  2. Trespassing Illegally in Qatar?
  3. Political Will for Change in Engerland?
  4.  League Cup Final Briefs
  5. Steven, Chris and Thoughts on Banners
  6. Darryl Talking Nonsense with a Smile

1. A Cardiff Cup Final Would Be Braw

We were first out of the hat in a flawless process giving us Ukraine at home.
And then if we win (and it’s a big if) it’s Wales or Austria away.
Ukraine didn’t lose a match in their qualifying group drawing 1-1 twice with eventual group winners France.
Ukraine also drew with Kazakhstan, twice,  and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Finland once.

We all know Scotland are on the up in the Fifa table but our boys are still lowest ranked in our mini group at 38 with Wales static at 19. Ukraine are moving up too at 25 and Austria up to 30.

Seeing Portugal at 8  and Italy at  6 in the same group with only one place between them just shows how brutal it all is.

I’ve already had a Welsh pal hoping to get revenge for Joe Jordan’s handball giving us a penalty in 1977 at Annfield which Don Masson converted.
Arthur Montford said at the time, Penalty, Definite Penalty and that was good enough for me on our black and white telly but it wasn’t a penalty and we were lucky.

By coincidence our girls are hosting Ukraine tonight and then Spain away on Tuesday.
Good luck to Pedro Martinez Losa and the team.
In Pedro we trust too.

 

2. Media Relations, Qatar Style

 

See the source imageTwo journalists from the Norwegian state broadcaster, NRK, arrived back in Oslo on Wednesday after a wee, Middle-Eastern stooshie.
They had gone to film a programme exactly one year out from the start of next year’s finals (21st Nov – Dec 18th), and were arrested late last Sunday, put in a cell with 12 others, eventually questioned separately for 8 hours and made to sign a document in Arabic that they didn’t understand.

They were said to be there on a totally legitimate project with approvals and had also been given verbal permission to film in a labour camp.
What they had filmed, before their equipment was confiscated, would seemingly have embarrassed the hosts.
The Qatar government didn’t like that and decided they were trespassing illegally.
(I’m not sure how you trespass legally but that is just a thought).

Halvor Ekeland and Lokman Ghorbani had been covering the workers conditions and Qatar don’t want that to be on the world media’s agenda.

But that genie is out of the bottle and this won’t be the last skirmish between this particular pariah and host state, who should never have been given the gig, and its visitors coming with very different views on the world and very different norms of behaviour.

Fifa got rightly dragged in and in their usual platitudinal tone said,

See the source image‘Fifa defends the principles of media freedom and have been in regular contact with local organisers and NRK’.

Adding to that the Fifa Grand Fromage, Gianni Infantino, press-released a wee speech to try to calm the waters and to help in his progression to self-anointed sainthood.

‘While there is much work to be done, I have seen a great evolution in Qatar, and this has been recognised by international organisations all around the world’. (I think he means Fifa and all sub Fifas)

‘Of course, it is a process and more has to happen but without the world cup the process in Qatar would have taken much more time.
We must always try to be constructive and see what has been done and what can be done in a positive sense’
.

You might not know it, but this wonderful, warm-hearted leader of world football and spouter of gobbledegook gets over £3m in his annual wage packet, and I’d guess more in other ways too.
In the meantime today the Danish Journalist’s Union has urged its members to boycott Qatar next year saying the country can’t be trusted.

3. Has Tracey Crouch Opened Pandora’s Box?

 

See the source imageThis is about football governance, how it is done and who it is done by and nothing about it is simple.

This week English football took a big step towards being ‘regulated’ by a government backed but independent overseer.

Boris is said to be in favour, whatever that means.

Basically there is a move to create a new model where clubs run themselves rather than themselves and the game too.

The idea is that the clubs should stick to their knitting and let the league structures and everything else be run for them.

I like the idea in principle but deep down change like this is messy and it will all get messier as stuff happens and the clubs rebel about what they will see as a loss of power.

Looking over the border we can all see from afar the power and the sheer financial scale of the Premier League.
We can also see where it is headed.

It will get bigger and bigger and richer and richer.

But the reality is it is a wild west frontier of financial madness and deep rooted, bad-practice induced carnage.

The fact that clubs are bankrupting themselves to get in or to stay in the lucrative top division is the real problem.

The fact that they get more money that they ever got in the past but still contrive to pour it all and more away in the escalating players wages drain is a deep flaw in the business model and the governance.

See the source imageThe fact is that clubs have been taken over and away from the fan origins, and their communities by an array of money based owners and consortia.
This includes Russian Oligarchs, other rich international individuals, money men on the make and even Countries like Saudi Arabia on a Sportswashing mission.

It is all deeply disturbing.

The reason behind this rush into top level English football is that football is ‘day and date’ box-office across the world.
Nothing else delivers guaranteed, profiled audiences.
And that makes the biggest and best league in the world, a thing of extraordinary value.

Tracey has opened a complex and complicated Pandora’s box and football will not give any ombudsman power without a fight.

And it will become political.

See the source imageMaybe the Premier League will seek to drop the rest of the English game and stand fully alone.
Maybe the future in England is a franchised league that you have to buy into?
Maybe there will be guest members too?

I honestly don’t know but at the same time this all broke, The European Parliament were voting earnestly and overwhelmingly to ‘Oppose breakaway sports competitions’.
This was to try and stop the previously proposed ESL, European Super League.

It is Euro politics gone mad.

Barcelona, Real and Juventus who still openly want an ESL said sharply, ‘There are no other circumstances in Europe where a monopolistic private regulator such as Uefa, based outside the European Union, are allowed to be the sole dominant operator and gatekeeper’.

 

Ouch, I bet that one hit the target in Zurich!

See the source imageAnd not surprisingly Uefa responded and said they thought the Parliament vote was a good thing.

Of course they did.

Sandy Ceferin, the Uefa president said, ‘Europeans fundamentally oppose the breakaway projects like the failed ESL.
European football is a European success story that serves all of society’.

I haven’t taken sides, but this nonsense coming from the self-same, smug, European Quango that actively bars most member countries from straightforward access to their main competition, The Champions League, is rich and ironic.
(Entry to the real Uefa competition has been fornicated to be based on a Uefa coefficient, formulaic nonsense that was cynically designed to allow multiple entrants by the big countries and keep the wee guys out, and outside the money).

See the source imageAnd ironically The Champions League is a kind of Uefa early version of the ESL project that Uefa now disnae like and that the EU Parliament were asked to, by Uefa, and then duly voted against it for the record.

Why did those same Politicos not vote against the carve up that is the Champions League?
Uefa didn’t ask them.

As I’ve said before the ESL idea was probably the top European clubs best chance at access to the “World League’ that will come because the money men want it to and because it makes financial sense.
They will all be landlocked the same way our big two have been.

The English Premier League is already more than half-way to filling the World League gap and  independent ombudsman or not this is Tracey’s biggest challenge.

 

4. All Clubs are Not Equal.

When it comes to cup finals anywhere or everywhere, the rule should be equal allocations to both participants as a starting point.
I say this because the Scottish League Cup final will be held on Sunday December 19 at Hampden in front of a crowd of 52,000, mostly Celtic fans because of an inherent and unfair SPFL policy.

So far, all the games in the cup have been behind the sponsor’s paywall which alone diminishes the impact of the tournament big time.
I’d assume the final will also be pay per view but googling around just now I can’t find any information.

See the source imageThe reason for the uneven split is said to be because Hibs have less season ticket holders than Celtic and thus have been offered just 17,500 tickets.
That is around a third of the crowd.
And the Leithers are well and righteously grumpy.

As a club, we had a number of long and intense discussions with the SPFL fighting for an even split of tickets with Celtic, knowing our history of selling out tickets for cup finals and for sporting integrity,” Hibs said in a statement.

“However, they have come to the decision that we will have an allocation of approximately 17,500 tickets for the match. A decision that we are incredibly frustrated about. We made our thoughts very clear.”

 

Here is another way to see this policy.
Imagine we get to Qatar and then make the final against England only to be told told we are only getting a tenth of the available finalist tickets because England are ten times bigger than us as a nation and have more fans.
We’d be well and righteously grumpy too.

When football makes dumb decisions like this, fans are affected and our advice to all on the 6th floor is the allocation for ALL cup finals should start even in principle.

5. Twin Peaks of Commercial Nonsense

First congratulations to Steve Gerrard for his Aston Villa debut victory last week and his debut BBC interview too.
It was strange seeing him on that channel and obviously he no longer has issues speaking to us all on Auntie Beeb.
The ban on the BBC by his previous club is still very much alive however and does our game no favours.

See the source imageSecond we all heard that Chris Sutton was again barred from working for BT at Ibrox on Thursday.
He responded by challenging the decision turning the clubs heavily hyped slogan back on them.

Everyone anyone…

The view of many fans I’ve spoken to is that this should be addressed and sorted out.
And, that if our clubs say they cannot guarantee the safety of individuals like Chris Sutton or whoever, then games affected should not be licensed to proceed with spectators.
I agree.
If it happens again then remove the licence and play in front of empty stands.

I don’t know if that has been raised at either Uefa or at the SFA.

The bigger picture is that this kind of self-harm is a huge commercial own goal when both the SFA and SPFL are constantly looking for wholesome national sponsors.

Our game is screaming out for revenues and this particular strain of parochialism is one of the factors behind the deeply embarrassing fact that the average Man Utd individual player’s annual wage is £8.5 Million pounds and our total annual cinch deal is £1.6M, – before being split 42 ways.

6. Another Mad’un


See the source imageThe crazy sending off last week at Tannadice raised an open sore point in football.
If you haven’t seen it then Aberdeen player, Funso Ojo, who was already on a yellow, found his momentum taking him into the billboards.
A United fan didn’t like that and got up and pushed him. In the melee Referee Madden mistakenly gave Ojo a second yellow and he was red carded and off.

Days later Aberdeen rightly requested that the card be rescinded.

That didn’t happen because of a stupid technicality.

The incident was discussed on BBC SportSound and SFA’s consultant Darryl Broadfoot raised and framed the problem.
It is in the rules, or rather it is not in the rules.
Yellow cards can only be overturned for mistaken identity.
Darryl blamed world football statutes and said that this nonsensical rule is to avoid football being brought to a standstill with yellow card appeals.

I don’t personally buy that Darryl because if something is wrong then it is wrong and should be corrected.

In fact I’d ask him to raise with his client the obvious question.
Why do Scotland not go it alone on this one?

And also ask, why should Ojo be banned when he was the one who was assaulted by a spectator?

Where is any logic or fairness in that?

Perhaps the saddest thing is instead of using due and fair process to right an obvious wrong and getting on with life, Madden’s career will be framed by this mistake.

It is also fair to say he will not be popular next time he ventures north to the granite city wearing his wee Fifa badge.

 

Finally, as always, feedback and opinions welcome.

 

Andrew@scottishfsa.org

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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