Date: 27th October 2023
It’s Ballon d’or weekend and the men’s award looks set for World Cup winner Lionel Messi.
I hope that the women’s award finds its way to Jenni Hermoso, the captain of the victorious Spanish Women.
Jenni is now back in the Spanish training group for matches against Italy and Switzerland.
The girls had collectively demanded change, and Olga Carmina, the scorer of their winning world cup goal said, “Jenni is happy, the training group is happy, and we focus on the Olympic Games. We have a new agreement signed by the players, the federation, and the Spanish Government to deliver the changes we demanded”.
So in Spain the government will step into what we in Scotland would have seen as ‘football matters’ where they would be excluded.
Also this week we’ve seen the Fortuna Dusseldorf “Fortuna for All” programme launch where initially 3 games are shown free to all spectators, including away fans.
They could have filled their stadium 3 times over, and beat Kaiserslautern 4-3.
The club ambition is now to offer free admission to all spectators for all games in the future and swap ticket revenues for commercial links.
“We want to make it clear what Fortuna Dusseldorf stands for”, said CEO Alexander Jobst.
“We need more long-term partners. The club belongs to everyone who participates with passion”.
So in Germany one club sees a future with free entry.
And last week Barcelona sent on a 17-year-old debutante sub who scored within 23 seconds.
At Barca Alejandro Balde, the left back is 20, Midfielders Gavi, 21, and Pedri 20 play every week, and youngster Fermin Lopez scored a goal in the Champions league this week. They also have Lamine Yamal who at 16 is the youngest to have ever played for the club.
Youth is to the fore at Barca.
Yes, the club have had little choice because their finances were destroyed by previous profligacy but I hadn’t realised just how much the kids there have grabbed the opportunity.
So, Andy’s promise of new thinking in football isn’t new, just isn’t often adopted in our game.
Scottish football burns so many good kids and seems to prefer second rate-ish seasoned mercenaries.
Do our results in Europe collectively suggest we are getting it right?
This Week’s Sting
1. The Fans are United
2. Super League Update
3. Infantino is Telling Mike and Everyone Else Who Will Listen That He is and Always was Innocent
4. Name that Cup in 10
5. Pop Go The Rangers
6. What’s OK?
1. Football Needs The Power Of, and Thinking From Our Union
Thanks to all of you who completed our recent survey on the current situation where Scottish fans have to either shell out £180 per annum for a subscription to a failing and shrinking Scandi media empire, have a friend who does, or invest in an ‘Amazon Firestick’ and install some dodgy and probably illegal software.
Ask yourself how many Scottish kids, girls and boys are missing out?
And ask yourself too, how damaging is this all to our game’s future because we are inadvertently restricting our market place?
And as Derek from Gorgie said, the price we are expected by the SFA to happily pay will go up even more when the Scottish Women’s team also gets sold and put behind a pay wall.
A few weeks ago we discussed the nonsense where our SFA systematically blame Uefa and the ‘bundling’ agreement that they, the SFA, signed over, knowing full well they had different options and choices.
Uefa are not the villains here, just the central sales office.
I won’t pre-empt the survey results which are being analysed but us fans are united on this one and see this as self-damaging myopia which we will fight, for all fans.
If you are already a member of the SFSA, big thanks, we will continually seek your views and fight your corner.
If you are not a member please join and swell our ranks.
Membership is free and always will be and all we do is represent what fans tell us they want for the game we all love.
Yes fans support their clubs and often disagree, but when we get together fans see the bigger picture, and the need for common good.
2. The Idea That Won’t Die
The idea of a European, (initially), Super League came back with a bang this week.
On the surface there are only 2 clubs offiically seen as left in the project but in reality, it is an iceberg with hidden layers and levels.
The idea will never go away because of a prime driver for the biggest clubs.
They want to be bigger and richer.
In fact most no longer see themselves as comparable to the clubs they have played every week since Victorian times.
History will show that they first saw Uefa competitions as the easiest way to create a quasi-Super League that would achieve both their objectives
So first they hijacked the European Cup, disenfranchising most footballing member nations overnight, including ours, and set up a nice wee earner for the top 5 teams from the top 5 countries.
And the countries too.
Hiding behind co-efficients and other Uefa-invented stuff the countries and clubs on the inside have made it increasingly difficult for others to compete long term.
They forget they all started as minnows and the importance of continual shared investment at the bottom rather than on overpaid mercenaries from a very small pool.
They don’t care that the likes of whoever is the bona fide champions of the Faroe Islands, or Norway, or whether Gothenburg, or our Celtic will ever compete at the very top again.
The big clubs don’t care in their race to get bigger personal shares of football’s commercial cake.
But 4 out of the Big 5 countries are now increasingly deeply concerned because the model they created has evolved the wrong way.
Since their European Cup heist they have since seen one league, the English Premiership, go from strength to strength morphing into a black hole of a ‘World Super League’ and can see now their own ‘dominant’ futures threatened by this long term seismic shift.
A shift they didn’t see coming.
What has happened to our own Celtic and Rangers who were giants, but who got left behind by Bournemouth, Brighton and Brentford is heading their ways.
Their instinctive fightback was to create a European Superleague but that hit some rocks from the fans and also Uefa who fear their own ‘wee party’ will be negatively affected.
This week a very important court decision day was announced.
On 21 December The Court of Justice of the European Union will give a verdict on whether a European Superleague is legal, or not.
Brand Reichart, the Superleague CEO said, “We expect that the court of justice will put an end to the monopoly of Uefa, and respect the fundamental freedoms of the EU in the world of football”.
It is a big hit.
The outcome is way beyond my paygrade but while I agree that the Uefa and Fifa monopolies are unhealthy and probably not good for the game, I think that the big clubs using competition law to simply increase their own revenues is contradictory in the extreme.
I’ve just watched a wee clip of Gianni Infantino hailing the outcome of the criminal investigation over among other things how world cups get awarded under his watch.
Shenanigans and favours would in most people’s opinions be the normal modus operandi.
Anyway Gianni, who sat beside our President Mike at our recent friendly fundraiser is now ‘in the clear’.
The laborious and unwieldy Swiss legal proceedings have been dropped.
Maybe it was inevitable.
Some would argue the whole thing was blindsided intentionally, or pre-holed below the waterline, whatever way you prefer, years ago.
Set up to limp along then fail.
I’d settle for the fact that they were efficiently nudged in full view into ‘Blind canyons’ where time would run out.
I always wondered while criminal investigations were underway that he was neither suspended nor had his stewardship supervised more closely.
Anyway the ebullience and gallusness of the man was writ large as Gianni came out, all guns blazing, and said, “The ruling is a clear victory for me, for the new Fifa and for justice”.
(His new distinction between the Old Fifa and the New Fifa is not based on anything factual or organisational, just in his head.
The Fifa press release today said, “The new Fifa is today a clean, well run, and robust organisation which operates in accordance with the highest ethical and governance standards. The outcome of this investigation is obviously entirely unsurprising. The only surprising element is the long time taken to reach such an obvious conclusion”.
So now you know.
I went online just now to see if our SFA had commented on the news but they haven’t.
So that’s another thing you now know.
4. Not the Snappiest Name But Some Cracking Games
The ‘2023-2024 Scottish Gas Men’s Scottish Cup’ is again upon us.
A snappy 7-word title for something that would sit much happier as ‘The Scottish Cup’, sponsored by Scottish Gas, or the Scottish Gas Cup.
I laugh at the radio when the pundits struggle with the ridiculous non-metred sequence of words.
Anyway who cares when there are some cracking 2nd round ties.
If I was in Scotland I’d be at Brechin tomorrow for the potential SPFL revenge match.
Spartans are doing well but so are Brechin and this could be an upset.
Jeanfield Swifts will also relish the visit of struggling Elgin, and Bonnyrigg won’t see a trip to Bellslea Park and a hostile Broch crowd as anything more than difficult.
I remember playing against their local hero Bertie Bowie and getting dogs abuse.
If you’re planning a trip to B&Q on Saturday afternoon, postpone it and take in one of the games.
I have an ongoing dialogue with a top end Glasgow club supporter who doesn’t see this as real football but I think she is wrong.
It is our very soul.
I’ll long remember when Third Lanark won 5-1 at Telford Street in the 60s and also 2004 when Spartans beat Arbroath 4-1 at Gayfield.
Long live the Scottish Cup.
Sin or con gas.
5. ‘STAYC’ Unveil the New Ibrox Retro Tops
With all the nonsense in the world it’s great to smile out loud and on Wednesday I was having desayuno in the sun reading the New York Times on my phone.
The story that caught my attention was the Korean girl group, ‘STAYC’ and their Pop Concert in Texas with the band dressed up to please the locals.
They were all wearing ‘The Rangers’, Crop Tops.
I looked twice and was soon crying with laughter.
And yes you’ve probably all seen the photo, but the wee McEwan’s Lager tops look far better on the girls than they ever would have on Ally or Gazza in downtown Govan.
My old pal Collin was the McEwan’s Lager Grande Fromage and he’d have lapped this all up if Heineken hadn’t demolished one of Scotland’s leading companies.
And while we are smiling here are three other media cock ups that will make you keep smiling.
Kevin Rowland and his Darts Soul Influencer in 1982 Top of the Pops Dexys Midnight Runners-Jackie Wilson said – YouTube
Guy Coma the Technology expert on BBC World Channel in 2006 Guy Goma: ‘Greatest’ case of mistaken identity on live TV ever? BBC News – YouTube
The Ken Lee song in 2017 from Bulgaria. Ken Lee or Without you by Mariah Carey (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) – YouTube
And as Jackie Wilson sagely wrote all those years ago, “I’m in heaven when you smile”.
6. Politics and Football Fans
Is it reasonable for players to ‘Take the knee’ before games?
Is it OK to wear poppies in the run up to November 11th?
Is it OK not to?
Is it OK to wear a white one?
Do the Green Brigade have the right to wave Palestine flags at Parkhead?
Do Uefa have the right to fine clubs because their fans are making a visual, peaceful protest as civilians in a public place?
I personally think yes is probably the right answer to all the above except for the last question, but I respect other views.
I would ask why is there no open debate and guidance?
I’d also like to know what the SFA and SPFL think?
That’s it for this week
Feedback input and wee stories welcome as always.
Andy’s Album of the Week
This week its isn’t a single album but as promised last week, Eric Cantona’s EP of four tracks released last week under the title “I’ll Make My Own Heaven.
I am now a Spotify free app owner and the ads are in Spanish while I’m in Monterrey.
While playing Eric’s music I googled it to see the reactions.
One of the reviewers tried to pigeon hole it calling it a ‘record of sentimental French ballads with a bit of terrace rock thrown in’.
Whatever that means.
I like his EP.
I also liked Eric.
Yes, he was mostly at the intellectual end of the football game as a player and much more.
I still smile at his real quoted hero being ‘Rimbaud’ rather than the much misquoted, ‘Rambo’.
Anyway his music has a feel of Nick Cave, The Doors and some of it is vocalised in a Serge Gainsbourg speaky style but I enjoyed all four tracks and could see them being perfect for the next series of Peaky Blinders except that there won’t be one.
It put me in the mood to revisit a great album, ‘Rendez-Vous’ by Jane Birkin with the excellent ‘Je M’appelle Jane’ track and also when that fine album finished, ‘Baby Pop’ by France Gall.
So, two albums and an EP in a wee Gallic session high up a hill in sunny Monterrey while watching Monarch butterflies flutter by the window on their annual 2500-mile migration from Eastern Canada to West central Mexico.
And since we are talking about Eric Cantona, he knew what was going to happen when he posted this on Instagram.
It’s a simpler message than his “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea”.
And his simple message deserves all the traction it can get.
I’m proud to repeat it.
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