Date: 28th August 2020
If you are already an SFSA member then thank you.
As a group we are growing fast and every new member is a vote and note of confidence in the fact that Scottish football needs to start listening to its stakeholders, the fans.
The Scottish Football Supporters Association is simply an independent union of fans from all clubs who are increasingly holding the SFA, the SPFL and others to account. You might be surprised to know it is currently much easier to speak with the Scottish Government than it is to speak with or be listened to by those who run our game.
Football in our wee country is riddled with arcane processes, biases and secrets and it doesn’t have to be.
Scottish football is neither fan focused nor fan friendly.
Recruitment Sergeant Majors Wanted
If you have friends who are not members and don’t get our weekly newsletter or don’t follow us on social media then please ask them to join.
SFSA is free and always will be.
We are all volunteers here and each week we send out a summary of much that has happened in our game to all and from your reactions this is something you like.
We are fiercely independent and not in the pockets of the SFA or the SPFL.
We never will be in that position, as it would destroy our integrity.
Any composite group of fans from different clubs like us will never agree about anything apart from fairness in how things are done.
That’s healthy and we welcome debate.
And the more members we get the closer the day will come when Ian Maxwell, Neil Doncaster or whoever will have to pick up the phone to ask us what the real stakeholders think and maybe listen to our advice.
That would save them so much grief.
That day is coming though and it’s thanks to you our members, current and future too.
SFSA is on a roll and it is because the fans across the country and of all clubs are saying they want change.
Fans care and reading some stuff from members who joined this week like Graham a County fan shows how much. His summary of the SPFL as “Badly run and with little interest in fans- only money generated by TV” is bang on the money.
John also a new member and Kelty fan gave us “SFA have really let the pyramid and therefore the whole game down. That should have been a deal breaker for Ian Maxwell. And why are they (The SFA) not answering your questions?”.
Not surprisingly we’ve had a surge of new Hearts fan members too.
One of our young volunteer team who looks after new member stuff said something in a zoom meeting that stopped me in my tracks.
“The thing that unites most fans and gets them to join us is that we are all passively disgruntled. Fans want us to fight their corner so they can get on with the real job of supporting their teams. They have little trust in what is in place”.
Great expression and insight that we can put to good use.
So if you know any “passively disgruntled” fans (and you will) please tell them about us and tell them they are welcome.
We need them all and Scottish Football needs them too all even if it hasn’t quite sussed that yet.
Cabinet Minister Joe “Angers” Neil and Peter
The minister for public health, Joe FitzPatrick is reported as having more than annoyed the SFA, SPFL and Celtic this week. He cancelled a scheduled conference call and in doing so was said to have failed to explain why Edinburgh v Glasgow at Murrayfield could have a crowd of 700 as a test but 1000 fans could not provide a similar test at Celtic Park for the visit of Motherwell.
With September 14th still pencilled in for the return of some supporters but with no crowds at Scottish football since March 12th when Bayer Leverkusen visited Ibrox there was reported “bafflement” at Hampden.
Never has football less owned its own agenda.
I’m not sure why there has been such a fuss.
Against a background where we already also now know for sure our next international matches will be played without crowds maybe our JRG should all have been at Murrayfield as observers.
That would have been a positive way to share the event and learn what we have to do next.
The stark reality is after Nicola’s statement last week is nothing is certain.
To remind you this is what she said, “Given the volatility of the virus there is the very real possibility that some, or all of these plans could change”.
Against this statement we nevertheless welcome the plan to use Rangers v Dundee Utd and Ross County v Celtic plus one other as yet unnamed game on September 12 as tests and hope they prove positive for a bigger return for the fans.
3 Game Ban Precedent Set
The 4pm Friday timing seemed over theatrical and three hours plus of whatever secret process is in place saw Celtic’s Bolingoli get a real three game ban and the Aberdeen 8 get three games too but suspended till February.
So a real punishment for one and a warning to all players for the other.
Seems sensible enough so credit where it’s due guys but it should have been open for the fans to watch.
Another Champions League Another Brexit
I didn’t see the game as I don’t have the particular channel but as someone who always supports all our clubs when playing in Europe I “watched” the updates on the Sky sports Score Centre app on my phone. A lousy result and by all accounts a game that could have been won.
Celtic now has to take part in the Europa League third qualifying round to attempt to make that inferior competition proper and the financial hit will be very real and resultant revenues nothing like the £30M quoted for playing in the Champions League. I wish them and all other Scottish European aspirants well and also well done to Aberdeen and Motherwell for overcoming the first hurdle last night.
A cold statistic is since automatic qualification ended in 2009 Celtic have now failed to progress in 7 of their 11 attempts so succeeding in only 36% of attempts.
This leads me to asking an elephant in the room question that the heads of all the football associations across Europe should have asked years ago.
Am I the only one who thinks the name and format of the Champions League is a nonsense?
And furthermore is it time for not just a discussion but also some action?
I say this because for years we have got used to seeing 3 non-champion clubs from the big 5 countries piling in, dominating and getting ever richer, bigger more powerful and more dominant.
They do this while the bona fide champions from smaller countries are precluded on meagre rations.
All this is achieving nothing for the game outside the big 5 nations.
What we have is severely restricting the money to very few clubs with limited downward revenue sharing.
It’s a total Europe-wide abomination exacerbating the gap between the big 5 and the rest.
BUT what if all the wee guys football associations wised up?
People like our cuddly SFA duo Rod Petrie and Ian Maxwell.
What if they pitched in and started something.
Like maybe recruiting like mindeds, from other disenfranchised countries that is the majority.
8 out of the top 20 countries in the current FIFA world rankings are European countries outside the current Champions league big 5.
The current World No 1 spot for Belgium rams home the point that the excluded countries are not just little leaguers.
Is it not time Ian and Rod, we all got organised and fought back a little?
What if disenfranchised European Football Associations backed by their disenfranchised clubs and disenfranchised fans did something positive about the outrageous historical territory grab from just 5 countries, (in alphabetical order) England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
What if the rest of us decide to walk away, let these 5 have and keep their (quasi) Champions (plus top 3) League and instead re create a real European Cup or League for the good guys?
How about something like?
The Bona Fide Euro Champions League
A new European league for real champions of all non-big 5 nations (and only for the champions, although the winner from the year before could also take part).
That could be a smart move.
That would be box office too.
Likewise we can create a new improved league based completion to replace the current Europa League for our other top clubs with all countries represented and no mid term drop backs by clubs knocked out from the Bona Fide League.
The Bona Fide Champions League could set up any way that works best for associations and countries.
It wouldn’t have to be knockout till the later stages.
It could be regional initially too.
It would deliver substantial European and worldwide TV audiences.
It would also be better for football in the majority of nations especially if a major percentage of the revenues were directed to grass roots across all associations and not just to the clubs lucky enough to take part.
Will it ever happen?
All it would take to start the ball rolling is a few conversations between like-minded countries and why shouldn’t we be the catalysts?
The threat might be enough to bring change.
“Forthright Hard-hitting Revolutionary and Successfully Buried Deep in The Hampden Long Grass”.
OK I’ve mischievously changed George Peat’s quote made as president of the SFA about Henry McLeish’s reports and with 20:20 hindsight added the long grass bit.
Makes it more believable though.
George also said at the time “With Henry’s guidance we will drive the implementation of key recommendations outlined to enhance our game”.
Last week I promised to revisit the McLeish Reports 1 and 2 and find out what had happened to them.
Well I can confirm lip Service was indeed paid by all.
None grander than Ralf Topping, then SPFL Chairman who welcomed the reports by saying “The SPFL recognises the need for fundamental change in Scottish football and supports the broad thrust put forward by Henry McLeish”.
Well that was the promise. Next week we’ll look at the realities.
Some Heavy and Expensive Stuff in Lord Tyre’s Courtroom
Without going into the detail which would take weeks we witnessed an amazing admission of “Breaches of human rights and malice” in the prosecution of Messrs Whitehouse and Clark who in 2012 worked with Duff and Phelps and were appointed as joint administrators of Rangers.
The case was well reported on the BBC and in some of the papers (inside pages) and it’s messy, it’s going to get messier and it’s probably going to cost Scotland millions with legal fees on both sides and eyewatering compensation claims.
To put this in perspective this is money that would dwarf James Anderson’s recent incredible donations into our game and way more pound notes than Gary Lineker gets paid by Aunty Beeb over several years.
Whitehouse and Clark are claiming for a total of £14 million in damages and although the case is still on-going, Lord Tyre in the Outer House ordered an interim payment of £600,000 after a “minute of amendment” had been lodged admitting liability for the malicious prosecution for everything beyond the first petition appearance.
Police Scotland made no similar admission.
Lord Tyre continued the matter for a further procedural hearing next month, and a full hearing is scheduled for January 2021.
Lots to come and other bigger claims are also in the proverbial pipeline.
Mr Maxwell’s Groundhog Day Questions
Our co-founder Paul eventually had a phone chat with SFA Grand Fromage Ian Maxwell this week.
Paul has known Ian for years and said afterwards that it was good to catch up but not long enough to discuss our growing list of questions.
1 “Ian were there 4 sign offs on the binning of the pyramid as per clause c in the appropriate agreement?
2 What have the SFA done on behalf of Brora, Kelty et al in light of what happened?”
3 Are there any plans to review how the feeder leagues feed into the SPFL so that it is more equitable between the 85% of the population in the Lowland League zone and just 15% in the Highland League?
4 Why is the relegation spot from the bottom SPFL league not automatic and the 9th spot a play off position?
As always if you want to discuss any issues or want me to look at any story or have something on any aspect you want to share, my email is Andrew@scottishfsa.org