Andy’s Sting In The Tale (29/04/22) “The Skandies are Coming…”

Date: 29th April 2022

 

(Photo:@Homesoffootball)

…And They Desperately Need Your Money

 

This Week’s Sting

 

First good luck to Rangers next Thursday.

With only 30% of the possession, it was backs to the wall in Leipzig from start to finish, but well done for a great defensive performance guys that took a special Angelino strike to penetrate.

All to play for next Thursday when the fans will hopefully make the difference.

  1. English Fans are Laughing at Us
  2. The Regulator Cometh?
  3. Val and Ali
  4. Zurich Nonsense
  5. 3 – 1 at Half-Half Time

 

 

1. Support England or Pay to Watch

 

See the source imageEvery England senior men’s game will continue to be shown free to air at least till 2024 and probably ad infinitum after Channel 4 confirmed a deal to broadcast the English team’s Uefa Nation’s League campaign and the qualifiers for the next Euros.

The venerable Daily Telegraph have just headlined it thus, “Channel 4 snatch England games from ITV and Sky in latest move to stave off privatisation”.

That may or may not be true but we will be able to watch the men with 3 lions on their shirts, in union, on ‘free to view’ council telly anywhere Boris is Prime Minister.

The catch is it will mostly be at the same time as our own part of Great Britain is playing.

And if you support Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales, all within Channel 4s footprint, then sorry, you will also have to pay.

See the source imageViaplay to the Rescue
or Maybe Not

The Norsemen are on their way pledging to bring us our international men’s team games.
For a price.

This week we learned that Uefa has chosen Viaplay, a company we’ve never heard of, to broadcast all Scotland’s international matches from 2024 till 2028.

That means the Nations League, the World Cup, and the next Euros.

Viaplay don’t currently operate in the UK but plan to open up.

Someone wrote to me and suggested rather sardonically that in her view Viaplay are going to be “the best thing since Setanta”.

“Mibbees aye” and “Mibbees no” was my appropriate holding comment because many of us remember where the Setanta gold rush took us.

(I will talk about Setanta in a few minutes as they are strangely still part of our scene, disguised but in full view).

As yet we don’t know much about our new Skandi deal.
Like how much it will bring to the SFA?
How the SFA plan to use the money?
And how Viaplay will market the games to us so they can cover their costs because covering their costs they have to do?

I’d guess the deals offered will be pay per view, an exclusive channel deal direct with them, or within an existing subscription like Virgin or Sky.

Sadly Channel 4 and ITV are Much of a Muchness in Their Approach to Us ‘Celtic Fringe’ Viewers

See the source imageITV currently have the rights to England’s World Cup matches which are free to air, and the ITV network will fight to hold them, but the channel has shown little interest in offering the same ‘free to view’ deal for their Scots, Welsh and Irish viewers.

So it will be Hobson’s Choice for us, second best, Scots fans, and if we want to watch Scotland after 2024 then it will be Viaplay or recorded highlights and news bulletins.

As wee Jimmy Greaves would have said, “Watching football ain’t half expensive in Chilly Jocko-land”.

And in 2024 We Will Have 4 Football Broadcast Companies With Their Hands in Our Pockets

All wanting our money from what some must imagine is a bottomless, magic-money-tree.
They are wrong about that.
Even Netflix are feeling the pinch from an increased number of competitors and the likelihood of a consumer downturn.

Here are links to the 4 companies who want our ‘Football on Telly’ money.

i) Viaplay for our future Internationals replacing Sky after 2024 (Scottish football fans facing a cost of watching crisis as Viaplay enters crowded TV market (msn.com)

The new, untrading, kids on the block with big plans and promises, but no detail yet.

ii) Premier Sports for the Scottish Cup (Premier Sports to sponsor League Cup | SPFL)

See the source imageAKA (by some people) Setanta, (one step removed).
Current sponsors of our Scottish Cup and links back to the Setanta that went spectacularly bust in 2009.
Do you remember Setanta’s 2008 promise to increase revenue into the game from £14M up to £31 per annum?
Do you remember the £3M due (and already spent by our clubs ) that never got paid?
Do you remember that Aberdeen, Celtic and Rangers had, at the time, wanted to pick the lesser Sky offer because it was real and backed by the Murdoch empire?
Do you remember that Sky eventually stepped in, helped us out, and fair play to them, got a better deal?

iii) Sky for some Scottish Internationals and domestic fixtures. Scotland games to move from Sky Sports to new platform from 2024 in UEFA broadcast deal | The Scotsman

Yes Sky sports subscriptions cost money, and yes there are too many ads, especially betting companies, but Sky has been a good partner to our game for 30 years.

iv) BT for European and domestic action in a copy of the Sky model. Scottish Football | BT Sport

Is the Subscription/ Pay Per View Market in Decline?

For football it depends partly how Scotland and our domestic sides are playing.
As consumers we certainly have too many options and not enough spare cash.
Football subscriptions and season book uptake numbers are not immune to the economic pressures we all face and a crisis is imminent and unstoppable.

2. Fans Group Says “Move Fast and Legislate Now”

The Tracey Crouch and Gary Neville fan led review we’ve talked about a few times before is inching forward down south.

Main proposals of fan-led review of English football backed by government | Football | The Guardian

See the source imageIt is a movement which thinks football in England is unbalanced because the self-interest of the top clubs is starving the rest of the game, and is not in the long term interests of the sport.

This is not unique to England and is happening all over football nations where the biggest clubs are constantly contriving to grab and spend ever increasing incomes from their countries and internationally.

The process is happening in Scotland too and our government is currently watching the Neville and Crouch developments with interest.

In England this week, Nigel Huddleston, sports minister, announced plans to impose a football funded independent football regulator to change the way the game makes decisions and to direct a broader share of revenues from the top downwards.

For Nigel it is a “Do this yourselves or be forced by legislation,” approach and the possibility of imposing a 10% transfer levy to be directed downwards was one idea aired.

The Premier League, not happy in any way, have countered the threat saying it will “give away” £1.6 Billion from its media revenues in the next three years.
This is however not a genuine ‘give-down-away’ because that quoted sum is mostly in parachute payments to relegated clubs from the Premier League and not to football in general.

“Not enough”, the government replies because they want the figure to be 25% of the media deals rather than the 16% offered , or in pound notes, circa £1Billion more.

See the source imageRichard Masters, CEO of the Premier League thinks that figure would be a disaster but minister Huddleston parried him saying, “The Premier League needs to understand they need to act sooner rather than later, otherwise change will be forced on them by the regulator.
We expect a football-led solution but will step in if not”.

The Premier League has said it accepted the need for reform across the game but preferred to change from within and some even favour the FA becoming the new regulator.

And if the regulator plan eventually happens, it will be funded by football not government, and one immediate action would be a tougher ‘owners’ and ‘directors’ test and strict rules around sources of funding.

Yes, we can maybe see this from afar as cynical Conservative Party populism gone mad but the reality is football has been taken from its communities by self-serving businesses and individuals and so much money wasted in the theatre of excess.
Tracey Crouch is a good ‘un too.

And we share the same problem.

 

A white paper will come next, and Huddleston thinks it could all be law in England before the next election.

Tracey Crouch, ex Sports Minister, knows the Westminster game well but said the “unspecified timeframe for change was worrying”.

England’s Football Supporters Association support the plans and simply urged the government to “Move fast and Legislate now”.

A developing situation.

There and here.

 

3. When Ali Met Val But Val Didn’t Meet Rod

Ali Smith, well known Inverness Clach fan, was reading from her ‘Companion Piece’ Best Seller in Porty on Monday proudly wearing her McDermid Ladies team strip.

It seems, from a brief conversation afterwards, that there has been little progress with the SFA revisiting the ‘out of touch’ response they gave four years ago to a request by Denise Clair’s lawyers.

Victim Denise puts it better than I ever can, “Why should Raith Rovers have thought it was ever wrong to sign Goodwillie when the SFA still thinks that raping someone doesn’t bring their game into disrepute. If that doesn’t, what does?
The SFA really must review their decision from 2018, as it sits uncomfortably with the court ruling in the civil case”.

Well said Denise.
I genuinely don’t know how clubs with integrated male and female teams can accept such a situation.

Livingston MP, Hannah Bardell, had asked for a meeting at Hampden, for her Val and others, but I am led to believe Mr Petrie doesn’t think it will achieve anything and wants it all to stay in the past.
Or something like that.

Under Ernie Walker’s carpet.

Ot in James Farry’s Long Grass behind the North Stand.

For things like this we desperately need an independent regulator too.

4. Uefa Gets at Least One Bloody Nose

You might have read that Uefa had plans to reformat the Champions league with 2 places given to non qualifying clubs based on previous coefficients and not last year’s performance.
So in reality a gift of cash from the boys to two big pals/clubs from the big countries.
The Uefa jargon had announced it calling it ‘a metric calculated according to continental performance from the 5 previous seasons’.

See the source imageWhatever that actually means it wasn’t popular with the vast middle ranking of aspirant clubs and smaller countries and Uefa quietly dropped it.

I’d rather they also reverted back to making the Champions League for champions of nations and not just the big 4 clubs from the 5 big leagues.
How did they ever get away with that format?

Why did the wee guys like us not unite to block it?

This Week’s Next Daft Uefa Idea

It is their ‘Festival of Soccer’ plan.

Instead of having home and away semis for the Champions League and then a final they want two, one leg semis in one city followed in a few days by a final.

A carnival style finish in a city large enough to cope with the whole Uefa caravan and 4 teams.

That probably means one of the big cities from one of the big 5 Uefa countries in a continual money making wheeze for the boys.

Such is the dominance of the big nations on those who run football.

5. Mid Way Through the First Half

Fraserburgh's Scott Barbour, left, grapples with Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic's Bradley BarrettBonnyrigg currently lead the Broch 3-1 and the two champions will meet again at Bellslea tomorrow.
The wee ground will be rocking and very intimidating.
A worthy winner will then square up at home in the first leg against Cowdenbeath on May 7th.

Cowdenbeath had the best result of their season last Saturday winning 4-1 away at Elgin so will be up for it.

In the meantime I know that the Lowland League Board having advertised for 2 “Guest Clubs” for next season have found out that their advert has attracted considerable interest out with the three Colts sides anticipated, Celtic, Hearts and Rangers.

It shows that clubs, even boys clubs, want to improve their place and fair play to them all.

The idea of ‘guest’ sides taking up much-wanted places in, hard-fought for, pyramidical leagues is as bad as Uefa’s plan to bail out the big sides who couldn’t qualify themselves.

The Lowland League and the pyramid below them deserve better.

Scottish Football needs a proper reserve league and an ethical pyramid top down and bottom up.
 

Thanks for all the feedback – it is appreciated and worthy of more than this wee blog.

 

As always stay safe and feel free to contact me about anything in Scottish Football.

 

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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