Date: 29th July 2022
Our season is about to kick off properly and there are many things we need to learn from the Euros.
Or else we can pretend there are more important things to do and get on with debating whether Celtic or Rangers will lift the flag next May.
1. What Can Scottish Football Learn from the Women’s Euros?
If you are a regular reader, you’ll know the tournament has been blowing me away.
It will go down as a huge success no matter who picks up the cup on Sunday night and believe me it has catapulted the women’s and girl’s game into a new world.
A sea change has happened that has the capacity to bring positive changes for football as a whole, women’s football, girls football and public and mental health.
Yes there will be some slippage but this tournament will be seen as seminal.
But it will take learnings, an action plan, and resource for us to benefit fully.
Here are some things that everyone running our game from Uefa Towers in Nyon to the 6th floor at Hampden and all round Europe can see.
(That is if they choose to).
i) The Ticket Pricing Was Right even if the sales method was crude and non-walk-up fan-friendly.
ii) ‘Council telly ‘delivers positive revenues and more profound long-term benefits for the whole game than restrictive PPV and maybe Neil and Ian will see that.
iii) There is no place for ‘toxic’ sponsors in a family game.
iv) Less cheating by players has been tolerated by the refs and made the games better.
v) The game of football can be physical without being illegal. The girls seem to have reinvented body contact and robust tackling.
vi) Referees can make a huge difference and ‘Play-On’ needs to happen more often.
vii) Fans are happy to sit in mixed groups within reason.
viii) There is no need for ‘Bilious’ chanting like we seem to have become immune to.
ix) Football can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health.
x) Summer-football makes sense for the game and the fans.
xi) Success at the top has to start with a genuine grass roots plan and investment in infrastructure.
A Few Wee Euros Comments
Goalies and ‘wee forward dives’
Not naming names but it is hilarious when the goalkeepers either parry and then catch the ball or just catch it in a busy-ish box.
They have the ball in their arms, safe and sound, and obviously the Euros goalkeeper manual tells them to dive forward onto the ground, Tom Daley style, then look up and both ways smirking before standing-up to distribute the ball.
The comparative size of goalposts.
The goalies all look too wee in their goals and I like that.
That has meant a few goals that average Premier League GKs at 6ft 3 average, with many bigger, would have stopped.
Here is a historical perspective to consider.
Football goalpost width was stipulated by the FA at 24 ft, (8 yards), in 1863, 24 years before LS Lowry was even born and fully 50 years before his famous crowd paintings.
The height, off the ground, and solidity of a proper cross bar did not get agreed till 1882 at 8ft.
Nowadays footballers are bigger and fitter and make the pitch and posts look small.
I wasn’t around, honest, but Google has told me that in 1871 the average UK female was just below 5ft and since then has risen 4 inches to almost 5ft 4.
UK Men have risen slightly more from 5ft 5 to 5 ft 9.
Football goals and park sizes have not kept up with player growth and fitness, hence the overcrowded box and goal line scenes we see today.
It makes me think that maybe goalies being wee in the goal posts is actually a good thing?
It respects the decisions made by the founding fathers.
There could be a learning for Uefa/Fifa.
Under their watch the evolution of the football pitch specifications has stopped.
Stuff like that should never be a sacred cow and maybe the girl’s game is showing us the way to go?
The BBC TV Pundits
OK The budget is huge.
But we’ve had a great mix of female ex-pros and Gabby Yorath/Logan, the queen of the sports anchor herself.
Eilidh Barbour was good too but was obviously somewhere down the pecking order when it came being handed the biggest games.
The girls and Wrightie, in the glass box have got better and better as the tournament has progressed and it’s great to see multi-ethnic panels made up of pros from a wide range of teams and countries.
But one niggle I think the producers should have picked up.
Fara Wiliams, OBE, needs to be helped, and coached to slow down a little just so we can actually hear what she is saying.
When you do she gives pearls of wisdom and with a record 172 caps she deserves to be heard.
And Wrightie was right, right, right, when he says football has to be on all schools curriculum for all girls, and boys.
Things for the Scottish Game to Address
(There is more to it than just kids catching the bug)
OK the Euros are in England but our kids, girls and boys have embraced that women’s and girl’s football is now Huge and getting bigger.
When you watch it all you see is football, not women’s football.
Our kids have seen a host of new role models too.
And it can be OK to support our nearest neighbour – as long as they are not playing us.
Despite the huge impact there are issues coming down the tracks.
Kids grass roots football where everyone has to start, is expensive.
Much too expensive.
Think £100 per month for hard pressed families with two kids at a local club.
(Think clubs not paying parents for overnight stops needed and travel expenses at the low end of elite pathways and morning kick-offs in Dingwall).
Grass roots clubs have to constantly pay for grounds, refs etc and the irony is here is there is a current spate of closures of grass roots football outfits.
That means there will be less options and clubs for our aspirant kids to join.
So we have to think differently and Scottish grass roots football, boys, and girls, should be working with both the Scottish government and other stakeholders.
The SFA need to take it more seriously than they currently do.
Another lost opportunity to integrate community football with health.
The records show that the English Game thought this all through a few years back and invested £300M.
The pot of allocated money was protected.
Up here it would have been ‘purloined’ by self-interested big clubs controlling the decision making process and needing to feed their elite own pathway projects.
That didn’t happen but the English plan is obviously working.
Pro-rata Scotland would have invested £30M.
That is moonbeams but a good target and the English model is there to be picked apart and reshaped for our country.
Clever thinking can cut the investment level but long term thinking has never been our strongpoint.
Ask Henry Mcleish about his two reports.
Or try and find Ernie Walkers Thinktank.
And when our clubs talk about ‘investment’ they usually mean ‘spend on the first team squad’, i.e., wages.
Let the Women Play at Home, The Real Home
Obviously in Scottish Football the Women’s teams are considered not as important as the men’s.
After last year’s spat between the Scottish Women’s team and the SFA we found out that our Scottish women’s team had to fight to be fully respected, treated as proper footballers, allowed to play at Hampden, travel business class to away games etc.
Stuff that had been normal for our men’s side for a long time.
It is the same with where our SWPL teams play.
I looked home grounds up.
Aberdeen plays at Cove’s ‘Balmoral Stadium’.
Celtic at Airdrie’s ‘Excelsior’.
Dundee Utd at their Academy’s ‘Gussie Park’.
Hearts at Heriot Watt’s ‘Oriam’.
Hibs at City of Edinburgh’s atmosphere-less and water retaining, ‘Meadowbank’.
Motherwell at ‘Alliance Park’.
Partick Thistle at ‘Petershill Park’.
Rangers at their training centre in Milngavie.
So, 8 out of our top 12 Women’s sides don’t get taken seriously enough by their ‘clubs’ to let them play at home.
Makes you think.
And last year Hibs had what they wrongly called an ‘Edinburgh Derby’ against Hearts at Easter Road.
Maybe they will sell their game against Spartans as the ‘North Edinburgh Derby’?
Celtic’s Colts also play their Lowlife League Games at the Excelsior, Hearts at Whitehill’s muddy and badly drained Ferguson Park and Rangers at Dumbarton’s ‘The Rock’, (Cheaper insurance Ground).
Maybe it’s because the women’s teams prefer playing on artificial surfaces. Rather than grass.
No maybe not.
Tess – Football’s Newest Recruiting Sergeant and a Scottish insight.
You’ve seen the clip of her dancing and singing along to Sweet Caroline after the English team had overcome a difficult start.
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 27, 2022
I hope she has a great day out at the final. She was joyous in her own wee world dreaming of glory for her team and probably scoring the winning goal too.
And just imagine.
Imagine football fans singing along en-masse to Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline anthem without all our ‘FTP’ nonsense.
That is the kind of vocal support I’d buy into and would help Neil and Ian attract better sponsors to our game.
All our football grounds should be suitable for all our families.
All the time.
2. F-Wittery Big Time at Falkirk
It looks like John McGlynn has gone from the frying pan into the fire.
Having been part of the close knit Raith team who signed DG from Clyde John saw nothing wrong because DG might have improved his team,.
He’s now at Falkirk who have just decided to embrace the gambling world by taking money from a company called Regency Betting.
I like a flutter sometimes, and a one year deal from a local company is not be in the same ‘League of Baddieness’ as some the algorithm-driven companies on shirts, like Daftiebet, which one of our teams and their fans proudly display.
But even local bookies on local shirts promote and normalise an addictive industry and worse than that, it is designed to encourage kids to take up the lifelong habit.
Free bets are everywhere and ask yourself why?
Like a wriggly worm on a hook in a heavily stocked trout pond.
Once they have you, you are theirs for life.
Back to Falkirk.
Graham Carbis the Commercial Executive came out with this crap on his press release.
“I look forward to working with the Betting company on the base of our new Falkirk shirts both this season and into the years ahead”.
Falkirk obviously need the money.
I recently told you that they had just found out that their much-lauded recent sponsors ‘Clarke ePOS’ couldn’t pay the money promised so they took them to court winning a summary decree.
Sadly it won’t get the money for the club either but might close his business.
What surprises me about this strange decision is that Falkirk purport to be a community club.
One that obviously doesn’t mind a few Falkirk fan casualties in the future.
This is not Andy on his soap box.
It is Andy who doesn’t think gambling harvesters should be allowed to run riot throughout our game to the proven damage of our communities.
Where is the leadership from Neil and Ian?
(England are phasing out gambling cos (ahead of a ban if they didn’t) but we have no such policy).
If you think I am exaggerating take the time to have a look at this amazing BBC documentary, Gambling a game of life and death.
It takes 48 mins. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0019dz9/gambling-a-game-of-life-and-death
I had tears in my eyes at the end.
Or last year’s Paul Merson insight,
And visit Gamtalk online.
Seemingly the worst thing that can happen to novice gamblers is to win big early on.
We all know someone that has an addiction and the ‘Bet-Regret’ ads are good but don’t hit hard enough.
3. Cricket Exposes Parallels in Football.
I sometimes wonder at the lack of perspective in those who decide what news we are presented with and how it is told to us.
An independent enquiry led to a mass board walk out.
Looking up Cricket Scotland directors at Companies House it is obvious there has been enormous churn for a long time.
It was a big news story from TV down to local papers and all radio stations and local national and UK press too.
There is no doubt that the resignation of the board of Scottish Cricket will lead to positive changes but how did they get away with it for so long and what role did government agency Sports Scotland have. They have been pumping big money (ours) into Scottish cricket for years.
Racism is rife in Scotland.
We now know racism is rife in Scottish Cricket too because the report has just spelt it out.
But it is not exactly a secret that racism has also been rife in Scottish football for a long time but it is easier for our game to avoid the conflict and classify it as ‘banter’.
We even have invented a name for it.
A word that makes it sound less bad than ‘anti Irish catholic racism’.
But it is still racism against a country and its traditional beliefs.
And it is endemic.
I think cricket will turn the corner but while religious differences are openly monetarised in favour of each of our duopolistic giants it will stay in football.
Our two key board rooms the SFA and the SPFL are well controlled, so change won’t come from there.
The answer has to be political cross party and apolitical too.
But where are the politicians when you need them?
There’s the rub.
They are sitting tight on their hands, scared of alienating the various key voting sub-groups they need to stay in power.
4. What’s Craigie Up to Now?
The demise of Rangers in 2012 is truly a roast that keeps on dripping for some.
Mr Whyte who some may recall purchased Rangers for £1 is now seeking £10M from Police Scotland because many others who were screwed over by The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal service have been paid big time.
Right now he has the well-known Livingston Singer, DCI Jim Robertson, and his right-hand man, Jaqueline O’Neil in his cross hairs.
The Crown Office says it does not comment on live cases but take it from me this will cost us, the taxpayer over £100M before the curtain comes down.
Have you heard it discussed in Holyrood?
Like Cricket Scotland, this needs a proper public enquiry and nobody will come out of it well, starting at Sir David ending at Police Scotland and all points and interfaces in between.
5. Too Early and Badly Constructed
The Motherwell aggregate result demonstrates the gap between our top clubs and those who history suggests are there to make up the numbers.
Defeated by the mighty Sligo Rovers, sitting proudly at 5th in the Irish table but 20 points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers isn’t the best result they will get all season.
Yes it got the manager the sack.
However Uefa gets some things very wrong and the early qualification nonsense for competitions is one of them.
Make it simpler.
Everyone who qualifies from their national leagues gets in.
That might mean less teams qualify from each league. Fine by me.
And Uefa please think about a better way.
Why not a big league like they are planning with the new format of the CL.
Every qualifier plays till Xmas.
I hope Rangers are up to speed for next Tuesday and good luck from us all.
It really is too soon for such a critical pair of ties.
6. Spam or Spam
I’m reminded of the Monty Python sketch where there are 9 items on the cafe menu but all you can have is Spam.
This weekend every football writer and pundit will be picking his or her ‘egg and spam’, without the egg, but extra spam.
AKA their view on who the winner of our leagues will be and telling us who it is and why.
They will actually all be glad that football is breaking out having all been fed so much nonsense by the various PR feeders at the top clubs in the last three close-season months.
You know the kind of thing.
Stuff like why the new players for their allocated team are the best signings ever and will be so much better than anyone who has left because they were just not good enough.
The writers who tell us about our blue team will tell their population dynamic why the league will head to Ibrox and those who write about our green team will confirm the destination is the East End and one or two in the Evening News will even suggest Hearts have a chance of splitting the big Glasgow 2 and winning the league within three years.
The Evening News Hibs writers who are sometimes the same people will, not surprisingly, disagree.
It was actually1984-85 when Aberdeen became the last club outside the recent 2 winners to prevail.
That is why many fans think the SPFL is just a Glasgow District League, writ large.
Just think, 38 years of Scottish fans outwith the green and blue bubble, shelling out annually for season books with the best outcome 2nd or 3rd.
How can anyone build a business on that?
This inbuilt moribundity is neither good for the game, the fans nor for attracting commercial sponsorship.
That’s me for this week.
Hope you enjoyed a look at some of the stuff and discussions that you don’t find in the red tops.
And as always feedback and opinions are always welcome.
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