Date: 30th September 2022
Seven points out of the nine and Stevie and his team have delivered for the nation.
Even though, as reports suggest that in the two ‘PPV’ matches on newly Scandi-owned ‘Premier Sports,’ aka Setanta, that we were up against it.
We were indeed and are now heading for a top Nations League berth and tough but lucrative future games.
Scotland are also upgraded into Pot 2 for the Euros 2024 draw although there are scary potential Pot 3 teams like Norway, Ukraine, Sweden, and Ireland awaiting.
Also if we fail to qualify as one of the top 2 in our group, we already have a play-off spot guaranteed.
It is a huge result for lots of reasons like self-esteem ranking and reputation.
But just think of all the un-budgeted income heading the way of the SFA.
Millions and millions.
Money that can be spent or invested.
I know which I’d prefer.
Our team has a real EPL Premier League pedigree about it now and is growing into a very difficult club-like side to beat.
I like that.
In Stevie we trust.
You Only Get Out What You Put in
1. International Success Takes 15 Years of Targeted Rolling Investment
(Just ask the Lionesses)
If it was down to the desire of the Scottish public we’d be up there competing with Brazil, Italy, and Spain all the time.
With occasional silverware too.
In the real world, as it stands, pickings are slimmer.
Every few years Scotland gets a happy and serendipitous collection of above average players.
We don’t have a conveyor belt and so far we have not found the secret of consistency.
To improve our lot the SFA commissioned McLeish Reports 1, and 2, and the Ernie Walker’s never published and long lost ‘Think Tank’.
All said the same kind of thing.
– Encourage as many kids as possible to play.
– Identify and invest in elite kids to give them, and Scotland, the biggest chance of success.
– Work within the education system.
– Improve the technique level of the kids.
It all started well too with genuine Hampden vision, good intentions and you might even remember names like Mark Wotte, as far back as 2011, Brian McLair, 2015 and then Malky Mackay.
Many of the side that just delivered our 7 crucial Nations League points and other players playing in the SPFL came through the system before it became a victim of cost-cutting and a shift of club focus to their own backyards and agendas rather than the bigger picture.
In just 11 fast years we have quietly dumped all the good intentions and pretended they didn’t really matter.
But with a booming Women’s game too there has never been a better time to think BIG from the bottom up.
Step 1 is to get as many kids to play as possible and while that sounds easy it isn’t, and needs proper coordination like happens in Iceland and Norway and Canada and USA – all overachievers.
Step 2 is to identify and invest in the best kids in a balanced elite programme that doesn’t wreak havoc with the kids mental welfare when the majority get dumped.
The role of the clubs is not an easy discussion because the biggest clubs want the most kids, grab them, and then let the most down too.
It all means getting the right people round a table to agree the best pathway.
Football hasn’t been good at that in the past.
But I personally can’t think of a better way to invest Stevie’s Recent SFA Windfall.
And nor can he.
But that is not how Scottish football is run.
2. Qatar Quickies
Hummel, Mark Bennet, David Beckham, Eric and that Goal and Iran
Hummel are a Danish kit manufacturer whose product like many other manufacturers is made elsewhere where it is cheaper, like in China.
This week they took a principled stance ahead of Qatar and came out publicly with a powerful set of 3 Qatar strips where the Hummel logo is toned down.
The third strip is black and signifies the ‘colour of mourning’ for the human rights records of our soon to be hosts.
Qatar got grumpy at this world PR scoop.
Their ‘Supreme Committee” released a statement late Wednesday that also threw China manufacture into the mix, as an item of Danish hypocrisy.
“We dispute Hummel’s claims that this tournament has cost thousands of workers their lives. We urge the DBU to accurately convey their extensive communications with the ‘Supreme Committee’ and ensure this is accurately communicated to their partners at Hummel”.
(There is already a rush for the replica tops all over Denmark and elsewhere and I have to say this is great marketing from Hummel)
Mark Bennett was found hanged in a Doha hotel on Christmas day 2019.
His ‘hosts’ say he committed suicide but his wife says they are wrong and nothing about it all backs that up.
A British coroner also ruled there was “no specific evidence of suicidal intent”.
He had been the ‘guest’ of the Qatari State Security Centre who treated him to blindfolding, handcuffing, being stripped naked and hosed, sleep deprived and interrogated like he was a criminal.
So what did this well liked ‘Discover Qatar’ senior exec do to be found hanging dead in his hotel suite?
He had tendered his resignation ahead of joining a Saudi company.
Qatar saw this as a “massive insult”.
Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary, or should we call her Liz Trump, was shepherding a potential Qatar £10 Billion investment for her pal Boris, didn’t want to know, didn’t want to upset the status quo and closed the case.
David Beckham, is allegedly a “cheap sheep” because he agreed to become a well-paid, Qatari Brand Ambassador.
As far as I know that involves making promotional holiday videos for Qatar and going to some high end meetings and matches.
But who called him a ‘cheap sheep’ and also said, “Those who benefit from modern celebrity culture rarely take risks when asked about social causes”? (i.e., do nothing that will threaten their status and earnings).
The answer is, Eric Cantona who scored that goal against Sunderland after a 1-2 with Brian McLair in 1996: Cantona vs Sunderland 1996 – YouTube
Eric has said he will boycott Qatar.
He won’t be the only one.
Open Stadiums, a rights group think Iran should be barred after blocking women from watching matches in their own country.
They also claim that the Iranian Men’s Squad have been banned from speaking about the current riots after Mahsa Amini was murdered by the Morality Police in the same detention centre where women who attended matches had previously been taken for torture.
3. The World Has Moved On
If Kyle Lafferty went back in time to May 2009 to the famous imaginary, ‘head-butt’ by Charlie Mulgrew and met some Celtic fans at a bar later on, he might have called them ‘Fenians’ as a weird term of endearment.
They’d probably in reply have called him a ‘Hun’.
He may still have been fined for his cheating by his club but there would be no 10 match ban and fine for his choice of ‘banter’.
There are no rules on this, only new attitudes and it is well past time that the SFA, SPFL, Scot Gov, fans, clubs and NGO’s like ‘Nil By Mouth, sat round a table and let the rest of us know what is acceptable and what is not.
Nothing is ever simple and there are many meanings of the word Fenian and the original ‘Fenians’ were not defined by religion but by a wish for a free Ireland.
4. Vacancy at the SFA?
We and the other 3 home nations no longer have a ‘Royal Patron’.
Gianni Infantino sent all the associations a nice wee note including these sage words, “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s passing is a huge loss to football, to our society and to the world”.
Does that mean there is a vacancy at each FA?
Do any of our FA’s actually need a ‘Royal Patron’ and if so is there a job description?
In a modern monarchy does ‘Royal Patronage’ deliver anything other than the words ‘Royal Patron’?
5. Is it a Good Deal?
Neil Doncaster says the new £150M broadcast deal for seasons 2025- 2029 with Sky is a “great deal”.
To counter criticism mostly from Stewart Robertson at Rangers the SPFL media machine kicked in and we had support from a BBC interview with Rangers favourite Chris McLaughlin and also vocal support from Dave Cormack at Aberdeen.
Here is what I gleaned from the press releases so the info is likely to be spun.
– It is a record breaking deal.
– It will make a material difference to all 42 clubs.
(Current shares of revenues are 82% to SPL, 10% to Championship and 8% to the tail end Charlies in SPFL 1 and 2).
– We’ll see live games per season rise from 48 to 60 then 80.
– It has support from 41 out of 42 clubs.
– It didn’t go to a market auction and Sky were a closed-shop bidder.
– Stewart Robertson thinks the rights are undersold.
– Dave Cormack backs the deal strongly “The fact we have not gone out to formal tender does not mean we’ve not talked to the market”.
– “What we need is to get this Sky deal concluded and to get the never ending cinch dispute behind us”.
6. Paris Failings
Nearly 2000 Liverpool fans so far have signed up with local law firm Binghams and international giant Pogust Goodhead to sue Uefa for “Breach of contract in ticket sales and negligence over duty of care towards spectators who were harmed physically and psychologically”.
Uefa tried to blame the Liverpool fans several times as did the French Government, the Stadium the local Polis and everyone else.
The initial mantra was ‘fake tickets’ and bad behaviour but the mass of evidence shows that was all bollocks and the event could have been a disaster.
The Liverpool fans saved the day.
More power to Binghams and Pogust Goodhead.
7. Premier Fans Agreement
I didn’t see our games vs Ireland and away to Ukraine live.
Scottish fans are expected to pay per viewing.
English fans get to see England free on a channel that broadcasts into Scotland supported by a building Society that calls itself Nationwide.
All Scottish International matches should be on free to air tv.
Is it not beyond the ability of our commercial people to create a deal where the SFA find a way where several sponsors can work with a free to air channel to deliver high audience programmes for us?
And it is a disgrace that some of our potential future stars, like all our food bank kids, cannot watch their team on ‘council telly’.
The economic crisis is going to bite hard and Scotland should be looking after its own.
PPV on a Scandi channel is just wrong.
8. Football & Men in Wigs
This week two wee courtroom stories.
The first is Rangers were fined for illegally ‘price fixing’ the amount their fans had to play for replica shirts with betting sponsor’s logos.
Cynical, plain wrong and reported so lightly in the mainstream press you’d think they are scared of being banned like Chris at the BBC.
JD Sports were fined £1.5 Million, Elite Sports were fined £459K and if you read the press releases and media coverage then Rangers were innocent but plead guilty to avoid a bigger fine.
Stuff and nonsense.
The fact is Rangers fans were corralled into paying too much for supporting their team and kids replica kit prices are obscene.
Our second case is Celtic FC still trying to wriggle away from the coming Thomson action on behalf of the kids abused at Celtic Boys Club.
Lord Arthurson has now fixed a procedural hearing for December 19, i.e. to see if the case will proceed.
Preston Lloyd, the Thomson’s Advocate seeks compensation from Celtic claiming that the club didn’t do enough in the 70s and 80s to eradicate the abuse.
Celtic’s advocate, Roddy Dunlop’s case is that the action should not be allowed to proceed. He says it would not be fair because documentation showing that Celtic Boys Club and Celtic FC were different entities is missing.
(Hope I got that right but we’ll hear more about this as it develops).
9. Tax Bonanza in Bournemouth, Nottingham and all Round the EPL
Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Trump really delivered this week for the already overpaid players in the English Premier League.
The reduction of the top tax rate from 45% to 40% means the average squad player will now be £240K pa better off.
Overnight and without doing anything to grow our economy, Liz.
Here are the top three Tax winners.
In third place is Kevin De Bruyne with a £1M gain.
Second place is Mo Salah at £1.3M.
And heading up is Ronaldo at £1.4M.
An overnight loss to the UK tax coffers of over 1.2 Billion.
But as our new PM, Liz Trump says it is all about ‘growth’.
She is correct.
The growth of overpaid footballers pay packets Ms Trump and the growth of public debt.
Words fail me and yes I know her name is Liz Truss not Liz Trump but in my head they are converging.
Have a nice weekend.
Feedback and opinions are always welcome.
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