Andy’s Hogmanay Sting In The Tale (31/12/21) “New Year Resolutions?”

Date: 30th December 2021


This week’s Sting:

  1. Cross Border Inconsistencies
  2. Countdown to Qatar
  3. When One ‘Sportswashing’  Purchase Isn’t Enough


1. Same Science?


This week has seen huge and predicted increases in Covid confirmations in Scotland with 679 of the people in our hospitals currently with the virus –  (even if it is not primary the reason they are in hospital).

Surprisingly despite the huge increase of confirmed cases across the country there has been no change to the number of people in intensive care.

It seems the Omicron variant is following the two scientific predictions we were told about in early December.

– It spreads faster than the other Covid strains.
– It is also significantly less deadly.

20 / 20 hindsight is easy.
Our politicians have had to make big decisions and we all know that Scottish Football currently has a 500 crowd limit, imposed for three weeks, based heavily on Omicron’s anticipated speed of transmission.
Shopping centres, railway stations, airports, stores and other places don’t currently have these limits.

a group of people standing next to a brick wall: Three more Kilmarnock players have tested positive for coronavirus (file image)I said at the time of the latest imposition that the decision was understandable and done for the right reasons.
I also said that as more information became available that the decision should be revisited based on the science.

And I asked SPFL’s and SFA’s very own ‘Covid-Lockdown Love-Child’, the JRG to be in daily contact with the Scottish Government and if the Omicron variant proved to be less of a threat, to work with the Government and revisit the decision for our members and their clubs.

They (The JRG) didn’t get in touch with me, and I genuinely don’t know if they are in contact with the Scottish Government because they don’t actually tell anyone what they do.
Least of all, the fans who pay their wages.

Anyway yesterday, scientists at the University of Pretoria, reviewing the latest data on Omicron said,

See the source image‘There are clear signs that case and hospital admission rates may decline further.
If this pattern declines and is repeated globally then we are likely to see a complete decoupling of case and death rates, suggesting that Omicron may be the harbinger of the end of the epidemic phase of the Covid pandemic ushering in its endemic phase’.

That to me suggests that the decisions taken in Wales and Scotland can and should be reviewed and those in England and Northern Ireland where 500 crowd limits were not imposed may have called it better.

A Tale of Two Spartans?

On Tuesday this week Blyth Spartans played a cracking festive local derby against big rivals, Spennymoor Town, in the Vanarama North League winning 3-1 in front of 916 fans.
On the 8th of January, Edinburgh Spartans head for high flying Bonnyrigg and the crowd will be capped at a reduced level of 500.
Financially damaging to the aspirational home side.

The Berwick, Swansea and Cardiff Enigma?

Ewan Murray writing in the Guardian called the current 4 nations crowd differences ‘a very peculiar stance’. 

He was talking openly about the confusions of cross-border, non-aligning policies in a country with no actual borders.

See the source imageI agree with him because I can go to Newcastle and be in a big crowd, then come home to Scotland, on a busy standing-room only train, without needing a ‘football fan passenger-locator type form’ to be completed.
I don’t know for sure if Berwick Rangers as an English based club can welcome fan levels above 500 because they are in a country where that is allowed.

I suspect they can because I know fans of Cardiff City and Swansea are currently affected by the ruling in Wales whereas Bristol City just down the road has no restrictions and their Welsh fans are welcome in Bristol.

Well-known football fan and politician, Ian Murray, diplomatically said ‘these decisions are a fine balance but the public are frustrated at the contradictions and inconsistencies’.


Linfield and Glentoran played out a derby draw at Windsor Park. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Pic Colm Lenaghan/ PacemakerIn a week where there was also a 10,000 fan capacity crowd at Linfield for their match against Glentoran I think we are being short-changed by our JRG.

They need to fight our corner with the government.
They also need to become a more open entity.
They only exist because fans pay money to watch football and support their clubs.
They seem to be ignorant of that fact.

So time for a New Year’s Resolution Request from me to the JRG,

‘Please revisit this decision daily with the Scottish Government and keep us  all in the loop’.


2. Countdown to Qatar


See the source imageA quick Google tells me the World Cup will take place from November 21 till December 18.
More Googling then took me to sites where fans are angry about the corruption that runs deep through and throughout Fifa and all the stuff that led to the choice of this host.

The guys running national associations, like our own Ian Maxwell at the SFA, know how dirty football governance can be, but most heads of associations play the ‘helpless’ card when asked why they don’t do something about it.

They say that they are only one voice.
And they ask with a shrug ‘what can one voice do’?
They do this because both Fifa and Uefa have effectively ‘divided and conquered’ their individual members to stop any type of revolt from the floor.

As such, we can all be sure there will be no mass demonstration by the associations against the madness.

By that I mean the ongoing, overtly political and strained, relationship that Fifa the world body, run by Infantino, has with Member Associations like Uefa, run by Sandy Ceferin.
And also with its other regional groups including Afc, Caf, Concacaf Conmebol and Ofc too.

See the source imageYou wonder how anything ever gets done with all the politics, lobbying, favouritism and nepotism, some openly and some from deeply hidden alliances.
But money makes the world go round and the World Cup and Champions League have become serious cash-generating machines.

That brings in two old adages.
‘Money is power’.
‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.

Hence the Qatar winter world cup, the Champions League big-country carve up, and the current legal stuff going slowly, very, through the Swiss courtrooms.


But My Qatar 2022 Forecast is the Players Will Not Play in Silence

The reality is sport has always been political .
And in 2022 some players and countries feel strongly enough about Qatar’s policies and the politics of how they treat and manage the poor immigrant workers with no status in their economies that they will make that point.
Fifa have already been embarrassed from rumblings out of the Danish, Dutch and German Camps because there really is no excuse or reason for Qatar ever being allowed to be hosts.

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And having seen and applauded the open disdain for the over-commercialisation and sponsorship at the recent Euros, many fans want to see football making a more positive contribution.

Qatar offers bigger and more important ‘wrongs’ and points than ‘world-stars’ Ronaldo and Pogba making a point against sponsors by moving the ‘staged’ Heineken Bottle at press briefings.

More power to the players.



Scotland Have A 24% Chance of Being There 


We have just 2 games to win.
Even Fort William can do that with a fair wind and their new manager.

For us, its first Ukraine at home on 24th March, and then Wales or Austria away five days later.

The reality is there are no easy matches in this cut-throat series of mini tournaments where Euro Champions Italy have to claw their way past Portugal.

The newly appointed Ukraine manager, Oleksandr Petrakov, thinks there are.
He went rather loopy, in a happy kind of way, when our wee ball came out of Infantino’s goldfish bowl as his team’s opponents.
He obviously isn’t worried about playing at Hampden with its newly reinstated roar and resurgent team.

He already thinks his side are in the last two.
Gracenote, a specialist research wing of the worldwide Nielsen Organisation, don’t agree with Oleksandr.

In the cold light of their statistical analysis, they see our improved run and home advantage making us favourites to win the first game.
But that is it, for us, according to the numbers men who think the eventual qualifiers will come from the other side of our draw.

Thank goodness we all know football is not that simple and isn’t played in a computer.

So good luck to Stevie and his tight club-style group.

See the source image
3. Newcastle Owners Want a New Club Already


Way-ay man, but it is nothing to do with the Geordie’s relegation fight.

It is simply about Sportswashing in the same way as Qatar wanted a World Cup.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund could be interested in AC Milan after pulling out of a deal to buy NewcastleSaudia Arabia’s PIF (Public Investment Fund may have to pay $1Billion for the loss making Italian giant and current champion.

Unconfirmed reports suggest they also want to change the name of the San Siro to The Jamal Khashoggi Stadium.

Ok that is not true, but they do want to buy the team that Celtic beat in 1967.

One day football will wake up and stop this.





Have a nice Hogmanay and a Great New Year.

Comments and input always welcome

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