Date: 9th October 2020
Well Done Scotland.
Well Done Stevie and all the boys, even those in possibly unnecessary isolation.
The game against Israel was not pretty and certainly not easy.
We know we are not and were never the finest team in the world, but we do know we are indeed heading for the Rajko Mitic Stadium, Belgrade.
And yes at times we were outplayed for long spells by an Israel side some 44 places below us in the world rankings.
Some of the journo’s summarising words I have heard and read today include “awful”, “dreary” and “ugly”.
5 out of 5 penalties (4 crackers) saw us prevail and Scotland 49th in the sponsored FIFA world rankings will now meet Serbia ranked 31st who beat Norway ranked 44th last night in an “open and attractive match”.
We all thought it would be Oslo.
Who knows where it will end this time?
Had Scott McTominay tucked away our only real chance we might have seen a different and watchable game in the second half but we took our chance at the shoot out, are still fighting and have it all to play for in Serbia.
Currently there are no fans allowed into Serbian football but that might change by November 12th although I doubt it.
This is no procession though.
Scotland is firm underdog.
I prefer that.
Serbia’s population is some 50% bigger than Scotland’s and they are football daft like us.
Or more like we used to be when we were.”
Serbia the country only started playing in 2006 after the break up of the former Yugoslavia and after initially combining for a couple of years as Serbia Montenegro.
Their qualification for world cups we didn’t make in 2010 South Africa and Russia in 2018 makes them no mugs. They failed to reach the knockout stages in each, although they did beat Germany 1-0 in 2010.
Ahead of our trip to the Balkans we also have two immediate games next week. Slovakia is on Sunday, Czech Republic on Wednesday and that ignites memories of 21 year old Joe Jordan scoring against them both with that header in our final qualifying match for the 1974 World Cup.
The fans at that Hampden game that night were limited to just 100,000 and saw us first fall behind before winning 2-1 with Joe’s goal.
It was such a big event that Corrie was moved from its 7.30 pm slot to let those without tickets watch it on Scotsport.
On council telly, Ian.
And B and W for most of us too.
I also remember with a smile the subsequent “poster” abuse not long after, all over Scotland – when all the “Jesus Saves” posters were easily corrupted to “Jesus saves, but Jordan nets the rebound”.
Anyway back to Stevie and the path to Rajko Mitic, – if we can build a club side mentality we’ll be someone nobody wants to play against and that’s our biggest chance.
Never have the SFA more needed the breathing space and the revenue that Euro 2020-21 would deliver, (more in Keynsian Korner below).
In the meantime there is other fallout from last night’s game.
It seems that health officials have confirmed that Ryan Christie and Kieran Tierney were 2.8 metres distanced from Stuart Armstrong while playing computer games and that their mandatory 14-day isolation might be harsher than maybe necessary or even mandated.
Arsenal is allegedly on Kieran’s case ahead of their tussle with Man C and I wish them good luck.
It’s not good news for any of us or the game whatever happens and the natural progression going forward and downside is likely to be big clubs taking steps to keep their expensive talent in their own controlled micro bubbles and player availability becoming an issue.
Also did you see the photos doing the rounds of Scottish Fans outside pubs last night looking back inside to try to see the end of extra time and penalties having just been ejected because of the 10 pm curfew.
They really sum up much of what is going on and the zig-zag, stop-start world we find ourselves in.
Two Quotes That We All Wanted to Hear
Its funny how no-football Saturdays sometimes elevate the discussions on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound Saturday programme.
Last week promised to be interesting with SPFL’s Neil D and SFA’s Mike Mulraney appearing.
Neil kicked off the debate knowing that they had a scheduled meeting with Joe Fitzpatrick two days later.
It was all about No Fans being allowed and he lucidly built and made his point that “Having no fans at football matches was a political rather than a clinical decision”.
Mike backing up Neil’s argument and sounded rehearsed when he said “It is fair to ask the Scottish Government to reconsider its stance of clubs having to play to empty stadia”.
In a lively discussion that really hit home we were told that among other things that it was against a background of different responses that were not consistent and that the Albert Hall were planning to allow 57% capacity attendances indoors.
Both Neil and Mike rightly acknowledged the difficult situation that both the Scottish and national governments find themselves in but asked for consistency and clarity for fans and clubs given the commercial doom we are all facing.
Like many I was surprised and pleased at their approach and thought it was well presented and possibly rehearsed.
I emailed Neil just after and said
“Just heard you and Mike Mulraney on Richard’s show. Thought you were both good and balanced and it was great to hear you come out fighting but in a reasoned and non-aggressive manner”.
Neil and Mike both came back and thanked the SFSA for our support and here are two more quotes from their responses that show that there might be a hint of a way forward back to football.
“Thanks for the support Andy, the football family should continue to work together to help our sport and move the game forward in a safe manner.
“I do believe this is an area where fans (and fans’ organisations) have a key part to play in achieving the goal of getting fans back in stadia”.
Both men and their organisations know where to find us and we’ll keep you involved and informed if they really change their modus operandi.
We will help if asked.
Fans Rules Across Europe
The status today is as messy as an “After Eurovision song contest party”.
Currently there are no restrictions in Lithuania, Hungary and Luxembourg. NONE.
No fans are currently allowed in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and H, England, Gibraltar, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Scotland, San Marino, Serbia, Spain, Ukraine and Wales.
Andorra and Finland allow 50.
Faroe Islands 100 per stand
Ireland 100 – 200
Norway, Slovenia 200
Cyprus and Malta 300
Italy, Slovakia, Liechtenstein 1000
Denmark Cz Rep 2000
Austria, Latvia 3000
France 5000, or 1000 in high infection rate areas
Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Moldova, Iceland, Belgium, 30%
Bulgaria 50% up to 4000 Poland
As Sergey would say, SIMPLES!
The Big Scottish Debate
We would like to see a plan and protocol in place asap so that when a chink opens we can start the process of getting back.
One school of fan and club thought thinks we should get fans back first in big grounds with more experience of crowd management.
Another says it would be best to start at the community end where space is not a problem for small crowds and entry and egress points are not over busy.
We’d say both should be considered, both are equally correct and both should be ready to go.
Fans are ready to help Neil, Ian, Mike.
Keynes Covid Economics Korner
An entertainment cousin is in trouble.
Cineworld this week closed down in the UK seeing 45000 jobs drying up demonstrating the depths of what is on the horizon.
Gordon Taylor PFA Grand Fromage has taken a 75% cut of his salary from £2M to a measly £500K.
It will be tough for the soon to retire highest paid union official in the UK and probably the world.
Imagine only having £500 k to live on per annum.
English Premier League after real pressure is offering a grant of circa £50M to The EFL.
A GRANT not a gift!
(They obviously think the three league foundations of their game are worth less than one player at one of the top clubs and have forgotten where they came from themselves. Utterly disgusting).
When football acts like that it almost deserves what is coming its way.
No secrets here in Keynesland but the SFA need Stevie and his boys to qualify for Euro 2021 or the books won’t balance.
Finally one sizeable club told me earlier this week not only are they not touching any season book money ahead any requirements to repay it to the fans but that their local lower-end sponsorship monies are also at risk of being given back or rolled into future agreements.
Both bring a loss of revenue.
That is not just them.
Our clubs are hurting.
Welcome Back Lowland League
Good luck with tomorrow’s start.
We hope your season is able to scramble its way to a conclusion.
Here’s a wee Idea for Ian Maxwell at the SFA from a few of you who read last weeks Sting in the Tale and Agreed
In the current world without fans wouldn’t it be great if all clubs in the lower levels and especially those below the SPFL were provided at no cost to themselves with SFA referees and assistant referees for home games and 62 seater buses for away games.
A Covid Positive by the SFA.
Something to Really Show Support
The idea is free of charge Ian.
So do this free of charge for your members for their stakeholders.|
If necessary given the pressures on your own revenue generation the consider borrowing the funds in true Keynsian style against Hampden or future revenues to keep football in the grass roots alive.
Our game will be the better for it.
Nothing Much Happening on the
Trail of the Lonesome JRG
So Enjoy the music
Joe Fitzpatrick and his team now only have 5 working days from the original 20 promise to reply to “Case No 202000088184” where we simply asked who is on the JRG and given the government involvement why the JRG why is not a matter of public record.
Spit spot Joe.
Maxie’s Groundhog Day
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