Date: 14th July 2020
The latest from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:
Mr Doncaster tries to make sense
It’s staff appraisal day at the Hump Down Stadia and Mr Doncaster is hopeful of raising something…
Picture the scene…
Three blazers enter the room…
Blazer one has been on a train all morning from the Highlands and is a bit grumpy but hopeful that he can catch the 4pm train back home and be back in time for last orders; ironically an early finish is to form part of the three pronged discussion. Blazer two has not had far to travel and is the brightest, keenest and most enthusiastic though he wants to disappear as soon as possible too; ironically something missing will also form part of the appraisal. Finally, blazer three is fuming. They have come from the mysterious east where Mr Doncaster is not well liked; ironically one in three at the top represents the majority view in the fitba world – ironically, the people at the top can’t see that irony…
Mr Doncaster is both keen and confident. He sees his handling of one of the biggest pandemics as flawless. He is also responsible for bringing two organisations together – the SPL and the SFL – under one roof and coming up with the name that combined the S, P and L with the S, F and L though he wanted to keep the two Ls and fought hard for that but conceded it when he was told he could only be the big cheese for one L, and it has been L ever since…
He is summoned to the door behind which blazer one, two and three have just finished coffee and decided who will ask which question. They know that the world outside are watching but hope they can see none of this because they want to avoid being blamed when it goes Pete Tong.
Nobody in the room knows who Pete Tong is but they reckon he was probably some half decent midfielder for Clyde before being caught out doing something naughty because he is always mentioned when things go tits up. They realise that tits up is an outmoded, misogynistic term that is not to be used because they have all been on the online SFA training. They also know that the use of the word diddies is wrong too, but they can’t help sniggering each time they hear it. They are poker faced as Mr Doncaster enters the room.
A seat is left for him to occupy which he does; amply.
The blazer in the middle, number one, from the Highlands speaks first.
“Mr Doncaster, this is a performance review and we are looking over the last quarter with a salary review part of the process. As such we have a number of questions which we would like to get through and it falls to me to ask the first one. Mr Doncaster, can we have an early finish?”
Mr Doncaster gets it. It’s not often that he does but this is one he has been practicing for. He has his answer prepared as he knows this is about the early finish of the league; it wasn’t, blazer one just wanted to know if he could catch his 4pm train…
“Well, we are planning for an August 1 start. That will be absolutely imperative. That will be the earliest date that we are allowed to get competitive games back underway. Clearly we will deal with whatever eventuality arises. I think it’s important to note that none of this is of anyone’s making. COVID-19 has come along, the suspension of the game in Scotland started on March 13 and we have not been able to play any games since then, there has been a complete shutdown of football and not even any contact training. We have only just been allowed to return to full contact training so anyone who is suggesting there was an alternative, that somehow we could have set up games and got them played before the start of the season is just not real. So I think the stance is vindicated.There was no alternative but to curtail season 19/20 and we are now very much looking forward to the new season starting on August 1.”
The blazers look at each other unaware of how they should respond but aware, only too aware that if they give Mr Doncaster a chance, they could be in that room for absolute ages and nobody wants that – especially as he is making no sense!
So Blazer one tries to bring it to close, “Actually, the financial challenge…”
Mr Doncaster is right in there. He knows about “The Financial Challenge” and has fully prepared for it…
“The league is the clubs. We don’t hold any reserves. All of the money that comes into the league each year gets distributed among the 42 members so whatever expense, from this litigation or otherwise, will be borne by all 42 clubs.”
He sits back and knows – they cannot argue with that! It’s pure logic, that!
There is silence in the room.
They all look at blazer two because he is next to ask the question… Aware of what is not being said in the room, that Mr Doncaster is a vacuous windbag, he latches onto an idea. What if he cleverly asks him about what is missing…
“Mr Doncaster, if I may, I would like to talk about the things which have been missing…”
Mr Doncaster wastes no time – again he has come well prepared for he knows what this is aw about!
“Look, we all want the Scottish national team to do as well as possible. We have worked closely with the SFA and Steve Clarke to have the games on a Friday night if possible, although we don’t yet know what the Europa League fixtures may be. It is always a challenge putting the fixtures together, but this year it has been compounded by Uefa taking a lot of the dates that would normally be available for the outstanding Europa League and Champions League games. We still have the outstanding Scottish Cup semi-finals and final that need to be played and we have the Euros next year, which means we can’t accommodate a winter break this year. We have just 34 spaces for games and we have 33 games to fit in. If we have any delays due to weather or Scottish Cup replays then there is a problem. In the past we’ve had a situation where clubs play four games in eight days and we hope that won’t be the case, but that is a contingency that might need to be used.”
Blazer three has had enough. He is going to take no prisoners. He is from the East and nobody messes with Wise Men from there. He believes that he is a wise non binary kinda person so they get stuck in.
“Mr Doncaster, let me get this straight, In the event…”
Mr Doncaster again knows what event it is to which he refers and jumps straight back in there.
“Yes. We will be ready. If we are looking at the situation once more than we shall have it all in place to be ready. I know what you mean, I mean the 10 thing but we are not going to be caught out again. Simples.”
The three of them are non plussed but Mr Doncaster believes he has dazzled them with his utter brilliance…
We are aware that a number of clubs have voiced concerns and that’s probably understandable given the levels of tension over the last three months, But most clubs do seem to see the sense in taking action now to prevent it all playing out again the same way next season.”
Blazer three meant nothing of the sort but is stunned into silence, principally because he recognizes that these were his own words last week. He thinks Mr Doncaster must be some kind of sorcerer as he made the comments to the newspaper anonymously – is Mr Doncaster sending a message?
Mr Doncaster has no idea… And did not know these were the words of any person in the room. He just liked them.
Blazer one is forced to take charge, which in the major scheme of things and given where they are is the biggest irony of all.
“Thank you for your time Mr Doncaster, we shall now ruminate, cogitate and digest before we erm… let you know.” Having heard the quote from some reruns of Masterchef he can’t quite remember how the quote ends so as it fades into the distance. Mr Doncaster nods, raises himself and lets himself out the room. It has been an astonishing 15 minutes of life in a blazer and all three know what they must do now.
It is not known who said what but the blazers collective view was expressed thus…
“What a diddy…”
“Ye cannae say that noo…”
“Carried now let’s get out o here before they ask us tae be oan thon new panel thing with Thistle and Hearts n that.”
With that they find a back door to file their report, a dodgy side door to exit through and a front door dominated by Mr Doncaster smiling and looking for all the world like he had just beaten off geniuses.
Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an almost original tale, any similarities to persons real or imagined are deliberate. However as nobody called Mr Doncasterhas ever been for such a performance enhanced review conducted by three blazers, as far as he is aware, this is clearly fictional and never actual happened, though many of the words were said by a Mr Doncaster.
The fact is that during the last month Neil Doncaster has been variously reported dealing with the issues of COVID-19 and the early finish, the legal challenge from member clubs, missing Scottish Cup fixtures in the list, and the issue of a resurgence and return of any form of lockdown… As to whether Mr Doncaster is a diddy, that is entirely a matter of opinion…
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