Archive | November, 2013

Getting Away With It? Part 2

28 Nov

In part two of getting away with lets extend our eyes away from the East End of Glasgow. In some sort of order lets examine the S.P.F.L Premiership. The Getting away with it in this section of Scottish football is so prevalent that I am surprised that every team does not emerge from the tunnel at the start of games to the band Electronics song.

From Aberdeen to Motherwell and Inverness to Kilmarnock clubs have went from publicly deriding The Old Firm as bad for the Scottish Game to now appreciating that the old Firm provided a enormous income stream for EVERY club in Scotland. With Celtic fans becoming more choosy on what games they will travel to see and the lack of Rangers fans then what was three or four party pay days a season there is now a lack of interest. We are all waiting on the emergence of the race to challenge Celtic for the title. With every passing day this looks as likely as Celtic winning the Champions League! As for a race for second this has become as interesting as the race for third has been for many years.

The warnings offered to Fans who suggested that any shortfall in income or interest in the game post Rangers increasingly strange placement into the lower tier of Scottish football would be made up for by the other clubs themselves has became a running Joke. Celtic are spectacularly failing to sell out Celtic Park for anything other than a mid week European game. Attendances in the SPFL Premiership/SPL post 2011-12 have nose dived so severely it looks like Gerald Ratner has been put in charge of quality and advertising. With clubs in the SPFL Premiership mothballing areas of their stadiums due to costs and policing/stewarding costs remaining stubbornly high the clubs are faced with little other option. What is making this worse as this season continues. Its became clear that as Hearts slide often valiantly into relegation and Kilmarnock seem intent to press self destruct and join them instead of freeing up clubs and managers to become expansive and entertaining the opposite seems true. A Celtic fan said to me that it was up to the other clubs to open up and provide entertaining opponents for Celtic to beat. I having watched a lot of top division clubs this season feel that the fear factor has taken hold. The expected fun of the non Hoops has been nothing more than rehashed reheats of last seasons left overs.

It is incredibly strange that the Chairmen of these clubs have been conspicuous by their absence in engaging fans in dialogue. From Stewart Milne to Rod Petrie via Steven Thompson the men of Iron who clubbed together to punish an Old Firm Club under what is slowly being proved to be a victim of overzealous prosecution of a flawed case and a low grade two bit con man. The same Men of Iron who with the straight rod of sporting integrity so publicly hammered Rangers then meekly punished Hearts to end financial doping once and for all. Yes the mismanagement of Murray International Holdings, Craig White, Gavin Masterton, Ubig and Vladimir Romanov has been exposed, digested and proclaimed upon. The under reporting of Aberdeen Asset Management reducing debts at Aberdeen with Stewart Milne. Are we to simply believe that Milne and A.A.M simply reduced debts as a gift, I think that’s at best naive and at worse delusional. Milne is well known to be careful with money. E would not give a penny without demanding two in return. As for A.A.M shareholders in times of financial turmoil are not known for acts of charity to football clubs. You get nothing for nothing and something has been sold off at these clubs and fans are getting away with thinking every act done to and by their club is as they would do. Sadly as fans of other clubs will say often this is not the case and usually its nowhere near. The Boardroom events at Kilmarnock.

The income stream is waning the promised golden harvest has failed to materialise. A new league to solve all the issues has failed to deliver a Sponsor. A League body getting away with not providing for its members. At a time when income is required urgently some stuffed blazers sit in VIP areas living high off the land. While Clubs are forced to have stands free!

Currently rumours of debts owed to a bailed out institute by clubs who seemed to of received eye popping low interest rate deals.

(http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-2514682/Co-op-Bank-slammed-cheap-loans-Celtic-Football-Club.html)

The newly formed management of this bank are looking to reduce liabilities and football clubs are prime targets for repayment or renegotiation. Failure to do this means publicity of the worse sort for clubs and institute a like and running the risk of waking the sleeping press pack with potentially a massive political story is a step too far for all concerned. For some reason being able link all of this together is either beyond the savvy of most of the cosy bunch of Journalists in Scotland or this is embargoed. Getting away with sharing taxis, Sources and contacts seems to en vogue for the lazy hacks. The same selection who believed fiction factories with H.M.R.C and Rangers now shy away from actual investigations regards the mire that constitutes the bank statements of every club in the Premiership. These clubs all know now that the last thing they can expect is support from their compatriots in the League. They may get a increasingly lenient sentence and be damned once rather than many times over but they will not be able to bank on anything regards what the SPFL will offer as support. That is the SPFL Getting away with it but that’s for another time.

So every club in the top division is getting away with either failure of ambition or woeful financial management skills or indeed both. If you look around at the landscape so helpfully approved for clubs by the SPFL management then it is hardly surprising that clubs are happy to reduce and stagnate. They are after all happy to get away with it. All happy to be sponsored or not by “dontrocktheboat.com”. In fact don’t rock the boat because when you stop getting away with it if you tow the party line like Hearts did you seem to get a lesser punishment. Rock the boat when you cease to get away you will be made to pay by those who continue to ride their luck.

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Getting Away With It? Part 1

27 Nov

In general you could say that everywhere you look in Scottish football you see people getting away with it.  The horrible scenes of fan violence in the centre of a European City with so called Scottish Fans fighting with Police is a return to a time we had all thought we had left in the distant past.  To compound this the club these animals claim to support is actually defending and excusing the horrors of Dam Square. This condoning instantly ties the Club in its entirety and its trading potential into a muddy world shown in films starring Danny Dyer.  Do you think Magners are happy to see Dutch Police aiming batons at their logo.  Drink Magners Cider and get into fights in the street is not the

“drink responsibly” image Magners want.  This is before you even get the often confused and what most see as corruptible proclamations that will emerge in time from Uefa in the coming weeks.  I do think Ally McCoist said the best words to describe the events in Amsterdam.  Without blame the Rangers Manager basically said you cannot expect to turn up in a foreign country and not see different nuances in Policing and crowd control.

In regards the match in the Amsterdam Arena well to sum it up Celtic were a disgrace to their traditions.  It seemed a squad of players turned up in Holland and expected to win.  It was like Ajax had no right to be on the pitch with them.  Everywhere you looked on the pitch a highly paid man was wearing green and white hoops not earning his inflated wages.  It was a reflection of the superiority complex that Celtic have shown for many years domestically.  It has always been bubbling under the surface but in recent seasons it has became the clubs dominant domestic image.  Even Lowly Morton exposed it in the league cup.  Celtic have many good players not world beating superstars but good players.  They have the biggest squad and this squad is the best in Scotland, in terms of depth, quality and numbers. The feeling from Celtic at the moment is that they should turn up win and leave.  Given the comments of Neil Lennon regards travelling to Dingwall I am beginning to think that elements of the Celtic Staff think that teams should simply post the three points for a league win to Janefield Street.  The perception that anyone be it opposing player, other club or worse any official of the SFA or SPFL who by simply doing their job causes Celtic not to have a league record of Played 38 Won 38 had the overriding public image of Celtic Football Club.  I say that until the you tube images of Celtic Fans rioting in Amsterdam.  For too long people have been getting away with casting shadows over the game with words like “Conspiracy” “Clarity” “baffling” when in reality they are accusing everyone and his dog as being discriminatory with no evidence to back up their claims.  Getting away with the idea that if you say something enough times it becomes true not is true just becomes true.

The follow up of Fans Groups and club to Blame the Police has taken on a familiar note I for one am beginning to expect a statement expressing Celtic football Clubs concern of The Netherlands not respecting the traditions of Celtic and the Dutch having a long history of oppressing Celtic and discriminating against Persons of Celtic mindedness.

For a club embroiled in a quest to win a one team league and after losing to AC Milan at home now only represented in Europe by persons currently on Dutch Bail it is quite a come down.  As UEFA now turn their eyes across the City of Glasgow with a view of sanitising the environs of Celtic Park, there has to be a element of growing concern within a smug Board Room.  I mean lets look at the banners being investigated by UEFA.  A questionable group of supporters smuggled in eight or nine large pieces of fabric with various designs and slogans written in a font that is fast becoming a font of shame for Celtic.  I can’t think what the stewards where doing while the items entered the stadium.  Unless there is printing facilities on the concourse at Celtic Park where massive flags are printed while you wait then surely someone has failed to protect the club.  It is not as if the same section of Celtic Park crowd has not attracted attention previously.  Lets look at the horizon for 2014 for the Hoops.

It appears that the worm is slowly turning,  the smug complacently that many not just Rangers fans has noticed emerging from Celtic is now coming to haunt Celtic.  The long running defence of Sectarian bigotry has to be running thin.  The uttering’s of club officials has long become laughable.  When UEFA, Co-Op Bank and others come calling will Celtic use their trump card and watch it fail like the team against AC Milan.  I believe that this often used defence is now so close to failing that within the Scottish Media there is a swell building behind the Dam waiting for the inevitable burst.  Such is the fear culture imposed on media by Celtic Connections that once the burst happens then the whirlpool that will engulf Celtic Football Club will leave many at the club not just by the way side but ejected from public life forever.  It is not without coincidence that many of the Clubs most recent defenders and apparent deputy Mudslingers are now dead.  As this house of cards built on lies and deflection begins to wobble its only natural that the fear factor ruling certain newsrooms in Scotland will cease and the oppressed begin to return fire.

The Public image and more importantly the business image of a club is in the dock

The Championship Is Where it Is At

1 Nov

Lets make some large and some not so large assumptions.  At the end of the first Scottish Professional football League Season the tables and playoffs etc will be as follows.  Premiership Champions Celtic,  another statistic that history will cast its own interpretation on.  For me as I have said in the past Celtic winning the top league from 2012 to 2017 is the equivalent of myself beating Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and David Blunkett at a game of I spy.  The minor placings and with it qualifying for qualifying for Europe is almost a irrevelence but lets give it to the New firm and have done with it.  Sorry to any other team hoping to get this honour but as I posted on 31 October (https://ronnydavies1972.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/celtic-and-other-participants/) being second is hardly a prize of distinction either.  In the lower half of the Premiership we have Heart of Midlothian (hampered some would say handicapped by a 15 point deduction a transfer embargo and whatever the Lithuanian is for mismanagement) are relegated and I think its not to much to assume that Kilmarnock will be in playoff place and given the Rugby park clubs boardroom issues and form they too fall into the Championship. 

From the Championship lets assume that Hamilton and Falkirk go up to the Premiership.  Cowdenbeath and Morton fall from the second to third tier.  From the third tier Rangers fly up and are joined by Dunfermline.  So lets look at what the Scottish Premiership and Scottish Championship could without much imagination contain. 

Scottish Premiership

  1. Celtic
  2. Aberdeen
  3. Dundee United
  4. Inverness Caledonian Thistle
  5. Ross County
  6. Hibernian
  7. Saint Johnstone
  8. Saint Mirren
  9. Partick Thistle
  10. Motherwell
  11. Hamilton Academicals
  12. Falkirk

Scottish Championship

  1. Raith Rovers
  2. Dundee
  3. Livingston
  4. Dumbarton
  5. Alloa Athletic
  6. Queen Of The South
  7. Hearts
  8. Kilmarnock
  9. Rangers
  10. Dunfermline

 

Is this the SPL 2 touted for the last years?  I suspect it is definitely not as weak as the top twelve had envisaged.  Certainly I am sure that a SPL 2, second tier league or Championship was by definition meant to take second place to the main event (Scottish Premiership).  Imagine the discussion in the Sky, BT sport, BBC Scotland or even BBC Alba office come a scenario of choosing what match to cover.  Motherwell versus St Johnstone in front of a Half full Fir Park lacking in atmosphere or ambition from the teams (Not one of them are realistically going to win the Premiership) or a full Tynecastle for Hearts versus Rangers in a six pointer for the Lead in the Championship.  Tynecastle’s tight stadia alive, bristling with atmosphere, the teams playing for something tangible.  I suspect that Jonathon Sutherland, David Tanner will be itching to attend Gorgie with a cameras.  Rather than go to rather dull meaningless to the masses fixture in Lanarkshire.  Please don’t think I am anti Lanarkshire and Perth pick any fixture that the Scottish Premiership throws up next season and you can argue to any neutral that any game fits into the criteria of low attendance devoid of atmosphere and meaningless to even the staunchest fans.  The Premiership is in real danger of being football by numbers.  Look at the last two years Celtic have been plaugued by the empty seat brigade only turning up for full houses at certain European games,  the new firm both charging for second place and Europe next year could not sell out twenty thousand seats recently.  A distance of 70 miles saw United sell around twelve hundred seats and Aberdeen have a impressive away support in terms of numbers and miles travelled to away games but failing to get past 75% of tickets sold at Home games illustrates a malaise that is infecting fans up and down the Premiership.  Aberdeen can argue successfully as being the second best supported team in the Premiership yet they fail to fill a stadium that thirty years ago you required vouchers to buy tickets for games.  All this and if anything the catchment area for Aberdeen Football Club has grown in geography and population. 

 

The permutations of the Leagues of 2014-15 are varied but without a doubt the league to watch by fans and media will be the Championship and not the Premiership.  Rangers fan still defiant in their support for the club joined by fans of Dunfermline and Hearts doing the same for the same reasons.  It has became normal for the biggest crowd in Scotland to be at Ibrox selling out to the legions,  it has been dismissed as a joke to some not attached to Govan.  I wonder how this Joke will be laughed at when Sold Out Ibrox is joined by Sold out Tynecastle and Sold out East End Park.  All in the second tier of a league structure without a sponsor. The knives may of been out within the Premiership punishing instead of supporting blaming instead of assessing their own failings as a private members club/governing body. The failings at Rangers, Hearts and Dunfermline owned by unsavoury persons who strangely passed fit and proper persons tests is all in the past. But in the future the same clubs who have suffered at the hands of hidden agendas will be in what to many paying customers and media partners alike be the best league in Scotland.