Archive | October, 2014

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30 Oct

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The four teams that remain in hat for The Scottish League Cup Semi finals have it has to be said a look of familar suspects about them.  Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee United and Rangers.  All uniquely motivated to reach the Final at Hampden on March 15th 2015.  All hoping for the impossible a favourable Draw.  In the world of the “Hot Ball” Consipracy theorists this draw will be big news.  Ties to be played on the 31st of January and 1st of Februry, so that is nearly three months to look forward to the semis.

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Holders Aberdeen must be thinking they can beat the other three.  A bit of history beating Celtic last year in Cup competitions. 

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Dons Boss Derek McInnes

They will fancy beating their erstwhile “New Firm” compagnions and will want to play Rangers just even to see if they can.

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Celtic will fear no one and look to give Ronny Delia his first trophy as boss and make up for the lack of cups in their recent history. 

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Celtic Boss Ronny Delia

Their fans will scream for a Old Firm match they have been missed by most.  Aberdeen in a semi would be a good game, the open space of Hampden suiting both teams ethos of attack.  Dundee United wary of a repeat of the drubing they recieved in the league would be a more defensive opposition.

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Dundee United will hope for a Rangers tie in semi they are no strangers to Rangers having beaten the Ibrox team in cups the last two seasons.  

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United Manager Jackie

A New Firm tie would probably be the most entertaining and a tie against Celtic would be a park the bus job.

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Rangers are not anywhere near the standard required to compete regularly at this level yet. For the Ibrox loyal a sense of invincibility is at least two years away. It is a complete turn around in fortunes and mentality.  Rangers are underdogs and as Rangers have in 143 years of history a panchant for being included in underdog shocks albeit as the big team losers so maybe its time for Ally McCoist’s men to be the victors in a Cup surprise. 

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Rangers Gaffer won the League Cup as a player

The League Cup has been good to Rangers in all its guises so who knows.

That is of course a purely football matter of opinion as we know the off field ramifications of these four clubs being in the same hat with a ONE HUNDRED PERCENT chance of a Semi Final Tie with extra spice and a FIFTY PERCENT CHANCE of a FINAL with the same pleases only the Sponsors and Media. 

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The Police are for want of a better phrase CANCELLING ALL LEAVE the Last Weekend of January 2015. In addition to a added provisional cancellation on Sunday March 15.

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The reasons are simple for all to see. With the recent history of these four clubs as far as Police Scotland are concerned Aberdeen or Celtic or Dundee United can’t be trusted to play Rangers. The oxymoron called Police Inteligence will already be monitoring the internet. That special squad of Football Police based in the dungeons of Glasgow’s Helen Street Office will be racking up overtime. Shame is that any man in the street could tell you this, Police Scotland will decend onto Hampden in numbers resembling the Normandy Landings display their usual Guantamino Bay style courteousy to any Fan in the area.

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Using the power of Police Inteligence miss or be late for any incident inside or outside the ground. Arrest some people for singing the wrong words to the wrong tunes. Monitor the assault charge statistics post match. Then a day or so later congratulate themselves on a bad job well done blame alcohol consumption and send a bill to SPFL.

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There is a bonus of the games being played at Hampden. It will be good to see the pitch back after the commonwealth games. This neutral venue on Glasgow will of course upset one Chairman. Mr Moan will no doubt emerge from under the speccy stone in the Tangerine side of Dundee and suggest that it’s no fair on his fans to have to travel. Old firm fans won’t care where the game is played. With the resounding success of last year’s displaced final at Celtic Park, prints still on sale in the club shop Aberdeen won’t mind one bit.

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43,000 Dons fans League Cup Final 2014

Who knows Steven “huffy” Thompson might give his customers a break and go into the club officials area at Hampden rather than inflict himself on his fans because he didn’t like the owners of the neutral venue that was hired out to a organisation he sat on ruling body that actually approved the fixture.

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Petty and Illinformed

The man who must be spending the family silver bestowed on him by his bigoted Former Motherwell FC Supporting Father Eddie on a pipe dream must now be the definition of Petty.

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Former Motherwell Fan and Dundee United Chief Cheerleader

Even the poisoned dwarf of Lorraine “I support my home town team, oh no I dont” Kelly has removed herself from Stephen Thompson.

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East Kilbride Born Kelly

What can we expect from Rangers fans? Thousands of them no boycotts this time out. We all know the level of displeasure that Bluenose will direct at any of the three others fans whatever the draw throws up. This will undoubtedly create a atmosphere that we haven’t seen since some if the 1970’s Scotand England Matches.

I been to Old Firm games where you lost your voice, games where you shook for hours as adrenaline coursed through your body. Boring games where both teams cancelled each other out. Games where the fans created something beyond football, and not always the twisted voices so loved by Politician and Police alike.

In fairness I have been to games between Aberdeen and Old Firm that have came closer to this intensity than has been reported.

Make no mistake who ever makes the draw on BBC Sportscene Results on Saturday makes history. Then we wait like the surfer in the Guiness Horses in the surf advert.

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This wait will focus the mind of the four clubs whom I predict will forge on til new year fuelled by the prospect of these semi finals. There will be a lot of football to be played and a Transfer window to boot.

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Investment Direct?

29 Oct

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Mike Ashley buys shares in Rangers and supplies a temporary loan.  He owns less than TEN PERCENT of shares but has control or ownership of certain assets.  Due to his loan he decides to appoint a few key memebers of staff and two board members.  There seems nothing that wild about the Owner of the very Sucessful Sports Direct doing this.  It seems to the casual observer that a Multi Millionaire investing and lending money to a business and ensuring he has representation to protect his shares, investments and loans.

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Mike Ashley

Mike Ashley happens to have a rather sucessful resume.  Owner of a very profitable Sports retailer and owner of a English Premiership club.  The man’s money and assets are not on doubt.  Mike is not morgaging his mansions to finiance his interest in Rangers.  His credentials are public and accepted in principal by all.  The real debate is not if Mike Ashley has a million pounds but how many millions he actually does have.

So it’s with interest that the Scottish Football Association are asking for clarification on Mike Ashley’s influence at Ibrox.  It is well within The powers that be at Hampden to ask these questions and they even have a right to waive their rules and not wait until a shareholding exceeds ten percent.  What I find strange is Mike Ashley has an unimpeachable record as a Businessman and Club Owner yet he is subject to demands for clarity.  What exactly are the SFA concerned about? Mike Ashley does not want any public smear on his character or good name. He is at best ensuring his retail business has a series of assets of a big club and access to the hundreds of thousands of fans. His business needs to convert this fan base of a Fottball Club into a Consumer base for his Retail Group. At worse he is investing money into a company that is hemorrhaging money at a very alarming rate.

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Craig Whyte

Was not that many years ago that a Conman talked his way into Scottish football and the institution that is Rangers with little more than a forked tongue and a barely hidden morgage of assets.  Yet I do not remember any SFA concern yet alone anything that led to an investigation. How many others slipped in under the guise of saviours allowed to work a “long con” as Regan, Doncaster and pals look the otherway.

From a casual observers point it could be seen as SFA interfering with a Positive investment after allowing a very negative one.

What concerns can they truly have Mike Ashley has clearly invested his money and loaned money to a club.  He has the funds to do so.  Yet SFA and SPFL seek to investigate this investment rather seek a League Title Sponsor to benefit the whole of Scottish football.  Seems Neil Doncaster has put his Crayons down just long enough to look at the prospect of Rangers being well financed and stable with envious green tinted spectacles.

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The influence that Mr Ashley can impose at Murray Park and Ibrox is considerably less than he has at Newcastle United but slightly more than he has a numerous clubs and national associations. By the power of his retail empire he can if he choses to play hard ball regards the sale of replica strips and the like. The sheer size of Sports Direct means effectively in the United Kingdom Mike Ashley can hurt sales of every Clubs merchandise. He can also negotiate down the cost of wholesale items. Sports direct and Mike Ashley can effectively control a percentage of every club and nations income stream. So the prospect of the Scottish Football Association finding Mr Ashley as having undue power and influence at Rangers is indeed a moot point.

As for the motivation and reasons for this investigation I know the SFA like to be seen to be doing something at any time. A self justification of their position and salary. It is a two pronged public relations own goal though.

For Rangers Fans there is a case for suggesting why are the SFA concerned about Mike Ashley when they were not concerned about Craig Whyte, a man who took control of Rangers with genuine concerns about his background at the time and now proven almost daily in courts around Scotland. For Rangers fans it has a element of victimisation as the Ibrox club works it’s way back to the top league.

For fans of other clubs and the national team the question has to be. “why? When the game in Scotland is screaming out for investment. Are you so publicly making investing in the Scottish game such a impossibility”. It is little wonder that there is no league title sponsor two years after the Clydesdale Bank sponsorship ended and Irn Bru were dumped via the rushed reconstruction. Eighteen months on the SPFL have achieved nothing but creating a new logo!

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Neil Doncaster                                                                    Stewart Regan

The Dynamic Duo of Regan and Doncaster (remember him) seem to of melted into the undergrowth. Maybe they were buried under the Commonwealth Games Running track who knows. What we do know though is that when the silence is only broken by the likes of this investigation then in the unlikely event any blue chip company wishes to invest in the Scottish game they will hold fire until The blockers and mis-management of Doncaster and Regan leave their posts.