Archive | November, 2014

Sergeant Geldof’s Unknown Acts Club Band

19 Nov

It was thirty years ago today.

There seems to be some debate on Band Aid in 2014 so ok I will jump in too. Firstly do not think I am anti charity or such like. I am not nor am I anti Band Aid. The following is ten reasons why I am not a Band Aid 30 fan;

1 Even I struggle to name some of the autotuned singers.

2 Change some of the lyrics all you like it’s effectively the same fucking song I bought in 84 with singers I knew, my parents knew and even my granny knew. Bob your the Sergeant of the Unknown Acts band.

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Original Band Aid line up 1984-85

3 Sorry it’s now offensive.  Ebola or not the vastly Muslim population in the parts of Africa suffering from this outbreak does not give much of a fuck if it’s Christmas let alone if they all know when it is?

4 Sometime after 1984 who died and made Bob fucking Geldof king. He and his band have three songs only one every one knows! He is rather fucking rich himself via media companies. 

HEY GELDOF GIVE SOME OF YOUR OWN FUCKING MONEY YOU TIGHT PRICK AND FILL OUT A GIFT AID THING AND CUT OUT PRODUCTION COSTS. In fact if he appeared on tv with a GIFT link thing the population of the world would think this such a novel idea they would give very generously.

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Jason Donovan, Luke and Matt Goss (Bros), Kylie Minogue BAND AID 2

5 If your looking to become Mother Teresa then GET SOME NEW FUCKING MATERIAL. You released the song in 84 then re-released it in 85. You gave Pete Waterman, Kylie and Bros a go in 88. Then went to network 7 for a big breakfast then you had another go with new artists in 2004. With Robbie Williams and even got a new rap section from Dizee Rascal and a epic guitar solo from that guy Justin we liked from The Darkness. So in 2014 we have had the cover of a cover of a re-released song we all already own, know. The only person who could carry this kind of repeat performance is Frank Sinatra. Bob, Band Aid ain’t no Blue Eyes. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure have effectively been hitting the public with the same six foot stick for the last thirty years albeit after a while they painted the stick. Whatever the pretty colour the same stick is still being used to skelp us with.

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Band Aid 20 this time with a Rap and Rock Guitar Solo

6 Africa! It’s a money pit. People struggle around the world. It’s a bit geo specific and some could argue elitist to only concentrate on one continent. Spread the love Bob.

7 What made you pick out Adele for special attention because of why? She didn’t answer you call, Bob. She has a small child whom she has pretty much publicly said she is concentrating on exclusively. Bob I don’t know how you use call screening but I would bet most of the people you call screen the call see it’s you and don’t fucking answer! I notice you didn’t pick in Kate Bush who for similar reasons to Adele screened you at least four times now! You didn’t call out any one else who did not make your remake.

8 What makes you think your charity is better. You kicking the teeth of Gareth Malone and his Choir in aid of Children In Need. We like Children in Need it uses a different song every year it puts in the effort.

9 Joss Stone featuring Jeff Beck for Brittish Legion. Then Gareth Malone for Children in Need now your feeble rehash for Ebola. We are charitied up. Fed up with it it’s not novel. Remember that idea your stole from George Harrison about Bangladesh well we the buying public are well used to attempts to guilt us out of cash with not very good records.

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Band Aid 30

10 Don’t and I mean this don’t have a fucking bastarding concert in aid of … We can do without 18 mins each of various auto tuned acts hoping to right off any expenses with the tax man and at same time promote their latest song while boosting their back catalogue!

So there you have it ten reasons why I don’t like Band Aid 30.

Oh and have a quick look at all the versions in one lazy mash up

What Does The Fiscal know …

18 Nov

As it stands we all need to be careful.  Screw with “Innocent until Proven Guilty” at your own personal peril.  As it stands four lawyer accountant types are on Bail and a former company Director whereabouts unknown has a arrest warrant out against him.  The Criminal Justice system will deal with these individuals without favour or bias.  Guilt will either be proved beyond a reasonable doubt or the charges will be admolished.  That’s how the Criminal system works, try to prejudge courts or generally interfere with it and YOU end up in the cells.

So it’s with caution I write and would urge you to be careful.  I am not going to argue and say your right or wrong, I am going to say be careful don’t mess with Criminal Legal Processes. 

The Police have investigated conjugated and digested, dug deep into the dealings between Sir David Murray Craig Whyte. They passed information into the Proculator Fiscal who has decided that enough seems wrong to be tested in a court of law. Where beyond a reasonable doubt is the point of guilt.

I wonder if anyone over Hampden way is thinking what did they miss because in open court with the public benches filled with Press the whole sordid affair and timeline will be played out for all to see. The fit and proper person test only has a balance of probabilities proof point. In a way it does not matter what the verdict of Glasgow and Strathkelvin Sheriff Court is, there will be fingers pointing and questions asked of the SFA. Did the SFA/SPL simply trust what they were told by Whyte and Sir David Murray?

SDM facing the deadly duo of both Banks and HMRC chasing him for money. His whole live’s work under threat his company Murray International Holdings. There had to come a point when something had to go and to get Lloyds Banking Group out of your hair on the Vanity Executive Box Folly down the M8 was easy shifted. After years of promising the public he would take care whom he passed Rangers onto well when the heat is wrongly on you it’s easy to see why standards slipped. Sir David may even of been pressured by the bank to take the £1 so they could get their millions. This reduction of his MIH group debt may of been a condition to maintain the rest of his business. Whatever the reason it happened.

The problem for me has always been why the Association who had promised checks and balances of Club ownership after Gretna, failed to be one suspicious. Remember if there is enough for the Proculator Fiscal to press charges then there is surely enough evidence for the balance of probabilities over Hampden way. There has to of been enough free evidence to trigger an investigstion. The claw back of £24 million from comapnies involved in Craig Whyte’s regime begins a careful process of realisation even for the likes of Stewart Regan. At what point did Regan and Doncaster begin to realise that they had been negligent in discharging their stated duty? Surely even today there is enough to revisit as to ensure the security of Scottish Football Clubs.

So whatever and whomever is found Guilty or otherwise in the Palace of Justice that is Glasgow And Strathkelvin Sheriff Court on Clyde Place surely it only increases the pressure on the office bearers within Hampden.

Right now there is half a chance that the whole Rangers affair was a massive con. Proved in an open Scottish Court the whole thing was a fraud. The bare minimum seems to be that the whole transaction was more than dubious. A reasonably solvent business was destroyed by a few (possible con) men and one of the authorities whom had proclaimed it to be their mission to avoid any dubious owners of member clubs, allowed the con to happen.

Entrusting the current Guardians of the game to ensure fair play and ownership of clubs means I expect the Proceeds of Crime Department to be taking ownership of Clubs before anyone over at Hampden digs out the “Fit and Proper Persons Criteria” file. Even with the reduced proof requirement of only balance of probabilities someone looked the other way at worse and was completely incompetent at best.

Even before the Criminal Investigation into the Sale of Rangers to Craig Whyte questions and concerns were being raised regards what exactly constituted “Unfit” in the judgement of SFA/SPL with charges being brought and Criminal proceedings begginging these questions and concerns have blown up in the face of the Association and others.

So the question that should be asked by the Scottish Footballs Powers that be surely is “What does the fiscal know?”

The question asked by the thousands of Rangers fans and to be fair increasingly worried fans of other clubs in Scotland (worried that if a massive aledged con can happen at Rangers then it could happen anywhere) are asking is. What happens now? Already using the SFA SPL own standards the balance of probabilities is that SFA/SPL/SFL compounded and condoned the dodgey dealings of a discredited Director then punished the victim.

House Call

18 Nov

Police Scotland would call it Proactive Policing.  I call it making a big deal out of nothing.

When it comes to football someone within the bowels of Police Scotland has hit on a winning formula. 

First thing to do is stoke up a bit of panic.  The beautifully contridiction of terms “Police Inteligence” suggests “trouble ahead!” Pre-empting, predicticting and  panicking the PUBLIC. 

Second, reassure and refrain.  Make sure that the public can be calm safe in the knowledge that the thin blue line is Enforcing the law and keeping the bad bogie men away from anywhere they could cause any problems.

Third is a double route. If as usually happens no trouble occurs and you get a barage of complaints about heavy handed policing. Well you refer the public to step one. The unprovable, unpublished evidence of intelligence reports. Then congratulate yourselves for using the new powers and laws you confused Politicians into providing you with.

If there is any trouble then blame anything that does not wear blue, alcohol, football or absolutely everyone (apart from The police intelligence guys who spectacularly missed the point or the Police Management on the day). And demand more powers and funding from politicians.

I say this because with the prospect of the first Old Firm game 5 weekends into 2015 and the Auld Enemy freindly, the oxymorons at Police Scotland Football Inteligence Unit have been working overtime. Not since South Yorkshire Police Force following Hillsbourgh has a Police force been more imaginative and creative in it’s smoke and mirrors show. Sir Stephen House’s Police Scotland has became a poor version of the Met Office. Predicting Storms on nothing more than evidence of the cows sitting down in the fields that morning. The idiocy of suggesting that the league cup semi final gets played on a week night to avoid trouble sums up the imagination of Police Scotland. You could play a old firm game of tiddlywinks on a Rockall and fifteen thousand fans would buy tickets. If Police Scotland think that it’s kick off time that effects football crowds then it’s once again missed the point. Remember as recently as the Scotland Republic Of Ireland game on a Friday night there was issues. Police Scotland excuses “people turned up late”. As long as there has been any mass supported event people have turned up as close to kick off/curtain up. This is not the fabled police intelligence we are lead to trust more a example of Police forgetfulness.

Sir Stephen House has used football to push through laws often so badly written that they are not much better than useless. Strangely though these laws are not solely used to police soccer. A suripticious side effect is the vague laws pushed through to solve the latest Police Problem at Football are used against Joe Q Public walking down the street at 3am on a tuesday morning in July. When football is not even included in the events.

Is it too tiresome to expect Police Scotland to simply quietly do their job without heralding or over egging events in advance, becoming Krystalnicht Storm Troupers at the event and not publicaly congratulating themselves on a job well done (the applauding the Airline Pilot for landing syndrome) or moaning, blaming (before any court judgement), demanding more funding and powers.

And of course forgetting that they are there and paid to do a job. No one forces them and we the public thank them for being there but stop the cycle of spinning. The armed forces don’t make a big deal out of their work.

In years passed too many of today’s Senior Policemen watched Cagney and Lacey. Growing up watching The Bill they thought Police work was Glamourous dramatic and most crimes were solved within a Hour apart from the really tricky ones that justified a two part special! The second you attempt to justify armed officers wondering round a sleepy town like Inverness in the face of public opinion then you really have to find a mirror.

You know Statistically you are more likely NOT to be a victim of a crime than you are to actually be one. That’s a scarey fact isn’t it and you know that statistic has remained reletively constant from the days before Sir Robert Peel!

Sir Stephen and his cronies should simply shut up remember they are not Law Lords sitting in Court making Judgements passing Sentences. While they are at it maybe remembering that they are not Rosemary and Thyme, Inspector Morse or Jack Bauer, It’s time Police Scotland did what they are employed and paid at great cost to do. Police and uphold the law.

Debt Free – Is The Badge Enough?

17 Nov

On paper what Stewart Milne has achieved as Chairman of Aberdeen Football Club is miraculous. 
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He took over a club languishing with a debt of both ambition and finance trying to compete with the Big Lads down the road.  Chris Donald the legendary Richard’s son simply had ran out of ideas on how to maintain the club let alone make it a success. He joined the board in1994 becoming Chairman in 1998.
I mention Dick (Richard) Donald as he along with the long forgotten Chris Anderson were instrumental with a certain Sir Alex Ferguson in heralding the most successful period in the Dandy Dons history. The haul of cups in a twenty four thousand all seated stadia was achieved by hard graft and more importantly no debt. That’s right no debt in a All Seated, mostly covered (all but for two corners) bringing in League titles, Scottish Cups and of course a European Cup Winners Cup in 1983. Beating the Galaticos of Real Madrid in Gothenburg with no debt. I would doubt that Dick and Chris even had a overdraft facility at the bank. If it was not for a similar although not quite as successful Dundee United then it would be easy to say this Aberdeen team and club were the last of the old school scottish clubs bringing sucess on a shoestring with nothing more than Savvy, sweat and skill.

The wild days of the late seventies to mid eighties. Before the football revolution of Satelite Television money. When the top league in Europe was Serie A. Heady days indeed.

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Alex Ferguson and Dick Donald in front of benches of the beach end. This would be demolished and replaced by a all seated stand named after the former chairman. http://www.afcheritage.org

Back then life in Aberdeen was simple, play league games, win more than you lose and you know a maximum capacity of twenty four thousand seemed not enough to satisfy the Crowds that regularly filled Union Street as a open top bus paraded a trophy. The supply and demand for tickets to the next big match on the conveyer belt at Pittodrie was such that a loyalty scheme for tickets had to be employed. Go to two out of three selected games get a token at each game. Two out of three tokens enables you to buy a ticket to the big game. Genius from the Donald/Anderson board marginalise the glory hunter and simultaneously increase the home gate to otherwise less desirable games. Did I mention genius because that was exactly what that scheme was. Not only did it reward loyalty it increased revenue. It singularly meant that few fans could complain that they did not deserve a ticket to the glamour games.

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Union Street Open top bus trophy parade (www.bbc.co.uk)

This from a tight well run ship by the sands. No debt and securely ran to budget, with a customer base that was generally happy. All this safe in knowledge that demand for tickets outstripped supply yet ticketless fans did not turn on the club.

The club’s assets in 1984. A team with a minimum of Four Scottish internationals, sometimes suplimented by two or three peripheral in scottish squad. A good splattering of Under 21s in and around the first team and playing staff. Scotland’s first All Seated all covered twenty four thousand capacity stadium situated on prime coastal land including a reasonable sized carpark across Pittrodrie Street and of course no debt. It would not be unusual knowing the way this club was ran then if a profit was not made in more than a few years. A profit to reinvest or save for rainy days and contingencies. A perfectly solid proposition and business model of a Brasso scented football club on it’s way to lifting the League title.

Ten years later the club was in turmoil. Dick Donald had passed as had Chris Anderson and the club was facing a spiraling debt and lack of investment. As other clubs had invested and became winners Aberdeen had not quite invested wisely became nearly men.

The invention of Sky TV and increased monies had exposed Aberdeen’s board as lacking the ready cash to spend. The Taylor report had inforced massive improvements in the stadia and the addition of the Richard Donald Stand had stretched the finiances of the club past breaking even with profits in good years to a club living at the wrong end of it’s newly found overdraft. This added to a fan base that was struggling to come to terms with the lack of success in comparitive terms. There was a sizable chunk of this fan base who expected to win the league every August even though it had been NINE years since the League trophy had left Aberdeen for what could soon be described as it’s perminant home in Glasgow.

A unwilling partner was introduced Stewart Milne. He was almost press ganged onto the board of the Club he had no real links to the club previously had also shown no interest in ever being Mr Aberdeen FC. Almost as if he did not want the poisoned chalis that enhabits the Beach End. A BIG enough section of Dandy Dons where less than welcoming about the Builder from Alford’ inclusion on the board. After four years on the board there was still a chunk of unhappiness when he became chair. The main concern seemed to be ownership of Pittodrie. It is prime land well within reach of the City Centre. The real prospect of Stewart Milne Homes where Fergie won HOME Games worried a lot of Reds. It was not uncommon for Mr Milne to be haranged and harrassed in the street by disgruntled Dons.

Fast forward twenty years. Aberdeen after clever financing by Aberdeen Asset Management, Stewart Milne and cash injection by William and Elaine Donald (WM Donald Builders) Aberdeen sit debt free. The league cup sits proudly in the trophy room a average of sixteen thousand fans fill seventy five percent of Pittodrie. A buzz not seen in thirty years has returned to the reds and sitting atop is Stewart Milne the unwilling and some would say unwanted saviour of Aberdeen football club.

No one could deny him a smug look on his face. He has achieved the very targets he set out twenty years ago. He has stabalised the business brought on field success and the feel good factor back. He has also beautifully extricated himself from the major shareholder position that seemed to sit so uncomfortably within his port folio. Oh and as predicted he owns Pittodrie and associated land which he intends to build flats on.

The plan to move into a lend lease type agreement with Aberdeen City Council and build a stadia to replace Pittodrie. This is the same council who refused planning permission as recently as 2 years ago to the building of a stadia on the southern edge of Aberdeen. So at best you could describe Aberdeen City Council as a unreliable Partner. A worry is regardless of the independant wealth of the shareholders, whenever the shareholding of any business is spread across partners any future investment will usually involves transfer of or dilution of shares and involve agreement across a three sided share holding. Throw in a unstable Political Council (as every Council is by design and nature) and you have a overly complex stakeholder situation.

Effectuvely it has took twenty years for Stewart Milne to get a parcel of land and to pass the problem on.

The problem is this when your business has no collateral(just image rights) you are immediately exposed to liabilties and risk. No one foresaw the Taylor Report because few had predicted the horrible events in the mid eighties at Valley Parade and Hillsbourgh. Even though Pittodrie was “ALL SEATED” millions of pounds HAD to be spent on the stadia to replace benches with seats to bring the stadia up to code. How this was finianced along with the Richard Donald Stand that replaced the Beach End was loans secured on the land at the golf course end of Pittodrie Street.

So everyone is happy Fans have the shiney silverwear and dvds. The business is set fair for a good future. Stewart Milne has his land. Aberdeen Asset Management have shares and the Donalds achieve an ambition of owning their home town club. The Council have a new partner and stake in a stadia. For a one club city it’s a community partnership of cosiness. Lovely everyone is happy. No clouds on this horizon.

Using a public/private model not dissimilar to what is happening at Falkirk and Livingston. The perfect justification for a frachiase style municipal pride with a dirty great big bit of civic infrastructure.

This raises some questions though and they involve being naturally pessimistic. The Community Club model works obviously in the Forth and Almond Valleys but is that really the ambition of one of the top five clubs in Scotland. All due respect to Falkirk and Livingston clubs without the recent history of titles or even 30% of the fans of Aberdeen. Is that really the default ambitions of Aberdeen FC? Surely the Dons are a division above Falkirk etc. Because once you strip the decoration away your left with the exact model of Falkirk. Also if you are relying on any additional investment or safety net funding to be sourced from only two sources (existing board members or finding external investment diluting shares) with little more than a emblem as security then you really are backing yourself into a corner. The unpredictable nature of football club finiance leaves a exposure to unexpected bills and the ilk. Will it be enough for the Dons fans to be “THE BIGGEST COMMUNITY CLUB IN SCOTLAND“? Especially when as most expect the three amigos currently in the Championship make their return to the Premiership and begin to frighten silverwear again.

If you are reliant on fickle fans for income, the variables of prize money, media deals and sponsorship for the maintenance and improvement of your playing staff at the same tims as running a no debt shop you are totally at the mercy of injuries, suspensions, dodgey referee decisions, famine and pestilence. Simply because to RELY on continued success in any sport is inherently dangerous. To trust winning on the field breads sucess off it fails to see the other side of that coin. Losing on the field leads to failure off it.

Of course you set up a selling club ideal like Hamilton Accies once again a punt of many variables. The fact is a not unpredictable bad year for injuries etc in hand with lack of youth players that year is leads to a reduction of income. Any reduced income to balance the books means no investment in youth system or and selling a player or two with no replacement. This annoys fans who vote with their feet and don’t buy tickets. The perfect spiral.

Then you have a reliance on a ever changing Council who at any time can decide or be forced by others to pull out of any comercial deal they have with any partner. A Election and in order to save a school a stadia gets sold. Don’t even think you have to have a lobbiest in the Town House because a vote in Holyrood or Westminster or Strasburg and the House of Cards of a Stadia built on a foundation of sand is washed away.

Dundee United are on their way to debt free as are Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian but these clubs have the safety net the gaurenteed security of owning land the catch all of last resort. A quick look at the old firm where fans have actively protested to ensure that parcels of land (including the stadia) remains within the portfolio of the club. The security of the land is one thing the value of the history and sentiment is another. There is a massive difference in the levels of security between being a Owner/occupier and a tennant! The importance of this was shown at Chester, Wrexham and Portsmouth. More recently Coventry City have had protracted issues simply being able to afford to rent what was designed to be their home.

God forbid similar situation in Scotland. A under funded under pressure local council having to choose between leasing land and facilities to a Football club or selling land (with no real sentimental or historical value) to fund old aged pensioners care.

So Aberdeen Debt free for first time in years? Yes but at a cost of almost every asset.

A partial cause to celebrate? Cautiously, no one has a crystal ball but fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Because the basic look of this brave new dawn is the Dons
OWE NOTHING
but
OWN NOTHING
more than a badge.

As for the new major shareholders, what exactly have they bought? A business that is little more than a badge? A company with assets? A trading name or a vanity project?

Retaining image rights and a transiant variable playing staff could well be enough in the future but you wouldn’t bank on it.

ALL IMAGES SUBJECT TO OWN COPYRIGHT AS LABELLED