Tag Archives: Aberdeen FC

Community Camouflage

16 Oct

I have a few strings to my bow.  I am a jack of all trades and master of none. I am proficient at most I would say modestly.

As you know I am a keen observer of life and events and recently I have became very concerned with the Public Persona of a Football Club.

It’s hard to describe as anything more than arrogance personally I put it in the venn diagram of where stupid meets arrogance meets conceit. 

Firstly cast your mind back to Aberdeen Versus Celtic at Pittodrie.  Aberdeen won two one the referee was Craig Thompson and he made a couple of possible errors.  In fairness Craig got 98% of the game correct and 2% open to debate.  Post match the gathering of press in the media room deep within the bowels of corner of the main stand and Richard Donald Stand waited for the usual one player and the Manager from both sides to provide reaction and the run of the mill cliches we all devour from football officials. 

The room bustled with Print and broadcast Press chattering and confirming facts.  For anyone who has been in this area it was the usual atmosphere.  There was a buzz of Aberdeen stretching a lead and setting a record as well as a few incidents discussed.  A door on the far side opened and the atmosphere changed in walked a player.  Seething full of anger and retribution the atmosphere changed very quickly.  In walked a moody, unrepentant Lee Griffiths he sat on his seat and began with little prompting to buy himself a SFA punishment. Fresh from being in Court over singing Offensive songs specifically about a fellow Professional Griffiths let rip.
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No mention of the Celtic strikers glaring failure to score a equaliser into a empty net in the final moments. No conceding that ten man Aberdeen actually showed more desire to defend and counter than the Hoops. Simply put it was a assassination of SFA Referee Craig Thompson’s professional standards. Now to be honest Thompson is not the beat whistler ever but he is even handed on his dealing with all teams. He is equally bad to all.
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On this occasion he (Craig Thompson) did not deserve the public roasting the Scotland striker gave him. And a glance at the Celtic PR led me to believe that Griffiths was speaking with full club approval. No shaking head no “Shhh”, No intervention, no shame! And I say shame because out of the fourteen players Ronny Delia used that day any of the other thirteen would of came in said nothing much and got out without any fuss. Celtic Public Relations put the worse possible Player into the couldron that day. Griffiths would of been better taking his seat on the Parks Of Hamilton Bus and quietly getting out of town. Surely the Celtic PR’s first job is to protect the image of both players and club even if it’s from self inflicted wounds. At best surely the job of Public Relations at Celtic Park is to prevent where possible any of the club’s players being punished (possibly suspended) for talking out of turn at Press Conferences. Strikes me that is priority number one of the PR Department at a football club. I know that at Aberdeen the players are well drilled by a excellent Media Department in the way to conduct a interview. I know that at other clubs this is a major part of the education of players and key in their development.

A couple of days later a Letter appears on the Daily Mirror concerning a Corrwspondamce sent out to a Celtic fans personal hygiene. Once again I will admit I seen a photo of this letter weeks before and assumed it was a PhotoShop joke. Now this photo emerges onto a deal at the daily mirror and a journalist decides to phone into the PR Dept at Celtic to ask if the latter is genuine. To be fair Celtic PR were totally honest and confirmed the letter was genuine.
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How no one on this department thought for a second hang on Headlines of Smelly Celtic Fans is not going to be a positive on the club’s image I do not know. They are a million ways to deflect the letter from simply refusing to comment on what is a private and confidential correspondance between Club and a Patron(s). This was not a sign screwed onto a wall within the confines of Celtic Park after all. If like doctors the hypocratic oath affects Public Relations Officers then first do no harm suddenly seems to be erased from Public Relations at Celtic Park.

You have to wonder who is protecting the image of the Club Gerald Ratner!
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The increasingly standard defence from Kerrydale Street is that is a conspiracy against the Club. Where from within!

Recently I had to engage in a email marathon with lots of football clubs. As I said I have many strings to my bow so sometimes there is a cross over. I was representing a Community Media outlet who were trying to gain some small non rights holder access to press areas at games etc. Of the many emails I sent put only one Club sent back a condescending denial.
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Yes the Club that was built on Community Values now does not allow Community programs a seat at it’s Table. I thought how Brother Walfrid must be spinning in his grave. How far removed has the great Club of Celtic became from it’s founding values. How arrogant how conceited and how divorced from the values of it’s fans.
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To put this into context the only club out of the top 20 in Scotland to flat refuse any interaction was Celtic even the much derided SPFL welcomed the request. Glasgow City Woman’s team, Braehead Clan, to name a few all agreed to simple no real time spent requests. Even the other half of the Old Firm Rangers a club apparently short staffed and in turmoil welcomed the interest and gave a positive response.

If there is a conspiracy to devalue Celtic then it’s became obvious in last few months that it’s coming from withing the ivory towers of Celtic Park.

Something Stinks at Celtic Park and it is not just elements of the customer base.

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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP PREDICTIONS

10 Aug

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Ladbrokes SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP PREDICTIONS

1
CELTIC

2
ABERDEEN

3
DUNDEE

4
ST JOHNSTONE

5
HEARTS

6
MOTHERWELL

7
INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE

8
ROSS COUNTY

9
PARTICK THISTLE

10
KILMARNOCK

11
HAMILTON ACADEMICALS

12
DUNDEE UNITED

Once again The Scottish Premiership is upon us and only a fool would tip anyone but Celtic to win it.  Ronny Delia can hardly be flushed with a League, League Cup double and an insipid European adventure that had everything in its story including Lawyers.  Delia has a very tricky job he is not only expected to win the league before the spilt but he has to do this in a style that pleases a massive fan base.  It is very difficult to predict what kind of season Celtic will have but you can say they win this league.  Virgil Van Dyke is a talisman but a failure in Europe will mean that he simply makes the club a nice profit following transfer window.
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Aberdeen in Second a lack of silverware last term did not lose Derek McInnes the fickle Dons Fans support.  Intelligent clever signings like Graeme Shinnie in addition to January signing Kenny McLean adds freshness to the squad as well as increasing the skill level.  A very pacey talented squad with a Manager proving to be in the frame for any bigger job. The big question is have Aberdeen got the bottle to stay in the hunt and run Celtic close.  Drawing at Pittodrie against Partick and dropping points after good results was their downfall last term.  If this club needed a theme tune, it has to be Journeys “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Third Place for me is a surprise and controversially I am pluming for Dundee.  Paul Hartley has managed to turn Club 12 round, the attacking style with solid defence for me is a potent mix, and if you are going to offend a city, you may as well offend half the City.  A visit to Dens dripping in History is a tricky experience and gives the Dark Blues fans something to come out for and Dens is a tricky place that will steal points from any team at any time.

Perth with a couple of years of fleeting European experience comes up with a pleasing fourth for Tommy Wright’s Saints.  The phrase workmanlike is easy on the mind with St Johnstone Scottish Cup Winners in 2014 they seemed to miss Stevie May last year but just when they needed to get it together after Christmas that’s exactly what they did.  Any team that includes veteran James Mc Fadden passing down knowledge to younger players has to be included in your thoughts for good cup runs and occasional shock results.  As soon as they become consistent then they could even challenge higher but a sturdy fourth place.

Robbie Nelson might talk the talk but his Hearts will be broken in a very creditable fifth place.  Edinburgh’s only representative in the top League will be looking to bring some Capital Gains to Old Reekie.  The rampaging style of last season will be thwarted by more drilled skilled teams shutting down the free scoring Jambos.  Losing Danny Wilson and Jason Holt will hurt. Maroon fans have to hope that the latest crop of youth and experience shall keep them in this league and maybe even challenging for cups and looking to stabilise.  The key to smiles in Gorgie this season is post Christmas.  Keeping in the mix will be important to a team that already looks like its running on adrenaline.
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Escaping Relegation last season Ian Barrowclough will look to push on from the lucky escape last year.  From Ugly scenes to a beautiful sixth should please Motherwell.  With a crop of great young players and experience of Stephen Pearson, David Clarkson all bodes well for The Well.  I get a feeling that sixth is as good as it will get for Motherwell with a touch of claret and amber luck they may just trouble the cup semis but a consolidation season safe mid table.

John Hughes has his doubters and fans never not with something to say and always good value and his personality has infused every team he has been connected with.  The Scottish Cup Holders will miss Shinnie as he moved down the A96.  The fear of complacency runs through the Highland capital.  Caledonian Thistle shall do well at Home as the wind blows in off the Morey Firth and will give a good game away too.  Nevertheless, for me they will struggle to hit the highs of last season but again a solid mid table not really challenging but not in any danger of falling out the League or even flirting with the playoff place.

Ross County in eighth is a bit of a punt with several players joining Jim McIntyre’s squad.  Richard Foster tormented at Rangers last year must be trying to regain professional pride for one.  The problem is that as hard as you look at the Dingwall squad you cannot find any real class so you have to look for a well-drilled well-organised team.  Sadly, for the Victoria Park side that given the last couple of Years Foster does not bring that to the table.  A troubled season for Ross County the only saving grace is that there is worse in this league to stop their slide down into the danger zone.

Partick will need more than a scary mascot to survive and in Matthias Pogba they might just have enough to secure survival. He may not be as good as his brother but he is good enough to please the well-worn Maryhill Faithful.  As you would expect Firhill will supply thrills, spills and some skills hand in hand with Lisa Simpson on acid and surprises too.  Staying up with the big boys is all this club wants they will sacrifice cups to simply stay in this league and they will.

Kris Boyd, Lee McCullough join Gary Locke in a Kilmarnock team that looks on paper tired and plays worse shipping goals and looking disjoined its going to be a long season on plastic at Rugby Park.  With Questions still being unanswered in the boardroom and seats going unsold in the stands this is a club in free fall.  Like Partick above them, the numbers game means that teams worse than them will save them. Ayrshire fans must hope that. Something like a foundation lying season is in front of them and all eyes shall be on season 2016-17.  There is enough talent at this club but a lack of gelling and cohesiveness will be the failure.

Hamilton will want to forget 2015 already and I feel this year will not appear in any big selling DVDs at the club shop Martin canning has simply not been able to keep up the standards of Norwich’s Alex Neil.  There may well be a new sensational young player bursting from the most productive youth system in Scotland but August to January saved this club last season and without a great start like that again then this club will simply slip quietly into eleventh and the play off position.  With my other prediction for the Ladbrokes Scottish Championship a rematch against Hibs seems likely and that tie if it occurs already has the mouth watering.  A lowly position but without any light it seems a dark season is in the offing for Accies.
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Twelfth place in my predictions goes to Dundee United.  I simply do not care how financially greedy the club was.  I also do not care how much commission Jackie McNamara got if you lose Makay-Stevens, Armstrong and Cifti then it is no wonder you lose games.  I am not saying these players are bigger than the club is but as a collection of loses it means you lose and lose badly.  United look disjointed without a direction and a shambles of the side that started last season.  I predict also that the Manager must be favourite to be sacked this season.

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

Cancel All Leave.

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.

When The Mole Hill Becomes The Mointain

28 Sep

I have watched from the sidelines over the last couple of years,  seen some good football too but consistently I have had a wee nag in the back of my head. 

You know the one the “what if woman” sorry girls that’s what I call her.  Mainly because my nagging voice is actually my maternal Gran.  Now lovely lady that she was (she died in 1999) she could nag me into anything.  In addition she would expect me to do what she said.  So this voice nags away at me and I know it’s nog my Gran but it’s her voice so “what if woman” is the voice.

Now why go over the events that have swamped Rangers.  Old news and every man and his dog has a view.  It is recent comments coming from Clubs, Scottish Premiership Clubs at that and especially John Hughes that have spiked me into writing.

John Hughes following defeat at Pittodrie does not blame his players for not performing this would be honest perhaps.  In fact the Inverness Manager blames budgets.  Strange call especially given that I had seen an Inept Rangers beat a woeful I.C.T. in the league cup not two weeks ago.  To recap a ineffectual Rangers dominated possession with a series of misplaced passes and lacking clinical killer instinct in final third BEAT Yogi’s hopeless Caley.  I cannot tell you how bad Rangers were that night it was almost impossible to think of ways to play worse but John Hughes’ team achieved the impossible and found a way. 

The Inverness Coach did not blame funds that night.  This must mean he considers Rangers a smaller club with less money.  It could be of course if he had used that line he would of been laughed out of the press room.  To say there is more money in Govan than anywhere right now is not just funny it’s “Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special” comedy gold!

Derek McInnes quite rightly smacked down Hughes errant comments.  Although making reference to comparative budgets of present day Aberdeen and Hibernian from 5 years ago is a cul de sac of confusion because the landscape has changed dramatically. 

Celtic’s Cheif Executive Peter Lawell recently said to his shareholders that a conservative estimate of TEN MILLION POUNDS has evaporated from Celtic’s annual revenue because of the much disputed insertion of Rangers into league 3 a few years ago.  That would equate to two players from Celtic’s proven scouting network plus wages with a view to sell on and make profit etc.  This is currently Celtics business model and it’s appears to work. 

Days after Stuart Gilmour Chairman of up for sale Saint Mirren said his clubs figure was THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS a year.  This clearly states the gulf in finiancial clout of clubs basically saying Celtic are THIRTY times bigger than their neighbours alone the M8.  I would imagine that Inverness possibly are missing slightly more than St Mirren abd considerably less than Celtic. 

It would be interesting to see what the other clubs that voted to expell Rangers have lost annually.  This kind finiancial honesty is beyond the ken of most of the others.  No doubt the Edinburgh two could still provide decent figures inspite of being relegated.  I would love to hear anyone at Aberdeen responding to the question “If Celtic lost £10 million and St Mirren £300000 then how much do you estimate you have lost?”. If you consider that the current Laegue Cup holders could spin this loss into a public relationions triumph then why are they not confessing.  Same goes for Scottish Premiership Leaders Dundee United, Scottish Cup Holders St Johnstone, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Kilmarnock.  I fear we will never get an answer because as these clubs hide behind company confidentiality they will all know that to release this information allows then to be placed in the big club league.  The same as very quickly given the statements from Parkhead and Paisley we all did a quick sum and said St Mirren times Thirty equals Celtic we could all do similar with the other clubs. 

So with a sense of challenge to some clubs and a congratulatory thanks for being honest I publish my league table with how much their income has reduced since they voted Rangers out of their league. 

1 CELTIC.                 £10,000,000*
2 HEARTS.               £  1,600,000
2 HIBERNIAN.          £  1,600,000
2 ABERDEEN.           £  1,600,000
5 DUNDEE UTD.       £  1,200,000
6 KILMARNOCK.      £     800,000
7 ST JOHNSTONE.  £     700,000
8 I.C.T.                      £     400,000
9 ST MIRREN.          £     300,000*

I applaud Celtic and St Mirren for their honesty but as you can see the gulf seems to paint it’s own picture.  It would be excellent if someone at Pittodrie yesterday said “well we have had to take a £1.6 million a year loss in revenue on the chin and still win cups. What has I.C.T. lost 25% of that? And won nothing!”

Don’t get any perverted sense of pleasure if your a Rangers fan because a estimate of close to Celtic is the missing revenue from Rangers annual books.  In addition to the millions of pounds of saleable assets that wondered to Southhampton, Norwich etc when the finiancial event kicked in at Ibrox.  With additional rebuilding costs Rangers have lost HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of Pounds. 

The Silent chairmen know that to admit loss of revenue is to admit they made errors.  Roy McGregor, Stewart Milne and Cheif Moaner Stephen Thompson all incrediable vocal when vote was cast now silent on what it has cost them. 

The cut your cloth brigade of fans that seem to think that they have been immune from changes in finiancial environment.  Lets see how they feel when the life blood of their club dries up.  The easiest cut in budget is always Youth teams.  Lack of youth to sell on in coming years will be the double whammy for most clubs.  Down on income this year last year and year before,  no sales next year the year after etc.  It’s a spiral that is summed up this year in the condition of the two clubs honest enough to admit costs and revenue reduction. 

Celtic in Europa League not Champions League even with a reprive they still didn’t have the quality to qualify for group stages.  Saint Mirren languishing at bottom of Scottish Premiership for sale with out any interst. 

That nagging voice the meltdown that happened to Hearts could of changed it’s clothes cut it’s cloth to fit if you will and is currently on the catwalk dressed in a deadly camouflage. Waiting til suddenly the short fall in income stops being a manageable problem and becomes a insurmountable issue.
Today’s Molehill tomorrows Mountain.

Regrets

31 Aug

Peter Lawell has been strangely silent.  Normally the Celtic CEO is at the heart of anything that is everything in Scottish football.  Good for a quote and good for a photo.  I have never doubted that he has Celtic at the heart of every quote his motivation for doing anything has been and will continue to be what he thinks is best for Celtic.  The arguement of Spinnning facts and creating lies will never leave any sucessfull CEO because frankly that is part of their Job.  To defend, manage and  defuse any situation their business finds itself in. To place their company on the best light possible at every opportunity. And if that means extending the truth or spinning a lie then so be it. 

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So it is with a great deal of surprise that Peter Lawell has confirmed that Celtic miss Rangers. Well let me quantify that Celtic miss approximately £10 million per season. That is the hidden cost that Mr Lawell possibly under estimated when he sat on comittees and made judgements in the heady summer of 2012.

Maybe Mr Lawell accounted for some loss but assumed that other sources would plug the gap. Fickle fans and lack of genuine investment has put paid to that. Fickle fans is not a insult it’s a fact a fact that has been shared around the grounds. Instead of improving fan interaction the fans are walking. Now in it’s second season since reconstruction the SPFL Leagues STILL has no title sponsor. Scotland’s third cup had no trouble securing Petrofac the league cup has Communities and the Scottish cup has William Hill.

Yet no sponsorship for the Leagues.

So the question is as Rangers raise £3.7 million, Celtic miss £30 million how much have the rest of Scotlands clubs missed because of hasty punishments dished out before correct judgements where made.

In economics if USA sneezes the UK catches a cold. Now that the symbiotic finiancial relationship between the Old Firm has been confirmed by Mr Lawell lets see how much Aberdeen, Dundee United and the rest have suddenly descovered “missing.” Simply put if Celtic have missed money that they have been able to count with their multimillion pound turnover then what has Messers Milne and Thompson found missing. Hearts spent a year trying to get out of administration Hibernian look ponderous in their inability to compete in the Championship. Hibernian are the only club to come to the party that is the Championship with a wet bag of pyrotechnics.

Also I hear a lot of people suggest Mr Lawells remarks are to distract from his team’s comical eviction from the Champions league. Maybe by just maybe it’s a prod at Hampden. With Doncaster and Regan sitting signing blank pieces of paper, writing cheques that suffer from insufficent funds. What does it take to rid these two from Our Game

SPFL Premirship Predictions for 2014 -15

9 Aug

Lets start with a disclaimer.  This is opinion published to make you the reader consider your own views.

My predictions for season 2014-15
1. CELTIC
2. MOTHERWELL
3. DUNDEE UNITED
4. INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE
5. ST JOHNSTONE
6. KILMARNOCK
7. ROSS COUNTY
8. ABERDEEN
9. PARTICK THISTLE
10. DUNDEE
11. ST MIRREN
12. HAMILTON ACCADEMICALS

Lets start with what is by far the most boring looking league in the set of four in Scotland. 

PREMIERSHIP

Celtic will win at a canter even with no significant new signings, a new manager and do it in front of a growing number of empty seats every second week. Celtic fans will like the statistic of another title but they are not liking the entertainment that their beloved hoops are providing in the bread and butter of the league.

Motherwell are my tip to be second again.  Stewart MCall has no budget has lost a few players and his Chief Exec yet will still just do enough to be the best of the rest. The addition of a Lanarkshire Derby will increase interest.

Dundee United my tip for third. They have lost some of their starlets but with additional working capital taking some of the finiancial strain away from the club an allowing some luxuries to enter Tannadice then in addition to not having the distraction of European football in June, I feel that United are quietly good for third.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle for fourth no one likes going to The Tulloch. No one like the uncomptemising style that John Hughes will have ICT playing.  After a Yogi preseason no player will be in any doubt what their job is.

St Johnstone Stevie May or not Tommy Wright has quietly taken Steve Lomax’s left overs and with good young players mixed with experienced older heads Wright has shown that on their day the Perth Blues can beat anyone.

Kilmarnock The addition of Gary Locke into the Coaching staff at Rugby park says more to me than any signing.  Locke has not been demotivated by his season from hell as manager of Hearts and the frankly disgusting treatment he received from the new owners at Tynecastle.  Free from the extra pressures I am sure Gary will exert his influence and secure a nice top six position for Allan Johnstone’s Ayrshire club.

Ross County Big season for the Victoria Park club and after flattering to decieve I feel seventh is as good as this club could get.  Derek Adams growling presence on touchline has stopped being intimidating and the difficult third album from Dingwall may well dissapoint Derek.

Aberdeen I know eighth! If you think of the later part of 2013 then you have the dons second, easy not even a blink.  Sadly I am going with the later part of last season after the Pitrodrie side won the League Cup.  The collapse of form and energy must of worried anyone at the club.  In fact the most fickle fans on Scotland would not of acceipted post March performancies had it not been for a lump of Silver in the cabinet. Starting their season in June with a small squad albeit with only real addition of David Goodwillie makes me think come the cold winter winds of December that any form shown by the Reds will be a memory. Then the fans will turn and the house of cards collapses.

Patrick Thistle Partick don’t need to do much just keep doing what they do and get by.  Ninth is a perfect place for the Jags.  Alan Archibald tamed his team’s attacking oft at all costs instincts to at least provide a more solid defensive look about the team.

Dundee Tenth for the dark blues in the shadow of their noisy neighbours deserve a good season after being club 12 and frankly being dropped in the smelly stuff in order to fulfil a fixture list.  Two managers later will Paul Hartley pull any surprises? Some but they won’t be top 6 but deserve to survive.  Looking forward to some combative Tayside Derbies.

St Mirren Eleventh and a play off place that is what I think the Paisley club will achieve.  Sacking Danny Lennon and replacing him with his assistant may well be a continuety move but is hardly a display of loyalty to players etc.  The Pandas board obviously unhappy with the direction the team were going sack the man at the tiller and promote the Navigator giving him the first and second officers. Sad to say I can’t see this club win a play off either.

This leaves Hamilton can’t see any club in top division taking the Accies as lightly as Hibs in play offs.  The plastic pitch should not be as big an issue.  The absolute lack of any investment in the team trusting that as you sell the youth you developed you will create new young players to fill the space on the shelves.  The owners of this club have a strict no frills zero investment business plan that does not depend on what division the club plays in.
 

I foresee a incrediable boring processional league with it’s only highlights being the Dundee and Lanarkshire Derbies. The media has joined me already in scrabble away from this league to the more attractive looking Championship. It is often not the prizes on offer that makes a league but the participants. Few outwith the twelve clubs fans in this league will actually look on with interest.