Tag Archives: Heart of Midlothian FC

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.

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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

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 Championship Predictions 2014-15

9 Aug

This has been the most difficult to predict in essence you have FIVE teams competing for two places of value. Any of the ten teams in this league can and will beat any other team in the league. This is Scotland’s first league of Death.

1. Rangers
2. Heart of Midlothian
3. Falkirk
4. Hibernian
5. Raith Rovers
6. Queen of the South
7. Livingston
8. Dumbarton
9. Cowdenbeath
10. Alloa

Rangers not surprising first but almost in spite of boardroom officialdom and fandom the Govan Giants have just got on with it. This is the third leg of a five year plan and the plan to get promotion is the only plan they have. The addition of quality proven strikers and some interesting defensive squad players mean that the quality may not be what the fans remember but it’s a squad more than capable in the league company. Rangers should at least be more comfortable playing teams with a more traditional league style. The days of every game feeling like a cup tie are gone. The opponents faced this year will have players more used to playing against the Old Firm. No more visitors enjoying the party and going to very welcoming clubs for games.

Heart of Midlothian A club freed from admistration and the points deductions start the season with no points and how the Gorgie Road loves it. New coaching staff Under Robbie Neilson. The rotating door of players at Tyncastle has left the club relying on youth with only the tiniest whiff of experience. The youth though has gained experience last year. Can the freedom from admistration free up the players? Maybe but I think some of the starlets will freeze in some of the less luxurious souroundings. With a tiny squad there could be problems mid winter. A solid second and go up via fearlessly in play off.

Falkirk Peter Houston’s Bairns have a fearless brand of youth. I think that this very youth will be the reason that Falkirk will finish third. Having no fear will win certain games and pick up points at others but having all your experience sitting on dug out with the Manager and coaches will drop and lose points at others. A year of great experience to aid season 15-16 but not this year.

Hibernian Disjointed shambles is how to describe Hibs last term. Free falling under Pat Fenlon to terminal velocity under Terry Butcher. A new manager and Chief Exec is not always the best way to turn round a club (ask Manchester United last season). Alan Stubbs may well arrive from Everton Coaching role highly recomended but is the likeable Ex Celtic defender able to be his own man alone at the top. Not so sure given the anti board feeling and loss of players at Easter Road I have picked forth place, it could be a while before we see Sunshine on Leith.

Raith Rovers Kirkcaldy will be a interesting venue for many clubs. With relatively short distances to the league’s big three then there will not be room to dance on the streets of Raith let alone on the terraces. Christian Nade will relish Tyncastle and Easter Road as well as Ibrox. Add Ross Perry and Grant Murray has a nice wee blend of Youth and experience for Grant Murray with a point to prove. An experience gathering fifth for all at the club.

Queen of the South Jim McIntyre will have this squad fired up and raring to go. Expect more points won at home than away. The trip down to Dumfries is the longest away day for all the other nine clubs and will cast up some unusual results. With Billy Dodds as a coach expect top class strikers. A sturdy sixth place for this biblical club.

Livingston John McGlynn man of many clubs and most of them are now in this league. He will definitely be a man on a mission to prove people wrong. With player coach Mark Burchill expect surprises from this mainly young squad but a strong seventh.

Dumbarton Former Hibs and Rangers Player Manager Ian Murray will have the Sons of the rock up for the challange with Lee Mair and David Van Zanten in the part time squad I almost had this team further up the league. In the end it was the part time football that has me placing them eighth.

Cowdenbeath Jimmy Nichol will know no fear he has seen it done it and wore the t-shirt both as player and manager. A uninspiring looking squad on paper will no doubt be a very strong team forged by Nichol. Don’t forget Cowdenbeath Chairman Donald Finlay QC will revel in the media attention this league and his club will receive. Ninth but reveling in finiancial security and increased public visability. Playoff bound without a care but good chance to stay up.

Alloa Unlucky Barry Smith will struggle to keep the wasps up with nothing but youth. Even the maligned plastic pitch at Recreation Park won’t save them automatically down. Tenth but will enjoy the away days.

Seen To Be Done

2 Aug

Well the first  judgements are in and they show that they are special cases in Scottish football.  The SFA/SPFL formerly SPL has spoken. Same charge same verdict same punishment? Well no.

With the verdicts and punishments dished out to Hearts and Dunfermline juxtaposed beside the punishments Rangers received not 12 months ago one thing had become clear.  Consistency and precedent are not applied in Scottish Football. Once again decisions made in the name of authorities can be brought into question. Certainly from the outside looking in its easy to see what the SFA/SPFA see as who is the favoured Ones and who is the club looked on as the evil ones.

saints and sinners

For me a fine and similar punitive signing restrictions was the least Heart’s could have expected and Dunfermline should have received a lesser fine and similar signing restrictions. Now Hearts and Dunfermline look likely to have points deductions in the coming league year but given the favourable treatment both these clubs seem to be receiving any points penalty should be nullified quickly with their new 6 points for a win 3 points for a draw and 1 point for a loss. Put simply looking at the situation it would not surprise you if this was applied.

I will concede that the allegedly independent tribunal may have reached its verdicts without outside interference. The publicity caravan that followed Rangers last year simply didn’t follow Hearts or Dunfermline.  The masses of loud shouting bigots (we can now assume they are bigots due to them only targeting Rangers) never showed up. So it’s entirely possible the latest three-man panel did not get their views coloured by negative press. Certainly there was no in-depth investigation into either Hearts or Dunfermline. No spin on at best flimsy and at worse outright lies was broadcast or awarded a “Sony” media award.  Their was no disbanded “tax case” web site. So the answer to why seems simple. The Panels sat at different times with different media landscapes that applied different pressures on the panels or there is a badly contrived cover up occurring.  It is all too easy to assume some sort of moving of goal posts or worse is happening within Scottish Football.  If Neil Doncaster is wanting Clarity and Stability in order to attract Blue Chip Sponsors then seriously whoever is acting as Puppet master in all this is spectacularly blowing any chance Neil had out the water and beyond Doncaster’s short grasp.

Rangers are right to ask for an explanation. Will they get one? With Regan and Doncaster at the helm answers are not the usual form.  In fact usually you have to make many public statements accuse everyone and their dog of bias and cause a section of the SFA to strike before the SFA move on a subject.

You cannot say Hearts didn’t win anything during Romanov’s debt ride they won Scottish Cups so it’s not as if they didn’t affect the history of the game, so in truth why shouldn’t Hearts be dealing with the same punishments as Rangers. Dunfermline gained Promotion so they had their own success too so a fine and signing bans should continue.  Am I wrong in thinking that some high profile Puppeteers are leaving their finger prints all over the scene. Well I can now publish photos of both panels taken as the emerged from their deliberations.

THE RANGERS PANEL 2012

sooty-pic3-copy

THE HEARTS DUNFERMLINE PANEL 2013

the_muppets3_a_l

Justice is strange not only should it be done but it should be seen to be done. Regan and Doncaster sit astride a missile of incompetence. Like Peter Sellars in Doctor Strangelove they must be laughing . There really is no other explanation to the Judgements announced this week

Take your pick but either the paper shredder at Hampden is going to be busy or the files at Hampden contain a time bomb.

Waiting to explode!

Heart Broken?

13 Jun

Image

The situation at Heart Of Midlothian gives me no pleasure.

(http://www.heartsfc.co.uk/articles/20130613/board-statement-financial-and-player-update_2241384_3208756)

To witness another Scottish Football Institution going through the financial mill is painful.  Hindsight as they say is a form of perfect sight but I wonder if David Southern and his team wish they could turn back the clock to 2012.  Maybe given their recent statement regarding the loss of Rangers from the SPL they would have preferred to be more supportive of a fellow club going through the tribulations of financial meltdown.

It is entirely possible that right now in between answering calls from clubs offering knock down prices for the undoubtedly talented young players on the books at Hearts Mr Southern is going through his emails from so-called fans of Hearts from last year urging the harshest of treatment be dished out to Rangers.  It would not be morally wrong for Mr Southern to ask the vast majority of this constituency of loud dissenters from last year.  “where were you?” Fans promises are fickle but Hearts fans have spectacularly abandoned their club week in week out. When the Club was banking on large gates the noisy section of their fans where elsewhere.  The Club obviously needed money from its fans or its Lithuanian backers.

This is the same Club that as recently as last month stated it did not require any financial assistance from Ubig Group as it had not received any for the last year and was managing ok.  This was a statement given to a SPL board to avoid a points penalty that would relegate the Edinburgh club from the SPL.  One wonders how the people who bought this as true feel now.  How can the members of this board look Dundee Football Club in the eye.  I do wonder if St Mirren now feel morally entitled to a larger prize money from last years League Prize fund.

No one likes to see a club in trouble it simply does not sit well with fans.  We need rivalry, competition is king.  Add a dash of history and any Fan will wax lyrical about games from the past.  That is in every way footballs currency.  I mean seriously even on the Hearts own website all the signs were there look at the advertisement in the centre of this story. See the photo above. (http://www.heartsfc.co.uk/articles/20130612/no-reason-or-desire-to-harm-hearts_2241384_3208073)

 

Sadly this comes a day after a league reconstruction plan goes through.  The new SPFL should be interesting.  It’s a simple plan of many compromises for sure but its exciting to think just how well this could work in practice. Given proper management.

I am not one for advocating redundancies or people losing their jobs but the return to two bodies begs the question why not just have one.  Economies of scale dictate this it has worked for the Scottish Police and Fire Services.  The more money taken from administration at Hampden and invested in Clubs with good youth systems the better, I can’t remember the last time an Office worker scored a hat trick for the national Team. While we are at it how can we trust Stewart Regan, Neil Doncaster and the like to run Scottish football when it seems at every turn they mess it up, believe half-truths and lies and as my wee Granny would say “couldn’t run a ménage” New structure new leaders clean slate and all that. For some people sitting in ivory towers with barely hidden aroma of Jim Farry this means simple quietly leave the arena go back to Gardening and bring in new brains with less coloured history.

 

I wish Hearts all the best I do but they have to remember they set out the template with several willing partners.  If they fall foul of the same template they only have their selves to blame.  The more interesting issue is will the newly formed authorities take the same actions again or will they move the goal posts?