Tag Archives: Scottish Football

Scottish Premiership Predictions 2017-18

4 Aug

 

Well it’s that time again that Fools go where Angels fear to tread.  My now annual stick my neck on the chopping block and predict a whole season worth of fixtures, injuries and dodgy decisions in an attempt to predict where Clubs will finish in the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership League Table in May 2018.

 spfl prem

SPFL Premiership Predictions 2017-18

1  wpid-2014-10-30-16-42-23-1807006305.jpeg Celtic
2  Rangers Rangers
3  Aberdeen Aberdeen
4  Hibs Hibernian
5  Killie Kilmarnock
6  St J St Johnstone
7  HMFC Hearts
8  Part Partick Thistle
9  RC Ross County
10  Dundee Dundee
11  mwell Motherwell
12  accies Hamilton Accies

Celtic have to be favourites the Invincibles of last season start with the deserved tag of Favourites.  Brendan Rodgers has built and kept a strong squad that has the happy habit of winning or at least not losing.  Bren RogA decent start in European Qualifiers with no Gibraltar style slip up has only enhanced the thought that the trophy will settle in the East End of Glasgow next year.  That’s not to say a repeat of all conquering season, like season 1988 it is difficult to keep up the standards of going domestically unbeaten.  With Fans Groups vocally grumbling and various off field Inquiries the only chance for the rest of Scotland is if these issues grow and begin to implode Celtic.  Celtic Fans have grown accustom to sweeping aside all that stands in their way.  Just as it’s a happy habit not losing one wonders how Brenan Rodgers Bhoys will react to the strange feeling of Losing should it happen.  Celtic to win the league but not as comprehensively as last term. Players In: Olivier Ntcham, Jonny Hayes, Kundai Benyu. Players Out: Emilio Izaguirre, Efe Ambrose, Gary Mackay-Steven, Saidy Janko, defender (St Etienne); Logan Bailly, Kris Commons. Loan: Scott Allan, midfielder (Dundee).

Rangers in Second after the debacle of no progress in Luxemburg but Sadly for Scottish Football the low standing of our game in UEFA lists means that Scottish Teams are going to have to get with the program and be up for the Europa Cup in early July or else. Pedro Caixinha building a team from the ashes of the Warburton experiment.  

The common theory is that Rangers have good players just not a good team.  So far Pedro’s Rangers version one has lacked game time.  A lot of work is needed you have a Managers vision needing cemented on to Players who are either used to Last Seasons unchanging Tactical Standard of Warburton or new players finding their feet at Ibrox.  So far Rangers have flattered themselves.  At times they have looked like they were not even aware of each other’s names.  The importance for Rangers is to tune into to each other.  Brendan Rodgers managed to gel a rag tag group of Ronny Deila’s squad and supplement it with fresh quality players last term and the little Portuguese Ibrox Gaffer has to do the same.  The early exit from Europe means if Rangers are detached in the League in October then there is a real chance of Rangers finding a fourth Manager to take the reins in one Calendar Year. With off field issues becoming clearer and the boost of Merchandise Money coming in Rangers need to Challenge for everything and Challenge closely.  The excuses have run out.  Rangers in second for me as Project Pedro needs to bed in.  Players In: Bruno Alves, Graham Dorrans, Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Jack, Fabio Cardoso Daniel Candeias, Carlos Pena, Eduardo Herrera. Loan: Dalcio. Out: Barrie McKay Joe Garner, Matt Crooks, Billy Gilmour Philippe Senderos, Rob Keirnan, Clint Hill. Loan: Andy Halliday, Michael O’Halloran.

Aberdeen in Third seems a strange choice given their summer.  Management team sign new contracts and already a good start in Europa League Qualifiers.  The sad truth is though that Aberdeen last year’s Brides Maids in chief are in a similar position to Celtic. 

 They have a habit of doing well in some games yet inexplicable losing points to lowly teams in League.  It’s a more difficult habit to shake off too.  Ryan Christie’s loan is a strange set of circumstances that makes me think all 12 points in Games against Celtic will go with the Hoops.  You have a talisman in Christie scoring for fun against all but his parent Club when he is sitting in the Stand looking enviously at all in front of him.  His place in starting line-up taken by someone who knows that no matter what they do next week Christie is in and they are on the bench.  It’s the rules of the SPFL but it sure makes you think what ambition Aberdeen has.  Pittodrie is also distracted by various off field issues, Planning Permission for new Stadium version two at Kingsford in addition to the stories that won’t go away regarding Kenny McLean and Derek McInnes.  In spite of strong statements by Aberdeen Football Club and McInnes these stories keep resurfacing.  That is not an accident.  New Funding in the Boardroom means that unless careful Demarcation exists then with Stuart Milne, The Donald’s and now Cormack are we looking at a three headed Monster ready to explode painting the Pittodrie Board room Red with Blood?  It’s my gut feeling that the Dandies are not as strong as previous two seasons and will finish third in May. In: Gary Mackay-Steven, Kari Arnason, Greg Tansey, Nicky Maynard, Loan: Greg Stewart, Ryan Christie. Out: Jonny Hayes, Ryan Jack, Niall McGinn, Ash Taylor, Peter Pawlett, Neil Alexander, Cammy Smith, Lawrence Shankland.

Hibernian in fourth and its tight but the often snarling driving force of Neil Lennon can not be under rated or ignored.  

The massive Leith Legions still on a high from Cup and League wins in last two years backing a typically Attacking Lennon Team simply is not going to quietly bed into the Premiership.  Good Signings from Lennon over the summer means that a very Creditable fourth and European place goes down Easter Road.  In: Vykintas Slivka, Efe Ambrose, Ofir Marciano, Danny Swanson, Deivydas Matulevicius, Steven Whittaker, Anthony Stokes, Simon Murray. Out: Jason Cummings, James Keatings, Chris Humphrey, Grant Holt, Fraser Fyvie.

Kilmarnock have assembled a Dream Team in lots of ways On the Park in the Dug out but ranker still enhabits the Rugby Park Board Room.  Billy Bowie has yet to cleanse the spectre of Michael Johnstone, the signs look good for the Tanker Millionaire but its time to repair the damage done by others over a decade.  Lee McCullough is a exceptional young manager he has without doubt learned from masters and has acquired a good selection of Players who will often shock in both winning games they should not but sadly for theKillie faithful losing points they should of secured too.  That is the Killie way its built in to the bricks.  I do feel though that McCulllough will have more positive shocks for his club than negative ones.  Pleasing for the You Tubers in Ayrshire but a solid fifth for Kilmarnock. In: Chris Burke, Cammy Bell, Gordon Greer, Kirk Broadfoot, Lee Erwin, Alex Samizadeh, Dom Thomas, Stephen O’Donnell, Calum Waters, Daniel Higgins, Alan Power. Out: Dapo Kayode, Jack Whittaker. Loan ended: Kristoffer Ajer, Conor Sammon.

St Johnstone Tommy Wright is a brilliant Manager with a Cup Win and solid league Placings but you got the feeling last term that a era was ending.  Suddenly Cup Winners got outnumbered by new personel and the spirit of the saints had lessened.  Its for this reason I think The Perth Saints will land in sixth next year.  McDermid has all the feel of a rebuilding project.  No doubt St Johnstone will be solid well organised and able to punish you for mistakes as is the Tommy Wright Signature Team but I feel they wont be able to hurt or create as they restock the squad to revisit the glory days.  In: Stefan Scougall, Kyle McClean, Scott Tanser, Loan: Michael O’Halloran, midfielder (Rangers). Out: Danny Swanson, Tam Scobbie.

Hearts in seventh.  No one is sure how the Structure at Tyncastle works with Craig Levin it is not a clear as the metal structure of the New Main Stand in Gorgie.  It is possible that now good players are not being taken down the Cul De Sac of Cathro Place that they might be able to walk down Gorgie Road.  Confusing at best of times and that sums up Hearts on the field of play.  You are never sure what kind of performance you will witness from minute to minute.  You are never sure who is making the tactical changes and you are never sure whos hand is on the tiller.  This appears to affect players too.  The rebuilding Tynecastle means that no Home Games in first month of season could find The Jam Tarts pitiful away form meaning they are detacted eight games in. In: Kyle Lafferty, Christophe Berra, Rafal Grzelak, Michael Smith, Cole Stockton. Loan: Connor Randall, Ashley Smith-Brown. Out: Bjorn Johnsen, Callum Paterson, Perry Kitchen, Sam Nicholson, Gavin Reilly, Billy King.

Partick Thistle what can you say about Partick they are just solid well organised and a true team.  Unity of purpose, Singulary Focused on the same Goal.  Alan Archibald sells his squad a vision that the whole club signes up too.  I do not think they will repeat last years top six place but I do not think they will trouble relegation in Eighth. In: Niall Keown, Blair Spittal, Jamie Sneddon. Loan: Jordan Turnbull, defender (Coventry City). Out: Liam Lindsay, Mark Ridgers, Ade Azeez, David Amoo.

Ross County will miss a top flight Highland Derby with Inverness Caledonian Thistle Dropping down to the Championship. The Closest Away Game to Dingwall being a trip to Aberdeen. Not the biggest Home Support and a small core of away fans some you cant imagine Atmosphere being a big part of Ross County’s game plan. No one will like a trip up to the Highlands at any time of the season and this travel might just secure enough points to keep Ross County up and clear of the dreaded Playoff and Relegation spots. The Victoria Park team will have to wait til well into April before they will be safe in the knowledge they wont be at risk of following Inverness down a league tucked into Nineth place.. In: Billy Mckay, Thomas Mikkelsen, Sean Kelly, Jim O’Brien, Tom Grivosti, Loan: Jamie Lindsay, midfielder (Celtic). Out: Liam Boyce, Chris Burke, Ian McShane, Paul Quinn, Jay McEveley, Jonathan Franks, Oscar Gobern, David Brownlie, Chris McLaughlin, Matt Hall.

Dundee in tenth no matter what way you look at it Paul Hartleys left overs to ex pundit Neil McCann just seems to lack on all fronts. No talisman player, a real lack of Team Unity, No solid Defensive look and a untested Manager Tactically used to passing comment with no pressure in the warm surrounds of a television studio not when the heat is turned up in the dug out. In: Glen Kamara, Randy Wolters, Sofien Moussa, Jack Hendry Lewis Spence, Elliot Parish, Roarie Deacon, Loan: Scott Allan, midfielder (Celtic). Out: Rory Loy, Kevin Gomis, Nick Ross, Daniel Higgins.

Motherwell look like a Club on and off the field that are in the grasp of turmoil. The Fan ownership model they are using seems to be in need of restructuring with not enough hard Cash coming in to support the Club. Losing Scott McDonald to Dundee United seems to sum up whats wrong. The Drive of the Austrailian that permulated the Squad infecting his will to win almost certainly kept the Fir Park side up last term. Its more than likely that Moetherwell will meet Dundee United in a Playoff and with the loss of experienced campaigners Well do not look equipped to be a force even in the bottom Six. The rocky road of a return to the Playoffs for Motherwell. In: Cedric Kipre, Alex Fisher, Russell Griffiths, Craig Tanner, Gael Bigirimana, Andy Rose, Charles Dunne, Trevor Carson, George Newell, Dylan King, Liam Brown. Out: Dom Thomas, Scott McDonald, Craig Samson, Lionel Ainsworth, Joe Chalmers, Keith Lasley, Craig Clay, James McFadden, Stephen Pearson.

Hamilton are the perennial favourites for Relegation and this year is no different only complete collapses by other Clubs has saved them in the past. Not as organised as Partick, with good players but not standouts and barring the 4G Pitch no real Unique Selling Point. They are no whispers of outstanding youth players. Martin Canning is a good manager and brilliant Coach. He Manages the issues and Coaches the players with a unease at times but I feel that you cant keep hanging about at the bottom of the League dodging the Championship dragnet without being caught eventually and dragged down. In: Xavier Tomas, Ryan Fulton, Out: Gramoz Kurtaj, Blair Adams, Craig Watson, Jack Breslin, Alex D’Acol, Jesus Garcia Tena, Danny Seaborne.

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Ladbrokes Championship Predictions 2016-17

31 Jul

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Continuing on from the Ladbrokes Premiership Predictions its probably a good time to step into the mire that is the Ladbrokes Championship.  Mire is a apt word as this league is by far the hardest to predict and Clubs finding themselves dropped into this league have found it easier to fall out the bottom of the League than gain Promotion to the Premiership.  In last three years only Hamilton Accies have moved up via the perilous route of the Playoffs.  Relegating Hibernian who have repeatedly failed to get out of the league.  Falkirk failed at the last Hurdle last year and Rangers the year before.  Don’t think for a second that remaining a in the Championship is easy too Alloa were last years whipping Boys and they successfully Beat or Drew with Teams chasing Promotion and Playoff Places.  Even before Ross Jack took some green paint to narrow the pitch.  The remaining teams will be delighted that their fixtures don’t include two trips to the dodgy carpet at The Innodrill.   

1 Falkirk
2 Saint Mirren
3 Hibernian
4 Raith Rovers
5 Dundee United
6 Dunfermline Athletic
7 Queen of South
8 Greenock Morton
9 Ayr United
10 Dumbarton
Falkirk Stad

Copyright thescottishfootballpartnership.com

 In a League spoiled by Title Contenders I have plumped for Falkirk to gain automatic Promotion.  Peter Houston’s late goal kings simply have something money can’t buy they don’t give up which is good because the lack of any real investment in the Squad and relying on Loan’s and Youth to freshen up the Squad is the only real reason the perennial Bridesmaid cant walk down the aisle to the Premiership.

 

Alex Rae’s Saint Mirren in second is again, some will say a surprising choice.  It’s the former Rangers stars first real Season in Charge and he took Ian Murray’s Duds at Christmas and turned them into a team with something that the Paisley Buddies hardly recognised.  A Team that would play well at The Paisley 2021 Stadium not  just playing well a team that actually won at Home.  Rae has stamped his personality on the Squad,  determined, skilful, thoughtful and playing with a smile.  New Owners with Fan involvement should ensure smiles all round Greenfield Road this season.  Maybe not automatic promotion but a good chance in the playoffs.

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Scottish Cup winners Hibernian in Third.  Neil Lennon replaces Leith Hero Alan Stubbs but there is something worrying in Easter Road.  After beating the Cup Jinx can Hibs beat the League Jinx.  With tricky trips to unfamiliar surroundings and with a slightly lower standard of Referees will former Celtic Boss Lennon remain in the dug out long enough to exert influence.  The European failure gave the impression that the Hibs team has a feel of after the Lord Mayors Show.  No amount of exuberance can hide Hibernians terrible record in the Playoffs,  so with all this in mind my thoughts is another season of under achieving in the league.

If it wasn’t for Bad Luck Gary Locke would have no Luck at all.  Head Coach at troubled Hearts then being Sacked by new Board to move to take over at equally troubled Kilmarnock to be sacked mid Season.  Locke is a good Coach, one to watch and maybe the stability of Kirkcaldy will suit him so a nice easy Fourth and a playoff place.  No One would grudge Hearts Legend Locke that. From the good foundations laid by Ray McKinnon I suspect that Raith Rovers will cock a snoop at their previous Manager.

in Bottom half of the league.  Its by the talents of the former Raith Boss that I place United in fifth.Dundee United have that look of British Home Stores.  Faded glory,  if you look past the neglect and mismanagement you can see hints of gold leaf but you have to look through layers of dust. The Days of Jim McLean and Ivan Golak have been tarnished by Stephen Thompson’s colossal mismanaging his inheritance.  Board Room Family Squabbles, Managers on commission on sales of players,  Finger Pointing and generally blaming anyone but himself in conjunction with being a loud voice in matters not directly involving Tannadice.  If I have missed something out in that description its only because they are so many rocks a Arab can throw at The Tannadice Board Room and Pantomime villain Chairman Moan Thompson.  Ray McKinnon former player in the good old days has gambled his stock with the Tangerine Fans.  Ray has a top heavy demoralised squad with a mighty wage bill to service and a Shop Keepers Idiot son as His Boss.  If it wasn’t for sheer respect for McKinnon I would once again like last year place Dundee United

Dunfermline Athletic in sixth as the Pars recover from near financial meltdown.  If any club could have the tag too big to be… then surely its the East End Park Club. Allan Johnston has slowly filled a playing roster with youth and players on last chance to great effect.  A year to cement away days in Dunfermline as the development continues with a creditable Sixth place.

When Previous Managers flew north to Ross County James Fowler faced up with the expectations of the Dumfries fans and didn’t quiet reach the mark. Selling good players on or losing them to others didn’t help and I suspect Fowler is still learning at Queen Of The South. I suspect the influx of Teams with Premiership Experience has made Queen Of The South’s task of Challenging difficult.  It would be a Leicester City style shock of Biblical proportions for Queen Of The South to be in top half of the table but I don’t see them troubling the Playoff or relegation places either.

Jim Duffy what can you say about a man who is so enthusiastic and a Football Man.  Strip controversy apart their is a hard core loyal fan base to please in Greenock and on the whole Duffy’s Morton do just that.  Tight Budget constraints mean that Morton for me will shock sometimes awe but mainly settle for a nice Eighth.

Ayr United in ninth,  Ian McColl worked wonders bringing the Somerset Park Club up last term and with similar Budget to Jim Duffy along the coast at Greenock I think Ayr United will miss the experience of Morton and fail to overtake them in League.  I do think in the final shakedown a trip to the Beach will be on the fixture list next year.

 Dumbarton in automatic relegation place as the Championship waves goodbye to the Rock.  Stephen Aitken is a good coach but there are only ten teams in this league and some one has to finish last and its difficult to argue against Dumbarton not filling that slot. 

 

 

Ladbrokes Premiership Predictions 2016-17

30 Jul

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It’s that time of the year where fools go and the devil fears to tread simply put its prediction time.  Season 20016-17 can not be understated.  The return of Rangers and the massive additional fan base this gives the league generates interest in every game every week.  Only time will tell on how accurate this prediction is but anyway here goes.

 

Ladbrookes Scottish Premiership Predictions

1 Celtic
2 Aberdeen
3 Rangers
4 St Johnstone
5 Hearts
6 Ross County
7 Dundee
8 Kilmarnock
9 Partick Thistle
10 Inverness CT
11 Motherwell
12 Hamilton
Bren Rog

           Brendan Rodgers               ( © Belfast Telegraph)

 

 

 

 Can’t really be a surprise to pick Celtic to win this season.  Brendan Rodgers simply has to win or be judged a worse failure than he was at Anfield.  There can be no slip ups.  Interesting signings belay the fact that there is simply too many Players on Celtics books. The Wage Bill is enormous and even reopening areas of the Stands and the new still to be tested Standing area will not reduce the pressure of paying wages for no return.  The embarrassment of Lincoln Red Imps shall be the fired at Rodgers if his Hoops lose in Any Match.  Celtic to win but not by Much certainly not more than 10 Points.

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Derek McInnes   (© Ronny Davies)

 

 

Aberdeen in Second seems an easy pick too.  Oh how every Dons Fan wants to forget October 2015.  The usual Consistency Question Mark sits over a soon to be demolished Pittodrie.  The Squad seem to take their eyes off the ball for long periods of the season.  Draws at Home to Partick and Inverness seem to compound the maintaining of Standards set so High by Derek McInnes who has to be attracting other Clubs wishing a vibrant Manager to reverse their Clubs Fortunes.  A Massive season for Aberdeen they simply have to impose themselves as valid Championship Contenders on the Field before as you would expect the Old Firm begin to resume pass the Cup across the Clyde Game they play so well.  In addition Aberdeen’s Board have to not focus so much on the New Stadium In Westhill so that they lose sight of the actual business of Playing Football.

New AFC Westhill

New Aberdeen Stadium Plans          Westhill Aberdeenshire              (© http://www.afc.co.uk)

 

Rangers in Third seems like a newly promoted clubs Dream but Rangers are not really comparable to the usual promoted Teams.  Rangers have a Squad littered with International Class Players,  have a well-respected and feared manager in Mark Warburton.  Also lets mention the Elephant in the Room have more than a point to prove against Clubs whom in the eyes of Rangers Fans and Board were heinous in their victimisation of Rangers in last five years.  As Criminal Proceedings continue it would be unwise to comment but as the dust settles most fair-minded Commentators realise the fervour that was aimed at Rangers and placing the club in the lower divisions was short-sighted and fuelled by Jealous and Hatred.  Almost Every Game Involving Rangers in the Premiership will have this edge.  The Important things for Rangers Fans is to curb this enthusiasm so its channelled positively and not into any Rod Petrie Style Exuberance.  Dave King has Talked the Talk its time he Walked The Walk.  The stage is set for him to back himself and his words the question is will he?

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Mark Warburton 

(© Ronny Davies)

Saint Johnstone in Fourth seems a push but I like Tommy Wright,  he has a workmanlike Managerial style that is displayed by His team week in week out.  Perth is blessed with a good tried and tested Squad that can easily spring surprises in the league and should unspectacular hit fourth with no real sparkling individual displays but a great team ethic.  To my mind it’s really that short and sweet.

Hearts in Fifth,  the Gorgie Club flattered to deceive last year poor in cups and disappointing in the games that mattered.  Letting Neil Alexander go seemed fuelled by either lack of ambition or an unwillingness to Pay a seasoned Professional the going Rate.  The loss of some experienced players in Tynecastle’s home dressing room will only be exposed in the games when Craig Levine And Co can’t walk onto the Pitch during games and look out for Graeme Hogg style targets.  The Fan ownership model and Ann Budge have yet to display that no matter how ethical everything financial is at Hearts it’s yet to deliver anything notable in terms of pure footballing success.  Winning the Championship in 2014-15 will not keep Jam tarts fans happy for much longer.  A long season ahead for the Maroon Legions.

Ross County In Sixth again much like Saint Johnstone the Dingwall side just seem to consistently be there or there about. Mid Table far from mediocre more secure in knowledge they are safe might interfere with European places might change the destination of the Title and might be the team that pushes a Club mathematically into the Championship or play off place.  They will do all this without actually being the club in any of the places neither at top or at bottom.

The  City of Discovery’s only representative in the top league in Seventh place.  Following James McPake’s horror injury the Dark Blues seemed to be in shock for most of the season afterwards.  I witnessed Paul Hartley in a Post Match Press Conference looking like a Crime Watch Victim reliving a Mugging.  Too many times last season Dundee were Mugged, robbed of valuable points and the sparkling performances from Gary Harkins shall not be so easily done with the loss of the Highly talented Kane Hemmings.  I imagine a tight race for seventh place in a league within a league  with Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle.  The lack of Dundee Derby’s will give the Dens fans the chance to lord it over their City Rivals in Pubs and Clubs and at work but the missing sparkle and excitement of the rivalry will detract from the feeling with in Dens Park.

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Paul Hartley post Match

(© Ronny Davies)

 

 

Kilmarnock in Eighth. It is a punt in the dark. Lee Clark has signed a whole new starting eleven!  How quickly they gel and how easily they are accepted is of paramount importance to The Rugby Park faithful.  With their own Celebrity You tuber ready to fire off vitriol from the Rugby Park  Car Park even before the final whistle its very much up to Lee Clark and Co to silence the uneasy dwindling masses who have more than enough to throw at everyone at Rugby Park.  Kilmarnock are a club on precipice of Board room troubles and Player Revolts hand in hand with a Fan Base that is near the end of its tether.

Partick in Ninth for me the best organised team in the league. Alan Archibald has no star players he has a well-drilled squad that collectively is greater than the sum of its Parts . How no Club from down south has whisked Alan away to  pastures new is beyond me. Quietly Spoken and intelligent When you look at the Firhill Teamsheet the twelfth man is listed as head Coach because you play twelve when you play Partick. Hard to break down but the rest of the Clubs have seen chinks in the Harry Wraggs armour the question is has Thistles brilliant manager identified them too and filled them with his excellent organisational tactics for the new season.

Inverness  Caledonian Thistle in Tenth for no other reason than the departure of the vibrant John Hughes and the installation of a Player direct from the Dressing Room as Manager Rarely works  even the Great Kenny Dalgleish struggled and he was the only real successful transition from Pitch to Dug Out in recent times . Saint Mirren suffered Humiliation and relegation two seasons ago following this route, and it is only the bottom twos making better cases to be in these positions that to my notion prevents Inverness following out of the Premiership.  I very much doubt Calley will be out the bottom Six past September and will flirt with Playoff and Relgation all season sure they will still spring a surprise result here and there but not in a way that will propel them up the league.

Will deal with Eleventh and Twelve together or the Lanarkshire derby Hamilton look like their Luck has run out with no new Wonder Kids coming out of their usually Prolific Academy the season looks like a journey back to the Playoffs for The New Douglas Park Club where their Playoff History makes them a force to be reckoned with. Motherwell have the same feel as Dundee United had last term no new blood same old same old for Mark McGhee to pick from and like their Neighbours across the M74 no real exciting Youth prospects to display or even some one in the pipeline.  The New Ownership Model seems to strangle Scotland Assistant Coach McGhee’s ability to raid the transfer market and from disappointing survival last season to automatic relegation seems the most likely outcome in May 2017.

Hiding In Plain Sight although Far Away

14 Feb

The headlines that come out of Ibrox weekly, daily, hourily or even by the minute has became the darkest period the clubs 140 plus year history.

2015 was always going to be a big year for Rangers, the plan was to triumphantly and defiantly ride into the top league armed with a burning sense of injustice.  Vindicated by Tax Tribunals, criminal courts, Law Lords and advertising standards judgements to fight with bloodied nose and win title number fifty five providing further proof of being the worlds most successful club.  What has transpired even two months in is vastly different.

The club have suffered from mismanagement on a what can only be described as monumental levels from Boardroom to Coaches.  The open door policy of Charles Green to allow any number of investors into the fold without having a single majority shareholder has proved a folly.  The current board so inept they choose to have a EGM in London in an original venue too small to accommodate the shareholders wishing to attend.  Follow following a AGM where they chose to sit on a stage so far away from the shareholders that binoculars should of been issued so folk could see proceedings.  Let’s be honest about this I can’t print the Easdale – Ashley led board currently in charge has something to hide or is in some way up to something but people with nothing to hide generally don’t hide! Both Easdale brothers Mike Ashley or chosen Ashley representative Derek Llambias have never spoken directly to fans or attempted to describe a way forward. Failure to even try to get customers onboard the ship to salvation has lead an increasing number of fans to smell rats and vermin.

When a significant number of your customer base has decided that the best way to be loyal to the club and its business is to boycott your business then you as a board should be doing your up most to engage this number and alay their fears to keep the cash flowing. That is your duty as a Office barer and Executive. When this growing band choose to demonstrate outside your main doors and still not buy anything then your business has became fire fighting and trying to gain trust. Possibly if as much effort on this venture was put in rather than hawking parcels of land and naming rights about for short term loans then would these loans and deals not be required.

I have heard tales of conspiracy within Dark Corners of HMRC, (you know the same dark corners Mark Daly gets his information from) but how could anyone conceive the last five years at Rangers.  If you got Raymond Carver (the world renowned writer of short stories), Stephen King (no relation to Dave), J K Rowling (Harry Potter), E L James (50 Shades), Ronald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and of course Harper Lee (if you need to told stop reading right now and go away) sat them in a room told them to write and they came out with a script of the last five years in G51 You would laugh and send them back in to write something believable!

Simple put the merchandise is not selling. There is a bottleneck in the fountain of customer good will. Failure to communicate the plan, the ethos, the dream has turned into a nightmare for all concerned.  From terrace to players, the boards ineptitude in rousing the community has lead to boycotts from customers and performances from Playing staff that lack in motivation have compounded the situation. If you create a culture of no confidence in the board room publicly and privately then you get the malaise that is currently Rangers on and off he field. Its a bit like Lance Armstrong’s ”winning” bikes from his seven Tour de France ”victories” everyone suspects something is untoward, some even suspect or know of wrong doing but the cycle keeps turning hiding in plain sight for all to see.

As the final tax tribunal gathers evidence and the criminal courts stand ready to hear the cases against three players in the dodgy (we can assume this due to the financial events that followed) take over from Murray International Group to Craig Whyte’s “Trotters Independent Traders” the odds are not unfavourable that a positive result regarding Employee Benefit Trusts and at best some clarity on how a man with limited wealth suddenly found himself owning Rangers and not paying PAYE.  this should be a time of excitement for Bears, not a time of dread!

To return to the current board if you begin to act on security advice not to take up you seats in Directors boxes due to ill feeling from the customers who have chosen not to boycott you let’s just call them Moderates in the spectrum then surely even in Inverclyde, Newcastle and London you must think maybe I should look to selling my shares and return to my core businesses.  You know the ones where I haven’t upset my customers so badly that I need Police Protection to visit the company  Head Quarters.

The resignation of Managers and Stand in managers allied with the frankly shocking performances on the field leave even the most loyal tolerant patient  Blue Nose saying no more. 

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. 

image

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.