Tag Archives: Scottish Professional Football League

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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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.

Regans Aldi Experiment

12 Oct

Scotland’s whimpering exit from the European Chamionships has and will lead to a significant amount of navel gazing and given that we are talking about the SFA its bound to lead to no action.

Let me state this Gordon Strachan, Mark McGee and Stuart McCall should be safe.  Everyone could have picked a different team included other Players and with perfect 20 20 hindsight won games collected points and qualified.  Personally I find it almost inconceivable that more Aberdeen Players were not included in the squad as I do a late inclusion of Ranger’s Lee Wallace.  Form over loyalty every time for me.
Loyalty seems to be the main problem with Scotland for me.  The Players it seems can only trust the Coaching Staff to do whats right by them not the Big Wigs and Blazers sitting up the front of the Plane with extra leg room.  Clubs and Players alike must wonder if indeed the Players have decent Insurance when on Scotland duty given the cost cutting travel arrangements.  How Club Managers must have been concerned and how Clubs must have sought assurances regards the Loan of their Club’s prized assets.  This is what Gordon Strachan had to fight against in addition to Playing against three proficient Nations all of whom threw Money at their National teams Players not like Scotland looked to cut corners.  The Republic Of Ireland especially given that they had still to spend their FIFA hush money  did not scrimp or save they did not even gamble they simple treated their Players in a similar way and to same standards as Manchester United or Chelsea .  Stuart Regan treated the Scotland National Team worse than a Highland League Team on a long distance Cup Tie.  So is it no wonder that the team performed so badly ?  Blame Pitch Invaders, Bad Refereeing or indeed Dodgy Playing Surfaces all you want but if a Skilled Highly Paid pampered Player suddenly realises he is being treated badly then National Pride is not enough to keep you motivated.  The Travelling Army of Fans might bleat about being Scottish, berate Players all you want but if there is a culture of cost cutting and you are the main victim of this then maybe you wont be as determined to spend next summer being hotelled at the whim of Stuart “Ebenezer Scrooge” Regan.

If Money is tight at the SFA then cut the fat in an intelligent way.  I am not for inhumane treatment but how about a Blazer Cull.  Kill off some of the nonsensical committees and Positions.  Regan Must simply go like Sir Stephen House he has been consistently shown to be a failure.  Neil Doncaster must follow this two are not the Morecambe and Wise of Scottish Football more the Barry and Paul Chuckle!  The Tartan Army screams at clubs week in week out “SACK THE BOARD” at their Clubs yet seem to accept “Glorious Failure” at National Level.  Here is a thought Georgia Away and Poland at Home are not Glorious Failures more “indignatious Defeats”   Willie Miller said that following the Six Nil victory against Gibraltar it felt like celebrating failure and that is exactly correct and why I suggest that Willie be approached to take over from the Destroyer of Yorkshire Cricket Regan and as an additional idea why not invite Gordon Smith to replace Doncaster.  Both have Business experience both have opinions that in truth are shared by most Scots and both  would do a better job than the two incumbents.  Also the main Professional Game Board [Chairman: Rod Petrie (Scottish FA)
Members: Alan McRae (Scottish FA), Stewart Regan (Scottish FA), Ralph Topping (SPFL), Peter Lawell (SPFL), Neil Doncaster (SPFL), Duncan Fraser (SPFL), Mike Mulraney (SPFL), Sandy Stables (SHFL) and Andrew Waddell (SLFL)] should be radically changed they sanctioned the cost cutting they approved the stragigy they should be forced out of Position and new more forward thinking Office Bearers should be installed.

As the only Home Nation not to progress a complete clear out of the National Association is the only way forward.  The reasons why I am not demanding Strachan and Co to go is simple Who do you get to replace them there simply is not Prince Of Wales waiting in the Wings.  Greame Souness is probably the only candidate.  Souness has not managed in anger for a number of years and given the Bad Blood between him and the SFA I would doubt he will ever be installed as Head Coach.  If Strachan and Team do not continue then who is there Is Stuart Baxter still doing the rounds?  He was the phantom candidate for every managerial position in the Nineties surely he could return to coach the National team.

It’s a mess on the whole who ever is the Head Coach then given an aging Squad I feel that some players should frame their shirts from Gibraltar because they wont get another one.  Allan Hutton, Scott Brown Shaun Maloney and other over thirties are they really going to be fit to carry the jersey in Russia 2018 let alone to take the Nation to the next Euros in 2020.  With some great Players with Scottish Accents plying their Trade in Scotland (low travel costs) then why has the Scotland Squad been filled by Mockney Cockney Scots from the ENGLISH CHAMPIONSHIP.  Kenny McLean, Barry McKay, Lee Wallace, Mark Renyolds, Greame Shinnie, James Forrest and James McArthur.  All younger and leaner and not jaded by the Scottish Costcutter Association.

As a flippant note it’s time we ditched the uninspiring unofficial Anthem of “Flower Of Scotland” and returned to the true National Anthem of “Scotland The Brave”.  Fair enough no one knows the words but history shows when we Scots stuck to the Official Anthem of history instead of the cod folk song cobbled together on the back of a beer mat the national team actually qualitfied for World Cups before we all became Mathematic Professors figuring out permuntations on how to qualify not road sweepers two games from the end of the Qualifying Leagues cleaning up the debries of a national shame.

Scotland used to look at Belgium as an example but unlike Netherlands Scotland are down and show no signs of getting up.  Weighed down by Bulky Blazers and self-interest abusing the Tartan Army and hurting the National Pride year in year out.  The Next SFA Chef must look to Asda not Aldi the nation might never be Waitrose or Marks and Spencers but the nation deserves better than the discount bulk buy its being force-fed.

Stubb It Out

20 Aug

Any Club or Manager is well within their Rights to choose who they do business with.  They can pick and decide who to sell Players to whom ever they like.  They can have any motivation they choose to make Public. In fact they can have any motivation they choose not to make public too.

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Allan Stubbs playing the long game at Hungry Hippos

We all understand this but it does not stop the curious case of Allan Stubbs at Hibs.  So ok he says he didn’t want to sell a quality player to a rival, this is ok.  There is no real reason to think any other reason comes into play.  Scott Allan signs for Celtic, Hibs make a profit and life moves on.
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Hibs are due to visit Ibrox and Allan Stubbs concocts a quote on how he considers it a easy job to be Ibrox Manager. Rangers being able to spend almost limitless cash on players at the whim and whimsie of the Manager.

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Rangers Boss Mark Warburton putting up a ballsy defence against misfiring bully boy tactics from along the M8

I have to admit Mark Warburton stood up to this examination of his Rangers Regime rather well. It takes balls to stand up to a bully especially one publicly displaying little knowledge of Rangers History.

It’s not as if the Scouser has ever been more than a visitor at Ibrox. Stubbs rather than concentrating on his own mismanagement of Hibs (look at the start to the season for the Leith Club) or even his disaterious Coaching of the Easter Road side last season (put out of promotion play offs at semi final stage by the worse Rangers squad ever) has decided to turn on the revitalised Teddy Bears under Mark Warburton and David Weir. No mention from the former Celtic centre back of the well publicised rebuilding of the structures and systems within Rangers. No mention that quiet possibly Warburton having to rebuild coaching and scouting and playing squad at Murray Park may be detrimental to the results week in week out. No gentle dig that maybe if Rangers had the Scouting and Coaching Network of Hibernian they could of saved a many column inches in the summer of 2015 by signing free agent Scott Allan in the summer of 2014.

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Mark Warburon and David Weir rebuilding Rangers

Stubbsy devoid of talent, manners, grace and gumption takes aim at Rangers and misses all the easy targets to spectacularly misfire at the one element of the Warburton / Weir management that actually no one had noticed. The reason for no one noticing is that it’s a non issue. Rangers spending this summer has not been extreme. It seems to be well within Budgets of lower end Scottish Premiership and top of Scottish Championship. It is certainly not in the Manchester City or Chelsea or English Premier League levels of many hundreds of millions.

Remember no one put these words into Gormless Gaffer Stubbs mouth. Unless someone is working him from behind no one is forcing him to say these pattently off target remarks. Ir is possible that cash strapped Hibernian will use the transfer fee from Celtic to employ a Public Relations Spin doctor to reel the Manager back into a world that even Hibs Fanatic Irvine Welsh would consider non-fiction. Maybe the Rangers Stubbs remembers facing while a Celtic Player spend wildly but then again wasn’t he in hoops as the product of Celtic splashing the cash?

This is really at the Heart of Stubbs statements every one of his recent tirade against Rangers has exposed his own laughable hypocrisy. Scott Allan asking for a transfer or engineering a transfer from Hibs is in Stubbs’ eyes bad even though it’s exactly what he did as a player at Bolton. Rangers putting unsolicited bids in on Players is distruptive even though His Hibernian Club have put bids in for Players under contract too. Interclub contact being leeked into the public domain even though the news about Scott Allan Old Firm bids came out of Easter Road not Glasgow.

Sir Alex Fergusion was the master of the mind games in his tenure as Manager of Manchester United Allan Stubbs is showing all the signs that he is not even the Master of Hungry Hippos in his management in Leith. In a City full of Comedians every Fringe Festival August Allan Stubbs is appearing in Edinburgh all year round.

What Does The Fiscal know …

18 Nov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Investment Direct?

29 Oct

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

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Mike Ashley

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

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

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Craig Whyte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Neil Doncaster                                                                    Stewart Regan

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