The Dirty Dozen
"The 10 SPL clubs intend to resign within the
next 24 hours, quoth Bryan Jackson. Bryan Who?, you
ask. Hes the man who sold Clydebank to Airdrie and
is now in charge of Motherwell while they are in administration.
In other words hes not really got anything to do with football.
And while not everybody at Fir Park was unhappy to see the back of the
garrulous John Boyle, Motherwell fans cant be all that
thrilled to see an accountant with no ties to the club whatsoever posing
as the voice of Scottish football.
We - the poor punters - are left in a state of bewilderment
at the latest manoeuvres in the SPL. The Old Firms
argument is that they are the lead act and no one is interested in the
warm-up turns so they deserve most of the loot and a veto over decision-making.
The ten say they are making a stand for democracy and justice.
Both have a point. This website has no truck with the way Rangers and
Celtic have manipulated the Scottish game for over a century to satisfy
their own warped agenda. These two clubs rely on the bitter and irrational
hatreds of centuries past to nurture their support base. Yet when it comes
to matters of money, these supposed rivals exhibit a solidarity that committed
trade unionists would die for.
But, as they point out, many of the faces now ranged against them, were
all too happy to sit down just four short years ago and agree to the present
SPL arrangements. They thought that there would be sufficient crumbs
from the rich mans table to fatten them up year after year.
On the other side, the ten were surprised to find that, having given the
Old Firm carte blanche, the Glasgow duo proceeded to carry on in their
own imperious way - wrecking proposed deals by widespread leaking of their
intention to fly the nest the others had so supinely allowed them to feather.
The Old Firm now say that they will move to a fairer voting scheme - but
only if any really important matters remain subject to their veto. The
others say this is totally unacceptable and then vote through a TV deal
that allows the Old Firm to keep their present percentage take!
Truly, you could not make this up. TV was the battlecry of the ten.
When the big two pulled the plug on SPL TV, it was either the straw
that broke the camels back or the barrier of excrement on the ground
that forced the worms to turn. Take your pick.
When SPL TV was first mooted, we said on this website that the Old Firm
were interested in bigger things. That they wanted their own pay-per-view
channels. Evidence of that came forth this week when the Ugly Sisters
promptly vetoed radio and internet deals, while allowing the BBC TV bid
to go ahead.
The despicable duo want to control broadcasting through their
own official websites. If that ground is conceded then a similar TV arrangement
can only be a matter of time.
In the meantime all twelve clubs will continue to treat their supporters
with disdain while doing nothing to address the decline in standards of
Our game is facing the worst crisis in its long history. Many of the problems
are self-inflicted. At a time when leadership has never been more needed,
what are we left with? Men with the diplomatic skills of Alf Garnett
and the vision of Mr Magoo.
The one thing that has been agreed by the SPL is a TV agreement. Theyve
signed up with the BBC for a deal which lasts for half as long
as the offer from Sky was for and is worth one third less. So
much for the business acumen of our administrators. Wall Street?
This mob shouldnt be let loose on Sesame Street. And as for
the fans? Well, theyve left us in Shit Street.
A match will be broadcast live at 2pm each Sunday. BUT ONLY IN SCOTLAND.
With the exception of the four Old Firm encounters, every other BBC licence-payer
in the UK (and weve all helped fund this deal) will be stuck
with the usual Sunday afternoon diet of 40-year old Disney movies
and two-hour repeats of Eastenders.
Everyone involved is to blame here. The SPL for their greed in thinking
that they could get Sky to up the ante at a time when TV cash for football
was in freefall worldwide. The Old Firm for wrecking any chances of a
Sky deal with their pipedream plans to move out of Scotland. All the clubs
again for not properly considering a Channel 5 proposal which would
have guaranteed a UK-wide audience. And the BBC, for only being interested
in showing Old Firm derbies to a wider viewing public.
This last point is curious. The BBC seems to be saying that there is an
audience for the big two. Since virtually every game they cover will feature
one of the gruesome twosome, surely theres a sizeable number who
would be interested in watching?
In the past the BBC have justified blocking access to Scottish football
by waffling on about agreements being localised. The very fact that they
are now intent on showing the Old Firm derbies south of the border blows
that argument out of the water. Yet they insist that those of us domiciled
south of the Solway will have to be content with a back four of Mitchell,
Beale, Fowler and Slater every Sunday.
Sunday afternoons are a graveyard slot for TV. I would have thought
that anything that increases viewing share would have been welcome. Apparently
Even odder, the BBC have been rightly proud of the fact that they have,
for the past two seasons, broadcast every SPL match live on the Internet.
Theyve no objections to you listening in Burundi but wont
let you watch in Berwick!
Nor do the BBC object to anyone listening to a live broadcast on digital
radio. In fact theyre keen to get you to do so. Only Old Firm
greed is holding up an agreement. Someone needs to tell the Beeb.
For theyre still heavily promoting their radio and web broadcasts
on their website.
So why not broadcast live football on BBC2? There really is no case against
it. Well be consulting with others and coming back with proposals
for action if the BBC dont see sense on this.
The only real objection the BBC can make to showing live matches to a
UK-wide audience is that our clubs dont seem to be too bothered
about it. Announcing the deal, SPL Chairman, Lex Gold, said: "This
agreement brings Premier League football into every home in Scotland."
And keeps it out of the homes of thousands of licence-paying Scottish
football fans in the rest of the UK, was what he DIDN'T add. Kilmarnock
Chief Executive David Heath demonstrated his mastery of the
Book of Blairspeak by saying the deal represented: " A modern
league moving forward.
Aye, David, moving forward into the 1960s!
Our clubs had the chance to show how much they cared about their exiled
supporters. And they dumped on them from a great height. Of course a cynic
might say that the SPL dont want anyone outside of Scotland to see
just how bad our game is!
Our club bosses need to realise that this is the 21st century - the age
of the global village. Yet they have opted to blithely carry on in their
insular manner, ignoring any potential for expanding their audience. If
they are happy to ignore the supporters, they shouldnt be too surprised
to find supporters ignoring them.
The children of exiled Scots will end up watching - and supporting - teams
in the Premiership and the Nationwide and an opportunity to gain new supporters
will be lost
The game is desperate for supporters. Yet here are thousands of fans who
actually WANT to watch Scottish football being denied the opportunity
to do so.
As for the SPLs official website...
What a waste of cyberspace. Click on the link to live TV broadcasts and
it brings up a list which is dated last January! You would have
found out more about what was going on in sports section of the Greenland
Gazette than is on offer there.
What does SPL chief executive Roger Mitchell have to say about
it all? The man who couldnt put together a fixture list on a bank
holiday weekend last season is strangely silent right now.
Perhaps the BBC have got it right after all. Maybe the only Mitchells
worth listening to on a Sunday are Peggy and Phil!