LIVE ON FIVE
The Scottish Football League have put the
SPL to shame. The SFL have negotiated a two-year deal with
Channel 5 for live UK-wide coverage of the League
Cup starting with the Hibs v Rangers clash on Thursday
The SPL brusquely rejected C5 , hardly pausing to consider their
bid before rushing into bed with the BBC on their Scotland-only
deal. The SFL have taken a cleverer approach. In effect they are
using the only bit of leverage they have - the fact that SPL sides
take part in the League Cup - to earn themselves a badly-needed
It means that Scottish football fans in the rest of the UK
will now be able to see live action.
Meanwhile, the Setanta PPV deal so loudly trumpeted by
SPL chief Lex Gold at the start of the season has finally
been signed - more than two months late.
Roger Mitchell emerged from his bunker to crow: "We
are delighted this deal has been struck as it gives fans a wider
viewing choice of SPL matches. Fans outside Scotland will now
be able to see their favourite teams in action once again.
He should have added whenever they play against the
Old Firm to that last sentence.
The deal is not a good one for the SPL no matter how they dress
it up. For £2.75M Setanta get 18 exclusive live matches
to show on their rip-off ppv channel plus all the matches available
on BBC Scotland barring the Old Firm derbies.
Thats almost 80 matches for under three million.
By contrast the SFL/C5 deal brings fewer than ten
games to the screen for £1M. Even the most mathematically-challenged
wont have too much difficulty in working out who has struck
the best bargain.
And to think one of the reasons the SPL were so pleased to have
signed up Roger the Dodger was because of his marketing
Now comes the big challenge for Setanta. They managed to flog
Rangers away game in Zizkov to 25,000 punters. At eight or nine
quid a throw plus a £1-50 registration fee
theyll soon recoup their money if they can keep that
Theyll make money anyhow but how much is open to question
because its comparatively easy to sell a European tie. Trying
to convince fans to part with their cash for 12.30 kick-offs on
a Saturday is much harder.
Unless Setanta come up with a season ticket for both
halves of the Old Firm, it might not be as lucrative as they hope.
Still, thats their lookout. What concerns this website is
the availability of Scottish football to the hundreds of thousands
of Scots who live in England, Wales and both parts of Ireland.
Now, at least theyll be getting some live action but its
going to cost. The Old Firm derbies can be seen on BBC
1, the League Cup on C5, the SPL on Setanta
and Scotland home internationals and the Scottish
Cup on Sky.
As were still none the wiser about the shape of Scottish
football after the end of season 2003-04, make the most of it
while you can.
OK, its got nothing to do with football but the
Ryder Cup was as magnificent a piece of sporting drama
as you will see this or any other year.
In addition to a happy ending, it was particularly
pleasing to note the performances of the two Scots involved. Sam
Torrance was a superb skipper and Colin Montgomerie was
the competition's outstanding player.
Nice to see one sport where Scots can still be
found at the very top of their game. And I'm sure you'll forgive
me just this once for noting that they are both Ayrshiremen.
As a nation weve had more than our fair share
of glorious defeats. Usually it would be galling
to add one more to the list. But in Aberdeens case
well make an exception. No one gave the Dons an earthly
against Hertha Berlin in the UEFA Cup. Yet for 179
of the 180 minutes of the tie they held their own, only to lose
to a last-minute strike.
Dont forget. Hertha are in this competition thanks to having
finished fourth in the Bundesliga - just one place away
from the Champions League. Defeat, yes, but Aberdeens
loss was their best performance in Europe for many years.
Aberdeen were unlucky in Berlin
Tip number one to those Celtic fans who keep
insisting that they were eliminated from the Champions League
by great opponents. Have a look at Basles result
in midweek against Valencia.
Tip number two. If you dont know the score already, you're
going to have use the fingers on both hands to count.
Still, of the eighty teams left in the two European competitions,
Celtic are the sole Scots representatives. A shadow squad performed
competently enough in Lithuania to beat Suduva 2-0 for
a 10-1 aggregate triumph.
Dont listen to any sob stories emanating from Ibrox
about Rangers' away-goals defeat by Viktoria Zizkov.
Counting extra time and added time, this tie lasted some 220
minutes. Rangers were ahead for just three of them.
That statistic says everything you need to know.
Livingston, despite a dreadful start to the season, continue
to get the kind of media coverage that politicians would kill
for. The BBC claimed that their 4-3 home win over
Sturm Graz was a famous victory. Not
from this viewpoint. Sturm were 3-1 ahead on the night - 8-3
on aggregate when they eased up.
The tie was over and Livvy were able to get a few goals as a result.
The Austrians did exactly the same in their home leg, conceding
twice after leading 5-0.
The only - admittedly meagre - bonus that can be drawn from the
defeats is that least the home leg victories count towards ranking
points. With only Celtic left we need as many as we can get.
Perhaps there is one further nugget of hope to be plucked from
this pit of despair. For a long time now, weve been wondering
if it can get any worse. Maybe weve finally hit rock bottom.
Maybe, just maybe, Aberdeens stirring performance in
Berlin is the first tender shoot of our recovery as a footballing
We were going to leave Darryl 'Einstein' Broadfoot
alone this week. But no matter how hard we try, he just won't
In his observations in The Herald on the Rangers - Zizkov
game, Darryl makes reference to the crowd becoming "the
much-fabled eleventh man"
We know the financial situation at Ibrox is dire.
But we had thought they could still afford to field a full team!
Less surprising is that Darryl's task at the match
was to record the supporters views. Bit of a busman's holiday,
For the Scottish Cup 1873-1939 click here
For the Scottish Cup Post-1945 click here
For the League Cup from 1946 click here
COUSINS AND BHOYS
Celtic supporters are the greatest
in the world, arent they? After all, were
used to hearing them described in such terms. Usually - it must
be said - by fellow Celtic fans.
Highbury, Old Trafford, it doesnt matter. Show them
a testimonial and the Bhoys will have the place sold out
before the ink on the tickets is dry.
Except, that is, for Adams Park. Where?, I hear you ask.
Well, Adams Park is the home of Wycombe Wanderers where Martin
ONeill started out on his managerial career.
ONeill is still a revered figure in Buckinghamshire, having
taken over when the Chairboys lay 10th in the Conference.
By the time he departed for his short-lived stint at Norwich five
years later, Wycombe were 6th in Division Two - a remarkable achievement.
One of his early signings for Wycombe, defender Jason Cousins,
is owed a testimonial and ONeill was happy to help out. Normally,
this website frowns upon teams taking on extra games while moaning
about having to play too many matches but there are always exceptions.
Cousins is one of them. Hes no big-name superstar but simply
a hard-working pro who will turn 32 this month. Hes been released
by Wycombe and is currently playing non-league football. In his
case a game against Celtic doesnt represent one last big payday
but very probably his ONLY big payday.
The match is scheduled for next Tuesday and even though ONeill
will be missing players through international duty, hes promised
to bring his strongest line-up to Adams Park. That would include
big names like Larsson and Lennon plus ex-Wycombe
favourite Steve Guppy.
Thus far all well and good, you might think. But heres the
rub. Seven days before the game, only 1,500 tickets had been
sold. Police have made the match an all-ticket affair and unless
theres at least 3,500 there, Cousins faces making a
loss. The match may even have to be cancelled.
Wycombe play before an average gate of 6,000 so the response so
far isnt too bad for a player whos turned out for the
club over 300 times. But where are the greatest fans in
Could it be that they cant see beyond Sundays Old
Firm game? Will they be too knackered after travelling back
from a meaningless match in Lithuania?
Or could it be that they dont give a toss? That theyre
happy to turn up in their thousands when Thierry Henry or
David Beckham are strutting their stuff for the opposition?
Less so when ex-Ranger Chris Vinnicombe and former Dunfermline
player Craig Faulconbridge are among their opponents better-known
Or is it that London and Manchester are party places
for party animals while High Wycombe is more noted for its
furniture and as the location of the BBCs Chucklevision?
Who knows? Maybe its because someone has told them that the
local council has a Rangers page on its website? Forgetting
to add that these Rangers are the kind who work in parks. Parks,
I should add, where there are no bears of any description either.
Im not stupid enough to suggest that the trains south should
be packed with Celtic fans. But High Wycombe is within easy reach
of London. And the pubs of the capital are thronged every time Celtic
appear on TV.
If youre a Celtic fan - or a fan of any club for that matter
- living in that area and youve got a bit of spare time and
cash on Tuesday October 8th, why not give an unsung hero
a deserved final bow on a stage he graced for over a decade. Phone
this number for tickets: 01494 441118.
Half the board have resigned, their team has just
been knocked out of the League Cup by a 2nd Division team and theyve
been humped 5-0 at Parkhead. It would be true to say that Kilmarnock
supporters have seen better weeks.
The Ayrshire club (and yes, it is difficult to be impartial here)
have been one of the success stories of Scottish football.
In the past dozen years theyve risen from the foot of the
lowest division to not only reclaim a place in the top flight, nor
even merely consolidate their position but to emerge as consistent
challengers in the top half of the table.
The Scottish Cup was won for the first time in nearly 70 years.
After an absence of close to 40 years, they reached the League Cup
Final. And after almost 30 years of exile from Europe, Killie have
played four times in continental competition since 1997.
There isnt another provincial side in the land that
can claim the same.
And they had good reason to be confident at the start of this term.
Unlike most of his rivals, new boss Jim Jefferies was actually
able to strengthen his squad.
Its too soon to be shouting doom and gloom but the events
of recent days must be a cause for concern.
Take the League Cup. For the eighth time in ten seasons,
Killie were eliminated by a lower division side. In two hours
at home to Airdrie they couldnt score one solitary
goal. Four days later, Stenhousemuir managed to score four
in 90 minutes against the same opposition! The only consolation
Killie fans can take is that at least this time they werent
beaten by Scottish footballs other AUFC!
And the Celtic match! Even this grizzled and ancient hack was
still thrashing about in the womb the last time Killie won at Parkhead.
But while only the lunatically over-optimistic expect to see their
team pick up full points there, everyone has the right to see a
What Kilmarnock fans witnessed at Celtic was capitulation. Jefferies
might trot out the old cliche about boardroom events not affecting
performances on the pitch but no one will believe him. And once
again, Kilmarnock demonstrated that without Freddie Dindeleux
their defence is non-existent.
No one is a greater admirer of the Frenchman than your correspondent
(in my all-time Killie XI he would share central defence with
Jackie McGrory) but its not healthy to rely so
much on one player.
Still, Kilmarnock have the players to finish in or close to a European
spot again this season. Whether the off-field explosions will allow
them to do so is another question. Boardroom splits are never amicable.
Bill Costley and two allies have walked away from Rugby Park
after disagreements with Chief Executive David Heath. Heath
was backed by the clubs biggest shareholder Jamie Moffatt.
Its not necessary to go into the details here. In any case
it would take far too much time and space. The upshot of it is that
Costleys shares are up for grabs.
The rumour mill is working overtime connecting every Ayrshireman
with a few bob in his pocket with Kilmarnock. Tom Hunters
going to dive in say some, David Murrays jacked it
in at Ibrox, observe others. Well see. Bill Costley put a
lot of cash into Kilmarnock and its going to take a substantial
bid to buy him out.
But the damage to the image of Kilmarnock as a friendly, family-oriented,
progressive club has taken a battering. An apparent cock-up over
a half-time draw in a pre-season match led to the club asking the
police to make some enquiries into allegations of missing money.
Of course a police inquiry at a football club where the Chairman,
Sir John Orr, is a former Chief Constable of the Strathclyde
force is always going to be a news story.
To see it splashed all over the front page of the Scottish edition
of The Sun must have been galling to a club that until recently
prided itself on its PR savvy.
The upshot of it all is that a promising start is turning into an