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  • The SFA Make It More Expensive To Watch Scottish Football

    The cost to watch scottish football on the telly is about to become more expensive following the announcement that subscription-based channel premier sports had acquired the rights to showcase the scottish cup along with the bbc next season.

    The deal is supposed to be worth up to £20 million over six years and even with the BBC continuing to show free-to-air live matches and now including one match each from the first round to the third, does this announcement have the best interests of the fans?

    In my opinion, it doesn’t.

    This new deal brings the total number of channels that you will have to shell out a monthly fee on to a staggering three. We currently have Sky Sports showing Scottish football on their channels at £22 a month, BT Sports at £27.99 a month and it will now cost £9.99 to watch selected Scottish Cup ties on Premier Sports. In total, if you were keeping these channels for a year at their current rate, you would have to shell out a whopping £719.76. This figure doesn’t even include the cost of your own club’s TV channel which range from £49 to £96 depending on who you support. It also doesn’t consider the price of a season ticket and even the TV License we pay for.

    Sky Sports may be rumoured to be in the driving seat to net the rights to screen the Premiership in a three-year deal worth £100 million but to watch any Betfred League cup games, we will still need to subscribe to BT Sports until 2020.

    We all love to read about any new investment being brought into Scottish football but to now have our beautiful game scattered over three different channels you have to pay for is absolutely ludicrous.

    The news has been met with disapproval from Scottish football fans and rightly so. They are feeling aggrieved that it will cost much more now to watch football in their own county and are not ready to start paying through the nose to do so. With the poor standard of coverage also being scrutinised, there has been more negativity to this news than positive. 

    Unsurprisingly, the SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell is proud as punch with this new partnership.

    "The William Hill Scottish Cup is a tournament that is steeped in history,” Said Maxwell.

    “In it, the clubs and players have created countless unforgettable memories and this deal will ensure that more action than ever before will be broadcast live to the nation.

    “It will also drive significant revenue back to all the clubs who participate in the competition, ensuring ongoing investment into the game.

    "We look forward to working with Premier Sports and the BBC to help us continue to tell the stories and cover the action of our top knockout competition.”

    Unfortunately, we have become used to this kind of shithousery from the smug boys at Hampden who think every action they make is for the good of our game and should be welcomed with a pat on the back.

    Luckily for us Dundee fans, cup runs are as rare as the TV in the Bobby Cox working so subscribing to a new channel will more than likely not affect us.

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    I really only want to watch Dundee FC. Does this deal fully compensate the clubs for the first three rounds? If so could they revert to giving ST holders access to these rounds as part of their season ticket? Might get better support and maybe boost our efforts to win through these rounds.

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    9 minutes ago, BCram said:

    I really only want to watch Dundee FC. Does this deal fully compensate the clubs for the first three rounds? If so could they revert to giving ST holders access to these rounds as part of their season ticket? Might get better support and maybe boost our efforts to win through these rounds.

    I enjoy watching Scottish Football on the telly. It's normally never that very good but after years of watching Dundee, em used to it!

    I think we don't feature until the fourth round and can't see many clubs adding cup games to season tickets, especially not ours 😂

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  • Similar Content

    • By Billy Campbell's Ghost
      90 SECONDS TO GO! ....... DRAMA IN THE CUP FINAL
      It was Dundee versus Rangers, who incidentally were aiming for only the second domestic treble of their illustrious history.
      While Dundee, still displaying the artistry of the championship winning side of two years earlier were determined to continue their excellent form which had taken them to this, their first final since 1952 when they were rocked by an unfancied Motherwell side.
      The teams lined up as follows:
      Rangers: Ritchie, Shearer, Provan, Greig, McKinnon, Baxter, Henderson, McLean, Millar, Brand, Wilson.
      Dundee: Slater, Hamilton, Cox, Seith, Ryden, Stuart, Penman, Cousin, Cameron, Gilzean, Robertson.
      Rangers had most of the play in a first half full of excitement although Dundee showed they would always be dangerous with some intelligent breaks into attack, making sure the Gers were always on their toes. There were so many talented players on view that the football couldn't fail to be of the highest quality.
      Still, half-time was reached and stalemate, with the main talking point being the outstanding display from Dundee goalie Bert Slater and the general view that whatever the final outcome, his performance would be remembered by everyone who witnessed it that day.
      Bert, now living in Brechin has an incredible recollection for facts, figures, incidents and personalities from his playing career.
      'I remember the game vividly. I had won a Scottish Cup winners medal with Falkirk in the 1957 final against Killie after a replay, and being only 20 at that time was enthralled by it all.' 'I was determined in 1964 to soak up the whole sense of occasion and instill in my memory the whole day and what it meant as one doesn't know if these days will happen again!' 'It was rare to reach two cup finals in these days with two so-called provincial clubs, as it probably is today, although Dundee were not really a provincial club, being champions two seasons earlier!'
      The second half was what most fans will remember about this marvellous cup final as in the 71st minute Rangers finally broke the deadlock with a simple goal from a Jimmy Millar looping header that Ralph Brand dummied and wrong-footed Bert.
      Before Bert had time to let this get to him Dundee had equalised straight from the kick-off as Alex Stuart sent a great ball through to Kenny Cameron and he struck a venomous hook shot scorching into the Rangers net that Billy Ritchie hardly saw!
      Back to square one and Rangers set about swarming around the Dundee goal for a late winner which seemed destined never to arrive.
      People were looking at their watches and making arrangements for the replay when with 90 seconds to go and ingenious switch paid the full dividend for the Light Blues.
      Their two superb wingers, Willie Henderson and Davie Wilson had been kept in check all afternoon by the Dundee full-back pairing of Hamilton and Cox and decided to swap wings in a final effort to swing the game. Dundee's fatal error was not to switch the full-backs with the wingers.
      Henderson for the first time got past his marker and chip a beauty into the Dundee goalmouth where Jimmy Millar was waiting unmarked and almost leisurely glanced the ball past Slater. The deadlock was broken and in injury time Rangers added an almost incidental third when Brand knocked a parried Wilson shot past Slater to really wrap it up for Rangers.
      What was to be ' Slater's Final' had suddenly become in the eyes of the Rangers fans 'Henderson's Final' although to this day I don't think anyone would take anything away from Bert's performance that day.
      Bert rates that display pretty highly in his career, ‘I would say that game and the European Cup tie against Anderlecht in Brussels were the two best games of my life, although if I had the chance to change anything in my career I don' t think I would. I had a fantastic footballing career from the moment I was signed for Falkirk from Broughton Star by Bob Shankly at the tender years of 17.
      I then joined Bob's brother Bill at Liverpool and won a Second Division winners medal at Anfield while Dundee were winning the Scottish title in 1961/62.
      One Shanks sold me to the other and I found myself playing European Cup football which brought another host of memories including being protected by the Black Watch in Cologne after a battle on the field with the Germans and photographers popping flash-guns about two inches from my face in Milan even when play was at the other end of the park!
      'I played with and against some marvellous players and find it hard to single out any of the Dundee team who were all brilliant although Gilzean and Smith were immense. Gordon Smith had won three Scottish league medals with three different clubs, none of which were the old firm and that is a record that only he has achieved. I think that says it all about Gordon as a player.
      'I played with Hunt, Yeats and St. John at Anfield and against the likes of Law and Charlton and these guys were all great players. My all time favourite though was the Falkirk full-back, Alex Parker, who represented Scotland in the World Cup in Sweden in 1958 and just oozed sheer class.'
      Bert could have talked all day if I had the time and I would have been a willing listener because what came over in my chat with him was the feelings and emotion he still had for the game and his memories which he obviously cherished so dearly.
      Something Bert told me that not many folk will know to this day is that the very next morning after the Rangers cup final, Jimmy Millar, the scorer of two of the Gers’ goals visited Bert's house and OFFERED Bert his WINNER' S medal - a gesture that Bert has not forgotten to this day. Jimmy felt Bert had earned it and this offer is surely the one of the greatest shows of respect any player could have had for his fellow professional.
      Unknown to Bert I spoke to Jimmy Millar, now Mine Host at the Duke's Head Bar in deepest Leith, and he recalled both the game and his wonderful gesture although he quipped 'You must be joking!' when I tried to ask him about the medal incident, which came over to me as modesty from another old timer only too happy to chat about the old days.
      The last word went to Jimmy Millar who although acknowledging that Bert Slater was the best man on the park that day observed that Rangers should have been 6 - 1 up at half-time!
      Maybe it's time to leave this story and start researching the next Memory match!
    • By Billy Campbell's Ghost
      DUNDEE v MOTHERWELL, SCOTTISH CUP FINAL 1952
      I must add that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they beat United to prevent them completing their full complement of domestic honours!  (honest!)
      What is important about their victory, and that of Hibs in last season's Skol Cup is that it proves that Scottish football is not a two horse race, or three or four for that matter for the domestic honours in the game. Even recent beaten finalists such as Airdrie and Dunfermline show that honours are within the reach of perhaps around twelve teams realistically, although this probably excludes the league as resources and quality should shine through over a long 44-game programme. It is with this in mind that fans and more importantly players of so-called provincial clubs, and I include Dundee and Motherwell in this, should bear in mind at the start of each season.
      With a mix of endeavour, skill, luck and of course a decent cup draw, anything is possible as Airdrie will testify when they trot out in Prague for their first and never to be forgotten taste of European Football.
      I'm sure Motherwell fans would agree and I know that my Dens mates who are old enough to remember the Dee's glory days will testify these nights are extra-special!
      Todays’ opponents have one over us in that they have won the Scottish Cup twice by virtue of beating both city teams at Hampden in what is fair to say was the role of the underdog both times.
      The victory over United is recent enough for us all to remember but the one over the Dee way back in 1952 was a stunning result for its day due to both the manner of victory and the quality of Dundee' s team at that time.
      This was a Dundee team that contained a number of greats, household names such as the peerless Billy Steel, Tommy Gallacher, Doug Cowie and George ‘Pud’ Hill who my old man once said knocked big George Young of Rangers over - and Geordie was twice the size of our Pud !
      I spoke to Pud whose nickname incidentally was changed from ‘Pod’ in his schooldays to ‘Pud’ by Tommy Gallacher, and he recalled the match with incredible clarity.
      He remembers George Young with great affection as someone who was a gentleman on the park and one of the fairest players in the game with no desire to be dirty or hurt a fellow professional.
      'Dundee had already won the League Cup earlier in season 1951/52 defeating Rangers 3-2 in an incredible finish and were the hot favourites to lift the second domestic cup to round off the best season in their history.'
      'I had missed our League Cup Final win earlier that season through injury and also the semi where we had thumped, by coincidence, Motherwell 5-1 at Ibrox! Not many people will know that no medals were awarded by the Scottish League for winning, and Dundee gave the players medals struck by themselves!
      'I was determined to make up for that but as the history books show it was not to be although I have no regrets as after the war I didn't think I would even be playing football let alone be in a cup final. I had suffered a couple of bad injuries, a cartilage op and tendon trouble and had not been too optimistic about my career in football.'
      Post -war crowds were still phenomenal and around 136,000 were squashed into Hampden to see an intriguing match in April 1952 where the teams lined up as follows:
      Dundee: Henderson, Follon, Cowan, Gallacher, Cowie, Boyd, Hill, Pattillo, Flavell, Steel and Christie.
      Motherwell: Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Shaw, Cox, Paton, Redpath, Sloan, Humphries, Kelly, Watson and Aitkenhead.
      Motherwell had already been in four finals only to lose them all with the last defeat only the prior season, while Dundee had enjoyed two appearances with a 50% success rate as a result of victory over Clyde in 1910 where a winning goal from John ‘Sailor’ Hunter brought the trophy to Dens.
      By coincidence John Hunter had gone on to manage both Dundee and Motherwell and eventually by the time of the 1952 final had experienced four defeats in Scottish Cup Finals. George Stevenson was now in charge at Motherwell and ‘Sailor’ had opted to stay at home and listen to the match on the radio.
      In the first half it was all square although 'Well full back Willie Kilmarnock kicked the ball off the line twice with some people still to this day claiming one was over the line, although I'm not a great fan of hard luck stories as football will never be a game of 'if only ... '.
      Pud remembers that 'Billy Steel was in good form in the first half but perhaps played too many balls down the left and didn't vary it often enough'.
      'The second half was a different story though and twice in two minute spells Motherwell stuck two past us to give an unbelievable scoreline of 0 - 4 with the goals being scored by Watson and Redpath in the 56th and 57th minutes and again near the end by Humphries and Kelly in the 84th and 85th minutes to really rub it in'
      'My main outstanding memory is a feeling of emptiness and realising we had lost and I only had a runners up medal, although I knew later and still do that that was also an achievement. Dundee at that time had the best half-back line in Scotland with Gallacher, Cowie and Boyd the outstanding trio.'
      'It would have been fantastic to have brought two trophies to Dens in one season but it was not to be. We had a great manager in George Anderson who liked players with character as his purchase of Billy Steel showed'. 'George was a gent and in fact I remember him only swearing once and even then he apologised before he said it!'
      'He was fond of saying, “we’re not running a Sunday school here!” as he knew some players would step out of line now and again! He actually tried to get a Super League started in the early fifties so none of the current thinking is particularly new – in fact George Anderson was obviously way ahead of his time. He also knew how to use the press to his and the club's advantage and nowadays would probably be regarded as a great marketing guy!
      Pud still follows the fortunes of Dundee (and United!) and his son, George junior actually had a spell with Dundee in the early seventies but didn't quite make it.
      Pud still keeps in touch with his old mates and on the day I spoke to him was off to meet Tommy Gallacher in the Boar's Rock for a 'wee drink' where they meet regularly, no doubt to reminisce on great days. If anyone sees these fine gentlemen in there one night buy them a drink from a new generation of Dundee fans brought up on stories of glory days.

      View full blog
    • By Billy Campbell's Ghost
      DUNDEE v MOTHERWELL, SCOTTISH CUP FINAL 1952
      I must add that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they beat United to prevent them completing their full complement of domestic honours!  (honest!)
      What is important about their victory, and that of Hibs in last season's Skol Cup is that it proves that Scottish football is not a two horse race, or three or four for that matter for the domestic honours in the game. Even recent beaten finalists such as Airdrie and Dunfermline show that honours are within the reach of perhaps around twelve teams realistically, although this probably excludes the league as resources and quality should shine through over a long 44-game programme. It is with this in mind that fans and more importantly players of so-called provincial clubs, and I include Dundee and Motherwell in this, should bear in mind at the start of each season.
      With a mix of endeavour, skill, luck and of course a decent cup draw, anything is possible as Airdrie will testify when they trot out in Prague for their first and never to be forgotten taste of European Football.
      I'm sure Motherwell fans would agree and I know that my Dens mates who are old enough to remember the Dee's glory days will testify these nights are extra-special!
      Todays’ opponents have one over us in that they have won the Scottish Cup twice by virtue of beating both city teams at Hampden in what is fair to say was the role of the underdog both times.
      The victory over United is recent enough for us all to remember but the one over the Dee way back in 1952 was a stunning result for its day due to both the manner of victory and the quality of Dundee' s team at that time.
      This was a Dundee team that contained a number of greats, household names such as the peerless Billy Steel, Tommy Gallacher, Doug Cowie and George ‘Pud’ Hill who my old man once said knocked big George Young of Rangers over - and Geordie was twice the size of our Pud !
      I spoke to Pud whose nickname incidentally was changed from ‘Pod’ in his schooldays to ‘Pud’ by Tommy Gallacher, and he recalled the match with incredible clarity.
      He remembers George Young with great affection as someone who was a gentleman on the park and one of the fairest players in the game with no desire to be dirty or hurt a fellow professional.
      'Dundee had already won the League Cup earlier in season 1951/52 defeating Rangers 3-2 in an incredible finish and were the hot favourites to lift the second domestic cup to round off the best season in their history.'
      'I had missed our League Cup Final win earlier that season through injury and also the semi where we had thumped, by coincidence, Motherwell 5-1 at Ibrox! Not many people will know that no medals were awarded by the Scottish League for winning, and Dundee gave the players medals struck by themselves!
      'I was determined to make up for that but as the history books show it was not to be although I have no regrets as after the war I didn't think I would even be playing football let alone be in a cup final. I had suffered a couple of bad injuries, a cartilage op and tendon trouble and had not been too optimistic about my career in football.'
      Post -war crowds were still phenomenal and around 136,000 were squashed into Hampden to see an intriguing match in April 1952 where the teams lined up as follows:
      Dundee: Henderson, Follon, Cowan, Gallacher, Cowie, Boyd, Hill, Pattillo, Flavell, Steel and Christie.
      Motherwell: Johnstone, Kilmarnock, Shaw, Cox, Paton, Redpath, Sloan, Humphries, Kelly, Watson and Aitkenhead.
      Motherwell had already been in four finals only to lose them all with the last defeat only the prior season, while Dundee had enjoyed two appearances with a 50% success rate as a result of victory over Clyde in 1910 where a winning goal from John ‘Sailor’ Hunter brought the trophy to Dens.
      By coincidence John Hunter had gone on to manage both Dundee and Motherwell and eventually by the time of the 1952 final had experienced four defeats in Scottish Cup Finals. George Stevenson was now in charge at Motherwell and ‘Sailor’ had opted to stay at home and listen to the match on the radio.
      In the first half it was all square although 'Well full back Willie Kilmarnock kicked the ball off the line twice with some people still to this day claiming one was over the line, although I'm not a great fan of hard luck stories as football will never be a game of 'if only ... '.
      Pud remembers that 'Billy Steel was in good form in the first half but perhaps played too many balls down the left and didn't vary it often enough'.
      'The second half was a different story though and twice in two minute spells Motherwell stuck two past us to give an unbelievable scoreline of 0 - 4 with the goals being scored by Watson and Redpath in the 56th and 57th minutes and again near the end by Humphries and Kelly in the 84th and 85th minutes to really rub it in'
      'My main outstanding memory is a feeling of emptiness and realising we had lost and I only had a runners up medal, although I knew later and still do that that was also an achievement. Dundee at that time had the best half-back line in Scotland with Gallacher, Cowie and Boyd the outstanding trio.'
      'It would have been fantastic to have brought two trophies to Dens in one season but it was not to be. We had a great manager in George Anderson who liked players with character as his purchase of Billy Steel showed'. 'George was a gent and in fact I remember him only swearing once and even then he apologised before he said it!'
      'He was fond of saying, “we’re not running a Sunday school here!” as he knew some players would step out of line now and again! He actually tried to get a Super League started in the early fifties so none of the current thinking is particularly new – in fact George Anderson was obviously way ahead of his time. He also knew how to use the press to his and the club's advantage and nowadays would probably be regarded as a great marketing guy!
      Pud still follows the fortunes of Dundee (and United!) and his son, George junior actually had a spell with Dundee in the early seventies but didn't quite make it.
      Pud still keeps in touch with his old mates and on the day I spoke to him was off to meet Tommy Gallacher in the Boar's Rock for a 'wee drink' where they meet regularly, no doubt to reminisce on great days. If anyone sees these fine gentlemen in there one night buy them a drink from a new generation of Dundee fans brought up on stories of glory days.
    • By Billy Campbell's Ghost
      90 SECONDS TO GO! ....... DRAMA IN THE CUP FINAL
      It was Dundee versus Rangers, who incidentally were aiming for only the second domestic treble of their illustrious history.
      While Dundee, still displaying the artistry of the championship winning side of two years earlier were determined to continue their excellent form which had taken them to this, their first final since 1952 when they were rocked by an unfancied Motherwell side.
      The teams lined up as follows:
      Rangers: Ritchie, Shearer, Provan, Greig, McKinnon, Baxter, Henderson, McLean, Millar, Brand, Wilson.
      Dundee: Slater, Hamilton, Cox, Seith, Ryden, Stuart, Penman, Cousin, Cameron, Gilzean, Robertson.
      Rangers had most of the play in a first half full of excitement although Dundee showed they would always be dangerous with some intelligent breaks into attack, making sure the Gers were always on their toes. There were so many talented players on view that the football couldn't fail to be of the highest quality.
      Still, half-time was reached and stalemate, with the main talking point being the outstanding display from Dundee goalie Bert Slater and the general view that whatever the final outcome, his performance would be remembered by everyone who witnessed it that day.
      Bert, now living in Brechin has an incredible recollection for facts, figures, incidents and personalities from his playing career.
      'I remember the game vividly. I had won a Scottish Cup winners medal with Falkirk in the 1957 final against Killie after a replay, and being only 20 at that time was enthralled by it all.' 'I was determined in 1964 to soak up the whole sense of occasion and instill in my memory the whole day and what it meant as one doesn't know if these days will happen again!' 'It was rare to reach two cup finals in these days with two so-called provincial clubs, as it probably is today, although Dundee were not really a provincial club, being champions two seasons earlier!'
      The second half was what most fans will remember about this marvellous cup final as in the 71st minute Rangers finally broke the deadlock with a simple goal from a Jimmy Millar looping header that Ralph Brand dummied and wrong-footed Bert.
      Before Bert had time to let this get to him Dundee had equalised straight from the kick-off as Alex Stuart sent a great ball through to Kenny Cameron and he struck a venomous hook shot scorching into the Rangers net that Billy Ritchie hardly saw!
      Back to square one and Rangers set about swarming around the Dundee goal for a late winner which seemed destined never to arrive.
      People were looking at their watches and making arrangements for the replay when with 90 seconds to go and ingenious switch paid the full dividend for the Light Blues.
      Their two superb wingers, Willie Henderson and Davie Wilson had been kept in check all afternoon by the Dundee full-back pairing of Hamilton and Cox and decided to swap wings in a final effort to swing the game. Dundee's fatal error was not to switch the full-backs with the wingers.
      Henderson for the first time got past his marker and chip a beauty into the Dundee goalmouth where Jimmy Millar was waiting unmarked and almost leisurely glanced the ball past Slater. The deadlock was broken and in injury time Rangers added an almost incidental third when Brand knocked a parried Wilson shot past Slater to really wrap it up for Rangers.
      What was to be ' Slater's Final' had suddenly become in the eyes of the Rangers fans 'Henderson's Final' although to this day I don't think anyone would take anything away from Bert's performance that day.
      Bert rates that display pretty highly in his career, ‘I would say that game and the European Cup tie against Anderlecht in Brussels were the two best games of my life, although if I had the chance to change anything in my career I don' t think I would. I had a fantastic footballing career from the moment I was signed for Falkirk from Broughton Star by Bob Shankly at the tender years of 17.
      I then joined Bob's brother Bill at Liverpool and won a Second Division winners medal at Anfield while Dundee were winning the Scottish title in 1961/62.
      One Shanks sold me to the other and I found myself playing European Cup football which brought another host of memories including being protected by the Black Watch in Cologne after a battle on the field with the Germans and photographers popping flash-guns about two inches from my face in Milan even when play was at the other end of the park!
      'I played with and against some marvellous players and find it hard to single out any of the Dundee team who were all brilliant although Gilzean and Smith were immense. Gordon Smith had won three Scottish league medals with three different clubs, none of which were the old firm and that is a record that only he has achieved. I think that says it all about Gordon as a player.
      'I played with Hunt, Yeats and St. John at Anfield and against the likes of Law and Charlton and these guys were all great players. My all time favourite though was the Falkirk full-back, Alex Parker, who represented Scotland in the World Cup in Sweden in 1958 and just oozed sheer class.'
      Bert could have talked all day if I had the time and I would have been a willing listener because what came over in my chat with him was the feelings and emotion he still had for the game and his memories which he obviously cherished so dearly.
      Something Bert told me that not many folk will know to this day is that the very next morning after the Rangers cup final, Jimmy Millar, the scorer of two of the Gers’ goals visited Bert's house and OFFERED Bert his WINNER' S medal - a gesture that Bert has not forgotten to this day. Jimmy felt Bert had earned it and this offer is surely the one of the greatest shows of respect any player could have had for his fellow professional.
      Unknown to Bert I spoke to Jimmy Millar, now Mine Host at the Duke's Head Bar in deepest Leith, and he recalled both the game and his wonderful gesture although he quipped 'You must be joking!' when I tried to ask him about the medal incident, which came over to me as modesty from another old timer only too happy to chat about the old days.
      The last word went to Jimmy Millar who although acknowledging that Bert Slater was the best man on the park that day observed that Rangers should have been 6-1 up at half-time!
      Maybe it's time to leave this story and start researching the next Memory match!

      View full blog
    • By TheDarkBlues
      We have a home tie against Queen of the south in the 4th round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
      Can we win it this year please and get this monkey off our back!
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    • By Andrak
      That they were, again, so comprehensively thumped by one of the bigger boys in the CL playground saddens me a little more. But something about the other night made me angry writes Andrew Keith.
      That they were, again, so comprehensively thumped by one of the bigger boys in the CL playground saddens me a little more. But something about the other night made me angry. Not the players, their effort, or even the schoolboy defending. Not the semi-ritualistic way these games are presented on TV or the ludicrous hype that is generated by the commentators and pundits. What offends me is the casual referencing of the weakness of the game and players in Scotland as a key reason why Celtic struggle against the best teams, and the implicit suggestion that if only their domestic opponents were more skilful, Celtic’s Champions League training friendlies schedule, aka the SPFL Premiership, might prepare them better for these big games.
      Pat Bonner said it outright. The weakness of the SPFL is the problem. Several others made the point that Celtic defenders never get the chance to play against top strikers in their own league and are, therefore, somehow unable to cope with it when they do. Others claim that Celtic are so used to being in possession of the ball and winning games easily at home, that when they face a top-quality opponent, they are suddenly caught like a rabbit in headlights without the faintest clue what to do.
      I don’t know enough about the tactics of modern football or the language used to describe systems of play to critique that in footballing terms, but I do have a reasonable grasp of what constitutes bullshit. And so much of what our journalists, TV commentators, and pundits say, on occasions like this, is definitely it.
      I blame Celtic for their own failings and the executive branch of Scottish football for facilitating that failure. Here’s how. In my opinion, professional football in Scotland has been organised around a single goal. To generate Scottish success in the Champions League. A good way to achieve that is to ensure that Scottish teams get plenty exposure to that league. The best way to ensure that is to make sure that the same team, or teams, gain regular entry into it.  The way to make that happen is to organise the league such that it is unthinkable that any other team could win it. How might you do that without making it obvious what your intentions are?
      Well, first, you lay the financial ground. Allow teams to keep their home gate receipts. That way, clubs are kept in their place, the big two stay big, the middle six to eight, not so big, and the rest, remain almost irrelevant. To further entrench the financial status quo, you need to ensure that income from domestic sources (particularly TV money) is kept low enough to stop any other club paying for a team above their station, but not so low that mid-sized clubs go out of business.
      Next, you would have to ensure that the rules stay in place long enough for the plan to work. Give the two big clubs the right of veto over rule changes. The masterminds of the plan have to be kept in office for as long as possible and committee members must be carefully selected. A generous portion of executives from the big two, and a fair sprinkling of others too afraid of their own clubs going to the wall to bother about grand generation-long master-plans, should guarantee no one rocks the boat too much. Allow a rogue committee member to challenge things every now and again to make it look good for the punters, safe in the knowledge that no permanent damage can be done to the plan.
      But what if something unexpected happened to one of the big clubs? That could be tricky, right? The whole plan could be put in jeopardy. On the other hand, what is there to worry about when you have ensured that the decision makers are either on message or too concerned about their own teams’ survival to get in the way of a stitch up. Sure, we lost a few years, but it’ll soon get back on track.
      Journalists would get wind of this surely, or even be able to work it out for themselves, right? Well, in a profession that seems to have lost most of its towering intellects to be replaced by either agenda driven zealots or barely literate fan bloggers (like me, I suppose), we might be asking a little too much of them. In any case, the overwhelming coverage of the big two in the national media and the simple fact that promoting Celtic and Rangers sells advertising space means that they are, more or less, complicit, even if they don’t always realise it.
      At this point I’m beginning to sound like a mad conspiracy theorist, but as Spock would say “When all logical explanations have been discarded, the illogical explanation must be true.”
      Pat Bonner and those other pundits and commentators are right of course. Celtics failure against the big teams is the fault of the rest of Scottish football. Our players and teams aren’t good enough. But fault is a convoluted thing. It is not our fault because we are not good enough. It is our fault because we are not brave enough. Not brave enough to stand up to the powers running our game and put a stop to this madness.
      I have absolutely no evidence that there is such a master-plan, or that anyone at the SFA or SPFL has even considered any of these points or the consequences that might flow from them. I even have serious doubts that any of the current leadership have the intellectual capacity to dream up such a Machiavellian plot, let alone execute it. But one thing I do know is that Scottish football is not in a healthy place. Not even the handing over of Celtic’s next Champions League win bonus to Ross County, for giving them such a good run out the week before, would fix it.
      How glorious would it be for the other Scottish teams to be credited for Celtic’s CL victories (especially the big ones)? I imagine the words would get stuck in plenty of throats. Celtic win CL games despite Scottish Football and lose them because of it. That, in a nutshell, is where we are right now. All that is likely to change any time soon is that Rangers will join them again. Something has to change, if only because my TV won’t survive another shoe being thrown at it and my dog’s wee heart will surely give up if I’m incited to scream excitedly at some Celtic minded blowhard telling the world that my team is partly to blame for Celtic’s defence not being good enough to stop Neymar or Lewandowski, or some other top player.
      Next up, my thoughts on how to fix Scottish football in the shape of a ten-point plan.

      Ten Point Plan for Scottish Football
      Share gates 50/50. This is an essential first step in reversing the years of financial genocide that has been committed on all but two of our professional clubs in the last 30 odd years. Bring in a proportional voting system (based on a combination of league placing, number of professional players signed, average home attendance as a percentage of the population within 10 miles from the home stadium, and percentage of fan ownership) to stop the two richest and the next three or four richest clubs rigging things in their financial favour. Introduce financial fair play rules much stronger than UEFAs. Let’s punish clubs proportionately for being financially reckless so we don't have to completely crush them when it goes too wrong in the end. A crime of attempted administration or reckless endangerment towards a football club would do here. Encourage clubs to move to the German model of club ownership and operation, or at least limit ‘single investor’ ownership to 49%. Encourage local councils to get involved in club or facilities ownership (stadium, training facilities, parking, etc). I would ideally love to see wholly or partly council-owned sporting areas in towns and cities that contain facilities for all sports from beginner up to professional level. The proposed Caird Park development and the New Campy plans that will see football and ice hockey side by side are examples. Invest massively in several SFA run regional youth academies. Raise the age that children can be signed by club academies to 14 and make school marks a significant performance measure.  Force clubs to guarantee academy players a minimum number of first or second team games before they are released. To give other clubs a chance to see them perform before they are dumped. Do you imagine that Celtic have such a large academy (http://www.celticfc.net/team/academy) only to produce one or two future Celtic players, could it be to stop other teams getting to them? Introduce international standard treatment and rehabilitation centres funded by the SPFL or SFA. Just like the NHS, in principle at least. Treatment costs or the insurance premiums must be crippling for most clubs and will stop them signing injury prone players or risking highly skilled players in games against 'industrial' type opponents. Consider withdrawing from European club competitions for a few years. The damage that regular failure against apparent European minnows inflicts on our young players season after season must be deep and painful. Consider introducing some kind of handicapping system based on income in cup and league competitions. The greater the income the lower the handicap that is reduced from your points or goals total, like golf, although not quite as brutal. Enough to give smaller clubs from the lower divisions a non-financial reason to want to get into the top league, but, sadly, not enough on its own to stop the ugly sisters from winning it anyway. OK, the last two are a bit far-fetched. But, if we are to move football into a new dawn, we need to have radical ideas and proposals that challenge the complacent and narrow-minded approach of our current football leadership. If our primary measure of success for Scottish Football is little more than how far Celtic get in the Champions League, then we are in big trouble. Celtic don’t share their wealth with other clubs except in their away support for matches. We all subsidise Celtic (and no doubt soon to be again, Rangers) to one degree or another:
      by the low fees they pay for our best players, by the priority they get over TV revenues, by the hoovering up of the best young talent in the country, by the way the football authorities allow them to act with near impunity when other clubs would be and are punished severely, by their near total domination of column inches in the sports pages of our national newspapers (and sometimes our local ones too). by the lack of respect for Scottish football resulting from the bigotry displayed by fans of both clubs.  I could go on………
      Let’s hope we can find leaders who are prepared to tackle the underlying issues. So far, all I have seen or heard, is a few calls for changing the menu in the restaurant and adding a few more deck games as our Scottish Football Titanic steams, still, towards colder waters where there be icebergs.
    • By TheDarkBlues
      Dundee 0-2 St Mirren | William Hill Scottish Cup 2016-17 Fourth Round
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