Socrates MacSporran

Socrates MacSporran
No I am not Chick Young, but I can remember when Scottish football was good

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Can Maxwell Put The Hampden House In Order?

SO Ian Maxwell it is who will pick-up the poisoned chalice of being the new Chief Executive of the Scottish Football Association. Good luck to the former Partick Thistle Honcho, because he is going to need it.

New SFA CEO Ian Maxwell

I don't think the SFA has had a decent CEO since Ernie Walker retired, and it hasn't helped that, from back then, the game has become more and more about the Bigot Brothers and less about the general game. I genuinely feel Scottish football would be better off without the two permanently-warring Glasgow families – then the rest of us could settle down to a more-even game, rather than one dominated by two massive corporations and their huge following.

Ian Maxwell is, there is no denying, an insider appointment; he knows where some, if not all the bodies are buried, and he certainly knows which presses should remain firmly shut. Perhaps an outsider being appointed might work, but, Ah hae ma doots.

The last guy, after all, came from Yorkshire County Cricket Club, a body notorious across the cricket world for in-fighting, factionalism and under-performing. Yorkshiremen are, some say, simply Scotsmen without the intelligence; Stewart Reagan managed OK among the Tykes at Headingley, I think he is now happy to be out of Hampden.

Maxwell is a former player, he has done his time on the coaching field, so, he comes to the job better-equipped to understand the whole picture than anyone since the early days of football, when the players ran the game, as well as played it. Let's hope, with his time on the grass, he can shake-up the suits who think it's all about them rather than the players and the fans.

But, he faces some huge challenges, not least funding and organising Hampden's transformation into a 21st century stadium at a time of political and financial uncertainty. Still he comes from Thistle, a club not unfamiliar with handling hardship.

I CAN just visualise the scene, as the Sports Editor and his team on any Scottish msm title you care to name finalise their back page and their online site content. The Sports Editor will ask: “OK, what's our big Old Firm story?” To be fair, this is not crucial for the print edition, however, for the online site – they have to have a good Old Firm story as clickbait to get the punters onto the site.

Today's clickbait of choice is the new Celtic kit for next season and the reaction to it. According to The Scotsman's website, sections of the Celtic Family are not happy, because their precious Hoops have been broken-up. Ach! This is nothing new, it has happened before and they should know – when it comes to the so-called purity of the Hoops and money, purity is for paupers.

The real scandal for me is the way football has prostituted itself for shirt sponsorship. The Celtic and Rangers strips are adorned with the logos of downmarket betting companies, which is a sure indication of the paucity, in all respects, of Scottish football. If the Bigot Brothers genuinely were BIG clubs, playing in a big league, they would have big companies keen to put their name on the shirts.

Boston Bruins (above right)
 LA Lakers (right) New York Yankees (below)

Of course, in the major North American sports, where the money really is big – as these pictures show – the mammoth clubs have no need of shirt sponsors. Yes, I'm old-fashioned, I would rather see the Old Firm still wearing classic strips like these below, and having players of the quality of these two would also help:

 Jim Baxter

 Bobby Murdoch 

SPORTING INTEGRITY” was something of a buzz phrase during all the moger around Rangers' collapse, back in 2012. Remember the calls for title-stripping because Rangers had somehow “cheated” by using EBTs to part pay their bigger stars.

As I said at the time EBTs weren't illegal, Rangers simply took bad advice and used the wrong model. In any case, if they hadn't had access to EBTs, they would have used some other means of attracting big-money players to Ibrox.

But, right now, in Rugby, we have a classic case of “sporting integrity”, the likes of which you would never get in football. In the Guinness PRO14 competition, Glasgow Warriors have already clinched a home semi-final place by winning Conference A.

Edinburgh are in third place in Conference B, but, can still be caught by Ulster. The final regular-season games take place on Saturday, with Edinburgh facing Glasgow at Murrayfield in a cross-conference game, while Ulster are away to Munster in aother.

Edinburgh are four points clear of the Belfast team, so, they need either a draw or to lose by less than seven points, while also scoring four tries, to accrue the two points which will take them out of Ulster's reach.

Glasgow v Edinburgh, an SRU inter-departmental game

Edinburgh and Glasgow are both wholly-owned subsidiaries of the SRU, who would clearly love to see both their sides in the play-offs, and thereby guaranteed a place in the Champions Cup – rugby's equivalent of the Champions League next season.

Munster and Ulster are both subsidiaries of the Irish RFU, who would also like to see their clubs in Europe's top competition next season. So, you can see, the potential for the powers that be at Murrayfield and in Dublin to try to arrange the results they want is there.

Now, say what you like about the guys along the sixth-floor corridor at Hampden, they would never leave themselves in a position where they might be tempted to “arrange” say an Old Firm match, for the betterment of Scottish football.

Wonderful thing “sporting integrity” and Glasgow v Edinburgh rivalry. I wonder what will happen on Saturday night.

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