“Show me an analyst who works here [Scotland] who is negative about Scottish football. It would make no sense and it’s simply not the case.”
Chris McLaughlin BBC Scotland’s Senior Football Reporter 6 November 2017
I decided to take up Mr. McLaughlin’s challenge as I so wanted him to be right. If this is the case (no negative analysts in Scotland) then we just have to ignore the paranoid ramblings of Joe Public, who we know has form for this, and get on with the promotion of our game hand in hand with a proactive governing body and a media that calls it as they see it. Right?!
To back up Chris (I feel we are first name buddies now as I want so much to believe him) I have decided to apply my utterly unreliable memory recall, non-existent investigative journalistic skills, lack of dedication to accurate record keeping and not even remotely considerable intellect to proving him correct!
First up BBC Scotland’s own article quoting Graeme Souness.
“Scottish football needs a strong Rangers and a strong Celtic to create interest outside of Scotland.”
“If that’s not the case, Scottish football would die.”
Exactly Graeme; Scottish football has only two teams so obviously if one of them dies (died) then that would make it a bit less interesting to supporters of other teams.
Wait! What? I hear you say
Do pay attention; you see Chris’s organisation are just doing their duty in providing the public with the required early warnings to help us mobilise to save our clubs. Thank you BBC.
Wait! What? I hear myself say!
Of course the difficulty is that one did die (whisper it, it was Rangers) and Scottish football survived or indeed as Michael Stewart has been pointing out to the hard of thinking – Scottish Club Football is thriving. Michael’s point, all clubs in top division are seeing increased home attendances, backed up by evidence has obviously made it a bit more difficult for me to prove Chris’s theory but I won’t give up on this. I am here for you Chris!
I think this one will help Chris more, best not to rely on his colleagues, who frankly I think have it in for poor Chris. An article by the Sun’s Ryan MacDonald tells us how the Scottish Football aficionado Craig Bellamy is growing concerned about the state of Scottish Football “Nobody in England cares.” This is quite obviously going to positively influence the perception of our game especially once we do what Craig asks and ensure there is a “strong Rangers” (sic).
Wait! What? I hear all multi brain celled beings scream!
Oh I was so hopeful there but unfortunately the ‘strong Rangers’ requirement has popped up again. Their death is making it very difficult for me to identify how they can be strengthened.
But wait it seems my good friend Chris has found the solution though, as he was analysing the possibility of Derek McInnes moving to Glasgow.
‘It seems unlikely but entirely possible.
Unlikely because Rangers might well be the challenge McInnes needs. In fact, it could be viewed as a perfect fit for both right now.’
So his positive spin is that a basket case club surviving on loans from Director’s or it’s deceased predecessor, I’m never entirely sure which is being referred to, is a perfect fit for one of our up and coming managers.
I’m not going to litter this article with hundreds of quotes that have me sadly unable to support Mr. McLaughlin (turns out I don’t agree with him, so more formal approach required) but there is two other points to be made here.
If we consider the Graeme Souness quotes, these were given when he was promoting his book. And every media outlet in Scotland ran with the headlines on the terrible state of Scottish Football and need for a strong Rangers (sic). Isn’t it possible that to give him the exposure that his career deserves the media could have shared some of extracts or his biggest stories rather than his frankly biased and out of touch views of our game?
And then there is the tendency to blame the clubs and by association the fans for the perceived ills in our game. These observations by Ewan Murray in the Guardian must have been written when he was at a very low ebb; he seems to have recovered thankfully and is still blogging away on Scottish football.
‘And yet, a bigger picture is key. The manifestation of laziness and complacency during good times for the Scottish game has been long term. Now, there is a horrendously dull, self-interested domestic scene which does nothing to inspire talent nor supporters and a group of players who are hailed as exceptional when actually they are yet to reach mediocrity…
…The actual damage was done decades ago to the extent where a fresh generation has no reason to connect with Scotland’s national sport.’
Ewan Murray Friday 9 October 2015 11.33 BST The Guardian
He didn’t miss there this lad, but I’m not sure he hit the right target, seemingly blaming the clubs and fans with his ‘self-interested domestic scene’ quote. I may have gone for ‘whilst many of our domestic clubs try to improve themselves and the standards in Scottish Football, evidenced by the increasing attendances and many community initiatives, they are battling against a governing body that is at best incompetent and at worst corrupted’. That’s the biggest obstacle to our game for its participants and consumers. The SFSA survey made it absolutely clear where the root of the problem is, even the fans of the current Ibrox entity don’t trust the SFA.
So there we have it. I have shown Mr. McLaughlin what he asked for, it is a shame it was so easy to do. Demonstrating not only his and every other media outlets propensity to keek on Scotland, not just the football, when it suits is only a few clicks away. Annoyingly this ostrich impersonation is mirrored across our media landscape. The additional shame that the BBC bears as a national broadcaster is its inability to give the Scottish game a fair crack at the funding never mind some balanced reporting and analysis.
The application of the ostrich approach to Scottish Football analysis means these same outlets who reported the death of Rangers are now acting like it didn’t happen. This is the coverage that hurts the most because now they say it’s not just two clubs that matter but only one! None of the rest can survive without one club! I can’t think of a more negative outlook to promote and yet they do it every day and in every medium possible, despite the five years of evidence to the contrary. There’s no secret to why more fans are turning up at so many clubs now. The game is more interesting to them now we don’t have to live in the shadow of what was considered as the ‘Old Firm’. These clubs set their own standards now and operate, mostly, within their means. And it’s possible to get more of the pie now, you see Motherwell believe they can catch Aberdeen, so do Hibs and Hearts. Aberdeen are chasing down Celtic and maybe they won’t need an increase on last season’s record points tally to close the gap.
For the avoidance of doubt Scottish football crowds are up. More clubs are on a steady financial footing than the late 20th and early 21st centuries had us believing possible and there are some smashing young Scottish players getting experience at our top clubs. We have had a team in the Champions’ league group stages in the last two seasons and we want more success in Europe for more clubs. It will take time but for me role on the rest of the season!
Brendan’s Bhoys and Derek’s Dons better watch out, the Hibees want a piece of the action and Motherwell’s ownership model has you in their sights. I’m sure once the Jambos find a new spot for the control room at their recently extended stadium they’ll be able to see their way to goal too! As for the current Ibrox tenant’s, they have their part to play. Well they do say there is no such thing as bad publicity and these guys are always going to provide a story; football is entertainment after all.
For the benefit of our football media it’s important to know that as fans we are not looking for negativity or puff pieces telling us it is all good. We want transparency, accountability, facts and analysis that makes sense based on the evidence.