Keep your mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Short and long answers for Mark
I appreciate that Mark at least confesses his ignorance of Scottish football, so I’ll try to be nice.
Quick answers to his two questions would be 1. To attempt to do their best, like hundreds of clubs not named Real Madrid/Juventus/Bayern/Barcelona, and 2. More money please.
I’m also fairly ignorant nowadays of most Scottish football things, but if you look closely then the situation has improved a lot from the days of Rangers buying the league on false credit. Rather than ‘clearly the current situation is akin to Chelsea or City playing L1 or L2 teams every week’, there are 4/5 teams that give them a good scare – just not on a consistent basis against the rest of the league. Rangers unfortunately are back to looking alright, Aberdeen under McInnes have been great for the last few years, Hearts make a good go of it despite most of their team usually being either 16 or 36 with no-one in between, and grudgingly Hibs have improved a lot as well. Hearts beat Celtic at the weekend, the rest have had good results against them as well. So it seems to me that Scottish football has a top 4/5/6, with one team who have financial resources far greater than the rest and who consistently win. Sound familiar to a City fan?
There are all sorts of serious things that Scottish football could do to improve: separation of the Sectarian element, youth coaching quality, investment, TV deals that don’t automatically favour the Old Firm, whatever. But ask most fans if their team could beat Celtic and you’ll hear ‘on their day, yes’. Also, ask Aberdeen fans if Rangers are better than them and you’ll get a much more profane answer; Aberdeen have finished 2nd for the last 4 years and Stevie G doesn’t automatically make Rangers good again.
To recap, Scottish football is just fine without pity. Celtic aren’t going to become European powerhouses because we’re a small country, so our league will always compete on the level of Greek, Belgian and Dutch leagues rather than the EPL. But that’s fine, and competition in Scotland is getting closer.
Ollie (lapsed Hearts fan from Edinburgh), Bristol
…Just wanted to write a response to Mark’s email on ‘The Celtic Question is Back.’
- What is the point of Celtic in the CL? To win… And if not to earn huges sums of money, improve their reputation in an aid for recruitment and attempt to gain supporters outside Scotland. What’s the point of City in the CL? They’ve never had any European success unlike multiple Scottish sides.
- I appreciate Mark considering ways to improve the league, however his limited knowledge of the league undermines this. For example, Aberdeen have been the second team for the last four years, yet Rangers are the only other side mentioned. Whilst the secterian element does exist and is a stain on the Scottish football landscape, it’s most certainly not front and center. The thoughts above are from someone who only pays any attention to Celtic v Rangers games. Finally the loan idea. Patronising? Yes. Detrimental to the development of young Scottish players? Yes.
Scottish football is hugely entertaining with a connection to fans and storylines that has simply ceased to exist in the EPL. Your favourite film isn’t necessarily the one which one the most awards, it’s the one which provides the most entertainment and that you can relate to. That’s why the Scottish Prem is by a distance the best supported league per capita in Europe. Whilst the quality of play has improved a little over the last few years it still has a lot of growing to do. No matter the level, people will continue to love it.
…Mark, MCFC, doesn’t mean to patronise but, before going on to talk on the positives, there’s a couple of patronisations (what, that’s a word!) to clear up.
Firstly, your point was bollocks, but for a different reason. Cardiff joined the English football structure in 1910. Swansea in joined in 1921. Neither have played in any form of “Welsh” football league during their existence (unless you count the Southern League, which is run by the English FA but does include other Welsh teams). They won their way in to the Premier League the same as any English team would. There is no analogy to be had.
Secondly, it is nothing like City playing L1 or L2 teams every week. As proven just this weekend, the standard of Scottish football is, whilst not very good, pretty consistent. Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts, Rangers and, (shudders), Kilmarnock under Stevie Clarke are all on a pretty even level and can all challenge Celtic. Celtic are clearly the best team and will likely win the league again, but not by anywhere near as far as City last year in the EPL. Juve, PSG, Bayern are all dominant in their league’s too – that doesn’t mean Napoli, Monaco or RB Leizpig would get turned over by Leyton Orient. People need to stop just assuming Celtic win the league with 37 wins and a record points total every year.
To answer some of his actual questions:
People are not interested in buying either of the Old Firm because the revenue potential is almost non-existent compared to a middling EPL club. If I buy Leeds and take them to mid-table in the EPL, the broadcasting rights alone will cover the investment. Scottish football does not have that. Were you to dump the Old Firm in to the EPL, they would be amongst the most sought after.
It would massively help grassroots football for the Old Firm ‘s academy (due to influx of money etc.). It would probably be quite negative to grassroots in general because the Old Firm are the big draw. Minus them, a lot of other teams might win the league but there would be a lot less interest. Vis a vis, a lot less money and a lot poorer grassroots. Neither of the Old Firm would have a great incentive to give any of their profit to the SFA to fund other teams development. Even if they did come to an agreement where the Old Firm paid back in to Scotish football, we’d still lose a lot of players and supporters from the game. At very best, it might have no effect; I can’t see it ever being positive.
North London sympathy
Great mailbox contributions from our friends down the road.
I wonder why Spurs didn’t learn more from our experience though.
People forget that the Emirates opened a year after it was supposed to. Initially there were problems with fans, who used to sit together, being separated, a standard out of the box stadium not feeling like home, as well as the whole debacle with live gigs at the ground, and of course the prices to get in.
Over the years, the club has tried to rectify these issues by moving fans so they are grouped together with friends, Arsenalised the stadium (this one I have to say has been great – particularly dear old Herb looking at the stadium from the bridge that links the Emirates to Highbury), and stopped hosting gigs.
The prices, on the other hand, are another matter. Back when Wenger managed his first game – a seat in the North Bank Lower would have set you back £17 – my ticket for City on Sunday was £87.
I really feel for the Spurs fans – but the fact is when you build a new ground, these clubs see you as more of a cash cow than they did before.
You’re the number on that card they send you in the post and they don’t give two sh*ts whether your family has been supporting the club for decades. It’s the price of being a fan/customer I’m afraid.
So long as they don’t sell popcorn at your new home like they do at Wembley or London Stadium – it’s football not cinema!
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Fairly good holidays
A couple of points sprung to mind when reading Jim French’s mail this morning. First, £2,650 could get you a “fairly good” holiday? Are you having a laugh? Me and Mrs Ted could have 5 great holidays for that much! Where the hell are you travelling to?!
Joking aside, I can totally see where Jim’s coming from with his email; it must be pretty galling being one of the match-going fans, to suddenly see the cost of said experience rocket up for, essentially, nothing extra in return. Yeah, the new stadium might be nice (when it’s eventually built) but will the fans themselves actually feel that much actual benefit from it? I’m not convinced, and they’ll certainly not be getting value for money.
The main point I wanted to make is: as much as the finances now required to watch live, top-level football hurt, isn’t this what fans actually wanted? Spurs fans want(ed) their club to be a contender on the global stage; that requires investment, which will inevitably lead to increased revenue requirements.
You don’t get to build a truly competitive team, hire a highly regarded manager, improve the clubs facilities, and build a big fancy new stadium without putting some serious money in, so it’s only natural that the fans are the ones picking up the tab. It’s not right that they are, but football clubs are businesses, not community resources, and owners – no matter how rich they might be personally – aren’t in the habit of doing something for nothing.
The only thing I can’t get my head round is how anybody is surprised by this. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon, and owners have been leveraging the fans to fund their own profits for years – the club I support is pretty much the poster-child for that. I do have a degree of sympathy for people who have been season ticket holders for 20-odd years or so, but again, disproportionate price increases aren’t a new thing, and are definitely not exclusive to football. It really sucks for those who can no longer afford their season or matchday tickets, but the clubs will look at it like this: they don’t owe you any kind of loyalty for your fandom. In most cases, the ones who own or run the club weren’t around for most of that time, so why would they care?
When all is said and done, we’re all just consumers to them now and we’re absolutely expendable. It doesn’t matter to them if we’ve been supporting them for 50 years or 50 minutes, they’re not getting anything extra money out of us (pretty much everyone pays the same price for their product), so all fans are the same to them. It wasn’t always like that, and I don’t blame people for wanting those days to come back but, no matter how much one might want it to, it’s probably not going to happen. Maybe it changes a little bit as you drop down the football pyramid, but even clubs like Accrington Stanley and Fylde FC are investing huge sums which they are eventually going to want back and with interest.
Like Jim says: the club will expect tourists or people on the waiting list to take his place, and they will be right. That person on the waiting list, who will eventually get one of your season tickets, isn’t going to care why he/she can now get hold of one, they’ll just cough up the dough and the cycle begins again. Football business; bloody hell.
On the Arsenal CRISIS
Over the last few years we’ve received an awful lot of stick over our behaviour, our sense of entitlement and many other things (AFTV for example – which is totally valid!) However, we are also not stupid enough to allow the media to whip us up into a frenzy one week into the new season. I do not know a SINGLE Arsenal fan (and I live 5 mins from the stadium so it isn’t like I wouldn’t run into some) who is angry at the club, the team or the manager for the City result.
We are in a brave new world , and like the film Touching the Void, we may have to go deeper into the abyss before we get out, and I for one am fine with this. That Leno didn’t start, meh, he’s probably not ready. That Emery is still finding his chosen 11, we gave Wenger 10 years of mediocrity at the end, I’ll happily give Emery at least a couple before I start calling for his head.
And I am sure so will all the other Arsenal fans. Every club has its mouth breather fans, and I’d like to think ours are in the minority now that Wenger has gone.
John (cut to: December Emery Outs campaign in the mailbox) Matrix AFC
Knowing Me, Knowing You, Zaha
June 2010, Crystal Palace were saved from extinction after an 11th hour deal was reached for CPFC2010 to buy the club and Selhurst Park.
August 2010, a 17 year old Wilfried Zaha scores one and provides two assists on his full debut in an opening day 3-2 win against Leicester.
Has a player and his clubs fortunes ever been so intertwined? And now both have committed to each other until 2023, nearly two decades after a 12 year old Wilf Zaha joined the club. There will be plenty citing a lack of ambition, a failed move to Manchester or a hefty weekly wage but Palace fans could not care less. We get to watch him every week.
After all, the enjoyment and excitement of watching a player like Wilfried Zaha is one of the main reasons we love football. He gets stadiums off their feet. Then add the fact that he is a local lad, the performances he has given in red and blue over the years and the trajectory of the club during his time and I think you’d find it difficult to find any other player that is so special to a group of fans.
Big Sam The Movie
At this point one imagines Big Sam as the last PFM in the land, crying bitter, salty tears into his pint of red, cursing the very name of Pep, before throwing the switch on some sort of obviously going to go wrong experiment and turning into a rubbish spider-man villain. The most obvious next step would be to recruit Andy and Richard Keys from the dark regions of their Qatari lair, before holding Pep’s Auntie and Mrs to ransom UNLESS HE STOPS THIS RIDICULOUS PLAYING FROM THE BACK OBSESSION.
Presumably a pass from Stones straight to Debruyne and a delightful through ball will somehow save the day.
Jon (you’d watch it), Lincoln
More from Planet Sport:
Johnny Nic on proposed Davis Cup revamp: Sometimes change is for the best (Tennis365)
Quiz: Test your knowledge of the Lord’s honours board (Cricket365)
Ranking the Premier League clubs by who has the most handsome squad (Planet Football)