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Your Sunday morning thoughts on the man who needs a grievance like normal people need air.

 

The SPFL are coming under fire from the permanently disaffected manager of celtc, Neil Lennon this weekend. The monotonous drone of the Ulsterman complaining is as much part of the landscape in Scots football as long balls, a lying media and lunatic supporters, but this time some may feel he has a point: sending his team north to Dingwall immediately after a Champions League match, in which he and his footballing troubadours carry the hopes and good wishes of all Scottish fitba fans, seems scant reward.

 

Leaving Holland immediately after their game - unsurprisingly, given the state his club's supporters left it in - Lennon's team will have gone to bed late on Thursday morning, possibly coming in for light physio or a rubdown that afternoon, leaving only Friday for the tactical plans for the Ross County game to be discussed and players assessed. One session is not enough for any coach to form a coherent plan, but is Neilly right to have a good at the SPFL?

 

I don't think so, since it's the TV companies who are calling the shots. And since the SPFL, which is in effect run by his boss at celtc, Mr Lawwell, signed up to the deal it's a bit rich complaining about it now.

 

The bad luck for celtc is that this weekend is a Super Sunday in England, with first Spurs v Newcastle at lunchtime; then Sunderland v Man City; topped off with the mouth watering Man U v Arsenal clash in the evening. They don't even have space to fit in the always pleasing Swansea game, so what chance of them fitting in what is, frankly, a game which won't interest anyone outside of Celtic or Ross County fans?

 

With FA Cup kicking off this weekend as well, there was no space on the Monday night schedule for the celtc game; and it obviously couldn't be played on Friday night. The bottom line is that the game panicked and sold a rubbish deal to Sky & BT; the only teams they are interested in are Rangers and celtc; therefore they will do as they are told and lump it. The sight of SPFL bigwigs in China this weekend crowing about another deal - £20m this time, which unless it is broken up in a hugely unfair manner means an average of £50,000 per club; one might even raise the spectre of sporting integrity here - drives home the mistake they made when signing up to Sky.

 

The need to get the game on TV and bring in some money is seen as paramount, not just for financial reasons but also because they were terrified lest the absence of Rangers drive away coverage, revealing the rest of the game outwith four Old Firm clashes to be what it is - of no interest to TV companies. All right, if they feel that way, sod them! I might not care about Dundee United games but no doubt Dundee Utd fans do, shouldn't the SPFL be looking after them first? I might not ever look at a St Mirren game but I imagine Saints fans do; why aren't the SPFL watching out for their interests?

 

It's all been said before, but poor old Lenny's latest whinge brings us back to where we started: small leagues and 4 games a season is killing the game, and instead of finding some medicine we are doing the equivalent of buying smack from Sky and ignoring the real issues. Lennon is right that the SPFL is out to lunch: but given who runs it and given which club it appears to be run for the exclusive benefit of, whose fault is that?

 

The chance was there to revamp the game and instead the head burying, the claims of a bright new dawn, the willful refusal to notice the ever emptying stands and the ever diminishing quality goes on. I watched AFC Wimbledon v Coventry last night and the London club had better players than I saw watching Ross County v Inverness the week before. This is not something that fills me with joy but there's no point lying about it.

 

Anyway, no need to run crying to the press, Neil. Just walk along the corridor to Mr Lawwell's office and get him to explain why his Professional Game Board signed up to a shit TV deal. I warn you in advance though, you won't like the answer: because when it comes to football on Sky or BT, celtc (or Scotland) doesn't count for a fart. The shoehorning in of this celtc game at Ross County is proof if ever it were needed that we are nothing more than an afterthought once the real games, the proper football, has been scheduled in.

 

Perhaps in the future we will reject a deal which doesn't allow a certain percentage of each club's games to be played at 3 on a Saturday. Since in effect this only applies to two clubs it ought not be that difficult to manage. Perhaps the resultant coverage of other teams will spread TV money a bit more fairly, creating a more level playing field. Perhaps more fans may turn out to watch if teams play with less fear, although it may be too late already. But perhaps the people who dropped the game in the shit will have the decency to stop moaning about it when they get some on their shoes.

Edited by andy steel
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The real issue is that the SPFL TV deal is peanuts compared to other countries. It's about half of what the Australian A league gets which, with all due respect, isn't the greatest league in the world.The Dutch eredivisie league isn't the gresatest either but gets about 5 times what the SPFL gets.

So if popcorn teeth realy wants to talk about TV deals he should take it up with his boss Liewell. He might even find out what it was Liewell & his buddy Dumbcaster signed up to with SKY last summer as they strolled thro' the airport together as they put together something to keep SKY on board in an unappealing league without Rangers in it. I suspect they signed a longterm deal for pretty much the status quo with no increase for years to come which is little good for anyone.

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Celtic could have chosen to stay the night in Holland, trained on Thursday morning locally then flown home on Thursday afternoon. Amsterdam is only about an hour and half flight away, they'd have been home enjoying dinner with the bosom of their families, or abandoning their children in cars, by tea time.

Then train Friday as normal before heading the 3 and a bit hours up the A9 to Dingwall. Not that taxing I'd have thought.

 

Great stuff though, you reap what you sow as you so brilliantly point out. I'm off to the allotment to plant Bluebells.

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The real issue is that the SPFL TV deal is peanuts compared to other countries. It's about half of what the Australian A league gets which, with all due respect, isn't the greatest league in the world.The Dutch eredivisie league isn't the gresatest either but gets about 5 times what the SPFL gets.

So if popcorn teeth realy wants to talk about TV deals he should take it up with his boss Liewell. He might even find out what it was Liewell & his buddy Dumbcaster signed up to with SKY last summer as they strolled thro' the airport together as they put together something to keep SKY on board in an unappealing league without Rangers in it. I suspect they signed a longterm deal for pretty much the status quo with no increase for years to come which is little good for anyone.

 

I watched Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory on Saturday morning and you're right, the standard is pretty poor. Granted the first half saw 5 goals, a red card, a penalty, the home side go 2-0 and then 3-2 up after a comeback, but the standard was poor. But what I took from it was that if you have an audience and you market the product properly the lack of quality can be overcome (or hidden, to be more honest).

 

The Aussies have modern stadia and I assume (soccer being a minority sport) they have competitive pricing in place, because there was a decent crowd there, including about 1,000 away fans: my Oz geography is not that great but I do know it's a big place, so that's quite something. The only natural advantage they have over us is that their time difference means they can play at the unappealling-to-British-clubs 9am Saturday morning slot; everything else they have, they have created by means of marketing.

 

Compare that to us! I grant you dealing with the mentalists in the game is not easy, but our current policy of cravenly letting them run the game is not good for the future.

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I watched Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory on Saturday morning and you're right, the standard is pretty poor. Granted the first half saw 5 goals, a red card, a penalty, the home side go 2-0 and then 3-2 up after a comeback, but the standard was poor. But what I took from it was that if you have an audience and you market the product properly the lack of quality can be overcome (or hidden, to be more honest).

 

The Aussies have modern stadia and I assume (soccer being a minority sport) they have competitive pricing in place, because there was a decent crowd there, including about 1,000 away fans: my Oz geography is not that great but I do know it's a big place, so that's quite something. The only natural advantage they have over us is that their time difference means they can play at the unappealling-to-British-clubs 9am Saturday morning slot; everything else they have, they have created by means of marketing.

 

Compare that to us! I grant you dealing with the mentalists in the game is not easy, but our current policy of cravenly letting them run the game is not good for the future.

 

The main issue bud is that the Aussies have got a vastly superior TV deal than the SPFL. Doesn't say much for those running our game does it? when Walter Smith left Rangers a couple of years ago he warned Scottish Football had no money. Those chickens will soon be coming home to roost for a number of clubs. Just ask Hearts & Dunfermline

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Celtic could have chosen to stay the night in Holland, trained on Thursday morning locally then flown home on Thursday afternoon. Amsterdam is only about an hour and half flight away, they'd have been home enjoying dinner with the bosom of their families, or abandoning their children in cars, by tea time.

Then train Friday as normal before heading the 3 and a bit hours up the A9 to Dingwall. Not that taxing I'd have thought.

 

Great stuff though, you reap what you sow as you so brilliantly point out. I'm off to the allotment to plant Bluebells.

 

That's true enough, and makes Neil's moaning even less convincing. I'll follow your example and get my tulips in.

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