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Grassroots Report

28 Apr

An audio report on the game in Scotland at its most important level. Grassroots football.

With Scotland set to be thrown in the worlds sporting spotlight with the Commonwealth Games in 2014 the importance of Grassroots sport is more relevant than ever.

At a grassroots level we are developing young people from the bottom of the sporting latter to allow them to ascend to become the best athlete’s they can be.

Football in particular relies heavily on cultivating youth at this level. With Scottish football at the top levels almost universally agreed to be in a poor state on and off the field the reliance on youth is more important than ever.

After investigation into Grassroots football it becomes clear that despite the resources at our availability in Scotland, we are not doing what we should or could be to help our youths and our game progress and there are many problems inherent in the system.

Click here, to listen

Dundee dealt hammer blow

13 Jan

Dundee FC is a club still very much in financial turmoil. Two and a half months have passed since the Tayside club were plunged into administration, again. Off the pitch, improvements are taking shape. With star-man Leigh Griffiths likely to be sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers for £150,000 and the club taking steps towards an agreement with their creditors and HMRC, their financial health is improving. When this question was posed earlier in the year, 75% of readers expected Griffiths would be sold from under Dundee, in January.

Dundee FC

Dundee fans, almost unanimously are accepting of the fact that the club had to sell Griffiths. Their financial position alone dictates that fact.

Their anger lies with the SFL, who in the fans opinion seem hell bent on hindering Dundee FC’s progress.

After the, albeit expected, hammer blow of a 25 point reduction the SFL’s ruling that Griffiths couldn’t be loaned back to the club is seen by many as adding insult to injury. One Dundee fan summed up the views that many seem to share;

The 25 point penalty and transfer embargo is blatantly unreasonable. I am certainly not a conspiracy theorist. I just think we’re dealing with amateurs who are intoxicated by the excitement of actually making headlines and being noticed as powerful people when they are anything but. Our shocking mismanagement has given this motley crew the chance to be noticed. The SFL has a clear obligation to support member clubs. If we are talking about sticking to rules then I suggest these people are in clear breach of their primary aim. This latest measure is a cruel and unnecessary act. It is nothing short of disgusting, in my opinion. We cannot enter the minds of these chairmen who are overlooking tiny, unsuccesful clubs but the argument for the case that they are vindictive, is to me, entirely reasonable.

The consensus is that the SFL are making things unnecessarily difficult for a club already in dire straits. The sale of the striker, and having no ability to replace him is regarded by many as the final nail in the coffin for the club as one fan said.

The SFL been instrumental in forcing Dundee FC into the position they are in as of now. They’re digging our grave for us.

Selling star players is the bread and butter for most clubs. Dundee’s inability to replace them, enforced on them by the league makes their position unenviable and unique.

The Dens striker is on the move

Do the poll, and leave your comments.

Cup Fever

6 Jan

So with January comes the obligatory transfer rumours, as fans demand change to pick their clubs fortunes up, or in other cases demand they hold on to their best players. But, it’s an exciting month ON the pitch too. The 4th round of the Scottish cup kicks off, and the SPL teams make their first foray into this years tournament.

The so called ‘big teams’ won’t be expecting an easy ride though, as cup football goes hand in hand with cup shocks.

Here, I have a look at some of the big ones.

BERWICK RANGERS 1 RANGERS 0 – Scottish Cup first round 1967.

Still regarded as one of the biggest shock in Scottish Footballing history. Sammy Reid bagged the goal that knocked Rangers out of the cup, and bagged himself a place in Berwick folklore. The sides met again in 2002 at Sheilfield park, and the Borders side earned a replay at Ibrox after a 0-0 draw. This weekend Berwick face Celtic, could another shock be on the cards?

Sun Headline

CELTIC 1 – 3 INVERNESS CALEDONIAN THISTLE – Scottish Cup third round,  2000.

First division Inverness put the Hoops to the sword, who in turn axed manager John Barnes after this result. Which stands as one of the biggest in the history of Inverness and one which Celtic would like to forget. Inverness led for the entire game against a Celtic team in dissaray, prompting the famous headline; ‘Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious’.

INVERNESS CT 1 CELTIC 0 – Scottish Cup quarter-final, 2003.

The Highlanders done it again, knocking out Celtic who were fresh from a win at Anfield. Martin O’Neill made changes to his squad, and lightening struck twice for the Glasgow giants.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 4  ABERDEEN 3- Scottish Cup semi-final, 2008.

1st division Queen of the South reached their first ever Scottish Cup Final, defeating Premier League Aberdeen in this thriller. A match which Dons captain Zander Diamond called his lowest moment in football. Playing for Aberdeen, that really is saying something.

CELTIC 0 FALKIRK 1 – Scottish Cup semi-final replay, 1997.

Falkirk looked to have blown their best chance of securing a semi-final shock over Celtic in the 1-1 draw in the first game. But in the replay, Bairns striker Paul McGrillen scored the only goal in the 19th minute to send the Division One side through to the final against Kilmarnock. Full highlights here.

STENHOUSEMUIR 2 ABERDEEN 0 – Scottish Cup fourth round, 1995.

A capacity crowd at Ochilview Park saw Second division Stenhousemuir saw striker Tommy Steele score twice. Inflicting one of the most embarassing defeats for Aberdeen in recent history, bagging Stenny a clash against Hibs.

CLYDE 2 CELTIC 1 – Scottish Cup third round, 2006.

Celtic feature again, as Roy Keane’s debut match for Celtic saw his side slump to a stunning defeat. Graeme Roberts’ Clyde side dominated, as Eddie Malone and current Killie captain Craig Bryson bagged the goals.

RANGERS 0 HAMILTON 1 – Scottish Cup third round, 1987.

An Adrian Sprott goal sank Graeme Souness’ side in a  famous Ibrox victory for Hamilton. The Glasgow side went on to win the league that year, and Hamilton saw themselves relegated.

Tell me your favourite Scottish cup shock below! Leave a comment saying why, use the ‘comment’ link below, or to the left!


2 Nov

The SFL have taken heavy action on Dundee FC

It was announced yesterday by the Scottish Football League (SFL) that Dundee FC would be fined 25 points. A decision which, quite rightly has been met with outrage from many in Scottish football. And not because of the effect it has on the club.

This punishment is as good as relegation for Dundee – and has devastating effects for everyone connected with the Dark Blues. Relegation to the Second Division will likely force the club to go part-time if they fail to bounce straight back up. When you consider how many players they will be forced to release, automatic promotion does not look likely.

This decision by the SFL is astonishingly heavy. Dundee have been docked more points than any of the Italian clubs involved in the 2006 match fixing scandal were.

“We are of the opinion that lessons are not being learned,” said an SFL statement. “For example, clubs have to realise that, going forward, they cannot treat their [tax] obligations as something akin to a credit card.” They make a good point – and have also made an example of Dundee. Other clubs in Britain have been in the same boat with HMRC; Cardiff and Portsmouth most notably. So it is fair to say that Dundee knew what was coming – even if they did not expect it to be so heavy.

Hearts manager Jim Jefferies described the punishment as “harsh” but acknowledged that Dundee were now in the same position for the second time in seven years, so something had to be done.

I’m not denying that action had to be taken, Dundee HAD to be punished. They had earned place money, and could’ve earned promotion with players they couldn’t afford so as a result had prejudiced other clubs.

From where I sit, which is very much on the fence in this case, the SFL are just as responsible for what happens to the players who are going to be look for new clubs, new jobs even new careers as the club were when they entered administration. That’s who my sympathy is for – the players and staff. The ones who have already been paid off and are looking for clubs, the staff looking for new jobs who need to put food on the table, pay mortgages and with about seven weeks until Christmas. And now, for the players and staff who may still have employment, but have no idea where their future may lie after the end of this season.

Dundee are going to have to start selling off their assets, as there’s no quicker way to recoup large amounts of cash. One option which has been mentioned is potentially selling Dens Park and sharing with neighbours Dundee United. Obviously, the fans aren’t going to want to share with the enemy. what looks more likely is star man Leigh Griffiths being sold, whether they like it or not. With rumours that St Johnstone and Kilmarnock are interested in the striker, he looks likely to be off. Though, for the Dark Blues, would holding onto their striker banging in goals and challenging for promotion be more profitable in the long run? allowing them higher prize money in the league and a bigger fee for Griffiths in the summer?

This matter should have been dealt with long before Dundee were allowed to get into administration again. It wasn’t and they were allowed to pick up exactly where they left off, a bit like Motherwell were.

Brian Jackson has the task of getting Dundee out of administration

Their administrator was Brian Jackson, who is charged with the same task at Dens Park. With Dundee given 10 days to appeal the SFL decision, there is a lot more news still to break on this story.

Click the link on the left, and leave a comment.

Dundee FC – Staring into the financial abyss. Again.

1 Nov

From the top of the country to the bottom it would seem no club is exempt from financial chaos. With Liverpool having avoided administration at the last minute, and Portsmouth similarly being saved from the brink of extinction.

Closer to home though, the plight of Dundee FC has been well documented.

The club are in administration for the second time in 7 years, over spending contributing to their downfall on both occasions.

Falkirk, recently relegated to the Scottish Football League status have stepped in to help out Dundee, by donating a percentage of their gate receipts to the cash strapped club.

Many Scottish clubs are suffering financially with Hearts, Rangers, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock having almost £100m worth of debt between them.

Astonishingly, Hearts spend 120% of their income on wages. It’s not Dundee as a club that we have sympathy for, they should have learnt from their past mistakes.

Could the Dens Park gates be locked for good?

This is possibly why so many have been sympathising with Dundee.

Dundee FC Supporters Society Vice Chairman, Stuart Murphy acknowledges this;

“Some have accused Dundee FC of cheating by fielding a team they could not afford and living out with their means; I would suggest this applies to almost every team in Scotland at the moment” (In SPL terms only Celtic and Kilmarnock do according to the latest available finances.)

The Scottish Football League (SFL) looking at a massive 25 point deduction, Stuart suggests this would be unfair.

“The people that are punished by a points deduction are those who least deserve it, the fans and the players.

Any deductions that see a team relegated are just as responsible for destroying players lives as administration.

How many of Dundee’s current squad will still be employed by the club if we are relegated into the Second Division?

The SFL would be just as responsible for players looking for a new job as the club were when it entered administration.”

Stuart believes the SFL need to act on the situation, but suggests they should introduce regulations for member clubs.

“Some form of punishment needs to exist to stop clubs acting irresponsibly but the SFL also has a responsibility to  protect it’s member clubs from the risks involved in trying get to the SPL.

In Germany for example there are statutes in place to make clubs live within their means.”

Clearly there are still many chapters still to unfold in the Dundee saga, here’s hoping for a happy ending for everyone involved.

Click here for full print version of this story.


Queens Park, SFL and a big Scottish Pyramid!

25 Oct

Queens Park surprised many around Scottish football last year, including their own fans, when they made the play-off’s for promotion. Ultimately, that ended in dismal defeat – 6-2 on aggregate at the hands of Arbroath. For a brief moment, the Glaswegian amateurs were close to the heights of the 2nd Division.

This season, like Arbroath who gatecrashed the dream last season, Queens Park find themselves knocked out the cup to Junior opposition. Bo’ness United, East Super League champions, were the victors over Scotland’s oldest club. A 2-1 victory was recorded on the day, a major blow for the fans, but one that may have a wider effect on the club.

A top heavy backroom structure, comparable to that of many SPL clubs, has been the target of criticism from some fans on the messgae boards.

Although, in my opinion, this is another example of how the gap in Scottish football is closing between the top Junior outfits and the SFL. Last season it was Irvine Meadow , knocking Arbroath out, and then going to Easter Road in the 4th round and giving a Hibs first 11 a good game. Before that Linlithgow Rose reaching the 4th round, losing to the eventual finalists; Queen of the South.

For years we’ve been calling for a more competitive SPL, restructuring and introducing more teams. Well, why not look at this at the bottom too. Instead of the SFL division Three being the basement division, where it is okay for teams to stagnate and remain SFL clubs without any real merit, look at the possibility of a pyramid structure with the Junior divisions. Creating a much more competitive brand of football at the bottom.

Terracing talk maybe, but is it so far off the mark? I’m far from a specialist of the SFL, so it’ll be interesting to hear the opinions of those who are.