Scottish Football Monitor’s Limits

Dearie me…………..

    I reckon the guys who run that site like to operate a censorship policy. You are okay to post repetitive nonsense if you are a Celtic fan. Or even if you are an Ibrox supporter like Lawman2. But you are not too welcome if you favour other clubs, unless your comments support the Celtic view.

Agenda driven?

Now, I don’t mind if they restrict the content on their SFM site, the site they themselves operate, but feel their motto, ‘there’s a lot of ignorance out there‘, might also be applied to their own site.

Readable version


SFM has some great contributors, the indefatigable John Clark, Auldheid from the Res12 group, Easyjambo and Allyjambo, ClusterOne with his huge library of back articles, but they are not, to my mind, on a ‘Fantastic Voyage’.


It’s pretty disheartening.



Colts: why not?

Colts: the future Scottish subsidiary

  It’s a term I thought was redundant, but I’ll have to use ‘Od Firm’ as a joint moniker in the following case due to Celtic and Rangers (the new incarnation) uniting to ‘help Scottish football’. 


McCart & Mulholland


The proposed project is a ‘pilot’: the only comparable initiative to date in Scotland has been the failure of Colt sides in the Challenge Cup to attract increased crowds, the opposite has been the case. 

Evidence, only including OF clubs: 216 at Celtic Colts v Annan… 449 at Cowdenbeath v Celtic Colts… 324 at Rangers Colts v Stenhousemuir… 278 at Annan v Celtic Colts… 389 at Dumbarton v Rangers Colts. Some crowds have not reached three figures where Colt sides have been playing.  

Yet the experiment in that minor cup competition has been praised as a success by SPFL representatives. 


To state “the ‘B’ team concept works successfully in many other countries” doesn’t make it true. Where is the evidence of this? Figures bandied around concerning Spain and Germany are misleading. Some players who played a match for their B sides to regain fitness are included. Looking at the last Scotland squad, possibly each and every player has made an outing for their respective team’s second string. 


Then there’s Norway and the Netherlands: B sides evidently operate there with ‘great success’. Apart from, Norway hardly ever qualifies for the World Cup or Euros. The Netherlands are in a huge trough right now: the only evidence from there is that since B teams have been introduced in 2013, the national team has done worse. I’ll be watching out for Norway and The Netherlands in Russia this summer.  


Iceland will be there: there are no ‘B’ sides operating in the senior league system there. But there are in Andorra. 


In terms of ‘Football Development’ the document states Scottish players fail to reach their potential by the age of 21 ” as a result of not playing first team football”, and that “all of the Scottish football family are responsible for playing their part.” Perhaps we should look at the clubs who aren’t allowing these players of great potential play first team football! And stating Malky Mackay fully backs the proposal is no endorsement, is it? Maybe Malky should be asking his Ibrox pals why they are not “playing their part” this season in the Development League. 


The financial projections, stating clubs will be guaranteed £15,000 needs clarification. For example, who is paying this, the OF, the SFA or the SPFL? And there is an assumption that gates will increase: on what basis? As illustrated above, fans have no appetite for watching B/Colt/U21 teams playing their sides. Also, 6 home games for the fourth-tier clubs against teams which are not actually in competition with them means almost one-third of all home games are almost meaningless. The assumptions made are truly nonsense. 


With no promotion or relegation for the Colts (in the pilot…..but we’ll see…..) this means the third bottom side could tumble into the Highland or Lowland Leagues, while third top could be ‘Champions’ and sixth place in a promotion play-off. League integrity? I don’t see it. Looking at the present League Two, three clubs could change by the start of Season 2018-19, so should the Highland and Lowland League clubs, and those in League One not also be part of these initial presentations? And wait a second, don’t the present league rules prevent second string clubs operating at an level higher than the sixth? A game of leapfrog is being suggested here.

Football Leapfrog


In any case, alterations to a league system should always be planned for the season following the next, in the interests of ‘league integrity’.


The 250 tickets at £10 nonsense should also be called for what it is, bearing in mind that no club in League Two charges as low as this for adults. And, as mentioned, who is paying for these tickets? 


The cash on offer is a bribe, and should be called out as such. And will more cash be paid out (again, who is funding this?) if Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs and so on want to join in? What size of a league would we then be looking at?  


Now, all this is without thinking of the present paying customers supporting League Two sides. These fans are making their feelings quite clear on forums and social media: the vast majority will not attend if the proposal goes through, with some stating they will stop going to watch the Scottish game.  


An explanation of the sub-title above. All I see this proposal as being is the maintenance of a Scottish presence should the Glasgow two manage to get into another league system. If there was a bit of honesty about this, some fans might find the idea more acceptable. I wouldn’t.



Colts: the document

This is the document which, over the past week, has been circulated to accompany presentations by Celtic and Rangers* to teams in the fourth tier.

Colt teams – pilot project – 2018 Proposal  

1.0 Introduction The concept of ‘B’ teams has been discussed in Scotland for some time to try to improve the quality of young player we are producing and ultimately improve the success of our national team. Significant discourse has taken place within the SPFL and SFA with regard to this initiative over many months and this paper has been produced as a consequence, with a view to implementing a ‘pilot’ project for season 2018/19. This Pilot project would run alongside proposals on a new ‘reserve’ league, potential league reconstruction in the lower divisions of the SPFL to be implemented at the end of the two year pilot and changes to the loans regulations to assist the development of our countries best talent. The ‘B’ team concept works successfully in many other countries and this paper is designed to challenge the barriers which seem to exist in Scotland to the implementation of ‘B’ teams which are the same ones as they have managed to overcome in many other countries who as a consequence are more successful when developing talent. 2.0 Executive Summary of Colt Team Proposal  

2.1 Football Development • Scotland not qualified for a World Cup or European Championship at ‘A’ squad level for over 20 years. U21’s not qualified for European Championships since 1996. We must change and all of the Scottish football family are responsible for playing their part. • Scotland perform exceptionally well at U16, U17 and U19 level. 37% of the players who match Europe’s best at these ages are lost to the 21’s, where success significantly declines, as a result of not playing first team football. The 37% tend to come from Rangers and Celtic and are replaced with lesser potential Scottish talent who are playing 1st team football at a smaller club where they may access the 1st team earlier. Can we maintain the performance of the 16’s, 17’s and 19’s at 21’s by exposing our top potential Scottish talent to 1st team football against men earlier. • ‘B’ teams work, this is not a new concept. 84% of the German national ‘A’ squad have played in ‘B’ teams during their development years (86% of their 21’s). 48% of the Spanish national ‘A’ squad have played in ‘B’ teams (84% of their 21’s). In comparable sized countries such as Norway, Holland, etc. it is normal practice and operates with great success. The research has shown it works, we have no barriers in Scotland which would prevent it working here that did not exist in these other successful countries. • This proposal has the full backing of the SFA Performance Director, Malky Mackay. All levels of the game in Scotland have a responsibility to contribute to the improvement of our national game which will bring a more successful national team, better players and rising standards, an improved feel good factor, more income to invest in the game and will encourage more players to play and supporters to watch. We must all play our part and we all have a responsibility.  

2.2 The Financials for League Two Clubs • Guaranteed purchase of 250 tickets per match @£10 per head by colt teams – £15,000 of guaranteed income per club. It would be up to the colt team to sell these tickets to their supporters removing the risk from the League Two side. • If two teams participated with Colt Teams based on a 12 team league with 33 games per season this would result in a guaranteed investment in League 2 of £150,000 • Additional income from match day walk ups, hospitality, additional sponsor income via increased TV and media coverage, catering, etc. • Based on the 33 game proposal each League Two club would have a minimum of 1, maximum of 2 more home games. A minimum of 4 less away games. This would further increase income and reduce costs. • With three less games overall it would allow fewer midweek games, increasing attendance figures and / or reducing the length of the season resulting in reduced length player contracts saving money over the summer. This money and more importantly significantly increased media interest will inject exciting new life into SPFL League Two football. 2.3 League Integrity • A pilot, no permanent league structure changes. • Colt teams cannot take promotion or relegation places from League Two teams. • Colt teams cannot bring players down from their 1st team and must register a squad list from window to window to ensure consistency of opposition for all teams. • A minimum of two directors from the Colt team club must attend the opposition boardroom in League Two, even if their first team are playing • The criteria for staff is very high in order to provide the elite young players with the correct environment equivalent to other countries who successfully produce players and will require clubs to make a significant financial contribution and have these staff available at the same time as their first team play on a Saturday at 3.00pm. This expense along with the need to underwrite 250 tickets for every match @£10 per ticket will restrict the number of clubs participating and ensure that the lower leagues are not flooded with Colt Teams. Discussions at the SPFL so far indicate it would only be two clubs for the pilot. • An opportunity, while the pilot is operating for two years, for discussion to run concurrently on league reconstruction options for season 2020/21 onwards. This would allow the views of the lower league teams to be heard and considered in full. The colt team proposal in detail It was agreed that the following criteria for a pilot project should be submitted to the CWG for consideration: 1. Player eligibility Similar to the system used in UEFA competitions, a colt team squad list containing players registered with the club would be submitted to the SPFL in advance of the season starting. Amendments to this squad list would be permitted during transfer windows. The squad list would comprise a minimum of 20 full-time players. The squad would predominantly consist of under 21 players (born on or after 1 January 1998) with the possibility of 2 over age players (not from the 1st team but actually registered in the squad list to help guide and teach the young players). The overage players would count towards the minimum squad requirement. Clubs would also have the ability to promote players into the colt team squad from CAS age groups at any time, provided they are registered with the club and aged 16 years or over. Such players would not count for the purposes of minimum/maximum squad sizes. 2. Player movement No players from the 1st team squad would be permitted to move to the colt team out with transfer windows. Colt team players would be permitted to play for the 1st team in a competitive fixture on up to 4 separate occasions in any registration period. ‘Play’ in this context would mean appear on the pitch – being listed as an unused substitute would not count towards the quota. If a colt team player made 4 such appearances for the 1st team, he would be unable to feature again for the colt team until the opening of the next registration period.1 SPFL loan rules would apply as normal. It is noted that Emergency Temporary Transfers will no longer be available from season 18/19.  

  1. Staff A club applying to be involved in the pilot would need to demonstrate that it has the following staff (full time unless otherwise noted) available at the same time the 1st team would be playing:i) Manager / Coach – A licence ii) Assistant Coach – A Licence iii) Sport Scientist – MSc in Sports Related Field iv) Physio – Chartered v) GK – UEFA GK Licence (can be part-time) vi) Analyst (can be part-time) vii) Doctor (can be part-time) The posts of manager and assistant manager could be filled by an over age player provided that they have an A licence. 
  2. Venue Two options to be presented: Option 1 – the colt teams play all their games away from home with the exception of matches against each other to generate additional finance for League Two clubs. Option 2 – the colt teams play all home games at a designated venue which would be required to meet SPFL League 2 entry level requirements.
  3. League structure 4 options to be presented to accommodate a 12 team division in League 2: • 33 games with clubs playing each other on three occasions (likely preferred option)2 • 38 games with a Premiership style split after 33 games • 22 games with clubs playing each other twice (unlikely to be enough games) • 44 games with clubs playing each other four times (likely to be too many games) 33 game benefit is 1 or 2 additional home games for League 2 Teams and a minimum of 4 less away matches. Both providing financial benefit.
  4. Financial benefits to L1 and L2 clubsThecolt teams will not receive any payments through the ‘ladder’. The colt teams involved in the pilot project will guarantee the purchase of a minimum of 250 tickets for each of its away fixtures at £10 per ticket. This will be a minimum guarantee and additional income would be expected through hospitality / catering etc.  
  5. Promotion / relegation Colt teams will not be allowed to be promoted or relegated during the pilot. Should a colt team finish in the promotion, play off or relegation places they will not be eligible and the place will go to the next placed League 2 team.
  6. Interaction with Development / Reserve league A colt team may decide to also enter a team in the SPFL Reserve / Development League but it is not mandatory. 9. Start date Pilot to commence in season 18/19 for a period of two seasons.


Next steps ➢ Craig Mulholland (Rangers) and Chris McCart (Celtic) to meet with League Two clubs and feedback to SPFL  

*the present club playing out of Ibrox.

Where did ‘Newco’ come from?

Having not posted for some time, I’ll keep this brief: I (and I’ll guess almost every other Scottish football fan) had never heard the terms ‘oldco’ or ‘newco’ until 2012, related the any part of Scottish football.


Who invented the terms, or at best introduced them into the Ibrox saga? These specifications are a smokescreen.

And another smokescreen: concentrating on the minutiae in this affair is a tactic to deflect from the truth.


As an example: I spoke to a director of the club I support and contribute money to this week. The club ( a prominent football side in Scotland) appears to think the fans are concerned about the use of EBTs, and that the complaints being concern a ‘Celtic/Rangers issue’. How wrong………………………….


The EBT side is being dealt with by HMRC: nothing to do with Scottish football governance. Registration is the issue for football. And fans are angry they’ve been cheated over a number of seasons, and continue to be cheated.


I wasted thousands of pounds watching fixed football over a long number of seasons, and even if everything is now clean and above board regarding registration and financing (which is highly doubtful), we are still being cheated by the football authorities pretending Sevco are the old Rangers.

Breaking the silence: Challenge Cup Folly


Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Scottish football authorities have managed to, on the surface, make a total folly of the most recent of the nation’s cup competitions.


The Challenge Cup gave the little teams a chance to win national silverware, and some of the lesser lights have had their days in the sun. And perhaps more will in the future.


But the opportunities and attractions, such as they are, have lessened with the changes trumpeted by Neil Doncaster, SPFL Chief Executive.


It’s difficult to know what innovation is worse, bringing in teams from Wales and Northern Ireland, or introducing the top tier’s Under 20 teams to the competition, in order to “introduce fresh ideas to our competitions“, according to Doncaster. He’s not actually told us why the startling changes heralded “another exciting day for Scottish football“, so we will probably have to work this out for ourselves.

IRN-BRU adds fizz to Challenge Cup

Is it the possible attraction of a Tuesday night fixture between Bala Town (average gate in 2016 being 281) and Ross County Under Twenties. I don’t think so.

Do the new sponsors Irn Bru (“a brand which never does things by two halves”) dream of a final between The New Saints and Crusaders played, perhaps, at Stair Park, Stranraer? Doubtful.

Maybe the potential for a further Celtic v (new) Rangers clash to tempt out the television people? Actually, that might be a bonus for Neil and Scotland’s other national drink. But I don’t think any of these suggestions would have been uppermost in the offices at Hampden.

 ground empty

No, bringing in foreign clubs, plus the inclusion of U20 sides from the top league has happened for a reason. If Doncaster won’t say why, it isn’t too difficult to grasp what is behind this foolishness, which few fans of lower league clubs appear to favour, according to social media.

For years now, the twin idea of Celtic and now the new Rangers playing ‘colt’ teams in the lower leagues has been floated, along with the dream of the two clubs also appearing in the English leagues: this plan sets not one, but two precedents.

I will give the Welsh and Ulster clubs four years until they chuck this idea, while the U20 plan might last for a bit longer, as long, of course, as the top clubs continue to field such sides. However, it’s just as likely the set up at youth/reserve/colt level will change sooner rather than later.

But these few years might just be enough to herald the death of lower league football completely, if Doncaster and his pals continue to ride roughshod over the fans of football in Scotland.

Footnote: as I am writing this I’m noticing that the English League has decided to introduce ‘academy teams’ into their EFL trophy competition. Maybe I’ve got Doncaster completely wrong, and he actually IS a great visionary.

No, I don’t think so.

Footnote ‘2’:

“Slow lingering death” Vs “if you haven’t got anything positive to say”…………..

Level Playing Field in Scotland?

I’ve always worked on the assumption that if you haven’t got anything positive to say you keep your mouth shut,” Regan said. 9/6/2015

“I am here to carry out the Scottish FA’s rules, regulations and articles in the best way possible and to make sure we deal with everybody as fairly as we can.”  2/2/2013

“Two years ago, I was headhunted to come in and modernise Scottish football and take the game forward,” he said. “We’ve made huge strides.” 31/7/2012

“The Scottish FA needed to be satisfied that the people involved at Rangers Football Club were going to act in the best interest of the club, the best interests of the fans and the best interest of the other stakeholders in the game, the leagues and the clubs.”  31/7/2012

Stewart Regan

Stewart Regan

SCOTTISH Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has warned that football faces a “slow lingering death” in this country if newco Rangers are denied entry to the First Division of the Scottish Football League following the emphatic rejection yesterday of their application to retain top-flight football at Ibrox.

Regan’s remarkable comment came as he insisted admission to the First Division is now the only viable option. He also made the startling warning of “social unrest” if Rangers cease to exist. 5/7/2012

Fan Ownership

Often “Fan Ownership” is recommended as a solution to some of the issues down Ibrox way. It’s been suggested by me, down the pub, to several Govan leaning supporters, usually to be brushed off and ignored. Yet a barrier to a new side under fan ownership, in the case of Ibrox fans, is possibly the disparate groups who follow the side, each headed by folk who you wouldn’t trust to run a dominoes club.


It got me to thinking about the local clubs in my area, at various levels, from Camelon Juniors, via the ‘Shire and Warriors, to Falkirk in the Championship. All four of these have some form of fan involvement, and all have groups displaying dissatisfaction at this element running their clubs. There was Bonnybridge Juniors too, but they disappeared in 2003, partly due to conflicting committee factions, and arguably also due to an unhelpful local council.

Old home of Bonnybridge Juniors

Old home of Bonnybridge Juniors


But for the four still in existence: Camelon Juniors, for perhaps the last two decades, have been struggling due to fall outs between social committee groups and those on the football side. Presently, the social club appears to have no connection to the football side.


Similarly at Ochilview, the social club and football club were separate since the ‘eighties, maybe longer, with the social club now taken over completely by a private concern. Stenhousemuir FC is a ‘Community Interest Club’, but this season, with a fan representative on the board, finances have run into problems, unforeseen it appears, mostly because the checking of the balance sheet was outsourced to a third party. The club, with fan representation, is fiscally challenged.

Stenhousemuir's home ground also hosts the 'Shire.

Stenhousemuir’s home ground also hosts the ‘Shire.


East Stirlingshire appear to be on course for the Lowland League, yet they are, of all Scottish senior clubs, the one with arguably the greatest degree of fan ownership, since Spencer Fearn gifted his shares to the fans when he left in summer 2010.


Falkirk FC has a fans’ representative on the board, however, it appears that once into the boardroom, all communication with fans’ groups is suspended by the lucky recipient of the award, with no influence brought to decision making. Commonly this near anonymous figure becomes the object of criticism when things are seen to go wrong.


Falkirk FCs own website presently states “However, one of the key problems remaining is that the Supporters’ Director is not truly representative of our support and so is unable to bring supporters’ views and concerns to the Board or to provide feedback to our supporters.


And this underlines the problem: even at football clubs with supporter levels much smaller than any present incarnation of the Govan side, there are too many splinter groups. And further, within your own club’s more vocal supporters, would you trust any of these chaps with the future of your footballing passion? There are too many nutters following football teams!
So, I was most probably wrong. A supporter led ‘Rangers’ club would possibly have more initial credibility, and be more readily accepted by a large number of opposing Scottish football fans, but ultimately, in-fighting, mistrust and jealousy would win the day.

The Scottish Football Monitor?

Having not written (here) for a considerable time, I thought it worthwhile to put the following on record.

Initially, I joined ‘wordpress’ to gain access to The Scottish Football Monitor (TSFM), as I am not on Facebook, thus this seemed to be the most suitable way to go about getting in written contact with TSFM. Often still, I look in there, gaining snippets which are unavailable in the normal media outlets. However, although the quality of many writers, and the indefatigability of some still appeals, other contributors appear, to me, to come across as pompous and tiresome. I’ll avoid names, as this is all, of course, subjective.

I also had written on many occasions in the earlier days on TSFM, but a rebuke following comments made referring to a match in Division One last year all but finished me as a contributor. I thought my content was fair and accurate, but the moderators of TSFM, as is their absolute right, removed my lengthy post. It irked me more due to the time I had taken to type the stuff out.

Nonetheless, I continued to look in, and enjoyed the words and knowledge of many regulars, and simply skipped past posts by the “self righteous brother(s)”.

Recently an acquaintance of mine, let’s call him ‘Man In A Suitcase’, signed up for TSFM, on my encouragement, as he had a story to tell regarding Livingston FC, and the governance of our national sport. His information was in regard to Neil Rankine, and the upcoming SFA hearing into club ownership. Man in A Suitcase informs me that in his initial post, he corrected a factual error by TSFM him/herself. His post went into moderation, and then disappeared. TSFM corrected the factual error in his/her own post, and in another following post which quoted the original.

Further posts made by Man In A Suitcase also went into moderation, and then were discarded. He says he cannot now attempt to post on TSFM, as his account has been suspended.

And all of that is TSFM’s prerogative: it’s his/her/their site after all.

Credit, according to Man In A Suitcase, to John Clark from the site. MiaS wrote to several of what he regarded as ‘leading lights’ using the PM (personal message) option. These included Auldheid, Big Pink, John Clark and broganrogantrevinoandhogan, all asked whether they had any insight as to why MiaS was being censored on the site. Only John Clark responded, suggesting that MiaS had perhaps broken site rules. According to MiaS, he most certainly did not, he simply corrected a factual error by the site host, TSFM.

But, as I’ve stated, it’s up to TSFM who they allow on, yet it’s hypocritical of them to complain about the Scottish sporting press and television when they are also limiting the content of a site which claims to ask “the questions the media won’t ask”.

I wonder what other contributions have been spiked because the substance does not suit TSFM’s particular agenda:  an agenda which appears, to me, to be more ‘anti-Ibrox’ than ‘pro Scottish Football’.

Regan: “It has to be completely transparent.”


Honest broker


Regan said: “We argued at the FIFA congress against Blatter having a free reign by having term and age limits on the presidency.

“Unfortunately, apart from a number of UEFA organisations Blatter got substantial support from the other confederations.

“It doesn’t surprise me. Countries like Haiti and Pakistan where there have been floods spoke eloquently about Blatter and how FIFA had come to their aid.

“Different countries are at different stages of their life cycles. We have our own ways of doing things but other countries have different ways.

“We have made our feelings known but it is fine talking about a vote if there are people to actually vote for.

“The key figure is Platini and whether he decides to go for it. He’s said he’ll let us know by the end of August.”

Regan is well aware the greatest show on earth is taking place against a background of controversy, not least due to the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid which has been hit by a series of corruption claims and forced FIFA to begin an inquiry.

Lawyer Michael Garcia is leading an independent investigation into the bidding process for both the 2018 World Cup, to be staged in Russia, and the 2022 event.

Regan would support a re-vote on both bids if there has been any wrongdoing”.

He said: “If Michael Garcia’s investigation proves there has been any irregularities then absolutely I would support a re-vote and so would my board.

“It is not new. What has come out is more documentation and evidence and that evidence is being explored by Michael Garcia.

“If it is proven there has been something that has broken the ethics code of FIFA then clearly action has to be taken.

It has to be completely transparent.


An honest broker, and no mistake.

Silence from Lunny


Scottish manager for an excuse, Ally McCoist, recently made a high profile claim which was televised. Broadcast, and extensively reported in the media.

From Sky Sports:

McCoist said: “I just need to get a few things straight. I have a list of players and football officials in our country that quite enjoy putting a bet on, a couple of quid here or there on a team.

“I obviously will not and will never ever disclose the names there but the boys have come up with over 100 names on a list in ten minutes.

“They feel entitled, it’s a bit of enjoyment and that’s fine. What I’m asking for is everybody to get round a table, whether it’s the SFA, the Players Union, Ladbrokes whoever.

“Let’s all sit round a table and find out what is allowed, what isn’t allowed and then we can start again. That’s all I can say because the rest is in the hands of Ian’s lawyers but that’s where we are.

“To be honest, I’m not aware of the exact rules because I haven’t studied them. If it’s in the rules, it’s in the rules – but not enough people know them and I include myself in that.

“Let’s try and resolve the matter. Surely nobody here is naive enough to think this is a one-off situation.”

It’s here:

STV decided to miss out “They feel entitled, it’s a bit of enjoyment and that’s fine.”

It’s here:

And the list of names McCoist had?

It’s here: