Nicky Clark scores against Kilmarnock
Category: Opinion

Up Periscope!

The recent Kilmarnock away game at Rugby Park on Tuesday night clashed with UEFA Champions league football on TV and so for contractual reasons couldn’t be screened live, to the annoyance of many. The Champions league format  has itself been in the press recently  regarding the idea of a select group of teams forming their own elite group of “Champions league “ teams. In counterpoint to this was the mooted formation of an Atlantic league in order to counteract that idea, for teams who would be excluded from the rich boys playground.

The elite league idea which has been rumoured, appears to be a very short term, business orientated  and clique based view of football.  Despite the already saturation coverage of the Champions league on TV, the novelty of watching Real Madrid versus Manchester Utd has not faded for me quite yet . However, the thought of watching Chelsea  versus PSG does not exactly fill me with anticipation. In fact, the entire idea of a select group of teams constantly competing against each other simply because that’s where the perceived money is for the respective club owners, fills me with one reaction – utter boredom. Where is the audience for a PSG versus Manchester City game outwith their respective cities? These are huge football businesses certainly – but they are not huge football clubs that can boast a worldwide fan base. They simply have extremely rich owners, which has recently catapulted them into the stratosphere of the footballing financial elite. With a select group constantly playing each other, with no relegation or promotion, where teams can only win but never really lose, the appeal can quickly wane. This is an idea that appears to be based on nothing other than the greed of the clubs involved and has the potential to go very stale, very quickly.

The “Atlantic league” idea, on the other hand, has potential. With the possibility of larger, dispersed  leagues which includes relegation and promotion, it has the capability to have a dynamism and excitement about it that a closed shop “Champions League” can’t match. Some of the clubs mentioned are huge, with demonstrably large fan bases worldwide. As the core of any TV viewing figures are the club fans, it surely wont lack for appeal to TV companies.

Both ideas have a ways to go, but all this was brought into stark relief during the Kilmarnock game. With the Champions league ties ignored due to complete lack of interest, people were typically listening for snippets of information on the radio while trying to follow RFC twitter feeds to keep up to date with proceedings at Rugby Park;  a somewhat painful process. Then along came the information that fans at the game were streaming proceedings live via the Periscope app. Not only that, but that the viewing figures were amazing  – nearly 20,000 people were watching a Rangers match via a hand held phone. This was higher than the attendance at the Hearts v Hibs game being played  at the same time. The Champions league matches in full HD had been utterly forgotten by tens of thousands of people, in favour of a shaky, dubiously legal,(or so it was thought at the time) camera phone stream.

There is no clearer way of showing that it doesn't matter how much money some teams have, or what league they play in, or indeed if every other game being played that night is blacked out  - if they are not the team you support then it makes no difference when people  have no interest in watching them.  The legality or otherwise of the stream was essentially rendered immaterial because nobody watching those streams was remotely  interested in the Champions league ties on TV anyway.

Hearing about the struggle  fans had to go through to get information on the game and hearing about the Periscope streams, it could not have been clearer to me that the true wealth of a club lies in its fan base, not its owners pockets. UEFA should take heed.

Rangers Supporters
Category: Opinion

The Ego Has Landed

And so it began. Like a pack of hungry wolves vying for the choicest cuts of the prey they lined up according to pack hierarchy. On offer was the kind of succulent dish guaranteed to have the Rangers Antagonistas (a particular brand of NUJ card waving individual who appear to believe that aforementioned card is the real life equivalent of Monopoly’s Get Out of Jail Free Card) licking their lips in culinary anticipation, perhaps even salivating, at the mouth-watering prospect of a meal where Rangers were the main course. Rangers were the “bully boys” of course whose conduct was “intimidating” thus suppressing (even endangering apparently) freedom of speech in Scotland as well as undermining journalistic standards. Phew! – That’s some litany of charges.

The truth of course was completely different. Graham Spiers, and not for the first time, had written an article for which was particularly damaging in respect of Rangers and their board in particular. The publishing of this article in the Herald proved to be the catalyst for Rangers to make a complaint to the Herald’s editor, Magnus Llewellin.

Contrary to many of the accusations being made Rangers did not threaten legal action, merely asked for evidence of the claims – but we should all be familiar with the routine by now – let’s not let facts or the truth get in the way of a succulent serving of Rangers bashing.

But worse was to come for Llewellin as he investigated the circumstances surrounding the Rangers complaint as the subsequent investigation revealed significant staffing errors at the Herald. The newspaper was left in a position where the Spiers article would be indefensible in court and the newspaper subsequently published a retraction and apology for the article.

You could be forgiven at this point for thinking that procedural staffing errors as well as sloppy and sub-standard journalism would have been a lesson for the learning for most, but this is Spiers we are talking about, and we all know by now that hell hath no fury like Graham Spiers scorned.

Without a care for the potentially precarious legal position he had placed his newspaper in or the job security of his colleagues at the newspaper, Spiers then embarked on a journey of no return by publishing a blog on the internet defending his action and further undermining his own editor. It’s all about Graham Spiers. He clearly knew this action would have terminal consequences acknowledging same via a tweet.


Of course the jungle drums were quickly beating and it wasn’t long before the Cavalry arrived in the form of the NUJ, with general secretary Michelle Stanistreet stating: “It is outrageous that commercial meddling has led the Herald to sack a respected columnist”

Perhaps Ms Stanistreet would care to elaborate to the rest of us the “commercial meddling” which was involved. We await with baited breath.

But the chaos machine which is Spiers` ego was now in full overdrive. Appearing on BBC Scotland’s “Off the Ball” programme on Saturday 13th February 2016, Spiers repeated the assertions he had made in his Herald article, prompting presenter Stuart Cosgrove to release the following statement on behalf of BBC Scotland.

“Earlier in the programme Graham Spiers made comments about a newspaper story he wrote about Rangers. The BBC would like to make clear those views are not endorsed by the BBC”

Spiers then proceeded to confirm that the hole he had been digging for himself had almost reached Australia.


This is the same Graham Spiers who reported that Aberdeen fans were singing ‘Nice one Jimmy” at Ibrox when a whole host of his fellow pundits condemned them for what they were actually singing.

It is also the same Graham Spiers who wrote about “thousands of Rangers fans racially abusing Bobo Balde” a statement he was later forced to retract under challenge.

The same Graham Spiers who wrote poisonous articles on Rangers legends Jock Wallace and Davie Cooper, following their deaths.

The same Graham Spiers who waxed lyrical about Fiorentina’s “long and illustrious European history” but was happy to peddle the Rangers are a new club nonsense. Seems what is good for the Italian goose is not good for the Scottish gander.

And finally it is the same Graham Spiers who humiliated himself on national television when challenged by Chris Graham, and whose lies that night almost caused a twitter meltdown as screenshots of his actual comments were posted.

It may well be true that journalistic standards in Scotland are under serious threat, but the clear and present danger it faces does not come from anyone inside or connected to Rangers Football Club. The journalistic community should look a lot closer to home to find those responsible for endangering their profession.

Category: Opinion

Halfway there

Fifty six matches of lower league football down and, all being well, another fifty two to go before we get back to the top flight. We've seen the odd few glimpses of quality play, but by and large, it's been a slog. With no real competition, nor any real rivalry, the endurance shown by the supporters is quite something to behold.

An average of 44,365 devotees have flocked to Ibrox to cheer on the team through the divisions.  The support has barely wavered.