Thursday, May 19, 2011

SPL: Dubai Or Not Dubai

News filters through - from The Sun of all places - that the SPL's proposed winter break could be used to play a glamour cup competition in sunnier climes. Dubai and Flordia are mentioned.

Now it would be imprudent to discount the possibility that this is little more than a careless whisper leading a journalist to take a flight of fancy.

But with the SPL's ideas factory seemingly as bankrupt as Scottish Labour's election team who can tell?

I'm beginning to develop a complex, I'm so agin every idea coming from the SPL that I do wonder if it's me that is the problem.

Seriously though?

A glamour cup competition in Dubai? What's that all about.

A few things immediately spring to mind.

The nature of the winter break itself. The benefits of a break for the players will surely be lost if we bring them back earlier in the summer only to jet them off to play additional games during a period of rest and relaxation.

And if January in Scotland is too cold for "glamour" then why, instead of wintering elsewhere, does Scottish football not consider "summering" in Scotland?

Neil "Donkey" Doncaster the SPL's man with a dozen berated plans likes to talk of increased TV revenues. This is his default reply to almost any question.

He promises the moon. Alas he never convinces that he's got anything more than a papier-mâché space ship to get us there.

So the idea that a glamour tournament abroad would be timed to appeal to domestic TV audiences lacks cognisance of the broadcasting reality.

There's a reason Scottish football is designated TV football's graveyard shifts. We don't have audience appeal. We're the shabby looking Wimpy to English football's Fat Duck.

So we get Sky or ESPN on board. In return for 20 shillings and a loaf of mouldy bread they say "we'll show your groundbreaking, glamour cup competition in the footballing stronghold of Dubai or Florida. But we'll only show it in your normal TV slots."

That would lead to some odd kick off times. Kick off times hardly designed to allow players to return to these shores refreshed and raring to go.

And where would the fans fit into all this?

Fans who are railing against too many televised and too many games between the same sides are being told they can watch more televised games between the same teams.

It will be more glamorous though because it won't be in Scotland and you, the fans, the lumpen proletariat dragging the game down with your demands for quality, fair prices and consultation, won't be there.

I suppose this might just be the English Premier League's 39th game idea given a tartan spin. The SPL are blinded by what they see as the glamour and big bucks of England.

They consistently ignore English football's bloated, debt ridden underbelly, all of it underpinned by a very "old media" revenue model.

What we need are bold ideas. Bold ideas that the fans can relate to and that the fans want to be a part of.

In an odd interview during BBC Scotland's rather unsatisfying Bigotry, Bombs and Football documentary last night, Neil Doncaster was at pains to point out that the SPL sees clubs and their supporters as seperate entities.

Actually he doesn't see the fans at all. Or he sees them as nothing more as a hindrance to his brave new world.

What possible benefit does this latest plan have for fans? Where in this radical strategy for changing Scottish football are the ideas to give the fans more representation? Or the policies for ensuring fans pay a fair price for games?

They're absolutely nowhere. Because the SPL doesn't care. Scottish football doesn't care. Just ask the Kilmarnock fans how letdown they felt by their own board on Sunday.

There is, in Dubai, a monument to sporting hubris. An incomplete reminder of what happens when greed, arrogance and a failure to care about your core support lead you to chase ill conceived dreams.

The desert is in the process of reclaiming the only ten holes of a Tiger Woods designed golf course that were ever built.

Neil Doncaster might like to take a look round. And muse on how lonely failure can be.


  1. Surely whatever the plans its just a device to get a OF game abroad 
    With just the OF involved its a glorified friendly but throw in the other SPL teams and you have competitive action with little interest other than OF games. 
    I like the idea of a winter break purely as a chance for everyone to recharge the batteries - 2 weeks off then back with local derby fixture list - the problem of course lies with how and when you fit it into the calendar. 
    As for this desperate need to expand from both the EPL and SPL maybe some sort of British cup could appease those longing for a 39th game or OF to the EPL (but would the EPL big guns take that seriously?) 

  2. Thanks for the comment simplyton - I agree the SPL should be looking at ways to make a winter break workable rather than wondering how to fill a hypothetical break with an odd competition. The SPL have already raised the idea of a British Cup this season but the authorities down south didn't seem much fussed about the idea. If the EPL wants to expand they can do so without relying on any Scottish input which, for now, would seem to kill both that idea and the chance of the Old Firm moving south.