Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2014: Salmond, Levein, Fletcher and Scotland's destiny

1000 days. Or thereabouts.

After a rather dull game of Westminster-Holyrood constitutional ping pong, Alex Salmond has named his (rough) date.

The destiny of a nation, as dictated by the constitutional will of the Scottish people, will be decided in the autumn of 2014.

What a year to pick. The 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, the year of Glasgow's Commonwealth Games, the year of Scotland's Ryder Cup, the second running of the Homecoming celebration.

The perfect stage for a yes vote on independence.

Maybe. As Severin Carrell has pointed out on The Guardian website, Bannockburn might not be a massive crowd pleaser.

The Commonwealth Games is rather second rate these days and carries the risk, as a trip back to the 1986 hosting of the event in Edinburgh would show, of throwing up costly organisational chaos.

The Ryder Cup is a fine tournament but it could be that this is golfing jamboree in the home of golf that will have very little Scottish involvement where it really matters.

And I'm still not quite sure what the last Homecoming event was all about.

No, these aren't guaranteeing ways of securing the feelgood factor that will send us on our way to nationhood.

It needs something else, something bigger.

It needs football.

Scotland at the 2014 World Cup in Rio: carnival time from Pilton to São Paulo.

But Alex Salmond needs Craig Levein to get him there.

And Craig Levein might well need Steven Fletcher to get him there.

Time for the First Minister to stop goading Gideon, dissing Dave and to get on with the job of marriage counsellor to the stubborn national manager and his recalcitrant striker.

What better backdrop could Salmond have than a resurgent Scotland, - led by a benevolent Levein, inspired by the prodigal Fletcher and celebrating a spirit of inclusion with the English-born Jordan Rhodes - cutting a dash in Rio?

Start banging heids together Eck.

And, if you really want to win the vote, you might look at scheduling the referendum some time between the days of blind optimism engendered by our second group game and the inevitably humbling failure of our third group game.

More seriously, if you've got any views at all on how football could be affected by the independence debate I'd be delighted to hear them