The Record Loves This Atlantic League Guff. When Do They Tell Us How It Would Actually Work?

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Well at long last, someone has done the right thing over this Atlantic League nonsense and actually gone and asked the fans of one of the clubs who were being talked about as potential founders; the supporters of FC Copenhagen, who’s managing director was talking to every newspaper who would print his comments yesterday.

The arrogance of the man, to be doing such a thing without talking to fans. Ridiculous.

The same, of course, could be said for the directors of all the other clubs allegedly involved. But in this case, his club’s supporters weren’t content to remain silent. One of their spokesman decided to give the media the only view that counts; those of the paying customer.

And the verdict? They don’t like the idea, not one bit.

Neither does one of the club’s said to be involved, PSV Eindhoven, who’s CEO says he’s heard nothing about the move and that it wouldn’t be under discussion any time soon.

This whole thing is little more than bollocks. As I said yesterday, I can understand why Celtic might want to consider this as a last resort if the European League thing comes to fruition and we’re not invited (that’ll never happen either) but the competition couldn’t be an invites only job or we’d be legitimising what the super clubs had done. It would be based on sporting merit and that means Aberdeen and Hearts would be there ahead of Sevco.

Indeed, an idea like this, with Sevco invited as a matter of course, is probably the only thing that will come close to saving the NewCo and rebuilding its shredded financial positon. All this story and those like it accomplishes is to give a momentary lift to their fans and make any future share issue (a forlorn hope, and one their fans shouldn’t cling to) a little more appealing.

Celtic isn’t happy with the financial constraints we face. Why would we be? But we’ve at least adapted to them, and built our business model around them. Pipe dreams are all well and good, as long as you’ve got people on the board who understand and reflect reality at the same time, and that’s what we have. There’s nothing wrong with looking at other options, but that’s not the same thing as making plans without consulting supporters.

Copenhagen’s fan chief is concerned primarily with away match fans; he’s right to be. But there are other considerations too. Clubs would be doing a lot of traveling. That’s not cheap and neither are hotel fees, training fees and all the rest. The TV market would be bigger – so people say – but I’d have to wonder whether satellite subscribers would pay a premium to watch Ajax v Odense on a Friday night. It’s not exactly sexy, is it?

On top of that, and what no-one seems to want to face up to, is that the so-called super-clubs will never leave their domestic leagues. If they somehow got European football ordered in the shape they want (they won’t, it’s a non-starter as I’ve said a hundred times) we wouldn’t even get the scraps from the table, because this Atlantic League plan does call for us walking away from our domestic division, which means no UEFA run competition would touch us, our international teams would be punished and our national leagues would die, and all for nothing.

The Daily Record seems to like this story; they run it enough times. But nobody at that paper, or anywhere else, has ever actually sat down and told us all how it would come together. It’s not enough for clubs to want this (even if they did); there has to be some kind of realistic blueprint in place for how it would all work and fans would need to be brought on board at a very early stage or a lot of work would go into it for nothing.

So where’s the actual proposal, as opposed to The Record and others salivating over an imaginary version of it? Where’s the meat on the bones? How big would the league be? How many clubs? Will there be promotion and relegation? Are UEFA, FIFA and the national associations involved? Will there be some measure of qualification for the European League?

How will Brexit affect this? What would be the work-permit rules? Would we have regional youth leagues or would we have to send our kids hundreds of miles to play on public parks or school pitches for their Under 21 ties?

And that’s just the football side of it.

Has someone done a commercial evaluation as to what kind of TV income we could expect?

That’s not as simple as saying “We would have a TV audience the equivalent of England …” that’s not even Marketing For Dummies. What percentage has cable? What percentage is interested in football? What would be the optimal price for a package? Break it down geographically. By class. By income. By GDP. What can people afford? What’s the market share? Who are the advertisers who’d be interested? We’d be going up against the EPL TV deal, an established global brand. Do you think Sky and other companies are going to produce another multi-billion pound contract? What is the current TV audience (for Sky games) in those countries right now?

Has anyone even bothered to ask those questions?

Does anyone care?

Is it more than just a one day story to sell papers and drive hits?

You know, I could write that story or one like it every other day, all the better to boost audience figures here. But I don’t. I won’t. Because as hard as this will be for Sevconites and others to read, I take this more seriously than that. My job here isn’t to write fluffy make believe to push up the numbers and make folk feel like Nirvana is around the corner. I try to deal in facts, in truth, in reality. And these stories simply don’t qualify.

I know The Record is proud of itself for its “investigative piece” earlier in the week, the one where they published the personal details of ex footballers from Parkhead, media people and Celtic employees. I would be less scathing about such articles (it was a hatchet job, nothing more) if they actually investigated others, or anything really.

This continuing cobblers about European leagues and a carve-up don’t even belong in the realms of bad journalism; they belong in the category labelled Made Up Pish.

And until that changes they are simply not worth bothering about.

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