This weekend, John Terry departed Chelsea in a blaze of publicity. His farewell address was covered like a Presidential inauguration. The match between his team and Sunderland wasn’t the principal game the broadcaster was covering, with the title race already over. Viewers were able to switch between the Premiership games as they pleased, with the top billing going to the games with Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City.
We played at 12:30 and made history. That didn’t matter to Sky.
We might have gone first, but we were an afterthought.
They had Kris Boyd – a semi-sentient goon – commenting on our game, for God’s sake, a guy who’s barely mastered the language. I had to turn him down, I can’t bare his inane drivel for longer than a few minutes.
They just treated us with total contempt.
They couldn’t wait to get away from covering Flag Day at Celtic Park so they could get to their “main event.”
Even the adverts were insulting; I’m sick of seeing Level 5’s campaign advert for Ladbrokes, with Derek Johnstone and Ally McCoist; could it be more clear who they’ve pegged as their core audience north of the border? It’s a joke.
Scotland’s games kicked off early so they could build their entire day around the EPL. Hey, I get it; this is their big brand. This is where they put all the money. They’ve sunk so much into that league that it has to work, it has to keep growing, otherwise what’s the point? The whole thing is a joke, of course. The influx of money into the game has made it look glitzy and glamourous but no-one can actually say that the overall standard of the teams is better.
Scottish football has suffered immeasurably in the light of this.
Teams like Hull City could outspend our clubs, including Celtic. I have to admit that I will take a certain perverse satisfaction watching them implode under the crushing weight of playing in the second tier, burdened by the debts that they’ve accrued in the most lucrative league on the planet.
Our own teams get crumbs. Teams like Aberdeen, who’ve won European trophies, who gave the game fantastic players, who were managed by a giant like Ferguson. Their teams, many of them with no exposure beyond playing in that league, get a banquet. They sit at the most lavishly stacked table of them all. This is Sky’s fault; this is how they prioritise.
Let me put it this way, can you imagine how much healthier Scottish football would be if they handed our clubs a bigger cheque? Even a fraction of what they pay English clubs would give our teams a fighting chance of competing. At worst, we would no longer lose players here to clubs in their second and third tiers; it is scandalous that we’re at that point.
I love Scottish football, and I think the standard is a Hell of a lot better than many of its current critics do. But the relative poverty here has hamstrung us, and that’s beyond doubt. English media punters who criticise us and can’t wait to swing the boot do so from the arrogance of covering this overblown money eating machine.
Sky doesn’t give a monkeys. If they did they would treat the game with the appropriate respect and make it an appropriate offer. They could solve the “competitiveness” problem here at a stroke if they wanted to; they could turn Aberdeen and Hibs and Hearts – even Sevco – into clubs with genuine weight if they gave us a deal which reflected how much people in this country love their teams. It suits them to have this unconscionable divide.
There is still talk that BT Sport want to take over the Scottish football contract, and they’re said to want to put a far nicer offer on the table than we’ve had from Murdoch’s operation. If that’s true I say about time, and let’s grab it. Lock these people out of any say in our game. Scottish football fans who want to watch Sky games can do it from the pub or from one of the many alternative means that are out there. But get them out of our national game.
I still believe the governing bodies should show some guts and leadership and consider the idea of FansTV, the proposal which Rob Petrie wanted to put forward back in 2012 before Regan and Doncaster’s behind the scenes manoeuvring to support the Craig Whyte regime sunk it like a stone and forced us into an extension of the current deal.
Whatever the answer, Sky is clearly not part of the equation and if our “leaders” can’t get us a better deal when this contract runs out – a deal that gives us some modicum of respect – then to Hell with them. It should be the moment when they are turfed out of office for the ultimate incompetence because Scottish football fans are done being treated like shit.
It’s time this farce came to a close.