The Sports Writers Young Player of The Year nominees came out today, and by God, what an embarrassment they are.
What they reveal is that our hacks have introduced a deliberately restrictive system for which I can’t find a single justification.
The explanation for why Abada isn’t on the list doesn’t buy them one iota of credit.
The rules for eligibility changed in 2019, and the SFWA steering committee will have to explain why they did.
They give out the award on the narrowest possible criteria; eligibility to play for the Scotland Under 21 team. But that is such a restrictive change that you end up with absolutely farcical shortlists, like the one we have this year.
There are two players on that list who, frankly, point out how ridiculous it is.
One is our own Stephen Welsh who simply hasn’t played enough matches to justify it and the other, even more embarrassingly, is Nathan Patterson.
Welsh has played 9 games in the Premier League this season. He has made 22 appearances for Celtic overall, but let’s not kid ourselves that he should be in the running for an award, it is a ludicrous suggestion. His name shouldn’t be near the list.
It is Patterson’s inclusion more even than that of Welsh which makes this a farce.
It’s as if some of the hacks just can’t get past the idea of voting for someone who doesn’t play, or didn’t play, for their favourite club.
If he wins it will be a disgrace.
That these two made the shortlist shows how narrow the field is, and this devalues the award. It also shows up how little most of the hacks who cover Scottish football actually know about the game.
There are plenty of young players who could have made that list if the reporters were willing to look out with Glasgow or even just out with the top flight.
How else do Welsh and Patterson garner enough votes to make the grade?
And since when is being born in Scotland not enough?
Why limit the criteria to players who are eligible for the Scotland Under 21 team? It used to be open to anyone in the country under 23 … I can’t help but wonder if it’s the number of players who have declared for … how shall we put this?… other countries within these islands which prompted part of the change.
Whatever the reasons are behind it, it’s a joke that they’ve reduced the standing of this award in the manner in which they have, by making the available pool for it so restricted.
They might think they are doing the game a favour … but how does putting two candidates on the shortlist who haven’t justified inclusion accomplish that?
The one consolation is that I don’t believe either player will win.
The award might well go to Calvin Ramsey at Aberdeen, although the boy Ross Graham at Dundee Utd would probably be my own choice as they have majorly over-performed in this campaign.
Josh Doig, who won it last year, is in the running again and whilst he’s a good shout I don’t see him getting it. He deserves it more than the Glasgow two … but this won’t be his year.