The newspapers are singing a song of woe today at the news that government changes to what is and is not allowed to be advertised in professional sports might well kill off the current sponsorship deals with which the game benefits.
But let’s be honest here, this is a song some of us have been singing for years.
The limited thinking of football in Scotland has locked us into relationships with booze and betting companies for far too long. Celtic, in particular, should have been looking at more distant horizons years ago.
There are many more opportunities out there than that.
There is something lazy and complacent about the way in which we’ve retreated back towards these two marketplaces, and in particular booze which is the subject in question as the Scottish Government launches its consultation on whether to ban it from advertising in stadiums and on shirts. I doubt it will ever happen, but it has the SFA fairly squealing.
Those within the game will always complain about government over-reach, of course, and there are already complaints from the SFA saying that it would hamper their ability to host major European finals as companies like Heineken put heavy money into them.
But you know what? That makes me less than depressed. The SFA hogs those competitions for themselves anyway and steadfastly refuses to promote them for the two best grounds in the country. I have limited sympathy for them in this regard.
The SFA’s decision to criticise the government rather than getting imaginative and getting real is typical of them. Celtic, who have a betting sponsor after having had a booze sponsor for years, should not be constrained just because they are.
We should see this as an opportunity to make a clean break from alcohol advertising, and welcome the trend. The SPFL has already done so, and is now sponsored by cinch, no matter how much a certain club bangs its head against the bars over that.
There are tech companies and car companies and construction firms and all sorts of other brands out there who would be willing to talk to our club, if we were adventurous and went looking beyond the current horizon in which football holds itself back. Those in charge of marketing our club have done well within certain parameters … that’s the problem though. Within these restrictions they do an exceptional job. It’s the restrictions that hold us back.
It’s high time this game, and everyone in it, showed a bit more imagination than this. The SPFL and the SFA talk about danger. That they don’t even see the opportunity is telling. Celtic cannot, Celtic must not, be so short-sighted.