The Need For Competition?

IMG_2620Thank God for Al Qaeda.

Praise Jesus for 9/11 and for Islamic fundamentalism.

Thank the Lord for the more hardcore followers of Allah.

What would we have done without those guys? What would we have done without the War on Terror? How would this country have coped?

The British defence industry would have been on its arse without their holy war. It would have cost us billions in exports, and tens of thousands of jobs and we’d have had a deeper recession.

And what would our poor downtrodden intelligence agencies have done with their time? They couldn’t have given everyone the gig listening to Prince William doing Kate?

Oh yeah, things would have been picking up now, with the Big Russian Bear starting to growl all over again, but what about these last ten years? We’d have had soldiers with nobody to fight. We’d have had tanks sitting in laagers, running their engines.

We’d have had warehouses full of missiles and no-one to use them on. How could we have justified ordering more?

Without the modern day Axis of Evil you get the feeling that the Scottish independence referendum might not have gone off so peacefully. For all we know, tanks would have rolled into Berwick. Special Forces troops might have swept into Edinburgh and grabbed the First Minister. They might even have pulled a Castro on us, and released all the Scottish prisoners from their jails on the condition they all moved back home.

They might have sent Cilla Black up here, to dictate terms of surrender. They might have even have threatened us with John Barrowman. To keep. With the tanks on our border, how could we have said no?

They may even – if they were really feeling cruel – have blockaded the port of Stranraer.

How would football fans have got over to watch our games?

You might not realise it, but our economic prosperity depends on our military having healthy competition. Had we not found some new enemies we’d have had to invent them.

Too much? That’s a measure of the utter, utter, utter bollocks I’ve been listening to tonight. You have to go to extremes to top it.

Yes, I am ranting. Rambling. Raving. It’s because I am fed up hearing guff. Gallons of it are frequently poured onto us, and most ridiculous of all is this “competition” crap.

See, this is what happens when I put on Radio Clyde to amuse myself as I work. I end up like this; going off my nut at the insanity. At men paid fortunes to reveal their own ignorance.

I don’t mind that usually, but these guys call themselves experts and they are condescending arses to anyone who comes on and challenges their sheer stupidity.

The above analogy doesn’t really stack up. Except that the argument that we should put up with something harmful and destructive because it has some minor, positive, effect on us (defence jobs. It’s not like these people could be retasked to making typewriters, after all) … it is the stuff of sheer lunacy.

The analogy isn’t meant to be a good one. It’s a way of my letting off some steam. It’s a way of venting. Otherwise I’d crack up.

I really ought to stop listening to this mind-numbing nonsense.

In a sense though, it’s brought me to a point I’ve been wanting to make for a wee while; I want to tackle this garbage about “competition.” I want to put it to bed.

What brought this on was a Sevconian phoning Clyde and talking about how the club needs to be playing in the SPL next season. Keevins, who is just about the stupidest man making a living in the media in the whole of the country, piped up with the following;

“The whole of Scottish football needs Rangers in the SPL next season …”

And I thought, “Eah? No it doesn’t!”

I’m sick hearing it. There is no truth in it whatsoever. There’s not even any truth in the notion that Sevco needs to be in the top division. Their ridiculous so-called business plan depends on it, but that business plan is a joke that belongs in the bin. It depends on the club maintaining its current level of spending, and that level of spending is a nonsense.

If they were willing to make the appropriate cuts, they’d stand a chance of surviving it. Instead, they’d rather plan for an eventuality that might never come to pass, one that looks increasingly unlikely, if we’re being completely honest.

Let’s continue being honest. All this “the game needs Rangers” rot is about money, and nothing more. It assumes that there will suddenly be more interest, and more money, in the game if that team is playing in the top flight.

Tell me something. Tell me why that should be the case?

Subtract Celtic from the equation for the moment, this notion that more Celtic fans would go to games if there was a genuine competition. Take that out of the considerations for the moment, because all that one does is get in the way of the really important stuff.

Attendances at most of the clubs are up. Barry Hearn can talk all he likes about a single match, and the media can blow his comments up to charity cheque size all they want, but he knows the sum total of nil about the game here and can keep his condescending remarks.

He sells out individual events. Novelty events. Some of the blogs run nights out, and they invariably sell through the roof. Should these guys be running football clubs?

Hearn doesn’t have the responsibility of running a 365 day operation in a country where the average punter no longer has the cash he or she once did, and it’s bad enough our so-called “sports journalists” talking the game down without letting some loud-mouth who probably doesn’t know a football from an Easter Egg tell us where we’re failing.

We needed Barry Hearn to tell us that Regan and Doncaster should be sacked for our top league not having a sponsor? For appalling governance? This website and others have been screaming it from the rooftops for near on three years.

It’s not breaking news, and the fact Keevins and others are calling his speech an “eye opener” demonstrates how long they’ve been walking about with them jammed shut.

The reason attendances are up at most clubs is simple; each of those clubs now has a better chance of getting into Europe and of getting to the finals of top competitions than they would if the steroid pumped Ibrox OldCo was still crashing around like a bull in a china shop.

No-one can tell me why Aberdeen fans would be more likely to come to matches if Sevco were in the top division. Explain it to me. They might get two more full houses, but they would not be more likely to buy season tickets. Nor would the fans of Dundee United. Nor would the supporters of Motherwell or St Johnstone.

The argument makes no sense whatsoever.

“It is important for competition,” people have argued. We’ll get to that in more detail in a moment, but for now let’s think on this:

This concept of “competition” would only matter to the fans of two clubs … for the rest it transforms football into a duopoly again, and how in God’s name does that inspire people to watch the game once more? Are these people suggesting these fans would rather watch their team fight for third place than they would watch them fight for second?

Nonsense. The worst kind of nonsense. Dangerous nonsense.

Scottish football almost collapsed into the abyss because of this destructive idea that we need a football club that believes rules are for other people, that thinks spending money is its right, that can’t get its act together or its house in order. Every club in this land would have ended up paying the bill for their decades of mis-management and greed … until the fans said “Hey, not in this lifetime …” and called their clubs to order.

It’s bad enough that the tax payers had to pick up the tab.

The Frankenstein’s Football Club that emerged from that period has made every horrendous mistake, and shown every bit as much arrogance, as the one that died. It is an insult to every club that lives within its means to suggest our game depends on them.

Even if it wasn’t an offensive notion, it’s a stupid one.

What is this “competition” people are talking about?

This too is insulting. It’s just assumed that their footballing joke would be better than every other club in the league but Celtic. It’s groundless, but they talk about it as if it’s a fact, as if it makes perfect sense … just … because.

This club in whom the media puts so much store is like a drunk man trying to walk in a straight line.

In case it escaped Keevins’ attention, they were knocked out of the third tier cup tournament this midweek, after being two goals to the good with 18 minutes of the game to go against a part-time team.

They are dreadful. Kilmarnock and others might bottle out of single matches at Ibrox, but once teams get the measure of how bad they really are then beatings will be a weekly occurrence. They will provide no competition worthy of the name. They will provide comedy. They will provide laughs. But that is not a good enough reason for wanting them in the league.

Some people – including Celtic fans – have said things aren’t the same without them. Of course not; things are infinitely better. The game here is healthier without the grotesque spectacle of the Celtic – Rangers game, and the top division is better without that club.

If fans want competition, they are watching the wrong sport right now, and besides … what is this crap about competition anyway?

I exile myself from Celtic Park because I won’t fund a ludicrously flawed strategy, and the bonus payments to a certain individual. On the day he packs up his pencils I’ll be back, and I’ll never miss a game. I will do that unless rules are bent to accommodate the Sevconian horde. If that happens I won’t be back at another football match in Scotland as long as I live, unless my club opposes it to the last drop of blood and then leaves the game here behind as a remedy.

This notion of “competition” has no relevance for me and I cannot even kid on I get it. I want my team to win every match, to beat every opponent, and the problems I have with the current squad is not that it has no effective rival but that it’s not winning resoundingly or comfortably enough.

Right now, we get “competition” on a game by game basis, and I don’t like it one bit.

I don’t want competition of the kind they are talking about.

Nail biting finishes? Title races that go right to the wire? Why, in God’s name, would I want that?

I have never sat down at the start of a league campaign and said “I hope we win this on the final day, with a last minute goal.” I want to win it with weeks to spare. With a record breaking goal haul. With our keeper scooping the shut out record. With a clean sweep of the awards, although I am realistic about that and never expect the sportswriters to swallow their bias and vote for Celtic employees.

“There needs to be a bit of interest in the league,” someone said to me recently. Like what? Right now we’re struggling to beat teams like Thistle. How much more interesting do people want it? Losing those games? We’re top of the league for the first time since the season began, and you know what? People were moaning and wanting the manager sacked before this run started.

Why? Because we might not win the title by double figures.

Make your minds up people. I can be that guy, because I won’t be satisfied unless we do, and I never am, but some of you are the same people talking this “we need competition” guff.

If the game needs the Ibrox club “for competition” and people are alright with that, and agree with it, and support it, then why don’t we campaign for giving them ten points of a start? Or getting the league to pick up the tab for the signings?

If it’s “competition” these people want, does it really matter how we get it? Or who we get it from? Can’t we just give Aberdeen these things, and create a new main rival? You see how ludcirous the argument is?

One club – and only one – gains anything from this “the top flight needs Rangers” garbage. It’s the one playing at Ibrox.

I would love to see other teams stronger, and challenging. As long as they weren’t too strong, and challenging too much. But it would have to happen on merit. And within the rules. From clubs which live within their means … or we’re creating nothing more than a rigged game.

It’s Friday night, friends, and I shouldn’t be hammering the keyboard because of something Hugh Keevins spewed out in his usual numb fashion. You’d think I’d be immune to this kind of stuff by now … yet here we are.

Some things though … well, they just won’t keep until Monday.

Enjoy your weekend brothers and sisters. Here’s to destroying Motherwell at home.

Competition? My arse.

(This site needs your help. You can show your support by making a donation at the PayPal link at the top or the bottom of your page, depending on which device you are using. Those donations are vital to me. Everyone who makes a donation has a place in my heart, and I’ll do my best to keep you entertained and informed all through the Festive Season and beyond into 2015.)

James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

19 thoughts on “The Need For Competition?

  • 5 December, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    If fans genuinly want compitition then radical change is required. A hadicap system where the winners of the previous seasons league is deducted pointt the start of the season, not only the winners but the top six should be deducted points based on the amount of points they finished above the team below them.

    The bottom 6 would be given points based on the same system as the top 6.

    Never happen though as football hates change.

  • 5 December, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Well said james couldnt agree more

  • 5 December, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I do want competition, but I too want it from deserving teams who run their clubs properly, and whilst we may not have the SPHell sewn up before Christmas, we would be better prepared for Europe and with our Scottish rivals improving we may actually get back to being into the CL without qualification.
    For me it is for selfish reasons, but only to progress in Europe and to hopefully get us back to the top table once again.

  • 5 December, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Love all your comments about Clyde I can not stand phone ins and only resaon they talk so much about getting them back to the Premiership is to kepp them (Clyde reporters, Daily Record reporters in a Job),

    When they talk about competition did they think of Celtic when Sevco was spending all their borrowed never to pay back monies on expensive players making the league less competative as most of us could not keep up with their spending, did that make the league attractive for the rest of us, why were they not shouting about a competative league then.

    At least be honest the reporters need sevco certainly not us. Not missed many games since they went out of business amd I have enjoyed more games each season as i see the rest getting better as each season starts,

    I only hope they do fail to get up and hopefully that will keep them down forever.

    Forget Lawell and get back to supporting the Hoops stronger together than apart, Thanks

  • 5 December, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    “Thank God for Al Qaeda.”
    Really, James?
    Terrible choice of intro and that’s coming from someone who wrote a few bummers in his career.

  • 5 December, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    If I’d written “Thank Allah for Al Quada” would you have got the joke?

  • 5 December, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    Great article again mate, though, i would love footballing teams with real ability providing competition within Scotland rather than watch Celtic scrimp and save then spend on players not fit to wear the jersey.
    The SPL was created to enhance wealth amongst the larger clubs but has fallen flat on its face. The desire to have a Rangers within the league structure allowed vultures to circle, rip off those that were decent footballing supporters, and line their pockets at others expense.The SFA and the Scottish Media are both at fault for that.
    Your comment regarding individuals that are highly rewarded within Celtic are similar to my thoughts on what my club has turned into. As a Celtic supporter since being took to the games with my dad, uncles, grandfathers, cousins and friends from the mid 80’s, i feel nothing but alienation to the plc. structure that is now in place. Charitable foundations that are only promoted for media exposure and tax breaks has replaced genuine concern for the impoverished of the West of Scotland.

    Keep up the good work, and those who do not appreciate the irony and insight of James’ opening paragraphs, need to widen their political and economical horizon.

  • 6 December, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I am of the same mind as you James,but would add that the Green Brigade are destroying our club as well.
    They banned them, then allowed them back in,in different locations in the ground,and eventually gave them their 113 position back all to themselves.
    If you go on line for any home game tickets this section is unavailable.

  • 6 December, 2014 at 5:53 am

    A decent article , even though you have written it as a knee jerk to comments from the imbeciles on Radio Clyde.The analogy to Al Queda is valid in my honest opinion.

    Also agree with your reason for not attending Paradise until Uncle Tom Lawell has packed up his pencil case and left the building.The man is an utter disgrace to the ethos of Celtic.

    After a long absence from attending Celtic Park in this Millenium…..mostly due to apathy, geography, and lazybastarditis on my part….I have had the misfortune of attending 2 recent games….It really is a soulless experience at the minute…..and the fitba is shite,too.Even Liam Brady’s side would have wiped the floor with our current lot of journeymen.Still… least Lawell’s bonus will be intact at the end of the Financial Year…..Bless him and his race to the bottom to be competitive with Sevco.

    I see charity also begins at home for our current season ticket holders.When asked,on renewal, to tick a box for a quid to be donated to Charity …..17k did and 23k didn’t…….but then again James…..times are tough,ey?

    More power to your pen old Bhoy……off to read ‘Fragments’ on Kindle.

    Hail Hail

  • 6 December, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    James, I can do irony and jokes with the best of them but to say “Thank God for Al Qaeda” about an organisation whose idea of getting its point across is to hijack a few planes, fly them into tall buildings and slaughter a few thousand people is in poor taste.
    Disnae work in my opinion.

  • 6 December, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    It wasn’t supposed be a matter of taste. The phrase “Praise Jesus for 9/11 and Islamic Fundamentalism” should tell you I was aiming not just for black sarcasm but total contempt for the argument.

    Said argument being that competition is everything. That we should tolerate anything to get it.

    It was a measure of my total exasperation and frustration at having to listen to endless guff.

  • 6 December, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Even though I renewed my daughters and my season tickets in the summer I vowed to not set foot inside of celtic park until Lawell had moved on or at the very least, the board stopped gambling on our season by failing to invest in the squad before the CL qualifiers. I made this vow whilst on holiday in Turkey after watching us crash out of CL for the 2nd time this season to Maribor after caving into legia Warsaw. The writing was on the wall last year when we just about scraped through past Shakhtar Karagandy. This summer past, the board was against treated us like lambs on the way to the slaughterhouse by taking our season ticket money whilst they sat on that tidy pile, made larger by transfer income, and once again failed to strengthen the side until it was too late. Do they deliberately sit in the boardroom and stick 2 fingers up to the supporters who fork over their hard earned and even harder to come by income, knowing their gamble is odds on to fail?
    I broke my vow this week and travelled up to the Partick Thistle game, and though a small part of me felt dirty and cheap for attending, I’m glad I did.
    I didn’t plan it well in advance, just a week before the game I noticed the fixture whilst browsing the fixture list. I guessed there would be no mini bus going up from coventry as the game was crammed in to a tight schedule of European and league games. I knew that if there was no mini bus going a good friend of mine would travel to Glasgow on the national express and I felt guilty because if I wasnt boycotting he’d be travelling up in my car.
    So loyalty to a man who had been at forefront of running buses, cars and coaches to celtic park from coventry for the best part of 40-50 years came before my anger and resentment to the PLC Board.
    I really enjoyed the game too and it felt great to take my seat again. We should have hit Thistle for 8 or 9 goals. Wasteful finishing and taking too many passes and not taking the shot cost us dearly. But a great deal of credit to the 1-0 score line has to go to Partick Thistle. They defended solidly and fought for every ball. When they conceded how many times have we seen the visitors capitulate and we hammer them. They never lay down and if it wasn’t for the brilliance of the outstanding Craig Gordon they would have left with a point.
    There was plenty of competition on the park that night, provided by a team living within their means and bringing youth through their ranks. The fact celtic are taking giant strides backwards when we should be going from strength to strength is frustrating for us supporters but the rest of the league are looking after themselves and are somewhat flourishing. As James states, their gates are up as they now see they have something to play for.
    I too love seeing as pumping teams 7-0 and sewing the league up before I’ve bought the weans an Easter egg, but every so often I enjoy the 300 mile drive home thankful that our keeper has been an 89th minute saviour.
    The only part of Wednesday night I did not enjoy was the silence from the stands. I should be well used to it by now but it still gets my back up that 3 sides of the ground can all stand up and sing when Barcelona or juventus come to town, but when it’s Partick Thistle it’s only 1 corner of the ground that makes any noise. But when news filtered through that alloa had beat sevco, 3 sides of the ground sang in unison “don’t sack mccoist” to the tune of “don’t sell McCourt”!
    How many of that choir were more tuned into the goings on at Alloa via smart phones and radios than to what was happening on the pitch in front of their very eyes? How many of that choir shared via social media the comments of Xavi that celtic park is the best he’s played at for atmosphere? God (or Allah) help us if Xavi ever takes in an SPL game when he retires – a quick fire retraction could be on the cards!

  • 7 December, 2014 at 12:34 am

    So let me get this right….if we replace Lawell with..say….Bob Geldof and we win the league by Christmas every year for the rest of time,we’re happy? Utter pish! Lets have a look at our previous ceo’s..Ian,I’ve sort of heard of the Lisbon Lions,McLeod,Allan big spender McDonald,Terry fuc*ing Cassidy….to quote another ghost from the past…some of you guys are malcontents! Seriously,we should absolutely stand up as a support when the “custodians” are failing us but equally we should be careful what we wish for. For the avoidance of doubt,I’d be happy if I never have to witness Celtic play any club claiming the legacy of Rangers ever again and ,I agree,the new club are incapable of a realistic challenge anyway but without competition from somewhere we’ll continue on a downward spiral. How can we possibly prosper long term without being stretched? What’s the point of winning a competition barely worthy of the name?

  • 7 December, 2014 at 11:18 am

    All that just to let us know you don’t like Peter Lawwell, the article was good till I got to that bit and I stopped, I read that every day on CQN so it’s old hat and of course your opinion, but as I said the article was getting good UNTILL you got side tracked, only my opinion, I like PL and the board, but then again someone has too.

  • 7 December, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Tony my man, that article had NOTHING to do with Peter Lawwell. That bit is in there ONLY to explain why I don’t attend Celtic Park. Other people have different reasons. I wanted it to be clear what mine are … the point is not about Peter Lawwell. The point is that my staying away has nothing to do with the absence of a club called Rangers. Had Sevco been allowed straight into the SPL I would never have attended a game in Scottish football again.

  • 7 December, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Mick you’re entitled to your opinion.

    And what’s this obsession with Lawwell on here this morning? Has he read the piece and cancelled the tea and biscuits invite again?

    Honestly. You guys who defend him … the one thing I will say for you is that you have that right.

    After all, it’s YOUR money that paid for his heated driveway whilst we went without a proven striker.

  • 7 December, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    James, whilst I wholeheartedly agree with your “We’ve been saying this for donkey’s years!” sentiment re. Barry Hearn it is important to bear in mind that the majority of punters with a vested interest in Scottish football really aren’t switched on to this new voice that the interweb has enabled us all to find an outlet for.

    If Hearn’s statements widen the scope of the debate to The Old School and beyond, that cannot be a bad thing.

  • 13 January, 2015 at 1:11 am

    Whilst I whole heartedly agree with the “We’ve been saying this for years!” sentiment re. Barry Hearn I feel it’s important to frequently take stock of how deep the new media hole really goes. Newspapers, despite the myriad of alternatives on offer to the new generation, are still and will always remain the port of call for the Old Guard: if criticism of the governance of the Scottish game from an outsider’s perspective starts appearing within the rags and has the effect of widening and developing the debate to this particular demographic, then that can only be a good thing.

    I love this site and Comment by the way, it feels like reading letters from a pal.

  • 13 January, 2015 at 1:16 am

    Whoops, didnae mean to repeat myself there I thought it had had effed up posting the first time round.

    Give Commons his two years!

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