Grab your pompoms and start dancing, as this years European Cheerleading Championships will be held in our fair city of Glasgow. Nearly 3,000 competitors from 34 countries are expected at the city’s new Emirates Arena for the competition at the end of June and the event is expecting to attract over 2,000 spectators for the two day spectacular.
Team orders have long been a controversial issue in Formula 1. Whether it was McLaren’s orders to David Coulthard to concede title hopes to teammate Mika Hakkinen, or the massive history of Ferrari and Schumacher, team orders have always proven divisive in the sport.
With a dominant win over a strong field at the World Golf Championships on Sunday, Tiger Woods secured the early season double of the tournaments at Doral and Torrey Pines – something which he has already done four times. Rather ominously for the rest of the golfing world, he always follows it up with a trophy-laden season. In 2005 he followed it by winning six titles – including the Masters and the Open. 2006 saw him win the Open and PGA Championships amongst his eight tournament wins, and in 2007 he won another PGA crown amongst his seven victories. This has led to many commentators to question whether we are now moving into another era of Tiger Woods dominance over the sport. Continue reading
For a sport known more for their massive behemoths flying through the air, crashing into each other with the might of titans than their movements towards ensuring gender equality, American Football has taken their first step towards embracing the chance of women to play the sport professionally. “Times are changing,” explained the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, when the ban was lifted in December 2011. “The military is about to allow women into combat. If women are going to be fighting on the battlefield, how can we stop them from participating in football? It’s not fair.”
Needless to say, it has split opinion.
The news of genuine proposals for reform into the structures of Scottish football have been met with sighs of relief by the majority of level headed football fans. I would be inclined to agree; the current four- tier structure is baffling due to the simple fact that there are 42 ‘senior’ clubs split into a needlessly complicated 4 tier structure involving playoffs, splits, promotion, relegation, and a bottom tier from which finishing bottom brings with it no repercussions, even when it’s done five times in succession (ahem, East Stirlingshire ’02-’07).
The new structure being proposed unanimously by the SFL clubs (that’s the clubs from the three tiers below the SPL, for those struggling to keep up) suggests the replacement of the 12-10-10-10 system with a shiney new 16-10-16 system compromising of a Premier League, a “Championship” and a “First Division”(a blatant copying of the English Football League structure) . This is a move that was greeted with fairly selfish reactions from the Old Firm, with Ally McCoist backing the changes, presumably as it would likely see Rangers hit the top flight again quicker, and Neil Lennon opposing the changes as it would gain his side no advantages over the other teams. SFL teams universally back the changes because, well, anything is better than what we’ve got now.
Now, my problem is not that I disagree with the changes proposed – although I am slightly baffled at a middle tier of just 10 teams – it’s that the deep rooted problems in Scottish football require significantly bigger reforms than changing the league sizes to rectify. Thankfully, the turmoil facing many top clubs in Scotland has provided an easy context to reflect the issues in the running of the game. Now avoiding the Rangers example entirely (being from Glasgow, one understands that this may be slightly divisive to those as passionate on the topic as I) a fine example of the problems facing Scottish football can be found over in Edinburgh with Hearts.
Following Vladimir “Mad Vlad” Romanov’s decision to leave Hearts in a state of financial turmoil for the seventh time or so (not including those times where he simply didn’t pay his staff because he couldn’t be arsed) the question has to be asked of why the SFA don’t seem too bothered that a man clearly unfit to run a football club is running a football club. Surely to ensure the longevity and financial sustainability of member clubs is in the interest of Scottish football, and is therefore the responsibility of the authorities to ensure appropriate people are in charge of the member clubs. The disastrous consequences in failing to perform this role can be found in the liquidation of the Rangers Oldco, and the demotion of the football club to the Third Division. The new league structure could very well increase revenue and interest in the league, but this does not necessarily mean that clubs will go to the wall less often.
With these reforms being proposed things are looking bright for Scottish football. Whether the future is bright, I’m not entirely sure, and to be honest, I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one. But considering SFL Chief Executive David Longmuir is the face of these changes, and also holds the distinction of being the only reasonable man of authority in Scottish football, that’s at least a small positive. But still, with Snoop Dogg’s apparent interest in buying shares in Celtic, the next few months will certainly be interesting if nothing else.
So there we have it folks, the big wigs over at the Scottish Football Association have finally acted on the national shame that was Craig Levein’s tenure as Scotland boss and shown him the door. This act of basic competence – albeit belated – has led to the question of who will replace Levein as manager. With the doubtless talent at the disposal of the new manager, whoever that may be, this week I will dedicate my column to the potential candidates for the role and the chances of each of them of landing the top job.
Former Scotland International Gordon Strachan has received the most high profile media attention and has been installed by every bookmaker as favourite. For this reason he is highly uninteresting to talk about, because everyone else is talking about him. He’s ginger, fairly short, and has a good track record as a manager. Also famed for his bizarre, nonsensical responses to fairly valid questions from the press, so at least that would be interesting to watch. On a more serious note, his spell in charge of Celtic would be enough to convince the majority of the Tartan Army that he’s the right candidate to move the side forward.
Compton’s Odds: A logical choice, and bizarrely, a logical choice that the SFA may actually take. I see him as strong favourite and with good reason too. However, his disappointing spell at Middlesbrough may raise a few eyebrows. 1/5.
Having achieved moderate success in his previous spell as Scotland boss, Walter Smith comes with all the pedigree that anyone could possibly ask for. Having been touted for the job by Smith’s assitant at Rangers and Scotland, now Rangers manager Ally McCoist, his name has been thrust into consideration. A stellar managerial career with two excellent spells at Rangers, a vastly underrated spell in charge of Everton, and a very impressive job in the role previously. This appointment would be controversial however, as Smith left the Scotland job in unfavourably circumstances, resigning in order to return to Rangers in the wake of Paul LeGuen’s sacking, prompting legal action from the SFA.
Compton’s Odds: It goes without saying that Smith has one of the more accomplished CV’s of all the likely candidates for this role. However, his potential commitment to the role may hinder his chances. His resignation from the role previously for greener pastures and his hinting towards retirement when leaving Rangers may call into question the longevity any spell as Scotland boss would have. It’s also unlikely that the Tartan Army, or indeed the SFA themselves, have forgiven Smith for leaving the role previously. 16/1.
Was too old to be a footballer, and is too young to be a manager, so I guess you get the best of both Worlds. Always read the game superbly, but has no managerial experience. He is currently a youth and reserve team coach at Everton, but there’s no way of knowing how well he’s doing, seeing as he’s a coach, and we never really know what they’re up to. A scholar of the game with a great footballing mind.
Compton’s Odds: It’s a long shot, to say the least, and as respected as he is as a player, including his achievements as former Scotland captain, Weir may need to make the step up to management somewhere else for some experience if he’s ever likely to hold the national team top job. Then again, everyone said he was too old when he signed for Rangers, so he’s used to overcoming the odds. 66/1.
What a farcical appointment this would be.
Rightfully considered a legend of Scottish football, and one of the finest players ever produced by this nation, Dalglish deserves much praise, respect and his position in Scottish Football’s Hall of Fame. His managerial career however, has been nothing short of a train wreck. Yes, his spells in charge of Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers were successful, but they were also in the eighties and early nineties, and everything since there has been shamefully poor. When in charge of Newcastle United he lost nearly as often as he won, and his spells at Celtic and Liverpool were uninspiring to say the least. As much as the “Dalglish Factor” seems to work for the first few weeks in charge, his managerial nous has never been proven, and I for one don’t believe that he has what it takes to be a successful manager in the modern game, and his sporadic gaps from managing suggests his commitment to improving his record is lacking.
Compton’s Odds: A big name boss, but the disappointing spell at Liverpool recently will probably see the SFA avoid what would likely prove an expensive mistake. 33/1.
What a wonderful, wonderful appointment this would be. A sterling reputation within the footballing world thanks to a fantastic spell in charge of Fleetwood, culminating in promotion to the Premier League and FA Cup success in the 2018-19 season. Compton is the shining beacon through the otherwise foggy set of potential appointments. His tactical wizardry, hands-on approach, and legendary ability to manage his players effectively there is little doubt that the trademark cheeky grin and charming quip to the media would be a reflection of the undeniable success he would bring to the role.
Compton’s Odds: Easily the most qualified and desirable candidate. The only concern over this would the fact that the SFA are most likely looking for a long-term project from their next manager, and holding onto Compton and fighting off the advances of some of the World’s most desirable football jobs may prove too off-putting for the authorities to take the chance on. Wages would also be a major issue, although he would certainly be worth every penny. Finally, there may be concerns that as valid as all of his achievements are, they were all achieved on Football Manager. 5/1.
The Olympics in London has created not so much a summer of sport, but very much a British one. Glasgow’s tribute to the heroics of this summer was to host an open-top bus – which turned out to be a truck – parade for the Scottish Olympians and Paralympians, followed by a celebration in George Square. What was interesting to note was the angry reaction of the crowd to the presence of First Minister Alex Salmond.
Alan Compton brings you his views on the current state of Scottish football.
International week is a time that everyone looks forward to. A country unites behind players from leagues around Europe and cross-city divides are forgotten for ninety minutes as a nation’s prayers are – or in Scotland’s case, usually are not – answered. Fortunately for the “Tartan Army” there is a public hate figure whose baffling decisions and lack of nous with regards to selection, tactics or anything at all to do with football makes the blame game a whole lot easier to win – Craig Levein. What better way to epitomise the sheer fallacy that has been his tyranny so far than with his recent call up of Steven Fletcher – or more importantly, the period of time where without him, Scotland have already lost what little hope they had of qualifying from a group that the national media still haven’t cottoned on to quite how tough it actually is.