February 26, 2010

The Belgians

The UEFA co-efficient. What’s that? I hear (some of) you asking. OK, in over-simplified terms - if a country’s clubs do well in Europe over a few seasons, they might get an extra place in the Champions League. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it.

This system also works in reverse of course. If your country performs badly, it may lose a place. Scotland has, for the season after next. It was da Belgians wot dun it.

It’s been twenty years since the Old Firm regularly failed to be the cream in Scotland. The ‘New Firm’ of Aberdeen and Dundee United rose above them in the 1980s. However, in the 1990s and 2000s only once or twice have the Old Firm not grasped, with their sectarian, greedy hands, the top two slots.

However, coming second was, since the advent of the Champions league anyway, not such a raw deal, as the silver medalists still got to take on Europe’s elite, in Europe’s elite competition. No longer. Second place now gets Europe’s second race – the Europa league.

That means, to me, as a lifelong Arab (Dundee United fan) that each season one of the Old Firm will have less money to compete against us. This may create a leveler playing field, which may also see Old Firm’s dominance of football eroded, even ever so slightly. Maybe.

The downside for the smaller clubs is that you now have to win the league to get into the Champions League, and no team outside the Old Firm has done that in more than a quarter of a century. Aberdeen in 1985.

So, this news is definitely a two-sided coin. Yes the Old Firm may have slightly less money to play with. But the chances of anyone outside the Old Firm ever getting into the Champions League have all but vanished.

Also, Scotland now gets one less European slot overall, i.e. one Champions League place and three UEFA (Europa) places. Assuming that the Scottish Cup winners will still get a UEFA spot, this means only second and third in the league, rather than third and fourth, as it is now.

All in all, it’s not good news for Scotland. It may be bad news for the Old Firm, which may, through rivalry, please the rest of us, but overall, it’s terrible news.

February 25, 2010

Anyone but England?

I grew up in Scotland. They hate the English! OK, this is hardly ‘news’ but it’s true none the less. It’s not a real hatred like, say, you might hate someone who gravely insulted your wife or mother. Or the boss that mistreated you for years and fired you for complaining about it. Or the ex-lover who cheated on you. Or….

It’s not real hatred, this Scottish hating the English. You can, as an English person, walk around in Scotland unaccosted. Mostly. I wouldn’t recommend going into a council estate pub in Aberdeen wearing an England football shirt, but you don’t have to keep your English secret in mainstream Scotland.

There’s a chain of t-shirts shops (see link here) selling ‘Anyone but England’ t-shirts. Of course they are referring to the World Cup 2010. As an Englishman, I feel the need to point out that the same t-shirt shop would be selling ‘Scotland’ t-shirts for the same tournament, had they not failed to qualify. Again. However, this is not why the t-shirt shop made the news. Indeed, they’d been selling these t-shirts for several months and no one cared. A few thought them mildly amusing apparently, including, even, a few ‘Sassenachs’. What made these t-shirts newsworthy is that someone thought they were ‘racist’. Racist? How the heck can calling someone of the same race be racist?

Person A: “Hey Anglo-Saxon white person from the same small island as me, I don’t like your football team”.

Person B: “Stop being racist”.

It’s utterly ridiculous. In Britain, that includes all the ‘races’ (even the Welsh), we have got a ridiculous level of ‘human rights’ and PC bullshit going on. Not all of it is bullshit, but we seem to be the world leaders in taking-it-too-far. Not being able to call coloured pencils ‘coloured’ because it might offend someone is frankly absurd. Especially when it says ‘coloured pencils’ on the packet.

Anyway, it grinds my gears that people are far too ready to use the word racist. Let’s be clear about this. If you say ‘I hate scousers’ (for example) that’s NOT racist. If you say ‘I hate Germans’ that’s not racist either. Because they are the same race. One is regionalism, and the other, I suppose, is nationalism (though ‘nationalism’ has a different meaning in political circles, especially in Germany!).

So stop being so eager to use the word racist when race isn’t ‘in the game’. Being called a ‘racist’ is one of the worst things to be called, almost as bad as being labeled a paedophile in some quarters. Let’s stop bandying the word around like ill-educated cheeky teenagers. We should know better. Thank you.

February 24, 2010

Play-offs For European Places in the English Premier League?

[More info about play-offs on the BBC here )

So, they want to have play-offs for fourth place in the EPL? Why?

As some wag pointed out on the BBC comments section isnt that (play-off for 4th) what they do already? From five of the last six seasons, only the Sky 4 of Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have made the Champions League.

So who would play off? Fourth to seventh places?

Fourth to seventh seems likely, as these clubs would be getting a European slot anyway. (5th, 6th and 7th would be going into the Europa League.)

It all seems a bit pointless to me. Why not have a play-off for the teams finishing 7th to 10th for the final Europa league spot? This could mean that bottom half placed clubs could still have something to play for as late as the last few games of the season. It would also mean that any club finishing in the top half of the table has a chance at a European place.

It would still mean that the top six league places are guaranteed a Euro spot based solely on their league placings, and rightly so, but having a 7th 10th play-off opens up the possibility and the excitement of a play-off competition, extra games and revenue, and the eradication of some teams having nothing to play for from February onwards.

With six games to go in last seasons premier table, 10th place Man City on 41 points were only 7 points clear of Wigan in 17th, one spot above the relegation places.

So we can see that this would open up the league in terms of mid-table clubs still having something to play for.

One final thought, for those that think the league position is all. Another possible scenario is that the team finishing seventh could go straight through to a play-off final, and only the two teams finishing 8th and 9th could play off, giving the 7th an advantage over the teams finishing below them.

Up and Running

My First Blog - An Introduction

Tired of ranting on Facebook and the like, and forever seeing things that I have strong opinions on, I have decided that it's time I had a blog.

I'm not going to stick to any one theme - I may write about my time out here in South Korea as an English teacher, or about something political in the world or the UK (my home country), or about English and Scottish football. Or anything.

I recently ranted, listed, really, some of my pet hates on my Facebook, and as a way of introduction, I have reporoduced them below. Please bear in mind, when reading, that these were written for fun. They are all true, these are some of my pet hates, but please, save your psychoanalysis - I am not having a bad day/week/life. They are just the (few) things that get up my nose. Here goes...

1) Massive Attack. Most over rated band of all time. For some godfuck only knows [reason], you weren't allowed to be cool in the 1990s unless you liked massive attack. But they were a bit shit really. There are loads I hate way more than MA btw...

2) People who retrospectively apply political correctness to things that happened ages ago, like Al Jolson painting his face black. Eh? Get a life you fucking trumpet...

...he was a good singer.


3) Local musicians / media 'personalities (none of my FB friends icyww) whom, devoid and the ability to be friendly in the normal way, decide to develop a set of idiosyncrasies that can only be described as....random. In other words, people (musicians trying to 'make it' usually) who act weird just for the fucking sake of it. To be continued. Oh I suppose I could have a FB one b4 i go. 4) People who think 'Im tired. Going to bed' or 'Im bored' etc is worthy of worldwide announcement on FB or twitter. It isn't, I get tired and go to bed every day, and in fact Im going now. Hate that :)

5) People who think Wikipedia is rubbish. Durrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Sure, it's has its flaws and errors, but it's a fantastic website. It
s not a study aid, its a little info about a lot of things. If u think wiki is rubbish, you are an idiot.

6) People who hate certain celebs. So what? Hating them is giving them as much time/thought as idolising them. Also, people who hate certain celebs just
and only because everyone else does. Mick Hucknall, Craig David and Jeremy Oliver spring to mind. "OOOoooooh let's all hate them! Why? Fuck knows, everyone else does so I do too." Losers.

7) Puffer jackets, pre-faded jeans, and that fucking stupid scarf knot that Paolo Maldini/D. Beckham/ twatz always wear. etc. Just because it looks twendy on the tellybox doesn't mean you've gotta do it, does it? Use yer own taste and wear what you like.

8) When people say/type "could of" instead of "could've". Fer gawd's sake!!! I will have. I may have. I could OF? People who do this probably don't know when the second world war was, or what 'metric system' means. More interested in shoes or Burberry.

9) Chavvy fuckwits who think they can a) e.g. shout endless abuse at teachers/staff all day long, then expect to get that staff sacked if they called them 'an idiot' back. b) Who think it's ok to go, say, happy slapping, then want to make an assault charge if they got slapped back. Vigilante squads are the answer for these brainless, retarded -refuse-education ill-respecting buckethead wanker chavs. [Afterthought
I almost really mean this. Having worked in some very bad schools in the UK, the pervasive antagonistic attitude of youth these days is a serious problem.]

10) Showtunes/Musicals/and the whole fucking poncey lot of it. Nothing against gays or the theatre, but musicals? Showtunes? I HATES 'em!!!

11) Boybands and Girlbands. Now we are, none of us, immune to a catchy pop song. But the whole thing is just too dominant now, and is ripping whatever culture is left out of...well....everything. Young people making music was always about rebellion, wasn't it? Or am I just being naive? Anyway, boy/girlbands, and all they stand for. Hates 'em. with a passion.

see the original unedited, typo-laden, entry on my Facebook, here:


So there you go! My first blog. Slightly tongue in cheek. Please don't hate me.