WEIR’S WEEK: 31st May 2013

Celtic — Winners of the Scottish Double 2013

JUST under a year ago, Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said the Scottish game faced ‘Armageddon’ when clubs voted not to allow newco Rangers to join the SPL.

“We are faced with a situation some say is meltdown and some say Armageddon. There are no winners, there are only losers in this,” warned Regan.

So, Mr Regan, if there are no winners, only losers, what category do you come under having pocketed a £33,000 pay rise? It emerged today that the man who has presided over the most shambolic period in the history of football in Scotland, gained a 13.5 per cent rise to take him to a yearly salary of just £280,425.

Put another way, that £33k equates as a 12-month shirt sponsorship deal for a Scottish Football League Division One club.

So, when Stewart Regan next appears on your TV screen, spouting off about the financial constraints in the Scottish game, and how money is scarce, always have at the back of your mind that here is a man who obviously lives, and works, by the mantra, “do as I say, not as I do …”

When it comes to sporting pay days, few deserve them more than professional boxers.

Carl Froch was deserving of the plaudits, his titles, and the increase in his bank balance after beating Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler in an epic contest at London’s O2 Arena to retain his IBF super-middleweight crown. Froch’s performance was brilliant, especially from what was a titanic eighth round onwards, to take a unanimous decision, winning 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113 on the three judges’ scorecards, one of whom, was either watching a different fight or had previously only ever scored cake making competitions …


Kimi Raikkonen Grand Prix photo credit: Mark Hintsa via photopin cc
Kimi Raikkonen
Grand Prix
photo credit: Mark Hintsa via photopin cc
There is nothing quite like the glamour of the Monaco Grand Prix. Even though I’ve been to the Principality, and driven and walked the circuit (a stroll greatly aided by the bars along the route), I still haven’t quite worked out how they manage to run an F1 race there.

Today, I feel extremely old. Thirty years ago, I watched Keke Rosberg win. In 2013, it’s the turn of his son Nico to take the chequered flag for Mercedes. Back in 1983, Rosberg Snr ended his race with a massive blister on the palm of his hand, testament to the hundreds of manual gear changes he had to make. Today, all that constantly changing up and down would at best have given Rosberg Jnr sore thumbs. It’s called technological advancement.

One man who might have had something considerably more painful to worry about if Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen had his way was Sergio Perez. The McLaren driver made a series of aggressive overtaking moves during the race, collecting Raikkonen in one such manoeuvre. It’s not the first time Perez has angered his fellow racers, but the Finn had his own ideas on how to curb Perez’s exuberance.

Asked if the drivers would talk to Perez, Raikkonen said: “That won’t help. Maybe someone should punch him in the face.” Kimi can be thankful he survived the incident, and, that F1 isn’t governed by the SFA, who’d have him wheeled into Hampden to explain his comments …

Today of course, was the SFA’s showpiece occasion, the Scottish Cup final, with Celtic completing the domestic double by seeing off Hibs 3-0. Congratulations to Neil Lennon and Celtic, but it would have been nice to see Hibs end their 111-year hoodoo. It will happen eventually. Once they’ve worked out how to defend …

Crystal Palace FC LogoA solitary goal from 39-year-old Kevin Phillips is enough to see Crystal Palace defeated Watford in the Championship play-off final at Wembley and secure a place in the English Premier League for next term. The build-up and hype surrounding this game is quite phenomenal, the value placed upon being £120 million. Staggering, given the Champions League Final a few days before at the same venue, was apparently worth just €10.5m to Bayern Munich.

Palace can look forward to £60m next year, even if they finish bottom of the English Premier League, and subsequent ‘parachute’ payments over the next four years (if relegated) of £22m, £18m, £10m and £10m respectively. Puts that TV deal for Scottish football in perspective …

No sooner has Sir Chris Hoy told BBC Radio 5 live he does not want to get involved in the “hornet’s nest” of the Scottish independence referendum debate than he is being stung by criticism following his observation that Scots could find it harder to compete at Olympic level if the country were independent.

Sir Chris Hoy
Sir Chris Hoy
Given that he probably knows more than most about what goes in to producing elite athletes, and presumably an independent Scotland would be interested developing such talent, Hoy’s opinion surely should be considered rather than condemned. No?

Well, no. Despite saying “I don’t want to get drawn into it” Hoy found himself labelled ‘a traitor’ in some quarters for voicing his concerns, and for the merest mention of his pride at being both Scots and British.

Funnily enough, Rangers new boy Jon Daly was also branded ‘a traitor’ by some this week, and he’s neither Scots or British. What’s that all about then?

And Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley won’t appeal against his 11-week ban after being found guilty of verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes in the Premiership final against Leicester. The Saints’ captain was sent off for swearing at Barnes and calling him a “cheat” after a penalty went against his team. And Hartley’s decision not to appeal ruled him out of the Lions tour to Australia. Costly or what.

Just a suggestion. But if you want some discipline back in football, look at rugby and the penalties they impose. And I don’t mean three points either.

Cardiff City FC LogoA mixture of fan power and intense lobbying on social media has forced Cardiff City owners in to giving supporters a say on what colour of shorts the team will wear in the Premier League next season. While Cardiff’s home shirt remains red, the original shorts in the new design were shown as an even darker shade of red. Now fans will be asked if they want to keep that unpopular combo, go for shorts matching the shirt colour, or opt instead for either white or black pants.

I wish there had been a fifth choice – inspired by Sammy Nelson. Younger readers may want to Google him …

Walter Smith is now Chairman of Rangers. I suppose it was inevitable given that the man he assisted for many years, Dundee United’s Jim McLean, also rose to achieve such office. Radio and TV reporters however, will be hoping Walter doesn’t end his tenure in a similar fashion to ‘wee Jum’ …