Showing posts with label Glasgow Celtic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Glasgow Celtic. Show all posts

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Who are scoring the goals?

In Scotland, there are approximately 414,000 people currently paid below the Living Wage.

Heart of Midlothian Football Club has become the first football club in Scotland to become an officially accredited Living Wage Employer. The move will see all staff employers at the club paid the Living Wage. The Living Wage was uprated to £7.85 per hour in November, £1.35 per hour more than the National Minimum Wage.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said: 
“Congratulations to Heart of Midlothian on becoming Scotland's first Living Wage Accredited football club.  We are delighted that Heart of Midlothian will pay all staff who work at the club the Living Wage, and that they have opted to have their commitment to the Living Wage recognised through the accreditation mark. This is an important step forward for the campaign to end poverty pay in Scotland. Almost two in three children in poverty in Scotland live in a household where someone works, and the Living Wage is a vital tool in lifting people out of in work poverty. Football clubs have an important role in communities across Scotland. With thousands of people turning out every week to support their local clubs, they can play an important leadership role, not only for fans but for the businesses they work with. I hope that more clubs will follow Heart of Midlothian's example but not only giving their staff a pay rise this Christmas, but by showing real leadership on this issue on and off the pitch.”

Chelsea FC has become the first English football club to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer. At the same time the club will also start the process of ensuring staff of external contractors will also receive the Living Wage for working at Stamford Bridge, Cobham training ground and all areas where the club operates. Chelsea will also ensure any additional agency employees not currently meeting the criteria to recieve the Living Wage will also get the same rates of pay.

In contrast, in the Observer, Kevin McKenna writes:
“Last month, Celtic, the richest sporting organisation in Scotland, had to be dragged screaming and protesting by its own fans to a decision to pay the living wage to its full-time employees. The club still refused to budge on a similar rate for its hundreds of part-time workers and was still bleating about remaining competitive and not allowing its wage policy to be influenced by a third party (the Living Wage Foundation). This club was established by poor people for poor people and receives loyal backing still from many poor people. The entire board of directors, a gentrified assortment of CV-embellishers, ought to be made to resign"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Hoops seek Loop-holes

Ten days ago, at Celtic's annual general meeting a motion by the Celtic Trust calling for Celtic to ensure that each of its employees is paid the living wage of £7.45 per hour rather than the minimum wage of £6.31 per hour was thrown out by the rich men and money-changers who hold sway at Celtic Park. Jeanette Findlay of the trust stated during the debate that preceded this act of corporate and social irresponsibility that it was a decision that "shamed you and shamed us". Two of the three main reasons cited by the club for rejecting the living wage proposal were these: that it would cost £500,000 annually to implement, and that no other British club does it. Lest we forget; in the last two seasons, Celtic have spent around £10m on fees and wages for three strikers .

Celtic support still occupies the lowest rung of Britain's socioeconomic ladder. Its bedrock is in neighbourhoods of Glasgow's East End and Lanarkshire where the indicators of poverty and illness are among the highest in Europe. Many of those who are in work will be labouring for barely the national minimum wage. A top-up to the living wage would make a considerable improvement in their lives. This winter,they will encounter fuel poverty and food shortages. Many will need hand-outs from the increasing number of food banks in Glasgow. Yet, and let's be frank here, the so-called living wage isn't really a wage to live on at all.

The Living Wage Foundation calculates that it is the minimum required to allow a person to rent property, run a car and eat healthily. But then you might choose to include factors such as the ruthless exploitation by some landlords of the shortage of social housing, the extortion of the energy cartel, the vagaries of petrol prices and the onerous taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. A family of two parents and two children cannot survive on £7.45 an hour.

Celtic's group revenue increased by 47.7% to £75.82m this year and its profit before tax was £9.74m. The remuneration of its chief executive, Peter Lawwell, was £999,591. The members of the plc board each receive a £25,000 emolument for the onerous task of attending monthly board meetings and travelling all over Europe first class. They include Dermot Desmond, one of Britain's richest men, and Brian Wilson, the former Labour minister. (See here for list of directors)

Celtic FC  is a business, as is Rangers FC which also emerged from the Glasgow working class. Neither club has any connection to its origin any more. Bread and circuses and football is the circus. Football clubs are business designed to take money from the poor and give it to the rich, Celtic are no different. They are ideal for lining the pockets of the board.

Taken from here 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

We are all Spartacus - political football

Celtic come face to face with Spartak in the Champions League.  Moscow is the home of Spartak as well as Dynamo, CSKA, Torpedo-Luzhniki, Lokomotiv and Torpedo-ZIL but historically, the main Moscow grudge derby-match is between Spartak and Dynamo

Sport has always had a political dimension, especially football.

In the early days of Soviet football many government agencies such as the police, army and railroads created their own clubs. So many statesmen saw in the wins of their teams the superiority over the opponents patronizing other teams. Almost all the teams had such kind of patrons such as  CSKA – The Red Army team. Dynamo Moscow were a creation of the Interior Ministry, then essentially a euphemism for the secret police. The de facto founder of Dynamo was Felix Dzerzhinsky, the first head of the OGPU (forerunner to the KGB). Spartak were created as an independent football team, with no affiliations to one or other part of the state machine and considered to be the "people's team". The name Spartak that was derived from Spartacus, the gladiator-slave who led a rebellion against Rome.

In the Soviet Union millions attended matches and obsessed about their favorite club, and their rowdiness on game day stood out as a moment of relative freedom in a society that demanded rigid conformity and control. Fans of Spartak Moscow would have you believe that their club almost single-handedly defied the state machine.

Spartak emerged from the rough proletarian Presnia district of Moscow and spent much of its history in fierce rivalry with Dinamo. To cheer for Spartak, Edelman shows, was a small and safe way of saying "no" to the fears and absurdities of Stalinism.

Spartak was for seven decades by the four Starostin brothers, the most visible of whom were Nikolai and Andrei. Perhaps because of Spartak's too frequent success against state-sponsored teams, they were arrested in 1942 and spent twelve years in the gulag. Instead of facing hard labor and likely death, they were spared the harshness of their places of exile when they were asked by local camp commandants to coach the prisoners' football teams. Beria, the secret police chief, was possibly fuelled by a personal vendetta. As left-back for a Geor­gian side in the early 1920s, Beria had turn­ed out against Nikolai Starostin, who had completely played him off the park. Beria, Stalin's henchman, was not a man to forgive and forget. In 1942  branded “en­emies of the people”, with Nikolai and Andrei initially accused of plotting with the German Embassy to kill Stalin and set up a Fascist state but instead charg­ed with stealing a consignment of clothing,embezzlement and bribery. Returning from the camps after Stalin's death, they took back the reins of a club whose mystique as the "people's team" was only enhanced by its status as a victim of Stalinist tyranny.*

Like the Rangers Ibrox Disaster, Spartak has suffered tragedies. 30 years ago in a game against HFC Haarlem in a UEFA Cup one section of Spartak fans started streaming out to get to the Metro but a late goal in injury time caused some fans to turn back and the two streams collided with the tragic result of 66 dead according to official figures but probably many more.

Sadly the club like so many others these days is under the ownership of an oligarch, Leonid Fedun, estimated wealth of over $6 billion, and its fans have been associated with racist chanting.

* See here for more

Friday, May 04, 2012

Neither Orange or Green but Red

Even up to the present time, demonstrated by new laws to curtail bigotry and letter bombs mailed to the Celtic manager Neil Lennon and other Catholics, Scotland has been plagued by religious sectarianism. For many Scots "1690" and "1916" have had more resonance than "1314" or "1707". Many blame it on segregated denominational schools, some blame football supporters, the football clubs blame extremists and the extremists blame the Catholic schools, a vicious circle. Catholics make up only 16% of the Scottish population, largely descended from poor Irish immigrants, and still largely working-class. Though overwhelmingly of Irish extraction, even by 1900 most Catholics were Scottish-born. Yet they were still known as "Irish" up until around the Second World War. Despite this Scottish Catholics do not any longer largely define themselves as Irish anymore, but Irish symbolism and allegiances can still be witnessed amongst Celtic or Hibs supporters which can be seen more now about working-class alienation in modern Scotland, an alienation perhaps equally shared with their "loyalist" counterparts on Ibrox or Tynecastle terraces. Communal strive between the Orange and the Green was just as prevalent in other regions of mainland Britain eg Liverpool, however, that feeling of religious differences has faded and has effectively disappeared yet remains strong in Scotland. What often still matters in a lot of places in parts of Lanarkshire and West Lothian is whether you are a "Billy" or a "Tim", "Hun" or "Fenian" .

The Scottish Reformation did not launch a major religious civil war in Scotland. The biggest religious disputes here were actually been between Protestants: the Episcopalians and Presbyterians (the Covenanters). The war fought between James and William had little to do with Irish independence or religion.These two foreigners were fighting over the throne of England and influence in Europe. Catholics and Protestants fought for both sides. It was only after the abortive United Irishmen revolution over 100 years after the Williamite wars, the British founded the Orange Order pretending that the Williamite war was fought exclusively by Protestants on one side, and Catholics on the other. British government used religious differences as a political tool over and over again. It nurtured the Orange Order and related organisations that led to Protestant hatred of Catholics. In Glasgow in the 1790s, there lived no more than 39 Catholics in the town, but there existed 43 anti-Catholic societies. And paradoxically, on the other side, the Catholic Church was always the enemy of popular freedom movements throughout the world. In point of fact, most revolutionaries in Ireland were excommunicated by the church for their activities. It was only after Irish independence that the church authorities found a sense of nationalism in the scramble for political power and influence. Thus both sides played into the British governments hands. It is easy to divide and conquer when there is already religious tension. The religious card was played over and over again by successive British governments. It led to an institutionalised religious intolerance. The breeding and recruiting ground for religious and political extremism may have been the over-crowded and poverty-stricken streets of the Scottish slums AND there is a tendency to associate the  sectarianism in Glasgow as a working-class phenomenon, sustained by the rivalry between Rangers and Celtic, but in the inter-war period anti-Irish prejudice became much more pronounced and cannot be identified solely with working-class Orangemen. Prominent politicians, churchmen, intellectuals, and even the aristocracy all contributed to the growing perception of the Catholic-Irish as a threat, not just to the established Protestant religion, but to the "Scottish race".

Thomas Johnston, a leading labour personality of the times, was particularly dismayed by the religious sectarianism that existed. No sympathiser with Orangemen, he nevertheless tried to convince them without too much success that their Protestant heritage could find expression through the Left. In 1919 the Orange Order attempted to establish the strikebreaking "Patriotic Workers League" In 1923 the '"Orange and Protestant Political Party" defeated the sitting Communist MP in Motherwell and Wishaw to win its one and only seat. In 1923, the Church of Scotland published its report "The Menace of the Irish Race to Our Scottish Nationality". This document advocated deporting Irish natives receiving poor relief and job discrimination in public works in favour of native Scots because Scotland was "over-gorged with Irishmen". The Church of Scotland and United Free Church attacked the General strike with stories about "Catholic manipulation".  In the Depression years specifically anti-Catholic parties - the Scottish Protestant League (SPL) in Glasgow and Protestant Action (PA) in Edinburgh - took up to a third of the votes in local council elections. Ratcliffe of the SPL had previously been a member of the "British Fascists", along with Billy Fullerton of the Bridgeton Billy Boys. Fullerton was also a thug who was awarded a medal for strike-breaking in the 1926 General Strike. Ratcliffe became an anti-Semite and follower of Hitler in 1939, but by then his support was waning. Edinburgh's John Cormack of Protestant Action lacked such fascist connections, and even led physical opposition to Oswald Mosley on his visit to Edinburgh in 1934. The Blackshirts sympathy for a united Ireland and Mussolini's associations with the Vatican were too much for them to take. But Cormack's own violent incursions into Catholic neighbourhoods and combination of electoral intervention with control of the streets suggest at least an outline of a Protestant variety of fascism. Cormack remained a councilor in Leith for twenty years. Orangeism had long been a crucial element to working-class Toryism.The Orange Order leadership's Conservative politics can be stressed but it can also be contended that the Order's appeal to the working class was to a large extent based on issues such as education and jobs  and  the perceived Irish Catholic immigration, issues which did not break down neatly into party political terms.

The Masons were perhaps just as influential than the Orangemen in Scotland. Freemasonry still has a disproportionately large Scottish membership, and is strongly identified with protestantism. Though they did not go in for public displays of racism (or anything else) their rituals, loyalty to the Sovereign and networking amongst groups with marked establishment associations all reinforced a socialisation process. It kept the Catholic Irish as outsiders, excluded from influence and mainstream public life. Skilled positions in industry were also difficult to obtain. Bairds in Coatbridge, a town with a large Catholic population, did not have a Catholic member of the skilled engineers' union until 1931.

Religious divisions in European politics are not unusual, but the Catholic church's support in Scotland for the traditional Left is. The Catholic church hierarchy had previously always reserved strong opposition for its socialist opponents, and raised money for Franco in Glasgow Churches in the 1930s. They remained arch-enemies of those on the Left, organising against them both at elections and within the unions. But they could not prevent their followers from recognising a basic class interest and voting Labour, once the Irish question was effectively removed from Scottish politics in the early part of the 20th century.

John Wheatley formed the Catholic Socialist Society in 1906 and suffered the hostility of local priests who on one occasion incited a mob of several hundred to burn an effigy of him in front of his house while singing the hymn "Faith of our Fathers". Glasgow of that era was solidly Liberal due to the Liberal Party's support for Home Rule and it was the shift of activists towards the labour movement that led to a re-positioning of politics and religion. Until 1914 the main outlet for political activists within the Catholic community had been the United Irish League. The UIL expertly marshalled the Catholic vote to the ends of Irish nationalism. Ex-SPGB member Bill Knox comments in his Industrial Nation that "Irish Catholics might disobey their priests and the UIL and vote labour; however, it was a rare occasion, and was never repeated in local elections." Many Irish Catholics in Scotland were afraid that labour politics, dominated as they were by men of Protestant backgrounds might lead to secular education." The STUC in 1913 had voted for such secularism in all state-aided schools. Knox refers to the anti-Irishness of the likes of ILP hero Keir Hardie who described the typical Irish immigrant coal-miner as having "a big shovel, a strong back and a weak brain" and to Bruce Glasier who declared upon the death of Protestant Truth Society's, John Kensit, "I esteem him as martyr... I feel a honest sympathy with his anti-Romanist crusade"

Yet history changes. The 1918 Education Act, which brought Catholic schools within the state system in Scotland and guaranteeing their religious character, although provoking opposition, expressed in the cry of "No Rome on the Rates" was a transformative moment for the Catholic Church and Labour Party relationship. Although the Labour party had no responsibility for the Act, its general willingness to support denominational schooling encouraged an identification of Labour and Catholic.

There is "a strong socialist republican tradition running through the Celtic support" professor and play-write Willy Maley argues. In 1992, double the proportion of Scottish Catholics to Protestants voted Labour. Catholic support for Labour has always antagonised establishment Scotland, who have exploited the links whenever it suited them. The "Monklandsgate" scandal of 1994 falls partly within this tradition, though it was also aided by new critiques of Old Labour. Complaints by four Labour councillors in Airdrie (all Catholics) became sensationalised as allegations of Protestant discrimination. This rested entirely on apparent bias against "Protestant" Airdrie in favour of "Catholic" Coatbridge, both towns had "minority" populations of over 40 per cent.

One of the 16%% Catholics living in Scotland in the 21st century is more likely to be the victim of a hate crime than if you are a member of any other ethnic or religious minority. Catholics were victims in 58 percent of the 693 criminal offences aggravated by religious prejudice in 2010/11, the highest recorded number in four years. Protestants were victims in 37 percent of cases, while crimes related to Judaism comprised 2.3 percent and Islam 2.1 percent. 51 percent of hate crimes in Scotland occurred within the Glasgow area, a third of the charges were directly related to football. 

Of course, there are other forces at play here other than due to the tactic of divide and rule ,such as  the fact that Glasgow Celtic Plc and Glasgow Rangers Plc and the media corporations knew that there is a lucrative market for sectarianism. Also Professor Tom Devine of Edinburgh suggests that Scotland, so long a stateless nation, sought to over-invest in religion as a form of identity. In this regard the Socialist Party desires that the Scottish Protestant and the Scottish Catholic cast aside their religious and nationalist affiliations and identify and bound with one another on an economic basis, as part of the World's working class. In 1932 the workers of the Falls Road and the Shankill united upon class lines to fight for their own interests and made common cause against the ruling class, the one thing the capitalist class most fear - working class unity.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Businesses as usual

Rangers has filed legal papers at the Court of Session to appoint administrators. Rangers awaits a tax tribunal decision over a disputed bill, plus penalties, totalling £49m which the club would be unable to pay.

Celtic has announced a big fall in pre-tax profits for the second half of 2011, profits of only £180,000 compared to a £7m profit at the end of the previous year. Cash from player sales also fell from £13.2m to £3.1m. Bank debt is £7m.

And in the east, Hearts still struggle off-field as much as they do on-field. Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that all wage arrears with the debt-stricken Scottish club have been settled (Hearts players have suffered late wages since October), but admitted to an outstanding tax bill that threatens their future. British tax authorities lodged a petition with a Scottish court earlier this week saying Hearts had eight days to settle the bill, reported to be around £150,000 , or face liquidation. Romanov put Hearts up for sale in November along with Belarus' Partizan Minsk and Lithuanian side FK Kaunas, saying he wanted to leave the football business. Authorities in Belarus expelled Partizan Minsk from the Top League due to Romanov's refusal to keep bankrolling the team. Romanov's decision to withdraw cash backing to FBK Kaunas saw the Lithuanian FA demote the ten-times champions to the second tier.

Stop supporting capitalism!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The red white and blue of Larkhall

The Scotsman describes the religious bigotry of the Central Scotland town of Larkhall where the colour green and the connotations lead to vandalism and the only "safe" colours is the red and white and blue of Glasgow Rangers and the Union Jack .

"...historians believe anti-Catholicism to have been greater in mining towns such as Larkhall, where Irish Catholics were used by pit owners to break strikes. So the fuel was as much economic fear as it was cultural dilution of Protestant stock, the idea which found support in sections of the Church of Scotland in the 1920s and 1930s..."

By playing the "orange card" the bosses employed the divide and rule tactic to weaken the Scottish workers and the consequences linger on to this day .

Isn't it time to discover class loyalty rather than loyalty to the crown ?