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Where are their goals?

Only 10 of the 50 biggest employers in Scotland said they pay all staff working for them the living wage, according to the BBC.
The living wage is a voluntary hourly rate that is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. At £7.85 an hour, it is 21% higher than the legally-set minimum wage of £6.50.
Most Scottish Premiership football clubs were paying some of their off-pitch staff less than the living wage. Celtic, in particular, has been pressed on why it has not introduced it. A group of fans lodged a resolution at the club's AGM last year, on behalf of shareholders, asking the club to implement the Living Wage. The chief executive of Celtic, Peter Lawwell, has a pay package worth nearly £1m a year.
Peter Kelly from the Poverty Alliance, which promotes the living wage, told the programme that the clubs needed to do more. He said: "It's really unacceptable, I mean we would say the same about the majority of businesses in any other sector not paying the…

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…

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 ar…

Who's scoring?

Money counts as the Championship League last eight shows. It is a reflection of the Deloitte's Football Money League. Real Madrid (1st), Barcelona (2nd) and Bayern (4th). There's Juventus, 10th on the money list and Italy's biggest spenders, Galatasaray enough financial clout to "rent" Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba as short-term "ringers" – and Paris Saint-Germain, have spent more than anyone in football over the past 18 months. The exceptions are Borussia Dortmund founded on low ticket prices and a working man's club ethos and, especially, the fact that, apart from Marco Reus, nobody in the starting eleven cost more than £5 million. This status was somewhat forced upon them by the wild overspending that sent the club into administration a decade ago. Malaga also previously faced unpaid wages and lawsuits.
Football has reached the point where it must choose between becoming an elitist sport, dominated by a handful of rich clubs and leagues, or…

alright for some

David Beckham was applauded when he announced that he would be donating his Paris St Germain salary to a local children's charity.  However while in the city he stays in the £15,000-a-night luxurious Imperial Suite at Le Bristol hotel in a 3,475 sq ft suite, the largest at the hotel. The suite can house up to twelve guests with various bedrooms, a dining area and sitting room, the main bedroom also its own sitting room as well as a large dressing room and a 325 sq ft bathroom.

In the directors box

We are all accustomed to stories of over-paid and under-played footballers but recent figures show that SPL directors pay and benefits increased by 16.5%, despite a 6% fall in revenues.

Of course, the way Scottish football is heading, they might as well be funeral directors. 

Dunfermline now joins Hearts as another football club that can't pay its team's wages on time. Players at that level are not highly paid therefore any delay in wages can lead to inconvenience and even hardship. They pay travel costs to training and then put themselves at risk of injury on a weekly basis without being paid.

Patriotism? No thanks!

“Yet some can be patriotic who have no self-respect, and sacrifice the greater to the less. They love the soil which makes their graves, but have no sympathy with the spirit which may still animate their clay. Patriotism is a maggot in their heads.” - Henry David Thoreau

Nation-states have a logic of their own. So insidiously is the logic purveyed through the state’s institutions that it becomes common-sense. Like religion, it encourages devotion to a vague and ill-defined abstraction. Even in its most innocuous forms, patriotism is irrational. The World Cup and the Olympics are known for their unabashed displays of nationalism. Flags, patriotic chants, and cross-national rivalries are the order of the day. Football is the quintessential illustration of sociologist Benedict Anderson’s argument that nationhood itself represents an “imagined community”  –  an affinity between strangers who will never meet or hear of one another, but are bound by a mental image of shared history, often m…

A football working class hero

Organised sport was originally for the elite with its roots in the English public schools. But taking advantage of the free-time offered by the eight-hour day, workers began to democratize games like soccer and rugby. We enjoyed sport as passive spectators and as active participants. Who can blame someone for enjoying leisure on a day off?

Before long, major social democratic parties across Europe were using sporting clubs and festivals to construct working-class identity and promote solidarity. By 1928, German sports societies had more than two million members, most of whom were affiliated with the Social Democratic Party. These clubs offered escape and a sense of belonging to the masses. Thousands hiked and learned to swim, freeing themselves, however fleetingly, from the grinding indignity of wage slavery. In Austria, during the Red Vienna period (1918-1934), a new stadium was built to host a “Workers’ Olympiad,” which welcomed participants from across the world—a testament to the…

The Last Poem

Eight former army lieutenants have been charged in the killing of Chilean singer and songwriter Victor Jara during the 1973 coup that toppled President Salvador Allende. His body was found riddled with bullets and bearing signs of torture.

 VICTOR JARA'S LAST POEM

(Written in the football stadium cum concentration camp, where the Scottish national side to their eternal shame ignobly chose to play at a few years later)

We are five thousand
Confined in this little part of town
We are five thousand
How many of us are there throughout the country?

Such a large portion of humanity
With hunger, cold, horror and pain
Six among us have already been lost
And have joined the stars in the sky.

One killed, another beaten
As I never imagined a human being
could be beaten
The other four just wanted to put an end
To their fears

One by jumping down to his death
The other smashing his head against a wall
But all of them
Looking straight into the eyes of death.

We are ten thousand hands
That can no longer work
How ma…

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'…

The Capitalist Game

The biggest football story recently has been the financial collapse of  Rangers and now a similar impending fate for Hearts. This is not just a sporting story but involves many of the failings that have been played out in the wider economy. Corporate failure, greed, arrogance, criminality and cheating are included in the list of accusations.

Jock Stein said that “football without fans is nothing”. Capitalist ideology tells us that the consumer is king and that the decisions of millions of consumers decide what production takes place. If companies fail it is because they don’t sell goods or services that people want or at a price they are prepared to pay. There is just enough truth in this to give it the credibility to make it widely accepted. What it leaves out, among other things, is that production also has to make a profit and that indeed this is the main reason any production takes place at all. Given the ownership of the means of production in the hands of only one group of peopl…

Football Capitalism

Rangers only narrowly escaped extinction and now bankruptcy is the prospect facing current Scottish Cup holders Heart of Midlothian. The Jambos have been issued with a winding up order from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs over an unpaid £450,000 tax bill. Hearts supporters have been urged to find £2m to help the Edinburgh club survive until the summer. The club has already faced disciplinary action from the Scottish Premier League over its failure to pay some players and coaching staff which is a breach of the leagues rules. That breach led to the SPL side being hit with a player signing embargo.

Now the fans are  being asked to pay to keep their club afloat, having already paid for their season tickets, their strips and scarves. Hearts fans are being bled dry.

 Former Hearts captain Paul Hartley has accused Vladimir Romanov of “holding a gun to fans’ heads” after the stricken club yesterday begged for a financial lifeline from their followers. Hartley insists owner Romanov has unfa…

As others see us

"Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island fame, penned a novella that many consider to be a foundation stone of modern fiction’s addiction to substances, transformation and death – The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll liked to swallow chemicals turning himself into something unpredictable, Mr. Hyde. It’s a good metaphor for the calamity that is tearing Scottish soccer apart.

Think of Scottish soccer as a test tube in Dr. Jekyll’s lab marked with skull and cross bones, WARNING – DO NOT SHAKE! Sitting at the top of the mix is the colors of Irish green and British blue – green is the substance called Glasgow Celtic Football Club bonded to the blue known as Glasgow Rangers Football Club. Mix them up and they can explode but when they sit side by side at rest they produce something called the Old Firm, a successful alliance of opposites that has largely dominated Scottish soccer, economically and culturally, for over a hundred years. The elements th…

Rangers are staring into the abyss

One hundred and forty years of football history has been brought to an end. Rangers, who played their first games in 1872 and have been Scottish champions a record 54 times, will go into liquidation. This is a massive football club that has been ransacked by crooks and their underhanded dealings, clearly over years.

The European Court of Justice ruling in the case of Bosman is authority for the view that professional footballers are workers like anyone else.

PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart said that Rangers prospective owner Charles Green had a legal obligation to consult the union about his plans. Players will be free to walk away from the club if it goes into liquidation. Equally, they would also be free to accept offers to stay on at Ibrox under the new company which is set to take over Rangers but the choice would be theirs.

Green said that players would be in breach of contract if they opted not to move to his “newco”. Arguing that Transfer of Undertakings (Protectio…

Cashing in on Rangers

Socialists are always fascinated by the ins and outs of high finance  and how the capitalist class and their lackeys take advantage of the system. The Scotsman columnist has an interesting take on insolvent Rangers.

 “Charles Green has 20 investors?”
“Er, no, it’s five or six.”
“But he said he had 20.”
“He seems to have lost 14 or 15 of them since he said it.”
“They’re gone already before we even knew who they were?”
“That’s if they were ever there in the first place.”
“At least his backers are offering HMRC some money…”
“Which the club has to pay them back, with interest.”
“And they’re throwing Ticketus a few quid…”
“And they want that back, too. Apparently 8 per cent on top, thanks very much.”
“Duff and Phelps said his was the best deal for creditors…”
“The best deal for Charles Green more like. And for Duff and Phelps, of course. They’re getting every penny of their multi-million pound fee, which is about 91p in the pound more than the people whose corner they were supposed …

Evicted to host football games

Ukrainian students are being forced out of their dormitories ahead of the the upcoming European Football Championship but will have to continue paying rent nonetheless. Student dormitory rooms at Taras Shevchenko University are to be rented out to football fans. A few may be allowed to stay, but only if they work for nothing.

With hundreds of thousands of football supporters expected, UEFA estimates 800,000 people, students must vacate their dormitories as a result. They are receiving no compensation nor have they been offered alternative housing. On the contrary they will have to continue paying our dorm fees. Even worse, students at Kiev's National Medical University: They have been asked to refurbish their rooms for the incoming guests -- and they have to shoulder the costs themselves.

Students have to continue paying their dormitory fees of around $16 a month, a significant burden for Ukrainian students who generally have to get by on less than €100 per month. Furthermore, it …

Scottish football's game of shame

It was a football match that every self-respecting Scottish fan should hold their head low in shame.

In 1973, After the military coup ousting Allende, Pinochet's soldiers used Chile's national football stadium as a temporary detention camp. The military imprisoned 40,000 in the stadium.  Among those killed were the U.S. citizens Charles Horman, and Frank Teruggi, events that inspired the Jack Lemmon film, Missing. Within its walls they beat, and tortured thousands of workers, students and political activists. Many were murdered.

 A few years later in 1977, on the road to the Argentina 1978 World Cup, Scotland played against Chile and played in that very same blood-soaked stadium. Former non-commissioned officer Roberto Saldias said he saw prisoners taken off for execution at the stadium. Saldias said prisoners at the stadium were organised in groups identified by yellow, black and red discs. "Whoever received a red disc had no chance [of surviving]," he said

Russia for…

United Fans

For some on the Left, sport is little more than a way to enforce hegemony and control on the duped masses, another opium for the people to divert their attentions from their social problems and delay the revolution.

Following football is expensive, the games less competitive (between 1985-95, 13 different clubs finished in the top three of the , exactly the same number as in the previous decade and the decade before that. In 1995-2005 years, that figure was just six) and the matches less atmospheric than ever in all-seated stadiums with traditional albeit bigoted songs outlawed. So why do supporters still love it?

The identification with a team, its colours, and history involves football’s most direct appeal to the gut. The tribalism displayed by a community of fans has an almost immeasurable force. It creates instant rivalries where none may have previously existed. For a few hours supporters inhabit a place where only one identity is acceptable: to be a Rangers or Celtic or Aberdeen f…

Football Blues

Rangers and Portsmouth are not alone.
One-in-five clubs in the Football League (refers to the three divisions below the top flight - the Championship, League One and League Two) are in "poor financial health", according to a survey by administrators Begbies Traynor. Begbies Traynor are presently overseeing the administration of Port Vale FC."Many clubs are continuing to spend too much, principally on players' wages, as they always have done" it said.Of 68 teams surveyed in those divisions, 13 have signs of distress such as serious court actions against them, including winding-up petitions, late filing of accounts and "serious" negative balances on their balance sheets. That 19% compares to just one per cent in the wider economy, the firm said."While Premier League clubs are guaranteed huge television money every year and some have extremely wealthy backers, there are signs of genuine financial distress among a significant number of football…