Inside Lines: Scots warned against playing politics with Glasgow Games
Sunday 27 April 2014
Do not use this summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as a platform for Scottish independence. That is the tacit warning to Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond and Games organisers by the Commonwealth Games Federation amid growing concerns that the first major multi-sports event to be held in Britain since the London Olympics in 2012 could promote support for independence in the referendum which takes place six weeks after the 3 August closing ceremony.
I understand organisers have been strongly advised against including excessive jingoism in either the opening or closing ceremonies which could be interpreted as vote-seeking. Salmond himself has dismissed similar warnings from his predecessor as first minister, Jack McConnell, that the Games are in danger of being over-politicised, saying it is "nonsensical" that the issue will overshadow the Games.
As the largest sporting event staged in Scotland's history, the Games have featured heavily in the government's efforts to play up the country's strengths and influence during the referendum year. But Salmond claims no party or campaign would want to tarnish the event by exploiting it for political advantage, saying: "You just don't do that with something as important for Scotland."
However, he is well aware – as is an anxiously watching David Cameron – that if Glasgow can replicate the feel-good factor of London 2012 with a successful Games it could trigger support for independence among wavering voters.
The Games planning, though well in advance, suffered an unexpected setback on Friday with the resignation of Glasgow 2014's American deputy chief executive Ty Speer because of "personal circumstances". He has been in charge of the Games' commercial programme which raised over £100 million.
Brady to follow Boris?
With Lord Coe ruling himself out of the running to succeed Westminster-bound Boris Johnson as a candidate for the next London mayor, the Tories are now keen on another sporting figure to join the 2016 election race.
West Ham's feisty deputy chair Karren Brady, now a TV star as Lord Sugar's right-hand woman on The Apprentice, is a favoured choice of Downing Street and is already well versed in politics as the Small Business Ambassador to the Government. She also introduced Chancellor George Osborne's last party conference speech.
Known as football's Iron Lady, Brady, 45, who previously was managing director of Birmingham City, writes a weekly sports column for The Sun. She could be ready for a fresh challenge after overseeing West Ham's move to the Olympic Stadium in August of next year.
The Conservatives believe she would cut a formidable figure in what could turn out to be something of an all-female sporting battle, with the former Olympics Minister Dame Tessa Jowell heading up Labour's preferred list.
End of an error
The above headline – surely one of the best succinctly to reflect the David Moyes saga – appeared in The Straits Times, the English language daily in Singapore, where I know from personal experience that there are far more Manchester United fans than in Manchester.
Moyes' departure from Old Trafford was as big a story overseas as it was here, such is the club's universality. The thought occurs that if he is to resurrect his career, the best place to start might be with a foreign club, where his name would have considerable cachet. Either in Europe – or possibly the United States.
By coincidence, Moyes is now on holiday in Miami, where United old boy David Beckham plans to launch a Major League Soccer franchise. Might Becks have a coaching sit vac that would suit the Scot, whom he is known to like.
Moyes must hope the game holds a better future for him than it did those who attempted to follow Sir Matt Busby: Wilf McGuiness, Frank O'Farrell, Tommy Docherty and Ron Atkinson. Of these only Atkinson acquired further top-flight managerial roles before his own career ended in ignominy over a racism issue.
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