It’s no coincidence that the big five leagues in Europe are also in the most populous countries in western Europe – where the money is drawn to. The days when, for example, Dutch teams could win four successive European cups, based on pure talent rather than money, are long gone. Now, huge clubs from smaller economies such as Benfica, Porto, Ajax, Celtic and Rangers have to watch from the outside as the big leagues hoover up all the money and the best players.
As soon as any of them show signs of developing a decent team, like Ajax a couple of years ago, their best players get picked off by the bigger leagues immediately.
The simple truth is that football is driven by global market forces far more than it was in the distant past, when gate money was the main source of income. In those days, clubs like Celtic could compete with the best in England, and reach two European cup finals. Now, gate money is a much smaller proportion of income and smaller leagues have no chance.
In the case of Celtic and Rangers, from a business standpoint, the situation is almost ridiculous. The richest league in the world exists in the UK, yet two of the world’s biggest clubs also exist in the UK but can’t get access to it mainly because of local political tradition.
I like tradition, and was no fan of the proposed Super League, but, the status quo isn’t fair either so there isn’t any harm in new proposals from time to time.
John Rentoul asks a very pertinent question in his article on your site a few days ago: What would be a mandate for another Scottish independence referendum?
I believe that there should be much more public debate about this subject because the stakes are so high for both sides of the Union. On the one hand, you have the pride of Scottish nationalism with its ideological aspirations, pitted against the deeply held beliefs of many Unionists, that it is not sustainable for Scotland to take this step into the unknown, especially when the SNP has proved itself incapable of effectively managing the economy and its budget for over a decade and more in power. I agree 100 per cent that a narrow SNP majority is not a mandate for IndyRef2 and fervently hope that people are alive to this issue.
Think Scotland produced an informative booklet this month titled The SNP Record: Good or Bad? in which Dr Liam Fox states: “While GDP in the UK grew at a rate of 1.7 per cent between 2000 and 2019, in Scotland it grew at a much smaller 1.3 per cent. Employment from 2000 to 2019 grew at 0.9 per cent in the UK as a whole, but only at 0.6 per cent in Scotland.”
This is the hard reality and whilst Scotland is a beautiful country and has much to bring to the table within the UK, the economic case for independence is a disaster.
How can we get people discussing the facts in the real world, free of the blinkered views of those who are obsessed with extreme viewpoints?
St George’s Day reminds us that Britain is a diverse nation but what makes us British? Is it our obsession with the weather, our insistence on apologising, our stiff upper lip or constantly offering cups of tea? It can be hard to define, but what is true is that we are all more alike than we realise.
Our similarities and innate desire to help our neighbours is something I have noticed over the past year, and have been humbled as a faith leader to see how the nation has rallied together during the pandemic, supporting one another that rarely makes headlines. The inbuilt strength of the British people is something to shout about.
But as we have also seen in recent months, freedom of speech is something to respect and be mindful of how it impacts our diverse communities across the country to ensure that our bond as a society is maintained and strengthened. We may challenge each other’s views but do so with tolerance and compassion. We do not want to fan the flames of Islamophobia and or any other anti-religious rhetoric, and can prevent this by educating ourselves on each other’s differences, because we are all British regardless of our race and or religion.
As Yorkshire Imam, today I’m speaking to my congregation about why St George’s Day should be a day where everyone reflects on the past year and recognises how united we are by our shared identity – being proudly British.
Qari Asim, MBE
After learning about Johnny Mercer’s resignation/sacking I began to think of the scandals, law-breaking, lies, deceit, fabrication, obfuscation, etc that the last few years have brought to light.
Mr Mercer, ex-defence minister, said he worked in a cesspit where lies were common currency and in the most distrustful environment. What an indictment of our government. And if true, what an appalling way to run a country.
To compound this damning statement I read, that Mr Tony Blair, ex-PM, seemingly dismissed Mr Johnson’s apparent agreement to help Mr Dyson with the supply of ventilators. Mr Blair is reported as saying, “I find it hard to get worked up about it” in relation to the financial help Boris offered Mr Dyson.
To not get “worked up” about breaking one’s word might be normal for Blair and Johnson but for honest people it is anathema. There are so many incidents of lies, deceit, half-truths, expenses scandals, etc in this government that I am ashamed of my support of the Conservative party and the organisation that helps run the country.
I dare say that there are good, honourable MPs but it appears to me that they are either silenced or don’t care what less honourable MPs do. Principled people, like Mr Mercer, are few and far between and obviously have no place in today’s government.
There is no justification to say that it was acceptable to break the rules because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Honesty should always take priority over expediency. Honesty cannot be disguised, expediency can be confused with lies and deceit.
I wish Mr Mercer all the very best in the future but he must realise that good, honest people don’t get on in the world of politics or business. Sad really.
Blinded by nationalism
In the recent report last week on SNP government policies relating to poverty, life expectancy, education, childcare, healthcare, drug deaths, homeless victims, Covid-19 vaccination, economy, police, freedom of speech, local government, fund distribution and procurement, it would seem that in every single area their policies have failed.
On top of this, an independent Scotland would leave the UK borders exposed.
Therefore, we must not be blinded by nationalism.
I write as a director of a business based in Scotland who would have to seriously reconsider – along with many others – the genuine viability of remaining in Scotland should it become an independent country.
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