Remember those halcyon days when football on the t.v. used to be confined to the Cup Final and the occasional international match? Now you can't move for the bloody stuff. Arsenal and Fulham ladies can't have a kick about in a public park without some t.v. johnnies turning up team- handed to broadcast the ensuing "spectacle" to all of half a dozen disinterested viewers. The delights of Stockport v. Rotherham or equivalent was clearly never going to entice a sufficient number of subscribers to part with their hard earned cash to float ITV Digital's boat so it was hardly a surprise when the ill-conceived SPLTV balloon was punctured by the Scylla and Charybdis of Scottish football the Old Firm. The gruesome twosome were undoubtedly correct to question the assumptions behind the projections but the timing and the motivation behind their bi-partite decision could be called into question. It really wasn't all that surprising to hear ostensibly opposing sections of the sectarian divide singing from the same hymn sheet. The faith which unites them both is the gospel according to Filthy Lucre.
Clearly the behemoths of bigotry are labouring under the misapprehension that owning the rights to the most loathsome brand names in world football has some currency in the modern world. Let's face it Murray, Quinn and co.: no-one wants you and your Neanderthal fans. The ever diminishing number of goons in the shrinking ghetto of recalcitrant sectarianism which clings tenaciously onto central Scotland like a limpet are still forcing their progeny to adopt the tarnished colours of the Old Firm but to the rest of the civilised world they are an anachronism, anathema to all right thinking people. The Old Firm's money men and their spin doctors can try to spring clean their respective club's images all they like but they just can't shift those stubborn stains deposited by their vile followers. Give them a camera opportunity and they just can't help disgracing themselves and their clubs by donning Ingerlund tops, impersonating doomed airliners careering into skyscrapers, abusing minute's silences for irrelevant dignitaries and generally spouting racist, bigoted claptrap. Celtic fans' bogus Oirish republican rebel stuff wouldn't wash in Boston theme bar on St.Paddy's day and Rangers' royalist, unionist, orange order hokum has as much relevance to contemporary life on this planet as flat earth theory.
Come on you losers get with the programme. You guys are in dire need of a media-friendly makeover. Your image just won't cut it in today's sophisticated marketplace. How can dandy Davy Murray hope to hang out with the Real Madrids, the Barcelonas and the Milans of the increasingly cosmopolitan football world with the knuckle scrapers in tow? How can Dermot gad about with the glitterati with you guys getting in the way? It's like dragging Rab C.Nesbitt along to a Chanel couture show. String vests, Special Brew and sectarianism are so passe darlings. Oh Mr.Murray I forgot. Your club and your Celtic cronies in the infernal Old Firm cartel from hell have been mining a rich vein of sectarianism for years. Just another marketing opportunity to facilitate wider dissemination of the brand. Protestant? Catholic? It's all just brand differentiation. Either way it's the same old corporate bullsh*t peddled by the same pushers. Was it not the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland himself, Scots born Dr. John Reid, who committed the unforgivable gaffe of acknowledging the "rich traditions" of the Irish republican and loyalist movements as convenient hooks to hang the Old Firm's future brand expansion strategies on? Clearly the astute modern businessmen behind Scotland's footballing aristos and aspirants to the Champions League top table couldn't still be exploiting the Battle of the Boyne as a merchandising opportunity? Or could they? Does the Pope sh*t in the woods? If he did I'm sure you could get the "'ra fishul vi-day-o doon ra Barras".
Billy from Bathgate and Timmy from Tillicoutry you've been conned all along. This bogus bigotry bullsh*t was just a marketing ploy to get you and your retarded family to part with your dole check for the new away kit. The money men hate you too just like we do. And when they've had their cake, eaten it and sold the crumbs off the table to the highest bidder they'll jettison you and your inbred kin just like they'll cast off the rest of the teams in this mickey mouse league they've been imprisoned in against their will for the last century and a bit. What passes for rough charm and salt of the earth sartorial swagger in a saloon bar in Kilmarnock on a wet Tuesday night is just not going to cut it on the catwalks of Milan. So start gearing up for the 21st century rather than the middle ages suckers. I guess you all know what happened to Irish theme pubs? So late 20th century they seem positively pre-Jurassic. Celtic wouldn't want to end up like "Biddy McGees" surely?
In the short term I guess the Old Firm could be banking on hiving off the rights to their home games and selling them to Rupert the Bull (the only poker player left in the game) or creating their own "Bigot TV." media conglomerates to beam the enticing spectacle of the Old Firm ritually humiliating the likes of Dunfermline and Partick Thistle by cable, satellite, internet and homing pigeon all the way from Wallamazoo to Butt**ck, Idaho. Even the gruesome twosome's fans, possessing as they do the attention spans of goldfish and the intellect of gnats, could conceivably get bored with this fare. No wonder SPLTV's subscriber projections seemed optimistic. The projected figures of viewers liable to pitch in £10 a month for the privilege of watching these mismatches let alone the dubious joys afforded by "local interest only" encounters between plucky also-rans like Kilmarnock and Motherwell must have been so low as to be statistically insignificant. Intruding on the private grief of Motherwell fans is at best peculiar and at worst downright perverse. Let's be honest Scottish football is an exercise in collective masochism. The misguided notion that it's a spectator sport is clearly buffoonery of the highest order. Rather like inflatable women and penile enhancement technology it's a product aimed fairly and squarely at a niche market consisting chiefly of harmless perverts and the criminally insane. The idea that there were hordes of subscribers queuing up to subsidise this televised tosh was surely a fevered dream conceived by an Al Qa'ida warlord (presumably high on Afghan spangles holed up in some cave network listening to the D.J Smack Poppy's bangin' U.S. barrage) , hastily scribbled in the Pashtun dialect on the back of an american propaganda leaflet and conveyed by carrier pigeon to the nerve centre of media terrorist Chris Morris's cell in Guantananamo Bay. I'm sure it didn't take ESPN long to figure out that their bizarre decision to broadcast the likes of Dundee v.St.Johnstone direct into the beating heart of Buenos Aries a couple of years back was in danger of being misinterpreted as an act of aggression against the Argentinean nation, Claudia Cannigia or not.
Pay per view was never designed for the mundane pleasures afforded by football. Football is wallpaper and the particularly annoying woodchip variety at that. As ubiquitous on terrestrial t.v. as Ally McCoist or Gary Lineker and just as brain numbingly bland. Like high class hookers you know the facility to pay for it is there if you want it but with frisky fillies queuing up to give it away for free you wouldn't actually dream of using it. Who's to say the stuff you pay for would be any better than the bog standard issue anyway. They're not all Liverpool 4 Newcastle 3 edge of the seat thrillers. If I'm paying top dollar I want top quality product. As Chris Morris observed as the second tower of the WTC fell a jaded t.v. audience were already switching off their sets complaining they'd seen it all before. If I'd subscribed to Al-Jazeera pay-per-view on the promise of exclusive Al Qa'ida terrorist atrocities following on from the success of the WTC season opener I'd be pretty pi**ed off if the best they could come up with was an incompetent bloody shoebomber who couldn't ignite his Reeboks. If Sky want me to bump up my credit card balance for some televisual pleasure then " Antipodean ass aerobics with the perky, pocket-size, pop princess" is much more likely to light my fire than the SPL. The frisson of guilty pleasure provoked by "unspecified adult entertainment £5.99" cropping up on your statement is more readily explicable to an irate mrs.ionesco when she opens the mail than the unequivocally sordid "Barnsley v. Grimsby". In the fall-out from the t.v. football meltdown the media moguls are going to have think of more imaginative ways to get us to part with the green folding stuff.
The era of "sports entertainment" beckons. Franchise football existing in a realm beyond national boundaries but maximising merchandising opportunities presented by the same old cartoon stereotypes a la WWF. My own team Queen of the South are about to relocate to San Francisco where in accordance with the local demographic we'll be renamed Queens of the South-West. Handlebar moustaches and biker gear will be de rigeuer for the fans and "the club strip" will be the Full Monty. George Michael and Boy George will perform a duet of the team song live from the Golden Gate Bridge. The bad news is they're both in the squad as are The Village People. The good news is the Kylester's pink pound appeal gets her a starting position too. Our first match is against Vinnie Jones' Hollywood XI starring Rod Stewart, Robbie Williams, Jay-Lo, P Diddy and The Rock. Then we play Dermot Desmond's Boston Celtic featuring Bono, Shane McGowan, some tw*t from Westlife, Michael Flatley and the cast of Riverdance in the world's biggest Irish theme bar in New York on St.Paddy's Day. Then it's David Murray's Cor Blimey Guv'nor London Rangers at some infernal Ibizan discotheque full of lager louts larging it in Ingerlund tops and annexing the Balearics for the "master race". Come on Rupert sort it out!