Jan 17 Transfer Window – Who needs what?…SPFL edition

The transfer window is fully OPEN!

Scotland is one of the most oddly run football associations in Europe and this is shown in the split between the top division and the rest. Whilst Hibs & Dundee United were contesting a top of the table clash in the extremely competitive Championship, the Ladbrokes Premiership sides have just returned from sunning themselves on a winter break.

This means that any significant transfer activity is in full swing now those planes have landed back at Glasgow or Edinburgh airport over the past few days.

Before the phones start ringing and agents start taking their barely-earned commission cuts we thought we’d run through the leagues and advise who needs what.

The Ladbrokes Premiership is all but over, Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic are currently 19 points clear of the chasing pack but that won’t stop the former Liverpool gaffer spending. The Glasgow giants will bring in a couple of new faces and don’t be surprised to see a relatively big name arrive on loan.

Rumours of Everton’s James McCarthy could prove true however we see a squad being built for a further assault on next seasons Champions League.

The best of the rest include Rangers, Aberdeen and Ian Cathro’s Hearts. The latter has promised a squad overhaul and with his contacts in Spain and the North East, you wouldn’t bet against some known names arriving. Aaron Hughes has already arrived at Tynecastle to add experience and stability to their backline.

The biggest internal transfer could see Niall McGinn move from Aberdeen to Hearts on a pre-contract agreement. A strange one in our opinion, as surely the Northern Irishman will have offers from English Championship clubs as well as abroad.

Niall-McGinn-Image.jpg

Rangers need miracles to close the gap on their nearest and dearest across the City. In a previous article we stated that Mark Warburton is not the man for Ibrox and our thoughts haven’t changed. He will not pinpoint nor attract the correct players for the job, in Scotland 2nd is nowhere…3rd or 4th is unforgivable!

Down at the bottom is where we’ll see the season defining signings with just 6 points separating 6 teams.

Lee Clark has raided his old stomping ground at Newcastle for some loans. ICT will need to either stick or twist with Ritchie Foran in the hope he can find a striker to fire them to safety and Hamilton need to hang onto Ali Crawford to have any chance of remaining in the top tier.

Dundee have enough talent to keep their heads above water, as do Motherwell. However with Sam Allardyce lining up a £500K bid for 12 goal Moult, the Fir Park men will need to reinvest some capital in a key area.

Dropping down a division brings us to the hotly contested Championship. Hibs have already played their cards bringing in Kris Commons and former PNE winger Chris Humphrey, truth be told – they are both too good for this level and give Lennon’s men a significant advantage. Dundee United will need to respond to the business done in Edinburgh and respond quickly they have by recruiting Danish hitman Thomas Mikkelsen, further bodies are required to keep up with the Scottish Cup holders however.

The chasing quartet include an improving Morton and an in-form Dunfermline who will look to build on solid seasons and cement a place in the end of season play offs. A goal scorer to cover for the injured Quitongo in Greenock and a midfield engine, to add to the impressive Callum Morris capture at East End Park are on the respective wish lists.

Over at Peter Houston’s Falkirk they will be keen to hold onto Craig Sibbald whilst bringing in a loan from the top division to add squad depth.

At the foot of the table Jack Ross’ St Mirren are 7 adrift and no amount of incomings are likely to bridge the current gap.

Into Scottish League One and it’s defenders that are required all over! Every club has conceded more goals than games they have played. Livingston will look to capitalise on their current 9 point lead by holding onto top scorer Liam Buchanan, a potential sale of youngster Matthew Knox to Man Utd could provide some much needed investment if they’re to step up a level next season.

Similar to the Premiership, the chasing pack are all closely bunched. Alloa were our pre-season tips for promotion, so we’ll stick with them to challenge. Spence and Kirkpatrick are scoring the goals but they need to keep them out at the back to maintain a push. Mark Wilson could well be calling in some favours from former club Celtic to bring some young talent to aid an Airdrieonians promotion tilt.

Stenhousemuir sit 2nd bottom and are deep in relegation trouble (just as we predicted back in August) they will need to recruit to have any chance of survival.

alloa-airdrie-image

Last but not least we move to the lower reaches of the Scottish football pyramid, League Two.

Pre-season favourites Forfar are leading the way as expected and Gary Bollan will be satisfied with his squad, we cannot foresee any additions at Station Park.

Elgin will need to ensure that they hold onto Shane Sutherland to ensure a play-off spot come May and the rest of the league is open to change every single week. Currently the bottom 4 teams are separated by just a single win, money is null so it’s going to be make do with what you have and hope you do enough to survive from Stirling to Berwick.

Niall McGinn image is sourced from; Aberdeenjournals
Alloa and Airdrie image is sourced from; www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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Ticket Prices; The Cost of Being a Fan

This week has seen the much published Liverpool £77 ticket walk out and subsequent retraction by the club’s owners.

Well done Liverpool fans but I fear it won’t be long until we see and hear the same old story.

Fans are no longer fans in the eyes of most clubs… they are customers.

They care not for the generations of families that have arrived season after season, the children of fans that are born to be future fans or for how much it costs the average person to attend the game they love week in week out.

P160206-090-Liverpool_Sunderland-600x400

I have been to grounds all over England and Scotland, seen some of the best / worst teams and paid anything from £10 to £50 for the privilege.

Play this Primary School game of “match them up” and see if you can get the matches and ticket prices correct (answers at the bottom of the page)

All recent games that I have been to

Game Ticket Price
Scotland v England (2014) £20
Man Utd v Sunderland (2015) £30
Man City v Crystal Palace (2016) £50
Stoke v Sheff Wed (2015) £45
Motherwell v Dundee United (2014) £27

The variances and statures of these games isn’t massively varied in terms of importance or indeed location but as you can see the prices are up to £30 apart.

With the global branding and money TV generates, the Premier League clubs do have a certain luxury that most do not, they will have fans arrive from all over the world and pay the prices just to say they have been to The Emirates, Old Trafford etc.

The envy outside of the top tier is obvious and growing with the imminent influx of the “new TV money” from next season. They however do not help themselves:-

Selected Fixtures For 13th Feb

League One – Colchester v Swindon £27

League Two – Morecambe v Oxford £24

National League – Grimsby v Boreham Wood £18

SPL – Hearts v Patrick Thistle £28

These and most other clubs outside the BPL have thousands upon thousands of empty seats each week, why not charge a lower price and attract more fans?

We all love a couple of pints, food, a programme and this is all before travel and in some cases hotel charges.

Football is now a day out that has to be planned and budgeted for in advance and this is extremely saddening.

As much as we all need to be following the lead set by some of the Anfield faithful against Sunderland we know we can’t stay away from our teams and will generally pay for the privilege to go… win, lose or draw.

Hopefully many Chairmen and boards will be pro-actively looking for solutions in the near future.

Football without fans is nothing!

Bayern-Munich-Fans-at-Arsenal-V2

Answers as promised, were you right?

Scotland v England (2014) £50
Man Utd v Sunderland (2015) £45
Man City v Crystal Palace (2016) £30
Stoke v Sheff Wed (2015) £20
Motherwell v Dundee United (2014) £27

Liverpool fans image sourced from; www.thisisanfield.com
Bayern Munich fans image sourced from; ftw.usatoday.com