Scottish football has no right to claim James McCarthy



With the deadline day transfer of James McCarthy from Wigan Athletic to Everton for around £13 million, the media and Scottish football as a whole fell over themselves to laud the deal which saw him become the most expensive ‘Scottish-born’ player in football history.

That transfer would see his former side Hamilton Accies receive a tidy sum thanks to a sell-on clause, but why should Scottish football be brought into the conversation when the Scottish FA didn’t want to know him when he was coming through the ranks. Only Hamilton Accies and the Republic of Ireland saw his potential and they should be the ones lauding the transfer not Scottish football as a whole.

Yes, Scotland tried to ‘court’ him back over the Irish Sea but only when he had already broken through and ‘made it’. He decided to stay loyal to the country that was loyal to him and gave him his chance, by playing his first competitive senior cap against Macedonia in 2011.

But with his latest big move, certain elements of the Scottish media are lauding him as the most expensive Scottish footballer. Some dodge the subject by stating Scottish-born or label him the most expensive footballer ever to hail from this country.

McCarthy was born in Scotland, just like his international team mate Aiden McGeady, however McGeady faced widespread abuse and criticism for turning his back on the country of his birth from many quarters of the Scottish game. Fans, former players and managers along with media attacked him for his decision and yet McCarthy was not treated as badly as what McGeady was – although he still received his fair share of anti-Irish racist abuse namely from the ‘provincial clubs’ in the Scottish game.

Both players were not selected by the Scottish FA, in fact the Scottish FA didn’t want to now about either player and as they qualified through the grandparents ruling, the Republic of Ireland happily snapped them up.

It is somewhat ironic and hypocritical that those criticising McGeady and McCarthy, laud the services of the players who have played for Scotland and were not born in Scotland.

Take for example Steven Fletcher – a Scotland international who played for Hibernian before his move south to English football – he was born in Shrewsbury. How about Kris Commons, Russell Martin, Matt Gilks, Shaun Maloney, Jordan Rhodes, James Morrison, Danny Fox, Phil Bardsley, George Boyd, Liam Bridcutt and Matt Phillips? None of these are Scottish born, but are now Scottish internationals all using their family ties to play for Scotland – yet many of those playing for Scotland now chose to play for Scotland for various reasons. Classing themselves as Scottish due to parentage or their grandparents and even the fact that they could not get a game for the English national side.

FIFA and UEFA class all the above ‘Scotland’ players as Scottish internationals, likewise James McCarthy is an Irish international. It doesn’t matter where he was born, he is no longer a Scottish football player but an Irish one.

So while Scottish football and the media try to lay claim to McCarthy in some form or another, the only people in Scotland who have a right to laud him or lay claim to him are those who developed him as a player – Hamilton Accies.


About Author


Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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