Ally Begg: Why does Scottish football get such bad press?


In his debut column for Scotzine, Ally Begg questions why our game gets bad press and calls on the powers-that-be in Scotland to promote our game better.

Scottish football is ‘a pub league’, ‘a mickey mouse league’, ‘all Scottish players are crap’, ‘nobody cares about Scottish football’, ‘does anyone watch Scottish football outside of Scotland?’ – these are just some of a host of answers I have received when engaging in a recent debate with work colleagues about the current state of Scottish football.

I confess as the chat rolled merrily along my blood gently boiled away, why do we receive such bad press?

Why does everybody it seems outside of Scotland think we are a laughing stock?

It doesn’t help that some so-called journalists, who shall remain nameless, continually knock our game and what our game stands for. Most of what they write is to trigger debate and boost personal twitter accounts yet where is the educated argument?

This I believe is the root of the problem – a lack of knowledge, education and a great deal of naivety.

If I have heard ‘Celtic need Rangers back in the SPFL to remain competitive’ once I have heard it a million times.

Celtic not making the Champions’ League group stage did not help, but that had nothing to do with a lack of competitiveness in the SPFL, Celtic went out due to basic football mistakes – not defending set-pieces!

Surely you don’t need me to remind you three of their four goals conceded came from corner-kicks.

Let’s be honest here, when and not if Rangers return to the top-flight much work needs to be done in the halls of Ibrox for Rangers to compete with not just Celtic but Aberdeen and Hearts too.

We all know the Dons and Jam tarts have made fantastic starts to the season, long may it continue but both will be ultimately judged on their results against Celtic.

Nobody in Scotland needs reminding that the game here has been dominated by Celtic and Rangers for what seems like an eternity so it’s up to clubs like Aberdeen, Hearts and your Dundee Uniteds who all have decent fan bases to step up to the plate on the field of play.

The financial gulf is a given ensuring Celtic can afford to spend or not as the case may be, but at the end of the day it’s eleven versus eleven on the pitch and whoever has the bottle and tactical nous to come out on top takes all three points.

Next weekend’s game at Pittodrie is already capturing the imagination of many, with tickets selling rapidly. By the time kick-off approaches I have no doubt the game will be a complete sell-out. A fact not to be smirked at!

For many Dons fans this game will be another indication of the strides taken by Derek McInnes and his staff. Most Aberdeen fans I have conversed with recently for the first time in a long time have no fear going into this game.

If you talk to Celtic fans they welcome the chase!

With Aberdeen pursuing a new club record, attempting to win six successive games at the beginning of a season for the first time in their history and Celtic having to blood a potential untested central defensive partnership, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility this game could be splendorous.

All I hope is for the powers that be at the SPFL recognise this and shout from the rooftops in their attempts to promote the game.

More should be done in terms of promotion, we should be proud of our leagues and clubs.

May I also remind those decision makers that Tynecastle has been bouncing this season; I applaud all at Hearts who have, in the face of adversity turned the fortunes of the club around and placed themselves in a healthy position to compete at the highest level once again.

It’s bloody brilliant!

I have watched a handful of games in both the SPFL and English Premier League this season and for entertainment value alone not once have I had been let down by our clubs in Scotland. I for one will continue to champion our game here in Scotland and everything it stands for and for those that continue to mock, more fool you!

Ally Begg is a former member of 90’s boy band, Bad Boys Inc, Ally has since forged a successful career in sports broadcasting. In a presenting career spanning 15 years he has hosted Manchester United TV, Celtic TV, Sky Sports News, Sky News, TalkSport Radio, Setanta Sports and more recently ESPN Star Sports in Singapore. Ally now lives in Doha, Qatar with his wife and young son. He is a Senior Football Producer for beIN Sports, where he produces the network’s Champions League coverage as well as the ever popular Sunday Night Live which highlights the very best games from around Europe including La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A and the French Lique 1.


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