Its that time of year again .... time to go through all the polls and calculate who is winning the race to be the 16th recipient of the CaleyThistleOnline Player of the Year award. The CTO - POY award was started in season 2000-2001, and other than the Supporters Club / Trust Player of the Year award, it is the only external award recognised officially by the club and included in their year on year stats, a fact we are very proud of.
An interesting fact about our award is that in the 15 years of its existence it has never been won by the same person twice, although, to be fair, it has often been won by a player who has made such an impact with ICT that he has moved onward and upward at the end of that season or the next. Ryan Esson, who won the trophy in 2010-11 is the only player still on the books who has won it before.
Last year Marley Watkins was like a runaway train in this poll. He amassed the highest quantity of votes and points for 4 out of the first five months of the season as well as the last two months of the season and won it with 79 points. His closest rivals were Graeme Shinnie - looking to be the first ever player to win it for a second time - and Greg Tansey who both amassed what would normally be a respectable total of 44 points each. Ryan Christie and Josh Meekings rounded out the top five with 36 and 29 points respectively.
So onto season 2015-16 and with several of the top points scorers from last season gone, it was a question of who would step up and take the challenge this year .... The season started early with our Europa League debut and Gary Warren was the front runner that month winning the Player of the Month and grabbing maximum POY points in both games against Astra Giurgiu. In August, with a heavy six game schedule, Danny Williams grabbed the monthly honours on number of votes received, closely followed by Ryan Christie and Owain Fon Williams. Christie however jumped into the points lead in the standings courtesy of more of his votes being first place votes. September and October belonged to Miles Storey and it was beginning to look like he "might do a Marley" but up stepped CTO sponsored player Liam Polworth to grab the honours for November and December. Miles was back at it again in January winning the Player of the Month again, but Ross Draper, Owain Fon Williams and Carl Tremarco have all taken it in the last three months. With one month, and three games to go, so a maximum of 15 points up for grabs, there are still 5 players who can win it. Miles Storey currently leads with 51 but he is only 5 points ahead of Ross Draper. Gary Warren, Owain Fon Williams and Liam Polworth are a little further behind, but not out of it by any means. Click on the graphics below to view the current standings.
Broadcasting deals for Scotttish football have received a lot of bad press in the last 12 months. Some off it quite rightly warranted, however a great deal of iit was anywhere between misguided to just plain wrong.
The facts are there are 2 types on sport: sport with a TV presence and amatuer sport watched by 2 men annd a dog. Some people are too quick to judge the negative aspects of broadcast contracts without acknowleging the overwhelming positives. And they are overwhelming, so let's look at just of few of them.
1. Broadcast agreements are not just free advertising, they actually pay to advertise football. Now if someone can to my business and said they would pay me to advertise my product I would be deighted. TV showcases football and it is up to the foootball authorities to ensure the product they are pedallng is up to scratch and it is up to the Clubs to recognise the additional benefits of TV besides direct income . This leads nicely into...
2. ...that old myth that televised games leads to reduced crowds. This myth is perpetuated by clubs receiving additional revenue from TV for live games due to a reduction in the expected crowd. So what football clubs are doing is telling their fans to stay home and watch the game on TV because we don't need you because of the TV cash. All it would take is a change of attitude from clubs to break the back of this myth. It astounds me because all the evidence around world sport suggests the exact opposite is true. Closer to Scotland I don't so attendances in the EPL dropping signifiicantly because of live coverage. In fact the 2 biggest football codes in Australia have enjoyed record TV ratings and attendance. So why is it different? Because nothing beats the match day experience at the ground.
Sure I am looking at this through rose coloured glasses and I understand the limitations of the current broadcast agreements. In my opinion, the biggest problem with the current broadcast agreement is that the football authorities have also fallen for rvenue bottom line. I guarantee that things would have been commpletly different if the SPL had agreed a deal with the BBC all those years ago.
By giving into Setanta/Sky et al they gave up the thing they really needed the most - access to fans. If games were on the BBC then the potential audience reach would be much higher, access for fans is much cheaper and easier.
So, in summary, blaming broadcast agreements for all the illls achieves nothing, focusing on the match day experience is everything.
If you were to give 100 monkeys 100 typewriters (computers that didn’t need electricity for the younger viewers) I would be willing to bet they would come up with a better plan for league reconstruction than the ones currently on offer.
Before I look deeper into these I first wanted to look at the reasons given for league reconstruction to see how we got here.
When the SFA/SFL/SPL and any other alphabet soup of organisations released a joint statement last year they provided the following reasons for league reconstruction:
Better distribution of income in the game
Increased competitiveness and;
The first 2 are no-brainers but I couldn’t get my head around the last 2. How can a governing body have much influence of the competitiveness and entertainment value of clubs?
My question was answered with the 12-12-18 plan that becomes an 8-8-8-18 plan later in the season. Increased competitiveness because it would appear that it is all to play for in the top and second divisions. Increased entertainment because the bottom 4 clubs of the top division and the top 4 clubs of the second division will play sparkling football to gain promotion or guard against relegation.
Of course this is complete rubbish. Firstly let’s deal with the competitiveness issue. At the start of each season clubs in the second division have second division budgets and top division clubs have top division budgets. This inequity is even more likely to play out at the end of the season when top division clubs with their larger squads will more than likely out-gun their lower division rivals on a home/away league basis. The lower division clubs would have more success in a 2 leg play off system. So instead of increased competitiveness, you are more likely to see the same teams in the top division with minimal change. It will actually make promotion/relegation less likely.
Better entertainment? I’m not convinced. A relegation/promotion race in itself is not necessarily entertaining. To play entertaining football teams must be encouraged to play entertaining football. A relegation battle will see too many 4-1-4-1 or similar formations. Hardly the stuff of attacking entertaining football.
Oe thing there won't be is an entertaining race to see who wins Division 2. A can,t find an explanation for who would be Div 2 champions.
The other plan put forward was 16-10-16. This won't happen for many reasons but just 2 will do. Firstly, the current SPL clubs won't go for it mainly because it will reduce their income significantly. Not only because of TV money will be divided by 16 instead of 12 but theiir income wiil also reduce because there will be less games to generate attendance income.
I actually have the answer, but nobody will like it. The biggest issue in Scottish football is too many teams and not enough money. Now since there are limited avenues for increasing revenue (though I will admit that costs can be reduced having one governing body - another bllog for another day) the number of teams shouldbe reduced. The only commercially viable structure in 10-10-10. There is no waya country this size of Scotland can afford 42 professional/semi-professional football teams.
Any leage reconstruction willl have winners and losers. Nobody wants to be the loser and as a result self preservation will result in a half a*sed league reconstruction that will please nobody.
So out of the 4 reasons provided for league construction,a grand total of zero have been met. Well done.
PS Would you buy a season ticket if there was a possibility we would by playing the final part of the season against Div 1 teams?
I mentioned in our last blog that we would be updating the rules/terms/privacy/copyright and cookie policies that we use .... and we now have !!!!
The rules, as well as our privacy and cookie policies are now posted and active and can be accessed by clicking on one of the links at the bottom right of the page.
We have done away with the lengthy rule set that tried to cover every eventuality that happened on the site over the last 18 years, or may happen in the future because not only were they unwieldy and unwelcoming for new users, but they were also like a lightning rod for the tiny minority of users
whose sole function on the planet seems to be a desire to create chaos or discord or to try and get one over the mods by finding something we hadnt covered ... Those guys can continue to play their games somewhere else, but the vast majority of users are not going to be subjected to a huge rule set just on their behalf. We're not playing that game anymore.
The new rules are about as generic as we can make them and although we have added a few specific examples based on things that have happened on the boards and which required moderator or admin intervention over the years, we are pulling back a bit and putting the onus on users to police their own behaviour somewhat.
Lets face it, most of you know what is appropriate or inappropriate in terms of the words, images or links that you post or the attitude you display. If you have to wonder whether you will get away with something you post, or the tone in which you post it then maybe you need to think again ? Thats all we are asking !!!
I know some folk will read this and not bother to click on the link, so for those users, here's a list of a few specific things that will bring you to the attention of the mods. Its not the full list - read the rules for that - but just enough to fill this blog post !
1. Personal Abuse / Agressive Behaviour: As we note in the new rules, we do have a minority of users who seem to delight in this and in making everything personal. We will continue to take a dim view of this and those who want to carry on doing it will soon find out how the new points system works. Its fine to disagree or discuss and debate the issues with someone, thats what forums are about, but you should be able to do it without making it personal or aggressive. We would also include passive aggressive behaviour in this such as posting snidey comments that denigrate someone for starting a topic you dont like. If you dont like a topic, ignore it and dont post in it rather than again making things personal ....
2. Inappropriate Posting / Swearing etc: Its a football forum with a primary demographic of male users of a certain age range. there's going to be swearing and there's going to be things that are perhaps not totally "PC". We are not going to get our underwear in a knot if someone lets the odd profanity go, or there is the odd image or link that gets close to the edge, but be aware of where that edge is. We have an audience that ranges from teenage to 80+ so bear that in mind when posting.
3. Illegal Content: There is nobody who likes to see ICT on the telly over here more than me, and yes I have partaken of 'dodgy feeds' to get that fix, but please dont post those links in open forum. Also, please try to refrain from posting copyrighted material if you dont have permission. We're not saying this to be assholes, we're saying it to protect the site from even the vaguest hint of action from various organisations or the authorities. We have developed good relations over the years with the club, with photographers, with the likes of the BBC or other media, and with people within the SPL/SFL/SFA and we still work closely with a lot of those folks ... it allows us to post things other sites may not get, or just to get verifiable info and such like. We wont allow anyone to jeopardise that.
4. Topic Hijacking: Topic Hijacking is not to be confused with going a little "off topic". We can all go a little off-topic here and there and thats to be expected and wont get you in the bad books unless you do it all the time and all over the place. Topic hijacking is where you purposely try to bring the topic around to your own different and unrelated agenda by changing the topic entirely rather than drifting into off topic territory ... and is usually quite recognisable as it is done on multiple threads if the poster feels strongly enough about a subject or wants to get a topic across. This is tantamount to bully boy tactics and wont be allowed. You want a topic on your subject, then start its own one ... if its of concern or interest to site users it will gather its own momentum.
So thats my personal top 4 .... like I said, there are a few more in the actual rules, but its basically all just common sense stuff .....
The next post in this blog will be details of our re-vamped Verbal/Yellow Card/Red Card warning points system, but this will probably be next week now as the mods are still going over the finer points of it ... we want it to be fair, transparent and consistent and I think it will be ...
I know some of our members think we never listen, but for the last year or more, the moderators have been discussing tweaks and changes to our site terms, rules, privacy policies and such like and it is largely based on feedback from the community of users as well as a couple of other factors.
Normally, rule changes happen as a result of something bad happening on the site or some member or other pushing the limit and responding with "well, its not in the rules ... where does it say that?" .... forcing us to add yet another line, paragraph or section to the ever expanding rulebook to cover this or that eventuality. However, this time it may surprise some folk to hear that we are going to be going in the other direction over the summer and simplifying them !!!
The reason for this is threefold ....
Almost a year ago (or possibly longer) we received a detailed suggestion and framework from a site member who is neither a mod or an admin suggesting we adopt a system of "golden rules" that relied on the common sense of users to know what is and is not appropriate on the forums at any given time.
We liked this idea and it formed the basis for a lot of discussion over several months before we put it to one side as we got busy with other. We did however vow to come back to it later ..... well now it is later !
The software we use for the boards - especially as it relates to warnings and banning - has evolved since we started discussing the changes we wanted to make, and it now fits nicely into the framework without too much effort. This was fortuitous rather than planned.
Until last month you all had warning bars you could see beside your user info on your own posts (but not on other peoples) and we (mods/admin) would issue warnings based on our interpretation of our not inconsiderable ruleset. Sometimes you would get 10%, sometimes 20% sometimes none .... no consistency.
This system has been replaced by warning 'points' and we can now assign a value and reason for each infraction with specific points awarded - so consistency regardless of moderator/admin personal feelings. Minor things may attract a single point, more major breaches would have a higher points total. Once you reach a certain points total you may find that your posts are moderated for a while, that you have a posting (but not viewing) ban for a specific time, and ultimately of course the "Ban Hammer" is still around ! Its still the same consequences, just a more consistent way of reaching the decision. Of course, if you are sensible and dont disrupt the forum then this is all irrelevant !
As we are a football forum we are classing these as Yellow / Red Card offences. Get a yellow and all that happens is your points add up. Once you reach a certain number of yellows you get what in football terms would be equivalent to a 1 or 3 match suspension (moderated/suspended for a short length of time). Get a red card offence and you will either be moderated or post-banned but eligible to return after the suspension is served ... unless its so serious we remove your account privileges forever. All points are valid for 14 days and automatically disappear after that so again there is consistency and no bias in the matter as the system does this all automatically.
So what to expect ????
We havent quite worked out the full details yet, but you can expect the Terms of Service, Forum Rules and Copyright Notice pages to be rolled into a single Rules page that is shorter and vastly easier to read than the original. The current pages run to about 4000 words of legalese that we have had to add over the years. The new draft is about 1500, and although that might sound a lot, its written in plain English so sometimes takes more words to express the same thing !!! I would say that overall, the document is about 25% of the size of the original ! By the time it gets to final draft, the rules may be even shorter if we can manage it !
We have enabled a feature that we hope will make life easier for our existing members and also maybe gain us a few new ones who perhaps cant be bothered registering and just want to sign in .... Facebook and Twitter integration.
We already push our own articles (previews, reports etc) out directly to CaleyThistleOnline's Facebook and Twitter pages, but now you can sign in here using them too !!!
There are three basic scenarios:
If you are not registered, but you have a facebook or twitter account, you can now login using that ... just click the icon next to the sign in link at the top of the page ... this will take you to the page where you need to authorise our facebook or twitter app to log you in and after that it will just ask you a few questions needed to setup your account here ...
If you already have an account here and your facebook or twitter account is registered to the same email address, then signing in with the same facebook or twitter button at the top of the page will link it to your existing account and you can use that to login in future if you wish. This might prove handy for those folk who sometimes forget their logins or who like things a little easier than having to remember multiple passwords.
If your facebook or twitter account is not registered to the same email address as you use here, or you want to do it manually, you can also do this by editing your profile .... go to your "My Settings" page by clicking on your name up at the top of the page when logged in and selecting it in the dropdown. When the page loads, you will see a link to 'manage Facebook' and 'Manage Twitter' on the left side of the page. Once there, just follow the instructions to add Fb or Twitter to your account and synchronize it.
Once facebook or Twitter is connected to your account you can login using either of them, or your normal forum login and you also have the option to push your CTO status out to either account or to import your facebook or twitter status in here ..... you can also promote new topics you create to your facebook page or twitter account and all sorts of other stuff ......
This is the first in a number of changes we are going to be making to the site in an effort to make it easier for users to interact with each other on the site here and with friends or fellow fans on social media
As they say ... watch this space !
Firstly a disclaimer: I do not want this to happen and if it does happen it will prove once and for all that the people running Scottish Football are morally corrupt. But in saying that I am certain this is going to happen. Govan Rangers will take their place in the 2012/2013 SPL season they will have a mostly blue kit and play out of Ibrox.
Why am I so certain of this? Because the SPL has form. The SPL has set up as a commercial entity to generate as much income for the league as possible at the expense of lower leagues. Since they didn’t have the best interests of Scottish Football at heart then, why should we expect it now?
In 2002 the SPL politely declined Sky’s offer 45 million pounds because they thought they would get a better offer, as we know they didn’t. The consequences were that the total debt of all the SPL clubs in 2001/02 was 132 million pounds. Rangers debt could blow out to 134 million pounds , to quote the great bard Alanis Morrisette – “isn’t it ironic?”.
That commercial decision ended up costing money and contributed (not entirely though) to administration of Motherwell, Livingston and Dundee. Let’s be clear, these three clubs need to take the bulk of responsibility for administration. Especially Dundee. A league without Rangers would very likely see the same happen.
Fast forward to 2012 and the SPL now find themselves making another very important decision. Here are the options available to them:
Rangers are liquidated, and 2 teams from Division 1 are promoted. This will result in the current TV deal to become null and void because the contract stipulates 3 old firm games per season. That means 13 million pounds less, per season, will be available to the clubs. The TV money distributed for finishing 10th is 600 000 pounds. Without the TV deal that is 600 000 pounds less that ICT would have coming in. This would have a devastating effect on the club.
TV companies pay that money to show Old Firm games and games involving the Celtic or Rangers.This is a commercial reality.TV companies would walk away or offer a vastly reduced offer.My instinct is they would walk away.
My personal belief is this is the best option from a purely football and football fan perspective, but it comes with huge risks.There would be huge financial pain and clubs like Hibs, Kilmarnock, Hearts and possibly ICT may find the conditions very challenging.Some people may say we survived relegation; we did thanks to a parachute payment which wouldn’t be available without the TV cash.This would be a sudden and possibly catastrophic reduction in the League major source of income.
I have heard the argument that we survived before TV money and we can survive without it.Yes we can, but like any business their expenditure would be based on an anticipated amount of revenue.To bring budgets back would require large scale player and staff redundancies.
Govan Rangers are admitted to the SPL. This would appease the broadcasters and would maintain the income levels of the game to a point. The big downside for this is that it sends the message that if you don’t want to pay your bills, just liquidate and you will be invited back into the league. This is a dangerous precedent and will risk alienating fans.
The rebel 10 clubs also know this is going to happen which is why they are making noises about income splitting and voting rights. Because they really hold Govan Rangers’ survival in their hands and they should ask a very high price.
I believe this will happen because this is typical of the type of short term decision making that the SPL is famous for. Just like the Sky decision, and just like the Sky decision it will be wrong.
2 July 2012 - Update:
In this blog I made the following statement "TV companies pay that money to show Old Firm games and games involving the Celtic or Rangers.This is a commercial reality.TV companies would walk away or offer a vastly reduced offer.My instinct is they would walk away."
The following link provides the viewing audience numbers for ESPN/Sky for the SPL. The audience drops by more than 60% for games that do not involve Celtic or Rangers (or the Edinburgh derby).
THIS WAS TYPED BEFORE THE VISIT OF CELTIC IN THE SCOTTISH CUP
Well, what a difference a festive break and a little confidence can do to a team, hey? Eight weeks have passed since the last edition of Gringo's Gossip and there's certainly a lot to catch up on. What better place to start than our current form and league standing...
Eight weeks ago, our team was sitting in 9th in the league, having previously spent the entire start of the campaign rooted to the bottom. Despite being tenth at the moment, the gap between ourselves and bottom side Dunfermline has grown to 9 points. More importantly, with results continuing to go our way, ICT now sit just 3 points (and 7 goals) of a top 6 place - of which is currently occupied by Aberdeen, who have also played a game more.
The festive period had indeed been kind to Caley Thistle, and that 'panic button' which was ever present at the start of the season has since been gathering dust in the ICT boot room. An away day at Ibrox was the last time we suffered defeat, and even then the team was unlucky to end the game without a single point following a late strike by Kyle Lafferty. Since then the team have advanced to the 5th round of the Scottish Cup after a replay with Dunfermline, kept three clean sheets in as many league games, and have also seen their first 0-0 draw since an away day in Motherwell just over 12 month ago.
Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad, summed up by the horrific injury that Chris Hogg suffered in our December fixture against the Arabs. Following a challenge with Dundee United's Gary Mackay-Steven and former ICT loanee, David Davis, Chirs Hogg suffered a serious knee injury and was stretchered from the field of play after just 15 minutes of play. Guarenteed to be out for the remainder of the season, Hogg started an online blog called The Fightback, which can be seen here- http://chrishoggthef...k.blogspot.com/ - It's well worth a read, and all credit to Chris for putting his experiences into words as he goes through rehabilitaion. We all wish him well and welcome the fact he has been offered a new contract.
The month of January throws up many an issue for clubs as the transfer window begins. Already ICT have lost David Davis; Loaned out to ICT from Wolves in August, Davis made good of his time here after a slow start and was an asset in the midfield, and Aiden Chippendale; A Huddersfield loan signing who rarely featured during his time at the Tulloch Caledonian Staduim, mostly because of injury. Now it looks like Lee Cox, somewhat a fans favorite who signed from Leicester in 2009, seems likely to be heading South to Paulo Di Canio's Swindon Town. (Since inititally typing this out, Cox has indeed signed for Swindon, noted in the Highland News as being a figure in the region of £50,000)
Coming up to ply their trade at TCS are two loan signings in the form of Claude Gnakpa (from Walsall) and Sam Winnell (from Wolves). Two strikers who, judging by their debuts against St Mirren recently, could add a little extra spice to our current strike force.
With the transfer window comes transfer rumours, and no rumour has been more talked about around Inverness than that of Johnny Hayes to Celtic. It must be something to do with him being Irish?
Johnny has been magnificent for Caley Thistle since his return from injury, culminating in gaining the captains armband for our away fixture against Motherwell. A game from which we captured our first clean sheet of the season by securing a 1-0 win thanks to a fantastic Gregory Tade effort.
I personally can't see Johnny Hayes going anywhere, and the fact the Terry Butcher has started talks of an extension to his current deal can only suggest Hayes is going nowhere. Let's hope that's the case!
Away from the teams highs and lows of the past 2 months, there have been a few happenings off the park that perhaps deserve a mention. Firstly the new look CTO website, which came live shortly after the last edition of Gringos Gossip was published. Credit must go to CaleyD and Scotty for their continuous hard work behind the scenes, and also to the rest of the monderation team for their efforts in keeping the site fresh and well managed.
I'd also like to say a well done to my step-son, Marc Hurst, who raffled off his signed Ryan Esson shirt and gloves (given to him by Ryan on the final day of our Chamionship winning season) to raise funds for the Archie Foundation just before Christmas. I know how much I love and enjoy my own memorabilia and how hard it would be to part with it, so credit to Marc for parting with his prized posessions to help a very worth cause.
With Caley Thistle having to play Celtic twice in as many weeks, both in the League and the Scottish Cup, as well as Rangers at the back end of February, it'll be very hard to maintain the unbeaten run that we currently see ourselves on. I guess it's probably too soon to be taking about the unbeaten run of 2010, but even so, it's nice to dream. Who know's, with the spirit and momentum the team has at the moment, it's probably a dream that could well become a reality...we'll see
Got into a discussion with a Rangers supporting (Scottish) workmate earlier today about Rangers' financial woes, The Celtic fan spitting on a steward at the TCS at the weekend, and the general malaise surrounding Scottish Football. We didnt have time to really mention the stabbing that also happened at this weekend's game, but it would just have been the cherry on top ...
It got me thinking, and I sent him back a fairly lengthy email about where I thought Scottish Football was going wrong, where I think it still has its head up its ar*e, and where it may even be possible that Major League Soccer in the USA and Canada may be getting things right and where the Scottish game could learn from it !!!
It pains me to say it, but Scottish Football is indeed dying on its feet ... or perhaps on its knees whereas the often sneered about "Major League Soccer" is slowly but surely building its brand and developing as a major player in a continent obsessed with "Pointy Ball" (American Football / NFL), Baseball (MLB), Basketball (NBA), and Ice Hockey (NHL) ... the last one being obsessive for Canadians at least, but maybe less so for our friends south of the border. In Canada of course there is also Lacrosse (the official national sport) as well as CFL Football (like NFL but 3 downs instead of 4) to contend with ....
so here is the email I sent him ......
The biggest problem for me is that the powers that be at some clubs and certainly within the SFA/SPL still think the Scottish game is up there with the top leagues in Europe …. It’s not, and has not been for years. Both halves of the OF have tried to cling on for years, spending money they don’t really have to maybe get a good run in Europe every once in a while, but even if they are successful one year, they have to stand by and watch how even mediocre teams in England get £10s of millions in sponsorship the following year just by being the best in the championship or even the worst in the premiership … not an even playing field.
We simply cannot compete with the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, or any of the other big, or even moderately sized leagues. The interest, and therefore the sponsorship is just not there. I don’t want to see any team go bust or into administration, but the whole thing needs torn up and rebuilt ! I know you probably won’t like this, nor would anyone of the green persuasion, but maybe financial hardship (as opposed to administration, which benefits no-one, and certainly not the big two) could be a good thing for Scottish football…. It will force Celtic and Rangers to cut their cloth to suit, it will allow other teams to be more competitive against them, it will force more Scottish teams to try and build from youth, and in the end it could turn the downward spiral on its head …..
I have always been an advocate for expanding the SPL. I don’t buy the argument that it should be 10 or 12, it puts way too much pressure on the teams at the bottom who are trying to avoid relegation from day 1, means games are no longer anticipated when you know you will play the same team 3, 4, or even 5 or more times a season if you draw them in the cups, and it stifles youth development as teams are scared to go with youth …. That lack of interest, and relegation avoidance tactics makes for a turgid game and an unexciting league (for most).
When we were relegated, SFL division 1 was a refreshing return to excitement where there were 8 or 9 good teams, all of whom had been in the top flight, and all of whom on their day could get a result against the other, and none of whom would look totally out of place in the SPL …. To my mind, it should be 16 minimum, in fact the Scottish leagues should be 3 leagues of 16 …. The 42 existing teams plus the 6 most ambitious teams from the Juniors, South/East of Scotland or Highland leagues. 2 up 2 down in each division with relegation to/from the bottom league to allow non-league teams a chance to progress and the perpetual under achievers to find their true level. Caley Thistle and Ross County are good examples of what can be achieved by letting in ambitious non-league teams even if Peterhead, Elgin and Gretna are not !
Prices are another issue too ! Was speaking to a few friends recently and for 2 adults, 2 kids to go to a (non Old Firm) game was about £70, add on pies, programmes, and petrol and the day out cost them over £100 and that was before any of them had a few beers ! All of this to sit in a ground where new laws or rules have deemed standing is a capital offence, singing/chanting in even an innocuous fashion is frowned upon, and looking the wrong way at a steward or cop can get you a football banning order … its no longer fun, it’s “duty” !!!!!
I actually enjoy (prefer) going to MLS games these days, and I think the SPL/SFA could learn from them … they (MLS) had their flame that burned bright in the 70s/80s and which fizzled out when they didn’t have the infrastructure to develop home grown talent, or the revenue to sustain the wages for players like Beckenbauer, Pele, Best etc ….. the “new” MLS formed as part of the agreement in getting the 94 world cup in the USA deems it mandatory for new sides to have an academy, has a wage cap to stop silly money being paid, and a few other squad/roster rules that help … It wants to develop the league, but it seems to have learned lessons from the past and is doing so slowly .. adding TFC in 2007, Vancouver in 2011, and Montreal this year as well as a few American teams in the other years too …. And better still, my season ticket, in the supporters section (cheap seats), where standing or chanting is encouraged rather than banned only costs me an average of about $20 a game.
For me, however, the most exciting part is the academy. Toronto FC already has 5 young graduates in the main first team squad, some of whom have already been capped by Canada, and they are not there just to make up the numbers, these guys look pretty good … and there is more to come (Vukovic, the top scorer in CSL last year may make it into 2012 squad).
The rules allow for some exciting designated players to come in (Frings, DeGuzman, Koevermans etc at TFC as well as the likes of Beckham and Henry in LA/NY, and a rumour of Michael Ballack to Montreal!) but rather than blindly follow the 70s/80s model of players coming over the pond for a last big paycheck, it also gives both the youth and college kids an avenue to progress …. and for the transfers to start going the other way (Edu from TFC to Rangers for example).
I have no doubt that the Canadian national team will soon start to see the benefit of these policies, and this in turn will raise the profile of the game in Canada as they climb the FIFA rankings, and this will eventually trickle back to benefit the club sides …. A nice upwards spiral where development breeds improvement and improvement feeds further development. It’s a bit like a strong Scottish national team that used to qualify for all the world cups was able to showcase how Scotland produced players with heart and passion, and sometimes with skill, and which made the Scottish game good, or at least interesting, to watch and desirable for some to play in …… Oh to see another Scottish team produce a Dalglish, Souness, Bremner, Jordan, Cooper or even a McCoist !!! just not happening these days as we do everything we can to price the game out of the working man’s reach, do nothing to promote youth development, and allow jumped up traffic wardens to stifle what’s left of the enjoyment of it !
So there you have it .... some points for discussion perhaps. You may agree with me, you may disagree but its my personal assessment from watching both Scottish Football and Major League 'Soccer' over the last few years .....
Sneer all you want at "soccer" in (North) America, but its a league on the rise, a league that is fostering grass roots development as one of its core principles, a league that has put checks and balances in place to try and make sure it doesnt overstretch itself in terms of finances and one which embraces fan culture in an effort to encourage crowds to grow with the game in this continent .....
there are plenty of little things about Major League Soccer that I dont like, or take issue with, and I may go into those in later blog entries, but as an organisation with a focus on development from the ground up, and with a keen sense of community development, there is plenty to look at and perhaps learn from them .....
Its been a few days since our last entry and we thought we would introduce one of the new features of the board to you ....... "shared media"
You know how it is, you are happily adding stuff to the forum and you think .... "mmm, I already uploaded an image or file that I need to add in here too, or that would be perfect for this thread ...."
In the last version of this software, you would need to go hunting on the site, browse your hard drive or perform a google search to try and find that file or image then upload it or link to it and all that palaver ... but no more !!! To help you with all of this in the new forum comes the "My Media" link.
Next time you are typing a forum reply, have a look up to the button bar and you should see this one nestled in amongst things
Clicking on it will bring up a popup called your Media Library .....
You can add anything you previously put into a post as an attachment .....
You can add a link to a photo album you uploaded .....
You can add any individual picture from a gallery .....
You can add a link to an event .....
You can add a link to a blog entry .....
You can add a link to a downloadable file .....
Happy Media Sharing !!!!
I was watching a quiz show the other night when they asked the question "What is the most commonly used letter in the English language?". The answer given, and accepted as correct was the letter "E".
But is it really? Even setting aside the ever increasing use of text speak and it's tendency to drop vowels the ever increasing use of social networking sites seems to have brought with it new habits which would might mean the statistics might need a little revision.
For a start, the letter "X" which is currently ranked third from the bottom can be seen at the end of most communications...several times in some instances. Surely that would move the letter far further up the table than it is currently given credit for? Then you have "LOL" which seems to have a foot on both the TLA and Text Speak camps. Currently ranked mid table (11th place), you would think that the letter "L" must be due a promotion.
These are just examples that spring immediately to mind, I am sure others also exist....but nothing I can think of would suggest that "E" deserves to be holding the crown for most commonly used letter....certainly not if you take a true reflection of how the English language is communicated in this day and age.
I have no idea where the statistics are drawn from, but it would appear that currently used (and apparently accepted) tables are in need of a bit of revision.
One word book reviews have always been something that baffled me and seemed rather pointless, something that was done by people who worked for the high brow broadsheets that was designed to make those who hadn't followed a specific education path fell inferior.....until last night (well, the early hours of this morning) when I stumbled upon one of my own.
I'd just finished reading Stephen Fry's 'The Liar' when I closed it over and saw the "reviews" on the cover and instantly knew they had all got it wrong......wrong because I knew the word they were looking for was "Unexpected". On reflection I found myself being rather pleased that I was able to sum up the book in one word that I felt covered everything from the story and style to the plot. I think I'll give the one word reviews a little more thought in future before being so quick to dismiss them as pointless....they might be wrong, but the will no longer baffle me or appear pointless.
I read a fair bit and will happily flip between most genres depending on my mood and whether I crave knowledge, entertainment or just want to escape the world for a while. As much as I enjoy watching him on TV and listening to him on the Radio, I had never given much thought to reading any of his books as I had this misconception that they would probably make for heavy reading, but I got "The Liar" as a stocking filler and, as I said above, it was "unexpected".
It's one of those books that can be read on "different levels", and I don't mean levels of intellect, age (although not recommended for kids) or even class. You can pick it up and read it end to end and thoroughly enjoy the plot which slowly reveals itself throughout the book, but keeps on giving until the end. The individual chapters read as if they are short stories within themselves that could stand alone and leave you quite satisfied. The humour is fantastic and carries throughout the book....in fact it takes the idea of stereotype beyond the ludicrous to the point, well to no point really as it takes you full circle and indulges the predisposition we all have to believing in stereotypes.
I believe plans are afoot, and may already be under way for turning this book in to a screenplay or film. I prefer to read the book and then compare it to the on screen interpretation. In most cases it allows you to fill in any gaps in the movie/film/screenplay and enhance the viewing experience. Far better that than already having the plot in your head while reading and knowing what's coming next....for me at least.
"Making History" is next on the list of Fry's books for me. It's another stocking filler from a family member who took my love of QI to mean a love of all things Stephen Fry....a bit like a mad aunt or gran takes your love of anything and thinks they should knit you a jumper with it on the front. Many such gifts end up as landfill or charity shop donations...but I struck lucky this time.
Now that the first few days of the new version of the site are over, and we are into a new year, its time to blog about the numerous ways to find content across the whole site .... this has drawn a lot of questions, some users have figured it out, but it has also left a few folk scratching their heads.
On the old version of the site you could use the search function to search for keywords in posts and bring up a list of topics containing those words. This functionality is still there. You could also use the "view new content" link on the forum index to see posts that were made since your last visit. This too is still there.
However, both systems have been beefed up a bit, and because we are now using the forum software for our articles as well, the search and view new content functions now spread across the entire site instead of just the forums.
Both features are still in the same place, right below each other on the header ...
Lets talk about searching first .... its easier to explain !
Search is easy, you enter the word you want to search for, and it will search by default in whatever section of the board you are currently in ... so if you are in articles, it will search articles, if you are in the forums, it will search forums etc ....
If you want to search a different area from the forum or site area you are in, just click the name beside the magnifying glass and you can select different areas of the site ... see screenshot below.
And thats about it for searches .... if your membership level allows it, you will be presented with a list from your chosen area if anything matches. The minimum length for a search word is 3 letters.
VIEW NEW CONTENT
This is a little more complex .. but in the end, only as complex as you want it to be !
Like searches, the view new content link will show the new content in the area of the site you are currently in so if you are on the front page (articles), clicking View New Content will show any new articles posted in the last 24 hours, if you are in the forums, it will show forum posts for the last 24 hours ..... and so on and so forth.
this is the default "new content" listing filter for the forum for the last 24 hours when I go to view it. If this works for you, then there is no need to fiddle with the settings ....
So what do you see ?
By default, you see the topics that have had postings in them for the last 24 hours and these are displayed in chronological order with the most recently posted in topic at the top. Just because they are on this list doesnt necessarily mean you have not read them .... In the example above, I have read all the topics, and we know this because the topic title is not bolded, and there is not a little dot to the left of the topic title. If a user has unread topics - regardless of filter - they will show up like the image below instead.....
On the left, you can click on the link to change the content type ... allowable options are Forums, Members, Calendar (entries), Blogs, Gallery, Downloads and Pages (articles). They are all pretty self-explanatory.
Once you know what content you want, you can then filter the timeline. Each of these sections can be filtered by 8 distinct time periods .... as shown below
"content I have not read" shows anything you havent viewed and in this context, because I have read everything, it will show up like this .....
New since my last visit will also show the same result as nothing new has been posted (no new topics, no replies) whilst I have been typing this blog entry.
Past 24 hours is the default filter and is shown above (where I mention default filter)..... Depending on how often you visit the forum you can extend this to a week, 2 weeks, a month, 6 months or a year ... just click on the entry. The same principle applies to these as to the default filter ... content you have read as well as content you have not will be displayed and those you havent read will show up as bolded and with the little dot to the left. Clicking on the little dot - instead of the topic title like it used to be - takes you to the first unread post.
If - like some users - you only want to see topics listed that you have not read, set it to view "content I have not read" or "new since my last visit". These are all tied to your account and will show less items than the other timeline filters .....
Whilst the previous two categories of filter can only have one choice applied to them, the "Other" section can have a multiple filters (kind of) .....
Lets say you have chosen FORUMS as your content type, and you chose the "past month" as your timeline ..... for me this would report something like 8 pages of topics .... we want to reduce that ... so the "Other" options can help here .....
If I want to just see topics I follow (topics where I pressed this button on the right side of it) then I could add that to the filter and it would show Forum topics from the last month which I follow.
If I want to see only topics I have posted in then I would select "topics I participated in" to see topics I have posted in in the last month
If I want to see only topics I started then I click that option and I will see any topics I started in the last month.
Where the multiple selection comes in - and this is the only multiple selection available - is that I can also use the "Filter By Forum" to only search within one specific forum (eg. just "ICT" or "Serious Topics" etc)
[NOTE: to clear the choices made in the "other" section, just click on them again]
In the screenshot below - I am filtering Forum Topics for the Past Month which I started, and which are located in the ICT forum ... as you can see, that whittles it down from 8 pages to 5 topics ! I dont start many topics, just post in them !!!
A final little feature we should mention, once you have your list of topics ... is the ability to preview them .... just click this little button to the right of a topic title and you can see a section of the first and last post ....
So there you have it .... clear as mud isnt it !!! Why not just go to the View New Content page and try it all out for yourself .....
Oh ... and while you are there ..... try out this final little button we didnt mention ! Its the quick navigation box ! another little hidden gem which can be found immediately to the right of the view new content link !
PS - Happy New Year to you All !
Our younger site members may not get the reference, but our older ones surely will ..... me, I sit somewhere in the middle and cannot really remember Sally Field's oscar winning speech where she made that cringeworthy comment, but have heard about it often enough, and know enough of who she is to chuckle ....
However, its a perfect segue into a blog about the biggest change on the site that some users will notice ... the replacement of the Red/Green dot system for a "like" system.
The Red/Green dots certainly caused comments when we introduced them, and I am not telling tales out of school when I said that most of the moderators had grave concerns over introducing them in the first place. However, we implemented it because some (myself included) thought it would be good, users could vote up the good posts and express concerns over the dodgy or negative ones ... and those same users would be adult enough to use it properly .... but not so.
In the end, some users used it the way it was intended, and we thank you for that. However, some abused it to take the piss, and yet more abused it to partake in cyber-bullying by saving up all their red dots for one or two users ... so much so that we had to create a new user category specifically so we could prevent the serial abusers from applying any dots at all.
Thats not the spirit of what we intended, and its one of those areas where poison can creep into the site so we decided - with the new version of the software - to swich to the new "Like" system which only has positive vibes ......
Users can "like" pretty much as many posts as they want (think I set it to 100 per day, but that can be increased if we want), and everyone will be able to see who liked a post, but it is not possible to "dislike" a post (and I doubt we would implement that if it ever became an option). This is more in the style of what was intended .... vote up the good stuff and show appreciation for those users making a positive contribution to the site rather than picking on users because they are younger, smaller or - in your humble opinion - less intelligent - than you.
As we are retiring the red/green dot system, it seems only fair to retire two legacy parts of that system that still exist.
1. We have already removed the permissions group for the "serial abusers" which prevented them from issuing any dots and they can now issue "likes" to their heart's content like anyone else .....
2. Negative reputation points ... Many users acquired a fair total of negative reputation points over the last two years of the dot system. I am investigating ways to reset these back to zero. I hope to reset all negative reputation back to zero and leave positive reputation untouched, but if thatproves too difficult, the we will just reset everything back to zero and start everyone from scratch.
Welcome to the new Admin Blog on the freshly updated CTO site ....
We had been warning of an update for months and in the background we have been tweaking and testing the new version(s) of the software but as with any change, when we finally take the plunge it catches everyone by surpise ... including us. Its a little difficult in the middle of a season, in between games and such like, but we wanted to get this upgrade done as we have many other projects on the go and this one has been postponed a few times.
They say testing is boring, but in my working life it is an absolute necessity and it is something we have tried to bring to CTO any time we do even minor upgrades. We have tested this for the last 4-5 months but like clockwork, despite the testing, we always face challenges and this time was no different.
Our last test of the upgrade process went like clockwork ... we took a copy of everything and upgraded it on a test site in about 20 minutes, then spent about a week doing various configuration changes .... so we flipped the switch on boxing day when we hoped most users would be away from the Internet !
Holy **** !!! the site burped, farted and fell over ! The upgrade did not work !!! or should I say it half-worked .... ok, time to rollback, use the backup copy of everything and try again ... this time it did work ... or appeared to !!!! except when we tried to add articles and the titles werent displayed, or when we tried to view the gallery and the whole site went offline, or when we tried to convert articles from the previous WordPress install and everything imported but got totally screwed up and showed itself as a new topic .... 800 new topics in 5 minutes .. .thats got to be a record for us !
Its taken a couple of days, and it was probably good that we had a match today as it forced us to check a few things that were not working as expected and I think the major parts are now working as expected .... The editorial team can now add articles (once we show them how), the gallery doesnt crash the site, the RSS feeds now work, and article titles and such like now work ......
We were also acutely aware of the "sticker shock" for all of you guys who woke up to find a totally different site in front of you. We havent really had much comment yet ..... not sure if thats a good thing or a bad one, but for those comments and queries we do get over the coming days, weeks and/or months, we will try to answer them in here or in the forums.
The new site is progress and although it may not have all the bells and whistles of the previous site in terms of what we could do with the article system (Wordpess is awesome - we cannot deny it), the mere fact that we now have each part of the site integrated into a single entity makes it almost seamless to navigate and over time as we refine it, the experience will be a lot easier for us, you and the editorial or other teams.
Please use the Website Support forum to highlight any issues you may have with the site, whether its a technical one, or something that may not work as expected, or where colours might clash etc. or to request more information about how to use a certain function. We will hopefully try to use this blog to keep folk up to date on whats going on with site development and also to maybe highlight the odd tutorial for parts of the site that have changed .......