Very pleased to hear Nir Bitton has signed a contract until 2020. Five years is an astonishing extension for a player who is clearly heading in the right direction. It gives Celtic assurance that they don’t need to worry about a key player’s contract running down for the foreseeable future.
Nir was the first manifestation of Ronny Deila’s player-improvement work. At the start of last year he was little more than a squad addition, a bit like Leigh Griffiths, but he’s since excelled in domestic and European football, as well as for Israel in the Euro qualifiers.
Let’s see if he can continue to improve.
I note the media going ‘a bit Tonto’ over Sports Direct’s insistence that the Rangers Former Players Benevolent Fund stop using trademarks they own. I know this will make many people swallow hard, but’s be clear, if the Celtic Former Players Association were selling merchandise bearing the Celtic crest the club would be saying “Cease and Desist that right now, Joe”. Same is true if you are a fan selling T-shirts or street vendor selling scarves.
Without making moral judgements, football clubs earn money from licensing their logos, you want to use it, you pay. You don’t pay, the club cannot discriminate between who they pursue and who they don’t, as such discriminatory behaviour would be a legitimate defence in law by a transgressor.
Sports Direct own thousands of logos and brands. They will have a department sweeping for infringements and they don’t strike me as the kind of company who let any slip through without action. I’d be amazed if Mike Ashley, or any senior SD staff, were even aware of the action. Cease instructions will come out from the legal team without a second thought.
What remains galling to some is the fact that Newco have to take instructions from Sports Direct on use of logos and other IP. This, on top of the whole Fifa 2016 indignity, could be ended by repaying the Sports Direct £5m loan.
Why wouldn’t they stop the embarrassment and just pay Mike his money? He’s not going to cut a new deal, no positive accommodation is ever going to happen, all that lies ahead is more embarrassment, and the risk of Ashley taking genuinely draconic action to recover his loan. I’m sure they money’s there to repay, right?