Football in Scotland returns in front of full crowds on Monday. The one wildcard thrown in by the First Minister yesterday is that instead of having to check the vaccine passport status of at least 20% of attendees, they will now be obliged to check at least 50%. That’s a minimum of 30,000 vaccine checks at Celtic Park on Monday evening.
As we both know, politicians cannot backpedal in a way that looks like they are conceding, so the inevitable delays to fans of all those checks is a small price to pay to get back to following scientific advice. It will also makes Monday’s game at Celtic Park a new worldwide record since the crisis began. No event anywhere on the planet has required 30,000 vaccine checks.
One point for Sky Sports to consider. 10 of the 12 Scottish Premiership clubs voted to bring forward the winter break by a week to give fans a chance of attending instead of forcing two rounds of fixtures to be played before only 500 fans. It was an overwhelmingly popular move that has proven to be wise.
Sky’s match summariser mocked the decision, explaining that the Scottish Government restrictions were likely to be extended, forcing the rearranged fixtures to be played before the same 500 crowd limit. No one was convinced of his sincerity. If Sky want to be taken seriously they require higher editorial standards. Do not take your public for fools.
Our flush and easy January transfer window, which has so far delivered three Japanese players and a teenage Irish striker, hit turbulence yesterday when Middlesbrough attempted to sign Australian international, Riley McGree.
Despite all we have read on our new players from Japan, the only comment on their transfer fees has been surprise at how low they are. There has been no confirmation they were subject to buy-out clauses, which would explain both the modest prices and the fact that they were all sold at the start of the window, not on the last day.
McGree clearly has no such clause. Notions that we could get an in-demand player early in the window are fanciful, why would Charlotte sell before they squeezed the last juice from the fruit? Whatever circumstances lay behind our three Japanese signings last week, they were exceptional.
You buy players early in a window when they have buy-out clauses, are when they are not valued by the selling club or when you patently pay over the odds. Even the latter is no guarantee you will move the dial early in the window. Transfer rules have not changed.