I have become increasingly disillusioned with the Scottish professional football scene, and simply appalled by the dreadful carry-on involving a coterie of alleged Rangers FC supporters in trashing George Square as a celebratory gesture on the Glasgow club winning the league championship for the first time in a decade. A plague on their houses!
Ensconced with Sky and BT Sport, I now, instead, mainly watch England's Premier League (PL) and the two major European club competitions. So I am very interested to hear that the PL, still reeling in the aftermath of the bitter controversy surrounding the proposed but ultimately aborted £3 billion-funded European Super League, has hurriedly agreed to roll over its existing television deal with broadcasters for a further three years. The new deal with Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport will run from 2022 to 2025. The current £4.7 billion deal, agreed in 2018, represented a 10% drop in value.
The UK Government has approved the new deal 'in principle', with an 'exclusion order' under the competition act which allows the league to renew without its normal tender process. A PL spokesman explained: 'In light of the damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the English football pyramid, the Premier League was able to demonstrate to government exceptional and compelling reasons for the exclusion order'.
As part of the new deal, BT Sport say that to help with the fixture congestion, it will change its Saturday lunchtime game to an evening slot when teams involved have played in Europe on the previous Wednesday. Clubs had been concerned that there could be another fall in value if the usual open-market auction started as planned in June.
The value of rights for domestic leagues in Europe also appears to have peaked. The PL say that the renewals will provide financial certainty to professional clubs and also enable an additional £100 million of funding to be provided to clubs throughout the football pyramid over the next four years. The extra funding will be available to more than 1,000 clubs in the National League system, women's and girls' football, EFL League One and League Two clubs and the Football Foundation. It will also support a number of football-wide projects, including the PL's work looking at head injuries in football, anti-discrimination and fan groups.
The EFL said it 'welcomes' the increased funding but warned: 'It is important to acknowledge that the current media rights deal will preserve the status quo of an unbalanced, unsustainable, and unfair financial distribution model across English football. While we recognise the attempts by the government to increase the level of solidarity provided to League One and Two clubs through this process, what is more urgently required is a fundamental reset of the game's financial model – both in terms of fairer distribution of monies at all levels and sensible, realistic cost control measures to ensure clubs will live within their means'.
'COVID-19 has had a significant impact on football, and renewals with our UK broadcast partners will reduce uncertainty, generate stability and promote confidence within the football pyramid,' commented PL chief executive Richard Masters.
Former leading Scottish investigative journalist, Russell Findlay, is now at Holyrood as a Scottish Conservative MSP following the Scottish Election 2021 – one of seven regional MSPs elected for West Scotland.
Findlay, 49, whom is also currently director of communications for the Scottish Conservatives, has an impressive journalistic pedigree having worked for STV, The Scottish Sun
and the Sunday Mail
. His investigation into the disappearance of Margaret Fleming was used to help prosecute her killers. He has written three books and co-authored a fourth.
One of them relates how in December 2015, while working for The Scottish Sun
on investigating gangland activities in Glasgow, he was brutally attacked on his own doorstep. His assailant, William Burns, disguised himself as a postal worker and threw sulphuric acid on Findlay before attacking him with a knife. The journalist managed to hold Burns down long enough for police to arrive and arrest him. Burns was sentenced to a 10-year jail term with five years of post-release supervision.
Findlay initially returned to work at The Scottish Sun
but subsequently took sick leave and then left after having come to an agreement with the tabloid's management.
A small group of Scottish newspapers have been brought under a single title online as part of Reach plc's bid to expand its coverage in Lanarkshire. The publisher has launched the 'app-first' online brand, Lanarkshire Live, which follows its current trend for launching county-wide news websites across the UK.
Media industry website, HoldTheFrontPage
(HTFP), reports that the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
, East Kilbride News
, the Hamilton Advertiser
, Rutherglen Reformer
and Wishaw Press
will appear on Lanarkshire Live, while the site will also cover areas of Lanarkshire not traditionally served by these titles. The print titles will retain their own identities on social media.
Digital editor, Fraser Wilson, told HTFP: 'This is a really exciting opportunity for the Lanarkshire titles and not only ensures that we are at the forefront of 21st-century journalism but are protecting our traditional print titles. Via the free-to-download app, we can offer a 24/7 live news service to our readers, keeping them up-to-date with our fast-paced world, and targeting them directly with the news that matters most to them. As well as appealing to a new geographical audience, we are appealing to a new generation of readers, giving quality, relevant journalism to those for whom a newspaper is a dated concept'.
A free monthly digital-only magazine covering justice and social affairs in Scotland is to launch in June. The editorially independent 1919 Magazine
, which is being sponsored by the Scottish Police Federation, will focus on topics including policing, crime, politics, public policy and current affairs.
The fledgling magazine has hired Gemma Fraser, the 2020 PPA Awards Writer of the Year, as head of content. She most recently wrote for Holyrood Magazine
, and in the past has contributed to the Scottish Mail on Sunday
, The Times
, The Sun
, and The Sunday Post
, as well as working for nine years in senior roles at the Edinburgh Evening News
She says: 'This is one of the most exciting projects I have worked on in my 17 years as a journalist and I'm delighted to be part of 1919 Magazine
at its inception. I am particularly pleased we are able to provide freelance opportunities and I am confident the magazine will very quickly become a firm fixture in the Scottish media landscape'.
The project is led by former journalists Alan Roden and Adam Morris from Quantum Communications and Shorthand PR, who are also part of the editorial team. An editorial board will be chaired by David Hamilton, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, and the magazine will be published by a new company – 1919 Publishing – with the design overseen by SevenThree Creative. The magazine's name derives from the year the Scottish Police Federation was founded.
One off the UK's most highly regarded and highly respected broadcasters, Jon Snow, he of the snazzy ties, is to leave Channel Four News
at the end of the year. Snow, 73, who has spent 32 years as the show's anchor, says he 'feels it is time to move on'. However, he will continue to front future long-term projects for Channel Four. His announcement comes a month after he and his wife Precious, 46, had a baby boy with a surrogate. Snow has two daughters from a previous relationship. The broadcaster began his broadcasting career at LBC in 1973.
Another familiar face moving on is Catriona Shearer, a key member of the BBC Scotland flagship news programme Reporting Scotland
. She departs in mid-June, and, according to the Scottish Daily Mail
, is leaving the industry for a senior public affairs role. Mother-of-two Shearer, a graduate in journalism of Edinburgh Napier University, began her career on BBC Radio 5 Live's breakfast show in 2003. She has been at BBC Scotland for the last 16 years.
The Sunday Telegraph
is quoting industry sources, saying the 24-hour television news channel, GB News, will begin broadcasting showreels of its presenters on 27 May, with live programmes to follow four days later. A spokesperson for GB News said: 'No date has been decided for the launch of live programming. That decision will not be made for some time, possibly weeks'.