Sports Pages Accused of Contributing to 'Ghastly Atmosphere' in Football

The sports pages of Scotland's newspapers are being accused of contributing to a 'ghastly atmosphere' pervading Scottish football, including – as confirmed in today's press – letter bombs being sent to, among others, the manager of Celtic FC.

Says Kenneth Roy – in his Scottish Review: “In Scotland, [football] is dominated by two warring tribes of no great skill, who slug it out for a meaningless crown with the other teams nowhere in sight. What's beautiful about that? There is no competition, there is precious little ability, and there is a mountain of debt with the Inland Revenue clamouring at the door. What's beautiful about that?

“Scottish football – perhaps football in general; I wouldn't know – thrives on macho posturing which starts in the sports pages of the newspapers. In these journalistic ghettos, the aggression of the streets is scooped up and recycled. So on the back page of today's Daily Record we have 'The Battle for Ibrox' juxtaposed with the story of a manager 'raging at cock-ups' and … 

“The message could not be clearer: this is war. It is, however, a war being fought by the tabloids (and some of the broadsheets too) in a curious lost Scotland in which bad boys are 'caned' – although only rugby-playing public schoolboys were ever caned north of the border – and managers are inevitably 'gaffers', a word evoking the dear dead days of the Greenock shipyards. It is hard to say which is worse – the violent imagery of the headlines and pictures or the queasy sentimentality in which they are wrapped up. The same sentimentality which insists that football is 'the beautiful game'.

“The newspapers are not to blame for the letter bombs. Nor are the players and officials who behave so badly. But all of them contribute to the ghastly atmosphere.”