Say what you like about the Scottish Football Association, but you wouldn’t want them running a raffle for your local Scout troop or youth club.
They occupy a world where rules are set in place for others; not them.
We know Nicola Sturgeon is not a football fan. Little wonder; the sport’s official bodies and their affiliated clubs have tested her patience severely – going back to the Aberdeen eight (the notorious gathering in a city nightspot), problems with players from Celtic (that “essential” Dubai training camp) and Rangers (oh how the light blues love a house party) and now with match officials.
The first minister, after witnessing serial offending by representatives of our national game for the past year and flashing yellow-card warnings – “Look, ah’ll no’ tell you again” – has been surprisingly silent over the latest breach.
In football parlance, she might be accused of “bottling it” by failing to reach for the red card she’s threatened.
The most recent demonstration of a flagrant flaunting of the Covid restrictions centre on the SFA’s decision to allow assistant referee Graeme Stewart to run the line at Easter Road last Saturday.
He should have been identified as a close contact of a virus-hit colleague with whom he’d been on duty in Greece in midweek.
“Oops!” said the SFA.
What? A referee and his linesmen were permitted to travel to Greece, not for a major international game, but a local derby – Panathinaikos versus Olympiacos at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium?
What next, Anastasios Papapetrou (he’s a top Greek ref, by the way) paid a thousand quid plus expenses to take charge of Aberdeen against Dundee United?
Picture the scene: The first minister arrives home after a hard day at the podium, sits down next to her husband (SNP chief executive) Peter Murrell and says: “What should I do about football? They keep snubbing their nose at me.”
Peter sips his Irn-Bru then offers his advice. “If you raise the issue you’ll have no option but to read the riot act. Best pretend it never happened.”
That is, of course, an imagined scenario because it’s already been made clear the pair do not discuss politics within the confines of their house.
There are, we’re told, exemptions surrounding travel for elite sportsmen and women, although somebody at the SFA seems to have made up their own rules over match officials.
The business community complains that the Scottish Government has been consistent in its inconsistency over Covid.
Allowing the SFA to ride roughshod over the regulations simply underlines the disparity of Ms Sturgeon’s pronouncements.
Soap opera at Holyrood could turn rather dirty
Is Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence on appearing daily on TV working against her?
Like any soap opera, audiences often tire of the lead actor and, with many of the SNP cast stepping down at the end of this parliament, a few who are keen to stay on could be “written-out” by the electorate in May.
Ms Sturgeon will continue to lead, of course – who else is there? – but the most recent polls show the gap between Yes and No voters in a second independence referendum has narrowed to 2%.
Now, the Unionist parties will target the Mavis Wiltons of Scotland.
Former Coronation Street character Mavis, known for her indecision – “I don’t really know. I wouldn’t like to say” – is the kind of person who will worry the SNP should Indyref2 come along.
The current Covid plotline, meanwhile, where the “star” hogs the limelight and shuts out supporting actors, is dull.
So, are the “ratings” declining?
Experience tells us that when a soap is flagging, people behind the scenes seek answers and that often means bringing back a Dirty Den or a Bobby Ewing.
Could we yet see Alex Salmond walking out of the shower and returning to revive the Holyrood drama?
For “Pam” – alias Ms Sturgeon – it would be as unimaginable as it would be unpalatable.
Red army of a different sort in city
What does having Aberdeen University’s zoology building doubling as the HQ of a USSR state-owned computing company from the 1980s say about some of our inner-city architecture?
Director Jon S Baird’s location scouts picked it out for his movie Tetris, starring Taron Egerton as Dutch video game designer Henk Rogers, and tells the story of the creation of the groundbreaking game. I am reliably informed that Tillydrone, where the zoology building sits, is not unlike Krasnopakhorskoye, one of Moscow’s 10 administrative okrugs; that’s districts to you and me.