It’s official: The Premiership is a joke

I was so looking forward to returning from the off-season hiatus at the start of the Scottish Premiership season yesterday and reporting whatever observations and insights I might have about the game at Swinecastle — sorry, Tynecastle — against the Diet Huns of Heart of Midlothian.

But I can’t. Instead, I have to play Captain Obvious and point out to everyone an emperor-has-no-clothes moment in Scottish football.

Specifically, the Premiership of the Scottish Professional Football League is a joke — and not even a good one, at that — primarily because of its lack of objectivity in its officiating now running on its second season of “honest mistakes” (and arguably it goes back further). And while you may want to note that the issue may be all well and good in Scotland around this, where the woefully spoon-fed Scottish dictation corps — sorry, I mean the Scottish mainstream media — would just as soon sweep it under the rug and point out there’s a new Page 3 girl.

But the rest of the world is laughing at you and pointing, Scotland, and that’s before many are turning away and tuning out from your brand of football to watch leagues that are more fair.

I know, I know. Jock Stein said that, “If you’re good enough, the referee doesn’t matter.” But yesterday, even Big Jock had to have been looking down from above on the games yesterday and saying, “Holy shit, are you kidding me?”

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Offside: Celtic

Oh, just ignore that JamTart in the circle, who clearly has Celtic winger Leil Abada onside. Apparently he’s invisible. Leil scored on this play . . . not, as it was called for offside. And let’s go to the argument-du-jour about this: Nimrods far and wide are saying, “Well, his arm is offside.” Seriously? An appendage that has nothing to do with the game? Here, have a cookie and go outside and play. In traffic.

Not offside: Rangers

Truth in advertising: I had learned to count around 1960, so it goes without saying that I have a pretty solid grasp of numbers and their concept insofar as counting things. And here, it appears to me — and probably anyone else looking at the photo — that three Rangers players are in the next post code before the free kick is taken. Offside? Don’t make me laugh — it’s Rangers.

Of course, the example of “honest mistakes” goes far beyond these two yesterday, and the scores that transpired last season, or the hundreds in seasons prior to that. But the fact that nothing has been done about it makes this a national disgrace.

What is to be done?

Well, there are options here. What might be done is that Dominic McKay and Ange Postecoglou could go down to the SPFL offices, kick down Neil Doncaster’s office door, and beat the shit out of him every time there’s an “honest mistake.” But I’m not asking for the world here, despite the barbarian appeal of marching through Glasgow with Doncaster’s head at the end of a stick.

[OK, calm down. I’m joking. No football executives were harmed during the writing of the previous paragraph.]

But what McKay and Postecoglou — and our do-nothing board and club office leadership, if it’s really not too much to ask of them — could do is to go to the mat, so to speak, in a very vocal and concerted way for fairness each and every time this kind of thing happens. We surely can’t be alone in this situation — when Rangers get the benefit of each and every call in their games, the other 11 clubs have to wonder why they aren’t being treated fairly. If they don’t, their fans certainly do.

McKay, Postecoglou, and Celtic need to take this case to the Scottish Football Association if, and more importantly when, necessary.

McKay, Postecoglou, and Celtic need to take this case to UEFA if, and more importantly when, necessary.

Our fans have taken up the mantle, at least, with a social media effort to point out each and every “mistake” the officials make, and hammer them on it. This is a good first step that needs to be followed with the backing of the higher-ups in the club.

The only benefit to living 5,000 miles away from Celtic — the only benefit, actually — is that distance offers a perspective that one who lives in Scotland may not have because you’re too close to it. Fans in the U.S. are already tuning out Scottish football for more prestigious leagues, which is a tragedy that doesn’t have to happen and can be fixed.

One more thing

Overall, the Bhoys looked fairly good on Saturday, even though they were playing against Hearts and the officials. Both Carl Starfelt and Kyogo Furuhashi looked OK — not great, but not bad — in their first introduction to the Scottish game, despite Starfelt’s gaffe that almost resulted in an own goal. Reminds me of another Swede who struggled in his first game as a Celt . . . Henrik something, I think his name was. It’ll come to me. Clearly all the pieces aren’t in place yet (and not to beat a dead horse, although yes, we know why), but most of them are, and chances are the Hoops will hit their stride sooner moreso than later.

Mon the Hoops!

Welcome to Miami, Lewis Morgan

Lewis Morgan leaves Scotland for Florida. As a former Miamian, yours truly has some tips so you’ll fit in just fine, Lewis. You’re welcome!

Reading the reports from this morning — this morning, Pacific Standard Time, that is — it appears that the fledgling Club Internacional de FĂștbol Miami, David Beckham’s new entry into Major League Soccer this year more commonly known as Inter Miami, has obtained the services of one Lewis Morgan, an as-of-today former Celtic winger.

That Beckham. He sure knows how to pick ’em.

Let’s put the football aside for a moment, because it’s my feeling that despite the fact I thought Morgan had a future with the Celts, I think he will excel in the MLS and become one of its stars. And I’m glad he’s at Inter Miami, because I have family and friends there, some of whom I know will enjoy watching him play.

But as someone who was raised in Miami, I feel it’s my duty to jump in and help Lewis out with his new environs, and give him five helpful pointers to make his somewhat smooth transition from Scottish footballer to South Florida dude.

1. If the heat doesn’t get you, the humidity will

Lewis, you were signed in the dead of winter in Miami, where it’s probably around 60 Fahrenheit, and the nylon sweaters have been broken out for the annual cold snap that accompanies the area each January. It lasts about three weeks, and the rest of the time the temperatures are in the 80s and the humidity is about the same, percentage-wise. Meaning, of course, that you can break into a sweat by merely walking from your front door to your car, never mind the sauna that awaits you when you hop in. It’s one of Florida’s unique traits.

Chances are that you’ll be playing under the lights in the new Lockhart Stadium, which replaces the old Lockhart Stadium, harboring the ghosts of the North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Night games are a good thing: Evenings are a lot more balmy and tropical, rather than hot and humid. So here’s hoping that Inter Miami takes a page from the Strikers’ playbook and plays most of their games in the evening.

2. Hanging out in South Florida

With Inter Miami being based in Fort Lauderdale, about 20 miles north of Miami, you may never make it down to the club’s namesake city. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Fort Lauderdale has as much, if not more, than Miami in the way of night life and distractions. And while there are parts of Miami you’ll want to avoid completely, there are some parts of Miami — South Beach, where I used to live, pre-gentrification, before it was “cool” — that you’ll probably find entertaining and enjoyable. The Cuban food in Little Havana just west of downtown Miami, as well as the Haitian food in Little Haiti just north of downtown, are both to die for.

Or you can just go to the Publix, a large supermarket chain in Florida, and grab a Publix sub sandwich, more commonly known in the area as a Pub Sub. Great stuff, and you’ll be eating like a native.

In a nutshell . . .

3. Two things about summer

OK, Lewis, you’re going to want to write this down. First, it rains most of the summer. But it’s a fairly warm rain which you don’t mind getting stuck in, let alone playing in when it happens. The flip side of that is this: Yes, it rains, but it will only rain for about 15-20 minutes, and the weather returns to normal — as normal as it can be for South Florida — immediately afterward.

Don’t ask me why. It just is.

Of course, that’s only when there’s no hurricane bearing down on South Florida. You’re bound to get a few of those in the summertime — hurricane season is June to December — and of course just do what everyone else does: find shelter if you want to stick around, or leave until it passes.

4. Not a normal place

Do you like alligators? Depending on where you live — like western Miami-Dade or Broward counties — you could find them as neighbors. Roaches? Big enough to saddle up. Mosquitoes fly in formation before alighting on their prey, which will sooner or later be you. To be honest, Lewis,it was the heat and humidity that forced me to leave Miami for the cooler climes of the Central California coast, and you will find that while playing the States in the summer, the South can be hot, literally and figuratively.

But you have great beaches in the Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale area, with warm water. And there are things I miss about South Florida that I can’t find here in California, like . . . .

5. Three words: Key Lime pie

Key limes — named after the Florida Keys (worth a visit if you have some time) — grow natively in South Florida, and one delicacy is Key Lime pie. You can find it anywhere in South Florida, but the best places to find it is one of the many delicatessens in the area — the plethora of Jewish delis in the area will offer you a wide variety of great food, but get that Key Lime pie.

Meanwhile, back at the original point of this blog: Lewis Morgan will do fine in South Florida, and he has the opportunity to join the pantheon of South Florida sports heroes. And it’s my sincere hope that we haven’t seen the last of him in the Hoops.

But this deal is a good one for all parties: Morgan gets regular playing time and gets to show off those Scottish football skills in the U.S., my friends and family in the area get to see quality football at Inter Miami, and Celtic gets paid handsomely by Beckham and Company for Morgan’s services.

So everyone’s happy.

Except me, because now I want a Pub Sub and some Key Lime pie.