Comment: Football’s image tarnished in Scotland

George Kerevan
George Kerevan
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First Cyprus nearly sinks the euro. Then comes news that one in eight Scottish football clubs is in financial distress, according to Begbies Traynor, the corporate rescue specialist.

Judging by Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Serbia, Scottish football is definitely in need of help.

Some 13 per cent of our clubs are in distress (more if you look at their actual game) compared with only 2 per cent of UK businesses overall.

Mind you, just as the Cyprus spat got exaggerated out of all proportion, the Begbies Traynor self-styled “Red Flag Alert Football Distress Survey” actually shows things are getting better, not worse.

Only four clubs are in financial trouble compared with six last October. This despite March being the time when most clubs’ finances are at their weakest because the season ticket money has long been spent. In fact, you might expect things to be a lot worse money wise after the Rangers debacle.

Fortunately, this season has seen a 5 per cent rise in gates in the top four divisions – a move in the right direction, if not anything to write home about.

In England, match attendances in the top four divisions dropped by 1 per cent.

Meanwhile, Brazil is ploughing a staggering £12 billion into infrastructure for next year’s World Cup, which, unfortunately, Scotland will definitely not now be attending. According to Ernst & Young, that should net a return of around £46bn.

Brazil is also putting a further £10bn into the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, for an expected return of another £33bn. Probably worth a visit, and you can root for the local team with a clear conscience.

Eggs Lent respectability to chocoholics’ urges

Lent ends today, in case you’ve forgotten. It will be interesting to see if the end of the traditional six weeks of fasting and denial has any impact on economic growth.

In America, 25 per cent of the population is Catholic, while Orthodox and Protestant Christians who also celebrate Lent probably account for another 20 per cent. If half the American consumer economy has been holding back, we are in for a surge.

One thing we seem to have given up for Lent is Easter eggs. Sales are down this year in the UK by 4.15 million – a drop of 5.5 per cent, according to retail analysts at Kantar Worldpanel. .

The current loss of customers could be a response to fears over child obesity but my bet is it has something to do with the absurd mark-up charged for the packaging.

According to Kantar Worldpanel (who follow these things), people are switching to chocolate rabbits, bears and even monkeys, but this has failed to make up for an overall decline in purchases of eggs.

In defence, the big supermarkets began promoting Easter eggs just after Christmas. Did no-one tell their marketing people that the whole point of Lent is that you give up chocolate for the 40 days until Easter Sunday?