HATS off to talkSPORT, they have got their shtick down to a tee. Every time one of their pundits, usually an English former footballer, spouts forth a derogatory opinion on the Scottish game, you know you should ignore it. Don’t react, that’s what they want. Don’t react.

Invariably though, you are the moth to the lightbulb. The hungry fish eyeing up the juicy morsel on the end of the hook. You just can’t help but take the perfectly cast bait.

So it was that they had me leaping out of my chair like a ravenous salmon this week as Jamie O’Hara (former fringe Tottenham player and current manager of Billericay Town, if you weren’t aware) gave his view that the Bournemouth manager’s job was bigger than the Rangers job. You read that right. Bournemouth. Bigger than Rangers.

Thankfully, fellow talkSPORT employee and Rangers legend Ally McCoist was quick to reprimand his colleague, and I don’t think anything I say here can sum up my feelings better than Super Ally did when he called O’Hara a ‘diddy’. Succinctly put, and on the money.

Now, I don’t know Jamie O’Hara. But I would presume (giving him a substantial benefit of the doubt) that he doesn’t actually believe that Bournemouth – a club that has never won a major trophy and whose ground has a capacity several thousand less than Fir Park, for example – are a bigger club than Glasgow Rangers.

More likely, he has been told to say something that will rile up the Jocks, with the station cynically exploiting not only the large numbers of football supporters north of the border, but the depth of passion that fans here have for their clubs and their readiness to leap to their defence.

You may feel it’s a bit rich for anyone in the media industry to criticise such an approach. I don’t think I am breaking the magician’s code to say that increasingly, news outlets are looking for ways to draw in readers or consumers to their offerings, whether that be a website or a radio station in order to boost numbers and therefore the advertising revenue they can attract.

There are ways and means to do that though. Wording a headline in such a way as to pique curiosity for example. But there is a different form of clickbait – which is perfectly exemplified in O’Hara’s ramblings – which basically boils down to abandoning any sense of reason in the name of hooking in rage clicks.

That may well be a profitable short-term tactic, but I wonder how long it will be before readers or listeners get tired of such an approach and turn off completely. Is short-term profit gained by way of the transparent inducement of anger really worth it if it comes at long-term detriment to your reputation? Will anyone ever pay attention or give credence to O’Hara’s views again, for example?

A former colleague once said to me that soon, the homepage of every newspaper in the world will not be occupied by news at all, but by a video featuring the top five farts by cats. And people would click on it.

I was reminded of this last season as a video of then Kilmarnock player Stephen O’Donnell letting out some rather audible pre-match nerves via his bahookie got the most hits on the sport section of our website that month. Whether that is a sign of the dumbing down of news appetites or the quality of our writing, I’ll leave for you to decide.

My hope is that the general public are getting a little fed up with this type of stuff, and certainly of the sort of shock the Jocks coverage that talkSPORT specialises in.

Scottish football is the only game in town at the moment with the English season now finished, and I would hope that as the spotlight intensifies on happenings north of the border, the quality of the coverage from down south will improve as a result.

Rather than raging at ignoramuses who delve in with barely cursory knowledge of the Scottish game and let off these incendiary grenades, it would be great to see some of the well resourced media outlets from England really engaging with the sport here and coming to realise that there is a huge audience for proper coverage of our teams.

We had two teams qualify from the Europa League group stages last season, with Rangers reaching the last 16. Our league is now ranked 14th in the UEFA co-efficient rankings out of 55 in Europe. The top division in England is once again peppered with top-quality players who have plied their trade in our Premiership in the past, many of them Scots. There were live issues and drama all over the SPFL as the Covid-19 shutdown took hold, as the fall-out proved.

I said here last week that perhaps it was time for Scottish football to take itself a little more seriously. Hopefully, we can persuade our friends from the south who are currently peering over Hadrian’s Wall to do the same.


IN a similar vein, credit where it is due to Sky for their opening weekend coverage of Scottish football.

The much-maligned broadcaster has indeed stepped up its game since winning exclusive rights from BT, with the additions of Ally McCoist and Darren Fletcher to their punditry team particularly welcome.

It was also good to see Sportscene return to a traditional Saturday night slot on BBC One after 18 long years tucked away at 1am on a Sunday or some such, giving Scottish fans the sort of coverage they deserve.