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Tartan Army kicks off after Wembley tickets sold in error

Tartan Army kicks off after Wembley tickets sold in error | Scottish Business | Scoop.it

Scottish football's governing body has promised to refund the hundreds of official Scotland Supporters Club members who picked up tickets through what turned out to be a test site.

 

The Tartan Army has been promised an allocation of 20,000 briefs for what is the oldest international fixture in the world. The Football Association in England has announced its ticket prices for the Wembley match on August 14, which range from £35 to £65.

 

The SFA told fans the test page was supposed to be hidden and an investigation would take place to find out how links were discovered.

It told fans in messages: "Many apologies to all members who bought via a hidden link to our test site. All refunds will be processed on Monday as a priority.

 

"The tickets are not yet on sale, this purchase is void. This was a test page accessed through what should be a hidden link. Tickets will go on sale in the next few days. Full information will be emailed to Scotland Supporters Club members on Monday.

 

"As with every sale, we must test the full process. The menu item was hidden so we will investigate how this link was discovered."

Fans took to forums to air their grievances.

 

"What a shambles," said one. Another said: "Unreal. Seriously from an IT perspective you do not run a test on a public page on your website ... use a test site then publish to live when all is tested."

 

The English FA is due to put its tickets on sale from Saturday before they go on general sale next month.

 

The body has already warned Scots not to try to buy tickets for the England end of the stadium, stating: "Scotland supporter tickets will be sold directly by the SFA.

 

"Any attempt to gain access to Wembley Stadium in any area of the ground other than the dedicated Scottish supporter area, wearing the colours of the Scottish team, may result in admission being refused and in such circumstances no refund or alternative seat will be offered."

The ticket fiasco is the latest disappointment for Scots who want to attend the first game between the two nations in 14 years.

 

Bagpipes have already been banned from Wembley, in a move that has prompted outrage.

 

Wembley Stadium rules state that among their prohibited items are "Unlicensed musical instruments – trumpets, drums and other devices capable of causing a disturbance or nuisance". After consulting with Wembley Stadium officials, Scotland fans have discovered pipes are included.

 

The reason is believed to be a health and safety issue with storage of the pipes during the game.

 

SNP MSP Jim Eadie is seeking to challenge Wembley bosses over the rule in an attempt to prompt a rethink.

 

He said: "I am hopeful that this is an oversight and I am writing to Wembley and the English FA to request this position is reversed."

Fans have also been told they will have to pay £1500 if they want to take any banners into Wembley for the clash.

 

Wembley and the English FA have a policy of charging for banners that pass over the heads of fans, citing health and safety reasons.

The charge is £1250 plus VAT, in addition to the cost of a parking space.

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Santander chief plans more Scots branches

Santander chief plans more Scots branches | Scottish Business | Scoop.it

Santander UK chief executive Ana Botin says she remains committed to growing the branch network and staff numbers in Scotland but has again ruled out bidding for Clydesdale Bank.


Ms Botin, in Glasgow to speak to customers and deliver a lecture at Strathclyde University, confirmed Santander UK is focused on ambitious organic growth plans.

 

She said: "We have today 35 regional business centres [in the UK] and we will go to 70 in three years."

 

The Spanish-born banker stated she was hopeful of building on strong results in Scotland, where Santander increased its SME lending 55% in the past 12 months, compared to 15% across the UK.

There are also no plans to follow the lead of Royal Bank of Scotland and cut branch numbers.

 

Ms Botin said: "We as a group believe in a face-to-face and personalised service. Santander Group is the bank with the largest number of branches in the world and we absolutely believe in the personal relationship side of the business.

"We are very happy with our progress [in Scotland] and are doing very well on the SME side."

 

Santander UK has trebled its commercial banking team in Scotland in the past two years to around 60 today and Ms Botin signalled further growth.

A team has been set up in London to service businesses with more than £500 million turnover. There is currently one specialist in Scotland working with clients of that size but Ms Botin wants to add more.

She said: "We do have companies that bank with us in Scotland and England in that space but we are hiring more people and investing more resources.

 

"It is important that as a bank we are investing. We are very much committed to improving our business with individuals and corporates."

Ms Botin said Santander has not discussed the possible outcomes of the Scottish independence referendum to be held next year.

She said: "We are present in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and would want to be present whatever happens."

The long-mooted flotation of the bank's UK business still appears to be some way off.

 

Ms Botin said: "It depends firstly on how the market is valuing banks and that has improved in the past 12 months but it is still not where we want it to be.

"Secondly it depends on the clarity of regulation. Even though we are a very pure retail commercial bank we have very small parts of our business that probably don't fit so we have to create another company and all of that takes time.

 

"Third of course is we are in the middle of a big transformation and growth in the bank."

Ms Botin expressed a desire for more help to be given to entrepreneurs particularly to encourage them to grow businesses of scale rather than sell out to larger corporations.

 

She believes the take up of Santander's Breakthrough programme – which offers loans to companies with turnover of between £500,000 and £10m – is indicative of the demand for finance from SMEs.

She said: "These are the companies that provide most of the growth in jobs in the UK and can double and triple [in size] over very few years."

Ms Botin said the Funding for Lending scheme introduced by the UK government is helping banks to lower costs for consumers and businesses.

 

She feels more optimistic about the economy in the UK partly due to encouraging data from abroad.

 

She said: "We are all connected. The US is again becoming the engine for growth and China, although it is slowing, is still at something like 7%. There are signs of a better outlook."

 

Separately RBS has narrowed its shortlist of bidders for 315 branches which Santander pulled out of buying last year.

US private equity firms JC Flowers and Apollo are definitely out, but Corsair Capital, Centerbridge Partners, a proposal from several UK investment firms and Virgin Money are still in the running to take over the network.


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No celebrity endorsements for us, please, we’re Scottish

No celebrity endorsements for us, please, we’re Scottish | Scottish Business | Scoop.it

DESPITE all the money spent on position papers, glitzy launches and the regular trimming of Alistair Darling's eyebrows so as not to frighten the weans and horses, it remains the case that the biggest asset of the No campaign remains those cybernats who support Yes.

 

Not so much swivel-eyed loons as mouse-clicking bampots, they must surely be in the pay of the anti-independence camp, such is the sterling service they provide. They are not alone, it must be said, in their cyber waywardness. The No camp has similar types, as death threats against Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP deputy leader, attest. But it is the cybernats who are most often caught out using the internet to lambast those they see as opponents.

 

This time the person in the digital stocks being pelted with rotten fruit is Sir Chris Hoy, six-times Olympic gold medallist. His crime? Trying to keep out of the independence debate. Asked if he knew how he would be voting come September 18, 2014, the athlete with leg-of-mutton thighs said he did, but would prefer not to say so as not to be caught up in a "hornets' nest".

 

With one shift up the gears he was free. Or so he thought. In going on to say that Scots athletes would find it tougher to reach medal-winning heights if they were outwith Team GB, he collided with the mother and father of all hives. One post said he had gone from being a Scottish hero to being "a traitor". Another called him a "typical Scots Tory naysayer". All that from making an innocuous statement about training facilities.

 

 

Susan Calman, comedian of this parish, can presumably sympathise with Sir Chris. She was a previous resident in the stocks, having dared to joke about independence on a Radio 4 quiz show. While she did not quite get the full PG Wodehouse treatment, she was besieged with abusive comments online. It is a rum sort of tactic, trying to capture hearts and minds by going for the throats of individuals who are merely exercising freedom of speech. One wonders if the cybernats, and their ilk in other camps, even begin to realise the damage they do to their cause every time they open their internet browsers and gobs.

 

The parties certainly do, which is why all such stories – and there will be more before September 2014 – routinely come with opponents of independence urging the SNP to condemn the cybernats, and the SNP and Scottish Government doing precisely that. Yet still the abuse goes on.

 

Politicians are not exactly innocent parties in this cyberfreak show. They are the ones trying to co-opt celebrities to their cause – Sir Chris said both sides had asked him to back their campaigns – not the other way around. Why this need to turn what is the most important vote Scotland has had in 300 years into the electoral equivalent of Hello! magazine? Why this desire to create a Strictly Come Voting show in which celebrities team up with a political partner of their choice and dance the fandango for our supposed edification?

 

The first response of politicians to such questions is likely to be "because everyone does it". Celebrities are everywhere, even in politics. As you read this, there is some poor unfortunate in each camp who has been given the task of signing "big names" to the cause. These celebrity detectives scour the papers each morning for clues as to the stance this or that individual might take. Sensing a supporter, a tentative approach is made. Perhaps Mr Star or Ms Showbiz would care to have dinner with a high heid yin, or attend a fundraising event? No pressure, but at some point wouldn't it be super if said celebrity could be available for a campaign event, perhaps a photo with the leader? The celebrities are flattered and keen to show there is more to them than delivering lines from a script or singing a song. The politicians get to replace that dandruff on their shoulders with a sprinkling of showbiz fairy dust. Everybody wins is the theory. In reality, everybody loses, including those celebrities left feeling like mugs when the campaign is over.

 

One only need revisit the launch of the Yes campaign in May last year to see that celebrities and politics should never mix. Turning down the sound, one can hear the crunch and crack as millions of toes curl as one. The last occasion on which so many cheeks were aflame with embarrassment was Labour's infamous Sheffield rally of 1992. "We're all right!" shrieked Neil Kinnock after various celebrities had given their on-screen blessings. After that, he was anything but all right.

Perhaps lessons have been learned, maybe politicians are now minded to keep celebrities away from the microphones as much as possible. The courting of Sir Chris by both Yes and No camps, however, suggests otherwise. And so the grisly marriage of celebrity and politics continues, despite it always ending in tears and recriminations.

 

Politicians are having too much fun to ask if any reasonable person was ever influenced in the way they vote by the endorsement of "him off the telly". The truth is that voters do not give a ballot box what celebrities such as John Cleese (made a party political broadcast for the LibDems), or David Tennant (Labour) or Sir Michael Caine (Tories) think when it comes to politics. Unlike politicians, voters adopt a horses-for-courses approach. Just as one would not go into a shoe shop to buy a bunch of roses, so one does not turn to celebrities for reasoned political arguments. It is not their job. By dint of their money or fame they are far removed from the concerns of the rest of us.

It is hard enough to find the facts and hear the arguments without the thoughts of celebrities adding to the din. The September 2014 vote is about deciding what kind of Scotland we want. In a vote that is about the future there can be no better preparation, whatever the outcome, than a campaign that dumps the tired old tactics of the past, starting with celebrity endorsements. No celebrities, please, we're Scottish, and we can think for ourselves.

 

That is not to bar celebrities from expressing an opinion. They have the same right to do that as everyone else. But if they do not wish to say one way or another – like Sir Chris – that is fine too. We all have the right to privacy up to and beyond entering the voting booth.

If celebrities choose to speak out on behalf of a campaign they should be afforded the same courtesies as anyone else. In short, no death threats, no abuse. Comment on their opinion by all means, let debate flourish, but keep the head and keep it civilised. September 18, 2014, is looming, but so is September 19, and the day after that. Whatever the outcome of the vote, we are too long together to tear ourselves apart.

 

 

This time the person in the digital stocks being pelted with rotten fruit is Sir Chris Hoy, six-times Olympic gold medallist. His crime? Trying to keep out of the independence debate. Asked if he knew how he would be voting come September 18, 2014, the athlete with leg-of-mutton thighs said he did, but would prefer not to say so as not to be caught up in a "hornets' nest".

 

With one shift up the gears he was free. Or so he thought. In going on to say that Scots athletes would find it tougher to reach medal-winning heights if they were outwith Team GB, he collided with the mother and father of all hives. One post said he had gone from being a Scottish hero to being "a traitor". Another called him a "typical Scots Tory naysayer". All that from making an innocuous statement about training facilities.

 

Susan Calman, comedian of this parish, can presumably sympathise with Sir Chris. She was a previous resident in the stocks, having dared to joke about independence on a Radio 4 quiz show. While she did not quite get the full PG Wodehouse treatment, she was besieged with abusive comments online. It is a rum sort of tactic, trying to capture hearts and minds by going for the throats of individuals who are merely exercising freedom of speech. One wonders if the cybernats, and their ilk in other camps, even begin to realise the damage they do to their cause every time they open their internet browsers and gobs.

 

The parties certainly do, which is why all such stories – and there will be more before September 2014 – routinely come with opponents of independence urging the SNP to condemn the cybernats, and the SNP and Scottish Government doing precisely that. Yet still the abuse goes on.

Politicians are not exactly innocent parties in this cyberfreak show. They are the ones trying to co-opt celebrities to their cause – Sir Chris said both sides had asked him to back their campaigns – not the other way around. Why this need to turn what is the most important vote Scotland has had in 300 years into the electoral equivalent of Hello! magazine? Why this desire to create a Strictly Come Voting show in which celebrities team up with a political partner of their choice and dance the fandango for our supposed edification?

 

The first response of politicians to such questions is likely to be "because everyone does it". Celebrities are everywhere, even in politics. As you read this, there is some poor unfortunate in each camp who has been given the task of signing "big names" to the cause. These celebrity detectives scour the papers each morning for clues as to the stance this or that individual might take. Sensing a supporter, a tentative approach is made. Perhaps Mr Star or Ms Showbiz would care to have dinner with a high heid yin, or attend a fundraising event? No pressure, but at some point wouldn't it be super if said celebrity could be available for a campaign event, perhaps a photo with the leader? The celebrities are flattered and keen to show there is more to them than delivering lines from a script or singing a song. The politicians get to replace that dandruff on their shoulders with a sprinkling of showbiz fairy dust. Everybody wins is the theory. In reality, everybody loses, including those celebrities left feeling like mugs when the campaign is over.

 

One only need revisit the launch of the Yes campaign in May last year to see that celebrities and politics should never mix. Turning down the sound, one can hear the crunch and crack as millions of toes curl as one. The last occasion on which so many cheeks were aflame with embarrassment was Labour's infamous Sheffield rally of 1992. "We're all right!" shrieked Neil Kinnock after various celebrities had given their on-screen blessings. After that, he was anything but all right.

 

Perhaps lessons have been learned, maybe politicians are now minded to keep celebrities away from the microphones as much as possible. The courting of Sir Chris by both Yes and No camps, however, suggests otherwise. And so the grisly marriage of celebrity and politics continues, despite it always ending in tears and recriminations.

 

Politicians are having too much fun to ask if any reasonable person was ever influenced in the way they vote by the endorsement of "him off the telly". The truth is that voters do not give a ballot box what celebrities such as John Cleese (made a party political broadcast for the LibDems), or David Tennant (Labour) or Sir Michael Caine (Tories) think when it comes to politics. Unlike politicians, voters adopt a horses-for-courses approach. Just as one would not go into a shoe shop to buy a bunch of roses, so one does not turn to celebrities for reasoned political arguments. It is not their job. By dint of their money or fame they are far removed from the concerns of the rest of us.

 

It is hard enough to find the facts and hear the arguments without the thoughts of celebrities adding to the din. The September 2014 vote is about deciding what kind of Scotland we want. In a vote that is about the future there can be no better preparation, whatever the outcome, than a campaign that dumps the tired old tactics of the past, starting with celebrity endorsements. No celebrities, please, we're Scottish, and we can think for ourselves.

 

That is not to bar celebrities from expressing an opinion. They have the same right to do that as everyone else. But if they do not wish to say one way or another – like Sir Chris – that is fine too. We all have the right to privacy up to and beyond entering the voting booth.

 

If celebrities choose to speak out on behalf of a campaign they should be afforded the same courtesies as anyone else. In short, no death threats, no abuse. Comment on their opinion by all means, let debate flourish, but keep the head and keep it civilised. September 18, 2014, is looming, but so is September 19, and the day after that. Whatever the outcome of the vote, we are too long together to tear ourselves apart.

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Nationalists are realising that a softly-softly approach can win more Yes votes than bullying

ATTENDING the Scottish Trades Union Congress conference earlier this spring, Yes Scotland campaigners reported back on a mixed experience. On the plus side, there were, they said, plenty of people from union backgrounds who were telling them they were sympathetic to independence. But on the negative side, they weren’t yet ready to sing it from the rooftops. The Yes Scotland people use the language of the gay rights movement; these potential supporters were telling them that they weren’t quite ready yet to come out.

 

There is something of a social barrier in the path to victory in next year’s referendum, the team observes. People who are leaning towards a Yes are reluctant to say so publicly. With little sign of the polls shifting or momentum building, there is group safety in simply declaring that, like most other people, you think things should stay as they are. The problem the campaign faces is that, as a result, those who decide to convert to supporting independence may only do so in the privacy of their own home. This means that the social revolution it needs to spark in the next 12 months will flop.

 

The campaign team is giving thought to how to shift this psychology over the coming year. It was illustrated last week in the way Yes figures condemned the actions of other pro-independence backers who had attacked comedian Susan Calman following her gentle prod at the independence debate on the BBC’s News Quiz. All this childish and bitter response did was to add a few more bricks to the divide between the two sides, making it all the harder for people to cross.

 

A “mood of acrimony”, noted Yes strategist Stephen Noon in a blog, will only ensure that anxious people looking askance at the fisticuffs will simply decide it looks too disputatious, and plump for “the supposed safety of the status quo”.

 

A campaign that needs 51 per cent of the vote (six points more than in the SNP’s 2011 “landslide”) cannot afford to go around telling everyone who doesn’t agree with them that they are wrong, he added. Instead, it must adopt a respectful tone, which sees opponents not as black-hearted Unionists, but potential swing voters.

 

This may give some potential Yes voters the confidence to shout it loud and proud. But then it isn’t just tone that needs to be got right, it is content too. And from the questions over the currency, to forthcoming battles over pensions and mortgages, the SNP is allowing the pro-UK side to set the agenda. Pro-UK figures now believe the question of the Yes side’s credibility is up for grabs this summer. Once eroded, that will be near impossible to get back.

 

So it may be that wavering voters can be more tempted to come out by a more welcoming, embracing approach by the pro-independence side. But with the SNP government’s White Paper on independence still more than six months away, and questions over detail still begging, people are hardly likely to emerge from the closet any time soon.

Jeff Duncan's insight:
Eddie Barnes - SCOTSMAN - WED 8TH MAY, 2013
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