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The Fans Media and Scope debate.

A controversial few days.  Oh it’s true it’s damn true!

Celtic v Rangers - Scottish Cup Semi-Final Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Let’s address the five hundred pound elephant in the room – and for once I am not on about myself – the last couple of days have been dominated by the impending kickstarter project Scope, which has came in for far more criticism than plaudits from the audience it was intended for – Celtic and Rangers fans.

In an unprecedented turn of events, both sets of fans have united to voice their concerns over a subscription based product in a market that is already over saturated. Some have been valid and constructive, some have been Full Metal Bampot, but as of yet, these fans haven’t had any answers, only buzzwords and clichés.

‘Faith and Trust’ ? ‘Grown up analysis’ ? What exactly is that ? That patter might work in London but It’s not what football fans in this country want to hear, when a large number of them already part with their cash for season tickets, club TV memberships and Sky/BT sport packages to keep up to date with their team. In order to earn their ‘faith and trust’, these people have to know what you will be doing differently from others who offer a decent standard of product for free in order to convince them that you are worth funding.

Yesterday on this blog’s Twitter account, we ran a poll to ask if match reports and press conferences were something you were still interested in reading about. An overwhelming 75% of you voted yes to it. Scope have stated that they will have no match reports, and that they will not report on ‘meaningless’ press conferences. To many fans of Celtic and Rangers , every press conference is a big deal and are invested with what the manager of their team has to say every week. To dismiss this, and then ask for subscriptions, is ignorant. I don’t think there’s any malice intended with it, or sneering, but I do think they have misjudged just HOW much even the smallest snippet of information at the club they support is worth covering.

When Scope say they will change how football is covered in this country, without giving an insight into how it will be different, and the big reveal for the fans will come in time when people have donated money, it’s poorly thought out and there should have been more than pretty illustrations, buzzwords, a teaser video and cryptic responses on Twitter.

I don’t know about Rangers fan media other than a few podcasts, but Celtic’s fan media is probably the best in the country, and one of the strongest collectives in the UK. You have several accounts and blogs reporting on the latest information coming out of the club, including transfer rumours, player form and the motors they are driving. As well as the several Celtic news accounts, the podcasts involved with Celtic are at an extremely high standard, ranging from general everyday patter about the latest game, and away day experience to a decent level of access to talk to players/management already at the club – and it’s all free. No one asks for any money, and I imagine if they did, they would give a detailed explanation as to why they were looking for subscriptions, and it wouldn’t be vague, because the audience aren’t taken for granted, and it’s been earned through hard work and engaging with listeners/readers over a period of time, not just put together in a few days after a vague video saying how things are going to change.

Even as I type this, if you look at the guys behind Scope, there’s not many answers after their announcement. A Rangers podcast has asked how things will be different to what the MSM already offer, and the question has largely been rubbered. A Celtic fan last night, asked how much they would like to charge, and the response from one of the lads at Scope was childish, baiting the potential subscriber into going to the kickstarter page and getting enjoyment out of winding him up, instead of just answering him directly. It’s needless, and it’s already creating a bad atmosphere with the fanbase you are looking to engage with.

Further to this, they (Scope) mention that media in Scotland as fallen behind, but on their Pundits account with STV journalists, they mostly talk about English football. That may be the premise of the show, to cover the Premier League more than the SPFL, which is fair enough, but on the segments they do cover the SPFL, they talk it down. In their April episode, they go into the subject of Brendan Rodgers leaving Celtic, a day before he signed his new deal, and how he could be tempted by the Premier League again, and what will Celtic do if we lose all our best players ? How is that different to what the media here do at the moment, already working as a recruitment consultant for teams down south ?

The MSM here is not perfect, in fact it’s far from it, but there’s still a lot of readable content, vlogs, and supporter-based opinion pieces online, so what can Scope offer differently from them and the plethora of Celtic fan media that’s already out there ?

It’s not personal, and some of the abuse that the guys at Scope have had to put up with from people has been over the top as well.

God forbid anyone tries to earn a living doing something they enjoy, and the guys at Scope clearly enjoy talking fitba, so if they are charging people for their product , then fair play to them, but what could have been better was their engagement with Celtic and Rangers fans before their announcement. The initial and ongoing furore seems to have snowballed due to the sudden arrival on the scene, combined with the ‘Old Firm’ rhetoric and then the donation aspect of it.

They want to ‘bridge the gap’ between media and fans, but perhaps getting in touch with some fan media from both clubs before they launched their kickstarter would have been a better route to go down, building a rapport, gathering ideas from what audiences like/don’t like and seeing what they could do differently to the existing blogs/opinion sites/podcasts already out there, because seeing as they are the media, it would be genuinely refreshing to see them do something differently and engage with the fans more, instead of just getting that after paying a subscription.

It seems such a Scottish thing to do – attack something that sounds positive and stick with what we already have, but in this case, people are right to question this when it involves parting with their hard earned cash.