‘Gord of the Rings’ – Like the logo, Matheson’s Olympic claim is full of holes


By G.A.Ponsonby

A large ornament was unveiled in Glasgow last week.  A metal structure fashioned in the shape of the Olympic logo appeared in George Square opposite the council building.

The city is hosting eight Olympic football matches and the purpose of this giant knuckle duster appears to be to ‘bash’ Glaswegians into Olympic submission.

The Games have beguiled Labour’s Gordon Matheson who is currently running around telling anyone who will listen just how ‘precious’ the Olympic Rings are to Glasgow.

According to Labour’s Glasgow Council leader, excitement in the city is building.  Unfortunately for Mr Matheson that excitement doesn’t appear to have transmitted into ticket sales.

In truth there is no excitement.  The football matches are manifestly not recognisable Olympic sports and unlike ‘Gollum’ Matheson, the Glasgow public are not so easily fooled.

It doesn’t help that the football matches being held at Hampden consist of five ladies’ games and three men’s junior games, not exactly top drawer attractions and the public relations disaster over the banning of the Scottish flag merely served to compound antipathy.

If organisers really wanted to attract Scottish football fans then a game involving ‘Team GB’ would have guaranteed a sell-out, and several thousand Scottish fans would have given Stuart Pierce’s team plenty of vocal ‘encouragement’.

The unveiling of the steel logo in George Square meant a few TV and radio appearances from the ever excited leader of Glasgow Labour.  Mr Matheson’s appearance on our screens looking like Gomez Addams in a pinstripe suit and yapping manically about filling Hampden was bizarre.

Equally bizarre was the blue and white double decker bus parked in the middle of Buchanan Street beneath banners advertising London’s Olympics.

The truth is of course that these Games are nothing to do with Scotland or Glasgow – it’s a con, and not a very good one at that.  The claim that Glasgow is in the grip of Olympic football excitement is risible.

Indeed half of Glasgow’s eight football matches will already have taken place before the official opening ceremony is held on Friday 27th July.

If organisers really wanted Glasgow to feel part of the Games then they could have built a swimming complex in the city and held the swimming events here.  The pool could have then doubled up for the Commonwealth Games two years later.

The Games are not even about England, there are plenty of English good causes that have suffered as money is once again syphoned off into the UK’s biggest charity case, London.

Matheson knows that Scotland has suffered financially as lottery funding that would have come north of the border has instead been diverted to the rich south east of England.  Around half a billion pounds that was promised in the form of contracts for Scottish businesses also never materialised.

It says something about Scottish Labour these days that Unionism is now the party’s strongest characteristic.  Socialism and the redistribution of wealth is now a very distant second.

The Olympic torch will arrive in Glasgow on Friday June 8th and will be “visible to the public” at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.  On Saturday it turns up at the Glasgow Riverside Museum and the Tall Ship, and people will of course flock to see it.

Some very worthy people will carry the flame, but don’t be fooled by those media people who will claim that the Olympics are coming to Scotland – they aren’t.

Scotland and Glasgow can no more be said to be part of the London Olympics by dint of holding a few football matches than Edinburgh can be said to be part of the Oscars because it is showing  the European premier of the animated movie Brave on June 30th.

Scots are excited by the London Olympics in the same way we were excited by the Barcelona Olympics and the Sydney Olympics – it’s an Olympic thing.

But let’s not pretend these Games are anything other than London’s Games.

And some honesty from our broadcasters and journalists would be welcome, given many deserving causes in Scotland lost out when their lottery funding ended up partly funding this expensive jamboree.