The Whiteness of Scottish Fan Media

As part of our mini-series at the end of season 2022/23, Joe McCann looks at the state of fan media replicating old forms of representation.

A couple of days before The Scottish League Cup Final, The Overlap dropped their preview of the game on YouTube. Kelly Somers, Chris Sutton, and Ally McCoist fronted the programme surrounded by eleven different Rangers and Celtic supporters. These supporters were made up of various Scottish Fan Media journalists. I enjoyed the hour or so that the show ran for. However, the room did not sit right with me. That room was made up of thirteen white people. Twelve men and one woman. That room encapsulated a major issue for me in Scottish fan media, by God if it isn’t so white.

The history of fan media is complex. Is it “real journalism?” Who was first? Some say it was AFTV. Others would argue that Red Men TV broke onto the scene before Robbie Lyle. What can’t be argued is how revolutionary fan media has become. 

What is clear in Scotland is that the fan media revolution began with Simon Ferry and Open Goal. Si Ferry has his detractors, but those early interviews were incredible. He got players to open up (pun intended) like no one else before him and it made for fascinating listening. Now, Ferry is not exactly fan media. Not really. He is a former player and a current coach who has had a good career. Open Goal though inspired a whole generation of Scottish fan media youtubers. 

The first Scottish fan channel, I can remember watching were CJ Novo. Shortly followed by Ryan118, Celtic Fan TV and A View From The Terrace.  Scottish fan media caters for pretty much every taste. If you want stats and analysis then tune into, The Huddle Breakdown. If you want football phone in high jinks, then look no further than The Rangers Rabble. Do you want in-depth daily Celtic coverage, then fire on ACSOM. Goggsy99, has you covered for your Motherwell football news. Scottish fan media has everything. Well, everything but representation. Across the fan media platforms, there is at best a handful of black and brown faces. And a handful is being generous. Asim Rabbani is a regular contributor to Hail, Hail 67. If I am forgetting anyone else, then let me know. 

Now in many ways, fan media can be such an easy target. There are those out there who despise the medium. It lacks representation? Well so too does traditional journalism. 94% of journalists in the UK are white. In fact, pretty much every industry throughout the country lacks diversity.  I write plays for a living and there is not one decision maker of colour in Scottish Theatre. That’s a story for another day.

In terms of journalists of colour in Scottish Sports media, The BBC have Bobby Nwanze , Sky Sports has Anthony Joseph and STV Raman Bhardwaj. And that’s about that.  No one is disputing that traditional media needs to up its game. However, in this new football fan media revolution representation has taken a back seat. I’d argue that inclusion has not even crossed the minds of most content creators. Not in Scotland anyway. No one is obliged to invite people of colour onto their show just for the sake of it and anyone can pick up a mic, a phone and start their own channel.  Opening one’s platform to someone of colour though would be a game changer.

Take AFTV. This must be one of the most diverse sporting media platforms ever created. That may seem hyperbolic but it’s true. No matter what you think of TY and Troopz, at least they are seen by millions of people every week. A little kid of colour who might fancy a media gig will surely be encouraged by seeing someone who looks like them. An argument could be made that Scotland is a very different demographic to that of London. There are quite obviously fewer people of colour in Scotland, therefore there are fewer fans of colour of Scottish football teams. That does not mean that Scottish Fan Media should resemble a lilywhite convention. 

A few years back I pitched a story called ‘’The Glory hunters’’ to a fan media site. The article detailed my life growing up as a black Celtic fan in 90s Glasgow, my disillusionment with modern football, the banality of The EPL and supporting your local team. The Celtic site I pitched got back and said, “we are not interested in these types of stories.” Fast forward a year or so later and said site tweeted out ‘’BLM’’ when Derek Chauvin was convicted of George Floyd’s murder. I am guessing black stories and black lives matter when it comes to social media likes. This very article you are reading now was pitched to a Celtic paper. Twice. They did not bother to get back. 

Fan media is everywhere. Turn on Sky Sports on any given day and you’ll be met with the likes of Thodgen, Rory Jenkins & Footyadventures giving their acerbic view on the beautiful game. With traditional television being somewhat outdated, inviting Thodgen and crew on means they bring along with them their millions of subscribers. There is talk of Sky Reporter, Geoff Shreeves being replaced by a YouTube personality next season. This is the way football media is going. It is the new normal. It’s changed how you, I and how everyone consumes sports journalism and for the better. And it’s very much the antithesis of the status quo. Wouldn’t it be wonderful however if the new normal in Scottish fan media was not oh so white?

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