All posts by markmckinlay

Irn Bru parent company’s profits rise

The company that makes Irn Bru have reported a steady increase in profits.

AG Barr’s profits have increased by 16.4% to £35.4 million for the year ending January 2012. Turnover for the same period was £237 million.

Sales of Irn Bru itself rose by 2.7% with the company planning to open a new site in Milton Keynes.

Barr’s chief executive Roger White has praised the results, saying they coped with, “substantial raw material cost headwinds while achieving revenue growth based on brand development, innovation and improved focus on execution.

“Our operational performance improved substantially in the final quarter of last year and we are now beginning to see the benefits of our investment in our production assets.”

Famous for having an ‘other’ national drink, Scotland is one of the few countries where Coca Cola is not the top-selling soft drink.

SPL rebels aim for ‘Arab Spring’

Pressure has continued to mount on the Old Firm to accept new voting rules in the Scottish Premier League.

Yesterday Kilmarnock Chairman, Michael Johnston, compared the struggle of the 10 “rebel” clubs to that of the Arab Spring, “Hopefully we can be as successful as some of the pro-democracy movements elsewhere.”

The 10 clubs, which include Heart’s and Hibs, aim to end the 11-1 majority required for significant league changes and end the Glasgow duopoly on power. However Celtic chairman, Peter Lawell, has criticised their motives and claimed they are acting disrespectfully by excluding the Old Firm.

However Johnston rejects these claims saying, “Principally, this is about a measure of democracy that’s been lacking in the SPL in its decision-making processes.

“So this is the pro-democracy movement. It’s not a gang of 10 or anything subversive. It’s all up front and it’s perfectly open what we’ve been talking about, so there’s nothing hidden or disrespectful about it.”

It is believed the non-Old Firm clubs view a change in the voting system as the first step towards a fairer distribution of TV revenue and possible league expansion.

Man dies following bizarre crash

Pathhead Sands, sight of the bizarre crash in Kirkcaldy


A 30 year-old Polish man died yesterday after he crashed his car into a boulder in Kirkcaldy.

The incident, which took place at Pathhead Sands, is believed to have happened during a meeting of Polish BMW enthusiasts.

Inspector Brenda Sinclair of Fife Constabulary has appealed for any witnesses to come forward.

“We understand that a number of people who were attending this event left the area prior to the arrival of emergency services, and we would urge them to contact us as they may have information which would help us.”

Edinburgh Universtiy Hall sees fire safety improvement

Edinburgh University’s Pollock Halls have the best accommodation fire safety record in Scotland.

Following Freedom Of Information requests to Scotland’s largest universities, Napier News discovered that the Fire Brigade were only called to Edinburgh University’s Holyrood halls twice in the last academic year.

The site, which houses around 2000 students, has seen dramatic improvements following the introduction of new safety procedures. Previously firemen had been frequent visitors to the halls, attending alarms 104 times during the 2008/09 session and 75 times the following year.

The university changed their systems because of concern about wasting crucial emergency service time with these automated call outs. Now members of the accommodation team investigate any alarm activations before contacting the Fire Brigade.

Over the same period Aberdeen University’s Elphinstone Road flats had 15 call outs whilst Glasgow University’s Murano Street Village experienced 174.

Escaped murderer still at large

Daniel Somers, a convicted murderer, is still on the run 12 days after he failed to return to Castle Huntly prison.

The 49 year-old has been in jail for most of his life after he was given a life sentence for murder in 1978. He had been granted home leave to return to Glasgow but failed to return on the 7th March as expected. He had only been at the open prison near Dundee for just over a year.

He had previously been released on license in 1999 but was returned to prison a year later following an assault charge.

Somers is 5ft 8″ with shaved hair and blue eyes. He has tattoos on both his arms and is originally from the Priesthill area of Glasgow. Tayslide Police are appealing to the public for any information about his whereabouts.

Committee calls for Marine rights to be devolved to Scotland

MPs have declared that control of  Scotland’s seabeds and coasts should be transferred from the Crown Estate to local authorities. 

The Scottish Affairs Committee criticised previous management of the areas, citing a lack of transparency and public consultation.

Whilst the Queen currently owns Crown Estate rights, surplus revenues from leasing of it’s land to operations such as fish farms are paid into the UK Treasury. However the Committee believe that all marine rights relating to Scotland should now be transferred to the relevant local authorities.

MPs reached this conclusion following consultation with residents of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. They received a vast number of negative responses about the Crown Estate, who were criticised for stripping money out of the areas and behaving like “absentee landlords”.

UK sports round-up

Top Story: Muamba remains in ‘dangerous condition’

Other sport news from around the UK:

–       Hearts maintained their excellent Edinburgh Derby record with a 2-0 victory at Tynecastle yesterday. Goals from Craig Beattie and Suso Santana proved enough to defeat a lackluster Hibs and extend their unbeaten run in the fixture to 10 games.

–       Kilmarnock won the Scottish League Cup for the first time after an 84th minute Dieter van Tornhout edged out Celtic. The Glasgow club’s hope of winning the treble are now over with Neil Lennon left fuming by his side’s missed chances.

–       Manchester United moved 4 points clear at the top of the Premiership following their 5-0 thrashing of Wolves. The result also consigned Wolves to the bottom of the table, with them only having won only 1 game in 14.

–       The SRU have backed Andy Robinson after defeat by Italy in the Six Nations left Scotland without a win in the tournament. However the coach has admitted that he is at the “lowest ebb” of his tenure leading to speculation he may fail to see out his 2015 contract.

– Jenson Button clinched victory at the opening Formula 1 Grand Prix after an impressive performance in Australia. Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel finished second whilst Lewis Hamilton clinched third following a poor start. Scot Paul di Resta finished just inside the points in 10th.

More in Sports:

Podcast: Fabrice Muamba still in critical condition

Rugby legend donates brain to science


Four killed in French school shooting

Three children and a teacher have been killed following a shooting at a Jewish School in Toulouse.

The shooter took aim as pupils were being dropped off for primary school before he escaped on a scooter. The three children killed were all described as being of North-African descent.

Details remain unclear but police have stated there are similarities between this attack and previous shootings of soldiers in the same region. Three paratroopers have been killed in the last week with another seriously injured in two separate attacks.

President Sarkozy and Gilles Bernheim, the Grand Rabbi of France, are on their way to attend the scene whilst extra police have been drafted into the area. Security has also been stepped up around all Jewish schools in the country.

Townsend appointed Warriors head coach as Lineen joins SRU

Sean Lineen has left his position as head coach of Glasgow Warriors to assume a scouting position at the SRU and is being replaced by current Scotland backs coach Gregor Townsend.

The 29-capped former Scotland international, who had huge success at the Warriors, is to assist in scouting Scottish talent across the globe and help to reshape the development of young players.

Townsend moves to Glasgow on the back of another unsuccessful Scottish Six Nations campaign, with speculation having been rife he was to be axed. However he has received  full backing from the SRU’s Director of Performance Graham Lowe and Andy Robinson.

Lineen will be missed be Glasgow fans, having guided them from perennial league strugglers to a third place finish in his fifth season.  The coach is also saddened to be leaving the club, “I had an opportunity nine years ago to move from club rugby to the professional game and I have loved every minute of it.

“Seven years as head coach is more than some people get and I will support Gregor and help make it as smooth a transition as possible for him and the squad and staff we have here.”

However Townsend’s appointment will anger many club-level coaches who believe they have been overlooked once again by the SRU in favour of former professionals.

The Warriors currently sit in fourth position in the RaboDirect PRO12 with five games to go, with Lineen remaining in charge for the club’s forthcoming fixtures.

Neil Lennon mail-bomber accused go on trial

The High Court in Glasgow

The trial of the two men accused of a plot to kill Celtic manager Neil Lennon began at the High Court in Glasgow today.

Neil McKenzie, 42, and Trevor Muirhead, 43, both from Northern Ayrshire, are accused of sending suspected parcel bombs to Mr Lennon, QC Paul McBride and former MSP Trish Godman. They are also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. They deny all the charges.

The device sent to Mr McBride is alleged to be a plastic bottle filled with petrol and nails attached to a timing device. Cairde Na hEireann, the Irish Nationalist group, also had suspected explosives sent to their premises in Glasgow as well.

The alleged incident marked a climax in tensions during last season’s SPL, with a record seven Old Firm matches resulting in player bans and a high profile clash between Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon. Eventually the Scottish Government called a summit to calm the situation and introduced the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which comes into force on 1st March. The legislation means that anybody behaving in a way that could cause public disorder at or around matches face five years in jail.

The two pronged Act aims to outlaw sectarian behavior and singing at football matches as well as dealing with serious threats, often made on social media, intended to incite religious hatred.

English football’s losing European dominance- subbed

Leading The New Age Photo: courtesy of FC Barcelona

The reign of terror is over. After years of dominating the later stages of the Champions League it appears that the Premier League stranglehold over the competition is coming to an end.

With Manchester City unlikely to progress and struggling Chelsea now facing a daunting final game against Valencia, there is a real possibility that only two English clubs will stumble through to the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition. Such an unlikely event has not occurred since the competition’s later stages were reorganised in 2002.

So what has gone wrong? The Premiership is constantly heralded (by Sky) as the greatest league in the world, showcasing the best players, managers and matches.

And it appears the league has become complacent in it’s own hype.

The traditional European powerhouses of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United have all seen their squads decline in recent years. Cesc Fabregas and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the most notable casualties of this talent exodus, both preferring to ply their trade in the warmer and less frenetic climate of Spain. Debutants Man City have failed to transfer their historic league form to Europe, with their array of superstars struggling to gain traction against seasoned European campaigners. Arsenal and Man United have both replenished their line-ups with youngsters, who are inexperienced and often ill prepared for the challenges continental teams possess. Chelsea face the opposite problem, with the spine of their team creaking from years of exertion and firmly past their Mourinho prime.

The very nature of the Premiership itself has contributed to the problem. League campaigns have descended into wars of attrition, with the physicality of constant domestic battles sapping both strength and desire for foreign adventures. Key players are often rested in midweek group-stage games, with Chelsea and Man United’s patchy form testament to the dangers of such a strategy.

This brutality has also inhabited their style of play (perhaps excluding Arsene Wenger’s expansive philosophy) with results taking precedence over skill. Thus, when facing the patience of a Spanish attack or the rigour of an Italian defence, English teams are increasingly finding themselves unable to adapt and overcome as they once did.

The story of football is one of rise and fall. Whilst the Premiership hardly resembles the last days of Constantine’s Rome it does need to reassess its strength. Spain, the reigning World and European champions, now possess the world’s finest league and in Real Madrid and Barcelona contain the red-hot favourites for the Champions League. The English have learnt the hard lesson that it’s easier to get to the top in football than stay there.

This week in sport

Edinburgh Napier News Sports podcast for Thursday 24th November
Scotland's route to Brazil 2014 announced. Photo: SFA

Scotland’s World Cup qualifying fixtures announced, a discussion of Celtic’s Gordan Strachan approach, analysis of Hibs’ managerial search and Six Nations TV news.

Listen Here;

Champions League Round-Up

Comprehensive coverage of all big games in this week’s UEFA Champions League.

Listen Here;

Sepp Blatter’s 5 Biggest Gaffes

Sepp Blatter, the man who runs FIFA as a part dictatorship – part clown college,
is no stranger to controversy.


Whilst his comments about dealing with on-field racism with a handshake are entirely unacceptable, they should not be entirely unexpected.  The man makes Boris Johnson look like a safe pair of hands. Here are 5 of his ‘finest’ moments as head of world football.

1)   Keeping it in the family

 Comparably small scale for Blatter, the nepotism he has shown his nephew in the awarding of lucrative TV contracts has been a constant feature of his reign. Tens of millions of pounds have been handed to Philippe Blatter, often dwarfing the budgets of many of FIFA’s own member’s budgets. Despite claiming that the president himself has no role in the process, investigations have found a total lack of accountability and transparency under his stewardship.

 2) Plan for women to wear “tighter shorts” to improve popularity of the game.

With a brainwave coming straight out of the 17th century, Blatter thought it would be a good idea for female footballers to wear “more feminine” clothing to attract additional, presumably male, fans. The Swiss lothario, an unsurprising divorcee, urged women to adopt the ‘Kylie approach’ to success. Female players were, naturally, outraged.

3) Homosexuals should abstain in Qatar

 Obviously unhappy about only infuriating females, Blatter then set about ostracising the gay community.  Already under pressure for awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar (a country hardly on the right side of liberal), he decided to stoke tensions further by claiming homosexuals, “should refrain from any sexual activities”, to avoid cultural tensions.

How about just not awarding football’s premier event to a county that still has capital punishment, forced labour and a ban on homosexuality Mr Blatter?

4) World Cup voting corruption

It’s hard to know where to even begin with this one. FIFA’s never exactly been known for it’s transparent voting system but Blatter’s reign has heralded new levels of dishonesty. His 4 election victories have all been dogged by allegations of vote rigging and ‘cash-for-votes’ schemes but it was his most recent success that sparked the perfect storm of controversy. Standing unopposed after his only opponent was hobbled by Ethic committee enquiries and inquests, Blatter maintained his throne claiming that he would “clean up football”.  And pigs might indeed fly.

5) Football does not have a racism problem

 In a proper head-in-sand moment, Blatter declared yesterday that there was no problem of on field racism in FIFA’s game and that any problems that do arise should be dealt with a handshake. Guess there’s no point letting the facts get in the way of a good story. The spectre of racism has been creeping back into public attention over the last few months, with high-profile incidents involving John Terry, Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas all attracting international media attention. And the truth is that sadly the problem has never really left the sport. Whilst such assertions may not suit Blatter’s slick packaging of world football, if FIFA and national governing bodies ever want to get serious on the issue it is one they must accept.

Action Threatened After More Old Firm Shame

By Mark McKinlay

The Scottish Government has issued fresh warnings that bigots who flaunt the new anti-sectarian legislation will be named and shamed.

With sectarian singing prevalent throughout the recent Old Firm game, Roseanna Cunningham MSP warned that offenders would be unable to hide the nature of their crimes. The Community Safety minister made clear that the family and employers of those prosecuted would be informed of their sectarian charges.

However uncertainty has surrounded the government’s drive to rid Scottish football of religious bigotry from the beginning, with no definition of what classifies illegal behaviour being established.

Fans have reacted angrily to threats of unspecified guidelines being used to charge them. Dave Watson, a member of the Rangers Supporters Trust, said, “Surely no other crime could be punished in this way. The ones in charge of this, the ones that were at Ibrox have said they wouldn’t know any sectarian songs even if they heard them. Total joke.”

Celtic fans have also denounced the proposals, with Jim McNally adding, “Politicians should be focusing on more important things than a game of football.”

The trouble associated with Old Firm matches again hit the headlines following a 212% increase in domestic violence on Sunday.