June 2002
Odds and Sods

Jim Hamill looks at the transfer market. Sharp practice in the World Cup betting market.


Some thoughts on the current transfer market
by Jim Hamill

Bargain Debasement

Have you ever gone into a shop and somehow felt compelled to buy a shirt which you don't really need or want simply because it bears a label declaring that it has been reduced from £45 to £10? Or have you ever backed a horse that you didn't really fancy but, since it was so overpriced, you felt you had to avail yourself of a little piece of each way, just in case? I must confess to being guilty on both counts and, I suspect Jim Jeffries is too.

What other explanation can there be for his purchase of Barry McLaughlin from St. Mirren? The Paisley outfit clearly need to make economies by reducing their wage bill and to attract funds from sales of assets, ie playing staff. Unfortunately, there is not much money in the game these days, therefore, in order to effect a sale, they concluded that they would be prepared to sell one of their best players at a market value, considerably below what he would have realised in previous seasons.

Enter Jim Jeffries. Jim, it seems, can't resist a bargain. Having already rummaged in the bargain bucket containing such tempting goodies as Lee Makel and Steve Fulton, he had not quite committed himself when he saw the fluorescent "MASSIVE REDUCTION-------UNBEATABLE PRICE" sign suspended over the head of the erstwhile Buddy, McLaughlin. Unable to restrain himself, the redoubtable Jim responded with Pavlovian ardour, and whipped out a cheque for forty grand, there and then.

Jeffries, on sober reflection, must be wondering what he does with him now. Kilmarnock already have 4 central defenders in Dindeleux, McGowne, Innes and Hessey, while Sanjuan has performed admirably at the back when called upon to do so. Like so many other teams, Kilmarnock have been assiduously pruning surplus playing staff, to reduce the wage bill, in order to survive the realities of post -sky revenue deficiency syndrome. So far the above mentioned defenders have survived the cull, so it would be reasonable to assume that they are required for next season.

So, in order for McLaughlin to to have a chance of playing ahead of them, next season, he will need either to be:a) Better than them. But a CV illustrating a career spent entirely at St. Mirren is scant evidence that he is.
b) Praying that at least 3 of them will be unavailable at any given time. At the moment only McGowne is injured but should be back early in the new season. or
c) Hoping Jeffries, himself, is planning to sell. However would someone with such an acute sense of a bargain be able to bring himself to sell off his own assets at below their market value, which is undoubtedly what he would need to settle for in the current climate?

Before supporters of other teams become overly smug here, I would urge them to examine their own managers and ask if they would be able to resist false bargains. Livingston have already been linked to Mixu Patelainnen, and any other strikers who seem to possess a serviceable pair of feet and a reasonable working knowledge of goalmouth geography, as they seek a replacement for Fernandez. Or just ask Dundee Utd about Alex Mathie.

The summer will continue to see the price of saleable commodities increasingly pared as the transfer window approaches closure on the 31st August. And so, as the shelves begin to groan under the weight of unsold damaged goods, how many other managers will be lured to their doom by the Lorelei-like beckoning of a beguiling 'cut price' sign.

I hear Mr Lambie is on the lookout for an influx of affordable yet capable talent to Maryhill. Word has it he was last spotted at the Barras eyeing up some plausible fake gear. Surely its just coincidence.


Who says we don’t make them like we used to? Step forward James McFadden of Motherwell. The 19-year old missed the flight back from Scotland’s Far East tour after a night out on the razzle. A worthy successor to Baxter, Bremner and Johnstone indeed.


Somebody once said that you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. Well, I received an e-mail this week saying that after running a search on Amazon for my book 'Everygame,' it was suggested to the would-be buyer that he might also be interested in Pamela Stephenson's biography of her husband Billy Connolly, Randy Taraborrelli's life story of Madonna and Booker winner Iain McEwan's 'Atonement.'

It could be worse. It could be a lot worse. I'm flattered.


If you're planning a punt on the World Cup then be even more cautious than usual. This website wouldn't dream of telling you who to back but we will warn you off from some of the more ludicrous odds on offer.

Take internet betting giants Blue Square for instance. They already have a reputation for being stingy with the odds but their group betting on the World Cup is simply farcical. Only TWO teams qualify from each group but in one group they're offering THREE teams at odds-on - Japan, Belgium and Russia.

Ireland are third in the betting in their group but are priced at even money - a 50/50 bet in anyone's language. No bookie would get away with these prices in a four-horse race.

So our advice to punters regarding Blue Square is in the form of a little competition of our own - re-arrange these words into a well-known phrase:




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