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Where’s Tom? BBC Scotland send English on holiday

With the new SPFL season getting underway over the weekend BBC Scotland were all over it.

On Friday night they were in the Championship at Gayfield followed up by three commentaries from the Premiership, conveniently spread out with kicks off’s at 12.30, 3pm and 5.15 on Saturday.

The opportunity was there to showcase the talent on tap to the BBC with their big name reporters all over it. Except for their Chief Sports Writer Tom English.

Known as The Big Kick-Off, the date was known long in advance with the fixtures announced at the end of June.

All year long English has been banging the drum for Micky Beale, recalling his brilliance on the training ground highlighted by the turnaround in results, except for matches against Celtic, since he replaced Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

A young, modern ambitious coach, one that has Liverpool, Chelsea and Brazil on his CV and who was actually the brains behind Steven Gerrard’s solitary success in management.

Strangely English wasn’t on duty at Rugby Park to share his views on how the new Superstars performed against a collection of free agents and loanees put together by Derek McGregor. Only former Murray Park starlet Lewis May cost a fee, one that is undisclosed.

BBC Scotland filled up Rugby Park with some of their star names, offering almost every viewpoint on the match. But there was no sign of English.

Earlier in the day his lumbering presence was missing from the media section at Celtic Park. Liam MacLeod babbled away with the stats he has collected over the summer with Pat Bonner and Michael Stewart interrupting with some comment and discussion about the match being played in front of MacLeod’s eyes.

Surely an occasion that deserved to be graced by the Chief Sports Writer at the state broadcaster? Offering his thoughtful observations to the peasants overdosing on social media content generated by Internet Bampots?

Not a bit of it. It seems that BBC Scotland is on egg shells after they were dropped from the invite list to the media conference introducing Brendan Rodgers as the new Celtic manager, followed in midweek with no invite to the pre Ross County conference.

No reason has been given for the BBC being excluded but most media outlets have concluded that English’s sneering reaction to the appointment of Rodgers was responsible.

If he wants to act like one of the lads on an anonymous message board him and his employers can hardly expect media privileges when it suits.

Perhaps the more rugby assignments that English is given might see BBC Scotland back inside Celtic Park with Macintyre, Lamont, Lewis, McLaughlin and Idesanne reminded to retain professional standards regardless of personal animosity towards everyone employed by Scotland’s most successful club.

On June 18, Craig Whyte’s favourite reporter graced the BBC website with:

Whether Celtic folk see it as the return of the prodigal son or the reappointment of the shameless one, Brendan Rodgers is on his way back.

His dream job, remember. “A way of life…the ultimate…a truly great football club…one of the iconic clubs of the world…the greatest in the world.”

Rodgers will bring nous and charisma. It will not be dull, not for one millisecond.

When he speaks later in the week it’s hard to know if he’ll have the trowel he used to lay on the shtick in his first spell and, if he does, what impact those words will have on the support this time around.

“I was born into Celtic” might not work so well a second time after the bitterness and rancour he left behind when upping and leaving for Leicester in the spring of 2019.

On August 20 English will be appearing at the Edinburgh Festival discussing his career with Graham Spiers, many tickets are still available for £12.50 with 2-for-1 offers available for those that way inclined.

BBC Scotland is entirely funded by the TV licence fee.

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