Rugby correspondant recalls racism and homophobia in sports reporting: “I remember footballers having bananas thrown at them”

Rob Robertson is a rugby correspondent for the Scottish Daily Mail. During his career he never has seen the minority correspondents racially abused by other colleagues. “However, I have seen members of the public do it to them.”

Photo Credit: Rob Robertson

“Not only the racial abuse but I have seen gay colleagues being the subject of taunts by their fellow reporters. They were always a lot older and the last time I saw that happen was twenty years ago.”

The rugby correspondent recalls that back in the 1980’s the media did not use racist terms but it was a lot of incidents happening during the games which were reported by the media.

“In football I remember players such as Mark Walters of Rangers F.C. had bananas thrown at him. The same happened to the Clyde Best from the West Ham United F.C.”

Sport is a major sector in the media industry but it does not reflect fully on the social and cultural diversity. Moreover, the sport coverage doesn’t ensure equality for all.

Looking at the women coverage there is a hope that changes can be made. “Journalism in Scotland was traditionally male dominated and still is but efforts from the likes of the WIJ Scotland, training and campaigning group for women journalists, has made a difference.”

Rob Robertson believes that it shouldn’t be just about raising the awareness. “It should be more a case of making sure you use no racist comment in your copy or on the radio and TV.”

“It has happened before when the former West Bromwich Albion manager Ron Atkinson was booted off ITV for claiming a player was lazy because he was a minority. He thought he was off microphone but he wasn’t.”

Rob Robertson agrees that corespondents should treat equally every player, despite their background.

It’s the medias role to ensure that they are following professional ethics.

Europa League Qualifiers Preview

It’ll certainly be a tough task for all four Scottish clubs to progress to the next round of the Europa League qualifiers, with each club travelling to face their opponents away from home tonight.

Riga FC V Celtic

Neil Lennon’s side travel to Latvia to face the champions of the Latvian Higher League, Riga FC, who currently sit four points clear at the top of their league, having played 19 games.

It’ll be the first taste of Latvian opposition for Celtic, who are without centre half Christopher Julien and winger Mikey Johnston due to injury. The return of Odsonne Edouard, who was rested in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Livingston, will be a massive boost for the Scottish champions.

Celtic are entering the competition at this stage having suffered a shock Champions League exit at the hands of Ferencvaros. However, they will be confident of beating Riga and earning a place in the play-offs, where the winner of Sarajevo v Budocnost Podgorica awaits.

Hapoel Beer Sheva V Motherwell

Stephen Robinson has described his Motherwell side as “underdogs” as they travel to Israel to face Hapoel Beer Sheva tonight.

The Steelmen are heading into the game without the suspended Bevis Mugabi, who was sent off in last weeks’ match against Coleraine. Meanwhile Jake Carroll, Charles Dunne, Liam Donnelly and Scott Fox all remain absent through injury. Robbie Crawford, who signed on loan from Livingston, is yet to feature for Stephen Robinsons side.

A place in the play-offs and a home tie against Viktoria Plzen or Sonderjyske is up for grabs if The Well can pull off a win against a Hapoel side who reached the Europa League group stages in 2017.

Sporting CP V Aberdeen

What might’ve been an all but impossible task for Aberdeen may not be such a tall order anymore. This comes after nine of Sporting CP’s first team squad and their head coach have tested positive for coronavirus.

Despite the outbreak, Dons boss Derek McInnes fully expects the match to go ahead and has described the game as a “formidable task” for his side, despite the Portuguese sides’ lack of first team players.

Aberdeen are without Scott McKenna who has completed his move to English Championship side Nottingham Forest, while Sam Cosgrove, Michael Devlin, Matty Kennedy and Curtis Main remain injured.

Aberdeen come into this one on the back of a 0-3 defeat to Motherwell, while Sportings’ opening league match against Gil Vicente was postponed due to the outbreak.

The Dons will be hoping that Sportings’ poor record against Scottish clubs continues. The Portuguese side have won just five of their 14 encounters with Scottish clubs Rangers, Celtic, Dundee and Hibernian.

Willem II V Rangers

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard hopes his side can regain their defensive prowess after conceding twice to Hibernian on Saturday, following eight successive clean sheets since the start of the season.

The Ibrox side travel to Tilburg to play Dutch side Willem II, who finished fifth in the Eredivisie last season after the league was suspended and subsequently declared void.

Rangers are without midfielders Ryan Jack and Joe Aribo, while defender Nikola Katic also remains out through injury. Brandon Barker and Kemar Roofe remain doubtful after missing the 2-2 draw with Hibernian on Sunday.

Rangers will be looking to replicate their good form in Europe which saw them get to the last 16 of last seasons Europa League competition, where they were knocked out by German side Bayer Leverkusen.

Edinburgh GBK Manager Unsure Of Restaurant’s Future Amidst Company Sale

The manager of Gourmet Burger Kitchen on George street has said he “isn’t optimistic” about the restaurant reopening soon.

Photo by: Duncan Robertson

The George Street eatery closed at the beginning of the national lockdown in April but has since remained closed amidst an ownership auction for the UK-wide chain.

Josh King, the manager of George street’s GBK told EN4 News “There’s a good chance we’ll probably close for good.”

“With these new regulations that are coming in and with the news being what it is, I would say I’m not optimistic that we’ll be opening soon. If there is another actual lockdown will be on the scrapheap, I would imagine”, he said.

“I read in the paper today that a quarter of restaurants and pubs are saying the same thing. And I think, unfortunately, we’re going to be in the quarter that just wouldn’t be able to survive another lockdown”.

GBK is a chain of restaurants which employs nearly 1300 staff country-wide. Since lockdown restrictions have eased, the company has opened 37 of their stores for delivery and dine-in but has left 25, including their Edinburgh and Glasgow sites closed.

When asked if he was surprised that the Edinburgh restaurant hadn’t reopened given its central location, King said “I’m a little surprised, but a little bit not surprised. It’s a high street site so obviously, a lot of our clientele are in the offices around the city center. And obviously, the advice appears for offices to stay at home.

Photo By: Duncan Robertson

“Obviously, with things like Fringe and Christmas being cancelled, those sort of peak trading seasons for us are off the cards this year.

“The way that head offices handling reopening is they basically started at the top and work their way down a list based on weekly, and monthly sales and we fall at the sort of the bottom third of that list.”

King also added that it was “frustrating” to see other GBK sites around the country opening.

“Personally, it’s very frustrating. Obviously, it’s not good to be left waiting and essentially be left, you know, wondering. But professionally, I do appreciate it. The information is just not there to make a decision.”

Alex Darling, a 21-year-old student who also works in the George street GBK is more optimistic. She told EN4News “I am surprised that George street hasn’t reopened yet, I think the ‘eat out to help out’ scheme would have been great for getting both new customers and our regulars back into the restaurant so it’s a shame we missed it.

“We have received regular updates from the company about the reopening of restaurants, but I haven’t been told why George street hasn’t opened yet.”

The South African parent company of GBK, Famous Brands, has been trying to revitalise the brand’s 62 restaurants since its 2018 financial restructuring of the company.

In April, Famous Brands announced that it would no longer financially support any loss-making GBK restaurants. Darling, however, says employees have been receiving furlough since the Edinburgh restaurant closed.

“We have been receiving furlough throughout lockdown. The company has been great with ensuring staff are looked after during these strange times. My manager Josh has also been keeping in regular contact with us to check-in and make sure everyone is doing well.”

King also had kind words to say about the ways GBK has been looking after their employees, noting that “I’ve got my line manager above me, who’s checking in regularly. Obviously, you know, my manager, and other managers around the area, we’re all looking out for each other.

“Officially, GBK has an HR department with constant access to a phone and an email and things. So the support nominally has been there. But of course, it’s very difficult to keep morale up when you are in a situation where you don’t know really what’s going on from day-to-day. Of course, some of that is GBK’s fault in the sense that they’ve probably not been as open with us as they could have been. But obviously, the situation is changing every 24 hours in some cases, so there’s only so much they really can do to help.”

GBK’s Edinburgh customers have also been left without news of the eatery’s future as no announcements have been made on social media about it reopening. A note in the window of the George Street store says “Gone for now… But we’ll be back! Thanks for everything. Stay Safe!”

Photo By: Duncan Robertson

Darling seemed optimistic about the restaurant’s future. “I don’t think the George street branch will close. Hopefully, we can get back to work soon!

“I do miss being at work, I miss having the structure of going to both work and uni- it has been hard to adjust lockdown life”, she concluded.

Last week, Famous Brands announced they were beginning processes to sell the GBK chain.

No sale has been publicly announced yet but Calveton UK, the parent company of competitor chain Byron Burger has expressed interest in a potential purchase.

When asked if employees had been told anything about a potential sale, King said “Deloitte and most of the big consulting firms, they put out some advice in April and May to everyone who was holding any kind of casual dining brand to sell it, basically. As far as I know, Famous Brands is going to take that advice, and are looking to sell GBK as a brand – sell the whole thing.

“Beyond that, the T’s and C’s, we’re obviously not privy to that kind of sensitive information.”

When Famous Brands bought the company in 2016 they paid £120 million. In 2018 however, the group closed 20 GBK restaurants during a company voluntary agreement process.

According to Sky News, Deloitte is handling the GBK sale, but both parties declined the chance to comment.


Shelter Scotland urges support for the housing crisis

As new measures for a potential lockdown are being discussed, reports of the economic devastation and stagnation have reached the capital.

Photo by Maximillian Klenke

In series of recent pamphlets, pledges and research papers, Shelter Scotland illuminated the degree of destitute experienced in Scotland in a surge of published data.

The data highlights many problems faced by individual agencies, councils, and construction companies. The accounts commission’s audit report which is cited in Shelter’s documentation explains “The Scottish Government has provided only limited information about the funding arrangements immediately post-2021.

With the campaign #BuildScotlandsFuture, Shelter pledges to lobby for ‘a bold new house building programme to deliver the 37,100 social homes Scotland needs.

Said commission predicts and highlights an increasingly unpredictable and uncertain economic landscape. The audit report states: “Significant barriers to the ongoing delivery of affordable housing remain. These include access to suitable land to develop with the necessary infrastructure, and higher development costs in rural and remote areas”

Photo by Maximilian Klenke

As the need for affordable housing rises at an alarming rate, the government is hard pressed to find amicable solutions that withstand scrutiny. The response Shelter Scotland has offered to the Government provides a list of amendments aimed to immediately improve and stabilise the situation. Further commentary on current legislative efforts read as follows: ”The circularity of the provision is that it allows for unsuitable temporary accommodation to be provided to ensure social distancing between the household and those out with, yet such accommodation may be bed and breakfast, hostel or hotel accommodation with shared facilities where social distancing may be challenging.”

The report further highlights the lack of success in providing insight into the housing situation as many industry sectors are seemingly overdrawn or not fully operational yet. It concludes: “This uncertainty is affecting councils’ and their partners ability to plan future developments.“

Drastic increase in domestic abuse during lockdown report shows

A harrowing report published by the Scottish Government on September 18th reveals the dramatic increase in domestic violence between phase 1 and 3 of the lockdown.

Using a qualitative approach, Scottish officials have outlined where urgent action is required whilst emphasizing a reflection on individual experience.

Highlighting the desperate need for secure spaces, retreats, and housing the research data reveals the struggle of victims for safe housing during quarantine.

The accessing of support or lack thereof is an equally persistent theme throughout the report, claiming that “digital exclusion was a consistent finding throughout phase 1 and 3”.

Arguably the most disheartening data arises out of the mental health section of the report. One section states: “Many organisations observed increases in crisis work with victims, with many people experiencing suicidal ideation, depression and anxiety, increasing substance misuse as a coping mechanism, and/or increased levels of fear, both of the perpetrator and the virus.” Furthermore, during phase 1 and 2, reports began to emerge of relapsing addiction victims.

Housing remains at the core of the issue throughout the report as many victims are still unable leave their allocated B’n’B or paid accommodation. There is, however, a lot of praise for some of the local agencies who succeeded in intervening on behalf of the victim and facilitated a speedy rehoming.

Sharing self-isolation stories all over Europe

Coming back to university life after a summer at home can be as exciting as much as it can be dreadful.

This year, with the health crisis the world is undergoing, students from all over the world have to adapt and makes change to get back into a changed, anxious, claustrophobic world on pause.

We have talked to two students from France and the Netherlands on their experience of quarantine.



Shetland demands independence from “distant capitals”

Shetland have declared they want political and financial self-determination from Scotland as they argue remote decision making from Holyrood does not benefit Shetland. 20 members of Shetland Islands Council voted in total, 18 of which were in favour of more autonomy.

Photo by Angela Irvine

Amongst those to back the decision is North Isles Councillor Duncan Anderson, who explained: “We believe that remote decision making from distant capitals is not proving the best outcomes for our community. We think Shetland would be better served with more local decision making and a fairer share of revenues which flow out of our islands. We will now seek to discuss the various options with both the UK and Scottish Governments, as well as the Shetland public.”

Shetland Islands Council aren’t the only ones in favour of increased autonomy. Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie added: “I am a supporter of greater autonomy for Shetland. I have always been a strong supporter of greater power for local communities. I know the frustration that is felt when Edinburgh and London just don’t listen. Whether it be fixed links or support for local ferry services, local people are just fed up.”

Arguably the largest contributor to Shetland’s economy is the fishing industry. SFA Executive Officer of Shetland Fishermen Association, Simon Collins discussed the potential benefits more powers could have on fishing: “The most obvious benefits for fishing in the most extreme case (where Shetland had full control of its Exclusive Economic Zone) would firstly be the local fleet would have vastly more fish to catch, as the islands sit right in the middle of the most productive fishing grounds in UK waters. Secondly, fisheries management could be improved, as decisions would be taken closer to the ‘coalface’ and lastly the knock-on benefits to onshore businesses in Shetland.

He warned there could also be unfavourable consequences: “The biggest negative would be a need for SIC (Shetland Islands Council) to step up spending considerably on marine science and on its general capacity to manage a complex fishery. This is not something that a local council is equipped to do, and none of this capacity-building comes cheap. It would need some hard thinking on the SIC budget. In the end, you could expect more tax income to pay for these resources, but there would be a lot to spend up front, before any benefits accrued to SIC.”

Photo by Angela Irvine

The isles are geographically closer to Norway than they are to Holyrood and were under Norwegian and Danish rule until the 15th century.
Tensions have been brewing between Shetland and Scotland for centuries, with the clearances far from a distant memory. However, it reached boiling point now that the isles are hosting the UK’s biggest onshore windfarm. 103 wind turbines will coat Shetland’s mainland. The isles mostly consist of peat lands which is being torn up and replaced with concrete, releasing thousands of years worth of CO2. The peatbog that runs between Caithness and Sutherland is protected, one of the main reasons being it stores carbon, yet active blanket bog in Shetland is currently being destroyed.
Anti-Viking Energy windfarm activist Michelle Sandison from the island of Whalsay, explained why she is against it: “The greatest injustice is the scale of the wind farm: 22,000 people living in Shetland, 10,000 households will have their lives blighted to provide energy for half a million households on the (Scottish) mainland. I cannot understand how anyone can think it is fair that Shetland, one of the UK’s last unspoilt wildernesses, is to be covered in the UK’s largest onshore wind farm without the residents of Shetland ever being told about the realities of the project, the holding of a public enquiry or being given an opportunity to vote on the scheme.”

The size of the turbines has shocked islanders as VE later decided to make them 155 metres tall. To put that into perspective, the Statue of Liberty is 93 metres and the Scott Monument is 61 metres.

Shetland now hope with more power, they can decide whether they want controversial projects like these to go ahead, rather than be treated like Scotland’s wasteland.

Queen Margaret University Students told to self-isolate in halls after positive COVID-19 case

A number of Queen Margaret university students have been told to self-isolate in student accommodation after one person tested positive case of COVID-19.

Students were told to attend classes as normal unless they were contacted.

Students were contacted yesterday afternoon detailing that those who are required to self-isolate had already been informed. They have been advised that they should continue to attend classes as normal unless they had been told otherwise.

In an email sent by the university, students were told that activities within the university as normal,

“A number of people have been contacted because they may have been in close and sustained contact with the case and will need to self-isolate,” it said.
“We are working closely with the NHS Lothian Health Protection Team and following all national guidance.”

EN4 morning news brief

Tune in as Amy-Leigh Hollingsworth reads the local news of today.


Tune in later today for EN4 afternoon news brief.

Hard times for soft play

A protest took place outside Scottish Parliament on Wednesday urging Nicola sturgeon to recognise and help out the country’s soft play areas after the effects of the pandemic.

Photo by Chloe Wright

Owners, employees and customers of soft plays from across the country traveled to the parliament to stand in support of soft play areas that, under current lock down restrictions, are unable to open.

Indoor soft plays in Scotland have been shut since March 23 and were initially given the reopening date of September 14. However, the First Minister pushed back the reopening date and has said the decision will be reviewed at the beginning of October but businesses in the industry will have to remain closed until October 5 at the earliest.


With the Government continuing to cut down the amount of furlough pay they are covering for staff still unable to return to work, the industry is calling out for further financial support before many of these businesses will have to permanently close.

Photo by Chloe Wright

Soft play owners across the country are calling for action to be taken to help financially support their businesses as they are still unable to open and are having to make up for the cut in furlough by the Government for their staff.

A number of MSPs came to show their support at the protest as well. Conservative MSP for Central Scotland, Graham Simpson said “I think the Scottish government needs to do more to look at how places like this could open safely because I’ve heard already from a number of businesses that say they can do that and we know that youngsters are not susceptible to go where there’s people my age so I think we need to find a way to allow them to open safely and not just for the kids but for the people running the businesses.

When asked about if more funding for the soft play industry has been mentioned in the Scottish Parliament, Simpson said “I’ve not actually heard it raised but I think that one of the advantages of an event like this is it is bound to be raised now but it’s a pity that they have to come down here and do this. I’m pretty sure it’ll be on the agenda now.”

Organiser of the rally and manager of Play Planet Dunfermline, Lauren Baillie, said “Soft play in Scotland is under great threat. A lot of plays are at threat of closure and making redundancies because the Scottish Government is not providing any additional funding and they’re not following England, Wales and Ireland by allowing us to open either so if we don’t get any support and we’re forced to stay close until the end of the year, then the reality is that soft play in Scotland will be a thing of the past.”

Along with the protest, Lauren has also set up an online petition, asking the Scottish Government to review the situation and “Save Scotland’s Soft Plays!” The petition has gathered over 6,000 signatures.

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