So I’ve been out the loop for a couple of weeks or so, not so much that I haven’t been able to enjoy a few weeks of sometimes wonderful sport, but enough that I’d lost track a bit of some of the surrounding stories. So while my sleep patterns return to normal after the Ashes (how great was that?) and I’m mostly loved up with football due to Raith being back on top of the league, I look through the news stories again to find a few surprises, so much that’s same old, same old, and a few things that were all too depressingly predictable.

Since we’ve already mentioned the cricket, I’ll start with that. I’ve been following the Pakistan spot-fixing affair – and its surrounding media circus – with some interest following its first airing during the summer, and as anyone interested will have seen, their ICC hearing was held in Doha last week. None of the three cricketers involved were able to offer any meaningful explanation of how someone had been able to promise the exact timings of their no-balls beforehand, and while young Mohammad Amir was given a slightly easier ride, it became apparent that in cross-questioning that Salman Butt and Mohammed Asif were offering different explanation, such as those explanations were. The hearing, slightly surprisingly, deferred their verdict until next month.

As far as I’m concerned they’re bang-to-rights. Whether there is enough evidence to convict them in what is effectively a court of law I don’t know, but the standard of proof required to convince the viewing public that something untoward has occurred is rather lower. A not guilty verdict and a suggestion it may all have been a mere coincidence would stretch my credibility beyond breaking point, and cricket’s ongoing efforts to ensure the game is clean post-Cronje will take a serious knock should that happen. But, the downside of a guilty verdict will be the crowing of the News of the World, who – let’s remember – were the ones who set this whole thing up. Back in my September article I noted that

if the investigation does lead us to discover people – besides their own journalists – who are prowling the world of sport offering money to fix matches then I’ll eat my words and acknowledge the role they played in it

The matter is far from done yet, and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but so far there’s been absolutely zip by means of follow-up. Beneath all the bluster and the talk of banning Pakistan from international cricket, it’s looking increasingly like this incident – particularly for Amir – was a one off. My anger that that little shitrag of a newspaper has, in the guise of moral guardians, set up a sting that may have wrecked the career of such an exciting young cricketer remains undimmed.

Still. The Ashes, eh? Brilliant stuff.

Enough cricket. Back to another pet topic – Dundee. Their second appeal, to the SFA, against their 25 point deduction failed on Friday, as everyone knew it would; and their threat / promise of legal action turned out to be a bluff, as everyone knew it would. Public utterances not just from their fans but some of their players and staff continue to indicate that many of them still don’t get it, and lately they’ve been complaining that the SFL have so far blocked their attempts to find a way round the transfer embargo, but hopefully things will settle down now and they’ll get on with it. The total level of their debt seems to have crept up a bit every time I hear it quoted, which I guess is the way of these things, but it’s still not clear whether or not HMRC will have the 25% share they would need to block a CVA – or whether anyone else would vote with them. It might yet be touch and go for their future when the vote comes early in February, but for all my criticism of the Dundee support earlier in the paragraph, their fundraising efforts have been outstanding and I’m still hopeful the club will be okay.

And to the depressingly predictable. David Goodwillie has scored more than half of Dundee United’s goals this season, and just last week they turned down a bid from Rangers. But his unfortunate addiction to legal troubles, highlighted on here just a couple of months back, before his Scotland debut, has since reared its head again, and this afternoon he’s been charged with rape following an incident earlier in the month. There’s nothing else to be said for this story at present, we’ll just have to await developments.

And finally, I’m amused to see that the SPL have plucked some more numbers out the air in their latest league reconstruction talks. It’s now a top league of ten and a second league of twelve apparently, with four rounds of all-play-all fixtures in each. Still, at least that answers the question about the gap in the finances of the previous plan. We were wondering where the extra money was going to come from to fund SPL2 and now we know. They’re going to make me pay for it by giving me an extra eight games to watch. Which is nice of them. My lot only had to play seven games in the final fortnight last season, I’m sure we could have squeezed in another eight somewhere.

Again, there’s more to come on this story, and rest assured I’ll be having another rant about it sooner or later. But there’s no particular point in getting too hung up on the details of this particular plan – there’ll be a different one along next week.

Still, the Ashes, eh?