TWO opposing views came into conflict, not in the same week, nor the same day … but in the same fraught cab journey.

Glasgow has been polarised about the value of bikes and what the current 2023 UCI World Cycling Championships have done for the city.

On the one hand, more than a billion viewers worldwide watched the phenomenal ending to Mathieu van der Poel’s dramatic victory in the road race. Those of us of the “stecky disposition” could only marvel as he scaled Montrose Street as we devoured a bag of Maryland Cookies.

Glasgow looked majestic, self-confident and alive with visitors. Even the rain seemed to glisten with self-confidence but some people didn’t like it.

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Yet again Glasgow took its place among the great event-cities of the world. But this is Scotland so there is always a “but”.

Set against the televised drama was row-upon-row of fenced-off streets, the enforced closure of Tantrum Doughnuts and the clumps of bewildered passengers emerging from the gaping mouth of Central Station with wheelies, looking for a cab.

The local inconveniences that come with major events can grow from a grumble to a gurning crescendo, and post-Covid there are barely-hidden signs of civil unrest about the number and frequency of big events. Sporting tournaments, global conventions, pop spectaculars and even Hollywood movies have tested the patience of some citizens.

Set against that are the inevitable benefits, worldwide reputation, hotel rooms booked solid, restaurants turning covers like a chambermaid on speed and inestimable income brought to families who hand their own homes over to visitors via Airbnb.

When it comes to big incoming events, I tend to see the upside, but then again, I live near the city centre and don’t drive, and so packed public transport or blocked roads don’t impact hugely on my daily life.

I prefer to take the long-term view. I have seen Glasgow thrive on an astonishing run of civic events on the back of the Garden Festival (1988), City of Culture (1990), City of Architecture (1999) UEFA Champions League Final (2002), the Opening of the Hydro (2013), and numerous UEFA Champions League Nights. Then there was the memorable Commonwealth Games (2014), which featured Team Scotland’s best Games performance ever with 53 medals – 19 gold, 15 silver and 19 bronze. Then in the slipstream came the UN Climate Change Conference Cop 26 (2021) and now the UCI Cycling World Championship (2023).

The National:

Few cities in the world can keep pace with Glasgow’s status as an event city and despite the moans and temporary inconveniences, the world was riveted to the city as van der Poel and his tattered blood-soaked jersey crossed the finish line in triumph.

It was publicity that you cannot buy, and inspired by that moment, people will be coming to Glasgow for years to come.

It would not surprise me if we saw a surge of visitors from Belgium and the Netherlands, two nations that cherish cycle-racing as if it was heaven-sent.

One factor, not unique to Glasgow, is the corrosive impact of party-political squabbling, looking to find fault or mobilising discontent in the hope that bad blood will translate into political gain.

To put that to bed, it is important to assert that Glasgow’s achievements have come from rival administrations, both Labour and SNP. If there is a constant, it is the phenomenal talent that Glasgow City and its various departments have amassed to build a reputation: they are simply world class.

Anyone who genuinely says it’s all about potholes rather than global reputation runs the risk of being myopic, petty or sectarian – possibly all three.

At the high-end of the world of events nothing stands still, expectations soar, competition intensifies, sports science develops and facilities – however leading edge – can always be upgraded.

Ironically, as Glasgow’s reputation for world-class event management soars, one of its oldest friends is on life support.

The Commonwealth Games are facing extinction, potential host cities are either refusing to bid or facing up to the escalating cost of hosting a multi-sport event.

Beyond that are the creaking realities of the Commonwealth itself, a relic of an idea which not only carries the burdens of empire and slavery but has precious few modern values, other than the limp concept of a “family of nations”, to drive it forward.

Try to explain the Commonwealth to a friend without sounding like a guest presenter on The One Show.

THE passing of Queen Elizabeth as a figurehead marked another nail in the Commonwealth’s coffin. One by one nations across the world are (re)asserting their independence, pronouncing a republic or redesigning bank notes with a self-confident flourish.

Make no mistake, the Commonwealth Games are in mortal crisis. The host for the 2026 Games, the Australian state of Victoria, withdrew a few weeks ago, and last week, the Alberta government announced that it was scrapping its plans to bid for the 2030 Games. Earlier this year, Hamilton, Ontario, which hosted the first Commonwealth Games in 1930, ended its considerations for a centennial commemoration in 2030.

Things look bleak. The games cost too much, there is little in the way of broadcast revenue and in the eyes of major corporate sponsors, they are the poor sister of the Olympics and World Cup. And even those global events struggle to find willing hosts. Hence the World Cup’s so-called “tyrants tour” of Russia and Qatar. Next time round, three countries will share the World Cup burden: Canada, the United States and Mexico and it’s likely that joint bids will become the new norm in international sporting events.

With the Commonwealth Games scrambling for a host city in both 2026 and 2030, Glasgow has put itself in a strong position internationally. It is now the stand-out candidate outside London to host events and a must-have partner for any UK or pan-Celtic joint bid. Some have already floated the idea of Glasgow and Birmingham becoming rotating host cities of the Commonwealth Games.

Last week, First Minister Humza Yousaf asked city leaders to “take a look” at the viability of Glasgow coming to the rescue of the beleaguered Commonwealth. I have to confess to mixed emotions.

If you are a high-performing Scottish athlete, in track and field, in the velodrome or in any number of minority sports, the prospect of representing your nation in a global tournament is

compelling, for some a lifetime opportunity. As a patriot, a scoundrel and indeed a flag-shagger, I love seeing our talented athletes draped in the saltire and beaming with pride. It is so compelling it should become an Olympic pursuit.

Our new talent seems to be on a roll at Trinbago 2023, the seventh Commonwealth Youth Games being held on the Islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

Talent development is the most powerful ally that the Commonwealth Games has for young Scots but it is an argument drowned out by the bidding process, opening ceremonies and the drama of so-called star athletes.

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As a citizen, I have no doubt that even with the inconveniences, major events bring significant new wealth into the local economy and position Scotland as a self-assured nation on the global stage.

Set against that is the harsh reality of global politics. The Commonwealth is a dying concept and if it has a last breath that can deliver for Scotland, then let us hear about it. But it must be on the basis of a robust cost-benefit analysis, and indisputable impact analysis – not a vanity project for the political classes.

It is Glasgow’s job to promote the city and enrich its wellbeing – not prop up a dying and archaic concept founded on the exploitation of other nations.

I will miss the gold medals but let the Commonwealth Games die in peace, their day has gone.