Monthly Archives: June 2012
I still haven’t seen a single reason to justify the proposition that a re-branded, papered-over-the-cracks version of the liquidated Rangers Football Club should be allowed to enter the senior leagues at any level at all. There is no basis for making an assumption that Sevco Scotland FC should be granted the privilege of entering SFL Division 3.
While the attitude of most supporters around Scotland is that SFL3 is the very highest level at which Sevco FC should be permitted to make its debut in senior football, those Rangers supporters who are prepared to “take their medicine” and start from the bottom are mostly conceding the point for all the wrong reasons.
Despite massive evidence to the contrary, there is a large, vocal constituency of Rangers supporters who still maintain that their thieving, corrupt, fraudulent club put something worthwhile into Scottish football and society. Their motive for plying their trade outwith the SPL is merely to “punish” the clubs who did not back down in the face of their threats. Anyone who doubts this only had to spend five minutes watching the cringeworthy spectacle of John Brown addressing the growling rabble outside the main doors at Ibrox last week. It was like watching Harry Enfield’s William Ulsterman character being impersonated by Rab C Nesbitt on the set of Dawn Of The Dead. When there’s no room left in the SPL, the dead will walk the streets, up to their knees in Fenian blood and bellowing, “No surrender!”
No progress will have been made if these peepul are admitted to the Scottish senior league with a chip on their shoulder and the delusion that they have been hard done by. There is no future for professional football in Scotland unless the people running the game stop obstructing the process of fully investigating every facet of the Ibrox scandal and exposing the culpability of the guilty parties. Clearly, that requires the replacement of the present leaders who are themselves hopelessly conflicted. Until they go, or are forced to go, the attempted whitewash will continue. No lessons will be learned if the myth persists that Scottish football can only prosper if it drinks from the poisoned well of the “We Are The People” mentality with its attendant sense of entitlement, its cavalier disregard for justice and its vengeful overtones of malice towards any who call it to account. Letting the Bully Boys off the hook at this stage will accomplish nothing other than resetting the counter on a time-bomb.
“But what about the decent Rangers supporters?” This question is regurgitated regularly.
“They are the ones who will suffer the most.”
Let’s start by trying to identify those decent Rangers supporters, on the assumption that there have been some. I must presume that, over the years and decades, they have had the decency not to add their voices to the choruses of hatred against the Catholic religion and the Irish people at every single game Rangers have played.
They will have had the decency to miss no opportunity to remind their fellow supporters on forums, in public and in private that the offences committed by Rangers during the Moonbeams era are indefensible and that expulsion from Scottish football would be fully deserved. They will have recognised these crimes for what they are, expressed their personal disappointment for having unwittingly supported such rank corruption and dissociated themselves from anything that is remotely similar to the organisation which has brought disgrace upon itself and all of its followers. They will have realised that years of gloating about Rangers’ dominance and arrogantly boasting about their unchallengeable superiority were founded upon a worthless con trick.
In particular, they will have recognised that the Ibrox culture, which they once happily bought into, depended upon the exploitation of the character weakness whereby too many people are all too ready to claim a vicarious share of glory which belongs to others. Although this trait – known as BIRGing – is a universal human trait, it becomes unhealthy when it is taken to such an extreme that self-awareness is seriously impaired. So by now the decent fans will have looked into their hearts and discovered that it made no difference to them at that time whether the rewards were claimed by fair means or foul. But now that they are wiser, they will have accepted that their loyalties were misplaced, their judgement was poor and that it is better to live without associating themselves with any potential reincarnation of a brand name which has now become a byword for corruption and shame.
I know a few people who qualify as “decent Rangers fans”. They have proved that they are decent by removing the incompatible “Rangers fan” appendix from their identity and have thus reclaimed their honour. Fair play to them. For years, many quietly and patiently hoped that the unacceptable, embarrassing elements of their club would eventually wither away of their own accord and leave the destiny of the club in the trust of people who can behave like honest citizens, enjoy genuine sporting competition and take the rough with the smooth. Most have already realised that this was always a forlorn hope. They are currently being joined by the remnant who are now hopelessly outnumbered by the defiant mobs of dinosaurs. Neither the former Rangers FC nor the embryonic Sevco Scotland FC can make any claim on the loyalty or support of the “decent Rangers fan” now.
Meanwhile, although widespread disgust has been expressed for the oleaginous Neil Doncaster‘s corrupt proposals to sacrifice Scottish football for the sake of pretending that Rangers still exist, the tactic has succeeded in at least one respect. It has, for the moment, shifted the grounds of the debate so that a true perspective of the fundamental issue has temporarily moved out of focus. Doncaster’s ludicrous position is so extreme that he could give away almost all of the ground he is claiming for ZombieHuns and still present himself as a moderate, reasonable negotiator by accepting the compromise which admits the Rangers Tribute Band FC into the ranks of senior professional football, albeit at the bottom of the pile.
There is a danger of replacing an outrageous outcome with an intolerable one in the mistaken belief that it is the best that can be achieved. It is nowhere near to the best that can be achieved. The very least that Scottish football supporters should be prepared to accept now is that the formal expulsion of Rangers FC is placed on the record; that Neil Doncaster, Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie should each face a vote of No Confidence (which should be carried unanimously); and that no new club purporting to be a re-manifestation of Rangers FC should be allowed to participate in organised Scottish football until investigations by the police, tax authorities and any other law enforcement agencies are brought to a conclusion, their reports are published and their files are closed.
We now stand at a crossroads. This is an unprecedented opportunity not only to decide upon the future direction of Scottish football but also to make clear what kind of society we wish to live in. Do we want to stand against bullying and intimidation or shall we just sell out to the first bid for our souls? Does this country need corporate fraud, corruption, cheating and dishonesty or do we have enough backbone to do strike against it when we get the chance? If we are inclined towards the latter option in each case then we have no choice but to resist every attempt to allow Sevco FC to crowbar its way into the Scottish League through its identification with the decaying corpse of Rangers FC. The rules clearly state that Sevco FC, being unable to produce audited accounts for the last three years, is not even eligible for admission to the SFL. That concludes that matter; its application can be rejected forthwith.
At this moment, when we have an unprecedented opportunity to build a fair, sustainable structure for our game, the very last thing that we need is to give our blessing to the creation of a new focus for the unrepentant followers of a discredited ideology to continue their anti-sporting behaviour. There are other clubs who are far more worthy of the senior league slot which has become vacant through the total self-destruction of a poisonous entity that had, in any case, already long outlived its usefulness. Let’s get on with the business of selecting one of them without further delay.
Re-reading my article on Alex Thomson‘s “solutions” for the problems which Scottish football now faces because of Rangers, I think I haven’t made it clear enough that, for all the good work that Alex Thomson did up to this point, I feel let down by his emphasis on starting again with a clean sheet through a straightforward corporate rebranding exercise.
I should have made my feeling clearer that there is no reason to expect anything to change if there isn’t a full investigation into how this shambles was allowed to happen.
Campbell Ogilvie remains the President of the SFA. The mass of Scottish football fans have absolutely no confidence in either Stewart Regan or Neil Doncaster. The mechanism by which people of that calibre can be appointed to oversee the game remains the same.
It is inevitable, in my view, that the same problems will arise again if the same conditions exist; therefore we’re no further forward and a lot of culpable people will never be held to account under Thommo’s proposals. His willingness to gloss over the causes of the scandal does him no credit.
What he flagged as an investigation into corporate misgovernance ends up with a solution that comes straight from the corporate playbook, benefiting only the corporation.
When someone dribbles the ball right through the defence, past the keeper and up to the goal-line, it’s reasonable to criticise him for then putting the ball out for a shy.
The question then is not, how did he miss?
It’s, why did he do that?
Alex Thomson, the chief reporter for Channel 4 News, has suggested a way forward for the supporters of the now extinct Rangers Football Club. In his blogpost of June 23rd he proposes a solution which is based upon the principles – we are probably stretching the meaning of that word beyond its limits here – which guide the thinking of the leaders of multi-national corporations such as Nestlé™ and Tesco™.
To give Mr. Thomson his due, he hints at an acknowledgement that there is far from universal consensus that these companies represent ethical standards to which the rest of us should aspire. I, for one, do not consider either of those companies to be worthy of my support and I have deep misgivings about many of the methods which they employ in order to maximise their profits. But that can be left for another day; let us move on to the substance of the proposed strategy for resolving the problems which have been created by the self-destruction of Rangers FC.
In line with the materialist, corporate thinking of the company men, the first recommendation is to identify the existing concerns which make it hard to sell products associated with the brand name of Rangers FC. That’s easy. The name of Rangers is now a byword for a long list of offence such as corruption, dishonesty, remorseless arrogance, aggression, shameless cheating and so on and on and on. Not an easy sell.
In the Gospel According to St. Tesco™, it is written:
Here is wisdom; blessed is he who hath ears to hear.
Shouldst thy very name be like unto a stumbling-block to thy prosperity, yea, even to such degree that the very ears of the righteous are sore offended by its sound; thereunto I say to thee, “cast thou thine name into the burning pit whereupon it canst be consumed by the flaming tongues of fiery devils. For what doth it profit a man to cleave to that which causeth the very foundations of his corporate strategy to crumble? Verily, I say to you, better to take to thyself a New Name and store up thy treasure on earth than to atone for the sins committed under thine old name.” (© All rights reserved. )
This is known as rebranding.
It’s simple but very effective.
Has it become generally known that the Windscale nuclear power station is causing too much leukaemia? Change its name to Sellafield and restart the clock.
Anglo-American imperial ambitions repeatedly having a spot of bother in Mesopotamia? Okay, we’ll call it Iraq instead.
Is that boardroom full of fully-fledged, clinical psychopaths? No, no! We say now that they’re afflicted by some narcissistic tendencies. Or they’re suffering from borderline personality disorder. (For pity’s sake, don’t give the game away by calling them psychopaths.)
A bare-faced lie is rebranded as a terminological inexactitude and a liar is someone who is economical with the truth.
A British person who goes to a foreign country to steal its resources and murder everyone who resists is called a war hero but dark-skinned people going about their lawful business are called terrorist threats. Someone who steals a tenner from a shop is called a thief but someone who robs the entire population of billions of pounds is called a banker. Or a financial expert. Occupy someone else’s back lawn and you are called a trespasser; occupy the whole of India, Australia and half of Africa and you’ll be called Your Majesty.
What a great wheeze!
So step one is to rebrand the toxic, disgraced Rangers as something less repellent. Alex suggests Govan Rangers™. I don’t know about you, but that looks to me like exactly the same name except it has the word Govan in front of it. I’m not entirely convinced, even though it worked for New Labour. I think Hun Loving Criminals would be much better. But I’m not going to argue with revealed corporate wisdom, so Govan Rangers™ it is for just now.
By some process of corporate marketing doublethink which I admit I cannot fathom myself, this totally new identity somehow separates the new G. Rangers™ from the negative associations of the word Rangers while simultaneously rewarding the “extraordinary brand loyalty of fans which is the one real asset” the club still has. Or something.
So the loyalty to the brand will survive because the brand has been rebranded as a totally different brand to remove the negative associations of the brand name Rangers which is still in the brand’s new, re-branded brand name, Govan Rangers™?
Nope, I still don’t get it.
But maybe that’s why I’ve never made millions out of dissuading mothers in Third World countries from breast feeding their babies so that the infants have an increased chance of dying from water-borne diseases in Nestlé™ baby formula solutions. Guess I’m just not a corporate kind of guy.
But, having come this far, I’ll see it through to the end.
So. The next two parts of the deception are called re-positioning and relaunch.
The 10-point plan involves a gratuitous insult directed at the Hearts owner who declared that he would not vote for admitting Sevco 5088 Ltd FC into the SPL. Further repositioning apparently requires a pointless jibe about “Neanderthal” men dressed in green – which is pretty rich, coming from a supporter of Newcastle Utd. But Mr. Thomson doesn’t stop there – he has eight more great ideas.
Govan Rangers™ draw a line (it says here). They become clean. They do a thing called being demonstrably detoxed. Everybody respects them because they also do paying bills. Their new
Glasgow Govan Rangers™ brand name attracts a fantastic support from somewhere, fantastic supporters who had previously been repelled from attending football matches by the toxic word Rangers in the old brand name and supporters who are so fantastic that they had nothing to do with any of the old “WATP mentality” (although, according to Alex, pandering to this toxic mentality will continue to sell papers.)
Somebody blows the whistle to start a new season. Govan Rangers™ get to win all the league championships for the next few years and everyone loves them even more, especially because their fantastic supporters with the extraordinary brand loyalty are nothing like the ones they used to have when they had a totally different name without the word Govan in it.
Even better, as the icing on the cake, the SFA and the SPL suddenly see that everything is wonderful now that a totally different G. Rangers™ isn’t cheating while it wins all the time. Everybody has completely forgotten about the decades of fraud, dishonesty, bias and corruption. Those honest mistakes have all been forgiven and the spineless cowardice has been completely forgotten about because of the successful rebranding of Sir Stewart Regan, the noble Lords Doncaster and Dallas and that lovable old scamp, His Royal Highness The Prince Campbell Ogilvie, Duke of Larkhall.
And the best bit of all is that there are no impediments to this brilliant marketing strategy.
We “Just Do It,” according to the corporate manual.
So that’s that, then.
What a wonderful world it will be!
What a glorious time we will see!
Suddenly, with one mighty bound, Carruthers was free!
What an insulting and patronising proposal.
I seriously wonder why Mr. Thomson suddenly stopped trying.
At exactly the same time as the SFA, SPL and SFL came up with the most conclusive proof yet of their utter contempt for every vestige of sporting principle, financial probity, general decency and even their own rulebook, Alex has just thrown in the towel.
We have been invited to swallow the contents of a bottle of deadly poison.
We are told that it will be good for us.
Why? Because the bottle has been relabelled as Vitamins.
What is the next, new brand name going to be for cover-up? They’ve already used Investigative Journalism, Inquiry, Probe, SFA Tribunal, Holyrood Summit, Disciplinary Hearing, Police Investigation, Appellate Tribunal, SPL AGM, Fit And Proper Person Test, Licensing Requirements, SPL EGM and due process.
Farewell, Alex Thomson. He came; he saw; but in the end, he couldn’t be bothered.
It was always up to the supporters to stop the corruption of the game.
It still is.
Scandal. Disgrace. Corruption. Cheats. Laughing stock. Fraud. Incompetence. Cowardice. Fiasco.
Nowadays, these are just some of the words that are most likely to spring to the minds of objective onlookers as an automatic first response to a mention of Scottish football. It would be foolish to think that the reputation of any Scottish club is not being tarnished by the outrageous conduct of the former football club which was known as Rangers FC. The stench that continues to emanate from Ibrox is making the entire game stink to the high heavens. Let us recall that Rangers have already been found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute, a conviction which even their own shameless representatives have sullenly accepted.
Let’s emphasise that point. They were not found guilty of bringing Rangers into disrepute; they brought the game itself into disrepute.
So now the Scottish game is officially disreputable. Thanks for that, Huns.
Scottish football has already reached an all-time low. It can sink lower still and seems hell-bent on doing so. It will continue to sink for as long as it clings pathetically to the shattered hull of Minty’s Titanic as if no other course of action could be possible. One club is entirely responsible for the catastrophic condition of professional football in Scotland. One club infected what was a reasonably healthy body, polluted the atmosphere and poisoned the well. Even from beyond the grave, its putrefying remains present a mortal danger to the rest of Scottish football, not least while its own deluded pall-bearers defiantly insist that the corpse is still alive and about to resume its business.
There are others who, as yet, have not dared to believe that a stake has finally been driven through the cold, flinty heart of the club which, like a vampire, spent most of its existence recoiling from the light while sucking the life blood from its prey, using every dark art and nefarious device at its disposal.
It is now time to truly believe and it is time to start anew. The first part of the renewal requires facing up to the world as it is and to reject the insubstantial pseudo-reality which is peddled by media spin-doctors and self-serving publicists. The world as it is sees the potential for a perfectly viable, sustainable Scottish professional football industry which cuts its cloth according to its means. It has to stop pretending to be something which it is not. It is not a smaller version of the English Premier League. It is not currently capable of producing an international team which can qualify for major tournaments. It is not a major force in European club football.
However, it is capable of being much better than it is. Once it takes the necessary steps to release itself from the dead hand of the extinct Rangers FC (1872-2012), a vast panorama of opportunity can open up. Pre-Minty, the SPL was ranked as the fourth best league in Europe. Aberdeen and Dundee United were setting the standard for other Scottish clubs to aspire to. I want to see that level of competitiveness returning to Scottish football. To achieve that, the first myth that must be destroyed is the notion that the future SPL will be a one horse race which Celtic will win at a canter. There is a simple counter to that concern.
Now that the Celtic-Rangers fixture is a thing of the past, Sky Sports has no excuse for continuing to dictate – against the wishes of the clear majority of Scottish football supporters – that the top division cannot expand. There will no longer be four Glasgow derbies every season. There won’t even be one. Hooray! So I see no argument against a top division of twenty clubs, playing each other once at home and once away. This could completely open up the title race. Even if a club lost both of its games against Celtic, it would still have thirty-six games against the other opposition in which to make up the loss of those six points. That is a huge change from the twenty-four points which the wee clubs have contested in the past. It brings the championship well into striking range for the better clubs (and those clubs will also be stronger for the fact that their best players will not be lured away to Ibrox!) At a stroke, we will have a more competitive league and a more attractive competition.
The time has also come to revisit the idea of Scottish football taking control of its own television broadcasting. The Sky deal is lousy. £16 million per year pales into insignificance in comparison with other second-tier leagues in Europe. Denmark, whose population of roughly five and a half million is similar to Scotland’s, receives nearly twice as much TV money than the SPL does. Belgium and Portugal have populations of 11 million but their leagues receive roughly four and five times more respectively than the SPL can attract under the incompetent management of half-man, half-mollusc, Neil Doncaster. The Eredivisie runs its own subscription TV channel and sooks in around £60 million pounds per annum. When you see these figures, it’s hard to see why Sky is considered to be a benefactor of Scottish football! It should also go without saying that the TV revenue must be more evenly distributed than it is at the moment. I do not think that there will be huge resistance to that argument from Celtic, especially if a well-run subscription based TV service is putting far more money into the pot in the first place. (There’s a splendid article by Cardiff Bhoy on Celtic Underground which looks at this subject.)
These wheezes are viable. But they must go hand in hand with a complete house-cleaning of the completely discredited structure of Scottish football as it stands. A total relaunch is required and it is of paramount importance that the new, improved, shiny clean organisation makes a complete break with its sordid past. This requires the courage to fully address the extent of the malign influence of the former Rangers FC and declare unambiguously that its financial doping and associated skulduggery mean that no form of the club can be admitted into the league until there has been a complete, thorough investigation into its affairs by the competent authorities. The brand is too strongly tainted for Scottish football to risk any further contamination from associating with any manifestation of it. If it looks like Rangers, sounds like Rangers or smells like Rangers (especially if it smells like Rangers!) there is too great a danger that it will continue to behave like Rangers. For the good of Scottish football, the brand must be retired until further notice.
If nothing else, Sevco 5088 Ltd FC (or whatever it will be called this time next week) actually needs someone to throw in the towel on its behalf. When a boxer is being pummelled by a superior opponent, the referee or his corner men actually do him a favour by stopping the contest. He can then take time to recover from his injuries before getting himself into shape for a future contest. That’s the position that Zombie-Rangers FC are in just now. It will do them no good to carry on stumbling blindly onto left hooks and right uppercuts. There are plenty more of them in store for them. It’s time for them to touch a knee onto the canvass and if they won’t do it voluntarily, the referee needs to step in.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can look forward to playing and watching football.
Rangers haven’t even begun to taste proper punishment.
At least ten years of cheating cannot be atoned for by anything less than expulsion. I, like tens of thousands of other Scottish football supporters, spent years paying to see what was advertised as a sporting competition but was in reality a fix. Looking only at ten years of buying two season tickets in the first decade of this century and ignoring for the moment the likelihood of previous fraudulent activities perpetrated by the same Rangers organisation, I personally have been defrauded to the tune of well over £12,000.
I am by no means alone or even exceptional in that respect. Many, many others have been cheated.
Taking Celtic alone (but also recognising that supporters of every other club were cheated, particularly the supporters of every SPL club which suffered the relegation which should, by rights, have been the fate of the club which lost every match 0-3) and looking only at the seasons in which Celtic were cheated into 2nd place instead of 1st — that gives us five seasons. 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Hugely simplifying the numbers to a low-end, estimated annual average of ~40,000 tickets @ c.£500 each, we get a ball park figure of £20,000,000 worth of mis-sold tickets.
Twenty million pounds minimum.
Without counting millions of pounds of extra prize money.
Without counting millions of pounds of extra revenues from Europe.
Without counting enhanced reputation and consequent sponsorship potential worth millions of pounds.
Without counting potential for merchandising based on 12 In A Row and related achievements.
Twenty million pounds is the tip of the iceberg of the damage and disruption for which RFC were responsible.
Not to mention that tens of millions of pounds more would have been paid into the national tax coffers if Celtic and other clubs had been receiving the prize money which was due to them.
Yet we are currently hearing Rangers apologists telling us that Rangers “have already been punished heavily” or even, “have already been punished enough!” A fine of £200,000 for doing at least £20,000,000 worth of damage to a single set of supporters? A three year exclusion from Europe as a punishment for ten years of European participation? A ten point deduction after stealing five championship titles?
Proper punishment hasn’t even come into the frame yet.
Some things really are too big to be allowed to fail.
But Rangers Football Club isn’t one of them.
The principle that it is wrong to spend other people’s money, without their permission, in order to advance your own self-centred agenda is a big idea which is absolutely central to the core values of a civilised society. There’s a closely related idea that it’s not okay to exploit the good faith of service providers, businesses, emergency services and individual workers, then leave them whistling in the wind for the payment which they’ve earned.
Those are ideas which are too big to be allowed to fail.
There’s an enduring concept that trustworthiness is a virtue while cynical exploitation of people’s trust is reprehensible. Similarly, quality of life is generally enhanced when decent people can reap the just rewards of their honest labours without being robbed by scam merchants, fraudsters and sharks. And that principle, by extension, demands that those who insist on conducting their affairs in an exploitative, predatory fashion must face a level of punishment which is in proportion to the damage they do to their victims. The penalty for undermining essential foundations of social stability should reflect that selfish parasites and shameless free-loaders are unacceptable infestations which are unacceptable to decent society.
These principles are too big to be allowed to fail.
Vital ideas and fundamental principles such as these are constantly assailed and relentlessly undermined by the very last people for whom we should go out of our way to offer assistance or protection. Allowing these people to prosper from their malevolent, anti-social machinations not only encourages them to continue in the same selfish, destructive vein; it also sends out an intolerable and dangerous message to others that the most profitable way to operate is by abusing trust, practising deceit and exploiting vulnerability at every possible opportunity.
Why work for a living when you can steal someone else’s dues?
Why play fair when you can win more by cheating?
Why bother about doing the right thing when moral standards are merely obstacles in the way of your ambitions?
These are the traits of the psychopath. Psychopathic thinking infects every society where it is allowed to spread. Where it is not challenged, it takes an ever firmer hold until it ends up overwhelming the decent humanity of the overwhelming majority of the population. Academic study after academic study has shown that the prevalence of clinical psychopaths is in the region of 4% of our society. Most people are unaware that it is more common in the boardrooms than in the maximum security prisons; very, very few psychopaths are serial killers or axe-murderers but a hell of a lot of them are at the core of vast financial scams, vulture capitalism, national and international banking scandals, insider trading, fraudulent investment schemes, general corporate misgovernance and money-laundering.
Criminality on that scale adversely affects the 96% of us who, for the most part, just want to get on with our lives in peace with each other. It corrodes the most basic principles of our communities and sucks the vitality out of a society’s confidence in its own sense of justice, honour, purpose, fairness and integrity. In short, it attacks all of the most important values which give human beings their deepest, richest sense of well-being.
These are the values which really are too big to fail.
If we them, we lose everything that makes us decent. What price is worth paying to defend these values? Downsizing a few football operations, whose worth has been artificially inflated, to a scale that is a truer reflection of their genuine worth is well worth the longer term benefits. If the prestige of Scottish football depends upon its economy being regularly injected with huge streams of laundered cash; or relies upon unsustainable levels of borrowing from unreliable banks; or cannot function without tax-scams designed to protect some of the highest wage-earners in the country from the demands that apply to the rest of us; if this is what the prestige of Scottish professional football depends upon then that prestige is an illusion for the gratification of fools.
It’s only a bloody game of football. It is certainly not so important that we need to turn a blind eye to the fact that professional football in its current structure could have been specifically designed by money-launderers as a perfect conduit for cleaning up the proceeds of international drug running, illegal arms dealing, child prostitution and a plethora of other nefarious activities. The most cold-hearted gangsters on the planet clean up their money in collusion with their criminally-inclined (but ever-so-respectable) collaborators in the boardrooms of all of the major banks and financial institutions.
In other news, Liverpool FC paid £35 million pounds for Andy Carroll. That’s pretty close to the figure which Dick Advocaat spent in a single season when he was the manager of Rangers FC (now defunct) at around the same time that Dave King “invested” around £20,000,000 of “his own money” in the club.
Former CEO of JJB Sports, Chris Ronnie, has been charged with several counts of fraud and money-laundering. In 2006, JJB Sports entered into a ten-year sponsorship deal reportedly worth up to £48 million with the now defunct Rangers FC. By an amazing coincidence, the 322 charges which long-serving Rangers director Dave King faces in South African courts also include fraud and money-laundering.
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a bank formerly known as the Bank of Scotland/HBOS/Lloyds handled the accounts of every SPL club except Celtic. (Latterly, when Vlad took over Hearts, the Jambo’s account was transferred to Romanov’s own bank.) Every one of those clubs would have struggled desperately to survive if its credit facility had been called in by the bank. That remains true today. That left (and still leaves) all of those clubs very vulnerable to pressure from the bank in their handling of day to day business. Say, for example, that BOS’s successor, Lloyds TSB dearly hoped that enough directors would vote for a certain club to be parachuted straight into the SPL. They would be able to exert enormous pressure on any club which was not enthusiastic about following LTSB’s plan. Not that I would suggest for a moment that distinguished banking figures would even consider such a shameless piece of blackmail. Ian Fraser wrote a fine article which shows exactly how honourable and honest high-level bankers really are.
(Just thought I’d mention those few random facts there for no particular reason.)
There is a certain type of mindset which has been unstoppable in its insistence that a now-liquidated football club is too big to be allowed to fail and that the national sport will collapse without it. I’ve dismissed the stupidity of that position in previous blogs and I feel no need to go over the same ground again.
Instead, I’ll finish off by talking briefly about something completely different.
A mindset which carefully plans a corporate heist to shaft creditors to the tune of up to £150,000,000 before re-emerging on the other side of a long planned liquidation, ready to carry on as if nothing had happened; that is indistinguishable from the mindset of the psychopath.
A so-called businessman who acquires all of the assets of a failed business by effectively paying millions of pounds to the administrators in whose gift the assets lie – and leaving approximately zilch to the hundreds of legitimate creditors of that business – is operating in exactly the way that a corporate psychopath would be expected to.
Administrators who state, upon being appointed, that their responsibilities are to transform an ailing business into a going concern and also get the best possible outcome for its creditors; who charge millions of pounds for their work; who oversee the liquidation of the business; who salvage absolutely nothing at all for the creditors; and who strike an exclusive deal with a man who is willing to pay a sum of money which is almost exactly the same as their extortionate fees – in effect, a bribe – to acquire undervalued assets; such people are classic examples of the psychopathic consciousness at work in corporate life.
This is an evil which is too big to be allowed to succeed.
I mentioned Suicide by Cop in a recent blogpost because it seems to me that D&P are actively trying to provoke some other party to bring on the liquidation event. They would prefer to be able to blame the SPL or SFA or UEFA or FIFA or HMRC or SVDP or anybody at all for kicking the ladder away from under them just as they were supposedly on the point of delivering the Holy Grail of a successful CVA outcome. The fact that they hadn’t a hope in hell of getting 75% in favour of their derisory CVA proposal would be neither here nor there if they could paint some other party as the baddies who had thwarted their rescue strategy just at the point when it was coming to fruition.
That, however, leaves Emerald Green with a slight problem because he apparently, for reasons which I can’t fathom, had given an undertaking to spend millions of pounds which he does not have – where have we heard that before? – to acquire the mortal remains of the deceased club. There is a possibility that at some point he had some kind of vague plan to present a regenerated, viable NewClub for future sale. Or at least to make it look as if that’s what he intended to do. His get-out clause is that he can’t be held to this commitment if Rangers or Frankenstein’s Rangers are disqualified from any of the domestic competitions. (We must presume that European competitions were not involved in the conditions.)
It looks as if it is now a matter of urgency for Rangers (in administration) to:
a) get themselves disqualified/suspended/expelled/ejected from at least one domestic competition.
The Scottish Cup would do for this purpose, hence the stories before the original SFA Disciplinary Hearing that Rangers (in administration) had sounded out the beaks with a view to intimating that a fine and “ejection” from the Scottish Cup would be acceptable to the Dignified Ones.
b) be seen to have been forced into liquidation by an unseen Fenian hand (including the papists of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs or the Vatican puppets at FIFA or the Opus Dei-infiltrated SFA).
c) achieve both of these objectives, preferably in that order from Emerald Green’s point of view, before the risible CVA proposal is exposed as the crock of horseshit that it undoubtedly is and firmly rejected by the creditors.
I suspect that the members of both the original tribunal and the subsequent Appellate Tribunal were well aware of this and that’s why they tried to improvise a punishment which didn’t quite put Rangers out of business but nevertheless left them facing a formidable challenge in the unlikely event that they’ll still be around to limp onto the starting line for next season’s campaign. Unable to prevent their seasoned professionals from stampeding out of the club during the close season and unable to register experienced replacements in their place, Rangers would be in very poor shape.
It was an elegant attempt to inflict a painful punishment on the wrongdoers without playing into the hands of any of the miscreants. Alas, it has been foiled, for the time being, by the ruling of Lord Glennie in the Court of Session that the tribunal was obliged to order a punishment à la carte, as it were. The tribunal must select one of the punishments already on the menu and no Chef’s Specials are permitted. However, that is not the victory that it might have appeared to be if, as I suspect will be the case, the tribunal take their time to fins a space in their diaries when they can all get together again. They could delay this for weeks and that does not suit Rangers at the present moment.
The D&P gravy-train is nearing the end of the line. All of those delicious millions of pounds which Clark and Whitehouse have been hoovering up over the last four months are nearly finished. The pesky footballers are once again expecting to be paid the wages which they agreed to when they signed for the club. D&P want out now and quickly. A meeting with the creditors has been called for the 14th June. It is apparently to be a very short meeting with only one item on the agenda. Might this be the latest possible moment when the court-appointed administration team can fulfil their obligation to inform the hapless creditors that the jig is up and the padlocks are going onto the gates?
If it is, then the need to provoke someone else to cause the liquidation event is now desperate. One of the last things that Duff & Phelps want to have to do is take full responsibility for having made a complete James Hunt of the administration over the course of the last four months. (The very last thing that they want to do is walk away without an obscene profit at the expense of the creditors and employees but they have already taken good care of that priority.)
Every party which has had a chance to fire the fatal headshot has held back. HMRC, the SFA and the SPL have tiptoed all around the houses for months. That may yet prove to have been not such a bad thing, frustrating though it has been. It is better that Duff & Phelps should be forced to fall upon their own swords, not least because their professional regulator, the Insolvency Practitioners Association, is currently licking its lips and sharpening its knives in readiness for a forensic examination of the conduct of this bizarre administration process.
Charles Greed is a psychopathic predator who may have originally spotted an opportunity to make a dishonourable fast buck if things had all gone his way but he was wily enough to build in enough conditions to every one of his commitments to make it possible for him to find a way to wriggle free if events took an awkward turn. And they have become very awkward. It has become apparent that the mood of the general Scottish football-supporting public is firmly opposed to allowing any form of Rangers to carry on more or less as before. That is a game-changer in every sense. Green may have initially believed that the combined forces of the laptop loyal, a short attention span amongst many supporters, SFA President Campbell Ogilvie, the SPL’s spineless Neil Doncaster, various brown brogue-wearing chairmen of other SPL clubs and the scapegoating of Craig Whyte was capable of enabling the switcheroo to proceed, relatively unopposed. That has proved to be a false expectation.
I think of Greed in terms of the looters who appear in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a devastating hurricane. Where all around is chaos, carnage and confusion, furtive figures dart in and out of shops and warehouses, grabbing whatever is available or slipping back into the shadows to avoid being caught in the act. Chaz saw a scene of chaos and carnage and fancied his chances of bagging a few sackfuls of designer trainers but it’s becoming harder and harder for him to smuggle his stash through the cordons and back to his base. The Feds have got an eye on him so he’s pretending to tie his shoelaces while he chooses the best escape route. In this case, he badly needs Rangers to be ruled out of at least one of next season’s competitions as soon as possible. It’s just possible that the Tribunal may feel that there’s no point in reconvening to discuss punishments for a club which no longer exists after the L-bomb drops. That detonation may now be just over a week away. That is how long Emerald has to weasel his way out of having to make a multi-million pound offer for a business basket case.
I have recently been following Gregory Ioannidis’s enjoyable Sports Law blog. A well known and internationally recognised sports lawyer, Dr. Gregory Ioannidis is a senior lecturer in Sports Law at Buckingham and a practising advocate specialising in sports law, arbitration and litigation. Much smarter than me, then.
In Gregory’s latest piece, wearing his objective sports lawyer hat, he considers the legal position ahead of the rematch between the SFA’s Independent Appellate Tribunal and a disreputable football club currently trading as Rangers FC (In Administration). Dr. Ioannidis thinks that the new, improved, Court-of-Session-approved verdict will punish the disreputable Rangers FC (In Administration) with a ten-game suspension from the SPL and sets out his reasoning in his article.
Now, Gregory does this sort of thing for a living while I am a mere internet bampot but that does not deter me from disagreeing with him and hoping that he’s wrong. So I replied to his article with the following argument.
There are several grounds upon which I see inherent injustice in a proposal to suspend Rangers for ten games.
1. One of the eleven other clubs will have to beat Rangers in a real game of football by 3-0 just to catch up with the other ten who were awarded a 3-0 victory for nothing.
2. Of the ten clubs which are awarded 3-0 walkovers, about half of them will have to travel to Ibrox in the second quarter of the fixture schedule while their rivals will have home advantage.
3. No revenue at all will be generated from the ten matches which are declared forfeit.
4. Season ticket holders of clubs whose home game against Rangers is cancelled by the suspension will have been short-changed.
5. The multiple offences which got Rangers into trouble persisted for almost an entire season during which they were free to contest 114 points (or 104 after having had 10 points deducted for entering into administration) yet the proposed punishment extends for less than a quarter of a season and affects only 30 points.
6. The offences of which RFC were found guilty were judged to be of exceptional gravity; only outright match-fixing was considered to be more serious. On top of that, you suggest that Rangers will be held to have made their position even worse now because they pursued the matter in an action at the Court of Session.
I accept that I am but a layman in this field but it appears to me, from what has been laid down already, that the ultimate punishment is outright expulsion. I deduce from the tribunal’s findings – viz, that Rangers FC’s offences were second only to match-fixing in their seriousness – that match-fixing is the ultimate offence. I hope that I am right in concluding that the ultimate offence would be punished by the ultimate sanction. Expulsion appears to me to be fair and just punishment in cases where match-fixing is proven.
So I find it hard to see why there should be such a huge gap between the ultimate penalty of outright expulsion and the second worst penalty of a piffling ten-match suspension. What would a club have to do to merit a season-long suspension? Or a four-year suspension?
Proposing a ten-match suspension punishes ten clubs. They will have no match to play; their supporters will have no match to watch. A much better solution is to suspend Rangers for an entire season and introduce another club in their place. Either Dunfermline Athletic FC should remain in the SPL or Dundee FC should be admitted.
A fixture between, say, Dundee Utd FC and Dundee FC, played in a stadium filled to near capacity, is a much more satisfactory outcome for football and its supporters than a phantom 3-0 result, created by the fiat of technocrats and lawyers.
Since proportionality is a key consideration, we must not cause disproportionate disruption to the schedules of the highest professional level of the national game for the sake of a club which has already been found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute. The reputation of Scottish football is already at an all-time low. If it were possible to make it worse, one way of doing that would be publish a fixture list and simultaneously declare that one of the leading clubs is too disreputable to be allowed to participate in its allotted fixture.
What we want to see in the SPL is twelve clubs, each playing 38 matches, contesting every game according to the rules and Laws of the Game and competing in public for the entertainment and enjoyment of the paying supporters. Anything less than that sells everybody short. So let us ensure that we have twelve fit and proper clubs in the SPL for the whole of the season.
I hope the Tribunal bears these points in mind and suspends Rangers FC for at least a full season to give it time to contemplate its massive failings, get its act together and aspire to the same standards of sporting integrity that are expected of every other club.
In the USA there is a phenomenon known as “suicide by cop.” If some poor, troubled soul wants to end it all but doesn’t have the bottle to throw himself in front of a train or hang himself, he creates a disturbance to which the police are summoned. When the cops arrive, they find the suspect recklessly waving around a firearm (which is frequently unloaded) and call upon him to drop the weapon. Instead of complying, he points it at the police. They shoot him to death.
My feeling is that Rangers FC (In Administration) have been actively trying to provoke a punishment which will tip them into liquidation.
That might seem odd but it fits the facts.
McCoist’s “Who are these people?” statement was designed to stir things up and tempt the appeals panel to increase the original punishment.
The decision to go to the civil courts was designed to bring FIFA into the equation to put pressure on the SFA to expel the Huns.
So why would they do that?
First of all, I presume that Rangers FC (In Administration) have prepared a lifeboat for when the ship goes down. They may have recognised that there is now hee-haw chance of playing in the SPL next season (having been knocked back in their attempts to sound out the possibility of taking over St. Mirren) but they have calculated that a single season of SFL Div 1 football is not a bad second option. They could achieve that by taking over Cowdenbeath FC.
Cowdenbeath will need a new place to play very soon because their stadium is under threat in the short-term. Cowdenbeath have an arch-Hun chairman (Donald Findlay QC). Cowdenbeath play in blue and were previously called Cowdenbeath Rangers FC. (But not Cowdenbeath Rangers In Administration FC.)
For the average supporter of Rangers FC (In Administration) to buy into this new arrangement, it’s important (and easy) to convince them that someone else is to blame for the demise of Rangers (in administration). As usual.
The plan is to be liquidated because of the Feniany skulduggery of the SFA or FIFA or Peter Lawwell or Lord Carloway or HMRC or Ticketus or Mark Daly or Catholic Schools or Alex Thomson or the local newsagent or Lord Nimmo-Smith or Neil Lennon. (Delete as applicable.)
The story will be spun as a dastardly example of the club’s enemies putting the boot in just as Mr. Emerald Green was on the point of successfully presenting a CVA worth 0.000000001 pence in the pound to the grateful creditors and thus guaranteeing a glorious future for the Huns.
If that’s not the lifeboat plan in detail, then there will be something similar gestating in the bowels of the Beast.
One way or the other, Rangers FC (In Administration) are actively trying to commit “suicide by cop” at the moment but HMRC and the SFA haven’t fallen for it yet.