The SFA are making it clear to one and all that their first priority is to save the myth of Rangers rather than look after Scottish football.
It has been obvious for some time now that neither the SFA nor the SPL has the slightest intention of doing the right thing except under the strongest compulsion from the vast majority of Scottish football supporters. Even then, the authorities waste no time in reverting to their corrupt ways as soon as they sense that the immediate pressure has relented.
Thus, in the last week, we have witnessed the absurd pantomime of negotiations about what level of punishment the disreputable Ibrox mob will deign to accept for the disgraceful conduct of their business over the last year. It is glaringly obvious that the perpetrators have no right to dictate what punishment they are prepared to accept. Any authority worthy of the name would simply dictate that Rangers, having been found guilty of the most serious charges in the history of Scottish football and having brought the game into disrepute on several different counts, must be suspended or expelled altogether. The judgement and sentence would be handed down and that would be that. But it doesn’t work that way when the Huns are involved.
Thugs such as McCoist, Brown and Jardine issue threats with impunity and the SFA and SPL cower in abject submission. Gangsters and mobsters operate from the Ibrox boardroom and bully the game’s administrators into inviting a fraudulent club to participate in a league to which it isn’t even entitled to apply for membership. Law enforcement officers are investigating several different suspect aspects of this stinking operation and will assuredly pounce sooner or later.
And all the while, the SFA pretends that it is somehow in the interests of Scotland and its national game that these crooks should be accommodated in the professional structure instead of run out of town faster than you can say “organised crime” or “international money-laundering syndicate.”
Obviously, the SFA thinks it can get away with this. That is in no small part due to the fact that it always has got away with it up until now. It has always managed to keep this sort of scandal in-house and under control, mainly because of a complete lack of transparency in its doings. It helped that it was never seriously challenged by an emasculated press corps whose loyalties have generally lain in the same place as those of Hampden high heid yins such as Campbell Ogilvie, Gordon Smith and George Peat.
And for as long as these crooks could keep everything in house, it has been a safe bet that nobody could ever stop the corruption of the national game. Politicians are a complete waste of time at best while UEFA and FIFA do not involve themselves in domestic matters.
McCoist is now arrogantly insisting that the football authorities abandon the investigation into the illegal payment schemes practised by Rangers over the course of many, many years. He is quite patently making this demand for no other reason than that he wants to hide the truth about the colossal number of games in which Rangers fielded players who were not properly registered to play. He has also stated in advance that he will not accept any talk of titles being stripped from the cheating Ibrox club. McCoist’s position is that there must be no transparency, no investigation, no punishment and he has previous form for inciting criminal action to intimidate those who wish to see the same rules apply to Rangers as would apply to any other club. Sadly, his thuggery has not been wholly unsuccessful so far, and the SFA has shown no indication that it is prepared to lay down the law lest it displeases the bombs and bullets brigade.
So it’s time to get the gloves off with these scummy crooks and bring the whole charade to a crashing halt. The Scottish game is heading for destruction one way or another if a criminal enterprise such as Sevco is going to continue to receive preferential treatment at the same time that rabble-rousers like McCoist can threaten the personal safety of anyone who stands between him and his demands. If the game is going to be destroyed, let it be for better reasons than for the sake of sustaining the fake prestige of a rotten institution.
Fortunately, there is a way to involve UEFA and FIFA. As a bonus, it may lead to the destruction of the SFA. If the decent clubs in Scotland start making their preparations now, they may be in a good position to form a new administrative body to take over the running of Scottish football when the SFA is expelled from world football.
Step forward Barry Ferguson, inductee of the Rangers Hall of Fame [sic] and formerly captain of his club and country. Ferguson had two spells at Ibrox and somewhere along the line he trousered two and half million tax-free pounds sterling through the EBT scam. Mark Daly reported that Ferguson’s extra contract with Rangers has been seen and confirmed by the BBC.
What a stroke of bad luck it would be for the SFA if Barry Ferguson had been selected to play for the Scotland international team in a World Cup qualifying tournament whilst being improperly registered. Alas! That seems to be exactly what has happened.
During the campaign to qualify for the 2006 Finals, Scotland drew four and won three of the ten matches. The only match which Ferguson did not play in was the very last group tie, a 3-0 away victory over Slovenia. In every other fixture, the improperly registered Rangers player was selected to represent Scotland in a competition played under FIFA auspices. Ten of Scotland’s 13 points were won by breaking the rules of the competition. Not only has the SFA accepted prize money which it wasn’t entitled to collect but Scotland’s seeding level since that tournament has been at a higher level than it ought to be because it is based on Scotland finishing in a false third position in the group rather than sixth and last where it ought to have been according to the rules.
The Scotland manager for all but the first three games of that campaign was Walter Smith, a man who knows more about EBTs than most. The president of the SFA was George Peat, its Treasurer was Campbell Ogilvie and the CEO was David Taylor (who is now the joint General Secretary of UEFA). If there are any journalists out there who know how to work a telephone, they could do us all a favour by asking any of these gentlemen for their comments on the matter of Scotland fielding ineligible players in FIFA competitions. Failing that, why not just go straight to FIFA and ask them if they approve?
(FIFA’s number is +41 (0)43 222 7777. I’d call them myself but I’m a bit low on credit, what with paying my taxes and stuff.
Arthur Numan, a Dutch international footballer, received over half a million pounds in sneaky pay from an EBT and Mark Daly of the BBC reports a positive sighting of the infamous “side letter” which confirms that this money was paid as wages to the player. McCoist doesn’t want the SFA or the SPL to investigate this. But Numan didn’t only play for Rangers at this time. He also played for the Netherlands. In international competitions under the auspices of both UEFA and FIFA.
For example, Numan was in the Dutch team that defeated Estonia 5-0 on the 5th of September 2001 in the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven during the qualifying tournament for the 2002 World Cup Finals. And just a few weeks later in Arnhem, Gelredome on the 6th of October, Arthur came on as a substitute for Mario Melchiot as the Netherlands defeated Andorra 4-0 in their next FIFA World Cup qualifying tie. He also played in Holland’s 2-2 draw with the Republic of Ireland.
Other contemporary Rangers players who featured on the official team-lines during that qualifying competition were EBT beneficiaries Ronald de Boer (£1,200,000 with a side letter), Fernando Ricksen (£684,225, side letter confirmed) and Bert Konterman (£300,000).
Hello again, FIFA. That’s seven points which Holland should not have kept just for Arthur Numan’s appearances alone. Numan, not being properly registered, was not entitled to play professional football at any level, far less as an internationalist in the most prestigious competition on the planet. The SFA, by failing in its own duties to ensure that players were properly registered, devalued the jewel in FIFA’s crown. Again, an enterprising journalist will already be reaching for the phone to ask the Dutch FA if they falsified their own bureaucratic submissions to FIFA or if they received inaccurate paperwork from their Scottish counterparts.
But member clubs of the SFA should not be waiting for any other party to investigate this. Between the SPL and the SFL, there are forty-one member clubs of the SFA who are entitled to demand of the executive, as a matter of the utmost urgency, an immediate answer to this question: have the SFA habitually deceived UEFA and FIFA with false registration documents to enable ineligible players to compete in major tournaments? With a new World Cup qualifying tournament about to start, it is a matter of vital importance that this question is cleared up immediately and if the SFA haven’t got the balls to do it then somebody should ask FIFA to intervene without a moment’s delay.
As for UEFA, we see exactly the same irregularities. Indeed, one side was a bad as the other in the play-off match between Scotland and the Netherlands for a place in the Euro 2004 Finals. Players with dual contracts at Rangers had featured throughout the campaign for both teams. While Rangers EBT beneficiary Dick Advocaat (£1,500,000) was selecting his fellow tax-scammers Fernando Ricksen and Ronald de Boer for the Dutch, the officials of the SFA were sitting in the directors’ box watching Barry Ferguson and Neil McCann (£500,000) turning out for the Scots. Just for good measure, while Holland were rattling in half-a-dozen goals against Scotland in one play-off, another Rangers dual contract holder was settling another play-off match with the only goals of the tie between Slovenia and Croatia. Dado Prso, armed with the side letter which the BBC has seen, took away £1,900,000 in tax-free sneaky pay.
Gloves off. It’s the SFA versus everybody who cares about football being played properly and according to the rules. The SFA have just about destroyed Scottish football. It’s time for Scottish football fans to call them on these matters and turn ourselves in to UEFA and FIFA. Call for the expulsion of the SFA from world football. Form a brand new association which places integrity at the centre of its constitution and let it invite applications from clubs which agree to be bound by the rules without question. Huns need not apply. Let the new Caledonian Soccerball Association (Featuring New, Improved Integrity) petition UEFA and FIFA for formal recognition in place of the disgraced, discredited SFA . Never again should we have to cringe with embarrassment or shake with fury at the sight of a thoroughly corrupt fraudster presiding over an association of cowards and cheats who negotiate with gangsters and neds about how to wreak further damage on our game.
Over to you, UEFA and FIFA. Get this investigated and when McCoist throws one of his hissy fits and threatens you with a mass mobilisation of the Larkhall Loyal, just tell him to do one. For once, the vast majority of football fans will be right behind you.
There are occasional gremlins on the rangerstaxcase site which strike without warning and prevent posts from being uploaded. Earlier tonight, I posted some thoughts on RTC’s latest blog but my follow up, in reply to a query from another poster, refuses to upload. Rather than throw my computer out of the window, I’ve decided to post the exchange here.
Regarding the debate on what do about the championship titles which must be taken from Rangers, this is really not difficult.
Every game in which Rangers fielded ineligible players is recorded as a 3-0 victory for their opponents. The points are totalled up for the season. The team which has the most points is awarded the title.
I’ve paid tens of thousands of pounds over the years to see my team competing for the championship title and I’ll be damned if I’m going to settle for seeing an asterisk taking the place of a title which my team won fair and square.
The only reason that those titles weren’t awarded to the correct team at the end of each season is because the game was so riddled with corruption that nobody enforced rules that would have deprived Rangers of their unfair advantage.
Successive SFA and SPL officials came from Ibrox and allowed this cheating to go unchecked. Successive directors at Rangers FC, at best neglected their responsibilities to ensure that their business was on the straight and narrow. At worst, they actively perpetuated the cheating. The bank which happily turned a blind eye to Murray’s financial recklessness and – as is now becoming clearer and clearer – sheer criminality happily wiped other clubs off the face of the earth and threatened others, including mine, with winding up procedures.
And all this time, I was forking out over a thousand pounds per season to see my team competing in tournaments which were supposed to be fair. It was bad enough to be seething with frustration at what I knew at the time were biased refereeing performances; now that it is apparent that the beneficiaries of this bias were not even eligible to compete, never mind take the honours, the frustration has hardened into a righteous and completely justified anger.
This institutionalised fraud will not be rectified with an asterisk.
The very first principle of atonement is to make restitution as far as that is possible. The very minimum requirement is to return what has been stolen to its rightful owners. In the case of at least five titles, that means presenting those titles to the team which won the most points in accordance with the Laws of the Game of Association Football and in line with the rules and regulations of the SFA and SPL. Absolutely nothing less than that will do. And that should only be a starting point.
Taking away from Rangers anything which was never rightfully theirs in the first place is not a punishment. It’s merely the first step in undoing some of the damage. The next step is to restore to the rightful owners that which was stolen from them. The third step is to punish the guilty parties for their crimes. We’re not even close to that third stage yet so any hint of backsliding on the first two steps must not be tolerated.
There is no room for compromises here.
There is a constant creep in the mainstream media towards an assumption that Rangers have suffered enough and that those who want to see them pay in full for their colossal wrongdoing are being vindictive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The issue is purely about fairness. It is fundamentally unfair that hardened, habitual cheats should receive any leniency when those who did nothing wrong whatsoever were seriously disadvantaged, suffered considerable loss of prestige, were wrongly deprived of sporting honours and were financially damaged. In some cases, the financial damage was a mortal blow.
An asterisk won’t cut it.
Gully says: 19/07/2012 at 12:15 am
Henry, does your unwillingness to compromise mean that the Champions League competitions in the affected years will also have to be replayed?
An asterisk is the best compromise, for compromise is necessary.
Henry Clarson says:
This is utter foolishness.
Absolutely no compromise is either necessary or desirable in this case.
Anyone who cannot understand the fundamentals of fair play in sport is never going to be able to understand why the prizes should be awarded to the highest placed competitor who hasn’t cheated instead of to the cheat who wasn’t found out for a while.
For the purposes of this blog, we proceed on the assumption that Rangers did cheat. We have seen more than enough evidence to back up that assumption.
One single competitor stands accused of cheating and is almost certainly guilty.
That competitor must pay the penalty. Yes, even when it’s Rangers.
There is no case for allowing those guilty of breaking the rules to negotiate further breaches of the rules in order to spare themselves the punishment which they deserve. We are not yet so far through the looking glass that we are going to permit cheats to guide us about what is fair and what is unfair.
If you want to grab hold of an uninsulated electrical cable which is plugged into a live mains supply, by all means go ahead and try to negotiate a compromise about just how electrocuted you get. When Rangers decided to ignore the rules, they took the risk that they would get burned. Now they’re getting totally fried and it serves them right. They knew the danger, they took the risk, they lost out, they’re toast. All the blame is theirs and theirs alone.
The penalty for breaking the registration rules is perfectly clear. We have seen the precedents and we know that the punishment for fielding improperly registered players is a 3-0 defeat. Ask Spartans FC, who paid a severe penalty for a careless administrative error on a team-line. They did not complain, they did not whine. They took full responsibility for their own transgression, accepted the defeat and paid the whopping fine. Because those are the rules.
Even FC Sion had to accept the rules eventually.
Replaying competitions is clearly not an option, least of all for players who were already veterans ten years ago. That is an unfortunate physical fact which can not be changed although it weakens still further any case for leniency towards Rangers FC.
In cup competitions, any honours which went to Rangers – including runners-up medals – must be struck off. Since it is now impossible to determine what the ultimate outcome of the cup tournaments would have been if clubs, unfairly eliminated by Rangers, had instead advanced to the next round of the competition, it’s reasonable to consider various solutions on their merits. All of them must start from the point that Rangers have no right to retain honours which they were not eligible to compete for.
The ultimate solution is a matter of practicality, not a compromise of principles.
What can be done and must be done is that the record is at least set straight wherever possible. The records must show in perpetuity that all matches in which Rangers FC fielded ineligible players were 3-0 victories for their opponents. In league competitions, where the outcomes can be accurately recalculated, the medals and titles must be awarded to the correct winners.
This is as simple in the case of Rangers as it was in the case of Spartans or Sion.
The rules must be applied to the transgressions of Rangers just as strictly as they were to any other club.
Rangers have no right to be treated differently.
If anything, they should be hammered even harder because they have relentlessly puffed themselves up as the country’s greatest club, with a monopoly on dignity, the standard to which everyone else should aspire (“we welcome the chase”) and a giant of the global game. If any club should have taken extra care to ensure that it was playing the game by the rules, it was this one with its ludicrous sense of self-importance and its arrogant evaluation of its own stature.
But I’ll quite happily settle for seeing them treated like ordinary cheats rather than elite cheats.
This does not please blinkered supporters of the cheating club or their sympathisers; it does not please those who are too dull of wit to follow simple logic; it does not please people whose concept of sport doesn’t hold honesty, fairness or justice in high regard; it does not please those who are too cowardly to stand up to the myth of the mighty Rangers; it does not please those who are so corrupt that they are still trying to promote any argument for a perverse compromise.
But, by God, it will please anyone (including disillusioned former supporters of Rangers) who thinks sport should be built upon a foundation of fairness. It will satisfy those who believe that the sport is well rid of cheats who would bring football to its knees rather than miss out on prizes which they haven’t earned. And it will delight those who see unrepentant supporters of a rotten, disgraced club hoping and praying that half a dozen SPL clubs will go to the wall as a direct result of Rangers finally being held to account for corrupting Scottish football.
Asterisks be damned.
“If Santa knows that you’re being bad, you’ll not get any presents on Christmas Day.”
Were any of us not subjected to that threat at some point in our childhood?
What a brilliant way to keep someone in line! Invent a myth, keep repeating it until you convince your weans that it’s true and then use it to manipulate them according to your wishes. As a child, I sometimes wondered about the logistics of this remarkable operation. We all did.
The whole world? In one night? Presents for every single well-behaved child? All carried on one sleigh? Seriously?
It seemed that something didn’t quite add up here but wherever I looked, everyone confirmed the reality of Santa. Parents, relatives, neighbours, teachers, random strangers all had their stories straight. Television programmes and adverts, grottos in department stores, pictures on billboards, songs on the radio, each provided further evidence that nobody except me had even noticed any of the inherent inconsistencies about this extraordinary person and his work.
Why don’t all the starving children in Africa ask for enough food to keep them alive?
If his elves are making all these toys themselves, how come they look exactly the same as the ones in the shops?
What’s the point of the shops trying to sell Airfix Lancaster bomber model kits or Subbuteo sets if everyone can get one for nothing?
It didn’t make sense.
On the other hand, I had a suspicion that it might be unwise to express too much scepticism. It might even cost me a train set.
By all accounts, only people who actually believed in Santa got presents from him.
It finally came to the point when I not only knew beyond reasonable doubt that Santa must be a myth; I also realised that I had been surrounded by liars for years. But no sooner had I become cognisant of the Great Deception than the liars invited me to join their conspiracy. There were younger siblings and cousins who had to remain deceived and it wouldn’t do for me to blow the whistle. I calculated that by publicly maintaining the pretence that I believed in Santa, I might be able to raise the stakes for next Christmas. It was to be a red bicycle or else.
(At this point I must apologise to any readers who hadn’t yet heard the bad news that there is no Santa. If it’s any consolation, Graham Speirs knew this three weeks ago before anyone else although he didn’t bother to write about it. In any case, in a few months time the Daily Record will claim that it was the first to break the story.)
As with the Santa myth, so with the Rangers myths. One of the recurring myths is that Rangers are a financial powerhouse, an economic engine which supplies Scottish football with huge revenues upon which almost every club is almost totally reliant. According to myth, even Celtic need Rangers.
Celtic have long since grown up and don’t believe in Rangers so they have dismissed that myth. Many other clubs, however, are holding out for a red bicycle. Some will settle for a train set. So long as they are compliant and believe in Rangers, they’ll get something for nothing in defiance of all logic.
Over the course of the last decade, the mighty Rangers economic powerhouse ran itself into the ground. If the tax authorities know anything about taxes – and it seems to me to be a reasonable starting assumption that they know quite a lot – we can go on to assume that when Rangers crashed into oblivion, the hole they were in was about £140 million deep. In truth it is even deeper.
On top of the money owed to hundreds of creditors there are previous matters to consider. In 2004, the mythical billionaire Minty Moonbeams reportedly squirted a £51.4 million pound “injection” into Rangers simmering accounts after a rights issue was formulated to reduce the club’s then £73.9 million debt. In truth, the attempt to raise capital was a catastrophic failure and Murray MHL Limited, which had underwritten the share issue, was obliged to take the hit. In effect, all that happened was that some paperwork was signed so that a £50 million debt to HBOS was shifted sideways from one basket case Murray business in Ibrox to another, even worse one in Edinburgh.
The debt was never paid back before HBOS croaked. It was subsequently picked up by the tax-payer as part of Gordon Brown’s £37 billion rescue package to maintain the lifestyles of corrupt, fraudulent banksters and their cronies. We’re now getting close to £200 million of Rangers damage to other parties. But say nothing. There might be a red bicycle in it for you.
Meanwhile, despite running up the longest series of consecutive 0-3 defeats in the history of football, Rangers were awarded the championship titles on five occasions during this period, thus enabling the SPL to divert millions of pounds of prize money away from the rightful league winners and into the colossal overdraft of the mythical economic powerhouse. The SFA, hoping for a red bicycle, duly notified UEFA that Rangers would represent Scotland in the Champions league in the following season. Tens of millions of pounds worth of prize money would never reach the club which had really earned that place by playing the game according to the rules.
Five seasons of SPL and Champions League prize money take the damage up to the quarter of a billion pound mark. Yet the economic powerhouse still went bust.
There have been other substantial cash investments from dubious sources. Dave King still faces hundreds of charges of fraud, tax evasion and money-laundering in South Africa on an industrial scale. At the last count, I made it 322 charges in all. The money laundering activities relate to drugs-running operations, illegal arms deals, child pornography and a host of other unwholesome activities. Fortunately for Rangers, £25 million of the proceeds of those disgusting enterprises found its way into Dick Advocat’s warchest. Red bicycles for everyone who sees no connection.
In 1992, Joe Lewis made his fortune by launching an all out attack on the UK’s currency reserves which cost the nation a minimum of £3.4 billion pounds on Black Wednesday. To balance up the damage done to the economy, Lewis dribbled £40 million into Ibrox economic powerhouse. Red bicycles for everyone who believes forty million pounds minus three point four billion pounds equals a positive balance. No need to show your working; just believe.
And on and on and on.
Just over a year ago, Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police Stephen House was so convinced by the magnitude of Rangers’ contribution to society that he dominated the news headlines for days with his calls for ‘Old Firm’ games to be played behind closed doors or even banned altogether. Police Federation Spokesman, Les Gray, repeatedly rammed home a similar message that the country could no longer afford to bear the financial cost to the police, A&E, ambulance services and so on.
Ignore all that and collect your red bicycle on Christmas Day.
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A slight digression:
There are different methods which can be employed to control a system. Those who want to direct the behaviour of others have a number of options which range from reasoned, enlightened consensus to brutal, violent oppression. In practice, most systems are operated along the lines of one of the other options in between these extremes. The best and most efficient way for human beings to prosper together is within a co-operative, consensual group which is founded on mutual trust and respect. This has been demonstrated and proved in countless studies yet the notion is regularly undermined and dismissed.
It’s important to recognise that this co-operative model struggles to gain acceptance purely because we live in a society that is dominated by a Psychopathic Control Grid (PCG). The PCG embraces government, banking and financial systems, the military, corporate industry, the media, the advertising industry and the education system. It is utterly dependent upon its ability to control, manipulate and exploit the rest of us. To this end, it creates myths which require us to suspend out critical faculties in order to accept them.
It is clearly not in the self-interest of the type of parasites who hold positions of power within the Psychopathic Control Grid to encourage us to believe that we don’t need them. They prefer to promulgate myths such as the Survival Of The Fittest, create unnecessary confrontations and frighten us with imaginary threats from which they will “protect” us by restricting our options. The fact still remains that we are all better off when we are co-operating with each other instead of allowing ourselves to be exploited by abusers. But a smokescreen of misinformation and distortion of the true picture creates uncertainty and confusion. The Roman occupation can continue indefinitely for as long as the People’s Front of Judea argue with the Judean People’s Front, the Judean Popular People’s Front, the Campaign for a Free Galilee, and the Popular Front of Judea.
A fundamental, practical weakness of a tyrannical approach, backed by brute force, is that it is hopelessly inefficient. The overwhelming majority of those involved in such a system understand that they are being mercilessly exploited but even those who expect to emerge as winners ultimately find that their own position is insecure and constantly under threat. They are constantly running up the down escalator just to maintain position and know that will be swept back to the bottom if they ever ease up. Nevertheless, this inhuman Babylonian model is still the one which comes most naturally to a psychopath. It’s in widespread use, whether in the context of an abusive family unit, a Mafia-style organisation or an entire Police State.
In the most successful and more sophisticated variations of the model, people’s sense of their own worth is chronically undermined by a relentless tide of psychological assaults designed to rob them of confidence, security and perception. This approach reduces the need for the controllers to resort to outright physical oppression. Words themselves lose their meaning; a peace-keeping force consists almost entirely of trained warriors who are armed to the teeth; austerity measures require tens of millions of pounds to be paid to the people who collapsed the economy; rebels and insurgents are people who are trying to kick occupying forces from distant continents out of their homelands; and sporting integrity is a system whereby the biggest cheats in the history of British football are effectively given a guarantee that they will win their next league campaign, even if the rule book has to be scrapped to make it happen. There is such an overwhelming, never-ending bombardment of lies, deceits and affronts to decency that it becomes harder and harder for anyone to stand up confidently, point to the truth and say, “There it is!”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Regardless of all that, here is the truth.
The SFL and SFA, amongst others, have dedicated themselves to the perpetuation of the Rangers Myth.
They worship at the shrine of a fake god which they have created themselves. They warn of dire consequences if puny mortals fail to venerate this mighty deity. They sacrifice honour, justice and honesty at the altar of their idol. They glorify their god through acts of bare-faced hypocrisy, blatant match-fixing and stinking corruption.
For red bicycles and Santa, read SPL money and television.
For Rudolf defying the laws of aerodynamics, read Rangers defying the fundamentals of economics.
Just as Santa could only complete his night’s work by travelling faster than the speed of light, contrary to every principle of physics, so Zombie Huns can only compete in Scottish football if every inconvenient rule is deliberately broken and every sporting principle is ignored.
To those who staunchly, defiantly believe in Rangers, despite all the evidence, this is as straightforward as believing in Santa Claus.
They just have to ignore the overwhelming proofs that what they want to believe cannot possibly be true. They’ll see one club recklessly spending everyone else’s money and they’ll call it generating revenue. They’ll see tax evasion, fraud and cheating but they’ll call it financial might, vision and dignity. They must wilfully ignore that even when the now-defunct club was at its most successful it still sucked far more money out of society than it put in.
They are determined to perpetuate the myth of Rangers for the sake of a red bicycle.
But the facts are laid bare for all to see. Zombie Huns, and Rangers before them, are no more a linchpin of a successful, solvent, sustainable Scottish football set-up than a letter to Santa is a solution to the banking crisis.
Imagine, if you will, a property developer called Mr. Emerald who had recently acquired a large lawn surrounded by some red bricks. Having bought it for at about a tenth of its possible value, he felt that he had got himself a bargain. He could see considerable potential for developing the acquisition by changing it from a football stadium into a far more sensible business which might actually generate a profit.
There was a slight problem, in that the previous owners were an unsavoury assortment of Crafty Rogues who still seemed to harbour ambitions of controlling future uses of the site. When it suited them, the Crafty Rogues could threaten and intimidate their enemies by activating mindless mobs of Vicious Hooligans. One toot of a magic flute could send these maniacs into a frenzy of homicidal hysteria. Until they were required to wreak havoc, it was vitally important to keep them distracted with preposterous myths about their supreme birthright, feed their bizarre sense of entitlement and regularly warn them to look out for the Unseen Fenian Hand.
So why did the Crafty Rogues sell the original business in the first place and why do they think they still have a say in what it can be used for? The answer to the first part is a mere technicality. Their stewardship of the football club had run into a trifling practical difficulty. Through a mixture of complacency and arrogance, they had inadvertently drawn unwelcome attention to their propensity for spending everybody else’s money. The business was so saturated with debt that it had been noticed by the Unseen Fenian Hand so a decision was taken to shuffle it out of sight and replace it with an upgrade. The Crafty Rogues agreed amongst themselves that the best way to do this was to engage the expert services of some professional Shameless Chancers to perform the kind of dirty work which would ultimately enrage the Vicious Hooligans. Shameless Chancers are hardwired to run that kind of risk if they think they can make money for themselves in the process. Only after the Shameless Chancers had been chased out of town by the Vicious Hooligans could the Crafty Rogues openly resume control of their reconditioned enterprise.
The Crafty Rogues had planned well in advance. They had installed their members and allies in numerous positions of influence, far from their operational headquarters. A few remained near the base but most of them were embedded in rival clubs, the mainstream media, the football administrative offices, a bank or two, the Referees’ Lodge and wherever else they might be useful. They could be depended upon to spring into action to perform their part as and when they were needed but for the most part they were expected to maintain as low a profile as possible and avoid unnecessary scrutiny.
And so it came to pass that the Shameless Chancers began their assignment while the Crafty Rogues in the media threw up a smokescreen around them. Reports began to emerge that nameless Vicious Hooligans believed that they had been poked with a stick which, according to the testimony of various eyewitnesses, had been wielded by the Unseen Fenian Hand. Intrepid investigative journalists heroically researched the allegations and eventually produced the sensational revelation that the Unseen Fenian Hand was bringing troubles on itself. For one thing, it had invented internet bampottery, a development which neither the Crafty Rogues nor the Shameless Chancers had fully anticipated. It was also beginning to assert an unexpectedly strong grip upon the supporters of un-Feniany football clubs. Even football club chairmen with lots of surnames and no Christian names would ultimately be suspected of being locked in its dread grasp. And it had already demonstrated that it was controlling the tax authorities and numerous other law-enforcement agencies.
By this time, the first of the Shameless Chancers had already decided to pass on the baton in order to concentrate on spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. The response time of the Vicious Hooligans was now being periodically tested for battle readiness with exercises involving, amongst other things, postal sorting offices.
When the baton eventually reached Mr Emerald, the last of the Shameless Chancers, the Crafty Rogues deployed more of their operatives, mobilised the Vicious Hooligans and prepared to smite the Unseen Fenian Hand with mighty blows. Accompanied by the toot of a flute, Crafty Rogues from Hampden Stadium took turns to propose surreal solutions to the crisis, each of which was duly shot down by the Shameless Chancers with an inspired series of catastrophic PR stunts. “Who are these people? We demand to know!” was followed by an excursion to the Court of Session, a disruptive March Of The Zombies to besiege empty Hampden offices and other examples of pantomime villainy which stretch credulity. Even for Huns, this is just about too stupid to be real. It’s scripted.
Up until that point, it seems that everyone was playing their role more or less properly. The club’s core support saw that Mr. Emerald totally lacked credibility as a football club owner. Their distrust was reinforced by the demonstrable fact that he still didn’t actually have a football team, wasn’t giving much attention to the acquisition of football players and didn’t have a single fixture arranged. Season tickets remained unsold and no money was coming into Mr. Emerald’s brand new enterprise. This should have been the point at which he could throw up his hands and say, “Eeeeh, I gave it my best shot but, unfortunately, I don’t have t’confidence of t’Rangers support. There’s nowt I can do to change that. This job needs proper Rangers man to lead t’club back to glory days. I’ll sell up – at slight profit, mind – and wish you all t’best of luck.”
A man in a cardigan, epitomising the very essence of staunch dignity, should have emerged at that point and introduced his millionaire backers to the roar of thunderous, Hunderous applause. While Mr. Emerald was legging it back to Yorkshire, a few million better off than when he’d arrived, Crafty Rogues in the media would inform us that relief was sweeping across an entire nation. Now that the Most Respected Human Being In Scotland’s History had stepped in to salvage a previously hopeless position and compromises would somehow be reached in all of the seemingly intractable football disputes that mere mortals were struggling to resolve.
But that didn’t work out.
The Unseen Fenian Hand had struck again. Mark Daly revealed details of the EBT scam on the BBC and triggered a stampede of Rangers legends galloping out of the public eye as far as they possibly could. Mr. Emerald’s prospect of a quick success with his buy-low, sell-higher wheeze was on the back-burner.
Increasingly worried Crafty Rogues desperately engineered a glimmer of an opportunity to smuggle Sevco into the SPL to replace a club which no longer exists. But, at the meeting, the Shameless Chancers ignored their coaching and played the “We Are The People” card with consummate arrogance to ensure that not even a Crafty Rogue from Ayrshire could bring himself to vote in their support. That has really tipped the Crafty Rogues into a serious panic, suspecting that the Shameless Chancers are now out of control. They fear that Mr Emerald may have abandoned the original understanding and decided upon a new, more self-serving agenda. This would NOT involve selling the upgraded Huns v2.0 back to the Crafty Rogues, ready to be rebooted in the SPL as if nothing much had happened. He has also stated that he’ll have to throw in the towel if FC Pseudo-Hun is placed in Division 3 of the SFL.
Friday the 13th is going to be very interesting. The outcome which the Crafty Rogues are trying to steer the SFL clubs towards is also the only one which Mr. Emerald hasn’t yet admitted would impel him back to the property development business. I’ll be interested to see whether he or his people contrive yet another reason for people to turn even further against the Zombies.
Last night, Alex Thomson published a transcript of a letter to the Boards of Directors of the Scottish Football League member clubs from David A. Longmuir, Chief Executive of the SFL. Here is a link to the blog post.
The first part invites the member clubs to make themselves accessories to a fraud. They will be asked to give their consent to a proposal “that the Scottish Football League Members agree to admit Sevco Scotland Limited as an Associate Member and agrees to permit Rangers F.C. to play in the League during Season 2012/13.”
There’s a somewhat fraudulent aspect to this since the club called Rangers FC is insolvent and in the process of being liquidated. The application for Associate Membership is being submitted by Sevco Scotland Limited.
In Section 1 of the Scottish Football League’s Constitution And Rules, we find that the Scottish Football League is defined as an “Association of football clubs” and that “Associate Member means a football club however constituted which is admitted to the League pursuant to the provisions of Section 2 of these Rules.”
Associate Members of the Scottish Football League are supposed to be football clubs.
But Sevco Scotland Limited is not a football club.
It never has been.
Look, here is its record: P0 W0 D0 L0 F0 A0
Sevco Scotland Limited doesn’t play football. It’s not a football club.
So it cannot be admitted to an Association of football clubs such as the SFL.
In 1985, Sean Connery, Christopher Lambert and I made the movie “Highlander.” I noticed that in the released version of the film, Mr Connery and Mr Lambert had all the best lines and were very much the focus of the audience’s attention. This goes some way to explain why my own performance as the nose-picking peasant in the background of the 15th century McLeod village has been largely overlooked by the critics, even to this day.
Nonetheless, I have more right to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor than Sevco Scotland Ltd has to join a league of football clubs.
In December 1979, I was in the audience when Paul McCartney and Wings recorded a jaunty little ditty called “Coming Up” in the legendary Glasgow Apollo theatre. A few months later, I was working in the United States of the USA when the version of “Coming Up” which was recorded in Glasgow topped the US charts. On discovering that I had notched up my first American Number One hit single, I was able, without a word of a lie, to impress my American colleagues with the revelation that I was on “Coming Up”. It is admittedly difficult to distinguish my applause from the thousands of other people’s but I care not a jot.
I’m closer to being a Beatle than Sevco Scotland Limited is to being a football club.
So this should be a very short meeting.
As soon as the first proposal is rejected, the rest becomes a dead letter.
Except for this bit:
“A buffet lunch will be served at the conclusion of the meeting.
David A. Longmuir
Chief Executive, SFL.”
If the SFL club representatives treat themselves to an early lunch by handing the pseudo-Huns their dinner, they will do more than simply preserve the integrity of their own league. They will send a clear message to the frauds, the cheats, the bullies, the criminals, the hypocrites, the cowards and the cynics that they’ve had their day. They will demonstrate their recognition that Scottish football fans have opened their eyes to the corruption which has been covered up for so long. What has been seen can not now be unseen.
With one voice we have condemned those whose craven complicity has allowed that corruption to eat into the essence of our game. The root cause and source of that corruption is on a life-support system which the SFL representatives are perfectly entitled to switch off on Friday. For the sake of the fans, for honesty, for football and for justice, there is only one correct choice to make.
Pull the plug.
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.