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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.

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Too Big To Fail


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.)

Anyway.

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.

Scottish Football’s Stockholm Syndrome


Good news!  Good news!
The liquidation of Rangers is no longer the probable outcome of their travails; it is absolutely inevitable.
It’s time for all of Scotland’s premier football clubs individually, and the SPL as a collective organisation, to recognise this and plan boldly for the new circumstances.

Those club chairmen who are still in fear of radical change have not left themselves much time to adjust to a situation which they had wrongly assumed could never come to pass. But there is no excuse now for delusions that somehow Rangers can avoid the worst.
They can’t.
They’re finished.
Completely.

There will be no Rangers of any kind, old or new, playing in the SPL next season. There is no guarantee that any form of Rangers will even be playing in the Third Division of the SFL either.  Yet there is still uncertainty in some quarters about embracing the new reality.  

The baleful effect of Rangers on the confidence of other Scottish clubs seems to have caused a kind of Stockholm syndrome where the victims paradoxically develop an emotional attachment to their abuser. Having spent so much of their existence trying not to challenge the malevolent power of the seemingly all-powerful Rangers, a number of clubs have lost the ability to think clearly for themselves and have lost sight of what is in their own best interests.

They have found ways to survive in the lair of the beast and can scarcely imagine what life will be like when the beast is slain.
“Things may never be the same again,” they whimper, as if that were a bad thing. 

Why would any decent person want Scottish football to be the “same again”?
It has become clearer and clearer with each development that for many years Scottish football was trapped in a process of being devoured by an insatiable parasite called Rangers FC. Scottish football has been revealed to be merely a façade behind which the scandalous conduct of Rangers FC hid itself from scrutiny.

Rangers did not generate wealth; they misappropriated it.
They do not stimulate the Scottish economy; they are a drain on it.
They have not increased sporting competition; they have stifled and destroyed it.

In order to allay fears of what Scottish football will be like without Rangers it’s only necessary to consider what the damage will be if they continue in any form.
It is now apparent in the real world that the wealth and power of Rangers has been a myth for many years.
Therefore the sacred TV deals with Sky and others have always been negotiated on the basis of a falsehood.
The selling-point was that there were two major Scottish clubs – the so-called Old Firm – whose head-to-head matches could provide broadcasters with the commercially attractive spectacle of a pair of well-matched heavyweights locked in close competition.
But one of those clubs, Rangers, has clearly been spending money which it did not have in order to maintain the sham of its competitive status.
It has been living so far beyond its means that it is completely insolvent and facing oblivion.

Any attempt to restore the illusion that Rangers is a major club requires every other party to engage in a major deception.
Whatever damage the other clubs may sustain without Rangers is nothing in comparison to the self-harm that they’ll suffer from continuing to take their share of the proceeds of TV deal which requires a level of financial doping, shameful governance and fiscal irresponsibility which brings the entire game into disrepute.

Those clubs and broadcasters may have had some excuse when they could reasonably claim not to have known what Rangers tried so hard to conceal. They do not have that excuse now and they have even less reason to assume that Rangers have learned their lesson.  Nobody has spoken on behalf of Rangers to suggest that they are determined to face up to the consequences of their past wrongdoing.  There has not been a word of apology nor any hint of an acknowledgement that they alone have been the architects of their own misfortune.

If anything we have seen the reverse – the club seems to think that its best chance of riding through this crisis is to insist on its own indispensability, regardless of what it has done wrong, and to issue threats to other clubs that they’ll regret it later if they stand up to Rangers today.

That has always been The Rangers way.
The psychopathic inability to express or feel genuine remorse is a key characteristic of the club’s mentality.
Similarly, their arrogant sense of entitlement and the belief that the world revolves around their interests are defining traits.
They are no more capable of abandoning their bullying than a crocodile is capable of learning to walk to heel.

That psychological trauma is still having an effect on some minds but the fears are unfounded now.
A new day is about to dawn in which the creatures of the night will be hopelessly exposed and vulnerable.
By the end of this week even the most dedicated Rangers apologists will be left speechless in the face of damning evidence of the club’s indefensible conduct.
And those who have previously been indecisive when given the chance to point the finger of condemnation at Rangers will finally join the stampede to be at the front of the queue to sink the boot in.  

There will be a brighter future as soon as the root cause of most of Scottish football’s ills is discredited and permanently removed.
That will go a long way to alleviating whatever pain accompanies the adjustment.
We should neither fear pain nor expect that we can get through our lives without experiencing it.
It’s an intrinsic part of the process of developing, growing, striving and achieving.
A period of pain for Scottish football doesn’t frighten me in the slightest if it leads to a fairer sport and a better society in the long run.
It’s time to get over the Stockholm syndrome.

Why Rangers Punishment Is Wrong


An Appellate Tribunal has upheld sanctions which were imposed upon a tax-dodging football club by an SFA judicial panel last month.

Rangers (in administration) had appealed against the 12-month transfer embargo and £160,000 in fines imposed on the Ibrox club for a series of disciplinary rule breaches under Craig Whyte’s ownership. On 23 April, Rangers were found guilty of five disciplinary charges, including bringing the game into disrepute. The independent inquiry was chaired by Lord William Nimmo Smith (who is a former Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, sitting in the High Court of Justiciary and the Inner House of the Court of Session).

A three-man Appellate Tribunal, chaired by judge Lord Carloway (who is a Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, sitting in the High Court of Justiciary and the Inner House of the Court of Session) announced their decision to uphold the original decision, despite a legal argument put forward on behalf of the notorious, tax-swindling, bill-dodging football club by leading QC Richard Keen. (Richard Keen QC is NOT a Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, sitting in the High Court of Justiciary and the Inner House of the Court of Session).

Rangers (in administration) had contested that Whyte’s actions should be treated separately to those of the arrogant, shameless, cheating, tax-dodging, football club. But the Appellate Tribunal ruled that the original decision was competent as the “conduct involved was attributable to the club as a member of the SFA”.

The tribunal will release a full report of its findings in due course but in the meantime it has revealed a few key points in a short summary.
“It was competent for the disciplinary tribunal to impose the additional sanction of prohibiting registrations of any new players of 18 years or older for a period of 12 months.
The disciplinary tribunal was correct to determine that the conduct involved – especially the deliberate non-payment of very large sums, estimated in excess of £13m of tax in the form of PAYE, NIC and VAT – was attributable to the club as a member of the Scottish FA.

Although the Appellate Tribunal has listened carefully to the representations from Rangers FC about the practical effects of the additional sanction, it has concluded that this sanction was proportionate to the breach, dissuasive to others and effective in the context of serious misconduct.”

Paul Clark, joint administrator (but NOT a former Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, sitting in the High Court of Justiciary and the Inner House of the Court of Session), said: “The decision by the appellate tribunal to uphold the sanction, namely the suspension of registration of players for one year, is not competent in the view of the Club and its legal advisers.” (Note: the club’s legal advisers are not Senators of the College of Justice, judges of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, sitting in the High Court of Justiciary and the Inner House of the Court of Session).

Such a sanction was not available to the tribunal,” in the opinion of Mr. Clark (who is NOT a former Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, sitting in the High Court of Justiciary and the Inner House of the Court of Session) “and should not have been imposed and it is the intention of the Club to challenge the determination. The Club will consider seeking review of this most disappointing decision and it is a matter of regret that the certainty and finality Rangers sought on this matter has not been achieved.”

Charles ‘Emerald’ Green (who is NOT a former Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, sitting in the High Court of Justiciary and the Inner House of the Court of Session) said: “Our group went into the purchase of the Club with this sanction in place but we hoped the decision would at least be commuted. We fully support the Club as it considers an appeal against this latest decision.” The club to which ‘Emerald’ refers is, of course, the dishonest and disgraced Rangers FC (in administration) which has been found guilty by senior judges twice in the last month of bringing the game into disrepute through its deliberate non-payment of £13m of tax.

William Pullar “Sandy” Jardine, spokesman for the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund (but NOT a former Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland, sitting in the High Court of Justiciary and the Inner House of the Court of Session), added: “Rangers supporters will be shocked and bitterly disappointed by this decision and will find it hard to take that the Club has been so heavily punished for the actions of individuals.” What Mr. Jardine means is that Rangers (in administration) should be allowed to spend millions of pounds on acquiring new players instead of paying their taxes.  Even to the point of bringing the game into disrepute.

It is hard not to agree that the punishment which Rangers have been given is seriously wrong.
They are completely beyond redemption, incapable of recognising their guilt and determined to drag every standard of honesty and decency down to the level of shameless cynicism at which they themselves operate.  

Rangers should have been expelled from Scottish football.

Dear Creditor


From:
Sir David Murray
Mr. Craig Whyte
Mr. Paul Murray
Mr. Bill Ng
Mr. Bill Miller
Mr Charles Green,
c/o The Rangers*,
Ibrox Stadium,
150 Edmiston Drive,
Glasgow G51 2XD
North Britain,

To:
Mr. Bhutta
Bhutta’s Newsagents,
142 Copland Road,
Ibrox,

Glasgow G51 2UB:

Dear Mr. Bhutta,

Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Charles Green. Some people call me ‘Emerald’.

I am a colourful businessman who has been a director of no fewer than fifteen companies which have gone into liquidation.  My latest project is a football club called Rangers FC (in Administration) which I am hoping to gut and fillet in the coming weeks.

You may be aware that the Administrators of that football club, a firm called Duff and Phelps, are anxious to drag out the administration process for as long as possible because they are raking in a couple of hundred thousand pounds every week for as long as the money lasts.  Who could blame them, eh?   I’d do the same myself, given half a chance.

Speaking of me, it turns out that I am the latest one to have been offered the opportunity to buy Rangers FC (in Administration). My predecessor, an American chap called Mr. Bill ‘Liam’ Miller, had a quick look at the bookwork and, by all accounts, took suddenly ill. I, however, am made of sterner stuff, (not least because I’m English). Moreover, having been involved in fifteen liquidations myself, I can safely say that I’m quite an old hand at ignoring toxic debt. After the game against St. Johnstone on Sunday  I had a quick butcher’s at the Orcs’ accounts and I have to say that of all the liquidations which I’ve been involved in, this one takes the biscuit!  (As one businessman to another, let me just give you a quick tip – don’t give these people any credit or you’ll regret it. Make sure you get cash up front or no deal.)

Which brings me neatly, I feel, to the matter at hand.  Looking at their accounts, I couldn’t help but notice a list of 277 creditors who are owed a total which is not far off £134,000,000.  One of these creditors is your good self.  You are still owed the sum of £567.45, although it’s so long overdue that you may well have forgotten all about it.

Incidentally, it did strike me that at the very least I might write a letter of apology to you expressing the club’s deep sorrow and acute embarrassment at this state of affairs. However, I was dissuaded from following this course of action by a geezer called Sandy Something-or-other. He seems to be well thought of in some quarters and he assures me that this is not the Rangers Way. Apparently it does not do for Rangers to show any signs of remorse or regret. I might say that this strikes me as odd but I must also concede that, as an Englishman, I am fairly unfamiliar with the customs and traditions of your fine country which I had rarely visited until this week. Indeed, I had never even heard of Rangers until they made the UK news headlines during their visit to Manchester in 2008. (Something to do with a broken television, was it? I think Chelsea were involved too? I can’t really remember the details.)
Anyway, Sandy says there’s to be no apology, that Rangers don’t show weakness, that you should consider yourself honoured to be a Rangers creditor and that you’ll be remembered as one of the bastards who stuck the boot in once the ‘Gers are back on top.

Would I dare to fly in the face of such sound advice on cultural manners from a local man? No chance. So. Up yours, it is, Mr. Bhutta.

That brings me to my next point. You’ve probably heard some talk about a CVA proposal. No doubt you will be too busy selling newspapers to have given the matter much thought. Let me give you a quick guide to what’s going to happen. If you saw the unfortunate headlines in some of today’s newspapers you may have gained the impression that I am spearheading a consortium of about twenty extremely wealthy partners who intend to pour vast sums of money into the club’s Warchest™ in the near future. This may have had the unintended side-effect of raising your hopes that you may finally see your £567.45 one day. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Those millions upon millions of pounds which my partners are going to invest are not for the likes of you, I’m afraid. That money is for Ally to spend on buying over-priced, over-paid, under-achieving no-marks for the Rangers first team of the future.  

I may be new to this country but I’ve already done a bit of homework. Apparently, there is a newspaper called ‘The Scotsman’, which nobody ever reads these days. However, it was pointed out to me that its leader column just a few days ago stated that Scotland needs Rangers. I see no reason to doubt a newspaper which has been losing thousands of readers every month for many, many years now.  It must know a thing or two about what Scotland needs. And it says that Scotland needs Rangers. Does it say that Scotland needs customers to pay their debts and settle their bills in full? No, it says that Scotland needs Rangers. So that settles that.

This means that instead of £567.45, the best you can hope for is £17.02, which is 3p in the pound. Frankly, I think you should be very grateful that you’re being offered that much.

Personally, I am tremendously excited about the future possibilities of this approach to business, if it succeeds. As a businessman yourself, I am sure you can appreciate the enormous cost-saving benefits of a scheme which reduces expenditure by 97%! Holy smoke, if I could have got away with only paying 3% of my bills in the past, I might never have had any liquidations at all, let alone fifteen of the buggers!

Now. In case you’re tempted not to accept this generous offer, let me just invite you to contemplate another very important consideration.

A man called Ally is thought to be very keen to have full transparency on the matter of the names and addresses of the creditors who endanger the future well-being of The Rangers (in Administration) by rejecting the CVA proposal.

Let’s look at it this way. That’s a nice business you’ve got there, Mr Bhutta. Sure would be a shame if anything were to happen to it, if you get my meaning. Of course, if you accept the CVA proposal of a measly three pence in the pound, you’ll probably not have to worry about that. You seem like a smart kind of guy. I really wouldn’t want to see you get on the wrong side of one of the notorious ‘small minorities’ who attach themselves in their thousands to Ally’s team. (No, not Chelsea; his other team.) You want to take my advice and do the sensible thing just in case things in the future get a little ‘transparent’. If you catch my drift.

If you bear in mind that the £550.43 which you’ll never see will play its part in encouraging almost two dozen multi-millionaires to pour millions of pounds into wages for Rangers bench-warmers next season then you will have some considerable consolation for having been ripped off.  Alternatively, you should look at your £567.45 in a different perspective.  Paul Clark makes more than that just by twiddling his thumbs for an hour.  You’re in the wrong game, sunshine.  Administration is where it’s at.

I have taken the liberty of enclosing a Rangers (in Administration) season ticket application form with this letter so that you can enjoy the Rangers experience next season. You may also want to be the first among your friends to buy the classic Sheffield United home kit from the 2006-2007 season so I’m sending you a catalogue for the Blades mail order service as well.

Yours in Sheffield United Rangers,

Charlie “Emerald” Green.

15 and counting.

P.S. These are very troubled times for The Rangers so I am sure you will understand why I found it necessary to send this letter to you without putting a stamp on the envelope.   

It’s The Integrity, Stupid!


The key to winning a battle is very often the ability to choose the weapons, the battleground and the timing.  Winning a debate is much easier if you can choose the topic to be argued.  Passing an exam is much easier if the candidate can choose the questions.

The debate about the fate of Rangers is currently being dictated to a large extent by bean-counters and their media apologists.  They have chosen the weapons, selected the battleground, dictated the topic and are choosing the questions while the vast majority of Scottish football supporters want to conduct this debate on different grounds, with different priorities, addressing different questions and using different weapons.
This must not be allowed to continue.

There is one issue which should be the only show in town.
It is integrity.
There can be no escape from this.  Without integrity, the game’s a bogey.  Every commentator who so much as hesitates to evaluate every other aspect of the case from that viewpoint should be called to account immediately.  Such people have abrogated their right to contribute to the discussion of what is best for the sport.

There is no business argument which takes precedence over sporting integrity.  The entire point of the game is that players can get a fair test of their ability against opponents on a level playing field.  If that fairness is corrupted, the game becomes pointless, irrelevant, redundant and a waste of everybody’s time, effort and money.  The sooner a corrupt business dies, the better for every decent person.  If football allows itself to be blackmailed by cheats because it isn’t prepared to defend its integrity then it fully deserves to perish.

In short, the essence of the football business is integrity.  Everything else is secondary at best and  irrelevant at the very least.  The further the discussion moves away from the focal point of integrity, the more it threatens the well-being of the game.  No journalist or broadcaster or football director or SPL functionary or SFA official should ever even contemplate denying that fair play is the be-all and end-all of professional sport.

Fairness is not about guaranteeing that one particular club will prosper in a competition just because it has more followers than other clubs.  It is not about ensuring that, come what may, two clubs will always play in the top half of the top division because that’s what Rupert Murdoch’s shilling demands.  Putting that another way, fairness does not permit decent professionals who have worked hard, tried their hardest and played the game to the best of their ability to accept that they are to be swindled out of their win bonuses and honours because they are plying their trade with a club which is held to be a less attractive commercial proposition than its rival.  Unless there is fair play at every level of the competition, the entire exercise a complete waste of time and, worse still, a cynical fraud.

Let there be no respect for any argument which is ambivalent about the pre-eminence of  the principle of integrity in professional football.  To compromise that principle is the ultimate sell-out.  There are few surer ways to bring about the ultimate destruction of the game than to let the customers realise that they are being completely conned and sold short.  We must refuse to accept any terms of reference which relegate integrity to the sidelines or dismiss it as an impractical ideal which has no place in commercial activity.

Integrity belongs at very the core of football’s commercial activity and it has never been more important to defend it than at the present time when the Scottish game is facing its biggest test.

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