It should be clear now that the ludicrous requirement for a prospective President to have already wasted four years of his life “serving” on SFA committees is the main reason that Campbell Ogilvie was re-elected unopposed.
At the time I presumed that he was re-elected simply because nobody else wanted the gig but now it’s apparent that a suitable candidate wouldn’t even have been eligible to apply.
I think this also reveals another crucial point.
In order for Ogilvie to get the Presidency gig himself in time to oversee the SFA’s manipulation of the impending Hunpocalyse, he obviously had to notch up his own four years well in advance. After decades on the BoD at Ibrox, he spent just long enough at Tynecastle to present himself to the football public as a Hearts director, rather than the full-fat Hun that he has always been, before he jumped ship to clamber aboard the SFA’s tramp steamer. Superficially distancing himself from Rangers for a few months didn’t really fool many people but it did give the laptop loyal a flimsy pretext for championing his appointment as a good thing on the basis that he was a servant of Scottish football in general rather than a one-club man.
This is further confirmation of what I have always held to be true.
Long-term plans for Rangers to jettison its debts and emerge unscathed were carefully hatched at least a decade ago and put into action with immediate effect. Hugh Adam effectively told us so when he sold up his shareholding in Rangers and announced that Rangers were heading towards financial catastrophe under David Murray’s reckless leadership.
Minty, despite his bluster and bravado, also knew that the possibility of liquidation was a very real threat and that administration was a near certainty.
Accordingly, plans were developed.
Conveniently for Murray, Mr. Dave King, an international expert with vast experience of tax evasion, money-laundering and fraud had recently joined the board of directors. It’s hard to imagine that a world-class businessman such as Sir David would not have been glad to avail himself of the advice of such an experienced operator as the glib and shameless liar from Castlemilk, notwithstanding Mr. King’s unfortunate habit of constantly having to defend himself against a torrent of criminal charges in his adopted South African home.
At that time, however, Dave King had yet to be convicted of dozens of criminal offences so he would have appeared to be the sort of chap who could get away with daylight robbery. And that’s exactly what David Murray and Rangers needed to do themselves.
Minty’s Minions were presently despatched to wherever they would be most needed when the worst came to pass. Meanwhile he continued to groom his harem of chosen media harlots, knowing full well that he would be availing himself of their services and favours in due course.
It can not be emphasised enough that the plan would almost certainly have worked but for the unforeseen effect of the RTC blog, which opened the eyes of fans of every other club in Scotland. As a direct result of that awareness, the real and serious threat of season ticket holders across the country withholding their renewals forced club chairmen to vote against the motion to install Sevco (disguised as Rangers) in the SPL. That vote had been planned to pass unnoticed and with the minimum of public commentary while everyone was watching the Olympics.
It was only after that pivotal reversal that the long-term plan came crashing down.
Ever since the strategy failed, what we have seen is a continuous series of ad-hoc tactical defensive measures from the various parties.
The Spivs, assorted Zombie factions, the Press-titutes, the Brotherhood at the Hampden Lodge and a host of others are now trying either to loot the collapsing edifice under cover of darkness or to engineer their escape from the crime scene. The Ibrox institution is a busted flush but there is still an enormous amount of work to be done in order to expose the scale of the corruption in the very foundation of Scottish football’s structure.
It is essential for that work to be completed.
Only when the guilty have all been exposed, disgraced and discredited will it be possible to present Scottish football as what it was always supposed to be – an enjoyable entertainment, played honestly and fairly in a true sporting atmosphere.
I read an interesting paper recently by a group of psychology researchers who were investigating the influence of electromagnetic stimulation of parts of the brain in terms of how it affected the moral choices which people will make.
Two groups of people faced the same set of questions. One group was wired up to a machine which ran a small electromagnetic charge across the temperoparietal junction (TPJ) of the brain. The other group wasn’t.
An example of the types of moral judgements which the subjects were asked to make is as follows:
George is having a coffee at John’s house. George asks for sugar in his coffee. John has two similar jars in his cupboard. One contains sugar but it says POISON on the label; the other contains poison but the label says SUGAR.
John, knowing that the jars have the wrong labels, gives George a spoonful of poison from the SUGAR jar. George dies.
Did John deliberately poison George?
The group which was NOT being subjected to the electromagnetic stimulation (EMS) almost unanimously said yes.
Remarkably, there was a significantly high percentage of subjects in the other group which did not consider John to be guilty. Their reasoning was that John had taken the poison from the jar marked SUGAR and that was enough for them to believe he was off the hook.
In another example, John does NOT know that the labels have been switched. He believes he is putting sugar, not poison, into George’s coffee. George dies.
Group One (nonEMS) found him not guilty of premeditated murder. Most of Group Two found him guilty because George died.
In a third example, John thinks the labels have been switched, wants to poison George but inadvertently gives him a spoonful of sugar (believing it to be poison) and George finally gets a break, enjoys his coffee and goes off to watch the football.
By now, you’ll know what the groups’ verdicts are going to be. Group One condemned John for intending to poison George while a significant proportion of Group Two saw nothing wrong in what John did, simply because George survived.
There are numerous other variations of these experiments which all indicated the same confusion in moral judgement in subjects whose brains had been fogged by external stimuli such as electromagnetic charges. In all of them, the confusion arises from their inability to separate the facts of the matter from the intention of the agent. In moral judgements we regard somebody’s intentions as being the prime factor, regardless of whether they succeed in carrying out those intentions. In moral terms, attempted murder is just as serious as murder whereas being unwittingly involved in someone’s accidental death is not a criminal act at all. In assessing the guilt or innocence of an accused person, we need to establish if the accused had any motivation for causing or attempting to cause a death.
As an aside, the implications of this research are far-reaching and give rise to serious concerns about much of our Western lifestyle. We are surrounded by mobile phones, iPads and mp3 players (especially with headphones), digital televisions, wireless telephones, wi-fi computer connections, modems, so-called energy-saving light bulbs, microwave cookers, laptops and netbooks, transmission masts and numerous other appliances and devices, all of which emit electromagnetic radiation comparable to the EMS which was applied in the experiment. In the light of the experiment mentioned above, I find it to be inconceivable that our immersion in a veritable ocean of electromagnetic radiation is having no comparable effect. I also have information which indicates that a lot of research into these issues has been suppressed and marginalised. It’s not easy to adversely affect the corporate interest with hard, medical, scientific truth.
More generally, I’m struck by the fact that people can be so easily influenced to change their opinion of right and wrong by subtle environmental factors. You don’t necessarily need to have electrodes attached to your cranium in order to have your moral compass deflected off course. Fear of social unrest or other supposedly disruptive consequences may also affect someone’s idea of right and wrong. It’s very important to recognise that the members of Group Two who were making perverse judgements about John’s guilt or innocence genuinely believed in the value of their verdicts at the time. In their minds, it was clear that if George had survived, even though John had intended to poison him, then no condemnation of John’s character was warranted.
This experiment came to my mind when I read Lord Nimmo-Smith’s report of his inquiry into allegations that Rangers deliberately withheld and concealed parts of their arrangements to pay their playing staff. LNS at least managed to note that this was indeed what they had done. The registration conditions had not been met and Rangers had deliberately intended to keep part of their payment arrangements concealed. Those facts were recognised, hence the guilty verdict.
LNS then demonstrated his Group Two credentials by stating that Rangers had not gained or sought to gain a competitive, sporting advantage by deliberately and continuously breaking the registration rules. He ignored the obvious fact that Rangers intended to acquire a stronger playing squad by avoiding the taxes due on £47 million of salary. He ignored the significance of the fact that Rangers intended to dupe the tax authorities by disguising players’ remuneration as loans through an EBT scheme. Registering these payments with the SPL (and SFA) as they should have done would have blown Rangers chances of pretending to HMRC that monies paid to their employees via EBTs were entirely discretionary. And despite media misdirection and propaganda stating that Rangers had “won” their appeal to the FTT over HMRC assessments, LNS had the facts in front of him which stated clearly that the FTT had ruled – and Rangers had accepted – that the EBTs were indeed contractual salary arrangements in the case of at least five players.
Let’s recap that. LNS could see that Rangers paid players part of their salaries via EBTs. Those arrangements should have been part of the documentation submitted to the SPL as part of the player registration process. Rangers deliberately concealed that documentation. David Murray told the FTT , under oath, that Rangers used the EBTs to offer wage packages to better players whom they would not otherwise have been able to sign for the club. LNS concluded that Rangers, knowing full well that they were poisoning Scottish football regardless of what the label read, had not gained any sporting advantage from deliberately breaking the rules.
Rangers broke the rules. They knew they were breaking the rules. They were breaking the rules in order to sign better players than they could afford by keeping to the rules. They signed those better players and fielded them in hundreds of matches.
And LNS, relabelling the jar to suit, says that no competitive sporting advantage was gained.
That is his Group Two moment; George survived, no harm done, let’s move on.
Everything else proceeds from that viewpoint. Now that we’ve decided that John didn’t succeed in his attempt to poison George, we can indeed move on. We can move on to minimising John’s punishment. We might even avoid punishing John at all by dumping a fine onto hundreds of John’s long-suffering creditors. We can move on to finding somebody – anybody – whose interpretation of the penalty that should be imposed on a club which does not correctly register its players flies in the face of all reason, sense of fair play, precedent and practice.
Step forward Sandy Bryson, the man who decides which labels belong on which jars, regardless of their contents. Bryson, lest we forget, was the man who was in charge of registrations at the time of the scandal which led to Jim Farry’s disgrace and downfall over the SFA’s failure to allow Jorge Cadete’s registration with Celtic. Farry pulled the trigger but Bryson provided the gun, supplied the ammunition and pointed it towards the target. (By the by, let us also recall that James Traynor has never varied from his outspoken opinion that Farry was a magnificent administrator.) But the panel decided that Bryson was wearing the SUGAR label.
LNS and his fellow panel members decided that Bryson’s testimony was the be all and end all of interpretation of the SFA’s implementation of fair play. This was in spite of the fact that on the only occasion when his guidelines had been challenged in an independent judicial tribunal, the SFA’s case collapsed ignominiously before lunchtime on the first day of the hearing and the SFA immediately parted company with its long-serving Secretary. It was also in spite of the fact that Bryson’s advice to Celtic about FC Sion’s registration irregularities was that all was in order and nothing could be done; a perverse interpretation which was shot down in flames by UEFA who not only threw FC Sion out of Europe but also ordered the Swiss FA, on pain of being suspended from international competition, to retrospectively award victories to every one of Sion’s opponents in domestic league and cup fixtures in which improperly registered players had turned out for FC Sion. No matter; it says SUGAR on this jar of Bryson.
A credible witness? A man on whose testimony the learned panel should base their verdict? Only if your capacity for making moral judgement has been disrupted could you conclude an inquiry by ruling that no cheating had taken place and no unfair competitive or sporting advantage had been gained. Furthermore, why did the LNS panel take evidence from the SFA’s registration officer in the first place, given that the SFA was already standing by to hear any appeal? What sort of appeals body turns up at the initial hearing in order to give evidence in support of one of the parties and what kind of panel is so morally confused that it thinks such an intervention is okay? It is little surprise that this panel had such a complete unawareness of the principle of fair play.
Make no mistake about this. Scottish football has been run by Group Two members for a long time and continues to suffer for it. The poison in Scottish football’s coffee was put there deliberately, knowingly and with malign intent, regardless of what labels are on the jars. There is no excuse for asserting that the opinions of Group One and Group Two members have equal validity just because they may be sincerely held. They most certainly do not have equal validity.
It may well be the case from now on that football supporters in Group One decide that their only remaining option is to do without sugar or give up coffee altogether because they can recognise the futility of paying money into a sport which is being run along its present lines. It may well be the legacy of the LNS inquiry that George went home and decided not to bother watching the football after all.
I note a recurring theme in the argument against awarding stripped titles to the runner-up is fear of the consequences.
It was fear of the consequences of standing up to wrongdoing that got Scottish football into this almighty mess in the first place.
There is no question in my mind that if Rangers are found to have been fielding ineligible players, the results of their matches should be corrected to read as 0-3 defeats, in accordance with the rules. Consequently the final league standings in each of the seasons to which this applies should also be corrected to reveal who the true champions were, according to the rules.
This could scarcely be simpler.
Once the appropriate corrections have been made, the separate matter of what punishment should be meted out to the offending parties can finally be addressed.
I argue that nothing short of expulsion is appropriate. We are dealing with unprecedented levels of rule-breaking, probably in collusion with administrators at Hampden Park, incalculable damage to the reputation and development of Scottish football and, even now, chaos and turmoil which is destabilising the entire structure of the game.
But fear of the consequences appears to have induced a paralysis which is preventing the correct response from even being recognised, never mind being enacted.
A club which has been found guilty of consistently fielding ineligible players on a massive scale and, furthermore, actively concealed the paperwork which would have exposed the ineligibility is simply not fit to be a member of any organised league. Not is it fit to have SFA membership. Thus the record should clearly show that its punishment is either complete expulsion or a <em>sine die</em> suspension which will not be lifted until satisfactory restitution has been made for the damage suffered by other footballing parties.
If a future club wishes to trade as Rangers FC and portray itself as the continuation of the expelled Rangers FC, it must fulfil certain conditions.
Firstly, it must unequivocally recognise and accept that it is inheriting the culpability of the original Rangers FC for breaking football rules over many successive years.
Secondly, it will never make any claim to titles which have been stripped from it in accordance with the game’s rules nor will it ever dispute or question the justice of awarding those titles to any other club which did compete within the rules.
Thirdly, in recognition of the financial damage which original Rangers caused to its peers in the Scottish game, the new club which elects to trade as Rangers FC will forfeit a percentage of its future earnings and prize money for a period of time and at a level which is acceptable to all the clubs which it is found to have disadvantaged. If they can’t compete at the top level with what’s left in the coffers, too bad. Those are the consequences of cheating your way to glory.
Finally, if – and only if – these conditions are satisfied, then everyone else in Scottish football can agree to accept the new club as a continuation of the old Rangers, albeit with a break in its history from the time to which the suspension is backdated up until it resumes trading as a suitably penitent and chastised member club. It could then legitimately include its forty-odd titles in its honours roll while acknowledging a period of misconduct which is a stain on its history but which it also apologises for, condemns and undertakes never to repeat.
The consequences for Scottish football in this scenario would be that a line could finally be drawn under the entire episode. Honour would be restored all around and a fresh start would finally be possible.
I’m not holding my breath.
Thirty-nine years ago time was running out for the thirty-seventh President of the United States of America. The perception was growing that Richard Nixon was in serious danger of being impeached and might even be removed from office before his presidency had run its course. Investigations into his part in the cover-up of the Watergate scandal were exposing the corruption that riddled his administration and as more and more damaging revelations continued to unfold, an unimaginable scenario was gradually turning into an inevitable reality.
It was becoming increasingly apparent that Auld Nick really was likely to get nailed, discredited and disgraced. The processes were gathering momentum, legal procedures were in motion, political resolve to remove him was strengthening and media which had previously supported him could no longer ignore the reality and scale of the crisis. Pro-Nixon apologists warned of dire consequences which the nation would inevitably suffer if it dared to bring the President to justice but they were misjudging the mood of a nation that had become increasingly sickened by what it was discovering about its government. The American people were not scared of facing up to the crisis, however unpleasant it was going to prove. They were determined to dig down all the way to the root of the problem in order to hold the guilty parties to account and also to send a clear, unequivocal message to future executives that a cynical betrayal of the standards expected of them would not be acceptable.
Nixon helpfully tried to reassure everyone and addressed the nation with a denial of any wrongdoing, introducing a legendary soundbite which spectacularly backfired. Overnight, “I am not a crook,” became a national joke which appeared on tee-shirts, coffee mugs, posters and bumper-stickers. By that time he was already sacrificing numerous key political allies, many of whom subsequently went to prison, and it was no longer preposterous to consider that Tricky Dicky himself might be sent down once he’d been brought down.
Finally, less than two years after winning re-election to the White House in one of the biggest landslides in American history, with impeachment now looming large on the horizon, Richard Milhous Nixon recognised that he no longer had sufficient political support in Congress to enable him to carry on effectively. He resigned and handed over the presidency to Vice-President Gerald Ford, who was sworn in within twenty-four hours. Although his resignation released him from the threat of impeachment, Nixon was now liable to face criminal charges from which he’d been immune while serving as the President.
Between 1974 and 1976, the government of the United States of America — the self-styled leader of the Free World and the greatest democracy in the history of the universe — was led by a head of state who was never elected to any office at the White House. He had become the Veep when the career of his predecessor, Spiro Agnew, crashed and burned in yet another scandal. Up to his ears in charges of fraud, bribery and tax evasion, Agnew cut a deal in which he resigned from the vice-presidency and pleaded No Contest to the charges in return for which he got to not go to jail. Nixon had a good feeling that Ford was the type of chap who might be able to bail him out if the worst came to the worst. Something of a Great Administrator who would never allow any matters of principle or integrity to stand in the way of his own personal advancement, Ford had served reliably and with complete discretion on the Warren Commission cover-up of the John F Kennedy hit. He had proven himself to be a man who could be depended upon to haul himself up the greasy pole by steadfastly not seeing the crime of the century even when it was presented to him in detail over the course of an entire year while he sat with one of its architects.
It should scarcely have been a surprise then when, within a month of becoming the unelected President of the U.S.A., Gerald Ford presented the man who gave him his job with a Get Out Of Jail Free card in the form of a “full, free and absolute pardon.” This instantly removed any possibility of Nixon being indicted for any criminal actions he had carried out when he’d occupied the White House.
The American public bitterly resented Ford’s flagrant insult to their decency and his shameless disregard for their sense of honour. They had endured years of humiliation and disgrace while exerting their best efforts to eradicate the sleazy culture of corruption in which their leaders were immersed. Now, at a stroke, every honourable judicial process, every honest endeavour to set the house in order had been contemptuously dismissed by a hopelessly compromised, spineless rogue, no better than the crooks who had preceded him. Ford’s Republican party was annihilated shortly afterwards in the mid-term elections and at the very first available opportunity, he himself was replaced by a peanut farmer.
But it mattered little to Ford. He had been appointed to the presidency to carry out one single task – to get his fellow crooks off the hook – and he accomplished that in jig time.
I can’t imagine why this widely known example of secretive, Establishment mutual back-scratching and gross abuse of power and position to thwart the pursuit of justice suddenly sprang into my mind. I had actually intended to write about what might happen should the SFA have to hear an appeal if Lord Nimmo Smith finds that Rangers were guilty of fielding improperly registered players for a period of many years during David Murray’s time in charge of the now extinct club. I’ve quite forgotten what I was going to say now.
Maybe next time.
The League Cup semi-final against Danny Lennon’s spirited St. Mirren side ended with another Hampden let-down from a Celtic team which is getting to the stage where it can be relied upon to under-perform in do-or-die matches where victory is expected.
Last season’s League Cup Final was a fairly evenly contested game for the most part but Kilmarnock got the breakthrough and deserved to edge it in the end. But there’s no doubting that Celtic didn’t do themselves justice. The Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts was another occasion in which the Hoops looked as if they had forgotten how to do their jobs.
Ross County’s stunning upset at the same stage of the same tournament was well deserved on their part but it was a mystery that Celtic played so badly when they were in the middle of a superb winning streak in the league and should have had great confidence in their ability to overcome their First Division opponents.
This season, although Celtic eventually knocked Arbroath out of the Scottish Cup at the second time of asking, the performances in both matches belied the colossal gap in the status and resources of the two clubs.
Many supporters would add to this list a severe disappointment in the Highlands a couple of years ago when Celtic seemed to be strong favourites to win the SPL until they lost an away match in Inverness. We should bear in mind, in fairness to the Highlanders, that they have consistently presented a difficult challenge to every club that visits them and it was Celtic’s turn to be ambushed that night but the result was still a shock. Personally though, I strongly maintain that the fix was in that season to ensure that Murray’s fraudulent enterprise got first dibs at the Champions League booty. The refereeing in that particular match was McCurryesque. That was a big factor in the ultimate result, not only in that match but also in the final league standings.
But there is no denying that Celtic have regularly failed to show the hunger and will to win which the supporters are entitled to expect of the team. There can no longer be any doubt that this is true. I think it is highly significant that after the match Neil Lennon stated in an interview that some of the players were like spoilt children in the first half. That is a very strong – and not entirely inaccurate – criticism of the side’s thoroughly abject display but it is also very unusual for a manager to say such a thing in public. It makes me suspect that he has tired of regularly feeling duty bound to shield players from well deserved criticism in the wake of performances which are far short of what is rightly expected from them. However, I don’t think it addresses the core problem. More on that later.
As far as the league is concerned, there has been criticism of the fact that Celtic haven’t won as many points this season as they had at the same stage of the last title campaign. I couldn’t care less how many points Celtic accrue so long as we end up with more than anyone else. Celtic fans are well aware of the nine-in-a-row which Jock Stein’s sides achieved. I doubt if there’s one fan in a hundred who could say how many points Celtic won in each of those years.
When Wim Jansen’s team won the league title in 1998 with 74 points and stopped the nine-in-a-row achievement from being surpassed, I don’t remember a single Celtic supporter who grieved over the fact that Tommy Burns side had won more points in each of the previous two seasons while finishing second. (75 and 83, to save everybody looking it up.)
What matters is winning the title.
So I’m prepared to cut the team some slack in the league because, highly paid or otherwise, there is a limit to the amount of physical wear and tear which professional footballers can withstand over the course of a season. A successful quadruple campaign would require at least sixty-five games. The possibility of cup-tie replays and representative call-ups could easily take that total above seventy. It’s too much to expect any player to perform in every one of those games at the required standard so I’m glad that we have the opportunity to use squad rotation to rest players who need a break. The fact that several points may be dropped without fatally damaging the title quest is nothing but good news in my book.
But in one-off, knock-out cup-ties, there’s a different set of criteria altogether and I don’t think the players have developed the correct mentality for these competitions. This is underlined to a certain degree by the fact that Celtic very rarely win a match in which they’ve lost the first goal. Games can be lost on the way to winning league championships but not in the course of a triumphant cup campaign.
Recent Celtic teams have not shown that they have the ability to deal consistently with the pressure of playing in a match which they can’t afford to lose, most especially against opponents who set out to exploit that factor. There have been a few notable exceptions but Celtic’s best performances have generally come in games where they have felt that they have nothing to lose and lots to gain.
The current Celtic side has a number of good qualities but it only overcomes its numerous deficiencies when every player’s work rate, self-belief and resolve are at a very high level. It’s the players’ responsibility to ensure that they rise to that standard every time they are called upon to discharge their professional responsibilities. If they’re not self-motivated, they’re wasting everybody’s time.
The first-team coach can only encourage them and give them an opportunity to show that they are up to that challenge. If they don’t have the correct approach to their work, they need to look at themselves instead of hiding behind the management team. I expect that there are at least a dozen current Celtic players who are being honest with themselves tonight about why they froze this afternoon but they might not necessarily know how to find a solution.
It appears to me that the fear of losing to underdogs strongly inhibits the present side. Too many players tighten up and, as their performance consequently suffers, so the prospect of defeat further erodes their self-confidence and they enter into a negative feedback loop. Losing the first goal highly exacerbates the problem. The downward spiral continues as players begin to panic or show petulant signs of frustration. These responses in their turn further reinforce the sense of impending doom and self-doubt. Opponents sense this and are inspired to raise their own game still further, buoyed by the growing belief that they have the psychological upper hand. Meanwhile, baffled coaches watch from the technical area, trying to understand why under-performing players are behaving like “spoilt children” or why they don’t seem to have the same hunger as their opponents.
This is where I would have hoped and expected Jim McGuinness to earn his corn as part of Celtic’s coaching staff but I fear that his role is currently limited to working with youth players. I feel that Celtic would lose nothing by looking in the direction of professional advice from a successful sports psychologist to address some of the recurring issues that are afflicting the team. These regular pratfalls can no longer be dismissed as blips or off-days. They’re a direct result of well researched and fairly well understood mental processes and states of mind which need to be, and can be, adjusted with suitable programmes, specifically designed for each individual player.
Football is still years behind other sports in this field but Celtic could do a lot worse than to make room for a Head Teacher in the first-team coaching staff.
One of the challenges that Celtic face is that opponents in Scotland generally regard anything other than a sound thrashing at our hands as a good result.
A draw is excellent.
And actually beating Celtic is a significant career highlight for the majority of their players.
Even if Celtic give a team a right good horsing, the defeated outfit just shrug it off and refocus their attention on competing with their peers.
Their supporters are generally quite content to watch their players deploying whatever tactics might successfully deny the Celts a goal spree.
There’s very little pressure on those teams to do anything other than hold the fort.
That’s just the way it is.
By contrast, Celtic supporters – and particularly the younger ones who have no memory of watching truly rotten Celtic teams – seem to think that anything short of a convincing victory in almost every single domestic fixture is a completely unsatisfactory betrayal of Celtic’s traditional, glorious style.
But the reality is that although Celtic now have greater resources than any of their Scottish opponents, this does not mean that they can fill the side with geniuses and world-beaters who are entitled to overrun the puny resistance of unworthy opposition by dint of their immeasurable superiority and God-given gifts.
Celtic have played eight games this month.
Now that they’ve lost one of them to a well organised, hard working, reasonably competent side at their home stadium, there is a bizarre gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in some Celtic-supporting quarters as if it’s an outrageous injustice.
Hibs did to Celtic what the Hoops did to Barcelona.
They prevented theoretically superior opponents from playing to their strengths, pinched a lead and then defended it for all they were worth.
Inspired by the big occasion, Hibs found an energy level, a focus and a resolve which simply wasn’t there a few days ago when they lost to Ross County.
Indeed it doesn’t seem to have been there in any of their recent performances since they last raised the bar by knocking Hearts out of the Cup at the start of the month.
That was another big occasion for the Hibs players which seems to have brought out the best in them.
When Celtic play Hibs, they’re not really playing the same team that loses a string of league games to Ross County, Motherwell, ICT, Aberdeen and Dundee.
They’re playing a team which is as up for it as Celtic are against Benfica, Spartak Moscow or Barcelona.
And, just as Celtic have proved themselves to be able to stop those teams from playing at their best, so it is that the boot is on the other foot when they have to solve the problem of unlocking packed defences in Scotland.
On the day, Celtic’s success will depend upon the conversion rate of the chances they do manage to create.
Yesterday, they had a few chances and didn’t take them.In the Champions League, Celtic had an unusually high conversion rate and that carried them through to the last 16.
If they can somewhat improbably maintain that preposterously high rate, they might even yet get past Juventus (so long as the serial match-fixers from Turin miss their penalties).
But the odds on that happening in every match Celtic play are not good.
Ten years ago Celtic could regularly turn games like yesterday’s defeat around because the threat of top class talents such as Chris Sutton, Stilian Petrov, John Hartson and Lubomir Moravcik sooner or later created chances which the genius of Henrik Larsson would convert with exceptional regularity.
Hooper isn’t in Larsson’s class, Samaras isn’t as deadly as Hartson, Broon isn’t the player that Petrov was and no-one at Celtic Park now could lace Moravcik’s boots.
The money simply isn’t there to acquire ready-made players of that quality and, unlike some clubs, Celtic have no intention of exterminating themselves by spending money which they don’t have or by borrowing money which they can never pay back.
Celtic are competing against top-flight professional clubs who, rightly, are keen to test themselves against the best team in the country and one of the current European elite.
There are almost certainly going to be lots of days like yesterday when Celtic fire blanks.
But they’ll probably have far fewer of them than any other SPL club and so Celtic remain hot favourites to win the league.
That’s good enough for me.
It’s probably good enough for many of us who endured supporting Celtic during periods such as the trophy famine from 1989 until 1998.
The barren period was temporarily alleviated only by a solitary, scrappy Scottish Cup win against the now-defunct Airdrieonians FC in 1995.
The victory was celebrated as if we had won the European Cup again with the trophy being paraded through the streets from Hampden to Celtic Park.
That was a period when sometimes we couldn’t even qualify for Europe at any level, far less reach the last 16 of the top tournament while topping the league.
And whenever we did limp into one of the lower UEFA tournaments, we were almost invariably picked off in the early rounds by teams of journeymen who were still canny enough to pick off our naive, “entertaining”, cavalry charge mentality.
Neuchatel Xamax couldn’t believe their luck and had the tie wrapped up before the first leg even reached half-time.
Partizan Belgrade scored a last minute goal on the counter-attack to turn an impending defeat into victory while Celtic didn’t even have the savvy to run down the clock with a late substitution or take the ball into the corners while leading 6-5 on aggregate.
(To put Partizan’s quality in perspective it can be noted that they went on to lose both legs of their tie against Dinamo Bucharest who, in turn, lost home and away to Anderlecht who were then taken care of by Sampdoria.)
It took us decades to even start to learn how to play modern European football.
Now we are the Scottish Champions and we are likely to remain so for years.
We are going toe to toe with the very best teams in Europe and holding our own.
Many of the performances won’t be pleasing to the eye but I’ll happily settle for what we now have with no cheating Huns “competing” with us for the title and the occasional defeat at the hands of Hibs, Inverness or Kilmarnock while we eye up a possible place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Just over a year ago there was a stampede of panic merchants calling for Neil Lennon’s dismissal in the wake of a 3-3 draw with Kilmarnock.
The Armageddon scenario at that time was that we had fallen so far behind the Huns that the league was done and dusted.
It wasn’t just Jelavic who was stupid enough to make that claim.
They were quite a few Hoops followers queuing up on various Celtic forums to demand the manager’s head while lamenting that Craig Whyte’s All Stars had disappeared over the horizon towards the SPL title.
Thank God that the baleful Orc Effect didn’t drive us off the course that we’re still on.
And praise be to Hector that it’s no longer a factor at all.
We now have time to develop into a respectable European force without having to worry about the Tax-Dodgers capitalising on any of our domestic stumbles.
These are great days for Celtic supporters, even when the team isn’t yet constantly firing on all cylinders.
Even the bad times are good now.
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.