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.
Scandal. Disgrace. Corruption. Cheats. Laughing stock. Fraud. Incompetence. Cowardice. Fiasco.
Nowadays, these are just some of the words that are most likely to spring to the minds of objective onlookers as an automatic first response to a mention of Scottish football. It would be foolish to think that the reputation of any Scottish club is not being tarnished by the outrageous conduct of the former football club which was known as Rangers FC. The stench that continues to emanate from Ibrox is making the entire game stink to the high heavens. Let us recall that Rangers have already been found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute, a conviction which even their own shameless representatives have sullenly accepted.
Let’s emphasise that point. They were not found guilty of bringing Rangers into disrepute; they brought the game itself into disrepute.
So now the Scottish game is officially disreputable. Thanks for that, Huns.
Scottish football has already reached an all-time low. It can sink lower still and seems hell-bent on doing so. It will continue to sink for as long as it clings pathetically to the shattered hull of Minty’s Titanic as if no other course of action could be possible. One club is entirely responsible for the catastrophic condition of professional football in Scotland. One club infected what was a reasonably healthy body, polluted the atmosphere and poisoned the well. Even from beyond the grave, its putrefying remains present a mortal danger to the rest of Scottish football, not least while its own deluded pall-bearers defiantly insist that the corpse is still alive and about to resume its business.
There are others who, as yet, have not dared to believe that a stake has finally been driven through the cold, flinty heart of the club which, like a vampire, spent most of its existence recoiling from the light while sucking the life blood from its prey, using every dark art and nefarious device at its disposal.
It is now time to truly believe and it is time to start anew. The first part of the renewal requires facing up to the world as it is and to reject the insubstantial pseudo-reality which is peddled by media spin-doctors and self-serving publicists. The world as it is sees the potential for a perfectly viable, sustainable Scottish professional football industry which cuts its cloth according to its means. It has to stop pretending to be something which it is not. It is not a smaller version of the English Premier League. It is not currently capable of producing an international team which can qualify for major tournaments. It is not a major force in European club football.
However, it is capable of being much better than it is. Once it takes the necessary steps to release itself from the dead hand of the extinct Rangers FC (1872-2012), a vast panorama of opportunity can open up. Pre-Minty, the SPL was ranked as the fourth best league in Europe. Aberdeen and Dundee United were setting the standard for other Scottish clubs to aspire to. I want to see that level of competitiveness returning to Scottish football. To achieve that, the first myth that must be destroyed is the notion that the future SPL will be a one horse race which Celtic will win at a canter. There is a simple counter to that concern.
Now that the Celtic-Rangers fixture is a thing of the past, Sky Sports has no excuse for continuing to dictate – against the wishes of the clear majority of Scottish football supporters – that the top division cannot expand. There will no longer be four Glasgow derbies every season. There won’t even be one. Hooray! So I see no argument against a top division of twenty clubs, playing each other once at home and once away. This could completely open up the title race. Even if a club lost both of its games against Celtic, it would still have thirty-six games against the other opposition in which to make up the loss of those six points. That is a huge change from the twenty-four points which the wee clubs have contested in the past. It brings the championship well into striking range for the better clubs (and those clubs will also be stronger for the fact that their best players will not be lured away to Ibrox!) At a stroke, we will have a more competitive league and a more attractive competition.
The time has also come to revisit the idea of Scottish football taking control of its own television broadcasting. The Sky deal is lousy. £16 million per year pales into insignificance in comparison with other second-tier leagues in Europe. Denmark, whose population of roughly five and a half million is similar to Scotland’s, receives nearly twice as much TV money than the SPL does. Belgium and Portugal have populations of 11 million but their leagues receive roughly four and five times more respectively than the SPL can attract under the incompetent management of half-man, half-mollusc, Neil Doncaster. The Eredivisie runs its own subscription TV channel and sooks in around £60 million pounds per annum. When you see these figures, it’s hard to see why Sky is considered to be a benefactor of Scottish football! It should also go without saying that the TV revenue must be more evenly distributed than it is at the moment. I do not think that there will be huge resistance to that argument from Celtic, especially if a well-run subscription based TV service is putting far more money into the pot in the first place. (There’s a splendid article by Cardiff Bhoy on Celtic Underground which looks at this subject.)
These wheezes are viable. But they must go hand in hand with a complete house-cleaning of the completely discredited structure of Scottish football as it stands. A total relaunch is required and it is of paramount importance that the new, improved, shiny clean organisation makes a complete break with its sordid past. This requires the courage to fully address the extent of the malign influence of the former Rangers FC and declare unambiguously that its financial doping and associated skulduggery mean that no form of the club can be admitted into the league until there has been a complete, thorough investigation into its affairs by the competent authorities. The brand is too strongly tainted for Scottish football to risk any further contamination from associating with any manifestation of it. If it looks like Rangers, sounds like Rangers or smells like Rangers (especially if it smells like Rangers!) there is too great a danger that it will continue to behave like Rangers. For the good of Scottish football, the brand must be retired until further notice.
If nothing else, Sevco 5088 Ltd FC (or whatever it will be called this time next week) actually needs someone to throw in the towel on its behalf. When a boxer is being pummelled by a superior opponent, the referee or his corner men actually do him a favour by stopping the contest. He can then take time to recover from his injuries before getting himself into shape for a future contest. That’s the position that Zombie-Rangers FC are in just now. It will do them no good to carry on stumbling blindly onto left hooks and right uppercuts. There are plenty more of them in store for them. It’s time for them to touch a knee onto the canvass and if they won’t do it voluntarily, the referee needs to step in.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can look forward to playing and watching football.