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.
Here’s a link to a fine comment which was published on the Scottish Football Monitor* discussion forum this week.
Humble Pie’s post is a first class piece that highlights the cognitive dissonance in every department of our society.
The key recognition is that the bodies who take charge of almost every field – medicine, law, education, government, nutrition, banking, sport and many others – do the most damage to the supposed ends of these institutions. They are an enemy within, exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin. That is the context in which we must look at the running of the SFA and the major bodies which are affiliated to it.
It is not through accident or incompetence. Even when the general public is angry enough to mobilise itself into activism to demand change, the people in charge do not respond to the core demands for integrity and honour, Instead, they concentrate their efforts on finding a way to carry on running their shop as before but with a slightly different window display. I blogged earlier this week about how the American people brought about the fall of Richard Nixon only to see his appointed successor, Gerald Ford, abuse his executive authority to thwart the ends of justice by unilaterally pardoning Nixon. There are countless similar examples such as bankers who should be jailed for fraud being given obscene bonuses for bankrupting entire nations.
I have no doubt that there are many people at the SFA who will not hesitate to do something similar with Rangers if they get half a chance. They have numerous allies in the SPL and SFL who will do their bit as well if they can. That is why HP’s superb post should be circulated far and wide. The people running the game have done absolutely nothing to suggest for a moment that they can be trusted to do the right thing in this scandal. It is vital that they are not only kept under the closest scrutiny but also that the scrutiny is illuminated by the clear understanding of the dynamics at play. In that regard, Humble Pie’s post is as good a source of illumination as any. Please read it and share it as widely as possible.
The first thing we learn about playing football is that you have to keep your eye on the ball.
We have since learned that that applies equally to football administration and governance.
* The moderators of the Scottish Football Monitor have a tendency to delete posts which are not in tune with their site’s goals. This has an unfortunate consequence of rendering links to subsequent posts invalid. In case such a fate befalls Humble Pie’s post, I shall reproduce the full text of his comment here as a back up.
How Deep is the Rabbit Hole?
by Humble Pie
As we await the outcome of the Lord Nimmo Smith enquiry into breaches of SFA regulations on players registration by Rangers FC PLC (since renamed and placed into liquidation), I thought it worth taking time to consider the context in which this failure of governance has played out, or the ‘bigger picture’ if you will.
I don’t know about you but any childhood illusions that I may have had that ‘the authorities’ were there to ‘look after us’ has been well and truly shattered over the last two decades or more. In recent years almost all of our ‘most trusted’ institutions have been shown to wear no more than a wafer thin veneer of honesty and integrity. Break through that slim membrane of deceit and we are faced with the startling reality that self-serving corporate corruption is now absolutely endemic in our society.
The corporatisation of our civic life in particular has been imperceptibly slow and deliberate. While our little heads were filled with dreams of ‘change for the better’ with each new dawn and each new government, behind the scenes, men who care only for personal profit have been allowed to usurp our most coveted ideas of peace, justice, education, health, wealth and ultimately happiness. Almost all of the once venerated institutions that we entrusted with guardianship over our ‘public services’ have now been found to be morally bankrupt.
Successive governments have lied the people into wars of conquest, taking hundreds of thousands of innocent souls while our citizens slept on the streets and elected ministers claimed for second homes and £60 light bulbs.
The big banks gambled with our hard-earned money and lost the lot, then the government borrowed the same amount from the same banks (created out of thin air) and gave it back to them to gamble with some more.
The mainstream media continually distorts our view of the world and its people, distracts us with flashy advertising, sensationalist flannel, celebrity gossip and naked breasts, while fermenting discord and division among the citizenry and intruding on the lives of the innocent victims of crime.
The TV broadcasters have covered up the most heinous abuses against children perpetrated by their own staff, while we were busy being ‘programmed’ to become disengaged, disinterested and opinionated voyeurs of so called ‘reality shows’.
Hospitals now care more about bed space and cost benefit analyses than looking after the sick and the elderly, our nurses are overworked and undervalued while many doctors have become hopelessly corrupted by financial kickbacks from the pharmaceutical industry.
Education has again become more of a privilege than a right with the increased cost of hidden fees, accommodation, transport and the lack of any real, meaningful edification and purpose for our young people. Most of the good teachers have left what used to be a ‘vocation’, many of the rest are bored, disempowered and underpaid for the role with which we entrust them (developing the skills of our children).
The Police which used to provide the public with a ‘service’ has now become a ‘force’. No longer do we have policemen and policewomen, now we have ‘officers’. Each individual police force is now an separate corporate entity (look it up on Companies House) their officers obliged to generate income by issuing ever more fines and charges to balance their dwindling budgets.
So the question is, why should I expect football be any different?
Football is governed by a set of rules or customs, which serve to ensure fair competition, and allow consistent adjudication of the winner. These rules are encompassed by the principles of respect, fair play and sportsmanship and are agreed to by all participants….or so Sepp Blatter would have us believe.
During the last couple of years, particularly throughout the Rangers saga, I have become more and more disillusioned by the lack of morality and integrity that has been displayed by the Scottish football authorities. They have ignored their own rules when it suited them and applied them with full ferocity when it suited them. At times their obfuscation and outright hypocrisy has been breathtaking. Compare and contrast the SFA’s treatment of Spartans for accidently failing to put a date on a form twice, and the former Rangers, who deliberately withheld information from the SFA, failed to pay millions of pounds to their civic taxes nor their many creditors (football related and otherwise) and have brought the entire game into disrepute in this country on more than one occasion.
How can they possibly get away with it? I hear you ask.
That the SFA, the president of which is ‘heavily conflicted’ in the entire shenanigans, has fobbed this enquiry off to the SPL (who have no real jurisdiction over the breaking of SFA rules) who in turn fobbed it off the retired Lord Nimmo Smith’s ‘independent panel’ tell us what exactly? That they want justice to be done and to be seen to be done? Perhaps.
However, that the same SFA still fails to state categorically the status of the club called The Rangers currently plying their wares in SFL3, even though the answer to this simple question remains fundamental to the integrity of the sport and any hope of reconciliation among the now deeply divided supporters, doesn’t fill me with confidence in their governance of the game.
What do I expect to happen? Well my experience has taught me to expect the worst and to hope for the best. No doubt, whatever the outcome of this enquiry, that will not be the end of it. In my humble opinion, ‘interested parties’ will seek to make this a long drawn out affair (ain’t it always been so) with judgements and appeals, claim and counterclaim, appeals to the SPL, SFA, CoS, CAS, UEFA perhaps even finally ending up on Sepp Blatter’s Louis XIV style oak desk in Zurich. Where we can expect………………………..?
Michael Ellner noted, “Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.”
Will we have to add ‘and the SFA destroyed Scottish football’?
I hope not but I am beginning to expect so.
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.
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.
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.
I still haven’t seen a single reason to justify the proposition that a re-branded, papered-over-the-cracks version of the liquidated Rangers Football Club should be allowed to enter the senior leagues at any level at all. There is no basis for making an assumption that Sevco Scotland FC should be granted the privilege of entering SFL Division 3.
While the attitude of most supporters around Scotland is that SFL3 is the very highest level at which Sevco FC should be permitted to make its debut in senior football, those Rangers supporters who are prepared to “take their medicine” and start from the bottom are mostly conceding the point for all the wrong reasons.
Despite massive evidence to the contrary, there is a large, vocal constituency of Rangers supporters who still maintain that their thieving, corrupt, fraudulent club put something worthwhile into Scottish football and society. Their motive for plying their trade outwith the SPL is merely to “punish” the clubs who did not back down in the face of their threats. Anyone who doubts this only had to spend five minutes watching the cringeworthy spectacle of John Brown addressing the growling rabble outside the main doors at Ibrox last week. It was like watching Harry Enfield’s William Ulsterman character being impersonated by Rab C Nesbitt on the set of Dawn Of The Dead. When there’s no room left in the SPL, the dead will walk the streets, up to their knees in Fenian blood and bellowing, “No surrender!”
No progress will have been made if these peepul are admitted to the Scottish senior league with a chip on their shoulder and the delusion that they have been hard done by. There is no future for professional football in Scotland unless the people running the game stop obstructing the process of fully investigating every facet of the Ibrox scandal and exposing the culpability of the guilty parties. Clearly, that requires the replacement of the present leaders who are themselves hopelessly conflicted. Until they go, or are forced to go, the attempted whitewash will continue. No lessons will be learned if the myth persists that Scottish football can only prosper if it drinks from the poisoned well of the “We Are The People” mentality with its attendant sense of entitlement, its cavalier disregard for justice and its vengeful overtones of malice towards any who call it to account. Letting the Bully Boys off the hook at this stage will accomplish nothing other than resetting the counter on a time-bomb.
“But what about the decent Rangers supporters?” This question is regurgitated regularly.
“They are the ones who will suffer the most.”
Let’s start by trying to identify those decent Rangers supporters, on the assumption that there have been some. I must presume that, over the years and decades, they have had the decency not to add their voices to the choruses of hatred against the Catholic religion and the Irish people at every single game Rangers have played.
They will have had the decency to miss no opportunity to remind their fellow supporters on forums, in public and in private that the offences committed by Rangers during the Moonbeams era are indefensible and that expulsion from Scottish football would be fully deserved. They will have recognised these crimes for what they are, expressed their personal disappointment for having unwittingly supported such rank corruption and dissociated themselves from anything that is remotely similar to the organisation which has brought disgrace upon itself and all of its followers. They will have realised that years of gloating about Rangers’ dominance and arrogantly boasting about their unchallengeable superiority were founded upon a worthless con trick.
In particular, they will have recognised that the Ibrox culture, which they once happily bought into, depended upon the exploitation of the character weakness whereby too many people are all too ready to claim a vicarious share of glory which belongs to others. Although this trait – known as BIRGing – is a universal human trait, it becomes unhealthy when it is taken to such an extreme that self-awareness is seriously impaired. So by now the decent fans will have looked into their hearts and discovered that it made no difference to them at that time whether the rewards were claimed by fair means or foul. But now that they are wiser, they will have accepted that their loyalties were misplaced, their judgement was poor and that it is better to live without associating themselves with any potential reincarnation of a brand name which has now become a byword for corruption and shame.
I know a few people who qualify as “decent Rangers fans”. They have proved that they are decent by removing the incompatible “Rangers fan” appendix from their identity and have thus reclaimed their honour. Fair play to them. For years, many quietly and patiently hoped that the unacceptable, embarrassing elements of their club would eventually wither away of their own accord and leave the destiny of the club in the trust of people who can behave like honest citizens, enjoy genuine sporting competition and take the rough with the smooth. Most have already realised that this was always a forlorn hope. They are currently being joined by the remnant who are now hopelessly outnumbered by the defiant mobs of dinosaurs. Neither the former Rangers FC nor the embryonic Sevco Scotland FC can make any claim on the loyalty or support of the “decent Rangers fan” now.
Meanwhile, although widespread disgust has been expressed for the oleaginous Neil Doncaster‘s corrupt proposals to sacrifice Scottish football for the sake of pretending that Rangers still exist, the tactic has succeeded in at least one respect. It has, for the moment, shifted the grounds of the debate so that a true perspective of the fundamental issue has temporarily moved out of focus. Doncaster’s ludicrous position is so extreme that he could give away almost all of the ground he is claiming for ZombieHuns and still present himself as a moderate, reasonable negotiator by accepting the compromise which admits the Rangers Tribute Band FC into the ranks of senior professional football, albeit at the bottom of the pile.
There is a danger of replacing an outrageous outcome with an intolerable one in the mistaken belief that it is the best that can be achieved. It is nowhere near to the best that can be achieved. The very least that Scottish football supporters should be prepared to accept now is that the formal expulsion of Rangers FC is placed on the record; that Neil Doncaster, Stewart Regan and Campbell Ogilvie should each face a vote of No Confidence (which should be carried unanimously); and that no new club purporting to be a re-manifestation of Rangers FC should be allowed to participate in organised Scottish football until investigations by the police, tax authorities and any other law enforcement agencies are brought to a conclusion, their reports are published and their files are closed.
We now stand at a crossroads. This is an unprecedented opportunity not only to decide upon the future direction of Scottish football but also to make clear what kind of society we wish to live in. Do we want to stand against bullying and intimidation or shall we just sell out to the first bid for our souls? Does this country need corporate fraud, corruption, cheating and dishonesty or do we have enough backbone to do strike against it when we get the chance? If we are inclined towards the latter option in each case then we have no choice but to resist every attempt to allow Sevco FC to crowbar its way into the Scottish League through its identification with the decaying corpse of Rangers FC. The rules clearly state that Sevco FC, being unable to produce audited accounts for the last three years, is not even eligible for admission to the SFL. That concludes that matter; its application can be rejected forthwith.
At this moment, when we have an unprecedented opportunity to build a fair, sustainable structure for our game, the very last thing that we need is to give our blessing to the creation of a new focus for the unrepentant followers of a discredited ideology to continue their anti-sporting behaviour. There are other clubs who are far more worthy of the senior league slot which has become vacant through the total self-destruction of a poisonous entity that had, in any case, already long outlived its usefulness. Let’s get on with the business of selecting one of them without further delay.
Re-reading my article on Alex Thomson‘s “solutions” for the problems which Scottish football now faces because of Rangers, I think I haven’t made it clear enough that, for all the good work that Alex Thomson did up to this point, I feel let down by his emphasis on starting again with a clean sheet through a straightforward corporate rebranding exercise.
I should have made my feeling clearer that there is no reason to expect anything to change if there isn’t a full investigation into how this shambles was allowed to happen.
Campbell Ogilvie remains the President of the SFA. The mass of Scottish football fans have absolutely no confidence in either Stewart Regan or Neil Doncaster. The mechanism by which people of that calibre can be appointed to oversee the game remains the same.
It is inevitable, in my view, that the same problems will arise again if the same conditions exist; therefore we’re no further forward and a lot of culpable people will never be held to account under Thommo’s proposals. His willingness to gloss over the causes of the scandal does him no credit.
What he flagged as an investigation into corporate misgovernance ends up with a solution that comes straight from the corporate playbook, benefiting only the corporation.
When someone dribbles the ball right through the defence, past the keeper and up to the goal-line, it’s reasonable to criticise him for then putting the ball out for a shy.
The question then is not, how did he miss?
It’s, why did he do that?
Alex Thomson, the chief reporter for Channel 4 News, has suggested a way forward for the supporters of the now extinct Rangers Football Club. In his blogpost of June 23rd he proposes a solution which is based upon the principles – we are probably stretching the meaning of that word beyond its limits here – which guide the thinking of the leaders of multi-national corporations such as Nestlé™ and Tesco™.
To give Mr. Thomson his due, he hints at an acknowledgement that there is far from universal consensus that these companies represent ethical standards to which the rest of us should aspire. I, for one, do not consider either of those companies to be worthy of my support and I have deep misgivings about many of the methods which they employ in order to maximise their profits. But that can be left for another day; let us move on to the substance of the proposed strategy for resolving the problems which have been created by the self-destruction of Rangers FC.
In line with the materialist, corporate thinking of the company men, the first recommendation is to identify the existing concerns which make it hard to sell products associated with the brand name of Rangers FC. That’s easy. The name of Rangers is now a byword for a long list of offence such as corruption, dishonesty, remorseless arrogance, aggression, shameless cheating and so on and on and on. Not an easy sell.
In the Gospel According to St. Tesco™, it is written:
Here is wisdom; blessed is he who hath ears to hear.
Shouldst thy very name be like unto a stumbling-block to thy prosperity, yea, even to such degree that the very ears of the righteous are sore offended by its sound; thereunto I say to thee, “cast thou thine name into the burning pit whereupon it canst be consumed by the flaming tongues of fiery devils. For what doth it profit a man to cleave to that which causeth the very foundations of his corporate strategy to crumble? Verily, I say to you, better to take to thyself a New Name and store up thy treasure on earth than to atone for the sins committed under thine old name.” (© All rights reserved. )
This is known as rebranding.
It’s simple but very effective.
Has it become generally known that the Windscale nuclear power station is causing too much leukaemia? Change its name to Sellafield and restart the clock.
Anglo-American imperial ambitions repeatedly having a spot of bother in Mesopotamia? Okay, we’ll call it Iraq instead.
Is that boardroom full of fully-fledged, clinical psychopaths? No, no! We say now that they’re afflicted by some narcissistic tendencies. Or they’re suffering from borderline personality disorder. (For pity’s sake, don’t give the game away by calling them psychopaths.)
A bare-faced lie is rebranded as a terminological inexactitude and a liar is someone who is economical with the truth.
A British person who goes to a foreign country to steal its resources and murder everyone who resists is called a war hero but dark-skinned people going about their lawful business are called terrorist threats. Someone who steals a tenner from a shop is called a thief but someone who robs the entire population of billions of pounds is called a banker. Or a financial expert. Occupy someone else’s back lawn and you are called a trespasser; occupy the whole of India, Australia and half of Africa and you’ll be called Your Majesty.
What a great wheeze!
So step one is to rebrand the toxic, disgraced Rangers as something less repellent. Alex suggests Govan Rangers™. I don’t know about you, but that looks to me like exactly the same name except it has the word Govan in front of it. I’m not entirely convinced, even though it worked for New Labour. I think Hun Loving Criminals would be much better. But I’m not going to argue with revealed corporate wisdom, so Govan Rangers™ it is for just now.
By some process of corporate marketing doublethink which I admit I cannot fathom myself, this totally new identity somehow separates the new G. Rangers™ from the negative associations of the word Rangers while simultaneously rewarding the “extraordinary brand loyalty of fans which is the one real asset” the club still has. Or something.
So the loyalty to the brand will survive because the brand has been rebranded as a totally different brand to remove the negative associations of the brand name Rangers which is still in the brand’s new, re-branded brand name, Govan Rangers™?
Nope, I still don’t get it.
But maybe that’s why I’ve never made millions out of dissuading mothers in Third World countries from breast feeding their babies so that the infants have an increased chance of dying from water-borne diseases in Nestlé™ baby formula solutions. Guess I’m just not a corporate kind of guy.
But, having come this far, I’ll see it through to the end.
So. The next two parts of the deception are called re-positioning and relaunch.
The 10-point plan involves a gratuitous insult directed at the Hearts owner who declared that he would not vote for admitting Sevco 5088 Ltd FC into the SPL. Further repositioning apparently requires a pointless jibe about “Neanderthal” men dressed in green – which is pretty rich, coming from a supporter of Newcastle Utd. But Mr. Thomson doesn’t stop there – he has eight more great ideas.
Govan Rangers™ draw a line (it says here). They become clean. They do a thing called being demonstrably detoxed. Everybody respects them because they also do paying bills. Their new
Glasgow Govan Rangers™ brand name attracts a fantastic support from somewhere, fantastic supporters who had previously been repelled from attending football matches by the toxic word Rangers in the old brand name and supporters who are so fantastic that they had nothing to do with any of the old “WATP mentality” (although, according to Alex, pandering to this toxic mentality will continue to sell papers.)
Somebody blows the whistle to start a new season. Govan Rangers™ get to win all the league championships for the next few years and everyone loves them even more, especially because their fantastic supporters with the extraordinary brand loyalty are nothing like the ones they used to have when they had a totally different name without the word Govan in it.
Even better, as the icing on the cake, the SFA and the SPL suddenly see that everything is wonderful now that a totally different G. Rangers™ isn’t cheating while it wins all the time. Everybody has completely forgotten about the decades of fraud, dishonesty, bias and corruption. Those honest mistakes have all been forgiven and the spineless cowardice has been completely forgotten about because of the successful rebranding of Sir Stewart Regan, the noble Lords Doncaster and Dallas and that lovable old scamp, His Royal Highness The Prince Campbell Ogilvie, Duke of Larkhall.
And the best bit of all is that there are no impediments to this brilliant marketing strategy.
We “Just Do It,” according to the corporate manual.
So that’s that, then.
What a wonderful world it will be!
What a glorious time we will see!
Suddenly, with one mighty bound, Carruthers was free!
What an insulting and patronising proposal.
I seriously wonder why Mr. Thomson suddenly stopped trying.
At exactly the same time as the SFA, SPL and SFL came up with the most conclusive proof yet of their utter contempt for every vestige of sporting principle, financial probity, general decency and even their own rulebook, Alex has just thrown in the towel.
We have been invited to swallow the contents of a bottle of deadly poison.
We are told that it will be good for us.
Why? Because the bottle has been relabelled as Vitamins.
What is the next, new brand name going to be for cover-up? They’ve already used Investigative Journalism, Inquiry, Probe, SFA Tribunal, Holyrood Summit, Disciplinary Hearing, Police Investigation, Appellate Tribunal, SPL AGM, Fit And Proper Person Test, Licensing Requirements, SPL EGM and due process.
Farewell, Alex Thomson. He came; he saw; but in the end, he couldn’t be bothered.
It was always up to the supporters to stop the corruption of the game.
It still is.
Scandal. Disgrace. Corruption. Cheats. Laughing stock. Fraud. Incompetence. Cowardice. Fiasco.
Nowadays, these are just some of the words that are most likely to spring to the minds of objective onlookers as an automatic first response to a mention of Scottish football. It would be foolish to think that the reputation of any Scottish club is not being tarnished by the outrageous conduct of the former football club which was known as Rangers FC. The stench that continues to emanate from Ibrox is making the entire game stink to the high heavens. Let us recall that Rangers have already been found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute, a conviction which even their own shameless representatives have sullenly accepted.
Let’s emphasise that point. They were not found guilty of bringing Rangers into disrepute; they brought the game itself into disrepute.
So now the Scottish game is officially disreputable. Thanks for that, Huns.
Scottish football has already reached an all-time low. It can sink lower still and seems hell-bent on doing so. It will continue to sink for as long as it clings pathetically to the shattered hull of Minty’s Titanic as if no other course of action could be possible. One club is entirely responsible for the catastrophic condition of professional football in Scotland. One club infected what was a reasonably healthy body, polluted the atmosphere and poisoned the well. Even from beyond the grave, its putrefying remains present a mortal danger to the rest of Scottish football, not least while its own deluded pall-bearers defiantly insist that the corpse is still alive and about to resume its business.
There are others who, as yet, have not dared to believe that a stake has finally been driven through the cold, flinty heart of the club which, like a vampire, spent most of its existence recoiling from the light while sucking the life blood from its prey, using every dark art and nefarious device at its disposal.
It is now time to truly believe and it is time to start anew. The first part of the renewal requires facing up to the world as it is and to reject the insubstantial pseudo-reality which is peddled by media spin-doctors and self-serving publicists. The world as it is sees the potential for a perfectly viable, sustainable Scottish professional football industry which cuts its cloth according to its means. It has to stop pretending to be something which it is not. It is not a smaller version of the English Premier League. It is not currently capable of producing an international team which can qualify for major tournaments. It is not a major force in European club football.
However, it is capable of being much better than it is. Once it takes the necessary steps to release itself from the dead hand of the extinct Rangers FC (1872-2012), a vast panorama of opportunity can open up. Pre-Minty, the SPL was ranked as the fourth best league in Europe. Aberdeen and Dundee United were setting the standard for other Scottish clubs to aspire to. I want to see that level of competitiveness returning to Scottish football. To achieve that, the first myth that must be destroyed is the notion that the future SPL will be a one horse race which Celtic will win at a canter. There is a simple counter to that concern.
Now that the Celtic-Rangers fixture is a thing of the past, Sky Sports has no excuse for continuing to dictate – against the wishes of the clear majority of Scottish football supporters – that the top division cannot expand. There will no longer be four Glasgow derbies every season. There won’t even be one. Hooray! So I see no argument against a top division of twenty clubs, playing each other once at home and once away. This could completely open up the title race. Even if a club lost both of its games against Celtic, it would still have thirty-six games against the other opposition in which to make up the loss of those six points. That is a huge change from the twenty-four points which the wee clubs have contested in the past. It brings the championship well into striking range for the better clubs (and those clubs will also be stronger for the fact that their best players will not be lured away to Ibrox!) At a stroke, we will have a more competitive league and a more attractive competition.
The time has also come to revisit the idea of Scottish football taking control of its own television broadcasting. The Sky deal is lousy. £16 million per year pales into insignificance in comparison with other second-tier leagues in Europe. Denmark, whose population of roughly five and a half million is similar to Scotland’s, receives nearly twice as much TV money than the SPL does. Belgium and Portugal have populations of 11 million but their leagues receive roughly four and five times more respectively than the SPL can attract under the incompetent management of half-man, half-mollusc, Neil Doncaster. The Eredivisie runs its own subscription TV channel and sooks in around £60 million pounds per annum. When you see these figures, it’s hard to see why Sky is considered to be a benefactor of Scottish football! It should also go without saying that the TV revenue must be more evenly distributed than it is at the moment. I do not think that there will be huge resistance to that argument from Celtic, especially if a well-run subscription based TV service is putting far more money into the pot in the first place. (There’s a splendid article by Cardiff Bhoy on Celtic Underground which looks at this subject.)
These wheezes are viable. But they must go hand in hand with a complete house-cleaning of the completely discredited structure of Scottish football as it stands. A total relaunch is required and it is of paramount importance that the new, improved, shiny clean organisation makes a complete break with its sordid past. This requires the courage to fully address the extent of the malign influence of the former Rangers FC and declare unambiguously that its financial doping and associated skulduggery mean that no form of the club can be admitted into the league until there has been a complete, thorough investigation into its affairs by the competent authorities. The brand is too strongly tainted for Scottish football to risk any further contamination from associating with any manifestation of it. If it looks like Rangers, sounds like Rangers or smells like Rangers (especially if it smells like Rangers!) there is too great a danger that it will continue to behave like Rangers. For the good of Scottish football, the brand must be retired until further notice.
If nothing else, Sevco 5088 Ltd FC (or whatever it will be called this time next week) actually needs someone to throw in the towel on its behalf. When a boxer is being pummelled by a superior opponent, the referee or his corner men actually do him a favour by stopping the contest. He can then take time to recover from his injuries before getting himself into shape for a future contest. That’s the position that Zombie-Rangers FC are in just now. It will do them no good to carry on stumbling blindly onto left hooks and right uppercuts. There are plenty more of them in store for them. It’s time for them to touch a knee onto the canvass and if they won’t do it voluntarily, the referee needs to step in.
Meanwhile, the rest of us can look forward to playing and watching football.
Rangers haven’t even begun to taste proper punishment.
At least ten years of cheating cannot be atoned for by anything less than expulsion. I, like tens of thousands of other Scottish football supporters, spent years paying to see what was advertised as a sporting competition but was in reality a fix. Looking only at ten years of buying two season tickets in the first decade of this century and ignoring for the moment the likelihood of previous fraudulent activities perpetrated by the same Rangers organisation, I personally have been defrauded to the tune of well over £12,000.
I am by no means alone or even exceptional in that respect. Many, many others have been cheated.
Taking Celtic alone (but also recognising that supporters of every other club were cheated, particularly the supporters of every SPL club which suffered the relegation which should, by rights, have been the fate of the club which lost every match 0-3) and looking only at the seasons in which Celtic were cheated into 2nd place instead of 1st — that gives us five seasons. 2003, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Hugely simplifying the numbers to a low-end, estimated annual average of ~40,000 tickets @ c.£500 each, we get a ball park figure of £20,000,000 worth of mis-sold tickets.
Twenty million pounds minimum.
Without counting millions of pounds of extra prize money.
Without counting millions of pounds of extra revenues from Europe.
Without counting enhanced reputation and consequent sponsorship potential worth millions of pounds.
Without counting potential for merchandising based on 12 In A Row and related achievements.
Twenty million pounds is the tip of the iceberg of the damage and disruption for which RFC were responsible.
Not to mention that tens of millions of pounds more would have been paid into the national tax coffers if Celtic and other clubs had been receiving the prize money which was due to them.
Yet we are currently hearing Rangers apologists telling us that Rangers “have already been punished heavily” or even, “have already been punished enough!” A fine of £200,000 for doing at least £20,000,000 worth of damage to a single set of supporters? A three year exclusion from Europe as a punishment for ten years of European participation? A ten point deduction after stealing five championship titles?
Proper punishment hasn’t even come into the frame yet.