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.
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.