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.
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.