One of the challenges that Celtic face is that opponents in Scotland generally regard anything other than a sound thrashing at our hands as a good result.
A draw is excellent.
And actually beating Celtic is a significant career highlight for the majority of their players.
Even if Celtic give a team a right good horsing, the defeated outfit just shrug it off and refocus their attention on competing with their peers.
Their supporters are generally quite content to watch their players deploying whatever tactics might successfully deny the Celts a goal spree.
There’s very little pressure on those teams to do anything other than hold the fort.
That’s just the way it is.
By contrast, Celtic supporters – and particularly the younger ones who have no memory of watching truly rotten Celtic teams – seem to think that anything short of a convincing victory in almost every single domestic fixture is a completely unsatisfactory betrayal of Celtic’s traditional, glorious style.
But the reality is that although Celtic now have greater resources than any of their Scottish opponents, this does not mean that they can fill the side with geniuses and world-beaters who are entitled to overrun the puny resistance of unworthy opposition by dint of their immeasurable superiority and God-given gifts.
Celtic have played eight games this month.
Now that they’ve lost one of them to a well organised, hard working, reasonably competent side at their home stadium, there is a bizarre gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in some Celtic-supporting quarters as if it’s an outrageous injustice.
Hibs did to Celtic what the Hoops did to Barcelona.
They prevented theoretically superior opponents from playing to their strengths, pinched a lead and then defended it for all they were worth.
Inspired by the big occasion, Hibs found an energy level, a focus and a resolve which simply wasn’t there a few days ago when they lost to Ross County.
Indeed it doesn’t seem to have been there in any of their recent performances since they last raised the bar by knocking Hearts out of the Cup at the start of the month.
That was another big occasion for the Hibs players which seems to have brought out the best in them.
When Celtic play Hibs, they’re not really playing the same team that loses a string of league games to Ross County, Motherwell, ICT, Aberdeen and Dundee.
They’re playing a team which is as up for it as Celtic are against Benfica, Spartak Moscow or Barcelona.
And, just as Celtic have proved themselves to be able to stop those teams from playing at their best, so it is that the boot is on the other foot when they have to solve the problem of unlocking packed defences in Scotland.
On the day, Celtic’s success will depend upon the conversion rate of the chances they do manage to create.
Yesterday, they had a few chances and didn’t take them.In the Champions League, Celtic had an unusually high conversion rate and that carried them through to the last 16.
If they can somewhat improbably maintain that preposterously high rate, they might even yet get past Juventus (so long as the serial match-fixers from Turin miss their penalties).
But the odds on that happening in every match Celtic play are not good.
Ten years ago Celtic could regularly turn games like yesterday’s defeat around because the threat of top class talents such as Chris Sutton, Stilian Petrov, John Hartson and Lubomir Moravcik sooner or later created chances which the genius of Henrik Larsson would convert with exceptional regularity.
Hooper isn’t in Larsson’s class, Samaras isn’t as deadly as Hartson, Broon isn’t the player that Petrov was and no-one at Celtic Park now could lace Moravcik’s boots.
The money simply isn’t there to acquire ready-made players of that quality and, unlike some clubs, Celtic have no intention of exterminating themselves by spending money which they don’t have or by borrowing money which they can never pay back.
Celtic are competing against top-flight professional clubs who, rightly, are keen to test themselves against the best team in the country and one of the current European elite.
There are almost certainly going to be lots of days like yesterday when Celtic fire blanks.
But they’ll probably have far fewer of them than any other SPL club and so Celtic remain hot favourites to win the league.
That’s good enough for me.
It’s probably good enough for many of us who endured supporting Celtic during periods such as the trophy famine from 1989 until 1998.
The barren period was temporarily alleviated only by a solitary, scrappy Scottish Cup win against the now-defunct Airdrieonians FC in 1995.
The victory was celebrated as if we had won the European Cup again with the trophy being paraded through the streets from Hampden to Celtic Park.
That was a period when sometimes we couldn’t even qualify for Europe at any level, far less reach the last 16 of the top tournament while topping the league.
And whenever we did limp into one of the lower UEFA tournaments, we were almost invariably picked off in the early rounds by teams of journeymen who were still canny enough to pick off our naive, “entertaining”, cavalry charge mentality.
Neuchatel Xamax couldn’t believe their luck and had the tie wrapped up before the first leg even reached half-time.
Partizan Belgrade scored a last minute goal on the counter-attack to turn an impending defeat into victory while Celtic didn’t even have the savvy to run down the clock with a late substitution or take the ball into the corners while leading 6-5 on aggregate.
(To put Partizan’s quality in perspective it can be noted that they went on to lose both legs of their tie against Dinamo Bucharest who, in turn, lost home and away to Anderlecht who were then taken care of by Sampdoria.)
It took us decades to even start to learn how to play modern European football.
Now we are the Scottish Champions and we are likely to remain so for years.
We are going toe to toe with the very best teams in Europe and holding our own.
Many of the performances won’t be pleasing to the eye but I’ll happily settle for what we now have with no cheating Huns “competing” with us for the title and the occasional defeat at the hands of Hibs, Inverness or Kilmarnock while we eye up a possible place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Just over a year ago there was a stampede of panic merchants calling for Neil Lennon’s dismissal in the wake of a 3-3 draw with Kilmarnock.
The Armageddon scenario at that time was that we had fallen so far behind the Huns that the league was done and dusted.
It wasn’t just Jelavic who was stupid enough to make that claim.
They were quite a few Hoops followers queuing up on various Celtic forums to demand the manager’s head while lamenting that Craig Whyte’s All Stars had disappeared over the horizon towards the SPL title.
Thank God that the baleful Orc Effect didn’t drive us off the course that we’re still on.
And praise be to Hector that it’s no longer a factor at all.
We now have time to develop into a respectable European force without having to worry about the Tax-Dodgers capitalising on any of our domestic stumbles.
These are great days for Celtic supporters, even when the team isn’t yet constantly firing on all cylinders.
Even the bad times are good now.
The SFA are making it clear to one and all that their first priority is to save the myth of Rangers rather than look after Scottish football.
It has been obvious for some time now that neither the SFA nor the SPL has the slightest intention of doing the right thing except under the strongest compulsion from the vast majority of Scottish football supporters. Even then, the authorities waste no time in reverting to their corrupt ways as soon as they sense that the immediate pressure has relented.
Thus, in the last week, we have witnessed the absurd pantomime of negotiations about what level of punishment the disreputable Ibrox mob will deign to accept for the disgraceful conduct of their business over the last year. It is glaringly obvious that the perpetrators have no right to dictate what punishment they are prepared to accept. Any authority worthy of the name would simply dictate that Rangers, having been found guilty of the most serious charges in the history of Scottish football and having brought the game into disrepute on several different counts, must be suspended or expelled altogether. The judgement and sentence would be handed down and that would be that. But it doesn’t work that way when the Huns are involved.
Thugs such as McCoist, Brown and Jardine issue threats with impunity and the SFA and SPL cower in abject submission. Gangsters and mobsters operate from the Ibrox boardroom and bully the game’s administrators into inviting a fraudulent club to participate in a league to which it isn’t even entitled to apply for membership. Law enforcement officers are investigating several different suspect aspects of this stinking operation and will assuredly pounce sooner or later.
And all the while, the SFA pretends that it is somehow in the interests of Scotland and its national game that these crooks should be accommodated in the professional structure instead of run out of town faster than you can say “organised crime” or “international money-laundering syndicate.”
Obviously, the SFA thinks it can get away with this. That is in no small part due to the fact that it always has got away with it up until now. It has always managed to keep this sort of scandal in-house and under control, mainly because of a complete lack of transparency in its doings. It helped that it was never seriously challenged by an emasculated press corps whose loyalties have generally lain in the same place as those of Hampden high heid yins such as Campbell Ogilvie, Gordon Smith and George Peat.
And for as long as these crooks could keep everything in house, it has been a safe bet that nobody could ever stop the corruption of the national game. Politicians are a complete waste of time at best while UEFA and FIFA do not involve themselves in domestic matters.
McCoist is now arrogantly insisting that the football authorities abandon the investigation into the illegal payment schemes practised by Rangers over the course of many, many years. He is quite patently making this demand for no other reason than that he wants to hide the truth about the colossal number of games in which Rangers fielded players who were not properly registered to play. He has also stated in advance that he will not accept any talk of titles being stripped from the cheating Ibrox club. McCoist’s position is that there must be no transparency, no investigation, no punishment and he has previous form for inciting criminal action to intimidate those who wish to see the same rules apply to Rangers as would apply to any other club. Sadly, his thuggery has not been wholly unsuccessful so far, and the SFA has shown no indication that it is prepared to lay down the law lest it displeases the bombs and bullets brigade.
So it’s time to get the gloves off with these scummy crooks and bring the whole charade to a crashing halt. The Scottish game is heading for destruction one way or another if a criminal enterprise such as Sevco is going to continue to receive preferential treatment at the same time that rabble-rousers like McCoist can threaten the personal safety of anyone who stands between him and his demands. If the game is going to be destroyed, let it be for better reasons than for the sake of sustaining the fake prestige of a rotten institution.
Fortunately, there is a way to involve UEFA and FIFA. As a bonus, it may lead to the destruction of the SFA. If the decent clubs in Scotland start making their preparations now, they may be in a good position to form a new administrative body to take over the running of Scottish football when the SFA is expelled from world football.
Step forward Barry Ferguson, inductee of the Rangers Hall of Fame [sic] and formerly captain of his club and country. Ferguson had two spells at Ibrox and somewhere along the line he trousered two and half million tax-free pounds sterling through the EBT scam. Mark Daly reported that Ferguson’s extra contract with Rangers has been seen and confirmed by the BBC.
What a stroke of bad luck it would be for the SFA if Barry Ferguson had been selected to play for the Scotland international team in a World Cup qualifying tournament whilst being improperly registered. Alas! That seems to be exactly what has happened.
During the campaign to qualify for the 2006 Finals, Scotland drew four and won three of the ten matches. The only match which Ferguson did not play in was the very last group tie, a 3-0 away victory over Slovenia. In every other fixture, the improperly registered Rangers player was selected to represent Scotland in a competition played under FIFA auspices. Ten of Scotland’s 13 points were won by breaking the rules of the competition. Not only has the SFA accepted prize money which it wasn’t entitled to collect but Scotland’s seeding level since that tournament has been at a higher level than it ought to be because it is based on Scotland finishing in a false third position in the group rather than sixth and last where it ought to have been according to the rules.
The Scotland manager for all but the first three games of that campaign was Walter Smith, a man who knows more about EBTs than most. The president of the SFA was George Peat, its Treasurer was Campbell Ogilvie and the CEO was David Taylor (who is now the joint General Secretary of UEFA). If there are any journalists out there who know how to work a telephone, they could do us all a favour by asking any of these gentlemen for their comments on the matter of Scotland fielding ineligible players in FIFA competitions. Failing that, why not just go straight to FIFA and ask them if they approve?
(FIFA’s number is +41 (0)43 222 7777. I’d call them myself but I’m a bit low on credit, what with paying my taxes and stuff.
Arthur Numan, a Dutch international footballer, received over half a million pounds in sneaky pay from an EBT and Mark Daly of the BBC reports a positive sighting of the infamous “side letter” which confirms that this money was paid as wages to the player. McCoist doesn’t want the SFA or the SPL to investigate this. But Numan didn’t only play for Rangers at this time. He also played for the Netherlands. In international competitions under the auspices of both UEFA and FIFA.
For example, Numan was in the Dutch team that defeated Estonia 5-0 on the 5th of September 2001 in the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven during the qualifying tournament for the 2002 World Cup Finals. And just a few weeks later in Arnhem, Gelredome on the 6th of October, Arthur came on as a substitute for Mario Melchiot as the Netherlands defeated Andorra 4-0 in their next FIFA World Cup qualifying tie. He also played in Holland’s 2-2 draw with the Republic of Ireland.
Other contemporary Rangers players who featured on the official team-lines during that qualifying competition were EBT beneficiaries Ronald de Boer (£1,200,000 with a side letter), Fernando Ricksen (£684,225, side letter confirmed) and Bert Konterman (£300,000).
Hello again, FIFA. That’s seven points which Holland should not have kept just for Arthur Numan’s appearances alone. Numan, not being properly registered, was not entitled to play professional football at any level, far less as an internationalist in the most prestigious competition on the planet. The SFA, by failing in its own duties to ensure that players were properly registered, devalued the jewel in FIFA’s crown. Again, an enterprising journalist will already be reaching for the phone to ask the Dutch FA if they falsified their own bureaucratic submissions to FIFA or if they received inaccurate paperwork from their Scottish counterparts.
But member clubs of the SFA should not be waiting for any other party to investigate this. Between the SPL and the SFL, there are forty-one member clubs of the SFA who are entitled to demand of the executive, as a matter of the utmost urgency, an immediate answer to this question: have the SFA habitually deceived UEFA and FIFA with false registration documents to enable ineligible players to compete in major tournaments? With a new World Cup qualifying tournament about to start, it is a matter of vital importance that this question is cleared up immediately and if the SFA haven’t got the balls to do it then somebody should ask FIFA to intervene without a moment’s delay.
As for UEFA, we see exactly the same irregularities. Indeed, one side was a bad as the other in the play-off match between Scotland and the Netherlands for a place in the Euro 2004 Finals. Players with dual contracts at Rangers had featured throughout the campaign for both teams. While Rangers EBT beneficiary Dick Advocaat (£1,500,000) was selecting his fellow tax-scammers Fernando Ricksen and Ronald de Boer for the Dutch, the officials of the SFA were sitting in the directors’ box watching Barry Ferguson and Neil McCann (£500,000) turning out for the Scots. Just for good measure, while Holland were rattling in half-a-dozen goals against Scotland in one play-off, another Rangers dual contract holder was settling another play-off match with the only goals of the tie between Slovenia and Croatia. Dado Prso, armed with the side letter which the BBC has seen, took away £1,900,000 in tax-free sneaky pay.
Gloves off. It’s the SFA versus everybody who cares about football being played properly and according to the rules. The SFA have just about destroyed Scottish football. It’s time for Scottish football fans to call them on these matters and turn ourselves in to UEFA and FIFA. Call for the expulsion of the SFA from world football. Form a brand new association which places integrity at the centre of its constitution and let it invite applications from clubs which agree to be bound by the rules without question. Huns need not apply. Let the new Caledonian Soccerball Association (Featuring New, Improved Integrity) petition UEFA and FIFA for formal recognition in place of the disgraced, discredited SFA . Never again should we have to cringe with embarrassment or shake with fury at the sight of a thoroughly corrupt fraudster presiding over an association of cowards and cheats who negotiate with gangsters and neds about how to wreak further damage on our game.
Over to you, UEFA and FIFA. Get this investigated and when McCoist throws one of his hissy fits and threatens you with a mass mobilisation of the Larkhall Loyal, just tell him to do one. For once, the vast majority of football fans will be right behind you.
“If Santa knows that you’re being bad, you’ll not get any presents on Christmas Day.”
Were any of us not subjected to that threat at some point in our childhood?
What a brilliant way to keep someone in line! Invent a myth, keep repeating it until you convince your weans that it’s true and then use it to manipulate them according to your wishes. As a child, I sometimes wondered about the logistics of this remarkable operation. We all did.
The whole world? In one night? Presents for every single well-behaved child? All carried on one sleigh? Seriously?
It seemed that something didn’t quite add up here but wherever I looked, everyone confirmed the reality of Santa. Parents, relatives, neighbours, teachers, random strangers all had their stories straight. Television programmes and adverts, grottos in department stores, pictures on billboards, songs on the radio, each provided further evidence that nobody except me had even noticed any of the inherent inconsistencies about this extraordinary person and his work.
Why don’t all the starving children in Africa ask for enough food to keep them alive?
If his elves are making all these toys themselves, how come they look exactly the same as the ones in the shops?
What’s the point of the shops trying to sell Airfix Lancaster bomber model kits or Subbuteo sets if everyone can get one for nothing?
It didn’t make sense.
On the other hand, I had a suspicion that it might be unwise to express too much scepticism. It might even cost me a train set.
By all accounts, only people who actually believed in Santa got presents from him.
It finally came to the point when I not only knew beyond reasonable doubt that Santa must be a myth; I also realised that I had been surrounded by liars for years. But no sooner had I become cognisant of the Great Deception than the liars invited me to join their conspiracy. There were younger siblings and cousins who had to remain deceived and it wouldn’t do for me to blow the whistle. I calculated that by publicly maintaining the pretence that I believed in Santa, I might be able to raise the stakes for next Christmas. It was to be a red bicycle or else.
(At this point I must apologise to any readers who hadn’t yet heard the bad news that there is no Santa. If it’s any consolation, Graham Speirs knew this three weeks ago before anyone else although he didn’t bother to write about it. In any case, in a few months time the Daily Record will claim that it was the first to break the story.)
As with the Santa myth, so with the Rangers myths. One of the recurring myths is that Rangers are a financial powerhouse, an economic engine which supplies Scottish football with huge revenues upon which almost every club is almost totally reliant. According to myth, even Celtic need Rangers.
Celtic have long since grown up and don’t believe in Rangers so they have dismissed that myth. Many other clubs, however, are holding out for a red bicycle. Some will settle for a train set. So long as they are compliant and believe in Rangers, they’ll get something for nothing in defiance of all logic.
Over the course of the last decade, the mighty Rangers economic powerhouse ran itself into the ground. If the tax authorities know anything about taxes – and it seems to me to be a reasonable starting assumption that they know quite a lot – we can go on to assume that when Rangers crashed into oblivion, the hole they were in was about £140 million deep. In truth it is even deeper.
On top of the money owed to hundreds of creditors there are previous matters to consider. In 2004, the mythical billionaire Minty Moonbeams reportedly squirted a £51.4 million pound “injection” into Rangers simmering accounts after a rights issue was formulated to reduce the club’s then £73.9 million debt. In truth, the attempt to raise capital was a catastrophic failure and Murray MHL Limited, which had underwritten the share issue, was obliged to take the hit. In effect, all that happened was that some paperwork was signed so that a £50 million debt to HBOS was shifted sideways from one basket case Murray business in Ibrox to another, even worse one in Edinburgh.
The debt was never paid back before HBOS croaked. It was subsequently picked up by the tax-payer as part of Gordon Brown’s £37 billion rescue package to maintain the lifestyles of corrupt, fraudulent banksters and their cronies. We’re now getting close to £200 million of Rangers damage to other parties. But say nothing. There might be a red bicycle in it for you.
Meanwhile, despite running up the longest series of consecutive 0-3 defeats in the history of football, Rangers were awarded the championship titles on five occasions during this period, thus enabling the SPL to divert millions of pounds of prize money away from the rightful league winners and into the colossal overdraft of the mythical economic powerhouse. The SFA, hoping for a red bicycle, duly notified UEFA that Rangers would represent Scotland in the Champions league in the following season. Tens of millions of pounds worth of prize money would never reach the club which had really earned that place by playing the game according to the rules.
Five seasons of SPL and Champions League prize money take the damage up to the quarter of a billion pound mark. Yet the economic powerhouse still went bust.
There have been other substantial cash investments from dubious sources. Dave King still faces hundreds of charges of fraud, tax evasion and money-laundering in South Africa on an industrial scale. At the last count, I made it 322 charges in all. The money laundering activities relate to drugs-running operations, illegal arms deals, child pornography and a host of other unwholesome activities. Fortunately for Rangers, £25 million of the proceeds of those disgusting enterprises found its way into Dick Advocat’s warchest. Red bicycles for everyone who sees no connection.
In 1992, Joe Lewis made his fortune by launching an all out attack on the UK’s currency reserves which cost the nation a minimum of £3.4 billion pounds on Black Wednesday. To balance up the damage done to the economy, Lewis dribbled £40 million into Ibrox economic powerhouse. Red bicycles for everyone who believes forty million pounds minus three point four billion pounds equals a positive balance. No need to show your working; just believe.
And on and on and on.
Just over a year ago, Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police Stephen House was so convinced by the magnitude of Rangers’ contribution to society that he dominated the news headlines for days with his calls for ‘Old Firm’ games to be played behind closed doors or even banned altogether. Police Federation Spokesman, Les Gray, repeatedly rammed home a similar message that the country could no longer afford to bear the financial cost to the police, A&E, ambulance services and so on.
Ignore all that and collect your red bicycle on Christmas Day.
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A slight digression:
There are different methods which can be employed to control a system. Those who want to direct the behaviour of others have a number of options which range from reasoned, enlightened consensus to brutal, violent oppression. In practice, most systems are operated along the lines of one of the other options in between these extremes. The best and most efficient way for human beings to prosper together is within a co-operative, consensual group which is founded on mutual trust and respect. This has been demonstrated and proved in countless studies yet the notion is regularly undermined and dismissed.
It’s important to recognise that this co-operative model struggles to gain acceptance purely because we live in a society that is dominated by a Psychopathic Control Grid (PCG). The PCG embraces government, banking and financial systems, the military, corporate industry, the media, the advertising industry and the education system. It is utterly dependent upon its ability to control, manipulate and exploit the rest of us. To this end, it creates myths which require us to suspend out critical faculties in order to accept them.
It is clearly not in the self-interest of the type of parasites who hold positions of power within the Psychopathic Control Grid to encourage us to believe that we don’t need them. They prefer to promulgate myths such as the Survival Of The Fittest, create unnecessary confrontations and frighten us with imaginary threats from which they will “protect” us by restricting our options. The fact still remains that we are all better off when we are co-operating with each other instead of allowing ourselves to be exploited by abusers. But a smokescreen of misinformation and distortion of the true picture creates uncertainty and confusion. The Roman occupation can continue indefinitely for as long as the People’s Front of Judea argue with the Judean People’s Front, the Judean Popular People’s Front, the Campaign for a Free Galilee, and the Popular Front of Judea.
A fundamental, practical weakness of a tyrannical approach, backed by brute force, is that it is hopelessly inefficient. The overwhelming majority of those involved in such a system understand that they are being mercilessly exploited but even those who expect to emerge as winners ultimately find that their own position is insecure and constantly under threat. They are constantly running up the down escalator just to maintain position and know that will be swept back to the bottom if they ever ease up. Nevertheless, this inhuman Babylonian model is still the one which comes most naturally to a psychopath. It’s in widespread use, whether in the context of an abusive family unit, a Mafia-style organisation or an entire Police State.
In the most successful and more sophisticated variations of the model, people’s sense of their own worth is chronically undermined by a relentless tide of psychological assaults designed to rob them of confidence, security and perception. This approach reduces the need for the controllers to resort to outright physical oppression. Words themselves lose their meaning; a peace-keeping force consists almost entirely of trained warriors who are armed to the teeth; austerity measures require tens of millions of pounds to be paid to the people who collapsed the economy; rebels and insurgents are people who are trying to kick occupying forces from distant continents out of their homelands; and sporting integrity is a system whereby the biggest cheats in the history of British football are effectively given a guarantee that they will win their next league campaign, even if the rule book has to be scrapped to make it happen. There is such an overwhelming, never-ending bombardment of lies, deceits and affronts to decency that it becomes harder and harder for anyone to stand up confidently, point to the truth and say, “There it is!”
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Regardless of all that, here is the truth.
The SFL and SFA, amongst others, have dedicated themselves to the perpetuation of the Rangers Myth.
They worship at the shrine of a fake god which they have created themselves. They warn of dire consequences if puny mortals fail to venerate this mighty deity. They sacrifice honour, justice and honesty at the altar of their idol. They glorify their god through acts of bare-faced hypocrisy, blatant match-fixing and stinking corruption.
For red bicycles and Santa, read SPL money and television.
For Rudolf defying the laws of aerodynamics, read Rangers defying the fundamentals of economics.
Just as Santa could only complete his night’s work by travelling faster than the speed of light, contrary to every principle of physics, so Zombie Huns can only compete in Scottish football if every inconvenient rule is deliberately broken and every sporting principle is ignored.
To those who staunchly, defiantly believe in Rangers, despite all the evidence, this is as straightforward as believing in Santa Claus.
They just have to ignore the overwhelming proofs that what they want to believe cannot possibly be true. They’ll see one club recklessly spending everyone else’s money and they’ll call it generating revenue. They’ll see tax evasion, fraud and cheating but they’ll call it financial might, vision and dignity. They must wilfully ignore that even when the now-defunct club was at its most successful it still sucked far more money out of society than it put in.
They are determined to perpetuate the myth of Rangers for the sake of a red bicycle.
But the facts are laid bare for all to see. Zombie Huns, and Rangers before them, are no more a linchpin of a successful, solvent, sustainable Scottish football set-up than a letter to Santa is a solution to the banking crisis.
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.
I mentioned Suicide by Cop in a recent blogpost because it seems to me that D&P are actively trying to provoke some other party to bring on the liquidation event. They would prefer to be able to blame the SPL or SFA or UEFA or FIFA or HMRC or SVDP or anybody at all for kicking the ladder away from under them just as they were supposedly on the point of delivering the Holy Grail of a successful CVA outcome. The fact that they hadn’t a hope in hell of getting 75% in favour of their derisory CVA proposal would be neither here nor there if they could paint some other party as the baddies who had thwarted their rescue strategy just at the point when it was coming to fruition.
That, however, leaves Emerald Green with a slight problem because he apparently, for reasons which I can’t fathom, had given an undertaking to spend millions of pounds which he does not have – where have we heard that before? – to acquire the mortal remains of the deceased club. There is a possibility that at some point he had some kind of vague plan to present a regenerated, viable NewClub for future sale. Or at least to make it look as if that’s what he intended to do. His get-out clause is that he can’t be held to this commitment if Rangers or Frankenstein’s Rangers are disqualified from any of the domestic competitions. (We must presume that European competitions were not involved in the conditions.)
It looks as if it is now a matter of urgency for Rangers (in administration) to:
a) get themselves disqualified/suspended/expelled/ejected from at least one domestic competition.
The Scottish Cup would do for this purpose, hence the stories before the original SFA Disciplinary Hearing that Rangers (in administration) had sounded out the beaks with a view to intimating that a fine and “ejection” from the Scottish Cup would be acceptable to the Dignified Ones.
b) be seen to have been forced into liquidation by an unseen Fenian hand (including the papists of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs or the Vatican puppets at FIFA or the Opus Dei-infiltrated SFA).
c) achieve both of these objectives, preferably in that order from Emerald Green’s point of view, before the risible CVA proposal is exposed as the crock of horseshit that it undoubtedly is and firmly rejected by the creditors.
I suspect that the members of both the original tribunal and the subsequent Appellate Tribunal were well aware of this and that’s why they tried to improvise a punishment which didn’t quite put Rangers out of business but nevertheless left them facing a formidable challenge in the unlikely event that they’ll still be around to limp onto the starting line for next season’s campaign. Unable to prevent their seasoned professionals from stampeding out of the club during the close season and unable to register experienced replacements in their place, Rangers would be in very poor shape.
It was an elegant attempt to inflict a painful punishment on the wrongdoers without playing into the hands of any of the miscreants. Alas, it has been foiled, for the time being, by the ruling of Lord Glennie in the Court of Session that the tribunal was obliged to order a punishment à la carte, as it were. The tribunal must select one of the punishments already on the menu and no Chef’s Specials are permitted. However, that is not the victory that it might have appeared to be if, as I suspect will be the case, the tribunal take their time to fins a space in their diaries when they can all get together again. They could delay this for weeks and that does not suit Rangers at the present moment.
The D&P gravy-train is nearing the end of the line. All of those delicious millions of pounds which Clark and Whitehouse have been hoovering up over the last four months are nearly finished. The pesky footballers are once again expecting to be paid the wages which they agreed to when they signed for the club. D&P want out now and quickly. A meeting with the creditors has been called for the 14th June. It is apparently to be a very short meeting with only one item on the agenda. Might this be the latest possible moment when the court-appointed administration team can fulfil their obligation to inform the hapless creditors that the jig is up and the padlocks are going onto the gates?
If it is, then the need to provoke someone else to cause the liquidation event is now desperate. One of the last things that Duff & Phelps want to have to do is take full responsibility for having made a complete James Hunt of the administration over the course of the last four months. (The very last thing that they want to do is walk away without an obscene profit at the expense of the creditors and employees but they have already taken good care of that priority.)
Every party which has had a chance to fire the fatal headshot has held back. HMRC, the SFA and the SPL have tiptoed all around the houses for months. That may yet prove to have been not such a bad thing, frustrating though it has been. It is better that Duff & Phelps should be forced to fall upon their own swords, not least because their professional regulator, the Insolvency Practitioners Association, is currently licking its lips and sharpening its knives in readiness for a forensic examination of the conduct of this bizarre administration process.
Charles Greed is a psychopathic predator who may have originally spotted an opportunity to make a dishonourable fast buck if things had all gone his way but he was wily enough to build in enough conditions to every one of his commitments to make it possible for him to find a way to wriggle free if events took an awkward turn. And they have become very awkward. It has become apparent that the mood of the general Scottish football-supporting public is firmly opposed to allowing any form of Rangers to carry on more or less as before. That is a game-changer in every sense. Green may have initially believed that the combined forces of the laptop loyal, a short attention span amongst many supporters, SFA President Campbell Ogilvie, the SPL’s spineless Neil Doncaster, various brown brogue-wearing chairmen of other SPL clubs and the scapegoating of Craig Whyte was capable of enabling the switcheroo to proceed, relatively unopposed. That has proved to be a false expectation.
I think of Greed in terms of the looters who appear in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or a devastating hurricane. Where all around is chaos, carnage and confusion, furtive figures dart in and out of shops and warehouses, grabbing whatever is available or slipping back into the shadows to avoid being caught in the act. Chaz saw a scene of chaos and carnage and fancied his chances of bagging a few sackfuls of designer trainers but it’s becoming harder and harder for him to smuggle his stash through the cordons and back to his base. The Feds have got an eye on him so he’s pretending to tie his shoelaces while he chooses the best escape route. In this case, he badly needs Rangers to be ruled out of at least one of next season’s competitions as soon as possible. It’s just possible that the Tribunal may feel that there’s no point in reconvening to discuss punishments for a club which no longer exists after the L-bomb drops. That detonation may now be just over a week away. That is how long Emerald has to weasel his way out of having to make a multi-million pound offer for a business basket case.
After coming a poor second to a newly resurgent Celtic side the season before, Rangers entered the following season (2001-2002) determined to make up the lost ground by fair means or foul. They illegally used EBTs to pay the wages of players whom they could not otherwise have afforded. The spent lavishly to acquire the services of players such as Shota Arveladze, Christian Nelinger, Claudio Cannigia and Michael Ball. I know. Stop tittering there at the back, please.
Neil Doncaster continues to pretend that this is not a matter of the greatest importance as he delays the release of the findings of the SPL investigation into the use of improperly registered players by Rangers. Here is a glimpse of what he is hiding.
The Rangers team which took part in the 2001-2002 season fielded ineligible players in all competitions. By the rules of the game, each of the results involving these players should be amended to a 0-3 Rangers defeat.
Yet Rangers official results in domestic competitions still stand in contravention of the rules of the game.
In the SPL, the other teams recorded these results in their games against Rangers.
Rangers’ score is given second in each case.
For comparison, results in parentheses have been adjusted to take integrity into account.
Aberdeen took zero points from 12 with a goal difference of -8:
GD . . . -8 (+12) Turnaround in the real world = 20 goals.
Pts . . . 0 (12) AFC should have had 12 more points according to the rules.
Celtic took 8/12:
GD . . . +3 (+12) Turnaround = 9 goals.
Pts . . . 8 (12) Should have had 4 more points.
GD . . . -9 (+12) Turnaround = 21 goals.
Pts . . . 1 (12) Should have had 11 more points.
GD . . . -6 (+12) Turnaround = 18 goals.
Pts . . . 1 (12) Should have had 11 more points.
GD . . . -4 (+12) Turnaround = 16 goals.
Pts . . . 4 (12) Should have had 8 more points.
GD . . . -7 (+9) Turnaround = 16 goals.
Pts . . . 1 (9) Should have had 8 more points.
Kilmarnock would have made the top six if Rangers’ improper registrations had come to light before the split.
Oh. And if any of the SPL office bearers had had the balls to apply the rules.
GD . . . -7 (+9) Turnaround = 16 goals.
Pts . . . 0 (9) Should have had 9 more points.
GD . . . -3 (+9) Turnaround = 12 goals.
Pts . . . 1 (9) Should have had 8 more points.
GD . . . -3 (+9) Turnaround = 12 goals.
Pts . . . 2 (9) Should have had 7 more points.
GD . . . -6 (+9) Turnaround = 15 goals.
Pts . . . 1 (9) Should have had 8 more points.
GD . . . -5 (+9) Turnaround = 14 goals.
Pts . . . 0 (9) Should have had 9 more points.
The final league table, adjusted for integrity, sees Rangers finishing in the relegation spot on zero points with a goal difference of -114.
Aberdeen would finish second instead of fourth. Every other club finishes one place higher except Livingstone who remain third. St. Johnstone would survive in the top flight for at least another season. Kilmarnock, as previously mentioned, would finish in the top half of the table.
Neil Doncaster ignores all of this and still peddles the preposterous notion that there is a place in the SPL for these cheats.
Let’s look at the cups. Rangers, through the efforts of their otherwise unaffordable players (who were not properly registered and therefore not eligible to play), ‘won’ both the League Cup and the Scottish Cup. Because of their rules breaches, they should have been disqualified after their first tie in each competition with their opponents being awarded a 3-0 win. So that’s a 3-0 win for Berwick Rangers in the Scottish Cup and 3-0 for the late Airdrieonians in the League Cup. As well as being eliminated from the cup competitions, Rangers would have missed out on their half of the gate receipts from the subsequent illegitimate ties. That’s just short of 100,000 paying customers for the League Cup and more than 130,000 for the Scottish Cup. Those tickets were sold on a fraudulent basis.
Rangers interest in the Champions League should have ended at the beginning of August with Maribor progressing at their expense. Chalk off one 50,000 home gate for Rangers bore draw a week later against Fenerbahce.
Another 144,000 people would not have been pouring money into David Murray’s crooked club if Rangers had been correctly disqualified from the UEFA Cup after fielding ineligible players against Anzhi Makhachkala in the first round. Nor would there have been any income from television coverage of matches which would not and should not have taken place.
Neil Doncaster is aware of all of this information but continues to be the poltroon for the cheats who put him in place to try to shield themselves from the consequences of their massive con trick.