What should we do about the corruption in Scottish football ? Part 2
Completing the trilogy from SFTB. A marvellous contribution to the site,and how appropriate was the timing! There has certainly been some warm debate these last few days,and I think the final part will be no different. But you can decide for yourselves.
“Call me Mr Guilty, Mr Guilty that’s my name
Without a doubt it’s all my fault, I’m the one to blame
You say that you’re unhappy I do believe it’s true
Cause I’m the one, the no good bum
That did it all to you.” (L. Wainwright III)
So, Rangers and the Murray Group get the stiffest sentence. The SFA and Scottish League come next with UEFA and FIFA in close proximity.
How guilty are the other Scottish clubs, including, Celtic?
Before answering that biggie, I want to declare that I find most football fans, including those of the old Rangers, new Rangers, and Celtic & the other Scottish clubs to be in the relatively innocent category. Maybe not guilt free, but they were collateral damage rather than instigators. Fans of Old Rangers did not, and could not, compel Rangers to spend at ridiculous unsustainable levels. Many Celtic fans and fans of other clubs want their club to spend big but I know few who would willingly place their club in danger. It\s a moot point anyway, because the Board and CEO are responsible for budget matters and most clubs manage to steady a course between fan demands and prudence.
Rangers fans may be guilty of wilful ignorance in believing their club could afford all that expenditure. After all, they did not go bust when they were out-bidding English clubs for the likes of Gascoigne, Stevens and the De Boers etc;. They only went bust because the Board chose secret means (tax avoidance & evasion) to maintain a team somewhere near those levels when the bill presenters started to get more demanding. They did not tell the Rangers support that they were doing this so they are not guilty.
The post 2012 Sevco Rangers fan is also fairly guiltless. Yes, they will ignorantly state that they are the same club with the same honours whilst they fail to explain why they started in the 4th tier of senior football. In doing so, they are guilty of Cognitive Dissonance, rationalising to put themselves in a better light, but they are still not responsible for either the liquidation of their club nor are they guilty of having invented the Continuity Myth. They are just guilty of spewing up the message they have been fed by the Football Authorities.
Celtic fans too, whether they hold Rangers/Sevco and the footballing Authorities to count, or let it slide, or are even fairly ignorant of that history, are not too blame either. That just represents how your conscience dealt with the facts of Rangers actions but boycotting Scottish football or continuing to support do not, by themselves, proffer any superior form of grace. Both are legitimate ways of dealing with the event. Neither are responsible for the events themselves nor are they superior to one another in achieving justice. That elusive outcome will have to be chased by other means. A mass boycott, if it had been a popular idea, would have forced the Celtic Board to act more forcefully but we would soon see the Aberdeen fans and Hearts fans etc; change their views when presented with a Celtic that was self-harming financially to the point of becoming competitive with other large Scottish clubs like them.
So, back to the clubs, and especially Celtic.
I will state my belief clearly. I am sure there was political interference to achieve a smudged outcome to the events of 2012. We were heading towards a 2014 Independence Referendum. It suited parties on both sides of the fence to see that Rangers were not allowed to slide into oblivion. It reflected badly on the YES side to see a major Scottish Institution in such a struggle when they were trying to sell us a picture of a vibrant successful proto-nation. It suited the NO side to court the votes of a constituency already heavily in thrall to a continued UK. However, without the explicit encouragement of senior political figures, I doubt the eventual outcome would have been reached. The early statements from the SFA and those trying to work out what to do between May and August 2012, suggested that 2 things were desired:-
1) A need to keep a form of Rangers in Senior football, preferably in the SPL/SPFL, so that a large constituent support would not walk away from the game, and
2) A desire to work out a punishment for disclosed offences that could be implemented at a later date because we could not do justice to this before a new season was due to start.
Unfortunately, several events overtook those reasonable aspirations. Firstly Charlie Green & Co; won a game of bluff with the SFA that allowed them to sell the Clumpany Myth threatening that the Ibrox hordes would walk away if they could not claim to be the same team. Next, Scottish football fans of most other teams pressured their clubs not to accept the sight of Rangers in the Premier division, and so the SPL delivered Rangers’ future into the tender hands of the SPFL where bluenoses like Jim Ballantyne could ensure that all talk of title & trophy stripping could wither away if Rangers went on their journey to enrich lower league clubs with their presence.
The various texts of this 5 way agreement had to be maintained in secrecy because you could not expose this switcheroo to the light of public opinion without the magical premise disappearing under the weight of scrutiny. Once an organisation is allowed to administrate in secrecy and be allowed to leave their decisions unexplained and without reference to existing rules, you have the perfect recipe for corruption to thrive. Seven years later and we still cannot be trusted to hear the workings and rulings of our Sport’s governing bodies. Many of our existing rules have had to be changed to become post-compliant with the ridiculous assertions of the 5-way agreement and LNS rulings.
Those of us who follow the game and provide the main income for most clubs have been told that knowledge of this ruling is not to be disclosed. Only member clubs can challenge a ruling made with this Association of clubs. No matter what we think of utterances by John Reid, Turnbull Hutton or , even Peter Lawwell’s tame efforts, not one member club has issued such a challenge in the last 7 years. Not one group of clubs has presented a united front to protest its injustice. All of them are taking the view that we should move on and forget the unjust baubles won by the Ibrox club and forfeited by many others over the period of their cheating.
Celtic, our club, have disappointed us further by seeming to be interested enough in the activities of our Res. 12 proponents, who are addressing one small, but provable, part of the whole corruption to invite them in-house for discussions but, at the end of each of these discussions, they issue a demand for more proof or refuse to believe that a case has been made. Some Celtic fans decided early on that, on principle, the Board were an enemy of this process, others gave them some time before losing faith, some are still holding out for a pubertal ball-drop by Board members, and much of the support has lost what little interest they had in these events to begin with.
I cannot believe that Celtic were wholly complicit in letting the corruption go nor that they were out to waffle, delay and dampen any resistance from the get go. If that had been their mindset, they would not have acted as they did, in issuing the occasional statement querying what the SFA intended to do, merely as an arse-covering exercise to pretend to fans that they were doing something. If that was their motivation, they would have been better served by saying nothing, claiming it was a matter for the SFA only and that our fans should protest there.
The best reading I can make of their actions is that, initially, they did want something done about this gross sporting corruption but they lost all their ardour fairly quickly when two events aligned.
1) They were discouraged by the very broad backing given to the Continuity Myth outcome by the rest of Scotland. Not one single politician and not one single football club has raised an official point since Rangers started back in the 4th tier, and not one football administrator or Media outlet has shown any enthusiasm for keeping the coals burning. The idea that Rangers were adequately punished by the act of grace that saw them allowed entry into 4th tier football, has widespread acceptance and traction. Anyone not buying into this is just an internet bampot. Even in the wake of the Saracens scandal in English rugby, Tom English has the brass neck to taunt fans who see any comparison between the righteous anger of wronged Rugby clubs and what they see as mere tribal rivalries and blindness that leads to intemperate fans failing to see that Scottish football administrators reached a fair and legally settled outcome back then.
2) The success enjoyed by Celtic during the period of absence of an Ibrox club and the financial damage they continue to inflict on themselves in trying to stop us from setting a new Scottish record of consecutive titles has led to a growing satisfaction with where our club is at. There are times when our confidence in continued domestic domination was fragile (the Deila years) but Brendan Rodgers’ Treble Treble helped diminish much of that. There has never been a time where our Support have come anywhere close to open rebellion against the club and what dissatisfaction there is has more to do with aspects of player recruitment and poor European performances that it has to do with what is now seen as historic Scottish football corruption.
So our club administrators are guilty of something close to moral cowardice when held in contrast with Rugby club owners and CEO’s, and I do really detest taking any moral lessons from that apartheid loving Rugby crowd. They, in company with every other Scottish club have failed to represent their fans interests over lost titles and trophies and instead present themselves as pragmatic saying “Look at what you are winning now to make up for that!”
In this scenario, what should fans do?
A few fans made their decision early and left active support of our club, either financially or by attendance, or both. Their affection for the club remains but they cannot countenance any form of active backing of the people at the top who failed to act in their name. They also see a sport as potentially open to corrupt pre-determined winners (the WWE wrestling analogy) even though that has not (yet) proven to be the case.
A larger proportion, recognised that the club had let us down but have been less drastic in their own reaction to it. They have separated out support of the club from support of the Board’s actions or non-actions. They do not want to see our innocent players suffer through any prolonged boycott as they see actions that harm Celtic as being beneficial to the Groups from Ibrox and Hampden who were the prime movers in this corruption. Some of these have made futile gestures like not going to SFA competitions or not going to matches vs the Ibrox mob but most have merely persuaded themselves to support Celtic and not harm them despite their disappointment in the Board, CEO and major shareholders.
The biggest majority of all are those who never paid much attention to this in the first place and have quickly forgotten all about it and lost whatever little desire they had in the first place. I recall a semi-final league cup game at Hampden whilst Sevco were still in the lower divisions and two young men in the Hampden bogs, openly expressed the view, to a general murmur of agreement, that “We cannot wait for Rangers to be back so we can beat them! (sic)”.
That is my reading of the current reality and I think it is an accurate take. It is not wishful thinking because it, in no way, reflects what I would wish to be the case. But it is the current settled view of the general support.
It is, however, a fragile settled view. All it would take is a break in our levels of dominance for some anger to return at our failure to act during g the “Great Scottish Period of Forgetting”(currently 2012-2019 and running). A lost league Cup, even if Sevco win it , will not break the barriers of forgotten resentment nor would the loss of both cups, though being losing finalists in both cases would lead to some football repercussions.
The main fragility will be if we do not get our reward for contributing to this act of forgetting, this sin of omission, and that is not getting the 9iar and the 10iar celebration. We could maybe survive a defeat in our quest for 11 or 12 but any loss of league in 2020 or 2021 will have catastrophic effects on our support and their attitude to our custodians’ moral cowardice.
The question we must all ask ourselves now is “Is that a price worth paying in order to bring the anger and focus back that we had in 2011, 12 and 13 over these events or would we rather have the record title run?
Over to you guys for the answers.