It gets dafter and dafter. It is just over a year since the ridiculous and embarrassing – but failed – attempts by those in charge of Scottish Football to blackmail the SFL clubs and force them to parachute the shiny new Rangers into the SFL First Division.
A year where the new era of “transparency” heralded by a huge drum roll, gave way to secret agreements (which were never adhered to); panic-stricken measures to rush through change in the structure of the game without ANY delay or meaningful consultation – despite a hitherto intransigent approach to any kind of change; non-denial denials of the charge that Rangers were given a football licence without due process.
By the way, the SFA sent an official to an SPL Tribunal with a new convoluted interpretation of a rule which had been used to penalise clubs in the past, and ignored compelling evidence that one club had been economical with the truth on matters regarding banned directors when submitting their application for membership.
I could go on of course, but the incredulity bar is lowered with each ridiculous, contorted and corrupt episode, so that by the time we get to the claims made by several sources that Charles Green was in league with Craig Whyte when he bought some of the old club’s assets, we hardly blink an eye that the SFA appear content to accept the outcome of an internal inquiry ordered by the organisation most likely to be disadvantaged if the claims were true.
Whatever RTC was about, and it was about avarice, corporate malfeasance, theft of public money and the destruction of the integrity of competition in the game, we have moved on from there.
Even if the powers in charge of our game are forced to dispense proper justice in the case of both old Rangers and the new club, there appears to be little prospect that they will have done so because of a Damascene conversion in the ways of sporting integrity, fairness and Corinthianism. They will still be corrupt – just corrupt and bad at it. I am convinced that people have left the game in some numbers this season because of their disgust at the handling of the Rangers fiasco. I see no evidence at all that those people who voted with their feet last year will see a reason to change their tune this time around.
Whatever Rangers were guilty of, there is a general understanding of why they did what they did. They wanted to win – to be the best, and they pushed the envelope as far as they could before tearing the thing up altogether. What they did was 100% in their own self interest. It stinks, but at least it is logical.
What the authorities have done on the other hand is far more gobsmackingly illogical and unintuitive. They have acted in the interest of one club to the continued disadvantage of eleven others (in the case of the SPL, UEFA licences and player registration). They acted against the interests of new aspirants to senior football, and in concert with the interest of just one when they shoehorned Sevco (that’s what they were called then) into the SFL Third Division. I am sure they did that in the belief that a full season of no football at Ibrox would probably kill forever the cash cow that Green and his cohorts were fattening up for slaughter.
Despite the punishment that was accepted by Sevco (the transfer embargo), the SFA have stood by whilst the spirit of that sanction (although admittedly not the letter) was ripped up in their (still silent and impassive) faces as the MSM spun a market day frenzy of transfer activity by a club who were ostensibly proscribed from participating in that market.
Of course there are those who do not want to believe that their club, one of the forty-one good guys, is complicit in this nonsense – and yet ALL of our clubs ARE the SFA or the SPFL. Despite this catalogue of shameful inaction, sabotage and double-dealing, not one voice of dissent emanating from any of our clubs has been heard in print or broadcast media. Instead, huge pay increases and votes of thanks to the bureaucrats who acted out the farce authored by their masters, the clubs.
Is this because they (the clubs) are in agreement with what has transpired? I find it impossible to come to any other conclusion.
There are those who argue compellingly that if clubs, especially those who have a history of rivalry with Rangers tinged with some rancour, were to speak out, the press would have a field day; that allegations of bigotry and Rangers-hating would ensue from the MSM which would wind up the otherwise reasonable chaps who support Rangers.
In my view, if the situation is thus, then we are saying that we all have to keep our thoughts to ourselves, know our place and just take what scraps we get. If fear of violent retribution is the trump card here, then the trick for success in Scottish Football is not to have the most feared football team, but the group of fans which fills others with most dread. That is the death of the game – period.
What crystallises itself for me here is this fear factor. Anonymity has been carefully protected by most of us on this blog for exactly the reasons outlined above. Our desire to remain anonymous has been strengthened by the failure of authority, jointly AND severally, to itself stand up for the sport. The key from day one has been fear. Fear and corruption, which is merely a microcosm of the life in our country.
Whether it’s the media ignoring the wrongdoings of a football club, or a corrupt political system where for £40m donation you can get yourself £400m in tax breaks, we see those with resources pissing all over us from a very prodigious height. And when we do find out about it, we are cautioned to be very afraid of taking any action. Afraid of terrorism, afraid of unemployment, afraid of the mob.
I find myself resigned to the realisation that no matter WHAT evidence is uncovered, it will make absolutely no difference to anyone unless Joe Public keeps his hands in his pockets. People in boardrooms all over the country are betting that football fans are too emotionally invested in their clubs to do so.
The cheats, the spivs and the blazers will in the short and medium term get their own way, many of them aware of the fact that they are not quite as equal as others – and yet happy to go along with that.
We all have to decide whether or not we are as content as they are.
Suspecting as I do that most of us will find that unacceptable, I think there is still a war to be won, even if the battles seem to be going against us time and again. As long as we continue to feel that sense of outrage, that sense of betrayal by the custodians of our sport, we will still be shouting from these pages.
Thanks to the generosity and commitment of our readers, the shouting is about to get louder. We have reached our funding target and we hope to start organising our Podcasts within the next few weeks. The fight goes on, but hopefully it will also have greater reach.