Look Back to Look Forward

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John Clark – outstanding! If Regan, Ogilvie or any number of …

Comment on Look Back to Look Forward by Zilch.

John Clark – outstanding!

If Regan, Ogilvie or any number of the rest of the shower that run Scottish Football had just a fraction of the integrity of Oor John, Oor Game would be in a much better state.

Scottish Football cannot recover until there is a root and branch clear out at the top. This requires Oor Clubs to collectively grow a pair and realise that there is no sport and no product without sporting integrity.

JC – you are a true leader of men and you get my vote for Guardian of the Game – a new position we should campaign for.

Recent Comments by Zilch

The Vice Closes
Once again, and with deep regret…

I strongly agree that there is no place for songs about the IRA, the UDA or any other source of armed conflict at a football match.

The question is how do we persuade people to move on from it?

If all you can do is tell Celtic fans that they are sectarian for supporting a political organisation then we are going to get nowhere.
 
It may seem like semantics to you, but it is at the very heart of people’s identity and political conscience.
 
It is essential that we have accuracy and balance in any solution to this.

You will not persuade Celtic fans to stop singing IRA songs by complaining they are sectarian – simply because those singing them do not believe that is accurate.

You might have better luck telling them to stop singing them because they are political and their reference to conflict is unwelcome at a sporting event.  That is accurate.

Of course, you then need to have balance. If the problem is politics or glorifying violence, then let’s properly target that.

So, for example, no wearing of poppies on football shirts on the pitch. The poppy started off as a symbol of remembrance for war dead (including members of my own family) but has been politically hijacked and is now used to glorify the British Armed Forces – a prime player in the conflict we are trying to move away from. In the catalogue of innocents killed in that conflict, there is plenty of scope to criticise the British Army too.

I also think we need to question the singing of Flower of Scotland at the national games. Don’t get me wrong – I love singing that song and belt it out with all the rest – but I am questioning myself on whether it is really appropriate now? Sending Edward home again involved a fair amount of bloodshed and death and in these troubled times, how much do we need to drag up the atavistic past?

If we want to find a solution to this problem, we have to do more than just complain about it. We need to find real solutions that are fair and recognise the legitimacy of different political views.

As in any conflict resolution situation, you need to make steps towards those you have previously fought to find peace. Dealing in absolutes gets us nowhere.

As I said previously, I think there are plenty of people here that want to see this problem go. To do so we have to move out of our own comfort zones and do a bit of digging into the nature of the conflict and of our own bias and prejudices.

The alternative is we carry on as previously. The football authorities and the SMSM  seem perfectly content to do this. With some openness and goodwill, I think we could do better.


The Vice Closes
Highlander

We agree on a lot of stuff here.

I don’t deny that our away fans are regularly singing IRA songs. They do. I want them to stop. I can’t be any clearer than that.

I disagree that this is sectarian. Offensive to some, undoubtedly.

I could say similar things about Flower of Scotland (massively anti-English) and God Save the Queen (equally anti-Scottish) – I can live with these songs as I know they are important to people and they have a right to express themselves.

I can’t accept the sectarianism of the Billy Boys. Nor would I accept racist or homophobic chanting.

Moving on I agree with you that strict liability is not going to happen – it leaves all of our clubs at the mercy of fans.

I am suggesting an alternative.

If our fans or Rangers fans are behaving in a way that is unacceptable, i.e. is in breach of the terms and conditions of entry, then evict them from the ground.

If that is not possible (and crowd control is not to be understimated – probably why Police Scotland are not wading in) then how about this?

Persistent breach of the terms and conditions of entry to a ground by a visiting support results in a home club being allowed to refuse entry (sale of tickets) to away fans.

If you don’t want to hear the war songs or the sectarian songs at your ground – campaign with your club to ban the visiting supports.

Not sure if this is within the rules of the game or not? However it would be one way to make an impact on the issue. It could be a way for the SFA / SPFL to make a difference if a rule change is needed.

In my original post I finished with the point that I will make again now.

Given the financial value of Rangers and (following our conversation) Celtic fans coming to grounds around the country, is there any appetite amongst the other clubs to make such a stand?

There is not much point complaining about both cheeks etc if the other clubs are not willing to act in their own patch.

I appreciate you not wanting to go on with this – I am also pretty uncomfortable – no offense will be taken either way. I just think we need to fully understand the nature of the problem and where our clubs and the association really are on it.


The Vice Closes
I feel guilty about having raised the issue of the song book at the weekend. It is a real dead-end issue.

And yet, there is a real need for us to face up to the issue and try to find some sort of consensus.

Highlander called for balance. I agree. We also need accuracy.

Lots of songs that have been referred to over the last few days are offensive in some sort of way to various parts of our split community.

However, offensive does not mean sectarian.
 
I strongly object to being denounced as sectarian for supporting Irish republicanism – this is, in my opinion, demonstrably not true. Irish republicanism was founded by Protestants who remain revered to this day and the republican movement remains true to the ambition of uniting all of the people of the island, irrespective of religion etc.  It is akin to denouncing the ANC as racist for fighting white apartheid.
 
The songs people are complaining about coming from the Celtic fans today might well be offensive to many, but crucially I don’t believe they are sectarian. There were other songs in the 70’s and 80’s that I remember being sung that certainly were sectarian and were specifically about religion – to the best of my knowledge these have not been heard in many, many years.

Something being offensive does not necessarily mean it should be banned.

I have strong leanings towards free speech and feel strongly that such rights should only be curtailed in extreme circumstances.

Those circumstances include racist, sectarian, homophobic etc situations.

One way forward for Scottish Football, in my opinion, is for there to be a general acceptance that by buying a ticket to the game, you have effectively agreed to abide by the rules of the host. This overrides free speech entitlements that pertain when you are out in the street or elsewhere.

If the host says no racism, sectarianism, homophobia etc – then that is the rule and it should be strictly enforced – without fear or favour. Anyone found to be breaking that rule gets turfed out and banned from future attendance.

If the host says no political songs, or displays – so be it. It is their call. Anyone found to be breaking that gets turfed out and banned from future attendance.

Since my club has demanded that we leave politics at the door and focus efforts on supporting the football club only – that is exactly what we should do.

Not because of any misplaced suggestion of sectarianism. But simply because it is in the best interests of our club to do so.

My issue at the weekend was the failure of the SFA to tackle real sectarianism – the Billy Boys goes far beyond anything sung by Celtic fans and is specifically sectarian.

I am happy to fully support my club’s attempts to be as inclusive as possible and recognise and support their stance that this ambition is best served by eliminating political songs from our repertoire both at home and away games.

Again, I am sorry that the issue still needs to be discussed.


The Vice Closes
Some talk of fall guys etc. Fall guys for who?

At this point in time we are quite rightly focusing our thoughts and efforts on cleaning up the omnishambles and stinking corruption that is the SFA and the SPFL.

However, we clearly should keep an eye on the original source of the corruption.

After all the years of scandal and outrage, SDM continues to walk away completely unscathed by the disaster he wrought upon our sport and, indeed, upon wider Scottish business.

Isn’t it strange how little flak he has encountered? Teflon doesn’t come close.

Again, you have to ask yourself why?

What cards does he have up his sleeve? How come our esteemed churnalists don’t appear to have any appetite to tackle his role in this affair? Must have been some pretty large helpings of succulent lamb eh?

How come the likes of Milne and Budge are not out hunting this guy for all the damage he did to their clubs and the sport in general? Milne in particular – he was there – he was being cheated – he was taking personal hits as a direct result of SDM’s illegal activities.

Why is Milne not up for chasing this guy out of town?

We have already discussed obvious concerns about alienating Sevconian househunters (see below – is this a legitimate concerns for him to act on as a director of Aberdeen) – but could there be other reasons?

For example, since both gents are very much in the property business – are there any links between them that might make it impolitic to be seen to be chasing after SDM for past wrongs?

In fact this brings me to the main point of this post.

As football fans, we expect our boards to act in the best interests of our clubs at all times.

As businesses with shareholders etc, it is the fiduciary duty of directors to act with the highest standards of care for the interests of the business and Wikipedia tells me that a “directors’ core duty is to remain loyal to the company, and avoid conflicts of interest”.

How do we know, as fans or in some cases as shareholders, that our club directors are fulfilling this highest responsibility?

Is there some register of business interests that directors have to complete to make this information available?

Having seen the previous evidence of SDM interfering in the operation of Dunfermline and potentially many others, it seems to me that we need to have this kind of information out in the open to minimise the potential for improper business interference between clubs.

Plucking a hypothetical example out of the air, would it be acceptable for Mr Milne to be directing his club, Aberdeen, to reject an investigation into the SFA’s handling of SDM’s illegal business activities, if it turned out that Mr Milne was also currently engaged in business deals with SDM elsewhere?

Sounds like a potential conflict of interest, even if only hypothetical.

Sort of thing a good investigative journalist would find interesting I imagine.

If only we had some.


The Vice Closes
Cluster One – Could not agree more.

Highlander – the list of proscribed songs is well established. Singing in direct support of the IRA is proscribed and I have no time for ninety minute republicans. That is not the same as denying us the right to express Irish heritage. You are sailing pretty close to the wind in your post by appearing to conflate the two. Perhaps I am misreading you?

In either case, I would say there is a significant difference between what you describe and wanting to wade in the blood of people murdered for their religion – national identity and culture are OK with me, political identity is more controversial and should probably have minimal / no role at a sporting event (though we can all look at examples where it was appropriate – apartheid??).

Naked sectarian hatred? Sorry. It is not equivalent. I accept you may not agree.


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