On Grounds for Judicial Review

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Back in the late nineties I was working in Dublin. …

Comment on On Grounds for Judicial Review by Zilch.

Back in the late nineties I was working in Dublin. Great times! Used to get a lot of visitors coming over and had plenty of nights out with them in Temple Bar. Bit touristy for my liking normally, but definitely good craic.

One memorable night we were out on the town and we bumped into a small group of South Africans. Turned out it was a delegation of politicians from both the ANC and the Afrikaner National Party coming to Dublin to attend the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis. This was at the time of the Good Friday Agreement and there was a strong desire to learn from the South African experience of conflict resolution and specifically their Truth and Reconciliation process.

So I spent a very interesting hour or so chatting to these folks, including the National Party bloke who was clearly having to adapt very rapidly to massively changed circumstances.

What struck me most about the conversation was the importance that each of them placed on the process of revealing the truth, coming clean on what had been for many people a very dark period in their lives.

It was not a carte blanche for forgiveness. People had to participate in the process fully and to identify the damage done by their actions in order to move into the reconciliation phase.

To this day it remains one of the outstanding examples of an attempt at serious conflict resolution and one that could usefully be emulated in many areas of public life on these islands.

If we are going to resolve the problems that beset our sport and have done for at least fifteen years, we are going to have to engage in a process that recognises previous failings and and in some cases negligence and serious dishonesty. The calls for various types of review are effectively looking for that sort of transparency.

The people resisting these calls are the ones who have most to hide. They are the ones who took the bungs, the succulent lamb, the brogues, the blazers, the dodgy deals etc.

However, the truth WILL out.

Those resisting the process now should realise that we are at a point of no return.

If at this stage, when the cheating has been clearly identified by the Supreme Court, you decide to remain on the side of cover up and prevarication – then you have chosen your side and will have to abide by the consequences of that.

I mentioned earlier this week that there is a strong possibility that there are skeletons in closets for a whole lot of our clubs. That we know for certain that there were extremely dodgy characters operating at clubs outside of Ibrox.

I do not apologise for that, though I understand the anger and hurt that was subsequently expressed and wish there was a way to express this without causing such pain.

The truth is, we are all going to have to get used to the idea that some (all?) of our clubs have very dirty laundry, in some cases potentially far worse than failure to pay all creditors the full pound they owed.

If I find out that my club was complicit my reaction is not going to be to defend them. I will get stuck right into them. And they know it. They know that their fan base will not accept lying down to these cheats in any form.

The time for our clubs to get on board the process of uncovering the truth and moving towards a better future where our game is protected against the cheating of the past is right now.

Reconciliation is possible when previous damage is recognised and, where it is possible to do so, reparation is made. Yes – titles must be stripped if they were won by cheating.

Anyone who does not get on board now, and who is subsequently found to have cheated or helped cover up the cheating should be thrown to the dogs. Banned sine die for bringing the game into disrepute.

For some of them that should just be the start of their troubles.

Zilch Also Commented

On Grounds for Judicial Review
upthehoopsAugust 30, 2017 at 20:11 
ALLYJAMBOAUGUST 30, 2017 at 15:27  I am sickened by my club’s refusal to sell Jamie Walker to TRFC at a knock down price – by instalments. How dare any football club refuse to sell to the Govan club at whatever price they offer, they are, obviously, so full of entitlement and are ‘The Peepul’, that we should all bow before them! I mean, that’s the impression one might get from reading this headline from the Herald: ‘Jamie Walker won’t sign for Rangers before the end of the window unless Hearts drop £1million demands’
==============================
In the good old days a quick phone call to the Bank of Scotland to get the overdraft limit increased would have sorted this. Wages would have been no issue either with the player probably being offered an EBT with a side letter. 
Playing by the same rules as the rest is a real bitch eh!
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AJ, UTH

In the Good Ole Days, Rangers phoning the Bank of Scotland did not result in them paying the going rate for Scottish players. How many players did they get at a knock down rate for other Scottish clubs? How many players did they get that the selling club did not want to sell?

Nah. A phone call to the Bank of Scotland was as likely to be to arrange for them to apply the squeeze on a reluctant seller. IMO.

This is the kind of corruption that I believe the clubs and the SFA etc are still trying to cover up.


On Grounds for Judicial Review
AJ, Jimbo and JC

Dead right.

In football terms we are currently a diddy nation acting like we are content to be a diddy nation.

We need the SFA to be actively lobbying and planning for a viable European context for us to compete in fairly.

What have we got? An SFA that is doing contortions to maintain a corrupt domestic scene, basically lying and defrauding all of us.

We could be so much better than this.

The answer does involve UEFA. This is an association of members, of which we are one through the SFA.

We need our clubs to act to fix the SFA, and the SFA to act to fix UEFA.

In each case it is a matter of building a groundswell amongst the smallest to come together and act in untiy to counteract the playground bullies.

We all learned about this stuff when we were kids. It really is this simple and fundamental.

The first step is to get our clubs to find some spine and act to clear out the corruption at the SFA / SPFL.


On Grounds for Judicial Review
bluAugust 18, 2017 at 11:47 
I agree part that Celtic can’t be faulted for driving forward. They were happy though to ally with Rangers on the voting structure of the SPL, which effectively provided the two with a veto  on change. Why the others didn’t kick the door in when Rangers went bust is beyond me.
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Hi Blu

Interesting point – some thoughts… 🙂

Whether we like it or not, I think we have to accept that our football clubs are run as businesses – there may be exceptions.

In the case of a PLC like Celtic, there is an obligation to shareholders to operate the business in such a way as to maximise benefit. This is largely achieved by being as successful as you can manage to be on the playing field and by operating astutely in the market and in dealings with the governance of the game.

This is essentially true for all of our clubs.

The voting structure of the SPL undoubtedly gave the so-called Old Firm a veto on change. Presumably they felt that this protected them from issues like gate sharing and probably gave them an advantage in othe areas too.

As a business, and operating with a fairly narrow view of what is good for that business, this seems to me to be a situation that is comfortably within the ambit of doing what is best for your business – why would they not do it? (There ARE reasons not to, but this comes later).

The question that this raises in my mind is this: How the hell were they able to get the SPL rules set up with this veto in the first place???

You say the others should have kicked the door in when Rangers went bust. Fair point. However, why did the other clubs agree to the SPL ‘Old Firm’ veto in the first place??

Celtic get one vote. Rangers get one vote. There were at least 8 other teams in the SPL at any given time. When the SPL was set up – how did the Old Firm force the issue? What was their leverage?

I struggle with this.

Did they threaten to leave Scottish Football and go south? Sure we saw all the headlines in the press. Did we once see any indication that the English FA was remotely interested in them coming south or that the English clubs would wear it? Nope.

This is one of the emptiest threats ever.

So what else was there? How were votes for the SPL veto managed?

Well it sounds to me like most of the senior clubs in Scotland had a common problem.

The problem was they were in debt to the same bank. And that bank was bailing out Rangers to the tune of tens of millions. Moreover, it sounds a lot like it was being run by a guy, Masterton, who was quite willing to put the squeeze on other clubs if it was in the interest of his beloved Rangers.

I fear this was the real Blue Pound for a long time.

If it was not Masterton (not sure of the exact timing) then it could easily have been predecessors. This is what the Establishment club means.

This stuff is important for how we go forward in the future. We MUST NOT accept a future that is organised to serve the ‘Old Firm’ and relegates everyone else to diddy status.

I say this as a Celtic fan. And I would urge my own board to see the bigger picture where a truly competitive Scottish league would generate much more domestic TV income and support better performances in Europe. We should be promoting the level playing field at all times and being sufficiently confident in our ability to perform at the highest levels.

I want Celtic to be more than a PLC, but I have to accept that this is the true nature of boardroom discussions. However, they have to realise that their paying customers are intrinsic to financial success and that ultimately they need a competititve product on the field, domestic and European, for long term survival.

The other clubs have to get over what ever affliction caused them to kowtow to the ‘Old Firm’ and, possibly collectively, push for the level playing field too.

Diddies no more. (In a Proclaimers stylee)


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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