Tangled Up In Blue by Stephen O’Donnell (Book Review)

ByAuldheid

Tangled Up In Blue by Stephen O’Donnell (Book Review)

Essential reading for supporters of all Scottish football Clubs

I was asked to review Tangled Up In Blue possibly because my on line offerings, oft-times with the assistance of crowd think, tend to be as evidenced based fact as possible, with an eye for detail that if missed can produce a narrative that deviates from the story the factual evidence tells.

Book coverIn that context what is very obvious from reading Tangled Up In Blue is that the author Stephen O Donnell has put a great deal of research into his book that covers the history of Rangers from its foundation in 1872, through its incorporation in 1899, when the club became the limited liability company called The Rangers Football Club Plc , (just as Celtic had two years earlier), to its liquidation in 2012 when it became RFC 2012 plc (in liquidation).

The “new club/company” replacing RFC 2012 Plc (quoting the words of Andre Traverso the then Head of UEFA Club Licensing to explain no sanctions possible against the new club/company now called The Rangers FC Ltd) had to wait three years from its acceptance into Scottish football in August 2012 before it was eligible to apply for a UEFA licence, having fulfilled the requirement under Article 12 of UEFA FFP to have held full membership of the Scottish Football Association for longer than three years, a requirement finally met at the start of the 2016/17 licencing cycle.

Tangled Up in Blue, to be published on 19th August , is not only a reminder of the events surrounding the demise of what was perceived by Scottish society as a great institution, but in devoting the early part of the book to Rangers footballing and managerial past, provides further insight into the mindset of the culture and it’s thinking , that inevitably led to the events of 2012 resulting in an attempt by Scottish Football Authorities to untangle.

An attempt which itself has subsequently entangled Scottish football in an ongoing web of deceit, caused by the 5 Way Agreement between the SFA, the then SPL and SFL, Sevco (who then became “The Rangers Football Club PLC”) and the failed insolvent “The Rangers Football Club Ltd” in late July 2012.

The passage of time since 2012 and what was not fully reported domestically (only the revelations in “Downfall – How Rangers FC Self Destructed” by Phil McGiolla Bhain, a journalist based in Ireland, introduced by Alex Thomson an English journalist, tell the tale) and what has happened in the disentangling years since 2012, allows a fresh perspective.

As we all know, if you stand too close to a painting you will miss the full picture and Tangled Up In Blue , with the perspective time provides, paints a clear picture, one where the curtains have not been drawn back because, frankly, it is not a pretty one. It does not reflect well on Rangers or a Scottish society that perceived Rangers FC Ltd as a great Scottish institution nor does it do the credibility of Scottish football journalism any credit whatsoever.

The role of the Scottish main stream media in keeping the curtain closed comes across in terms of non or restrained reporting of events, not just in our current lifetime, but during a past where a sectarian policy of not signing Catholics was pursued for decades with no comment and where full culpability was never accepted by or imposed on Rangers as a result of deserved critical media comment, when disasters either great in human terms, like the Ibrox staircase 13 disaster in 1971 or serious in PR terms, like the reporting of supporters behaviour in Manchester 2008 before and after the UEFA Cup Final, happened.

When reading Tangled Up In Blue I was reminded of this quote in bold from “Debt of Honour” by Tom Clancy, page 530: “You can’t trust your memory with things that affect live patients. One of the first things they teach you in medical school.’ Cathy shook her head as she finished up. ‘Not in this business. too many opportunities to screw up. “If you don’t write it down, then it never happened.

This has been the primary device used by the media in Scotland since 2012 where evidence of what really took place behind the scenes has either not been published or paid little heed to by our mainstream media when anything (like the Tax Justice Network report on the SFA handling of Rangers demise) has surfaced. Apart from the informative “Downfall”, were it not for social media and a host of intrepid bloggers, what did happen to “Rangers” in 2012 didn’t happen.

There are various reasons for not writing it down that might require a book on its own. Fear of the impact on a newspaper’s sales, and by extension a journalist’s job, is one. Fear of the consequences of committing the story to print is real, and very understandable – and it wasn’t only journalists who had reason to be fearful. Others who dared pass official SFA judgement on Rangers governance found themselves under threat too when, in answer to the question “who are these people”, their names were “written down”.

When it comes to writing it down or not, and the consequences of doing so, what happened after BBC’s Jim Spence, who lost his job after only verbally mentioning an issue very sensitive to Rangers fans, is interesting.

An idea using terminology from the secret 5 Way Agreement surreptitiously seeped its way into public consciousness, by being written about and took root by being adhered to by the media who, apart from Jim Spence, benefited from the consequence of doing so.
This idea once written allowed the introduction of a previously unheard of concept of the separation of a club from its owner when up until then all football supporters, including those of Rangers, only ever thought of The Rangers Football Club Ltd as Rangers – a football club effectively owned by itself.

This selective reporting/not reporting strongly suggests that apart from the fear aspects previously covered, some/many of the football journalists and media pundits were and continue to be Tangled Up In Blue themselves. This entanglement is one that serves no club in Scottish football well, but particularly the Rangers of today, where their debt driven/UEFA money dependency business model remains unwritten and so un-examined for impact on fellow member clubs.

This review is being published as a Scottish Football Monitor blog to reach a wider Scottish footballing supporter readership because all Scottish football clubs were affected by an entanglement in a web of deceit to some degree or another that continues still. In a world plagued by lies and liars, the truth has to prevail and where better to make that happen than in our own back yard where Scottish football is played?

Perhaps though supporters of one club more than any other who should read the book and benefit from so doing, are unlikely to because, as mentioned earlier, the picture it paints is not a pretty one.

Whilst they might see Tangled Up In Blue as a harsh judgement of a great Scottish Institution, it also provides an opportunity to think again about what they think, and the culture their thinking created that has led to nothing but the kind of woe the philosophy of the Pharisees attracted.  And that will persist until there is a change of minds and hearts about who they are, what they aren’t, and what they want to be.

In the spirit of encouraging a metanoia, Tangled Up In Blue might persuade any open minded Rangers supporting reader to consider the words of Rabbie Burns, a wise and respected Scottish Institution, of a way towards inner change. That may prove difficult given their fans’ response at Kilmarnock in the aftermath of their club’s recent announcement of a diversity and inclusion campaign to help tackle discrimination and promote positive fan behaviour. But here it is in hope;

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

The response by Rangers supporters to Tangled Up In Blue will be an indicator of the distance their diversity and inclusion journey has to travel.

Who knows, SFM might be a station on that journey depending on the nature of responses to this blog.

Tangled Up In Blue by Stephen O Donnell 
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tangled-Up-Blue-Rise-Rangers/dp/1785315099 
from 19th August 2019.

About the author

Auldheid author

Celtic fan from Glasgow living mostly in Spain. A contributor to several websites, discussion groups and blogs, and a member of the Resolution 12 Celtic shareholders' group. Committed to sporting integrity, good governance, and the idea that football is interdependent. We all need each other in the game.

387 Comments so far

upthehoopsPosted on7:01 pm - Sep 10, 2019


bordersdon 10th September 2019 at 11:04

It's evident that activity on here has reached a new low! Is this because:

  1. Folk see no hope of changing/improving the governance of Scottish football and of ever getting a recognition that a certain cheating club, who won many Scottish football honours whilst cheating, died and a new club was created?

I think it is clear the authorities and the media will never allow such recognition to take place. I doubt very much whether the Judiciary would either. 'Rangers' is the establishment club, i.e 'their club'. 

  1. A sense that Res 12 has been kicked so far into the long grass that it is lost?

Auldheid will maybe update, but it is far from dead. Celtic must still formally answer via their AGM, and moves are definitely afoot to make them do just that at this year's AGM. The SFA also have to close the case out too, although they know they can say 'move on' as the media line up to accuse Celtic fans of paranoia. 

  1. There is no expectation that the new club (see above) is in any way heading for administration/liquidation? Certainly in the past there has been nothing like an impending financial disaster to get the SFM keyboards rattling.

They always seem to get money from somewhere. 

Or a mixture of all three of the above?

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Big PinkPosted on12:19 am - Sep 11, 2019


EJ

One thing we have learned from all of this is that the wheels of justice are spectacularly slow to spin.

I sense that the Crown will be keen for the case NOT to go to proof – and would rather not be potentially embarrassed by an airing of how the police and prosecution service may be flawed.

UTH

Auldheid has his mind on his annual migration at the minute, but we can safely say that one of two things – or both – will emerge;

Some satisfaction via the Celtic AGM or;

A fuller disclosure of how the Res12 process has been handled – and indeed the definition of what "being handled" actually means to CFC.

Most definitely there will be developments. Whether or not they will be satisfying is not certain, but there will be stuff 🙂

Paddy Malarkey

I am surprised that the ongoing International Week Cup taking place in the tabloids has not featured more heavily here – but I think battle-weariness may be the real reason for that.
Just when you think the media have gone full Tonto, the Lone Ranger (no pun intended) takes another pill enlightened

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paddy malarkeyPosted on1:07 am - Sep 11, 2019


Big Pink 11th September 2019 at 00:19

Have you been drinking that new Zen lager , and were on your second pint when you got to me ?sad

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finnmccoolPosted on1:15 am - Sep 11, 2019


A reason for the lack of activity on the site comments, IMHO, is that there is a lack of content.

The last published article was the 7th of August. More articles means more hits and more engagement and more importantly, a higher profile. The website design is poor to say the least. Even the comments section is badly formatted. Comments are not nested for instance.

The twitter site is very political (which I enjoy) but the Facebook site appears to have died.

I am pretty sure that there are a rake of budding authors out there who would be glad to have an article published. At the very least, two per week is needed!

It does not cost £1,500 to run a wordpress.com website per year. It costs £20 per month for a business plan which gives access to good templates and a vast range of plugins. It doesn't take a whole lot of time to design a visually appealing website with engaging content. 

We all know the importance of the message regarding sporting integrity. But without other content to engage Scottish football fans, this message will never get across. 

Where are the League tables? Where are the links to match reports, fan websites, relevant news stories, the SFA financials, the SPFL website? Just for a start. I could go on. And on.

If you build it, they will come. As Confucius said.

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Big PinkPosted on9:30 am - Sep 11, 2019


Finnmccool
Lots of points there, but I will attempt to address the main ones;
The frequency with which new blogs appear has long been considered adequate since in the main, the subject of blogs rarely takes over what is in effect chat room type situation. We have had a consensus on formats too, like whether to change to a forum, nested comments etc. That’s not to say that won’t change of course.
I’m not sure it is relevant to activity, but in terms of the cost of running the blog, we originally wanted a self-hosted solution for security. Historically we needed a robust solution which protected us from the several attacks which took place, and of course we required moderators round the clock. In the absence of volunteers to do so, these guys have to be paid, since Tris and I can’t do it ourselves.
Of course if the numbers were reduced on a long term basis we’d have to look at that requirement again.
The site design looks ok to me (certainly cost enough to purchase the template and implement), but if you are seriously offering to redesign it, please PM me?
What you say about links to different content we probably should think about – and we will.

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Big PinkPosted on9:36 am - Sep 11, 2019


Should have added that we have an open invitation to members and others to write blogs. More than happy to hear what folk have to say at length. ?

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Big PinkPosted on10:04 am - Sep 11, 2019


Paddy Malarkey

Thought it was an obscure but relevant cultural reference 🙂

On reflection though frown

 

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StevieBCPosted on11:13 am - Sep 11, 2019


Although I didn't watch the Belgium humping game, I was interested to find out the attendance after the game had finished.

I looked right across all the MSM reports I could find of the game – but not one mention of the crowd size.

IIRC, the attendance figure would also typically be shown at the foot of the 'Team Line Ups' page.

 

Anyhoos, Jingle Jackson has noted in his DR p!sh today that the crowd on Monday night was a lowly 20,000.

[It was reportedly 32,000 on Friday v. Russia.]

Even though our team is mince, 20K against the number 1 ranked team on the planet confirms a new level of apathy amongst footy fans.

 

What does the SFA have to say about the dwindling support?

Nothing.

Not a peep from – or sight of – our beloved leader, Maxwell.

 

But, in a Level42-esque, pitiful PR response the SFA has now informed the SMSM that there is currently a review of grass roots football…

  • which was started 'even before the Russia game' indecision
  • which would replace the last, new grass roots strategy which the SFA had implemented, way back in…2017! enlightened

 

So, basically nobody at the SFA has a clue – but carry on.

 

As for the lesser-spotted SFA CEO…

Maxwell is a bit like the coffee brand: he stays in his House!

 

Sorry, I'll get my mug…

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Ex LudoPosted on4:49 pm - Sep 11, 2019


StevieBC@13.10

I had a read through today’s JJ blog on your prompting. It’s familiar territory for JJ and I would agree with you that he’s wading into deep water with the number of actors he cites by name. There is a digital book out shortly so today’s offering may be a teaser and there might be more lurid material available at a price.

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BallyargusPosted on5:20 pm - Sep 11, 2019


Although he is oft maligned on here I think JJ has something to say today. It's a pity that in our wee best nation nothing of this story is printed.

https://johnjamessite.com/2019/09/11/whitehouse-v-the-reservoir-dogs-of-police-scotland-copfs/#comments

Make up your own mind and comment on our site.

 

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spikeyheidPosted on9:56 pm - Sep 11, 2019


https://www.followfollow.com/forum/threads/does-anyone-have-a-grandparent-older-than-rangers.89523/page-2#post-4329818

Some of us have grandchildren older than Rangers

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Big PinkPosted on10:25 am - Sep 12, 2019


New blog up

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Comments are closed.