The scandal in which Scottish football has become embroiled is neither equivocal nor complicated. It happened. It is easily seen to have happened. It is certainly not a degree course in nuclear physics. Why then, are simple facts ignored day after day, week after week, by not just the so called purveyors of truth in the media, but the body of the SFA itself, the clubs?
Five years or so ago, systematic cheating by a club involved in Scottish football was uncovered as a consequence of the club slipping into liquidation. This is easily established as fact.
It soon became clear that the authorities had been aware of the situation for as long as it had been going on, but instead of applying their own rules, which would have saved that club from it’s ultimate demise, they chose to enable it and cover it up. Also, backed up by documentary evidence.
As a consequence of the slide towards liquidation, the authorities went into cover-up overdrive to protect their own position. Inquiries based on rhetorical “you’ll have had your tea!” questions were set up to arrive at predetermined conclusions. The post-truth era in Scottish football had begun in earnest.
The claims of corruption which subsequently emerged were dismissed out of hand by the authorities and the press; first by accusations that it was only Paranoid Celtic fans looking to put the boot into Rangers who were behind the claims, then, when it became clear that it was not only Celtic fans who were angered by the way the integrity of the sport had been shattered, the “mad Celtic fans” epithet was amended to “mad online conspiracy theorists”.
The tactic was clear. NEVER address the issue. Attack the messengers. Ridicule them, mock them, demonise them. Despite that, the message of SFM and others was gaining traction and dangerously for the authorities, becoming difficult to ignore.
Last Autumn SFM was approached in confidence by senior figures in two print media outlets. The request was for us to provide them with the facts we had in bullet points – to make it easier for them to reach their audience, an audience they claimed was not sophisticated enough to absorb the detail and minutiae of the story.
The role of journalists is to do exactly that of course. They had access to the same documentary evidence we had (we know this because we gave it to them), but they wanted us to do their job for them? Leaving aside the scant regard I have for football journalists in this country, I don’t believe they are incapable of carrying out that simple task – but we humoured them anyway and provided them with the “SFA Corruption for Dummies” guide that they asked for.
But what were they really up to?
Remembering the RTC thread where he pointed out that genuine whistle-blowers in this saga were reluctant to come forward because of trust issues – they feared any contact with the MSM would result in their details being provided to those they were exposing – we proceeded with some caution. Amusingly, the same three questions was asked at each meeting; “You must know who Rangers Tax Case is?”, “any idea who John James is?” and, “what team do you support?”. (FYI, my answers were, “No”, “No”, and “Celtic” respectively).
Interestingly, for people who needed clarification by bullet-point, they were well enough versed in the minutiae to attempt to argue the flat-earth case and try to sell us the “it has been established legally that <insert something that hasn’t been established legally here>”
Our only conjecture was that they were trying to convince us we were wrong, or ascertain how firm a grasp we actually had on the facts to better see who and what they were dealing with, or (most probably) they were reacting aimlessly to online pressure and not really following any plan at all. Perhaps they were seeking to reassure themselves that it was just Celtic fans who were angry – although I fail to see how Celtic or their fans have less credibility when asking legitimate questions about the running of the game just because Rangers were involved.
Subsequently, despite the platitudes of “print and social media should work together” and the like, and despite being furnished with the aforementioned bullet points, no further contact was made with SFM other than a couple of childish comments about SFM on Twitter.
Facts might be facts to us all, but in the case of the print media, they can be ignored on the basis that mad internet bampots are not a credible source, although metaphysical hypotheses are clearly thought to be a far more sensible line of inquiry!
However, facts ARE indeed facts, and in the hands of real journalists like Alec Thomson and those in The Offshore Game (TOG), they are given the credence they merit. Since TOG published the report on the SFA (see below), the facts have emerged from not just the so-called internet bampots. Those facts have survived the scrutiny of several reputable journalists involved in TOG – and their legal advisers.
Accusations more blunt and unequivocal than we have ever made have been published. The genie is most definitely out of the bottle, but the prodigious MSM Twitterati, so meticulous in their investigations into the occupation of Craig Whyte’s female companions, appear to have run out of batteries on their keyboards. “No answer” is the loud reply, since TOG cannot be ridiculed quite so easily without exposing themselves to the same scrutiny they have failed to apply to the SFA.
If I can be as unequivocal about this as possible. Senior journalists in at least two MSM print outlets KNOW there has been a cover up, and that systematic cheating took place. They knew that before the TOG report, long before it, but still they did nothing. Even now they do nothing. They are now playing a reactionary role – as counterpoint to the accessible online truth – involved in actively concealing that truth from the offline public. An Offline Game if you like.
Of course we are not surprised by that, and as the falling-off-a-cliff circulation figures show, fewer and fewer people are playing their game. Even those who still purchase newspapers believe little of what they read.
The clubs are a different matter. Fans of every single club in this country – and that includes TRFC – will benefit from an inquiry into the handling of this matter. In the light of the TOG report, there is no excuse for the clubs to ignore calls for an inquiry to be set up. In fact by doing so, they are actively embracing corruption.
As we have said time and time again, this is no longer about Rangers. It is about institutionalised mal-governance at Hampden. By assisting the cover-up, the clubs are ensuring that the same corrupt practices are in place, ready to go again when necessary. Those practices which saw journalists and SFA officials cede editorial control (both statements backed up by documentary evidence) of their output to one club, and allow damaging conflicts of interest to circumvent rules.
The Offshore Game has thrown a media spotlight onto a cover-up. The MSM have attempted to bury it in the offline domain, but corruption, however well established,is not unbeatable. We can beat it if we work together – and here is how.
Season ticket renewals are dropping through letterboxes as I write this. If we do nothing other than protest, the clubs will do – just like Stewart Regan says he will – NOTHING!
There is only one way to establish the Independent Inquiry that is demanded in the wake of TOG report. Ask your club if they will vote for an Independent Inquiry to be set up.
If they agree, there is no problem. They are doing the right thing and will be deserving of our support.
Otherwise, send their renewal forms back to them unsigned.
It really is that simple.