Time for Scots Government to Take Bull by the Horns

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Quick response to Ryan Gosling from earlier today. I think your …

Comment on Time for Scots Government to Take Bull by the Horns by Zilch.

Quick response to Ryan Gosling from earlier today.

I think your sense of right and wrong is probably shared by a large section of your club’s support.

That it is so distant from the nonsense coming from the Blue Room and from Club1872 is a real problem.

It has been clear for a long time that the effect of this situation would be the hardening of positions, and elimination of middle ground where mutually agreed terms could reached.

How would your most recent post be treated on any of the Rangers fans fora?

I remember conversations from several years ago where it was predicted,accurately I believe, that we would see a retreat into bigotry and the “nobody likes us,we don’t care” attitude.

You are a great exception from what we are seeing from Ibrox, the vocal sections of their fans and, most importantly, the succulent lamb brigade who are their greatest cheerleaders.

Until their is a much wider acceptance of the original wrongdoing and it’s consequences it is hard to see how there can be a mutually agreed way forward.

It is imperative that sporting integrity, which you clearly get, is demonstrated to be paramount by the organisations that run our sport.

If that means all of the other clubs having to assert a new level of control over the sfa and the spfl, including getting rid of tainted officials, and I believe it does, then so be it.

Your own club will remain a social pariah for as long as it denies it’s past misdeeds, particularly as it claims its past glories. Title stripping is the only route to a future free from the stigma of the SDM/King years. Even that is going to be tough given to he entrenched position.

I wish there were more guys like you able to voice a rational take on the situation and better prepared to make the necessary steps to bring your club out of the current morass.

You deserve better from your club.

Zilch Also Commented

Time for Scots Government to Take Bull by the Horns
On why the concept of an Establishment club is an offence to civilised society.

There are times when I ask myself why I am one of the “obsessed”. There, I have admitted it. I AM obsessed with the misgovernment of football.

Mrs Zilch sometimes says ‘Surely it is just a game and even if they cheated, haven’t they been liquidated etc etc. Why do you care so much, even after all this time?’

It’s a reasonable question from someone whose opinion means more to me than anyone else in the world. So I ask myself the same question.

And it always comes back to the same ould story. For me, at least, this is about so much more than just football. This is about the kind of society we want to live in. This is about our collective future, the future we bequeath to our kids and grandkids.

The answer is about eliminating bigotry and prejudice from the fundamental structures of society. The idea that we could have an Establishment Club whose interests and success have been supported to the detirment of ALL other clubs in the nation is anathema.

It tells us that the country is corrupt and if they are prepared to cheat at something as superficial as football – well what else would they do to protect the Establishment? You do not have to look to far into recent political and social history to see the evidence: Hillsborough and Bloody Sunday are two obvious examples, but there are so many more.

Rangers FC were the flagship symbol of Protestant Ascendancy in not just the West of Scotland, but across the whole of Scotland – winning league titles by cheating did not confine itself to the West for impact.

They represented the peak of a culture of subservience to the Crown and elitism that continues to see thousands of fans looking for a sugar daddy of the RRM to elevate them to ascendancy once more. A culture of subservience that was built in the shipyards where being protestant meant getting a job ahead of your immigrant, often catholic rival. You might be dirt poor, but you were better off than them and they could never aspire to reach your status by dint of birthright.

This is what many of us experienced directly here in the West of Scotland. By many accounts it was less aggressive elsewhere, but then the numbers were less significant too.

I did not experience the truly hard end of this. It has been some time since the Catholics Need Not Apply signs were common. Yet the underlying culture of Protestant Ascendancy has remained a feature of life here in the West.

I will give you a short personal example.

It goes back about twenty years ago, to when I had just recently graduated with a PhD and was off on a scientific expedition with a mixture of UK and foreign colleagues. The expedition was led by a very senior chap, originally from Scotland but based down south for maybe 35 years. He was a very nice old fella, we got on great, the science went well and we shared the general bonhomie of fellow countrymen working abroad.

At the end of the trip the old chap was full of the joys and singing praises about what a wonderful job I had done and what a fine example I was of a good traditional Scottish Protestant education.

I was slightly taken aback, both by the praise but also from the implication of his assertion. I liked the guy and did not want to cause offence but had to say, as gently as possible, thanks for the kind words but you have my background all wrong.

The poor guy was mortified and apologised profusely, but was genuinely taken aback that someone from my background, my community, could have possibly reached the levels of professionalism that he had spoken about so warmly just minutes previously. Surely it was well known that such a thing was not possible?

We parted on good terms and I don’t hold any grudge at all. He was a product of his time and had the good grace to realise that he had made a horrible mistake. Moreeover, I believe that it probably changed his world view considerably, and for the better.

So why mention it?

Well there was a time, not that very long ago when the world view that he professed was commonly held and my community was expected to know its place.

Those days are past and will not be returning.

These days we fill positions across the range of society and have achieved parity in virtually all spheres of public life. We are still an immigrant community, partly as a result of the conspicuous identity that was forged in the crucible of the Old Firm.

What I aspire to is a society where our contributions are valued as highly as those from any other part of it. I look to the doctors and nurses, the lawyers and business people, the teachers and shopkeepers from all of the communities that have chosen to come to Scotland and call it home and think we are a far better place for it.

Rangers, as the Establishment Club, have been a symbol of a backwards-looking attempt to stop progress towards equality and to maintain a cultural elite at the expense of everyone else.

To be clear, this is not catholic vs protestant. That is what you are meant to believe and to subconsciously align youself accordingly.

This is about maintenance of an elitist societal structure that is built on a foundation of acceptance and subservience that should have no place in a progressive, forwards-looking country.

The idea that Scottish Football needs a strong Rangers is a propaganda claim for those who would maintain the Protestant Ascendancy that is built on crushing the dreams and aspirations of all sections of society, including the vast majority of the Protestant population. We see this in the mulifarious machinations to extract every last penny of the famous Blue Pound.

So there it is. Football in this country is not simply a sport: through the systemic corruption in support of a single, Establishment Club, it has been hijacked to be a symbol of social dominance of an elite whose power is otherwise being eroded year on year by the rise of a proper meritocracy.

Anyone that thinks we will simply back away from this fight has no comprehension whatsoever of what it really means.

Ending the corruption of our sport and installing sporting integrity as the fundamental standard would be a powerful message that the old social status quo is over.

Sam Cooke said it well:
It’s been a long, a long time comingBut I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Time for Scots Government to Take Bull by the Horns
Imagine, for a moment, how different this situation would be if you could replace The Rangers with Celtic as the guys caught with their pants down by the Supreme Court.

Imagine if it was Aberdeen or Hearts or Livingstone or Spartans or some wee Saturday league team.

Can you picture the SMSM outrage all over the back pages?

What would you be hearing from the fine upstanding RRM if it was them that had been cheated of victories?

Have the SFA got a big track record of letting the wee guys get away with administrative errors?

Don’t think so…

Now let’s go forward in time.

How are future “errors” going to be handled?

Are you confident that it’s a level playing field for your team?

What if your team is up against The Rangers?

Still think it is a level playing field?

What if there’s some way they could help them by screwing your team?

Think they won’t do it?


This is not about the past.

This is all about the future.

It is absolutely clear that we have all been screwed over by the SFA and that the game was and currently is rigged in favour of one Establishment team.

If there’s to be any future for our sport in this country, we must have an unequivocal reckoning for past misdeeds both at Ibrox and at the SFA.

This is the time for all clubs to measure their self-respect and decide what their future will be.

A future of equals or cannon fodder for the Establishment that treats them with such disdain?

Scottish football needs a strong Arbroath now more than ever. It needs a Turnbull Hutton now more than ever. It needs each and every club to settle on self-respect and to demand sporting integrity over all other concerns.

It needs to present a future that we can believe in as fans.

If it isn’t a level playing field it’s not a real sport and it’s all over.

Make sure your club knows that your self-respect demands that you will never accept a return to the past.

Time for Scots Government to Take Bull by the Horns
Ach these mobile phones are a terrible way to contribute to the blog. Wrote previous post with 2% battery left and no time to check details.

So I am an awful eejit and wrote Glover instead of Budge. I’m not sure what prof Glover’s football allegiances might be, if any, but as a highly eminent biologist I hope she has a good sense of fair play.

In this matter however I think the views of Ann Budge are of great interest and I hope she will share them with the paying public and with her supporters who have done so much to revitalise their club.

I’m off to bang my head off a wall in the hope of gaining some sense. As a Scottish football fan it seems it was ever thus…

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

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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