Why the Beast of Armageddon Failed to Show?


Why the Beast of Armageddon Failed to Show?

A Blog for Scottish Football Monitor by Stuart Cosgrove

At the height of summer of discontent I was asked to contribute to a BBC radio show with Jim Traynor and Jim Spence. ‘Armageddon’ had just been pronounced and if the media were to be believed Scotland was about to freeze over in a new ice-age: only a cold darkness lay ahead.

To get the radio-show off to a healthy and pretentious start I began by saying that Scottish football was experiencing an “epistemological break”. It was an in-joke with Jim Spence, who I have known since we were both teenage ‘suedeheads.’ I was a mouthy young St Johnstone fan and Jim was an Arabian sand-dancer. But even in those distant days, we shared a mutual distrust of the ‘old firm’ and in our separate ways wanted a better future for our clubs. We both grew up to become products of the fanzine era, Jim as a writer for Dundee United’s ‘The Final Hurdle’ and me as a staff writer for the NME. Without ever having to say it, we had both engaged in a guerrilla-war against what Aberdeen’s Willie Miller once characterised as “West Coast Bias”.

The term ‘epistemological break’ was shamelessly borrowed from French Marxist philosophy. It means a fundamental change in the way we construct and receive knowledge and although I used it on air as a wind-up to test Spencey’s significantly less-reliable Dundee schooling, deep down I meant it.

Social Media has proved to be one of the greatest disruptions in the history of the football supporter – greater than the brake clubs of the 19th century, the football specials on the 1970s; or the fanzine movement of the post-punk era. The pace of change in the way we send, receive and interrogate information has been so dynamic that it has wrong-footed administrators, asset strippers and sports journalists, alike. No matter who you support we are living through media history.

2012 had just witnessed an unprecedented summer of sport. The Olympics provided a snapshot of how sudden and pervasive the shift to social media has become. Over 40% of UK adults claim to have posted comments on websites, blogs or social networking about the Olympics and in younger age-groups that figure tips conclusively to a majority – 61% of 16-24’s posted Olympic comments. Think about that figure for a moment. Well over half of the young people in the UK are now participants in social media and pass comment on sport. The genie is out of the bottle and it will never be forced back. That is the main reason that Armageddon never happened: we no longer live in an age where the media can guarantee our compliance.

On the first day of the 2012-13-season, Rangers were in the deep throes of administration and facing certain liquidation. With no accounts to meet the criteria for SPL membership, one among a body of rules which the old Rangers had themselves been an architect of, the new Rangers could not be granted entry without a wholesale abandonment of the rules. It was not to be.

St Johnstone launched their new season at Tynecastle so I travelled with misplaced hope. We were soundly beaten 2-0 and both Hearts goals were entirely merited. On the day, I did a quick if unscientific survey of two supporters’ buses – the Barossa Saints Club, a more traditional lads-bus and the ‘208 Ladies’ a predominantly female and family-friendly bus. On both buses, over 75% of fans had mobile phones with 3G internet access and the majority of them posted updates or pictures before, during or after the match. They mostly posted via micro-blogging sites such as Facebook or Twitter, many commenting on the game, their day-out and the surroundings. Most were speaking to friends or rival fans. Some were publishing pictures and updating forums or blogs. And when he second a decisive goal went in some were undoubtedly taking stick from Gort, Webby DFC and DeeForLife, the pseudonyms of prominent Dundee fans, who as the newly promoted ‘Club 12’ were suddenly and very temporarily above St Johnstone in the SPL.

By my rough calculations, well over half the St Johnstone support was web-connected. I have no reason to think the Hearts supporters were any different. This small experiment reflects an unprecedented shift in the balance of communication in Scottish football and in the truest sense it is an ‘epistemological break’ with past forms of spectatorship. Social media has been widely misrepresented by old-style radio ‘phone-ins’ and by journalism’s ancien regime. The presumption is that people who are connected to the web are at home, in dingy rooms where they foam at the mouth frustrated by loneliness and mental illness. The term ‘internet bampots’ (coined by Hugh Keevins) and ‘keyboard warriors’ (Gordon Strachan) speaks to a world that is fearful of the web, irked by alternative opinions, and the threat that the new media poses to the traditional exchange of knowledge.

It further assumes that opinion from social networks is naïve, ill-informed, or unreasonable. Whilst some of this may be true, mostly it is not. No one would dispute that there are small enclaves of truly despicable people using social networks and comment sites, but they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the multitude of fans who simply want to talk about their team and share their dreams and memories.

Social media is porous. By that I mean it has cracks, lacunae and fissures. This inevitably means that information leaks out. It can be shared, released and in some cases becomes so energetic it becomes a virus. It is no longer possible to ‘keep secrets’, to withhold information and to allow indiscretions to pass unnoticed. Newspapers have been caught in a whirlwind of change where views can be instantly challenged, authority quickly questioned and pronouncements easily disproved. Many papers – almost all in decline – have been forced to close down their comments forums. Undoubtedly some of that is due to breaches of the rules, the cost of moderation, and the rise in awareness of hate crimes. But another significant factor is that ordinary fans were consistently challenging the opinions and ‘facts’ that newspapers published.

Talking down to fans no longer works and we now have evidence – Armageddon did not happen. The beast that was supposed to devour us all was a toothless fantasy. In the more abrasive language of the terraces – Armageddon shat-it and didn’t turn up.

In one respect the myth of Armageddon was an entirely predictable one. Tabloid newspapers make money from scaring people – health scares, prisoners on the run, fear of terrorism, anxiety about young people, and most recently ‘fear’ of Scottish independence is their stock in trade. Almost every major subject is raised as a spectre to be fearful of. Most newspapers were desperate to ‘save Rangers’ since they themselves feared the consequences of losing even more readership. It was easier to argue that a hideous financial catastrophe would befall Scottish football unless Rangers were fast-tracked back into the SPL. Newspapers found common cause with frightened administrators who could not imagine a world without Rangers, either.

So we were invited to endorse one of the greatest circumlocutions of all time – unless you save a club that has crashed leaving millions of pounds of debt, the game is financially doomed. You would struggle to encounter this bizarre logic in any other walk of life. Unless Rick Astley brings out a new album music will die. That is what they once argued and many still do. That is how desperately illogical the leadership in Scottish football had become.

Armageddon was a tissue of inaccuracies from the outset. It tried to script a disaster-movie of chaotic failure and financial disaster and at the very moment when senior administrators should have been fighting for the livelihood of the league, they were briefing against their own business.

Armageddon was a big inarticulate beast but it faced a mightier opponent – facts. One by one the clubs published their annual accounts. Although this was against the backdrop of a double-dip recession and fiercely difficult economic circumstances it was not all doom and gloom. The arrival of Club 12 (Dundee) meant higher crowds and the potential for increased income at Aberdeen, Dundee United and St Johnstone. To this day, this simple fact remains unfathomable to many people in the Glasgow-dominated media. The arrival of Ross County meant an exciting new top-tier local derby for Inverness Caley Thistle and a breath of fresh air for the SPL. St Johnstone insisted on the first ever SPL meeting outside Glasgow to reflect the new northern and eastern geo-politics of the Scottish game.

European football meant new income streams for Motherwell. Of course times were tight, football is never free from the ravages of the economy and some clubs predictably showed trading losses. But the underlying reasons were always idiosyncratic and inconsistent never consistent across the board. Inverness had an unprecedented spate of injuries and over-shot their budgets for healthcare and so published a loss £378,000.

Meanwhile Dundee United published healthy accounts having sold David Goodwillie to Blackburn. Celtic reached the Champion’s League group stages with all the new wealth it will bequeath. St Johnstone – led by the ultra-cautious Brown family – had already cut the cost of their squad, bidding farewell to the most expensive players Francisco Sandaza and Lee Croft. The club also benefited from compensation for their departed manager, Derek McInnes and player-coach, Jody Morris. Paradoxically, Bristol City had proven to be more important to the club’s income than Rangers. Again this was not part of the script and proved unfathomable (or more accurately irrelevant) to most in the Glasgow media.

Hearts failed to pay players on time due to serious restraints on squad costs and internal debt. They were duly punished for their repeated misdemeanours. Motherwell and St Mirren despite the economic challenges were navigating different concepts of fan ownership. By November most clubs – with the exception of Celtic – were showing increased SPL attendance on the previous season. Far from the scorched earth failure that we were told was inevitable what has emerged is a more complex eco-system of financial management, in which local dynamics and a more mature cost-efficient reality was being put in place.

It may well be that Armageddon was the last desperate caricature of a form of media that was already in terminal decline. Flash back to 1967 when Scottish football had a so-called ‘golden age’. There was European success, we tamed England at Wembley and names like Law and Baxter brightened dark nights. Back then access to knowledge was a very narrow funnel. Only a small cadre of privileged journalists had access to the managers and players, and so fans waited dutifully for the Daily Record to arrive at their door to tell them what was happening. That system of ‘elite access to knowledge’ was in its last decadent throes nearly thirty years later, when David Murray would dispense wisdom to his favoured journalists. We now know they drank fine wine and ate succulent lamb in Jersey and the most loyal attended Murray’s 50th birthday party at Gleneagles. One journalist was so proud of his invite he danced round the editorial office mocking those who had not been invited. This was the early height of the Rangers EBT era but it is now clear that difficult questions went unasked by either journalists or by football administrators.

Although it may not suit the narrative of this particular blog my first realisation that David Murray’s empire was living on leveraged debt was from a small cadre of Rangers fans. It was around the early years of the Rangers Supporter’s Trust (RST) and they were determined to shake more democracy from the Ibrox boardroom. Whilst real fans of the club argued from the outside, the press took Murray at his loquacious word. He was in many respects their benefactor, their visionary – their moonbeam.

By the 1990s onwards, football journalism had ritualised and festered around the inner sanctums at Ibrox. This was an era where relevance meant being invited to a ‘presser’ at Murray Park, having Ally’s mobile or playing golf with ‘Juke Box,’ ‘Durranty’ or ‘Smudger’. Many journalists, showing a compliant lack of self-awareness, would use these nicknames as if conveyed closeness, familiarity or friendship. It is desperately sad that careers have been built on such paltry notions of access and such demeaning obsequiousness.

Around this period I had become a freelance radio-presenter and was presenting Off the Ball with my friend Tam Cowan, a Motherwell fan. We both wanted to fashion a show which saw football not trough its familiar narratives, but through the lens of the ‘diddy’ teams, a term so demeaning that we tried to reclaim it. Refusing to peddle the inevitability of ‘old firm’ power we sensed that journalistic compliance at Ibrox was now so ingrained that it was ripe for satirising. This was the main reason that Off the Ball branded itself as ‘petty and ill-informed.’ It was a self-mocking antidote to those journalists that could ‘exclusively reveal’ breaking stories from ‘impeccable sources,’ which usually meant they had heard it on the golf-course, from Walter, a man who needed no surname.

Many fans are astonished when I tell them how the journalism of this era actually functioned. On Champions League nights, journalists from opposing papers gathered together to agree what to write. Circulation was in decline, money was tight, agency copy was on the increase and foreign trips were under-scrutiny. No one dared miss the ‘big story’. So sports journalists who commonly boasted about their toughness and who ‘feared no one’ were often so fearful of returning home having missed an angle, that they agreed by consensus to run with variations of the same story. Celtic fans may wish to recoil at the image – but journalists would go into a ‘huddle’ at the end of a press-conference to agree the favoured line.

So the summer of 2012 witnessed an ‘epistemological break’ in how knowledge and information was exchanged. But let me go further and taunt Jim Spence one more time. It was the summer we also witnessed an ‘amygdala-crisis’ exposing the way the media works in Scotland. Amygdala is the nuclei in the brain that manages our tolerance for risk and is the key that often unlocks creative thinking. Many people in relatively high places in the media – a creative industry – demonstrated that they could not conceive of change, nor could they imagine what football would look like if Rangers were not playing in the SPL. They not only resisted change but lacked the imagination to think beyond it. A common language began to emerge that tried to ward off risk and an almost a childlike fear of the dark. ‘Scottish football needs a strong Rangers,’ ‘But there will no competition’; ‘other clubs will suffer’; ‘Draw a line in the sand’; ‘It was one man – Craig Whyte’, ‘They’ve been punished enough’ and of course, the daddy of them all – ‘Armageddon.’

The biggest single barrier to change was the lingering and outmoded notion that Rangers subsidised Scottish football. As a supporter of a club that had spent seven economically stable years in a league that Rangers have never played in made me deeply suspicious and I was in the words of the we-forums ‘seething’ that St Johnstone were portrayed as somehow ‘dependent’ on a club that was already fatefully insolvent. Because so little is known about the experience of the fans of smaller clubs, they are often misrepresented. For seven years my friends and I, travelled home and away in the First Division, often narrowly missing out on promotion as rival clubs like Gretna, Dundee and Livingston all used money they did not have to ‘buy’ success. It remains an incontrovertible fact that St Johnstone FC has been among the most consistent victims of fiscal misdemeanour in Scottish football. That is the irreducible issue. Several clubs have very real reasons to loathe financial mismanagement, rogue-trading and those that gain unfair advantage on the back of unserviceable debt.

Social media has allowed these smaller incremental versions of history to be told when the established media had no interest in telling them. Blogs can dig deeper than the back pages ever can and fans are now more likely to meet on Facebook than on a supporter’s bus. Many players now bypass the press completely and tweet directly with fans. Rio Ferdinand’s recent attack on racism in English football has been conducted entirely via social media, over the heads of the press. In the Rangers Tax Case context, restricted documents are regularly shared online, where they can be analysed and torn apart. Those with specialist skills such as insolvency, tax expertise or accountancy can lend their skills to a web forum and can therefore dispute official versions of events.

Not all social media is good. Open-access has meant a disproportionate rise in victim culture. The ‘easily-offended’ prowl every corner of the web desperate to find a morsel that will upset them but that is a small price to pay for greater transparency and even the most ardent bore is no excuse for limiting the free exchange of information.

We have witnessed a summer of seismic change. A discredited era that largely relied on ‘elite access to knowledge’ has all but passed away and information, however complex or seemingly unpalatable, can no longer be withheld from fans. The days of being ‘dooped’ are over.

It has been a privilege to participate in the summer of discontent and I yearn for even greater change to come. Bring it on.

Stuart Cosgrove
Stuart Cosgrove is a St Johnstone fan. He was previously Media Editor of the NME and is now Director of Creative Diversity at Channel 4, where he recently managed coverage of the Paralympics, London 2012. At the weekend he presents the BBC Scotland football show ‘Off the Ball’ with Tam Cowan. He writes here in a personal capacity.

About the author

Trisidium administrator

Trisidium is a Dunblane businessman with a keen interest in Scottish Football. He is a Celtic fan, although the demands of modern-day parenting have seen him less at games and more as a taxi service for his kids.

3,744 Comments so far

alan280170Posted on3:12 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Great piece, keep fighting the good fight.

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Bill1903Posted on3:13 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Keep up the great work Stuart 🙂

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torrejohnbhoyPosted on3:19 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Is it just me?.
When reading this I could hear SGs voice in my head. 😆

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jimmyshandPosted on3:19 pm - Nov 5, 2012

KTF Stuart

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ianagainPosted on3:20 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Excellent analysis Stuart. Somebody please send this by Royal mail to all the “rags” so they can nail it to their notice board. (they wont get to read it otherwise)

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TSFMPosted on3:23 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Great post Stuart, and very honest and brave from the standpoint of someone working in the MSM.

The challenges faced by the MSM will be crucial to the evolution of that industry in the next few years.

Social media is not the first new kid on the media block, nor will it be the last, but how it is dealt with will be interesting – and might perhaps provide a journalistic watershed.

Last two posts from Saint Johnstone fans. People will talk 🙂

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tomtomPosted on3:25 pm - Nov 5, 2012

A great article. Without demeaning it in any way I wouldn’t have expected anything else from him. Probably one of the very few articles on here that I could find absolutely no fault with at all. One line stand out for me however. “Unless Rick Astley brings out a new album music will die.” Takes the hypocrisy surrounding the re-inclusion of Rangers on to a new level.

Well done Mr Cosgrove

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spurtlePosted on3:32 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Reblogged this on spurtle and commented:
“Armageddon did not happen. The beast that was supposed to devour us all was a toothless fantasy.”

but its a coming for the MSM! … and Reagan & co … and Mr Green … and …

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FinlochPosted on3:33 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Sharper than even Henry Hall in his heyday, Stuart.

I particularly enjoyed my own vision of the 50th party invitee dancing round his sportsroom waving his wee ticket and flushed with the sheer self importance of his cronyism.

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jimlarkinPosted on3:39 pm - Nov 5, 2012

good article stuart.

this begs the obvious question.

why have regan, doncaster and campbell ogilvie been allowed to remain in their employment positions?
they failed miserably in promoting the game, they brought the game into disrepute themselves by procrastinating, bending, ignoring and making up “rules” as the 2012 season approached.

they allowed a new club to polevault over other clubs to get a place in sfl div 3.
they allowed the new club to have a “temporary” mebership – when no such category of membership exists.
they allowed the new club to play cup games without having the players “properly” registered, as these players were either registered with their old club, new club or waiting to be transferres, such as the new foreign players.

still nothing is being done about this by the msm, it is rediculous.

just this weekend, we had david currie from the bbc holding the scottish cup and saying that the team playing at ibrox could win it again!!!
the team playing at ibrox have never won any trophies, but they want to brand any other fan, who recognises that fact – as bigots.

it’s people like you stuart who has been asking the right questions and there is a lot more questions to be asked.
hopefully the tide will turn, and soon!!

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nickmcguinnessPosted on3:40 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Thanks Stuart for an article that a hero of mine would probably describe as “astonishingly brilliant”. It’s so refreshing to see a media insider who retains such an obvious love of the game and actually listens to fans of other clubs.
I think it’s your detachment from the Old Firm goldfishbowl that gives yourself and your fellow residents of the ewe-bothering regions, Richard Gordon and James Spence, such a valuable insight into the state of the Scottish game as a whole.
Your depiction of the “mob” antics of the fitba’ hacks is spot on. There are too many of them who think they should have been footballers, so spend their time socialising with footballers, talking like footballers (appalling nicknames et al) and writing like footballers.
And how many footballers can write? Precious few.
Chapeau, Monsieur C.

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onceabhoyPosted on3:41 pm - Nov 5, 2012

The poor and in the eyes of many dishonest coverage of sevco and its corrupt predecessor has led to many foregoing the rags on a daily basis. The sad result being many other journalists and shop floor workers will suffer.

The arrogance of the usual suspects on radio where they take delight in stirring up old controversies will hopefully soon lead to a fall in listeners and gullible callers. One day a producer may have the foresight to omit these paragons of disinformation and replace them with insightful, honest and more learned chairs. Who knows it may result in higher listener numbers and a better more reasoned standard of caller and debate?

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onceabhoyPosted on3:44 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Oh and Stuart……name that dancer…..the people deserve to know!!!

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timtimPosted on3:45 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Dundee United published healthy accounts having sold David Goodwillie to Wigan.

I’m sure you meant Blackburn ,us bampots are picky when it comes to facts
that apart Stuart great article and much kudos to you for writing an article for TSFM
and a personal thank you for sponsoring my nephew at the Saints many years ago

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Robert Wilson (@Rapscallion5)Posted on3:46 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Very well written piece. Erudite, informed & at times, hard hitting. I suspect many an “elite” Scottish journalist will read this article & further suspect few, if any, will comment on it. However it will be commented on by the majority media & Stuart makes it very clear who they are.

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angus1983Posted on3:49 pm - Nov 5, 2012

I always preferred Sounds, myself. Sorry, Stuart. 🙂

Good reading, but would be much more readable if there were line-spaces between paragraphs … the old sub-editor in me coming out … 😉

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onceabhoyPosted on3:52 pm - Nov 5, 2012

angus1983 says:
Monday, November 5, 2012 at 15:49

He likes the new media…..just hasn’t quite got the hang of it!

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m8dreamerPosted on3:57 pm - Nov 5, 2012


Fantastic and articulate article into the current state of Scottish Football.
I agree with all the sentiments contained within the article but as the father of a 32 year old Rick Astley fan, my daughter may disagree with this statement.
A copy of this article should be forwarded to the SPL/SFA/SL/MSM Media to let them know that
Scottish Football WILL survive without the Rangers Tribute Act and that the silent majority will prevail.

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Jack JarvisPosted on3:58 pm - Nov 5, 2012

What a wonderfully constructed piece. I look forward to reading Jim Traynor’s, Chick Young’s or Hugh Keevins’ responses. It will be an interesting exercise in ‘compare and contrast’.

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forweonlyknowPosted on3:59 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Well said Stuart. Consistent and brilliant on this subject since the day it hit the fan! Keep it going. Even as a Glaswegian Celtic fan I can see that our game (and equally important … the reporting of it) need many more guys like yourself to keep it going! When you consider the guys who have performed best throughout this whole saga, you realise that it has never been anti ‘one club’. It’s about being Pro Scottish football.
Stuart Cosgrove: St Johnstone
Tam Cowan: Motherwell
Jim Spence: Dundee United
Richard Gordon: Aberdeen

Great Post!

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AlthetimPosted on4:01 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Excellent article. I look forward to the Glasgow hack packs’ response as respond they surely must. I hope they collectively look after the new arsehole SG has just tore them.

Welcome to internet bampot land Stuart. Better stick in at CH4 as you’ve blown your chance of a gig at the DR.

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AlthetimPosted on4:03 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Meant SC above, not SG – apologies.

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Carfins Finest. (@edunne58)Posted on4:04 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Excelent read from one of Scotlands top sports journos. I would excpect no less from Jim Traynors new baby sitter. Well done.

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Banners to the BreezePosted on4:06 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Great piece Stuart – you are now officially a ‘bampot’! Why not name the dancer and give us all an early Christmas present.

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mikk67 (@mikk67)Posted on4:07 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Superb article, absolutely nails the small men who run Scottish football & who have to all intents & purposes have acknowledged that they have no ability to see the opportunities that come with a changing landscape. In any other business their shameful performances would have resulted in their removal in the event that the exposure of their incompetence hadn’t led them to depart of their own will first. It’s a sad fact that incompetence & vested interests all down the line have kept them in place

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timabhouyPosted on4:08 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Are you not a bit late coming out of the media woodwork !

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RayCharlezPosted on4:12 pm - Nov 5, 2012

BBC reporting Craig Levein is axed.

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blantyreexilePosted on4:12 pm - Nov 5, 2012

I am reluctant to use the word Armageddon in this context as it was originally used by Traynor, as was ‘succulent lamb’ and he will use ‘Armageddon’ as some sort of badge of honour, just as he is proud to claim ‘succulent lamb’. However, I remember lying in the bath listening to the Radio Scotland programme Stuart mentions at the start of his piece. I texted ‘Off the Ball’ the following Saturday, congratulating Stuart on his performance in showing up Traynor for the blowhard that he is, and even though I did call both him and Cowan a couple of erses, they still read out my text.

However we do need to show some caution here. Nothing would get it right up the MSM and sevconians than a thriving, exciting, entertaining SPL and so far things are looking good. But just it was far too early, and far too dumb, to ever claim Armageddon, I think it is far too early to claim that it cannot or will not happen.

I am not suggesting it ever will happen, but, as they say, one game at a time here. Let’s just see what sort of season we have had at the end of this season.

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valentinesclownPosted on4:16 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Thanks Stuart maybe you can entice Jim Spence to blog as well, all welcome to a new media.

What stuck out most for me was:-

“That is the main reason that Armageddon never happened: we no longer live in an age where the media can guarantee our compliance”

Fans certainly do not need to comply as our jobs/careers are not at risk. MSM may fear for their future, but ignore social media and their future will be affected. In fact armageddon may occur in the old world of newspaper journalism.

But deep down shame on them.

Thanks again Stuart. A wee trip to Fife in SC, good luck.

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edgarblammPosted on4:20 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Excellent post, Stuart.

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AgrajagPosted on4:21 pm - Nov 5, 2012

I don’t think there’s one thing in that I would disagree with.

I would add one observation with regard social media, in particular who is now using it. What a lot of people perhaps didn’t realise is there is a huge variety of people now happy and willing to communicate via blogs, forums, facebook, twitter etc. What would previously have been the domain of only the younger element is now being used regularly by not only them but also older generations. Some people have grown up using these things and some come to them late.

So what we have now are people with a lot of training and expertise who are willing and able to share not only information but also analysis and opinion. They are able to answer specific points and questions, and they are able to contradict things in the media which are either simply not true, or are spun to try to make people believe a specific interpretation.

Often the people on places like this are actually better trained and or better informed than those writing the stories which would simply have been believed in the past. This has a snowball effect of course. The more people are shown to be guilty of making it up as they go along the more people are ready to question what they are saying. To demonstrate that it is not simply a one off but is actually a way of life.

So what we have then is a collection of informed, educated people. Working together and using an enormous database of information, the interweb itself. Those people are then willing to take what they have learned and apply it to real life. Hence the pressure put on club chairmen not to allow the rules simply to be ignored, at least not as badly as they would have been. I have said it before, those in authority in Scottish football fully expected new Rangers to be playing in the SPL this year, at the very worst SFL1. Rangers also expected that to happen, of that there is no doubt.

Without places like the RTC blog and people like Paul McConville, Phil Mac, Mark Daly, Alex Thompson and dare I say it Mr Cosgrove himself we would still have Scottish football being run by a very small and select band of people. We would have it being run for the good of a small and select band of people, we would have a compliant media brain-washing the masses with stories of Armageddon, the absolute necessity of “a strong Rangers” and everything else they try to force people to believe.

Keep up the good work Stuart, the fight for equality of treatment and fairness is not over but as Dylan said … the times they are a changin’.

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billyj1Posted on4:28 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Absolutely brilliant. A must read for everyone, more so those of ‘the succulent lamb’ brigade

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ekt1mPosted on4:29 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Mr.Cosgrave. A brilliant piece of prose in my estimation.I look forward to your radio shows with your compadre Tam, and to keeping JT honest on “Your Call”. More power to your pen.

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scapaflow14Posted on4:33 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Good piece.

I see a chap just got a thirteen stretch for running a Ponzi scheme, wonder if Mr Green has heard that yet?

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Danish PastryPosted on4:36 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Bravo Stuart! Hopefully the new media will blow the old order away. With that in mind I’d award your perceptive piece 5 Virtual Sticky Danish Pastries (gluten-free, of course) 🙂

By posting this on TSFM you may single-handedly have forced the dinosaurs to sit up and take online blogs and bloggers seriously.

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arabest1Posted on4:43 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Excellent article Stuart keep up the good work, yer doing a grand job, especially keeping jabba on his lead every Saturday night. The little ball of tension between you grows weekly and is engaging in itself. While you’re here Is Sarah ever going to contribute to these pages again ;)?

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jean7brodiePosted on4:50 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Brilliant post Stuart. Made my day!!

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metanightPosted on4:53 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Been following your coverage of the unfolding events since day one Stuart. Despite supporting a different team you’ve managed to sum up my feelings on these dreadful ‘agendas’ pretty much identically throughout. You’ve done well to keep banter pride of place, and it’s high time that more people followed your example.

That said; your team are still rank. Absolutely rank.

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paranoidbyexperiencePosted on4:54 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Mr Cosgrove always bugged me your constant attacks on the “old firm” and apparent use of terms “they are both as bad as each other” As a Celtic fan, paranoid by experience, I considered you to be as bad as the rest of MSM
I apologise
I have miss-judged you. I could not see the wood for the trees.

Thank you for your recent efforts to defend our game.

Great article well written balanced and accurate …

Thank you

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joeraithPosted on4:56 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Its time Mr Traynor.time to respond.

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Henry ClarsonPosted on4:56 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Welcome to Bampot World, Stuart. 🙂

That’s an excellent, perceptive article.
I was trying to picture a distant, parallel universe in which James Traynor was sitting down to write a piece like this but my imagination can’t stretch that far.
The future of journalism belongs to those journos who can truly interact with their target readership rather than presume to dictate to them.
You and a few others grasped that long ago. The dinosaurs haven’t and never will but unfortunately their rotting carcasses are going to pollute the reporting atmosphere for quite some time to come until they finally decay into the dust.
Never mind; onwards we march, gas-masks to the fore.


PS On behalf of the absent Jim Spence and Dundee schools can I just point out that “Amygdala is the nuclei in the brain that manages our tolerance for risk,” is a rubbish sentence?
You probably meant “Amygdala is the mass of nuclei in the brain that manages our tolerance for risk.”
Either that or Perth schools haven’t got a clue about grammar. 😉

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paulsatimPosted on5:03 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Great post Stuart, I can hear a certain “st mirren” fan using those nicknames!!

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FinlochPosted on5:05 pm - Nov 5, 2012

A consumer insight about the very real demise of the paid for newspaper.

I used to buy one and sometimes two daily.
I don’t anymore apart from maybe every second or third Sunday, nor does my partner.
Our three kids all in their 20s are web connected 24/7.
All are active on Facebook, Linked in and Twitter.
Not one of has ever bought a newspaper.
Its not something they will ever consider and I don’t suspect they will ever feel the need to.

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Long Time LurkerPosted on5:11 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Bravo, totally petty and ill informed 🙂

“Walter, a man who needed no surname.”

I wonder if we will see the day when the main players in this sorry saga are only referred to by their surname, by employees of HMP?

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SeniorPosted on5:17 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Levein too step down.- this must mean the publishing of the HMRC report is imminent – whats the bet?
I had regard for Craig Levein one time but when he bowed to the SFA and selected Black from a third division side I lost all respect for him as a manager.
Great article Stuart, welcome to the Bamy Pots club.

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David McCloyPosted on5:17 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Pedants corner…
“Amygdala is the nuclei in the brain that manages our tolerance for risk”… and …
“Amygdala is the mass of nuclei in the brain that manages our tolerance for risk”,
should be,
“Amygdalae are the nuclei in the brain that manage our tolerance for risk.”


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Kenny DuthiePosted on5:20 pm - Nov 5, 2012

The truth will out & with the help of people like Stuart etc,thankyou for a great article.
Donation sent btw,everyone keep up the good work.

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metanightPosted on5:20 pm - Nov 5, 2012

+finloch Like videos on plastic discs or television programmes requiring a television, the model of delivering daily news in a paper format is as good as dead however the battle against sycophantic and/or lobbied media sources delivering corrupt or bias propaganda is one which will rage on forever.

Scotland has shown a resilience to the obvious protection that RFC get from sections of the Scottish media but the problem of certain outlets simply ‘parroting’ statements, and often sensationalising them, has not vanished.

We have seen Alex Thomson report on the problem of intimidation and sat idly by as it has went largely unnoticed by our own press. Some heinous media characters have even poured scorn on it. We know that guys like Raman Bhardwaj have been chased off social media, on our watch and we don’t react. It is written up on some blog and simply left under the carpet.

Until those kinds of journailsts, and ever increasing tit-for-tat militant blogging culture, are ousted entirely from the spotlight the ‘succulent lamb/sensational tabloid’ culture that has kept our game in the dark ages will remain with us.

It may not be in a paper, but it doesn’t mean it’s went away overnight.

Hate still draws a crowd.

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bobferrisPosted on5:20 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Great piece Stuart. Yourself and Tam have been magnificent throughout this period. I was actually on Off the Ball many, many years ago. I think 56 other Accies fans must have turned you down! A grand experience for a shy, young boy. Still have the tape somewhere.

Like St Johnstone, Hamilton Accies have somehow managed to exist without hand outs from Rangers for most of their history.

In terms of Armageddon still being possible, I would hope every single person who classes themselves as a Hibernian fan turns out on Sunday morning for the noon kick off against Dundee United (what a ludicrous time!). I would normally lean towards United but I hope Hibs can keep this up for as long as possible.

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valentinesclownPosted on5:22 pm - Nov 5, 2012

torrejohnbhoy says:
Monday, November 5, 2012 at 15:19
24 0 Rate This
Is it just me?.
When reading this I could hear SGs voice in my head.


I went one further than that I found myself reading the article in a Stuart Cosgrove kind of voice to my wife.

Till my wife replied in a Tam Cowan voice to shut up.

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doontheslopePosted on5:24 pm - Nov 5, 2012


I worked on the show for a number of years and to this day, miss the custard creams with which Tam supplied me. (He had just started his ‘nil-by-pie’ diet.)

I respected you then and after this piece, you will gain the respect of many, many others – humourless tw@ts and bogits excepted.

Very well done, Sir. Insightful, well written and brave.

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Palacio67Posted on5:24 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Great Post Stuart, and welcome to the blog.
Slightly off topic SSN reporting levien removed from post.
Another gig for the no surnamed one?

Sorry if already posted, just in from work and logged on.

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thereekPosted on5:25 pm - Nov 5, 2012

“Many fans are astonished when I tell them how the journalism of this era actually functioned. On Champions League nights, journalists from opposing papers gathered together to agree what to write”
Sitting as I do beside the press in the South Stand at Celtic Park can I confirm the efforts at collusion which supposed competitors continue to make. It’s a source of continual amusement to watch A check his mobile while serious action happens on the field. Anything missed ? Just lean over and ask B in front.This joint effort is reciprocated in the course of the game. Ever wondered why so many papers print the same take on contentious moments – they come from the same one or two sources in the press corps. I’ll see it happen again on Wednesday night. And these are the same guys who then discredit anything which comes from the land of the bampots.

When do they remember they are in competition ? When half time pie time comes then it’s every man for himself.

Excellent piece from Stuart. A blog from him has been reuqested on this site & RTC in the past and we can see why.

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FIFAPosted on5:26 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Well written Stuart
Unfortunately I beg to differ on the good ship Armagedon ,it was not that it sh@t itself to turn up ,it was slowly turning course towards the sinking MSM to put it out of its misery and is now bang on course .

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Parson St. BhoyPosted on5:29 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Well said Mr Cosgrove. I doubt if you will be asked to roll up your trouser leg anytime soon.

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jockybhoyPosted on5:29 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Firstly Stuart, I didnt realise what your day job was and can I thank you for for the wonderful “Last Leg” show during the paralympics – it was unfailingly eye-opening and entertaining (much lije this and other websites of internet bampottery) and i feel bad i didn’t post a thank you on a site more likely to be read by C4 senior management (and reviewers of pay…).

Secondly, thanks for writing this piece. From the get-go this site was meant to be about more than just the two big weegie teams and its also great to get a credible journalist joining our happy band.

What I have massively enjoyed through all these turbulent times, stretching now to years , was that the warnings that blogs and social media put forward have been mostly proven right and what has been put forward by the Scottish MSM have been proven mostly false. That is why people are moving away form the Scottish press. I work in B2B media down in London and people down here ask me about what was happening and how didn’t anyone know etc. I say the story was out there a decade ago – Hugh Adam was deep throat, so too speak – but he and his story was ignored, belittled and/or ridiculed. Even now, rather than face up to reality, Sevco fans play the man and not the ball.

The other thing I am asked is “as a celtic fan you must be happy etc etc….” I say “No. I am not happy, I’m p1ssed off Rangers cheated for a decade. I wish they hadn’t. But they did, and they did every team in Scotland out of money, trophies and glory over that period, so I am glad they got busted, even if its only belatedly”, and I am glad they are finally having to deal with the reality the rest of Scottish football has been dealing with since the early 90s…

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Humble PiePosted on5:32 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Excellent work Stuart. As far as I know, you and Spencey are the only ones in the MSM who have ever made reference to the work of RTC and TSFM during this entire fiasco. I was particularly thrilled when you read out Posmil’s poem on air to Jabba, as it proved to me that the analysis of contributors to these sites could no longer be ignored by the ‘succulent lambpots’.
Welcome to the world of the ‘internet bampot’

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FinlochPosted on5:36 pm - Nov 5, 2012

If Walter or Graham Sounness get Craig’s job it might not cost the SFA so much because they could arrange their remuneration package to be deposited into one of their EBTs

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StevieBCPosted on5:37 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Good piece SC.

They say that timing is everything…

And in light of RTC’s tweets today, the first HMRC challenge against RFC’s EBT scheme was in 2002.

If Minty had ‘fessed up back then, I am quite sure that this summer’s events could have been conducted in ‘relative secrecy’ 10 years ago – and ‘The RFC’ would have been kept in the SPL without fuss.

But Minty’s strategy of delaying the EBT investigations didn’t take into account the growth of social media – and those pesky internet bampots !

And over this summer it was truly shocking how the SFA and SPL simply ignored the fans – and then belatedly tried to scare the fans with ‘Armageddon’ and even ‘civil unrest’.

My hope is that the display of fans’ power over the summer will eventually translate into more credible fans’ representation at the SFA/SPL/SFL – and generally at the clubs themselves.

And I also think that most fans would recommend – first and foremost – that the whole Scottish football administration set-up needs to be overhauled and amalgamated.

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Kevin AndersonPosted on5:45 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Just caught a snippet of yon “Pointless” programme on terestrial tv. 2 things popped up of note,
1) Glasgow Rangers were named as winners of SPL since 2000, presenter qualified 41 of 100 ,who named Deidgers, won their 54th tiltle during the noughties but have since been wound up for Financial Irregularities.

I was under the impression the media didn’t know! Apologies SG,AT,MD and a few others.

2) 42 of the 100 named Glasgow Celtic……the biggest team/tribute act in the world are only the 2nd best well known winners of the SPL in the last decade or so!!!!!

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ShooperbPosted on5:50 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Stuart – Great read, and probably sums up the frustration that a lot of us have felt over the past year or two. Interesting that you mention Traynor, because he was part of the moment that I realised that printed sports journalism was dead – it was when he used his column in the DR to ‘expose’ Craig Whyte just before the admin. I didn’t think ‘at last!’, I just felt a bit sad for him really. Here he was doing an about face and publishing what was, at least in his mind, a groundbreaking bit of journalism – and I’d read all his main facts via the RTC at least 6 months previously.

I’ll tell you what would be very intesting, though…… We’ve heard the view that probably represents most of us from ‘our champion’ in the mainstream media – how about the offer goes out to Traynor to write a guest blog here? It wouldn’t need to necessarily be a defence of himself (although it would, no doubt, be appreciated), but more of a ‘state of the nation’ account of Scottish Football at this time. Would he do it? We await…..

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Long Time LurkerPosted on6:00 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Regarding the earlier posting from Barcabhoy:

“on another note, not related to the current management

Money laundering ……….now that would create a severe environment including blast, thermal pulse, neutrons, x- and gamma-rays, radiation, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), and ionization of the upper atmosphere.

I’m sure there’s a shorter description but it escapes me for the moment !”

Barcabhoy – you said earlier on RTC that the nuclear story was not yours to tell. Are the owners of the story now ready to tell?

Now that the “tourch paper” has been lit, does this mean that more information on this story will now begin to emerge in the public domain?

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paulmac2Posted on6:00 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Cheers Stuart a good read…one or two more of that quality and you will be up there with Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan 🙂

Ps. Also a very brave thing to do…just ask Gary Allen QC…he now has to open envelopes inside an igloo half way across the North Pole.

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scapaflow14Posted on6:13 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Surely, not even the SFA would be stupid enough to appoint Sir Walter d’EBT as Scotland manager. Would be worth it just to see FF and RM go into simultaneous meltdown at the ultimate betrayal…

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AuldheidPosted on6:13 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Mr Cosgrove, as a football lover first and Celtic fan second, it was with a real sense of relief I first heard you rubbish main stream media claims about what the demise of Rangers would mean for our game and challenge those making them. Jim Spence and Alex Thomson’s voices were a welcome addition.

It was important that reason and ethics was not drowned out by those with the biggest megaphones (and fear filled mouths to go with themt). You and the other gentlemen named became the bampots’ megaphones, either picking up points from blogs or getting them direct.

Your analysis of the impact of the Twitterati/Bampots (take yer pick) .is spot on although your description of its impact is not of course limited to football. It is not only the main stream media who are losing the ability to shape opinion to encourage compliance, but governments who use the msm in turn. My grandchildren will inhabit a very different world as a result.

I was reminded by your words (and had already been thinking) of a TV programme I watched years ago about a device called a chronoscope. All I could remember was that it was based on a story by Isaac Asimov and through the wonders of the same infrastructure that has enabled the ‘epistemological break’ that you describe I was able to establish it was called The Dead Past and the thrust of the story is here:


Will the fundamental change in the way we construct and receive knowledge stop short of creating a goldfish bowl? Should it, or would we all behave differently and more honestly if we knew we could be easily observed?

Can we have a chronoscope trained on the SFA please?

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TheCollardGreen (@chrisshields10)Posted on6:15 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Agrajag says:

Monday, November 5, 2012 at 16:21

I don’t think there’s one thing in that I would disagree with.

I would add one observation with regard social media, in particular who is now using it. What a lot of people perhaps didn’t realise is there is a huge variety of people now happy and willing to communicate via blogs, forums, facebook, twitter etc. What would previously have been the domain of only the younger element is now being used regularly by not only them but also older generations. Some people have grown up using these things and some come to them late.
I think the term is Silver Surfers

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thespecialswonPosted on6:17 pm - Nov 5, 2012

A great post on this blog, I echo all the points made above.

Now, when will Mr Green’s little fibs begin to be exposed as such…? Who will be the first to warn Rangers fans that they might be reduped sometime soon.

Simply put the amount of nonsense he comes up, specifically numbers, should be parodied! Starting with turnover next year, £40m….

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Kenny DuthiePosted on6:27 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Another home draw in the cup for sevco!!!!! Hmmmm……….

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goosyPosted on6:34 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Great Piece Stuart
You summarise in a nutshell the importance of social media in separating fact from fiction

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AgrajagPosted on6:37 pm - Nov 5, 2012

The first time I remember Stuart really rubbishing a scaremongering cliché was Graham Spiers on Stuart and Tam’s show. Mr Spiers (who I consider a good writer) spouted the old “The SPL will end up just like the league of Ireland with comparable crowd sizes” I paraphrase. It was something I had heard many times.

Stuart responded by suggesting that they actually look at the facts. It turned out that the league of Ireland figures were noticeably less than the SFL1 numbers. If I recall correctly Stuart asked him if he genuinely believed that the SPL crowds would drop below that of SFL1.

It’s an argument I haven’t heard a lot of since then. I remember thinking of it as a very big moment, someone from the MSM not just spouting propaganda but actually questioning it and comparing it to the actual facts.

With my apologies for referring to you as a member of the MSM.

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carlisleceltPosted on6:46 pm - Nov 5, 2012

What a fantastic piece of work from a true neutral. Well done Mr Cosgrove.

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BrendaPosted on6:48 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Press conference @ 7pm about Levein ….. Regan and ogilvie? Why are these two numbnuts still in a job making decisions about people’s lives???

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rapscallionPosted on6:48 pm - Nov 5, 2012

An enjoyable read. May not be mentioned in many mainstream dispatches but should liven up a few Radio phone in’s & with it, a fair degree of publicity. !

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BrendaPosted on6:49 pm - Nov 5, 2012

Brilliant piece Mr Cosgrove 🙂

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rantinrobinPosted on6:51 pm - Nov 5, 2012

I enjoyed reading Stuart’s blog immensely.It conveys his passion for the game and describes in detail all that is wrong with the parochial and narrow minded attitudes of our football journalists.
The vision, post Armageddon, is of a fresh start in Scotland with a fresh state of attitudes.That vision required a major shift in values , and perhaps it needed the demise of Rangers for there to be a seismic change.

Thanks Stuart for carrying the banner

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