A man born in Devon who’s been involved in Scottish football for three years has just decided the fate of the game north of the border. What he’s decided is that one club can behave with complete disregard to others and face no significant sanction. The problem isn’t Craig Whyte, who’s a chancer, but Neil Doncaster, who’s a clown. Rangers chief executive Martin Bain was part of the SPL sub-committee that carried out the recruitment process, and former Rangers director Campbell Ogilvie who presided over the EBT scam for years (from which he received £95,000) is President of the SFA today. Ogilvie replaced another Rangers man, Gordon Smith, as El Presidente. Friends in high places are useful, and this is the Jubilee year, in which you and I will pay for a Royal f****** barge (“Gloriana in excelsis”) to be floated down the Thames, but this is really taking the piss.
What’s not clear yet is the extent of complicity between the other clubs and the Doncaster. When and how we’re these ‘assurances’ made to Bill Miller. There is contradiction in reporting on this issue and it remains key. What is clear is the revolving door policy between Rangers Fc and the footballing authorities is extraordinary. If aggrieved fans want to vent their spleen they’ better examine these relationships. The huge sense of entitlement expressed by club and fan base and repeated faithfully in the Scottish media reveals a deep conservatism. For large sections of the footballing world it’s simply impossible to conceive of a league without Rangers, or any other models or structures which have brought Scottish football into the current glories. We are addicted to the stability of failure.
Of course none of this is possible without an unflinchingly pliant set of journalists and a supplicant media. There are a few exceptions.
As Alex Thomson wrote: “Announcing the US trucking magnate Bill Miller as the bloke-most-likely to buy Rangers FC, they refused to take questions at what was absurdly described as a press conference. Nor did they mention at any stage in this, the three really key things which have to be mentioned in connection with owning this club. Not one mention of assured creditor Craig Whyte who, he tells me, wants, £30m. No mention either for the ticket company Ticketus who may require around £27m. And the small matter of HMRC the taxman, who could end up due around £75m if the club loses a major tax hearing due any day now. Other fans will be outraged. Because what they’re attempting to pull off here is a huge tax avoidance and debt avoidance plan from the club already notorious for both.”
This is a huckster nation, where the filthy rich can do whatever they like. It’s a business free-for-all. It’s shameful.
It’s not just the EBTs – Rangers owe us at least £47 million – it’s the injustice of operating a league cartel (there’s no other name for the SPL now) dominated by one of Scotland’s largest football clubs that seems to be run by a gang of semi-feral businessmen whilst one in four Scottish children live in poverty.
The Beautiful Game? Unless Europe do what Scottish football have seemingly failed to do, then the game will wither and die. Not because we don’t have great potential, not because we aren’t a nation still football daft (against all the odds, weather and facilities), but because we allowed chasing money deals and SKY tv packages to ruin an entire sporting culture. We separated the game from the fans and then let ruling bodies be dominated by thugs in suits. It will die because who in their right mind would pay money to go and see a fixed-league? Never mined being awarded for failure, this is being awarded for fraud. It will die because we said that one club could act with total reckless abandon, then walk away…