Truth and Reconciliation in Scottish Football

_85330283_85329713Sustainable and genuine reconciliation after a conflict is built on transparency, contrition and compromise. Intransigent denials or a thirst for punishment from either side usually achieves nothing but frustration and leaves unresolved issues which will make any future relationship very fraught and likely to collapse.

In Scottish football – as with anywhere else – reconciliation needs to start with a willingness to admit hard truths.

The many media commentators, be it ex-players, former managers or journalists, that say that it would be better if everyone could just ‘move on’ from the issues around Rangers’ use of Employee Benefit Trusts, their slow decent into liquidation and the question of whether they are still ‘the same club’ are in one sense absolutely right; it would be beneficial to concentrate solely on footballing matters again.

Actually, if Rangers and other voices proclaiming the benefits of ‘moving along’ are willing to work constructively towards a mutual beneficial solution where that can be achieved, they are likely to find the rest of Scottish football a lot more accommodating towards such a compromise than they perhaps would expect.

The majority of Scottish football fans, even Celtic supporters, who probably enjoy nothing more than to only focus on winning titles and competing with Rangers on the pitch, rather than being subject to endless tax discussions and whether it is still the ‘Old Firm’ or not.

However, to demand that everyone ‘move on’ at this particular point with so many issues clearly unresolved is patronising, shows an utter contempt for supporters of other clubs and is above all unsustainable in terms of the future of Scottish football; like trying to walk again after a broken leg before your bones has healed sufficiently.

The only way to set in motion events that may lead to such a sustainable compromise for all parts is a signal of contrition and acknowledgment of responsibility from Rangers. In short, Scottish football needs a ‘truth and reconciliation process’ and it needs the Ibrox club to be a willing participant.

The only way to set in motion events that may lead to such a sustainable compromise for all parts is a signal of contrition and acknowledgment of responsibility from Rangers. In short, Scottish football needs a ‘truth and reconciliation process’ and it needs the Ibrox club to be a willing participant.

It’s not for me to dictate what an acceptable outcome from such a process would look like and there is certainly no one solution that all sides would be happy to accept fully. But there are at least two main issues that need to be addressed through such a detailed and comprehensive process.

The Titles

The question of the legitimacy of the titles won by Rangers during the seasons they utilised Employee Benefit Trusts as a method of paying employees is likely to be heavily influenced by whether the Supreme Court confirms the decision that the use of such trusts were in fact illegal in terms of tax law. If they do (and at present this seems the most likely outcome) a compromise must be reached on this issue. An added scrutiny should be on the titles won after 2004, the point where the existence of the EBT ‘side letters’ to players and staff were seemingly not revealed to HMRC, even after multiple requests.

Admittance from Rangers that the use of EBTs (and the non-disclosure of the side letters) gave the club a sporting advantage not available to other teams is crucial and necessarily. Whether those titles are then removed and given to another team, the competitions in question are voided without a winner or if Rangers are allowed to keep the title with an ‘asterix in the history books’, is not for me to say. But all parts, including the SFA, would be better off in the long run with a compromise that includes the acknowledgment of this sporting advantage.

The New Club

For everyone’s sanity, Rangers and Scottish football need to come to a fragile peace on this issue. Personally I’m perfectly happy to accept that the Rangers team that will play in the Scottish Premiership next season is the continuation of the club that was liquidated in 2012. They have the same supporters, play in the same ground and in the same colours. They inhabit the position of one of the two biggest clubs in Scotland, and their presence in the top division will undoubtedly generate more interest and probably more commercial revenue. Their games with Celtic will garner world-wide attention and create more interest in Scottish football than any other match would. Grant Russell, the STV journalist who is a sharp and articulate (and in my opinion, very fair) voice in Scottish football media, makes a sensible point when he argues that the term ‘Old Firm’ is Scottish football best recognisable ‘brand’ on an international stage and it should still be utilised as much as possible.

3000What makes it difficult – and perfectly understandable – for so many fans of other teams to accept the reasonable points above is the sense that both Rangers and a lot of the Scottish football media seem to be insisting on revisionist version of such recent history. Something fundamental did happen in 2012. Rangers weren’t demoted or relegated. They were liquidated and lost their SFA license. A new company was awarded the league license made available by Rangers’ liquidation and then admitted into the league system at the bottom tier. That decision was unprecedented; any liquidated club starting up again with a new license would expect to have to do so at the bottom of the non-league structure. It was also a sensible decision; a compromise that gave this new licensee some special treatment based on their potential contribution to Scottish football but which avoided being the serious attack at the integrity of the game it would have been if they had been admitted higher up into the Scottish Football League structure.

If Scottish football is to ‘move on’ from questions and comments around whether the current Rangers is a new club or not, there needs to be a genuine acknowledgement of these events from 2012, especially from the club itself. What such a compromise would look like is again not for me to judge, but the noise around it will never decrease by pretending that nothing happened to the fundamental fabric of the club. At present, this is seen both through Rangers’ insistence on claiming the football history but not the financial debt of the club that was liquidated in 2012 and the general media language that so seldom seem to reflect the full consequences of the events that year, with widely use phrases like ‘relegation’ and ‘demotion’ showing weak journalistic standard and sometimes downright cowardice.

It’s admittedly very naïve to think that Scottish football will happily embrace any such ‘truth and reconciliation process’. Senior figures such as Walter Smith proclaiming that it is actually Rangers that is the real victim only illustrates the ignorance and lack of contrition that makes any sort of reconciliation within the game seemingly impossible. Again, to their credit, STV was one of the few media outlets that openly challenged Smith’s comments in any way.

If the voices within Scottish football that want to ‘move on’ are genuine in their concerns about the game’s wellbeing rather than only the interests of one club, they need to accept that no sustainable solution can come from leaving things the way they currently are; a frustrating and unsatisfactory impasse that ultimately benefits no-one in the Scottish game. The Scottish football media is still too often falling short of their responsibility in these matters, even taking into the consideration the apparently aggressive tactics towards journalists that is still prevalent at Ibrox.

If there is even a grain of concern about Scottish football within Rangers, the club need to acknowledge their responsibility and take the first step towards a compromise. If they do, they might be surprised by the response. If they do not, it would eventually be to the detriment of both Scottish football and to the club itself.

Without truth and contrition, no reconciliation. While Rangers and its supporters might find it, understandably, difficult to accept a compromise which includes having some ‘asterisk years’ as part of their history, without reconciliation, without compromise, they may instead end up becoming nothing more than an asterisk club to the rest of Scottish football. There will be proclamations that they couldn’t care less. I don’t believe them. Compromise and reconciliation is the only sustainable way forward for Rangers and Scottish football. It’s time that all parts actually fully pursued it.

 

This article was first published by the 90 Minute Cynic. republished with thanks.

Comments (44)

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  1. Darby O'Gill says:

    Very well put.

  2. Bryan Weir says:

    Can I suggest that the number of empty seats at the semi-final on Sunday will be a good indicator of how much the fans of both sides really, genuinely care if Rangers are old or new?

    “If there is even a grain of concern about Scottish football within Rangers, the club need to acknowledge their responsibility and take the first step towards a compromise.”

    Also, are you actually suggesting that the future of Scottish Football is in some way compromised by the current tenants of Ibrox Stadium failure to apologise for the sins of the previous tenants?

  3. katherine hamilton says:

    I don’t think I’ve read such a load of confused and confusing pish in a long time.
    What the hell are you trying to say? Rangers and their sectarian supporters can all go to hell.
    My money’s on more mayhem on Sunday, as usual.

  4. w.b.robertson says:

    don`t know where this writer has landed from…but, having dealt with the Old Firm, he presumably will now focus on a much easier target, such as bringing peace between Israel and their Arab neighbours….

  5. John says:

    Who is trying to stir up trouble here , why are we being told that there is going to be so much trouble , it’s coming from all directions . Who benefits from this stirring .

  6. Doubting Thomas says:

    In the interests of “sporting integrity” ( if such a concept actually exists given the frailties of the human demeanour. After all sport is about winning is it not? ) can I suggest that sellik supporters chattering on about being cheated trying to hide behind a cloak of non interested neutrality is not the way to bring about truth and reconciliation in Scottish Fitba.
    There is far too much bitterness and bile in their lives against Rangers and their fans to ever achieve this and the feigned levels of tragic resentment over a game of football are beyond comprehension and reason.
    Bhigotry will always be there….it will never go away…..in is in their history to always be cheated never defeated.
    If someone commits a crime and is punished for it whether he or she admits it or not when they have done their time would you expect them to apologise for it?
    Naw.
    The simple fact is that the law and the world at large considers them to have paid the price and they are rehabilitated.
    Rangers are back…..get used to it.
    Scottish Football will be the better for it.

    1. Mark says:

      Thomas, if you’ll permit me to gloss over the childish comments, the intentional mis-spellings, the tedious sheep-like tabloid terminology and the desperate whataboutery, it doesn’t leave much.However, what remains is the oft repeated misconception that Rangers FC were punished for any perceived crime back in 2012. This did not happen. (Well, the old club was fined £250K but true to form, that fine was not paid.) Rangers have not, as you so crassly put it, ‘done their time’. As the article above mentions, there was no demotion or relegation, RFC were not put down to the bottom tier to atone for their ‘crimes’. Quite the reverse! The old club lost its license due to liquidation, and as a result, was no longer eligible to play in the Scottish leagues. It ceased to exist as part of the league set up.
      Rather than receiving any form of punishment, the secretive 5 way agreement meant that the SFA & the League bent over backwards to accommodate the successors to RFC and rewarded them with an un-earned place in the 3rd Division ahead of other teams which arguably were ahead in the queue to join the Scottish league set up.
      If this is confusing you, think of Gretna. The same fate befell them that killed Rangers in 2012. Liquidation ended their time in the league. The only difference between new Gretna & new Rangers is that the SFA didn’t break the rules to allow new Gretna back into the league again. Following a transparent application process, Annan Athletic were given the chance to replace the liquidated Gretna, whereas Sevco (as they were legally known in August 2012) were bulldozed through the formal joining process and were given the chance to replace the liquidated Rangers.
      So no punishment, no relegation, no demotion, no time served. In 2012, Rangers just stopped. It’s that simple!
      And as for your last assertion, the law definitely does not consider this new club to have paid the price, and as for the world at large, they simply don’t care. They stopped caring back in 2012 when the club was liquidated.
      Here’s a wee task for you for Friday – look up the definition of rehabilitation and explain your last ‘simple fact’. You might wanna re-think that one!!

      1. Bryan Weir says:

        The “same fate” did not befall Gretna and it is not an analogy. Gretna resigned their place in the Scottish Football League before being liquidated. They did not apply to stay in the league and were in no position to do so.

        Surely no sane person that Rangers would argue that purposely excluding Rangers from Scottish senior football would be a move that was beneficial to the Scottish game?

        1. Bryan Weir says:

          Should read “Surely no sane person would argue that purposely excluding Rangers from Scottish senior football would be a move that was beneficial to the Scottish game?

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells says:

            “Surely no sane person would argue that purposely excluding Rangers from Scottish senior football would be a move that was beneficial to the Scottish game?”

            From a purely footballing sense, the breaking up of the Old Firm was entirely necessary to recover a level of parity with other Scottish clubs. These two circus freaks carved up the game to suit themselves, ensured that TV deals were favourable to them to the detriment of other clubs and used their financial clout to buy up promising talent simply to weaken other teams. What on earth is beneficial about that?

            As someone who supports neither of these teams, the removal of Rangers has been a welcome change. Celtic, having lost the need to invest hugely have become more restrained in their transfer dealings. While they have still won the league over the last few years there is a more competitive edge to the top of the table these days.

            This weekend sees Police Scotland attempt to round up known domestic abusers ahead of the game between Celtic and Rangers. What’s beneficial about that?

            This weekend will see A&E admissions rise dramatically, due entirely to this match. What’s beneficial about that?

            This weekend will see a Glasgow packed with Police to hopefully deter violence on the streets, due entirely to this match. What’s beneficial about that?

            The sooner one or other of these clubs dies, and I don’t particularly care which, the better for Scottish football all round.

      2. Doubting Thomas says:

        Mark
        You can be as silly as you like about my post…….it demeans you and only you.
        This is a blog…….. spelling, punctuation, crass comment are perfectly allowable.
        Everyone has the right to express their opinions on here as long as they are neither intentionally rude or offensive.
        Even your crass opinions and factually incorrect statements!
        You really do need to face reality.

      3. Doubting Thomas says:

        Mark
        And no I am quite happy with my simple fact.
        Hope to see you next season.
        Or are you one of the best fhans in the world who are going to boycott their own club because they have accepted reality.
        Best regards
        Tam

    2. Bryan Weir says:

      Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

      1. Bryan Weir says:

        “As someone who supports neither of these teams, the removal of Rangers has been a welcome change. Celtic, having lost the need to invest hugely have become more restrained in their transfer dealings. While they have still won the league over the last few years there is a more competitive edge to the top of the table these days. ”

        SPL attendances have plummeted with Rangers absence from the top division. Hibs and Hearts relegation has also contributed to this in a smaller way. Don’t let the official attendance figures at Celtic Park and Ibrox mislead you as they include season ticket holders and the actual attendance can be up to 20,000 less than the official figure. Celtic have got used to playing in a half empty stadium during the last four years. Many of the season ticket holders were only paying to keep their seat warm until Rangers (or Sevco) were back.

        Scottish football needs Celtic and Rangers. Without Rangers the deterioration of Celtic would continue and their attendances would be slashed.

        The above is talking from a football perspective. The sociological effect of the Old Firm is a different matter. It can be argued (as it often is) that Scottish football would be better off without them and there is no doubt that from a sociological perspective this is true. The same cannot be said from the footballing side. Take Rangers and Celtic out of the Scottish game and you have removed probably around 70% of its fan base.

  7. RJ Boyd says:

    Yawn.

    After a seemingly neutral beginning to this piece, it then slides into areas – my goodness, what a surprise – where Rangers Football Club are under attack by those in Scottish football who appear to have nothing better to do with their lives than attack Rangers Football Club.

    We get enough of this pish from Campbell over at Wings, who doesn’t seem to appreciate the irony in him frequently criticising British unionists for being obsessive whilst he obsessively criticises Rangers Football Club.

    As a lifelong SNP voter and Scottish independence supporter – who also happens to be a Rangers supporter – I am utterly fed up with the obsession over my club by people who are NOTHING TO DO WITH MY CLUB.

    Do us a favour eh and focus on your own damned clubs.

  8. chris says:

    The problem is that both sides of the “old firm” are as bad as the other , supporters especially . Both sides have deeply ingrained animosity towards one another , not all but quite a lot . When these two clubs , (I say clubs as it is a club to me not two different things but that’s another story) , wanted to move south , I for one wished for this to happen . Scottish football would survive in one way or another without these two clubs , aye it wouldn’t be so noticed but that’s when the true supporters of their local clubs go to football regardless . Agreed there is an element of idiots within any support of a football club but nowhere near the scale it is within the support of “the old Firm” . Get rid of the both of them and Scottish football would be a better place .

  9. Kenny says:

    Impressive. Only a couple of comments in and we’ve already got one “Celtic are worse than us in every way WATP” and one “both sides are as bad as each other.”

    On the first point – CELTIC NEVER CHEATED. Rangers did. They were paying (or “lending”) money to players through contracts that were undeclared to the SFA. By the letter of the law, Rangers should have every game in which one of those players played re-written as a 3-0 loss. The fact that the SFA was too gutless to do anything about that, hiding behind a false screen of “the tribunal said it wasn’t tax evasion,” is part of the problem. The fact that “Rangers” were admitted to the league despite being a brand new club, the fact that Ibrox was sold at well below value to the Newco and the fact that senior figures at and around Ibrox insist that nothing has changed, it’s all the same club, the history is unblemished and let’s just not talk about the massive debts to the nation and to all the other creditors (right down the local newsagents) and then claim that the problem is “bitterness” from fans of other teams is downright offensive. It’s very hard to forgive and forget when so many rules were bent to give the new club an easy ride and yet the diehard bluenoses won’t show a shred of humility or honesty.

    On the latter point, they are absolutely explicitly NOT “as bad as each other.” I was at the last true “Old Firm” game and heard thousands upon thousands of Rangers fans singing about being up to their knees in Fenian blood while a smaller group also sang the charming “No Pope of Rome.” There was at most a handful of Celtic fans singing anything remotely offensive (and I’m still not sure how Irish rebel songs are substantively different to something like Flower of Scotland or Scots Wha Hae.) Celtic have never (to my knowledge) got a journalist sacked for telling the truth or for showing solidarity with a fellow journalist.

    And all that is precisely the point. There can’t be any reconciliation or “moving on” until the current Ibrox club admit that there is something rotten in their support, the songs they sing and the stories they tell themselves (or have told for them by Scotland’s Loyal press corps) and do something to address it, until they choose either to accept that they’re a new club wearing an inherited strip or they’re an old club with a lot of debts yet to pay, until they show some kind of contrition and humility over the astonishing generosity shown to them by the powers-that-be at Hampden, until they stop bullying the rare journalist who’ll call them out for their behaviour.

    Independence supporters should watch all this stuff carefully. The promise of “armageddon” and the rewriting of history by a dutiful press should ring a few bells. The fact that no armageddon came, and in fact several clubs have never been healthier or wealthier than since Rangers died, should be seen to demonstrate the very definition of “succulent lamb” journalism. The loyal Rangers mob, the club of Queen and Country, the Catholic-baiting hate-mongers use all the same tricks (and in many cases by the very same people) as those used against the independence movement.

  10. chris says:

    Kenny , hi , they are absolutely explicitly NOT “as bad as each other.” …. it is the supporters I am referring to . I have to say they ARE . I have been to places and witnessed things that say they ARE . Large amounts of supporters of both sides , in pubs , in halls , in clubs . you don’t have to be a supporter of one of these clubs to access the bile . It is more than likely the ones that deny are the worst .

  11. Bryan Weir says:

    I struggle to grasp the sense in arguing who is worse than the other? They are both guilty and there is plenty of evidence to prove this. The fact that one is more guilty than the other is of little consequence.

    And Kenny, in your post above you are clearly concerned about the fact that you reckon Rangers cheated. That’s fine but you also claim that the Rangers that cheated no longer exists so what’s the problem?

    1. Kenny says:

      Catholics are the victims of the majority of religiously motivated crime in Scotland. Celtic have done a lot to stamp out whatever bigotry existed at Celtic Park. Fergus McCann famously told the fans that certain songs were unacceptable and decent fans would drown out anyone singing offensive things with any of the many good Celtic songs that exist. Rangers repeatedly pretend that The Billy Boys doesn’t even exist or that it’s a “tiny minority” and the succulent bams of the media go along with it. The rare exceptions like Graham Speirs and Angela Haggerty get death threats for reporting the truth.

      Even then, I like to pose this wee thought experiment for anyone who says that both sides are as bad as each other. Imagine Glasgow had a club set up by black South Africans fleeing apartheid. They sing songs about the struggle back home. One or two songs refer to the evil of the white man. The club has always been open to all, but it retains a strong sense of its roots. Meanwhile, across town there’s another club that has a long-standing policy of never signing black players. These days, even though that policy has been abandoned, the fans still routinely sing about being “up to their knees in nigger blood,” and regular KKK marches through the city are followed by hundreds of drunk fans in club colours. Who’s the bad guy in that situation?

      And yes, the club died. Not one bit of the bile and bigotry did though, and the new club bullies anyone who tries to say otherwise. All those debts still exist too, but while the SFA and the media and “Rangers” itself do all kinds of mental contortions to pretend that the club is the same one, no-one is paying a penny of those debts. And on top of all that, we’re all supposed to be grateful that they’re “back” in the SPL to shine their beneficent light on the poor, armageddon-struck league where competition has improved, most clubs have benefitted (or at least barely lost out) financially and society as a whole has had to face less anti-Catholic bigotry and violence. Until those issues are addressed it’s really difficult not to still be angry at the damage “Rangers” does to our football and our country.

      1. Steven Milne says:

        Celtic fans were vociferous in their support for the IRA’s bombing campaign. They have absolutely no justification for claiming the moral high ground.

      2. chris says:

        still trying to defend the indefensible .

        1. Doubting Thomas says:

          And therein lies the problem!!!
          The subject of religion an prejudice is directly linked to Football Clubs.
          Both clubs in recent years have taken steps to discourage this link and neither have succeeded.
          The hypocrisy evidenced here in this comment by Kenny demonstrates exactly why the problem will never go away.
          Both clubs have history which has good and bad episodes and both are followed by sets of fans representing various demographics.
          Sellik fhans get upset by the singing of historical songs which they consider are offensive.
          Rangers fans get upset by the singing of historical songs which they consider offensive.
          Sellik fhans say Oirishness is part of their history and their songs are ok to sing and not offensive.
          Rangers fans say their songs about Ireland and historical battles are ok to sing and not offensive.
          Football maybe the catalyst but is not the root cause.
          I do not understand people who live here and who support terrorist activity elsewhere.
          That goes for both sides.
          This is not only a problem amongst the Muslim community but amongst other communities right here in Scotland predominantly in the Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Glasgow and East Dunbartonshire where organisations are allowed to express this support.
          That is offensive to me.
          Sellik fhans and the GB are just as guilty of offensive behaviour when they sing songs supporting the IRA and terrorist criminals as Rangers fans are singing about fenian blood.
          There are well behaved Rangers fans and well behaved Sellik fhans.
          The offensive sections of both fan bases are just that.
          They exist on both sides get used to it.

          1. chris says:

            I suppose getting used to it is much and such the same as saying move on nothing to see here . That’s why I wished for the old firm to move south when they wanted to . Take all their crap with them and see how they get on down there . It wont end and for the normal supporter out there shouldn’t have to get used to it . It should be eradicated .

      3. florian albert says:

        According to Kenny, ‘Catholics are the victims of the majority of religiously motivated crime in Scotland.’

        Not according to Professor Tom Devine writing in the Herald last June. He wrote that those targeted were mostly ‘police officers and public service or retail workers, not members of other religions.’

        1. chris says:

          I’m not a catholic nor a protestant . But what Kenny is getting at is that catholics are the main religion targeted in Scotland for being victims of crime . Possibly years ago this may have been the case but I don’t think it’s as prevalent as it used to be . If it is then I would hazard a guess it’s when the “old firm” meet .

          1. florian albert says:

            ‘Catholics are the main religion being targeted.’

            If a drunken yob calls a police officer a ‘fenian b******’, are Catholics – in any meaningful way – being targeted ?
            I would say, no.

            To quote Tom Devine again, ‘only pockets of bigotry and prejudice remain.’

            As prejudice against Catholics has almost disappeared, a culture of victimhood has arisen amongst a minority of Catholics, who have never been victims – though their parents and grandparents may well have been.

  12. john young says:

    Rangers are back Doubting Thomas are we going to see a level playing field are we going to have referees that are completely unbiased,no fcuking way it will be the same old same old.

    1. Doubting Thomas says:

      John old chap your paranoia becomes you.
      Referees do a very difficult job and I’m afraid people like you make it even harder.

  13. Julia Gibb says:

    Simple legality – If I start a business and call it “Woolworths” I cannot claim to be a continuation of the original company. Football teams are businesses and the same rule therefore applies.

    However the sporting lineage is not the important issue. It is the bigotry and intolerance associated with the organisation which aids division in Scotland that should concern us.

    1. Black Rab says:

      Capitalism dictates that Rangers are a new-co but culture dictates that Rangers are who they have always been. No one becomes an unperson because they become bankrupt and continue to be who they were born as.
      Celtic and Rangers, like all other football teams in the world are manifestations of the people who assign value to them.
      Rangers are Rangers, because their supporters say they are. Celtic are Celtic, because their supporters say they are. That is culture. Capitalism demeans both of us.
      I’m a Celtic supporter incidentally.

      1. Bryan Weir says:

        Well said Rab.

  14. Mike Annis says:

    An interesting and fair article that deserves fair discussion. Sadly you won’t get that as can be seen in the responses. No matter how articulately put, they reveal the same mantra that is repeated ad nauseam on every football thread. They’re bad, we’re not etc etc with various ludicrous catch phrases thrown in. How sad in 21st Century Scotland that people can’t grow up and leave petty prejudices aside. There’s 1 in 5 children in Scotland living in poverty; we and the poor, disabled, low paid, pensioners are being systematically attacked by a vicious Tory government and you’re getting upset about football. God help us.

    1. Bryan Weir says:

      Sorry? I thought this was a fair discussion. No one is losing the plot and people are only offering their opinion. Seems fair enough to me.

      With regard to this article stealing the focus from the important political issues bear in mind that it was Bella Caledonia that chose to publish it in the first place. Perhaps you should question their motives for doing so. ;o)

    2. Steven Milne says:

      I am the only person who sees the irony in someone criticising the use of “various ludicrous catchphrases” and then two sentences later proclaiming “we … are being systematically attacked by a vicious Tory government”.

      While I defend the right of anyone to criticise the government it is a pity that in Scotland in 2016 one rarely heard this criticism expressed intelligently or constructively.

      It is even rarer to hear a well thought-out and practical alternative put forward to the policies of the current UK government. Platitudes about freedom and fairness etc are all I tend to hear.

      1. Bryan Weir says:

        You’ll be a Rangers fan then, eh? ;o)

  15. john young says:

    I am a Catholic/Celtic supporter from the west of Scotland so have a first hand understanding of the bigotry/sectarianism that has/wiil exist unfortunately.I am from a mixed religious background,my father being a Presbyterian,though after 6 years serving in ww2 he lost all/any faith he had,he was a professional footballer and I understand from other sources that because he had married a catholic he was denied an opportunity to sign for the club he loved Rangers true or not? he never spoke about it,he was a lovely lovely man much loved/respected in our greater catholic family,the issue of religion never raised it,s head,most of my fathers side never showed any bitterness to my mothers side,with the exception of his brother and his family who refused to acknowledge us.In a tight knit community there was an undercurrent of dis-approval of my father,it was horrible to see they wouldn,t say anything to his face but he was to an extent shunned,it really was for him a harrowing time and he certainly didn,t deserve it,this type of issue will no doubt be to the fore in both communities,it is a blot on our country I see no way out of it.People bring their kids into this world hating that is the root cause.

  16. John says:

    Time we moved on from all from all this bigotry , Scotland has grown up , people are not into religion the way they were thirty years ago , we should be uniting as a nation , forget the claptrap . Enjoy the teams for the skill they bring to the game , not for the colour of the jerseys .

  17. john young says:

    Doubting Thomas in your re-ply therein lies the problem “wood/trees”.have you forgotten Doogiegate/Dallasgate/Farrygate to mention but a few,honesty/integrity/decency is all that is asked is it too much in our country to ask this from those tasked with refereeing the game,let the team playing the best football be the winners.

    1. Bryan Weir says:

      “let the team playing the best football be the winners”

      Against the rules. AFAIK the team that scores the most goals is the winner.

  18. Kenny says:

    Just a couple of things to consider here. They’re a wee bit out of date (it should be noted that in the latest statistics you can see a fairly substantial drop-off in religiously motivated crime from 2012 when Rangers went out of business, although it should be noted that going a bit further back, the police reported that only about half of anti-Catholic crime was what they called “linked to football.”)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-15790225
    http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/13107531.Scotland_has_an_issue_with_anti_Catholicism__That_s_a_fact_____and_we_have_to_face_it/

    Also, The Billy Boys is nothing to do with centuries-old conflict in Ireland. It’s about the “Brigton Billy Boys,” an anti-Catholic east-end razor gang. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Boys)

    1. Bryan Weir says:

      By all accounts Rangers were back in business yesterday. ;o)

      1. Maxi says:

        So were the Rule Brtitannia vacuous moron traitors to Scotland????

        1. Bryan Weir says:

          I have no idea. I did spend the afternoon in Glasgow and thankfully it all went off without any major drama. That’s the most important thing. If the big troubles start again put me down on the “ban it” list.

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