The week has been filled with recriminations and hand-wringing after the violent pantomime that was the Edinburgh derby. Once again there was trouble at Tynecastle, once again Neil Lennon was attacked, once again ‘commentators’ (including Gary Caldwell live on BBC Radio Scotland) repeated the idea that he was “bringing it on himself” and former police inspector Les Gray on Scotland Tonight who said Neil Lennon must take responsibility and that he “could have caused a riot”. STV and the BBC have to ask themselves some serious questions. Who are the producers on these shows? Can we imagine a similar hate crime being witnessed ‘live’ then paid commentators declaring that the victim was responsible?

The debacle – along with the sight of a Hearts fan lobbying a bottle towards Celtic fans that was widely shared on social media – put paid to the rumblings that alcohol would be introduced to Scottish grounds.

The fixture – which has been full of class and energy on a number of occasions in recent years, was more blood and snotters with little in the way of actual football on display. But the issue of crowd control and violence in Scottish football is in danger of breaking out from mundane messy chaos to actually putting people at risk. At this stage the fact that neither the SPFL or the SFA are fit to run the game becomes more than a fans debating point and an issue for political intervention.

There is no point in clamping down on individual fans, though of course they should be prosecuted, because there will always be a queue of replacement idiots not far behind them.

All of this could be fixed with Strict Liability which would result in clubs being deducted points for incidents at their own grounds. A consultation was held for just such a programme in 2016. Modelled on UEFA rules in which eighteen sanctions for clubs are detailed, including warnings, fines, annulment of the result of a match, ordering that a match be replayed, the closure of sections of grounds, playing matches behind closed doors and the docking of points.

A restricted version of this was introduced in England in 2014.

Dr Rosmarijn van Kleef, a sports strategy consultant who has written a PhD thesis on strict liability in football commented:

“Scotland still has to catch up with the rest of Europe, where strict liability of football clubs is widely accepted and applied by both national and international football governing bodies … The rationale for this type of liability is that, in the absence of a direct legal relationship with supporters, sanctioning the clubs is the only means for governing bodies to try to prevent disturbances … Most importantly, liability without fault is accepted in the case of an overriding public interest such as the fight against violence at football.”

Clubs won’t vote for this, it needs to be imposed.

But amongst all this churning outrage and stupidity another big issue passed us by.

The Rangers FC announced a huge loss of £14.3 million in their latest annual accounts, despite increases in both turnover and season ticket sales.

Rangers’ loss is more than double the £6.7 million they posted for the previous year, while operating expenses increased by almost £8 million to £38.9 million. Turnover increased by more than £3 million to £32.6 million.

As one fan put it this is a club who were paying Kevin Kyle £100,000 in the bottom division of Scottish football whilst paying their manager three times then President Obama’s salary. Effectively they’ve now lost £53.9m to get in a position where they are eight points behind Hearts and level with Hibs.

No-one bats an eye any more. Once again a major football institution is in a perilous condition and the governing bodies have no oversight or care in the world. The club seems to be continuing their boycott of the BBC, which is also, apparently just fine, so you have the bizarre performance of Chick Young hanging out to overhear another broadcasters media conference and then relay it to the listeners or viewers on the BBC.

If Rangers collapse again the criminal negligence won’t just be with them, it will be with the complete failure of the governing bodies that now stretches way back in time and across such a wide remit of total incompetence it is unparalleled.

Amongst this collective failure it seems likely that the only thing that will initiate real change is a death at a game or the collapse of another football club.

This is our national game – which we support in unprecedented numbers – but it is mired in low-level violence and financial mismanagement that has become completely normalised because of media failure, a complete lack of aspiration and the cosy incompetence of learned failure and managed decline.

Comments (20)

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  1. Dougie Blackwood says:

    I have sympathy with Neil Lennon but there is an element of sense to be applied. He wears his heart on his sleeve and in a tribal atmosphere that is replete with idiots from both tribes there is an inherent danger that trouble boils over. Because of his commitment to clubs he is a target of taunting and while this is a part of the adversarial nature of football he must accept that turning and replying to these taunts in like manner is liable to inflame the more committed of the idiots among the opposing tribe.

    Let me cite another example; Tommy Burns was another whose commitment to his club was manifest; he was also the target of a constant barrage of personal abuse. He accepted the situation with both grace and dignity and was universally respected by everyone, even including many of the opposing idiots. Football is just a game but it is a relief valve for many of the tensions that beset the fans in real life. Inside the ground it is adversarial but once the final whistle blows and passions cool most go away having enjoyed a good day out , win or lose.

    1. “He accepted the situation with both grace and dignity” – what an odd thing to demand of someone before we respect them.

      Look, its Scotland in 2018, you will be abused constantly for being Irisha nd for being catholic. What we’d like you to do is to “accept this with grace and dignity”.


      1. gun ainm says:

        the faux comparisons with other Irish Catholic managers ignore the actual abuse that others have suffered but chosen (understandably) not to publicly confront and diminishes the bravery of Neil Lennon in calling out sectarianism head on. He should be applauded not blamed.

        1. JP Tonner says:

          Carson a tha thu gun ainm?An robh do mhàthair air falbh ag obair nuair a rugadh tu?S bochd sin

      2. Dougie Blackwood says:

        There is sensible people and there are others that are idiots. Nothing we say or do will change that. I have seen the idiots at work at close quarters.

        Let me cite another example. I used to support Clydebank FC and attended their matches whenever I could. In the early days at Kilbowie park you could walk all the way round through all of the supporters without any difficulty or problem. Those that decide these things decreed that there must be a fence between the opposing supporters and almost immediately there were idiots standing at the fence shouting abuse at the opposing supporters on both sides while a policeman stood and watched.

        I went to see a friendly match in Dumfries between the home team and Clydebank. Before I got near the ground I was challenged and asked who I supported. When I said Clydebank I was sent all the way round the park and into a terrible corner of the ground without any facilities of sales outlets while the home support took up most of the rest of the ground. I swore I would never go to football in Dumfries again.

        Draw the analogy and wonder why we have tribal troubles in Scotland.

    2. Lordmac2 says:

      You only have idiots when you don’t have strong laws, also you make out as if. anyone that is raped its there fault for wearing the wrong clothes, why do you not take it on board as it is in his case . just shear hatred ,and a racist act. If you can’t take part in the issue ,don’t be part of the problem and state he deserves hanging ,bombs bullets and a doing as your believe states he brings it on his self

  2. John Paul Tonner says:

    Interesting article. Long since given up trying to influence eleven young guys on a grassy pitch in their quest to insert a spherical object between two posts through my powers of telepathy.

    Ed. 14th paragraph about Chick Young says really instead of relay.

    Which reminds me of being on the night bus home from town. One guys looks out the window and asks his pal ‘is that Chick Young?’ other guy replies ‘naw, I’d say she’s middle aged’.

  3. w.b. robertson says:

    this Gers supporter has much sympathy with NL. away from football I`m assured by people who have been in his company that he is a very polite and civilised guy, but much too passionate, it seems, over the 90minutes when his team are playing. I agree with him100% that there is too much sectarian nonsense in Scotland. however, in purely fitba terms, if a player can be yellow and indeed red carded for “over celebrating” his side`s goal, then a manager, likewise, can be “disciplined” under present rules…and when it comes to over-celebrating an opponent`s goal being chalked off, that is hardly defined as “sporting” in anyone`s book.

  4. Iain says:

    There is no boycott of the BBC at Ibrox and no ban either.

    Where does this rubbish come from.

    And as for the Hibs manager, when even apologists like spiers are honest enough to mention his latest antics immediately before being struck in the chest by a coin, it’s rather sad that the rest of the media seem determined to ignore it.

  5. montfleury says:

    ‘There is no point in clamping down on individual fans, though of course they should be prosecuted…’


  6. Darby O'Gill says:

    ‘This is our national game’. What is, football or tribalism? We’re at No 40 in the world rankings at football, lower than any of the other UK countries and even small islands like Iceland. Scottish players are now so poor that very few play in the English Premier League. May be we should try something else.

    1. It doesnt matter where we are in world rankings – our commitment to football is expressed in disproportionate attendance. We have the highest attendend League in Europe Per Capita

      ● 7th highest overall attendance in a European top flight

      ● 9th highest Matchday average attendance

      ● Scotland only has the 25th highest population

      1. Darby O'Gill says:

        You mistake entertainment for sport. Watching football is not sport. Sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

        1. Lots of people that watch football play football, men and women, girls and boys. However its defined its a mass / collective phenomenon that doesn’t have a parallel. It deserves to be governed properly. If you don’t like football that’s fine – but you’re not really contributing anything to the debate here.

  7. Ross MacLennan says:

    If ‘Rangers’ collapse again, they will simply declare bankrupt again, and carry on as before. Seven bankruptcies didn’t stop Trump becoming US President.

  8. Robert cormack says:

    At first I was downheartened that all the ills of our national game could be identified succinctly and so quickly, but on reflection, the problems now identified can surely be addressed. Obviously no one believes it’s quite as simple as that but these basic, yet fundamundilly major problems are at the root if all that is wrong with the game at home and it is a starting point. I don’t have the answers but I’m willing to listen and act if reasonable solutions are put forward.

  9. Lochside says:

    I’m always surprised at how many nationalists or pro Indy commentators don’t like or understand football.
    This article is spot on: Lennon has been racially and religiously abused , as well as physically assaulted, by the subset of Scottish society that self describes itself as
    ‘.prodistant’… a subset of neo fascist scum that as well as hating Irish people who are catholic have now squared the sectarian circle in their pointed little heads and have gradually turned to hating those of us who describe ourselves as ‘Scottish’ and ‘self determining’.

    It started with Souness bringing up the English mercenaries and remarkably these hard of thinkers quickly realised that subordinating yourself to the English monarchy (wrongly as predominantly presbyterians) that it followed (follow?) that you should subordinate your nationality to your betters from the ‘big Country’ further south.
    Hence all the ‘Gers and the wee hun teams like Hearts, Airdrie, Falkirk etc started sporting England tops and hating ‘YES’ AND ‘Yessers’.

    As the OBF Act was binned by associated Unionist politicians and the SPL and SFA turn a blind eye…the ugly scabrous sectarian scum are now creating change,,or should that be chucking it?… a change back to ugly openly hateful racist assaults on anyone associated with ‘fenians’ or ‘jacobites’ as one moron called me. Who’d blame Neil Lennon if he got the hell out of the 17th century hangover that bedevils our national game and general society?

    1. Jamsie says:

      I will never cease to be amazed by idiots who identify one half on Scots as sectarian and do not recognise that the problem exists equally across the divide.
      Lochside notes it was unionist politicians who repealed the OBF Act but fails to mention that the main driver was in fact the fans of Celtic and indeed the club were the only football club to respond in the consultation on the matter.
      Not so long ago Neil Lennon stated that as far as he was concerned that the singing of sectarian songs had reduced.
      The term unionist can hardly be applied to either party eh?
      Typical Indy supporter stereotype?
      Actions and reactions by individuals in Scottish football do need to be looked at but spare us is he platitudes that it is all Irish Catholic individuals who are abused.
      And especially the false assertions that unionist politicians drove the repeal of the OBF!
      They may support political parties who prefer to remain part of the U.K. but to call them unionists surely stretches a point.
      Anyway as the vote was 62-60 to repeal and with support from the Greens the SNP hold a majority in Holyrood clearly something else went wrong.

    2. Jo says:

      I posted a response to you late last night Lochside. For some reason it’s gone now.

      Basically I pointed out that sectarianism in Scottish football is embraced by both sides. That is a fact. There is no point in condemning only one type.

  10. SleepingDog says:

    How would Strict Liability cope with false flag florin flinging? Surely it is anti-Darwinian to advocate non-crackdown on social contract rejects? Isn’t debt-fuelled table-climbing a blatant form of cheating? If it ain’t beautiful, it surely fails the football test?

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