A Continuing Embarrasment

1775-mickey-mouse-wallpapers-blog-archive-mickey-mouse-head_1024x600_zps8c041b32For those who missed it, yesterday’s Scottish League Cup draw threw up a real whopper of a surprise, when we found out that the organisers (that would be the governing body of our game’s tournaments) had made a startling decision on seeding.

Sevco Rangers have a match coming up against Inverness, which will decide who goes on to play Falkirk in the next round. All very uncomplicated, right?

Wrong. It’s actually an embarrassment. Some are calling it a screw up, but it’s the result of a decision that was taken in full understanding of what the consequences would be, so it’s not a mistake or an oversight. It was discussed, and signed off on.

It is a blatant and obvious fraud, one that to some eyes has one goal in mind; helping Scotland’s favourite down-on-its-luck team, and to others is an example of why we’re destined to remain a football backwater for years to come.

In making the draw before the Sevco Rangers – Inverness game is played, the SPFL had no way on knowing what the exact position was vis-à-vis seedings for the next round. They could have waited until after that game had been played to do the draw (the Sevco – Inverness game kicks off on 16 September and the next round is a week later), but that would have been too in keeping with fairness and transparency.

So instead they simply decided to stick in the winners of that game as seeds, automatically, although if Sevco Rangers gets a victory they will fall far short of being eligible for that spot.

In short, if they beat Inverness, they will face Falkirk by virtue of being seeded in the draw, something they were not entitled to. This disenfranchises every other club in the competition, and in particular the sides who would have qualified for a seeding spot ahead of them.

This is exactly what pisses many of us off, this constant bending of rules and ignoring of past precedents. As I said at the start, some are willing to say this is a simple mistake, but it’s clearly nothing of the sort. A bunch of people sat in a room somewhere and decided to ignore the very specific rules of the competition, to allow a club a potential advantage not covered in the regulations.

That club, of course, just happens to be Sevco Rangers. What a shock.

Don’t get me wrong here, this would be wrong, it would still stink, no matter which club was benefiting from it, but one can’t help but look at another egregious reinterpretation of the rule book which benefits them and feel a kind of numbed anger.

If Sevco gets past Inverness at home they have a game against a fellow Championship side when what should have awaited them was a game against an SPL team. Not only will they avoid that, but two SPL teams will now play each other who otherwise wouldn’t have, and that further weakens their potential pool of opponents for the next round draw again.

You honestly could not make this up. When does this crap actually end? When do the people who run the game in this country start living by what’s written down? When do we come to a realisation that the only way the game is fair is when everyone plays by the same set of rules?

The SPFL is yet to find sponsors for its major tournaments, and part of the reason why is that this organisation is still a shambles, in every way. It is still run by a small cabal of men who lack scruples and guts, a group of men who are without respect for the fans and without a moral mandate to run things after their self destructive behaviour in recent years.

The more you watch this organisation operate, the more you come to realise that they absolutely do not care what the supporters think. Get the individual club chairman to answer to their own fans and they have no choice but to take notice, but get them together in a room where they can hide behind collective responsibility and the mask comes off and their contempt for us is revealed.

What angers me most is not the potential freebie handed out to the basket case of Ibrox, because I don’t believe they’ll be in any position to take advantage of it as I fully expect Inverness to give them a right good doing, but the utter disrespect this shows for any standard of fair play, and the way it reveals the casual, almost off-hand, on the hoof way things are done around here.

UEFA kicked a club out of the Champions League for bringing on a wrongly registered sub with three minutes to go in the second leg of a tie they were winning comfortably. The substitution had no material impact on the game at all, but that didn’t matter. They take the rulebook seriously. They act accordingly. They follow these principles to the letter, in the name of fair play.

Here, we have a slapdash manner which myself and many, many, many other fans finds utterly offensive. Here, football governance comes down to propping up failed structures, to changing things as they go along and, when it comes to real reform, rejecting it in place of mere tinkering around the edges. Enforcement standards are a joke, and instead of putting things down in black and white and following them to the letter our governing bodies would rather give themselves wiggle room to stitch things up how they please.

The game in this country continues to peddle backwards at an alarming rate. I’ve argued the same about Celtic over the last few days, and as with my own club the rot sets in because of decisions made at the very top.

Heads should have rolled at the summit of our national sport three years ago. That the same individuals who were around then are still around now is scandalous. That they’ve learned nothing, that nothing has changed, that we’re not lobbying our clubs to hold this lot to a higher standard, is appalling and risks undoing every bit of good the fans have managed to force through.

I don’t believe we’ll ever see meaningful reform whilst these people are running the show.

When Turnbull Hutton stood on the steps of Hampden and called the men who run our game “corrupt” that should have been the start of a process that ended in them packing up their pencils, yet these serial failures, who screwed up TV deals, who talked down our game so much we can’t find sponsors three years on, still have highly paid jobs.

On a day when Ross County has just sacked its management team, and Ronny Deila bears the brunt for failures way above his head, the consequences of our governing bodies’ incompetence trickle down and affect every club in the land, and watching it I cannot help but think that this is a game, and not just in Scotland, which punishes failure everywhere but at the very top of the house, in the boardroom.

These are the people who keep on telling us that football is a business, and it has to be run like one. Where is their sense of corporate responsibility? In any other commercial venture, failure at every level, on this scale, would have seen them out on the street years ago.

Why in God’s name do we still put up with this crap? Who are these people actually accountable to, and how do they keep their jobs in the face of such incompetence and corruption?

What can we do to change it before it destroys what credibility is left in our national sport?

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

14 thoughts on “A Continuing Embarrasment

  • 28 August, 2014 at 2:44 pm
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    James i wonder if all the other clubs have spotted this corruption you should send a copy to every club in scotland good on ye mate

  • 28 August, 2014 at 3:36 pm
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    You should do what I am doing James and call it a day with the game, I will not be going back to any game nor watch any for the foreseeable future. PS My sky subscription has gone also.

  • 28 August, 2014 at 3:40 pm
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    This is only a problem if you’re not a Falkirk fan.
    If the rangers beat ICT then Falkirk will have an easier draw as they’ll be playing a mid-table championship side instead of an Premiership team.

  • 28 August, 2014 at 3:42 pm
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    Ian Blair SPFL said this at Cup Dra yesterday,
    “The important thing is to get the right sponsor. We want someone who shares our values and ambitions.”

    Bill McMurdo ? Dave King? McGills Bus Co.? Blue Pitch Holdings?

  • 28 August, 2014 at 4:04 pm
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    Agree with Charlie. Get this message across as widely as possible. Even the DR can’t ignore it. Try the mainstream British media too. Corruption is AlexThomson at C4 and David Conn at Guardian speciality. Use your influence, make a fuss. All the best.

  • 28 August, 2014 at 4:06 pm
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    Nothing changes in this corrupt game of ours,money freemasonary,any thing to keep the (still establishment)team, cash cow coining it in ! all be it in the future !…….with the collusion of the suites at the top of our ……yeah I,m gonna say shit pile…….Not a lot was said all this time about the goings on of the SFA.,Ogilvie , Bryson, Nimmo Smith, guilty of tax offences,media manipulation you name it .Silence on all these issues are of no help whatsoever to us Celtic fans,or Scottish football in general.The 5 way agreement….don,t get me started.methinks Parkhead has something to hide.

  • 28 August, 2014 at 4:49 pm
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    “When does this crap actually end” Where indeed James,12th of Never by my calculation.
    If the MSM and the Sevco blogosphere are to be believed,Peter Lawwell is Master and Commander of all he surveys in Scottish Football.
    Let’s take that belief down a notch ( or ten) to a realistic assessment of Mr Lawwell’s position within the governing ( misgoverning) bodies and ask the question: Why the hell are he and other chairmen allowing this corruption of the rules,for the benefit of Sevco,to pass unchallenged?
    I know you’re no fan of PL James,but surely in his capacity as CEO of the biggest club in the country he should hold some sway against the corrupt cabal running the Scottish game.
    I fervently hope that PL & Celtic are not of the opinion that we “need” Sevco Rangers “back” ( I know,I know 🙂 ) in the top division and are willing to keep shtum as regards the many helping hands and honest mistakes that come their way.
    I actually live for the day when Sevco go the same way as their dead forerunner.
    Since I was a girl,I have been the sort of Celtic supporter who was faithful through and through and gave little thought to Rangers,other than actively despising all they stood for and hoping tobeat them on every occasion possible.When we didn’t,I was philosophical about it,didn’t dwell on it,looked forward to gubbing them the next time.
    That all changed when the extent of the cheating by RFC and the double dealing from the football authorities was revealed in all its venal glory.I now only expect more of the same unfortunately.
    This new jiggery pokery is just another milestone on the road of shame by the shameless,discredited people at Hampden. They will never voluntarily give up their power base ( witness CO elected unanimously unopposed) it is up to the supporters of all clubs to exert the same pressure on their chairmen as we did in the summer of 2012.

    Ps Despite my philosophical attitude to RFC (deid)
    I’ve always loathed the sleekit whisperer,that cheeky chappy schtick never fooled me 🙂

  • 28 August, 2014 at 5:21 pm
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    Great news for Falkirk fans. They might meet a diddy team.

  • 28 August, 2014 at 5:23 pm
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    peter can get himself back on my christmas card list just give res 12 an airing in his bbc interview on friday the zombies would be apoplectic ha ha

  • 28 August, 2014 at 5:50 pm
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    I have said for long enough that P.Lawell and the board had the chance to report the SFA to UEFA at last years AGM,but wormed their way out of it.Yes P.Lawell has been quoted as saying we need TRIFC in the premier league,although like the majority of Celtic fans I asked WHY!Why would anyone want a corrupt organisation like them in the premier league,and the answer I am afraid to say is MONEY,not the fans,or the club,or the players just money,Iwill not be renewing my season ticket from next year,the reason being I will not participate or give money to a corrupt organisation.

  • 28 August, 2014 at 6:05 pm
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    Why am I not surprised?
    The worst thing is iur own club Celtic will say nothing about it because I firmly believe the money merchant board want to see Zombie FC helped as much as possible so they can get into the SPL, the downsizing of our team is testament to that.
    Sick of our loyalty to our club being exploited. I’m done with it.

  • 28 August, 2014 at 6:33 pm
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    This is a damned disgrace. Another aspect of the favouritism and preferential treatment for these newcomers to Scottish football.

  • 28 August, 2014 at 11:10 pm
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    Scottish football died when rangers died.
    We had a chance to clean up the game then, but we never took it.
    The moment has gone.
    Since rangers died the sponsors have disappeared and the money has dried up. I read somewhere that no money transfers took place in Scotland this window.
    PL agreed to the SFA /SPL giving £1 million to sky to keep rangers name in the media. The money for this came from Celtic – our share of the sky deal which we forfeited.
    PL has never said anything about sevco, because, despite saying we could stand alone, he doesn’t actually believe this, otherwise why give away £1 million particularly in these times of financial restraint.
    PL wants them back in the SPL as soon as possible – as does sky and all the other potential sponsors.
    Nothing has changed, but then, how could it when Campbell Ogilvie still has a position of power at the SFA even though he has been found to have been part of the cheating that went on at ibrox.
    PL has decided that the only way we can survive is to have sevco in the SPL.
    The SFA/SPL have decided that the only way Scottish football can survive is to have sevco in the SPL.
    I was talking to a Hearts season ticket holder today – he doesn’t reckon sevco are good enough to get promoted. I told him to wait until xmas time and if they’re struggling we’ll witness all the honest mistakes that we are used to.
    sevco will get promoted with all the help that the authorities can give them and PL, the SFA & the SPL will be happy.

  • 29 August, 2014 at 12:07 am
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    I gave up my season ticket when Longmuir declared that no matter what Rangers were keeping their League Cups. I still find that staggering to this day, this is not sport.
    People will say i am hurting Celtic but i can no longer justify the financial outlay and sponsors obviously feel the same.
    My club is complicit and that’s what hurts the most, everything is geared for the return of the bigot pound.

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