Today, they became the first fans in Britain to take out a full page advertisement in a national newspaper to set the record straight on something the governing bodies and the media would rather not report.
The reasons they did it are contained in the ad itself, but it’s worth stating them here.
The purpose is to correct the historical record as regards the precise legal status of the club that calls itself Rangers, setting out the key facts, instead of the misinterpretations and deliberate twisting of them that usually goes on in the mainstream media.
The use of a national newspaper to convey this message is vital in that regard.
The Internet Bampots have marched onto the ground the media in this country once occupied, but we haven’t yet made it our own.
The reach of the written press is still huge … and as they are the ones who spread much of the disinformation, it is only right that we should use this avenue to correct it.
The very fact that our supporters were willing to pay a national newspaper to run this ad should demonstrate, clearly, the depth of feeling on this issue. This site is 100% supportive of this action, and we want to be clear on that right now.
This was necessary.
A lot of people will misunderstand the gesture as one designed to ramp up tensions, or view it as somehow self-indulgent.
Please don’t see it either way.
In the first place, the ad is designed to dampen down tensions surrounding the coming game at Hampden. Refusing to call this an “Old Firm” game, refusing to treat it as one, is the very best thing Celtic fans can do to combat the media’s typical overblown response to the draw.
Furthermore, I can tell you now that the ad came to the attention of Police Scotland before it was published, and they were perfectly happy with the content.
On Fields of Green also believes the placing of this ad is important.
Football governance in this country has broken down. We have, at the top of the game here, people who are unfit for purpose, people with no skill that we can discern, except in tying themselves, and the game, in knots.
The Rangers-Sevco situation is one of the greatest scandals in the history of sport. It has everything you could want in a best-selling book. It has colourful characters, moments of high drama and low farce, it has scenes in exotic locations and in dirty back street pubs.
This is a story where the unexpected happens every day. If you were pitching it to a publisher as a work of fiction, no-one would touch it as it’s too farfetched.
The Rangers-Sevco situation has done incalculable damage to the game here, and the effects have gone way beyond financial costs, which themselves have been substantial. The damage to the game’s reputation has been much worse.
The notion that Scottish football depends on two teams, and that without one of them in the top flight we have a worthless product is one thing – and dangerous enough on its own – but the notion that the chairmen of our clubs deliberately voted against their own best interests, out of spite, envy and hate, to “relegate” one of these clubs is positively toxic.
It makes our national sport look like a basket case.
For this narrative to stay as the “accepted wisdom” is simply unacceptable.
This is why this needed to be done.
The idea that Scottish football acted vindictively is a slur against the game itself, and it has to be challenged and it has to be put straight, and as the media isn’t prepared to tell the truth without a little poking with a stick, it’s fallen to the fans themselves to take this issue up, and to put the facts in the public domain.
We have members of the press who freely admitted, when Rangers was heading for liquidation, that the integrity of the sport would be adversely affected by granting the newco their place in the league and yet called for it to be done anyway.
They would like us to forget that. They would like us to forget a lot of things that are no longer convenient, or in keeping with the prevailing mood, like the front page headlines mourning the death of the football club they now tell us didn’t die at all.
The governing bodies haven’t helped matters any, with Neil Doncaster, in particular, wading into this issue like a clown trying to cross a minefield.
His scandalous statements at the start of this year – statements which not one single club has contradicted – legitimise debt dumping and promote a general disregard for good governance that is quite literally breath-taking.
That no club has called him out on this seems incredible, until you realise that what he’s done is give them a license to overspend that is tantamount to handing them a blank cheque.
The predictable consequence is that, eventually, other clubs will go the way of Rangers, and unless this madness is stayed it will not be an isolated occurrence, but standard operating practice in the Scottish game.
The effects of that will be colossal as banks and sponsors withdraw, as businesses refuse to deal with Scottish clubs except at exorbitant rates, with cash upfront … and on and on and on.
The dominos don’t stop falling with this one.
Sevco Rangers fans will see this as just another proof that Celtic fans are “obsessed” with their club. The point is nonsensical, and barely worthy of further debate, rooted, as it is, in egomania and viewed through a prism of hate … but nevertheless, it’s a point we’ve tried to address on this site on a number of occasions and will do so once again here.
This is not about Sevco or Rangers, hard as that is for their supporters to believe. Our own position on this is clear enough; a football club’s history is not bricks and mortar. It’s in memories. It is passed down in recollections and stories, and it doesn’t matter what some written record says. It exists not on paper but in the memory of the fans.
If they believe in the continuation of history as an article of faith, then who are any of us to challenge that assertion? Speaking for myself, I feel much the same way about this as I did the Lord Nimmo Smith inquiry, when there was talk of stripping trophies.
Whenever someone asked me if I wanted Celtic to be granted the league titles Rangers won during their period of EBT use, I was, and I remain, emphatic about not wanting them. My memories of Black Sunday and days like that wouldn’t suddenly change and be made better by a decision to retrospectively award us the flag.
Yet with that said, those titles ought to have been taken off Rangers record because it was the right thing to do, and in our considered view that record came to a halt when the club was refused a CVA in 2012.
Fans memories aside, the written record has to reflect the truth, not some version the governing bodies and Rangers supporters wish had happened, otherwise we’re just making up the rules as we go along here.
The idea that football clubs are separate from the companies that own them is lunacy, and it is dangerous lunacy because liquidation is, and ought to be, the ultimate sanction for mis-management, and if it is taken off the table then there really is no disincentive for the people at the helm of clubs indulging their own worst excesses and running them into the ground.
Besides that, the idea itself is based on faulty logic and is fundamentally hazardous.
Here at On Fields of Green we sometimes call this the “Survival Myth.” More specifically, we refer to it as the “First Lie”, because it is the foundation stone for a pyramid of equally ridiculous and dangerous distortions of reality.
Without the First Lie they would not have had the temporary license issue.
They would not have had the Five Way Agreement.
They would not have had the farcical, convoluted nonsense of the transfer ban that somehow allowed enough lee-way for the club to sign eight players.
They would never have had the contradiction of claiming continuation of history without the requisite seeding for the Scottish Cup.
Nor would the SPL have had to give Sevco written guarantees prejudicing the Lord Nimmo Smith Inquiry before it had even begun.
There would have been no need to create the bizarre framework of inconsistencies and paradoxes whereby Sevco and Rangers are interchangeable when punishments are being meted out, with the club sometimes pretending to be one and then the other, and the SFA mirroring that with their own confused, and often incongruous, stance.
Finally, we would not have seen the last few years give birth to what we here call the “Victim Myth”, the notion that Rangers and Sevco have been treated harshly by the rest of the game, and that vindictiveness, if not outright hate, replaced the pursuit of justice in this case.
It’s that which outrages us more than anything else.
What happened in 2012 was something truly special. The people who run Scottish football’s clubs listened to the fans, and put aside their own commercial considerations and did what was right for the integrity of the sport.
In our considered opinion those decisions elevated the stature of our national game, and should have made us a shining beacon to the rest of world football.
The clubs put fairness and justice first. They knew it might cost them, but they did what needed to be done for the greater good.
They rejected, out of hand, the distorting concept that some clubs are “too big to fail” and they restored order, and sanity, to a situation where there was none.
It is something in which we should all take inordinate pride. It was the single finest hour, off the field, in the history of the Scottish game.
Instead of cherishing that, our governing bodies and the media have pandered to the raving mob, and turned the basis of one of our greatest triumphs into something in which, we are told, we should feel nothing but shame.
Our motives have been twisted into an ugly form we do not recognise, and in a manner that we simply should not accept.
The dangers in allowing this notion to become accepted as fact are obvious. The Victim Myth places the blame for the perilous state of Sevco on the shoulders of the other clubs. It absolves the likes of David Murray, Dave King, Charles Green and even Craig Whyte of their responsibility, and it frees the imaginations of the worst elements of the support to run riot, conjuring up conspiracy theories and giving license to the bullet sender and the bomb maker.
As a consequence, it makes next Sunday’s game potentially more volatile than any football match in the recent history of this island.
The Victim Myth and the Survival Myth go hand in hand, one feeding in to the other.
The worst aspect of accepting the notion of Rangers survival is that once you go down that road you cannot help but endorse the notion that the club was treated unfairly.
Without accepting Rangers’ liquidation, and death, you have to conclude that making Sevco start at the bottom was tantamount to cheating, because the “continuation of history” strips all legitimacy from that course of action.
We say it again; to give credence to the Survival Myth is inherently dangerous and creates problems for the future of our game.
This is why the people who organised, and placed, today’s ad are to be applauded for it.
See, whatever else the Sevco Rangers fans might accuse us of, they cannot say we don’t have a settled, consistent, view on these events and what they ought to mean.
Sevco Rangers, as a new club, started where all clubs need to start; at the bottom.
Some rules were bent to fast-track their application, but most of us are willing to accept that. Their status as a new club allowed them to shed all their financial burdens, but that came at the expense of their history.
Furthermore, it’s our view that their status as a new club should have given them blanket immunity from sporting sanctions, including fines and transfer restrictions, which were the province of the liquidated club.
This includes the recent SPFL decision to claw-back £250,000 which was a fine from the LNS case, and which Sevco argues it should not have to pay.
We agree with them on that. The debt rightly belongs to Rangers Football Club, the footballing institution which no longer exists, and we wish Sevco well on their appeal in that case.
But for today, congratulations must go out to the team who raised the money for, and wrote the text of, today’s Sunday Herald full page statement.
It is to their credit that they have taken this step before the coming League Cup semi-final. In doing so they have demonstrated, again, that it’s Scottish football fans, and not the clubs, far less the governing bodies, who are leading the way in fighting for the reputation, and working to safeguard the future, of our national sport.
This statement may carry the “signature” of the Celtic fans, but in truth it is a statement made on behalf of the wider footballing family here.
Today a little bit of history has been made. The media which has played a starring role in spreading the Survival Myth and the Victim Myth will, for once, run the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, albeit on a single page.
Where the clubs didn’t want to go, and where the governing bodies would rather they don’t, the fans have once again stepped in.
I am, today, as ever, proud to call myself an Internet Bampot. This might be a small success, but it’s a victory nonetheless, and it ought to send out a very clear message to the SFA and the SPFL, and that message ought to ring out loud and clear in the boardrooms of the clubs themselves, that we’re not going to let this matter rest until common sense is applied to it, and the truth we all know is written down, and accepted as fact.
Today, for the first time since 2012, that truth is being given a full and proper airing where the widest possible audience can see it.
Do not underestimate the importance of that.
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