You know, sometimes writing for this website is a pleasure and at other times it really does seem like a chore. Lately it’s been the former, but yeah, at times I’ve approached the keyboard with a sigh.
I try to avoid getting into arguments on here these days because they tend to go no place, mostly because those from Planet Sevco who want to engage in them must be disconnected from reality to be coming on with the points they’re making.
The Victim Myth is simply the latest manifestation of this. That was not the first, and I suspect it won’t be the last, peculiar default of logic we’ll hear around these parts.
I want to lay to rest a couple of things here. Why am I bothering, I hear some of you ask? You know, it’s not clear to me either, but as a smarter person than me once said, the beautiful thing about a conversation like this is that you only need to have it once.
Sevco Rangers fans don’t like to debate when you introduce reality into your argument, and since that’s exactly what most of us do they’ve evolved a number of defence mechanisms for dealing with us. Depending on who you’re talking to you’ll get a variation on one or two themes.
These themes are so intellectually hollow it barely seems worth going over them, but I think we have to, so we can drive the wrecking ball through them once and for all.
The first of these is that we are “obsessed” with their club. This line takes a number of different forms, with some of their fans opting simply to use the word itself, offering no elaboration. This is not just lazy, it’s dumb with a capital D, taking “debate” down to the level of the schoolyard, although admittedly, this is better than the level of the gutter, where many of them, sadly, want to drag it.
A recent “evolution” of this argument is that some now ask us why we are so “obsessed” if their club is supposed to be dead. I fail to understand the logic in that one and I don’t even pretend to know where they’re coming from when they deploy it. Usually it’s Sevco Rangers itself we’re discussing, and not the former club, so the basis of the argument is fundamentally flawed from the start, even if the “obsessed” line itself were not puerile.
The crisis that destroyed Rangers brought Scottish football to the brink of anarchy, if not outright ruination, and it was not the “Armageddon” Doncaster and others predicted that nearly did it but the solution they proposed to avert that. Had Sevco Rangers been given an SPL berth the backlash would have been horrendous. The Scottish game would have been wrecked. Fans were not bluffing when they talked about staying away from the sport.
Sevco fans say this was club’s being led by bigots in their support, that it was based on jealousy and hate. You really need to have water on the brain to see it that way. The very nature of sport itself depends on a level playing field, and the idea that a brand new club should be able to enter the league structure at the top level would have made an absolute nonsense of any notion of integrity in the game.
Hate is a language a large number of their supporters understands well, so I’ll leave it to them to pontificate on that, as they’re the real experts on the subject, but jealousy is one that just won’t stand up to scrutiny I’m afraid.
I’ve always looked at their trophy haul and seen it as something for my own club to aspire to beat. Besides, when you consider the taint that’s stuck to much of it, it lacks the shine you might otherwise expect. I know too that there’s not a single Sevco fan who, whether he or she really believes in this nutty notion of continuing the history of a dead club or not, wouldn’t trade at least ten of their titles and any number of their cups to have, in their possession, the big one we brought back from Lisbon. Any jealousy is on the other side of this divide.
Scottish football acted out of necessity, and fairness, and justice. Nothing more.
Let me be clear; if hate and jealousy had motivated the clubs, Sevco would have been playing in the top flight, because there was no legal avenue for “relegating” Rangers from the SPL because of debt.
It did not happen that way. What we all objected to was a brand new club skipping the queue and being granted a league place based on nothing but the size of their support and their stadium, and some bluster about this being needed for the “good of the game.”
The reason myself and others write so much on this subject is because the NewCo is headed the same way as the previous tenants of Ibrox, and some of us are, justifiably, concerned that the authorities will try the same thing all over again if it ends in total meltdown, as it very well might considering the shambles over there right now.
Some of us care about the game. Some of us are interested in more than just what goes on with our own clubs. The Sevco situation is a volcano waiting to erupt, and those of us who want what is best for football in Scotland don’t want to wait until this situation is upon us again before we start organising against it.
Added to that is the fact we’re scrutinising it because no-one else wants to. The press would rather spoon feed the Sevco supporters fantasies about saviors from South Africa or elsewhere, or pander to the barmy wing who think speeding their club towards the graveyard is the way to help it.
This is not obsession at all. It’s self-defence.
Which brings me to their intellectual dishonesty in pushing this line about the “survival” of their club, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Ah, they will say, but a number of other organisations have confirmed that they “live”. They will list these organisations for you and then smugly wait for you to choke on your words. It always makes me smile when they do this, because it reminds me of the moment in Orwell’s 1984 when Winston Smith debates rationality and sanity with O’Brien, concluding that these things are not a matter of statistics.
2 plus 2 equals 4 however many people say otherwise, and that equation does not change even if you are the only person saying it.
Of course the SFA agrees Rangers did not die. These were the people who told us the game was facing Armageddon and the nation “social unrest” if the club was allowed to collapse. They believe the game needs Rangers, something I’ve always disputed and will continue to dispute all the way up to the moment the plug is pulled on the life support machine which is keeping the current incumbents of Ibrox going.
The fact is, they did collapse and die, and what rose in their place was a Frankenstein’s Football Club which it’s in some people’s interests to pretend is the same one as before.
Just because people choose to promote this nonsense, and others believe it with the fanaticism of a religious convert, it does not alter the simple facts.
The company and the club were one and when the company died the club went with it. What emerged in its place was a brand new entity, as evidenced by a new company number. The very people at the SFA who are promoting the notion of the club’s survival issued a new SFA membership to this one, and tried to secure an SPL share for them. Had the club survived, as they maintain, it would already have had one of those.
The same applied to the license they vacated. The one Sevco has is brand new, and we know this because they were granted the first “temporary” one in the history of our sport before they got it.
I could go on and talk about the mysterious Club 12, the Scottish Cup seeding they didn’t get, I could point to all the press releases out of Ibrox at the time that made it clear what not getting a CVA meant, to the players who were allowed to leave (they were, apparently, contracted to a company, not a club … funny that, eah?) and what nearly every newspaper hack in the country wrote, including Jim Traynor who ended up on the opposite side of his own statements when he started taking their money … but you get the point.
I’ve even, on occasion, asked their fans what happened to Gretna if clubs in Scotland don’t die, and I was given the amusing answer that Gretna weren’t saved because no-one would take on their debts. It takes some mental gymnastics to argue that one, when the whole purpose of the Sevco vehicle in the first place was to make sure Rangers own debts went to the grave with the club.
Gretna could have done exactly what Sevco did if this nonsense about clubs not dying had any basis in reality at all. Why didn’t they? They’d have had to reapply to join the league, start from the bottom and rebuild the team … but surely those things were better than the alternative, right?
Wrong. Gretna died and their fans acknowledged that simple fact and got on with it. They didn’t reapply to join the league setup. Those amongst their supporters who wanted to continue watching a team bearing that name now follow a local club called Gretna 2008, in the full understanding that it’s a NewCo with no connection to the old one at all.
Hearts fans were bracing themselves for death not long ago. Dunfermline fans saw their own side flirting briefly with the Reaper before pulling back from the brink. It’s almost happened to Dundee, to Motherwell, to Hamilton, to Morton and a host of other clubs, and what galls the Sevco fans so much is not what happened to their team at all, because ultimately they’ve embraced this “continuation of history” nonsense like a comfort blanket, but the fact they’re one of only a handful of clubs in this fair land who’ve ever fallen off that cliff.
In that, their auspicious place in our football history is up there with Airdrie, Gretna, Third Lanark and those others who headed into the darkness of administration and never came out on the other side. Their argument that they didn’t die means those other clubs must live on somewhere, but like many others I’ve made the pilgrimage to Scottish football’s most famous graveyard at Cathkin Park and, believe me, no-one is playing football there save for the ghosts.
It galls them that this could happen to them, with their notions of supremacy and of being something special. Too big to fail, they proudly boast … except that they did. Tell it to the guys at Lehman Brothers, folks. They thought the same thing and their own history came to a shuddering, juddering and final stop.
They were the most successful club in world football. That’s another one you hear a lot, as though this was, in itself, a talisman. I would direct them to an article I wrote last year for a full answer to that point, but for those who can’t be bothered looking for it I’ll sum it up in its title and a few additional words.
Empires fall. It happened to Athens, to Carthage, to Rome, to imperial France, to the Soviet Union and there was even a day when Britain’s own stretched from Australia to America. Where is that now? The wispy trails of it can be found in Glasgow at this moment, in the remnants of The Commonwealth, but as Alex Salmond reminded a London based hack who thought he’d try using the existence of that as a stick to beat the Yes campaign with, those countries are all independent now anyway and some of them wanted it badly enough to fight for it.
Yes, empires fall and only a madman thinks a Scottish football club can resist the tide of history and the kind of forces which determine the fate of nations.
Lately I’ve heard another odd piece of rationalising, and it’s that our scrutiny and “obsession” is a product of fear. This is the most laughable of all.
First, what exactly are we to be afraid of? I’ve said before that it doesn’t really matter whether this is a new club or a bizarre continuation of the old one. The consequence, in terms of football in this country, is exactly the same. The Rangers we grew up with is gone, and it’s gone forever. There will be no more Laudrup’s or Gazza’s. The days when they could spend money with reckless abandon, always believing someone else would pick up the tab … they are over with.
McCoist might still act like Posh Spice on cocaine with a gold Amex card, yet even this has limitations which make my point for me. He’s not spending it in Harrods here, not even M&S. He’s haggling down at the 99p shop instead and this isn’t an anomaly or the result of them playing in a lower league. It’s something their supporters had better get used to because it’s the way it’s going to be for them for the foreseeable future.
I ask you, in all seriousness, is being afraid usually accompanied by frequent outbursts of laughter? Does it always come with ice cream and jelly? Does fearing a team usually entail praying you get them in a cup competition, so you can inflict a beating their grandkids (who will be Celtic fans) will still be giggling about in fifty years?
Are we supposed to be worried that Graham “120 day review” Wallace will suddenly find skills he’s never had in his career before? There might not seem to be many comparisons between Man City and Sevco, but his performance at both clubs was strikingly similar in that he presided over huge rises in the level of debt. Does he sound like a guy who’s going to turn things around?
Should we be concerned about moves to appoint a fans board? What exactly are Dingwall, Graham and the rest of The Brains Trust going to do that should scare us? Do they have a plan for attracting investment and getting Messi on board with lower league football in Scotland?
Are we meant to be worried about Ally? The only time I would be afraid of something McCoist might do is if I was in front of him in Greggs and I snapped up the last of the chocolate donuts.
Is it Dave King we’re supposed to fear? The man who’s passed up so many chances to “invest” in the club he purports to love that they should fit a revolving door at Ibrox just for him? Should we fear the return of Walter and his consortium? Malcolm Murray, and his pals? Should we be afraid of another takeover panel from Ulster, or more signs of interest from Russian mobsters? Is Club 8 Sport still waiting in the wings, bored of second division ice hockey?
Sevco doesn’t scare me, or any Celtic fan I know, but what’s more I know for a fact that Aberdeen fans, Dundee Utd fans, Motherwell fans, St Mirren fans and the supporters of the other SPL clubs are equally unafraid. Hearts and Hibs fans are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of taking their revamped sides to Ibrox and turning them over.
It is not fear, it is not hate, it is not obsession. We enjoyed watching The Peepil sitting on the side-lines as their club sunk like a stone, and we’re enjoying the shambles as those same people try to save its pale imitation without the first clue as to how to do it.
The truth is, Armageddon never happened. Scottish football is in as good a shape as it’s been for years, as Aberdeen and St Johnstone’s good results in Europe last week demonstrate quite well. Even Celtic’s abject failure to do better in the cup competitions these last few years has worked out rather nicely for everyone else in the game, as it’s given a taste of success to clubs that haven’t had it for years, and in St Johnstone a club that hadn’t had it before. Those clubs are not simply going to abandon all hope because Sevco fans are engaging in their usual bluster. They’re going to keep on improving and building on what they’ve already done.
Look, for example, at Dundee Utd, who bagged a small fortune for Gauld and might be about to bag another right few quid for Armstrong. There is not a player in the whole of the Sevco Rangers squad who could have come close to commanding the fee Utd got for the teenage winger, and Armstrong’s value is probably greater than half their squad combined. When did you ever know that to be the case? When did you ever know Hibs to snatch a player from under Rangers’ nose, yet Scott Allan will be lining up for them, instead of Sevco.
Stripped bare of all their bluster, Sevco Rangers fans are lashing out in every direction for someone to blame for all this when the answer is looking at them in the mirror. They are responsible for this mess because they didn’t give affairs at their club even half the scrutiny we did.
When Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster predicted Armageddon they were talking about something devastating that befell every club in Scotland, as a consequence of not helping Sevco get on their feet. Scottish football said no. Armageddon didn’t happen.
Armageddon was averted. Everywhere except at Ibrox.
Ain’t irony a bitch?
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