And You Dare To Call Us Sectarian?

133605071-c2bc15dd-b8a9-4c80-ab0d-7e6454f88526-1“No, no, no, it’s not ok, it’s not going to be ok, and I’ll tell you why.

Because you’re fair game, so I hope your knickers are clean because every seat-sniffing little shi@bag that’s ever filed a by-line is gonna be questioning you!

Because now it’s in the f@@@@@@ public interest, isn’t it? And they are gonna hit you with any sh@t they can find and you’re gonna be spread out in front of them like a trollop in the stocks!” – Malcolm Tucker.

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. We’ve all heard that expression, right? I am amazed at the number of times you catch folk out doing just that.

Supporters do it all the time. This week is the first time – and it ought to be the last time – that a football club does it. Sevco’s statement on the behaviour of our fans was disgraceful, but it was also kind of amazing, in that way watching a posing twat walking into a lamp post is. Being lectured on sectarianism by their board of directors … it is jaw-dropping.

You could write an entire dissertation on the shameful baggage that clubs at Ibrox have carried everywhere with them, from a sectarian signing policy to UEFA fines for the song-book. But you don’t have to go as far back as that, all the way to the OldCo to find scandal and hate wafting down the Marble Staircase at you. You don’t even have to dig as far as the on-pitch outrage at Linfield just over a week ago, although that’s an excellent case in point.

No, you only have to look at the day itself to realise that Sevco’s sanity smashing statement about what their fans had to “endure” stank like a week old corpse. It takes formidable brazenness to point that self-righteous fury at another club’s fans when your own behaved, on the same day, like the lowest order degenerate scum.

I’ve written about the behaviour of a small number of Celtic fans over on The CelticBlog, so as far as I’m concerned anyone who wants to accuse me of whatabouttery here can bin it. This isn’t about that. Did some of our fans let us down? Damned right. This is about not wanting – not being willing – to be lectured by anyone who’s double standard is quite so pronounced.

These people aren’t even hiding their own hatred; they wear it front and centre.

Some of them have said the effigies were a reference to suicide, timed to offend their fans and one of their former players, on a day which sought to raise awareness of the issue. I’ll tell you right now that I had no idea Saturday was Suicide Awareness Day and the vast majority of our supporters would have been equally clueless about it.

But of course, they will believe what they want to, that our fans learned this and timed their actions accordingly.

Well it was also the anniversary of Jock Stein’s death. I don’t know whether their fans knew that or not, but there were at least two banners on full display referencing a certain scandal. Did their fans time that well, or was it a coincidence?

I’m happy to accept the coincidence explanation, and not because I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt or because I think the milk of human kindness runs through their veins, but simply because some of these gutter rats fly those banners everywhere they go and have been smearing the great man’s name for years.

So they don’t get to talk about hate, or targeting individuals who were at their club.

They don’t get to make that accusation whilst there are scum amongst their number flying those flags.

We’re not standing for it, not putting up with that.

And I’ll go on, because the National Famine Memorial Day – commemorating the victims of the Great Hunger – was the day after the game, and our club wore a logo on their shirts in recognition of that fact. Did their fans know that? I neither know nor care, but they spent much of the game singing the sectarian, illegal, bigoted dirge entreating us to “go home.”

Coincidence? Who cares?

They’ve been doing it so long no-one even notices anymore.

On top of that we were “treated” to various renditions of The Billy Boys, with its expressions of joy about being up to their knees in our blood. That song is also illegal, and for a while it wasn’t being heard in the Ibrox stands. Now it’s back, as ubiquitous as it ever was, part of that “unique Ibrox atmosphere” Warburton and others go on about so much.

The sight of those effigies at Celtic Park made my skin crawl, but no more than those Sevco fans themselves once brought to Ibrox, one called Green and the other Whyte.

They can spare me the sermon on how vicious the image of the hanging dolls was, because as horrendous as they were their own had names, and wore suits, and did not represent an impersonal generic “they” but were specific, targeted, like one I saw once of “Neil Lennon” and those you see on the top of the Loyalist bonfires every year in July, like the one in the picture at the top of this article, the hanging effigy of Gerry Adams.

And what’s that he’s wearing?

Oh yes, it’s a Celtic top.

“But that didn’t hang from the stands at Ibrox ..” is doubtless the refrain I’ll hear on that, but it doesn’t take much imagination to draw the line from the people who hung that ugly thing and those the club’s players and officials – including some of the hypocrites who okayed that statement – were photographed posing with in Linfield the weekend before last.

Club 1872 can bite me as well; their own foaming at the mouth statement contained an oblique reference to our fans’ support for the people of Palestine, and what do you know? They’ve got a new logo, the six pointed star, so similar to the one on the flag of Israel.

I shake my head at the lamentable nature of that, and marvel at the mind who came up with it.

They will appropriate anything to score cheap points, but this one’s espcially delicious considering their history of Nazi salutes and the undercurrent of far-right, fascist sympathy that runs through their support like a virus. And let them wail about how it’s a Red Hand Salute instead, as if commemorating the killing of Catholics is somehow a better proposition than celebrating the murder of Jews.

Because as they and their media acolytes like to remind us, it’s the visual image that reeks; it’s not what people intend something to be it’s what other people think it is.

See? I too can utilise that particular weapon.

I’ll tell you what; their club and its shareholders group can give us the big talk when they get their own house in order.

They can point their fat ignorant fingers at Celtic Park when they’ve pointed them into their own stands first and said, with loud voices for everyone to hear, “You lot … clear out.”

But that will never happen, because as Rangers was built on the back of barely legal bank largesse, the NewCo, from the moment of its inception, from the moment Charles Green stood on a pitch in front of the media and said that Rangers had been targeted by bigotry and hate – birthing the Victim Lie in all its unholy splendour – was built on bile and hatred, all the better to spoon money out of gullible fools simultaneously preaching their supremacy whilst lamenting the reach and the influence of their myriad, fictious enemies.

Talk about an exercise in doublethink.

This lot are so far outside the margins of reasonable behaviour now that it makes your head throb trying to imagine what they are thinking inside that crumbling ruin of theirs, but see, that crumbling ruin is the point, that wreckage of a football club is the real issue, because if their supporters weren’t all focussed on this kind of nonsense they might instead be focussed on that, because there are real issues there and real problems looming.

But this board knows its audience.

They know its fans.

They know they can get away with anything, anything at all, if they blame every failure on somebody else.

They can blame us for what they like, as they tried with Motherwell fans, as they attempted to do with Hibs supporters. Aberdeen fans will be next, you wait and see, after they leave Pittodrie with a hiding and the gap is even wider than now.

They could go round the block for the whole of this season, hitting every club one at a time or all in one shot, throwing blame hither thither and yon. The media can get behind it, or ignore the double standard, as they like. But sooner or later a reckoning will come, with their own supporters if not with the governing bodies or the legal system.

Until then, this whole country – and their club too – would benefit from a long, enforced period of dignified silence over there. I don’t expect it, because dignity is another word they simply don’t understand any longer … if they ever did.

At a time when the mainstream media can’t even be trusted to cover the biggest sports story in the history of this island sites like this one are more important than ever. If you are able to, and you want to help real Scottish football journalism, and not the sort you get in the tabloids, you can make a donation by clicking the link below.

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Our Anger Over This Continuing “Old Firm” Insult Is What Must Drive Us On Today.

Celtic F.C.Today Sevco will play against Celtic at our home ground, for the very first time. Two matches at Hampden against a Ronny Deila team have lulled some of these players into a false sense of security. Some of them have never been in an atmosphere like this in their lives.

The media has hyped this game up, as they will forever more. I’m resigned to that fact, but it should give us the upper hand more often than not, because as long as we’re in front of their club they are the ones who have to rise to the occasion.

I don’t want to get into knocking Ronny today; that’s an era at our club that delivered two titles and he deserves credit for that. But in two matches against Sevco we never once showed the limits of our superiority, except for a spell in the first one. It was as if, in that tie, we played within ourselves, treating it as a simple exercise in going through.

I was delighted at the time, but it’s burned me since. We ought to have stuck six past them that day, and I will never fully understand what stopped us from doing so. They were a demoralised shambles, ripe for us handing out a right good tanking.

The second game was a disgrace, pure and simple, with the most negative tactics I’ve ever seen administered by a Celtic boss in a domestic cup match. Back in the days when Rangers were around, I saw Celtic managers who went into those games spectacularly outgunned, but until Hampden last year I never saw one go out and play for a draw.

Brendan Rodgers is not Ronny Deila; he understands what drives our club. He gets it, and as long as the media wants to call this a Celtic – Rangers game, I expect him to approach it as if it were, whilst understanding that we’re much the superior team. In short, I expect him to feel the same raw emotion as we do, the same will to administer the football equivalent of a punishment beating today. This mob are more than just jumped up upstarts; they are vain, arrogant, boastful, prideful and in need of bringing rapidly, and painfully, back to Earth.

Today should hurt. Today should be psychologically wrecking. We should start at high speed and not stop until the final whistle. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Barcelona in midweek is a much more important game, but that should not be used as an excuse or a reason to be soft today. Our players and our manager know how important this one is.

The existence of Sevco, playing in the guise of Rangers, the assertion that they are one in the same, is an insult to every club in the land, but Celtic especially.

Because we’re the club who was damaged most in the era of Ibrox cheating, and we are the club the media endlessly tries to shoehorn into this corrupt notion of a rivalry based on hate, and it doesn’t matter what we as supporters say or do. This website has written a thousand times that we want nothing to do with this. I wrote it on E-Tims and on The CelticBlog, and every other Celtic blogger is unanimous in saying the same.

I can’t put it more plainly than to say this; every single word I’ve written on that club in the last four years has been a reaction to this debased idea. As a Celtic fan and a Celtic blogger I do not want any part in this media inspired, PR fantasy and I don’t care whether they call themselves after the OldCo, accept they’re a NewCo or get fully on board, at last, with the facts as we know them; just leave us out of it.

Stop trying to drag us into your grubby circle.

I care about the Survival Lie only inasmuch as it affects Celtic and the reason I am such a passionate advocate of calling this what it is, is that as long as the media pretends they are Rangers they will drag us into the swamp chained to the hated Old Firm term.

So, I suggest this; if the media and their supporters put their guns away, I’ll put away mine. I’ll stop banging on about them being a NewCo. Hell, I’ll even stop calling them Sevco. As long as they accept, at last, that Celtic fans could care less, and just want shot of them.

Take this millstone from around our necks, consign that ugly phrase and loathed tag to the dustbin of history, treat this like just another game, and as far as I’m concerned they can get on with pretending to be whatever the Hell they want and I’ll be as happy to indulge their fantasy as I would be to grant the local glue sniffer his fairies at the bottom of the garden.

Because all I care about is the well-being of my club, and this rancid association and its toxic connotations has been smothering us for far too long.

Back in 2012, when liquidation and death overwhelmed them, any number of their fans and media apologists clung to the idea that, deep down, we needed them and wanted them, as if they were necessary to validate our own existence.

Over the four years of Sevco, one of the things that’s bothered them most is the slow dawning realisation that we weren’t even remotely kidding … if they’d been swallowed up completely and no version of them ever rose again, we wouldn’t have missed them far less mourned them.

They call us obsessed anyway, not recognising for a second that nearly every single word on this blog and others in relation to them has been written from the perspective of people who are happy their club is dead and would be even happier if no version of it existed at all. They can call that hate as they like, but I’ve seen what real hate looks like.

I grew up sharing a city and a country with it, and it didn’t flow from their ordinary supporters, amongst whose ranks I’ve had colleagues, relations, great love affairs and lifelong friendships. No, it flowed from the institution itself, because it was built on that emotion, marketed on it and for years thrived by sucking greedily at every morsel of that hate which spilled into the public sphere. I am entitled to hate the institution a little because of it.

What was it Liam Neeson said in Michael Collins?

“I do hate them. I hate them for making hate necessary.”

When Sevco was formed, it had a chance to consign that hate to the grave.

It didn’t.

It used it as a foundation stone, and so along with the Survival Lie the Victim Lie was born.

They say that Scottish football depends on them, and Celtic most of all.

Paul67 is the guy I credit with best getting right to the heart of the matter; “Whichever part of my club is dependent on Rangers, I am quite willing to lose,” he said, in 2012. He spoke for a great many of us that day, almost every single person I know.

But one of the many truths they just can’t face is that Scottish football thrived without all this, even as every day at Ibrox there was another psychodrama in the media. Four long years of their dirty laundry, hanging out there for everyone to see, as they struggled to stay relevant in a world which wouldn’t have given a shit that they were there at all but for the constant wailing, like a child trying to get attention.

Yet strip it all down and what do you find?

You find the real obsession.

You find the real dependency.

It’s all tied up in the Old Firm tag.

Because they are like a junkie who just can’t kick the habit.

They need it, like a vampire needs blood; they need it for their very survival.

You never read reference to the Old Firm on Celtic sites unless, like here, we’re denying we want any part of it, but it is promoted, endlessly, on theirs, along with the pitiful, almost pleading, suggestion that without it we’d be less than what we are … which is their way of admitting that without it they would be absolutely nothing at all.

Because they do define themselves by this rivalry, and in the end it’s all they’ve got, the one thing they cling to that makes them important in a world that otherwise would have passed them by a long, long time ago. Their backward, irredeemably narrow appeal renders them insignificant without the Old Firm name because without that who outside of Scotland would even care they existed at all?

I believe Celtic survives quite well without it.

Our existence as a football club and a social institution neither relies on nor is helped by an ugly PR invention at the end of which are fist-fights and stabbings and drunken yobs fighting in the street and the promotion over and over and over again of blind hate.

Today I want us to win, and I want us to win big, and it’s not because they are our biggest rivals.

It’s because they aren’t.

It’s not because we’re participants, willing or otherwise, in this rivalry they call the Old Firm.

It’s because we’re not and we don’t want to be.

I want the win, the big win, because I want to be done with this nonsense once and for all, and I’ve come to believe that the best way to do is to expose the lie for what it is, but not by UEFA letters or media admissions, or changing the minds of their ridiculous fans … the best way to do it is to burst the fantasy bubble, to expose this idea to the ridicule it deserves, to destroy the notion that this is a rivalry at all.

Because once that illusion is gone, I think the Ibrox operation will collapse, and then we might well get what we should have in 2012 … a world where the Old Firm tag is never used to define our football club again.

If there was ever a good reason for wanting to see our team win a game, that’s surely it.

In Brendan We Trust.

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A Toxic Association: How A Soldiers Charity Has Been Dragged Into The Ibrox Civil War

Brits_At_Ibrox_September2013Tomorrow, the Chilcot Report will be published and the clamour will start in Westminster about what it actually says and means.

I suspect it’ll say little and mean less than what we already know about the Iraq War, that it was an un-necessary disaster with consequences that continue to reverberate around the world.

Iraq had a profound, life changing, effect on me.

I was involved in the public campaign to stop that war. Our failure to do it destroyed my faith in the political process and plunged me into a deep personal state of anger and frustration that lasted for years. The demons were exorcised only after I’d written a book and took some time to process my thoughts on it all. I don’t kid myself that I’m over it. I’ll never get over it, but I don’t regard myself as someone who bore the full brunt of it either.

There are millions of people who did.

Some are alive. Most are dead.

Some of those who died wore military uniforms emblazoned with the Union Flag. Those who mourn them say they died for us; actually, they died for US and British politicians and oil interests. Their courage is no less because of it, but Chilcot is important because his report will acknowledge that fact and I expect we’ll see something incredible, a Labour Party leader who’ll stand up in Parliament and apologise for that decision and condemn his predecessor, the man who took it before most of us were even aware.

That apology is overdue.

To the people of Iraq first, and those in the wider Middle East which our actions plunged into turmoil which continues today. It’s also due to the families and friends of the servicemen and women who that government sent over there to fight, some to die, on a false prospectus.

It amazes me that those people would ever trust our political leaders again, and that isn’t good for any of us because we have a volunteer army in this country and it relies on that trust if it’s to keep recruiting.

Let’s face it, we’ll run out of soldiers long before we run out of wars for the politicians to send them to.

The reason I mention this is that tonight a story’s broken about a Sevco fan group allegedly using a website to sell merchandise bearing the Help for Heroes logo, without that organisation’s permission.

Congratulations to James Doleman on breaking that.

The website has been told to desist from doing this – probably under a legal threat – but that they did it in the first place is telling for a number of reasons, and that story segues into a much bigger one that’s bubbling away under the surface, which is that of the Sevco fan groups themselves and their expanding civil war which is going to make Labour’s look tame.

There are major problems at Ibrox, most of which the press won’t bother to fill you in on. They’ve been there for the past couple of years but King has been able to slap a sticking plaster on the bigger ones up until now, knowing even so that this isn’t going to hold forever. Blood still oozes out of a dozen open wounds and the time for changing the dressing on those he’s patched up is long since overdue.

Infections are spreading, and one of them is going to kill the patient stone dead.

This time there’ll be no SFA inspired recovery.

Their need for funds has ignited the war inside the fan organisations, and the realisation is dawning on a lot of folk that those groups are now in the hands of people who’ve got no interest in the wider support or the stated objectives those organisations were set up with. Of particular interest is the fate of Rangers First, a fan group which was established to purchase shares in the club and give the fans a real say in how it was run.

That organisation has effectively been subsumed by a larger umbrella group called Club 1872. Those who support that change like to remind people that the decision was taken by a vote of the members, most of whom had as much knowledge of the inner workings of that organisation as the average voter had of the European Union.

We know what happened when that subject was put to a referendum recently.

Things are murky at best.

Rangers First was set up in the aftermath of a liquidation; the members who formed it offered real leadership to a traumatised and shell-shocked support who needed it more than they ever had.

The plan – and it’s a noble and just one – was to seek influence with the board without getting too close to it. They were there to hold people to account, to do what people like Paul Murray and Dave King had failed to when they were directors at Rangers.

Fans raised money, as much as any fan collective in the country.

It’s to their immense credit that they put it in a bank account and established a commitment to using it only for the purchasing of parcels of shares as they became available. No-one could have begrudged them that. It looked like being the perfect working model for other fan organisations who wanted a say in the running of the clubs they loved.

That all looks set to end in tears amidst bitterness, acrimony and toxic mistrust and that’s not for nothing because £500,000 of their cash is already gone, and I’d guess it will never see the light of day again.

It was “loaned” to the club itself, to a board led by the self-same directors Murray and King who so failed in their own due diligence, on an unsecured basis with no repayment schedule to speak of.

It’s a gross insult to everyone who put their money in.

Three members of the Rangers First board have already resigned over this decision. Some inside the organisation talk about a culture of secrets and of boardroom influence in its running. One of the directors cited the involvement in Rangers First of James Blair, who is actually on the board of the club itself, as clear a conflict of interests as you could wish to see.

Opposition to this loan was widespread, and concerns over the nature of it were raised in public before the vote was taken and continue to be raised today. According to one source, at a recent symposium of supporters groups from clubs all across the country, the Rangers First team stunned the room by asking a representative from another Supporters Trust who’d given their own club a loan, whether they’d have agreed to a proposal that came without security or any timeframe attached.

They were told that would have been simply unthinkable.

That club’s fans got the same security as a bank would have asked for, and they’ll see each and every penny of their cash back.

This is just an abysmal turn of events, and even the hardest heart has to break for the guys who sunk their cash into this scheme because they were sceptical of the direction of their club, intent on holding its board to account, only for that money to be appropriated by the directors to plug holes in their own financial plan. You feel sick for those guys; they are ordinary supporters just like us and no matter how much we might laugh at times, these guys are victims here of an unscrupulous bunch who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Divide and conquer appears to be the tactic of the day, and you have to bear in mind that this is a battle being waged in part by the club against their own fans. So they favour some reps but not others. They invite some for tea and biscuits whilst the rest wait outside the door. Some are given reason to believe there’ll be seats around the boardroom table eventually, and in the meantime there are soft ones in or near the director’s box. Other fans are marginalised, shunted into the cold.

Those who speak out or question this … well there are forums that just love to flame grill these people, even going through their personal lives for information to hurt them.

It is low order stuff, for high stakes.

Rangers First could have raised £1 million by the end of this year and there are people out there making a nice living on the margins of this and they’ve got a vested interest in keeping the faith with King and his boardroom.

After all, with the club at war with its merchandising partner and the intellectual property up for grabs you could be talking about a multi-million pound operation run by a few “fans” if King grants them the franchise, as many believe is on the cards.

This is quite literally a fight for the integrity of the fan groups, but it’s also about big money and the politics of the club itself and we ought not to forget, or ignore, that. It has implications for Scottish football too; who knows who might emerge as leading the “official” fan organisation? Who knows what paranoid theories, ideas or ideology might be governing the second biggest support in the country?

That affects everyone who follows football here, not just the supporters of that club, many of whom would love dearly to drag it back from the knuckleheads and corrupt individuals who have their claws in it right now.

Will these groups be separate entities whose job is to provide the scrutiny the media won’t, or will they be populated by subservient creatures of the board, indirect fund raising conduits doing the job King promised to do himself?

When you look at it like that, it’s little wonder that a lot of people within these organisations are asking tough questions.

It’s a monumentally important issue.

Which is why the fight over it is has gotten so dirty.

Frankly, nothing is beyond King and his cohort.

Why should we be surprised that they’re openly trying to divide their own fans?

They’ve played the sectarian card in an effort to divide the whole of Scottish football. They’ve got their hooks deep into the media, spinning outright lies about “over-investment”, blowing the Victim Myth to spectacular levels. They sabotaged the club’s stock exchange listing and were thrown off the exchange, just so they could conduct their “business” in total secret, away from prying eyes, as some of us explicitly said they’d do when they were flatly denying that. Even some of the money they’ve “raised” is of questionable origin; this site is not the only one to look into the £5 million “loan” they got from the Far East, which some, myself included, believe could have come from King himself, laundered through a company in which he has a level of control.

This, of course, would be a criminal act; money laundering, in effect.

Yet it’s also a crime to use market sensitive information to destabilise a company’s share price so that you and others can pick up a controlling interest on the cheap; stories to that effect are doing the rounds too, and this goes back to when King and his people took over.

Tonight, Help For Heroes has told a website that raises money for Club 1872 to remove listings which include merchandise bearing their logo. I have no idea who told them about that, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the information came from within one of the fan groups who make up the structure of that umbrella organisation.

That drags Help For Heroes into the ongoing saga of this club and links their cause to Sevco’s chronic need for cash, in an unsavoury episode that shows some of the people involved with the club at their very lowest and running worst.

And this is the inevitable PR catastrophe that was always coming here, an outcome every bit as predictable as it is disastrous for a public body and registered charity that allowed itself to become far too close to this football club, its fans and the people who run it for its own good.

They were warned, and some within its ranks have harboured grave concerns about it for a while.

Those chickens have come home to roost.

In Aesop’s famous fable The Farmer and the Stork, the titular characters encounter one another when the stork is caught in a snare the farmer has laid out in his field. It wasn’t for the stork; indeed, it was set up to catch cranes and geese who were stealing crops. The farmer kills the stork anyway, over its protests, being caught, as it was, “in the company of thieves.”

The military association with this club has always been a bad reflection on the troops. There were obvious dangers in becoming too closely associated with it, and if the footage of serving soldiers singing sectarian songs didn’t do it, and the sight of others holding up flags emblazoned with loyalist paramilitary paraphernalia wasn’t enough then this scandal tonight should be the moment where a lot of the brass take a deep breath and extricate the armed services from what goes on at that ground; everything from the sale of scarves with the RAF logo beside the old Rangers badge to the annual lunacy of Armed Forces Day and all the negative publicity that ensues.

Why it was allowed to go this far I have no idea, and what makes tonight especially repulsive is not just the suspicion that some of the money raised from the sale of these shirts will find its way into the Ibrox coffers but the simple and breath-taking presumption of putting that logo on them in the first place, without asking permission.

That permission was just assumed; people within Sevco simply make no distinction any longer between Help For Heroes, the Armed Forces and the club. One is seen as serving the interests of the other as if James Blair was sitting on those boards as well. That level of cynical appropriation of something much bigger and more substantial than a football club is hard to comprehend soberly.

Chilcot’s report and the reaction to it will go some way towards restoring the trust members of the armed services have in government again; it’s to be hoped so anyway. We owe those people more than to send them to fight and perhaps die on the basis of lies.

That’s a disgusting and shameful moment in the history of this country.

The military needs to be seen to be above politics, and outside of its scope.

Yet tonight, on the eve of that report, some of its patrons are involved in yet another political scandal, a low-grade grubby one, over money and who controls a football team, and some will say they only have themselves to blame for it because they’ve failed to draw a line between the two before now.

At a time when the armed forces are gearing up for a busy time ahead they can’t afford to be perceived here, in Scotland, as the plaything of a football club that stands for such a narrow range of interests and ideas, some of which are anathema to a very many of us.

This is an unfolding story.

I don’t believe it’ll be the last article I post on it.

At a time when the mainstream media can’t even be trusted to cover the biggest sports story in the history of this island sites like this one are more important than ever. If you are able to, and you want to help real Scottish football journalism, and not the sort you get in the tabloids, you can make a donation by clicking the link below.

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A Union Jack, A Six Pack & Away They Go

England-fans-during-Euro--012If you’ve been watching the news over the last couple of days you’ll know that there’s been trouble in Marseilles, as England fans fought running battles with Russians, local supporters and the police.

Yesterday’s violence inside and around the stadium appears to have been caused by black shirted neds from the Moscow clubs, but in running into the square where white shirted EU sceptics had been holding court for days, telling everyone who’d listen that they’d taken over the city, the hooligans found willing participants for a right good rammy.

Sure, many of the wide-boys of yesteryear regretted it soon afterwards; after all, these are the “large donner kebab and a chicken pakora” sons of cities like Birmingham and Wolverhampton who perhaps thought holding court of a Saturday afternoon down in the Duck & Lion public house meant that they were hard.

As unbelievable as it sounds, Russian hooligans actually train for violence and most of them have the tools for it, as they’re all ex-national service lads. You’d do well to find a flabby gut amongst them. These guys weren’t the least bit intimidated by the “pride of the isle.”

In fact, they’ve been looking forward to meeting these folks for many years.

Nevertheless, whilst the white shirted louts were able to remain upright (a state of being that ended shortly after that first moment when an English fist met with an incoming face and said Englishman was shocked not to see fear in the others eyes but a steely kind of amusement) the Assorted Nutjobs of Bristol were game enough to stand their ground and give it a go.

The media has called this The English Disease; this arrogant booze fuelled lunacy best summed up on a TV documentary I saw where Darren Wells, a former member of Combat 18 and now a police informer, told the film-makers that it was all about being an “island race”, about how England once conquered the world, and how his kind of people wanted to make sure that when they visited a foreign city the people there remembered it for years afterwards.

One suspects he wasn’t talking about the way people in Seville remember Celtic fans.

What might not be as well know to some of you is that Northern Irish fans were also involved in violence over the weekend, fighting with Polish fans, police and locals in Nice. There’s no word to suggest that Welsh supporters were involved in similar with Slovakians or anyone else and I guess I don’t need to tell you that this never happens with Ireland fans and the notion that Scotland supporters would go abroad and riot is frankly ridiculous.

England has a peculiar problem, but as the behaviour of Ulster’s Finest proves it’s not one that is limited to them, and we don’t need to look too close to home to find another set of fans who have many of the same issues. Sevco supporters – and Rangers fans before them – have a similar disturbing tendency and without turning this into a sociology paper I’m going to take a stab at the reason why, and it’s relatively simple; it’s the Union Jack.

Now, England fans are rarely seen with it; they prefer the St George flag.

Northern Irish fans prefer their own take on the same, with their red hand in the middle.

Only a very few of them fly the old flag of blood and war, which some of us call the Butchers Apron.

But that’s part of the problem, you see, because the crazier elements amongst those two supports – and amongst the Sevco one – have their whole sense of nationality identity wrapped up in it.

Note that the Northern Irish and English fans sing God Save the Queen (as do those of Sevco of course) whereas Scottish and Welsh fans sing their own, entirely separate, national anthems.

Note, too, that the whole sense of rank nationalism which you get from the media down south during these tournaments is a peculiar muddle of Old English history and the collective one of this island.

The French are the enemy, because of wars that took place hundreds of years ago, but so too are the Germans and the Argentines, two countries Scottish fans have no animosity towards but who’s countrymen certainly killed more than a few of ours. Yet those wars – the Second World War and the Falklands War – were both fought under the Union flag.

England claims them as its own, and in the way in which they can’t stop talking about them and celebrating them – and I use that word deliberately; this is not commemoration, this is celebrating – they are welcome to them. It makes entire swathes of the population seem bloodthirsty at best, and it is one of the contributing factors in the distrust of foreigners and the casual racism that forms the core of the Leave campaign for the EU referendum.

There’s an unhealthy amount of this coursing through the British bloodstream and it has its dark heart in the West of Scotland, Ulster and in certain parts of England. It manifests itself in many ways, but foremost amongst them is the arrogance that led to drunken yobs in white tops swanning around a city in another country as if they owned the place.

Calling out ISIS, in France, following the two terrorist outrages which have happened there, was every bit as loathsome as the Nazi salutes Rangers fans once made in Tel Aviv, and they can prattle on about this “red hand salute” pish all they like, but even that excuse asks you to forgive the murder of Catholics instead of the murder of Jews, and I don’t really care what goes on in the mind of someone who makes such a distinction with a straight face.

Give these people their flag, give them a six pack of beer, turn them loose in any public setting and wait for the explosion. They always react true to type, and as we’ve seen in the press coverage over the last day or two, and as we saw following the Scottish Cup Final, there’s always somebody else to blame. So people rioted, attacked the police, fought with rival fans … but hey, they were provoked. Normal people don’t react that way to provocation though, but this appears to have slipped their tiny, infinitesimal minds, just as normal people aren’t moved to mouth foaming madness by the sight of an Irish flag or the Sign of the Cross.

We have a quaint little law here, of course, which criminalises behaviour that would “offend a reasonable person” but so many of these cretins simply don’t apply to that description and so much offends them these days that we may as will criminalise everything.

So this weekend, Marseilles joined the ranks of cities set upon by the Little Englanders. But what that really means is that it joined the ranks of cities which fell prey to a warped form of Britishness, and you don’t even have to go abroad to see it work. It was on full display, after all, in Manchester and all the excuse making with it.

Violence like this isn’t the “English disease” any more than paranoia is now the “Irish disease.” Because this is a British thing, a peculiar strand of Britishness, but actually that which is truest to the national nature.

Paranoia and the feeling that everybody hates them is one of its strongest and most obvious traits. Yet perhaps there are reasons why much of the civilised world can’t stand the sight of these people and it doesn’t matter whether there are tens of thousands of them, mob handed and tanked up, wrecking the town square or simply a handful of them in a Tenerife bar singing of how Britannia rules the waves; people automatically move the other way.

I am frankly sick of them, of the embarrassment and shame they bring to everyone on this island, of their sense of entitlement and their smug superiority.

I am sick of people making excuses for them, as if nothing done under the Butchers Flag was ever less than wholesome and pure; it didn’t get that name for nothing though.

Its adherents founded the slave trade. They brutalised all the known world. They subjugated countries beyond count, and only released their grip on those who offered the fiercest resistance and fought for their freedom. It flew over the first concentration camps and those who marched under it practically invented ethnic cleansing.

The outriders of the Empire were well and truly scudded yesterday, but the caravan of hate and loathing (most of it for the self) is already on the road and heading to the next French city, where easier pickings await. Welsh fans will share the town with them, and but for a handful of halfwits who follow Cardiff and who’s mentality is also of a peculiarly British kind – but who care not a whit for their own nation – I expect them to behave impeccably. Whilst most English fans will too, that section will be out in force, as ever, and ready to give it large.

Not satisfied with appropriating every war ever fought by the collective parts of these islands, these people simply can’t wait for the next one to present itself. As long it’s not lean, fit and wearing black. As long as it runs from the sight of a fat git in a Union Jack hat. As long as it can’t stand its ground under the Charge of the Shite Brigade.

For this is England. This is Britain.

It’s why I said Yes in one referendum and why I’ll vote Remain in another; because this bubble of poision has to be punctured once and for all.

If the EU as a whole had a vote in this one, I swear to God they’ve vote for us all to leave in an instant, just so they never had to listen to these whiny bigots ever again, and I cannot blame them for that at all.

At a time when the mainstream media can’t even be trusted to cover the biggest sports story in the history of this island sites like this one are more important than ever. If you are able to, and you want to help real Scottish football journalism, and not the sort you get in the tabloids, you can make a donation by clicking the link below.

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Sevco Statements & Charlie Cheswick’s Cigarettes

7110692_origImagine a world where the loudest guy in the room always got his way. Imagine a world where logic, rationality, civilised debate and basic human decency played second place, always, to those who could make the biggest nuisance of themselves.

Do you know what a world like that would look like? I think it would look a little bit like Scotland and a lot like Scottish football. I blame many people for that, but I blame the media most of all.

I can already hear Jackson and Keevins and English and others decry that statement, saying that it’s not fair. I care about their poor hurt feelings like I care how a rabid dog feels in the moment it’s being put down. If it stings a little, too damned bad.

Last night, as everyone who follows Scottish football will be aware, Sevco’s official press office released one of the most astonishing and irrational statements ever put out by a major organisation in this country. Vindictive, spiteful, illogical, hateful, bitter, almost rabid itself, this dragged the club into the dark ages, pandering to their worst elements.

Imagine Celtic behaved like this? Imagine our board has released such an inflammatory communique?

Do you remember when we actually made the first efforts at tackling sectarianism? Before Rangers did the same? Our board was criticised just for the name, with one hack suggesting Bhoys Against Bigotry was a bad choice because of the “provocative H.”

Celtic would have been crucified for something as deranged as this.

A major Scottish organisation, one which calls itself an institution, excused the deplorable behaviour of its own followers. It suggested that the rest of Scotland’s football followers are as mad and demented as they are. It elevated paranoia to staggering heights.

It made a mockery of the very idea that those running things there care a jot for the greater good of the sport. If one positive came out of it, and I am clutching at straws here because a statement like that has profound consequences for society, it’s that Stewart Robertson will never be elected to the SFA board whilst others at Ibrox are literally foaming at the mouth.

They will say that proves no-one likes them, but in fact it’ll be for the same reason no-one wants to sit beside the guy on the bus who stinks of old booze and mutters profanities to himself under his breath. Getting too close to madness makes you feel unclean, as if it’s catching, as if it’s infective and you’ll come away from the experience with the bug.

Such was the content of their statement even I expected the Scottish media to hammer them for it today. I should have known better.

I guess my old man’s cynicism was justified. He told me the second the statement was read to him that the media would either ignore it or endorse whole chunks of it. They did both, deciding not to confront the parts that just contained lies whilst making headlines out of the parts that were simply unhinged. It didn’t matter that it specifically targeted some of them, named individuals right out of Jim Traynor’s Wee Black Book Of Guys Who Stole My Parking Place. After all, this was like a crazy woman throwing her shit. It just went everywhere.

The media never rallies around its own and most of them don’t deserve it anyway, as prone as some are to throwing their own colleagues under the bus when it suits.

I know Stuart Cosgrove won’t tolerate this guff and won’t bend. The others? Gutless to a man, with Tom English already furiously backtracking on his balanced comments of earlier when he spread the blame beyond just Hibs fans.

Jackson and the brand of decorative bog roll for which he works went even further, and put outright lies on the front page, lies which were proven to be that within minutes of the first tweet when Kenny Miller’s own wife publicly scotched them.

The claim that not a single Sevco player made it up the tunnel unhurt was a base lie disproved simply by watching the footage. He claimed he got it from a “dressing room source.”

Either his dressing room source is a liar (and the media is not supposed to protect sources who do that, are they?) or Jackson himself is making it up as he goes along; either way, that the story was ever run without the most basic fact checking tells you everything you’ll ever need to know about him and the rag he’s employed by.

It is unconscionable that a national newspaper behaves like this, giving credence and credibility not only to lies but to dangerous lies.

Our media is filled to the rafters with people who commit fraud every time they collect their wages under the auspices of journalism. I object to that, as someone who wants to live in an informed country where facts are important.

But last night, more than I ever have before, I got honestly angry at their conduct, because it went beyond bending facts till the elastic snapped, or pandering in exchange for an easy life. They gave license to lunatics. They endorsed lies that could get someone killed. We’re all supposed to be angry about that. Because that’s important.

That’s too much. This is where we ought to draw the line.

In not offering blanket criticism to that statement last night the media is helping to fuel the Victim Myth which, this weekend, has scaled dangerous heights. Sevco’s statement excused and justified the violent behaviour of its own supporters and no right thinking person in Scotland should be anything but appalled and sickened by that and in doing this they’ve given not simply a nod and wink to the nutcase element of their own support – which needs no encouragement – but they’ve raised a flag for going on the offensive.

Mark my words, this will end up with people hurt, perhaps even dead.

I am going to blame the Sevco board and Keith Jackson and Tom English and others if that happens, every bit as much as I’m going to blame the psychopath holding the knife or the blade or the bludgeon.

The people who gave the go-ahead for that statement, the institutionally hysterical idiot who wrote it and the hacks whose newspapers covered it without wholeheartedly condemning it will have blood on their hands; it’s as simple as that.

About the club itself I’ve said about as much as I intend to say, except that when someone on CQN last night suggested that the article bore all the hallmarks of Chris Graham I wrote, without thinking on it, that it bore all the hallmarks of Charlie Cheswick.

It was only when I took some time to think about it properly that I realised just how apt the analogy actually is.

I had already written, yesterday, that whereas they used to sing “no-one likes us we don’t care” they now wail and whine and wallow in self pity over the same.

But dig a little deeper and you find the reason why.

They were taken apart at times on Saturday.

They are grossly unprepared for life in the SPL, and they actually realise this.

Celtic’s appointment of Brendan Rodgers only makes that more acute. In fact, if you’re looking for a real trigger for the way their fans behaved as the Hibs supporters entered the field, you’re probably going to have to go back a day.

It was the Rodgers appointment that tipped them over the edge. The idea that Celtic was mired in crisis was their fondest wish. The way that was erased in a single announcement clearly drove them past the point of rationality.

But it’s more than that.

Their anger and their outpouring of victimhood is actually self-loathing because what gets to them most isn’t that no-one likes them, it’s that no-one fears them anymore. No-one would pay them any mind but for their constant displays of irrational behaviour.

Celtic has had bad days. When Rangers was winning nine in a row we didn’t have the proverbial pot to pee in or a window to throw it out. Under the Kelly’s and the White’s we were skint and the suffering seemed it would never end. Parkhead had a funereal atmosphere for some games. At others, do you remember what our response to adveristy was?

We sang “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.”

Our fans weren’t sitting in grubby backstreet boozers poring over “enemies lists” and fantasising about a great dark conspiracy that was holding us back from being all we could be. All that kept us from that was a weak, incompetent board without a business plan. Fergus sorted the place out in under five years, and the good times were rolling again.

Celtic fans, for all we were accused of paranoia, never embraced it the way these people have. We never wore the coat and knitted the sweater to go with it. These people are in a class of their own, and the Victim Myth hangs over Scottish football like a noxious fume.

And they call Celtic fans “obsessed” for pointing this out, and their lack of self awareness has blossomed to the point where they actually believe this, where they do believe that scrutiny is a form of jealousy.

I’ve repeatedly said this, but it bears saying once more; people are always mesmerised by the freak show, by the sight of a drunk guy who’s shit his pants and doesn’t even know it. People slow down to look at car wrecks. The two headed cat is too fascinating to look away from, no matter how it makes your skin crawl and your mind throb.

Charlie Cheswick, from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, played in the movie by the late, great, Sydney Lassick, has a complete emotional breakdown at a group discussion when he brings up the rationing of his cigarettes, which the institution has imposed because he and the other inmates were losing them all to Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy.

He asks for his back, and he starts out pretty calm, even keeping it civil, but before long his request has become a demand, his demand has become a tirade and his tirade has become a full-on screaming fit at the peak of which he’s shrieking over and over again “I want something done! I want something done! I want something done!”

At the heart of his frustration and his madness is his sub-zero self-image and his complete lack of emotional growth or self-restraint flows from that. In that moment, what tips him over the edge is the knowledge that he’s powerless, unable to get what he wants. His screaming tantrum is that of a five year old child who can’t bend the will of a parent, and so erupts in frustration.

A better-rounded individual would have kept calm, confronting the Big Nurse with the reality of her own psychological tic, which is the need, always, to seem in control but he can’t grasp that concept and even if he could he’s not hard-wired to keep cool and thus retain the high ground.

At Sevco all they had to do was act with some dignity and class.

They had the moral high ground, or a big part of it anyway and had they condemned the behaviour of their own fans, had they behaved semi-rationally, had they treated the rest of the game with respect instead of taking a great big piss on all of it last night, they might even have kept some of it.

Instead they started shrieking, and they did it because they feel powerless and alone and stripped of the pomp and swagger they once had. Their own insanity is based on arrogance and this notion that they are superior. The overwhelming tone of that lunatic screed was entitlement. A sense that the world owed them more than they’d got.

They’ve still not even bothered to offer their congratulations to Hibs.

I ask again; imagine that Celtic had acted this way? You suspect the press coverage would have been very, very different.

What a disreputable shower they are.

And that’s what people will remember.

What they don’t seem to realise is that this diminishes them every bit as much as the skelping the Hibs players gave them during the 90 minutes of football. It reduces them further in the eyes of every normal person, and whilst the media might have collectively shit its pants over this the people running the other clubs have had an almighty wake up call, especially with elections coming.

They now know that the team playing out of Ibrox is run by crazy people, by a board that in the cold half-light of the dawning season has the look of twitching, bug-eyed, shaven headed ghouls in a 16th century tavern, men who’ve been out robbing graves all night.

No-one wants to sit next to men who look like that.

At a time when the mainstream media can’t even be trusted to cover the biggest sports story in the history of this island sites like this one are more important than ever. If you are able to, and you want to help real Scottish football journalism, and not the sort you get in the tabloids, you can make a donation by clicking the link below.

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Crimes, Capers & Panama Papers

dermot-desmond-moriarty-tribunals-752x501I get a lot of stuff in my inbox, as you can well imagine.

Some of it is ridiculous. Some of it is so bad it’s almost sublime.

One such email came through just yesterday and in it the writer regaled me with his warped view that I am a hypocrite for “ignoring the biggest story in Scottish football today”. He even shared with me some details, in case it had passed me by.

This was, of course, a reference to The Panama Papers, one of the biggest data leaks in history, revealing the details of the super-wealthy and their offshore tax avoidance schemes. This scandal has already brought down the governments of Brazil and Iceland. This time last week it had David Cameron teetering on the brink.

Amidst those papers was a certain name.

It was Dermot Desmond, of course, and my correspondent thought that this was somehow a stain on the image of Celtic and Scottish football, not to mention a heinous crime against society for which restitution had to be made.

These people are barmy. We all know that. Moments like this help to remind us that they’re also stupid, and it’s important that we remember that going forward. These goofy fools have spent years looking for the “smoking gun” that will prove to the world that Celtic is as corrupt as their club used to be and which their NewCo still is.

They’ve looked into land deals which go nowhere and bank loans which show nothing and relationships which don’t prove anything other than that Celtic has enormous clout and the respect of many people in many different fields, including politics, big business, banking and other areas where Sevco’s gore flaked fingers can’t reach.

I try to imagine the joy some of them must have felt on hearing the news that our majority shareholder was “caught up” in this. This would, if proved, be the catalyst for our total disaster. It was all too easy, in their fevered, febrile, minds to imagine Desmond being hounded by the tax authorities until his business empire collapsed, and the crippling debts drowned Celtic in a sea of red ink.

Everything would follow on from there; a global call-out for buyers to save us. None would come. A hastily put together attempt at a “pennies in the pound” CVA. Which would be refused. The SFA being faced with a world without Celtic. They would want to find us a safe berth. (Why do I doubt that?) But Sevco, newly powerful, would use every bit of its influence to relegate us to the bottom division. Our club would be judged dead until someone bought the bits. Somehow those bits wouldn’t include the history. (Yes, it would be interesting to watch them have to try and square that circle). We would end up scrambling our way up from the dust, weak, humiliated, to know how they felt.

You can see how this would unfold in their heads, and we know it would go just so because they’ve spent so long during the pursuit of the “state aid” case sharing their fantasies with those of us who needed a good laugh. Always it went something like that, the uncovering of some fact, some evidence, some shattering secret and then the domino effect that brought it all down.

Amazing, isn’t it?

The people who couldn’t find out Craig Whyte was a dodgy geezer, even after we’d shown them the paper trail and it had been on the BBC … suddenly they are super-sleuths, digging into public records and finding out secrets.

Except, as with the state aid “investigation” and the one involving the Co-Operative Bank, there really isn’t a hell of a lot to see here.

For one thing, there’s no suggestion – none whatsoever – that Dermot Desmond has violated any laws. It’s not even clear that what he did involved money. Oh I have no doubt whatsoever that Dermot Desmond is fully acquainted with tax avoidance mechanisms galore, but this particularly case doesn’t seem to involve cash, which one wouldn’t expect from a scandal with a guy who’s wealth is in the actual (as opposed to imaginary) billions.

In fact, all the Papers seem to “accuse” him of is being represented by a law firm, and having his name in some of their leaked documents. Not exactly the crime of the century, or indeed a crime at all if we’re being straight to the point.

Desmond and his business history has long been the focus of the Peepul and their Goon Squad.

They reference many issues in his past, appearances in front of tribunals and Law Lords almost beyond count. But every businessman of his means has those trials to endure. Not once have they demonstrated any skulduggery, although they allege plenty of it. They are lucky he doesn’t bother with internet tittle-tattle, or one suspects they’d be on the fat end of a very big libel lawsuit.

But still, these off-base nutjobs continue to look for some evidence that will cast doubt on him, and therefore cast some sort of cloud over Celtic. They never stop looking but never seem to find anything, and I know it frustrates them immensely.

Their latest accusation is that our club’s good work in Haiti is somehow linked to the Clinton Foundation … that’s right, to the charitable organisation run by the ex-President of the United States and his wife, the former US Senator and current Secretary of State and the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party in November.

And what’s wrong with that?

Well, according to these geniuses that Foundation is mired in scandal.

What kind of scandal?

Who the Hell knows what goes on in their tiny minds, but it’s apparently not a big enough scandal for the US press and the Republican Party, who, you’d think, have got to be looking for this kind of stuff. Maybe the Sevco Brains Trust really has gone where they won’t, but knowing a little about this subject it’s hard for me to believe. The Clinton’s have only been at the sharp end of US politics for thirty years, and in that time people have been looking. Some of them haven’t stopped. If Karl Rove didn’t find the killer fact, Chris Graham ain’t gonna.

Not that any of it matters, because it’s all smoke to distract from the real crooks and we didn’t need a leak like The Panama Papers to know who they are.

There’s David Murray for one, a peer of the realm, whose companies were wound up earlier this month owing £200 million and upwards. The glib press release that went out in accordance with this said the bank was the “sole creditor” which is all nice and neat except the bank was, until recently, owned by the tax payer.

And this is why none of my correspondent’s ridiculous email stands up even to the most minor scrutiny and why it doesn’t amount to a scandal no matter how much he wishes it did.

For starters, Dermot Desmond is domiciled in Ireland.

His tax affairs are a matter between him and the Irish government, as Dave King’s were between him and the government of South Africa, and whilst Desmond might make the most of the legal framework which exists to stop any rich individual paying their share there’s nothing to suggest he’s considered a crook by the tax authorities at home.

The same cannot be said for the current Sevco chairman.

So there is no criminality involved in what Desmond has done, and where the tax payer gets a raw deal is something for the Irish government to sort out. It doesn’t make him an improper person to sit on the board of Celtic, and it doesn’t cost UK taxpayers a dime.

King has criminal convictions.

Murray quite literally built his club with money that belonged in your pockets and mine.

Even a complete fool sees the differences between these people.

And in case it needs further spelling out, here’s where the argument really falls on its fat, lazy arse.

Celtic was neither built with, nor depends on, the largesse of Desmond or anyone else. So even if there was a smoking gun out there … it wouldn’t impact on our club one bit.

Desmond is our majority shareholder. That’s all. He’s not a sugar daddy. We are a self-sufficient club. We don’t need him to pay our bills as they come due. Not a penny of the cash Desmond makes from his other businesses flows into Celtic Park.

Our club’s money is clean. Our foundations are not built on debt dumping or screwing over the taxman and, by default, the taxpayer.

I don’t like Dermot Desmond. I don’t like his attitude, the way he influences policy at Celtic Park and I don’t particularly like the people he’s helped pick to run the club. I think he, and some of them, are a stain on our reputation. I wish he’d pack his pencils and beat it, selling his shares to someone who gives a damn and doesn’t see them as a vanity purchase.

I don’t want his money and I never have.

What’s more, I don’t like any of these rich, greedy bastards who don’t want to pay their share when all around us cuts are being made to important public services both here and abroad. The Daily Record published an article today on how the taxman is chasing former players at Celtic and Rangers, as well as at least one who’s odds-on to play in Sunday’s game with Sevco.

What does Jackson expect us to say about that? If these people tried to dodge tax then they deserve everything they get regardless of the shirt they wear or wore. All these people ought to be brought to book, no matter who, no matter where.

But that wasn’t my correspondents point.

His point was that Desmond’s name was in those papers and that was as good as Celtic’s name being in there.

He wasn’t interested in taxpayers in Ireland or here.

He wasn’t concerned with debtors or creditors or the little guy being stiffed by the one who could afford the high priced lawyers.

What individuals do is up to them, and Hell mend them when Hector comes calling.

But Celtic has nothing whatsoever to do with any of it.

This was about one-upsmanship and our football club, and HMRC can chase whomever they want but the football club itself has kept clean, and it’s played by the rules, and it has met its responsibilities both to the football governing bodies and to wider society. It has accepted lean years and bad results because the alternative was to in some way cheat, whether that was financial doping or the bending of rules.

Our club wasn’t built on credit, or defrauding the taxman, it wasn’t sunk by debts. Nor was it like their NewCo, born in disgrace, from the shattered remains of a fraud, founded by men of highly questionable character, and which is now run by a crook.

I told my correspondent all of this, of course.

You know what he said?

He said tax fraud wasn’t a real scandal and then went on to reference … Hell, you all know what he went on to reference.

There’s something wrong with these people, don’t you think?

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The Herald Sacks Angela Haggerty As Journalistic Freedom Hangs By A Thread

Angela Haggerty 1 SAToday, as the bulk of Scotland’s journalists keep a low profile and say nothing in support of Graham Spiers, a second columnist at the Herald has been carpeted after pressure from Sevco.

This time it’s Angela Haggerty, and this time the paper didn’t stop with embarrassing her.

In fact, they sacked her.

To call this a crisis for the profession is an understatement. Its entire reason for being is hanging by a thread. No-one working within its ranks is safe today if they collectively allow this to happen, without comment, without criticism, standing idly by as they currently do.

One organisation – and it’s a skint West of Scotland football club; we’re not talking about a multi-billion pound transnational corporate behemoth with unlimited funds and a legal department that would make Coca Cola’s CEO piss his pants – has decided it will not tolerate any negative press, at all, and it is now set on threatening any media outlet which doesn’t play ball.

And most of Scotland’s press has fallen shamefully silent.

I have never had less respect for them than I do today. I have never felt this much contempt for those who work within its ranks.

They are cowards almost to a man.

The rare exceptions are hung out to dry and made twist in the wind for the amusement of a mob.

There’s no excuse for it.

If their business is really all about money – and commercial considerations appear to be high on the list of factors in what The Herald has done – then they’re essentially putting a price tag on their integrity.

And in this case, that appears to be around £40,000.

So an entire generation of real journalists, of writers of conviction, decades of breaking big stories and a proud history of bringing truth to power, it’s all been flogged off and betrayed, for less than the half the price of a one bedroom flat in the drug addict part of town.

What price a free press in Scotland, eah?

In England, Peter Oborne resigned last year from The Telegraph, after he said their entire coverage of the banking industry and the politics surrounding it had been slanted by the advertising fees paid by organisations like HSBC, who were under investigation for multiple counts of fraud, money laundering and other offences … none of which his paper wanted to write about.

This is where we are now in Scotland, it seems, only a smaller scale.

A much smaller one.

An embarrassingly small one.

There’s no such thing as a free press; now you, too, can buy it for the price of a family car.

For some at these papers, the stench must be overwhelming.

Oborne wasn’t a man working alone, as Graham Spiers isn’t. Yet Angela was the first mainstream journalist working in the media here in Scotland to stand up for him, and based on what’s just happened to her certain people will be calculating that she’s going to be the last.

She better not be.

Everyone who can hold a pen should be behind her.

You know, when the Charlie Hebdo attacks murdered so many of that publication’s journalists in Paris, it brought forth a wave of support for journalist freedom that filled me with enormous pride.

I now realise how phony that all was, because it’s easy to express support for the dead when you’re not personally in the gun-sights. It’s easy to take a stand, or to look like you’re taking a stand, when you’re not being put under pressure. What we saw wasn’t courage; it was calculation. An entire industry lathered itself up in self congratulation for its “courage”, and all the while it buried child abuse allegations, government scandals, allowed criminals to escape justice and corrupt corporations to escape scrutiny … out of fear.

Fear of less than a bullet.

Fear of losing a few quid.

Here in Scotland journalists fold the hand because they get some abuse on Twitter. Editors refuse to let plainly true stories run because the Blue KKK might organise a dozen or so unemployed yobs to protest outside on a Monday morning. And God knows how much gets buried because advertisers issue veiled threats about pulling their copy.

Can you imagine these people ever doing anything so serious as to warrant the attention of real fanatics, and not just the Saturday afternoon variety?

No, me neither.

A collection of cowards, that’s what we have instead of a press.

The only people with guts in all this are the Bampots, of whom Angela is a shining example.

She’ll continue to write the truth, no matter what it costs her, because she gets it. She understands. She takes the job seriously and she knows that, in the end, she herself is a cog in a big wheel and her voice is important, and maintaining it through this kind of shit is what will keep the nature of what she does going long after those who sold it out are dead and gone.

Those of us in the blogosphere don’t do it for huge rewards.

I work for limited advertising and donations, and entirely without regrets.

The bills get paid (most of the time) but I’m not driving a sports car.

I have a media degree and could have pursued a career in the press, but I never wanted it.

On a day like today I’m glad of that.

Because I couldn’t do as Graham Spiers may have to.

I couldn’t go into the offices of an organisation that just shafted me.

I couldn’t call myself a journalist and have my livelihood dependent on the whims of the advertising department.

And that’s not a criticism of Graham. I’ve read his work, and I know he has balls. I also understand where he is right now. The guy probably has a mortgage to pay and a wife and kids to support; he’s not in a position where he can spit the dummy out of the pram and walk away.

Which is exactly the point.

No newspaper worthy of the name should ever put one of its writers in such a diabolical, heart-wrenching position.

It makes me sick. It makes me physically sick.

Graham knows now what his lifetime of work has been worth, and what it means to the bean counters. That has to hurt like a bastard and to say I feel enormous sympathy with him, and with Angela, and with every other writer out there who’s facing similar pressure … well words don’t do justice to how absolutely scunnered I am for them all.

Here on the blogosphere, we operate entirely without those concerns.

But we also work entirely without a safety net.

The media is fond of telling their readers that there are no restrictions on what we are allowed to write – as if the libel laws and contempt of court laws don’t exist on the internet. In truth, our every article is a walk along the tightrope. Our every utterance has to be weighed against the possible consequences, and I’m not just talking about legal ones.

We know what’s out there.

We know those people exist.

Some of us deal with their abuse on a day to day basis.

But we’re big boys and girls, and we can take it.

We have to, because on days like today it looks as if no-one else will.

But I could be wrong.

Maybe every journalist in Scotland is furious about this. Maybe they’re organising industrial action in support of their colleagues even now. Maybe they get that to walk away from Graham and Angela is to paint a target on their backs. Maybe they get what an enormous moment this is. Maybe.

And then again, maybe some of them just don’t care.

Hell, the money is good, it’s steady, and you get to see your name in print.

What’s not to like?

Like career politicians, with not one iota of political conviction, maybe that’s what really matters to them.

And if that’s the case, hey, fair play to they.

But they ought to stop pretending to be journalists.

This is the third article in a row I’ve written on this site, on this subject, and that is depressing and infuriating in equal measure.

Yet it’s important to keep on doing it.

It’s important to keep on speaking the truth, even when it does come at a cost.

Even when it does have consequences.

Because the cost and the consequences of silence are even greater still.

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Spiers “Apology” Heralds In Dark Days For Scottish Journalism

hqdefaultThere’s a moment during the film Nuremberg, starring Alec Baldwin, Brian Cox, Christopher Plummer and a host of other top stars, when Hermann Goering is relaxing in his cell awaiting the next phase of his trial, when he is visited by a young American soldier named Tex.

Goering, played to perfection by Cox, greets him warmly, as the two have formed an unusual bond during the course of his imprisonment. The kid is impressionable, and Goering knows this.

Goering starts to tell him stories of the Reich, and of the Fuhrer.

At one point he starts to hum a tune, and then he begins to sing the song, whilst tapping his feet and waving his arms. It sets the mood he’s trying to evoke quite brilliantly.

Tex is now completely caught up in the Nazi leader’s memories of watching thousands of men march in front of the Glorious Leader. When Goering suggests the remnants of the despotic regime should be freed, and that both sides should “unite to fight the Communists” Tex agrees with him wholeheartedly.

I’ve always wondered if Tex went away humming the song.

If he did, he would quickly have found himself in trouble with the brass.

It’s a catchy enough tune, and one that predates the Nazi Party’s usage of it. In fact, it’s an ancient German folk song, but it’s one I strongly suspect isn’t heard anymore. The modern incarnation has closed off all avenues of revival.

We now know it as the Horst Wessel Lied.

I would never describe it as “a great song.”

Because it’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics contain nothing explicit about bigotry or hate; it’s about a shoot-out with Communists where Wessel, a Nazi Youth member, was killed – other songs dealt with the racist stuff – but it was the Nazi Party’s anthem and if you played it at parties you’d run out of friends quickly and if you sang it walking down the street you’d get a sore face shortly thereafter.

This isn’t about musical appreciation.

I have eclectic tastes and listen to everything from country rock to classical.

I am big on lyrics, above all else, and whilst I think, for example, the Spitting Image song I’ve Never Met A Nice South African is one of the best (and most hilarious) that biting, satirical show ever turned out I would not play it, far less sing it, in a public forum because it would be staggeringly offensive in a modern context.

It is hard to think of any setting – outside a dingy back street boozer in Glasgow or the Six Counties, or, of course, at Ibrox – in which there wouldn’t be people who found The Billy Boys not only to be offensive but bigoted with it.

Yet a director at Sevco, a current director, apparently described it as “a great song” whilst talking to a journalist.

There is no context in which that is anything other than a shocking statement.

That journalist, Graham Spiers, a guy this site has criticised as well as praised, rightly decided that this was a news story.

On 30 December, he told the tale in a piece he wrote.

In fact, I would go much further than just to say it was newsworthy. It ought to have been the headline above the piece.

It was a massively important news story; current, informing public debate, challenging officialdom, suggesting that a football club that perceives itself as a tremendously powerful social institution had, on its board, someone who had sympathies with people engaged in criminality and sectarianism.

The enormity of that cannot be overstated, especially as the debate over the issue has blossomed since the piece was run.

Now football’s governing bodies, the police and non-governmental organisations such as Nil By Mouth are pressing for Strict Liability rules to be implemented inside Scottish grounds.

We also know that the SFA is also seeking public funds for facial recognition software to be installed in stadiums.

Current rules, which the SFA believes are not robust enough, mean that clubs have to demonstrate that they’re “taking all possible measures” to keep discriminatory chanting out of their stands.

The Ibrox club is currently under investigation by the football authorities, with a decision due based on that criteria.

In other words, the importance of that story has only grown since publication.

This is what good journalists do, and good newspapers are supposed to stand by them when they do it.

Here in Scotland, of course, that doesn’t always happen.

A number of journalists have, in the past few years, been targeted for daring to deliver the news and in some cases their employers have not done enough to lend them support in the face of it.

Jim Spence was just one case in point, but there are others.

With respect to Jim, I think what has happened to Graham Spiers, in this case, is of a far worse, and much more sinister, nature. He has been well and truly hung out to dry by The Herald, and he knows it. Whilst his independent statement is coached in conciliatory language, for the most part, his anger is plain and his disillusionment is clear.

They could not make him apologise or retract the story, although it’s clear they tried to make him do both. When he stood by his piece their one and only question – if they even had to ask – should have been “Is this true?” When he answered in the affirmative that should have been that.

They should have stood by their man, and resisted the “pressure.”

Instead they apologised for him, and “clarified” things in his name.

It is beyond scandalous, gutless and embarrassing for everyone at the paper who isn’t up in arms over the way the top brass have behaved.

Frankly, I’ll never trust a word I read in The Herald or any of its sister papers again. Because if they can be spooked into retracting a news story on the basis of pressure from a second tier football club or a rabid pack of its followers then nothing they say can be relied on when it comes to challenging those who have real power and influence.

Their credibility as a journalistic vehicle is shot, pure and simple.

As far as I’m concerned they have joined the tabloids in pandering and sucking up, in framing “the news” so as not to offend certain people, people who, these days, are offended by everything anyway.

It is cowardly, and corrupt, almost beyond comprehension.

I am amazed he’s not already tendered his resignation, because his statement makes it pretty clear just how pissed off he is.

I hope he’s taking the matter to the NUJ and making it clear that he’s not going to stand for it.

In addition, he might want to take a look at the Rangers Supporters Trust website and their article on the Herald’s craven crawling, because there are things in that statement that are unmistakably libellous, such as the assertion that he has “made a career out of fanning the flames of sectarianism” and numerous examples where it calls him a liar.

I’ve written about the way that organisation behaves before; if I were a Sevco fan reading some of their press releases I would be cringing with embarrassment and shame and this one is as base ignorant and deliberately provocative as any I’ve had the misfortune to read, and it crosses a line in the sand that it should not be allowed to get away with.

These people, the conduct of their club and those who run it, and the assortment of idiots, cretins and vile bigots who swarm around in the vortex, never cease to amaze me with the level of their bile and intolerance.

These things are probably to be expected in those with 15th century attitudes still fighting the wars of their grandfather’s forefather’s ancestors (and without really understanding them), but the level of bullying and intimidation they get away with is what really takes the breath away.

I’m not even remotely afraid of these people, and it stuns me that senior editors on national newspapers are.

On the days when my inbox fills with invective and my Twitter feed oozes with their slime, in the moments when my Facebook page is crawling with trolls, all ending their posts with some kind of reference to child abuse or closing off with their standard statement of racial and religious “supremacy”, I don’t despair or get spooked.

I am emboldened.

Because I know I’m doing it right.

Chris McLaughlin was “doing it right” when he reported the outbreak of sectarian singing at the Hibs game.

For this he was banned by the club itself.

Jim Spence was “doing it right” when he called out the Survival Myth for the aberrant fantasy most rational people know it to be.

For that, he was harassed and bullied and his employers threatened until they offered a ridiculous apology simply because he stated the facts.

Angela Haggerty was “doing it right” when she called time on the way she’s been treated by these appalling bastards and their sickening level of hate.

She no longer lives in Scotland, and has been forced to seek redress in the law courts because of what she’s endured.

Other journalists have suffered similar persecution for behaving in a way that’s consonant with the job description, and what the Herald has done to Graham Spiers for “doing it right” is dangerous, and an affront, to every single one of them and every single person in Scotland, whether at a mainstream publication, a local paper, or simply blogging online and who is dedicated to telling the truth.

The last article I published on this site was on this very thing; about the way certain Sevco fan sites and organisations are forming an “orchestra of hate” against anyone who dares to offer any criticism, however justified, about their club.

I asked at the end if these people were “winning.”

That question is more pertinent than ever.

Does the Herald’s editor even have the first clue what he’s done here? What the significance of this decision actually is, beyond the impact it has on his own shitty circulation figures? Beyond even sport?

Does he even care?

This is a sad, dreadful, tragic day for “journalism” in this country, and I mourn it like a death because myself and others care deeply about this profession and the important role it plays in our world.

The Herald has pissed all over that.

They have betrayed one of their own, but the betrayal is felt by more than just Graham Spiers himself. It is felt by every one of us.

It makes “doing it right” more important than ever.

Today, “I Am Graham Spiers.”

We all are.

(This site depends on your support. If you like what I do, and are able, you can make a donation at the link. Many thanks in advance.)

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Sevco & The Orchestra Of Hate

rangers_2047642cThis week feels like another red letter one in the recent history of hate in Scotland.

Before I start, I want to share a story with you.

Back in the 1980’s, Italy was being riven by violence as the heads of the Cosa Nostra, many of whom were in prison or awaiting trial, unleashed a war on the state in an effort to back off the many prosecutors and judges who were attempting to bring them to justice.

It was a bad time to be one of that handful of brave men, much like those who were fighting a similar battle, at the same time, against the growing power of the Colombian drug cartels and facing similar unrelenting terrorism.

On two continents, the self-same chaos was being unleashed and at the root cause of it all was money and the corruption that was rampant.

In Italy they had a word for it; pizzo, which is a derivation of pizzu, a Sicilian word literally meaning “beak”, as in “letting me wet my beak”; i.e giving someone a taste.

The Pizzo – the protection money – went both ways; local businesses paid it to the Mafia and they in turn spread it up through the political system so they wouldn’t be targeted by the judges and politicians.

It was a sweet deal for those who took the cash. For those who didn’t, who took their responsibilities seriously, it meant death.

In Colombia the same system was in operation, where it was called Plata O Plomo, “Silver or lead”. You either took the Cartel’s money or you accepted their bullets instead.

It created chaos and it made life exceedingly dangerous for the men who refused to be bought or cowed.

In Colombia they were soon being gunned down and blown up in spectacular acts of violence.

In Italy, where Cosa Nostra was altogether more sophisticated and their penetration of the system more acute, the killings happened in due course but the psychological warfare came first.

It manifested itself in various ways; for example, prosecutors would be sent funeral cards inviting them to their own wake. Wreaths would be delivered, hour on hour, to their judicial offices. Coffins would be left outside their homes.

This was nothing compared to the reaction of their colleagues.

Like an animal cut from the herd, the brave few would find themselves isolated and alone, shunned by their peers, snubbed by the establishment they were sworn to defend.

One described it as walking in a crowd and then watching people drift away from you one at a time until you were standing there in empty space; the “clear field of fire” which would send a very obvious message to the gangsters.

The point of the story is that these criminal elements drew their real power from the corruption of the state.

Without that they would have been the ones standing alone on a killing ground.

In Italy, in particular, the killing of high level individuals usually only happened at the point when the state itself turned its back on them and gave the assassins their cue.

I’ve always been fascinated by that, and by the way other governments and other organisations with influence over the actions of others have, from time to time, sent them subliminal messages urging action or caution, sanctioning certain things or letting them know it was time to stand down.

Which brings me to the point.

Earlier this week, I got an email from a friend of mine drawing my attention to a brand new website promoting an organisation called The Bears Fightback.

I read their editorial with much amusement, all the while recognising the menacing tone in which it had been coached.

I’ve seen similar missives before.

I’m not even terribly ashamed to admit that once, back in my intemperate days, I got in trouble at the University of Stirling for posting a similar article on an official Student Union messageboard, wherein I “invited” a certain right wing organisation to visit the campus, even offering to organise a “welcome party” for them at the train stration.

The Bears Fightback site didn’t really hide what it was all about; it had been created for the same reason as the Italian Cosa Nostra sent wreaths and funeral cards to the offices of prosecutors.

It was intended as a “frightener”, albiet one mysellf and most others in the Internet Bampots didn’t find very frightening.

I mean, just on a personal level how seriously am I meant to take nonsense like that? Targeting my employers? I am self employed, supported in part by you, the readers, especially those who are able to make a donation.

So what are they going to do?

Grass me up? To you lot?

I don’t know this for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion many of you already know how I feel about Sevco and Rangers and that section of their support which refuses to join the rest of the world in laying aside hate and 17th century attitudes.

The “threat” to inform my family, friends and loved ones seems, to me, equally absurd. I have a vague inkling that they just might be aware of it too.

If I’ve been hiding it under a bushel up until now, I should maybe spell it out; I don’t like these people very much, which, I dunno … wasn’t exactly a secret.

As for the notion that they will “investigate” me, what’s there to investigate?

Again, I’m not exactly leading a secret life.

I post under my own name, my Facebook page is an open book, I’m on Twitter, Amazon Authors, I’ve been in a couple of newspapers and I have an active social life which doesn’t require disguises or an assumed identity.

The notion that such people might one day “come after me” is pretty ridiculous as well. In terms of “action within the law” I’m more than happy for them to try because I’m perfectly prepared to sue anyone who steps over the line in that regard, and the money would pay for a lot of tins for the Green Brigade’s annual food-bank appeal.

Such action would also, very quickly, pull back the veil of secrecy these cowards choose to hide behind. That probably hasn’t twigged with them yet.

As to other action, the very futility of it is reason enough not to bother.

It absolutely would would not stop me.

I would simply write down every detail and publish it, shaming them and “their club” further by exposing their behaviour to civilised view.

At some point they have to realise the embarrassment and shame they heap onto the thing they profess to love. At some stage the circuits have to fire in their tiny, infinitesimal brains and they have to comprehend that nothing damages it more than they do, because no sane person who values their own reputation would want it associated with an organisation which attracts such people like flies around fresh shit.

And you know what?

At some point that organisation has to realise it too.

Which is the real point of the article, of course.

As I said earlier, the Italian prosecutors who went after the mob knew the hammer was going to fall the minute their colleagues started to desert them. That official “nod and wink” isn’t exactly subtle, in the way some of the “dog whistle” politics we see here in the UK is clearly about pandering to ignorance, fear and hate.

Equally unsubtle, coming in the same week as “Bears Fightback” rears its head, was the “nod and wink” to the wise which came out of Ibrox, in the shape of another ban on the BBC journalist Chris McLaughlin.

In my opinion, there is a causal link here.

Am I suggesting that someone inside Ibrox, or at their PR firm, is responsible for the sudden emergence of “Bears Fightback”?

Of course not.

My God, how stupid would that make them?

An organisation which did something like that would deserve everything coming to it.

The matter is currently being investigated by Police Scotland. I suspect they will very quickly establish who the “authors” are, and that’s their cards marked.

So whilst I’m sure neither the club nor its PR arm are reckless enough to have been involved in the creation of this horrendous site, I am in no doubt at all that they were fully aware of its existence.

As such I find myself marvelling at the coincidence of it appearing, and the notorious petition targeting McLaughlin with it, in the same week we get news that he is, once again, persona non grata within Ibrox Stadium.

And I ask myself; am I imagining things here?

Because if I’m not … well, isn’t that appallingly dangerous?

Couldn’t it be seen as a de-facto endorsement – by the club itself – of that site, and its not-too-subtle threatening tone?

The BBC has reacted properly, by giving McLaughlin its full support.

As a result, he’s not standing in a free fire zone.

He has the support of his colleagues (that some of his former ones had been given the same) both in journalism and in the blogosphere, and I write that having openly called for people like Keith Jackson to be banned from Celtic Park.

As I’m fond of saying, people can criticise and slag you all they want … but they ought not to be surprised if you ban them from doing it in your front room.

What makes the difference, at least in my view, is that Jackson and others are opinion piece writers, like me, who’s ability to do the job and earn a living isn’t impacted by such bans and who’s writing is designed to provoke a response.

You only have to look at the reactions of those who get banned to see how little it bothers them; Hugh Keevins wore it like a badge of honour for years.

I’ll tell you what though; I would have a very serious issue with our club if it decided it would ban a journalist simply for reporting facts.

I also might wonder what we were trying to hide.

What Chris McLaughlin did in this case – and in the last case where he was banned from Ibrox – was he reported the news.

He simply laid out the facts, and we all know exactly what facts they were and how inconvenient they were for the club; that during the Hibs game at Christmas a large number of their fans sung a song that UEFA and Scottish criminal law considers not only offensive but sectarian and thereby criminal too.

The decision to ban him is an attack on journalism itself.

It’s saying that the reporting of facts is to be discouraged, and that does impact on the ability of these people to do their jobs as well as on how they do them.

And, especially in this case, that has wider implications.

Because to me, and to others, this looks in many ways, like it could be a co-ordinated effort between a website which has threatened “the enemies” of Sevco and the club.

It looks, in some ways, like a nod and a wink.

Other journalists and news outlets were named by this site, all for having the temerity to have reported facts the club, and the site, would rather they’d not. That, in itself, should have every writer out there asking who these people are and where they sprung from.

This obsession some Sevco fans have with the way the world views them, and with trying to “protect their image” – such as it is – appears paranoid verging on hysterical, but it has a serious point to it for an institution which is rattling the tin cup.

What makes it especially hilarious to me is that all their conduct does is heap further disgrace on them, something that appears not to have dawned on them at all.

They’ve made their club famous for this, and brought further – and even more widespread – attention to the stuff McLaughlin and others have been trying to highlight.

I’ll be frank; had I wanted to cause the maximum negative publicity to the club playing out of Ibrox, and in turn eroded their ability to raise external finance … Hell, I might have created Bears Fightback, and written that inflammatory editorial, myself.

For all that, it wouldn’t exactly shock me to find out some within Ibrox were wholly in favour of this latest example of counter-productive stupidity.

After all this wouldn’t be the first time the nuttier elements of the Sevco support have been given a steer by someone from within the club.

Both Craig Whyte and Charles Green were very quick to court those elements from the moment they took over, and the Yorkshireman gave them one of their most famous soundbites when he accused the SFA’s member clubs of “sectarianism” following the decision to make Sevco start in the bottom tier.

And who can forget McCoist’s snarling demand for the names of an SFA investigative panel, and the subsequent targeting of those individuals in the aftermath?

Or his spiteful – and wholly wrong – suggestion that the burning of a garage and the destruction of the club’s new bus was something “rival fans” might have done?

Many of us aren’t surprised by this kind of conduct, but that doesn’t make it any less worrying.

So yes, this does feel like a red letter day for those who chronicle the hateful behaviour of certain elements in their support.

It feels like a new low, and the coincidence of the club’s action in the same week as this website appears, with McLaughlin very publicly in the cross-hairs, is clearly something that needs more than the standard media response.

This is a broadside against their whole profession.

The club itself has serious questions to answer here.

Let’s see if anyone dares to ask them … and if not what else are we to conclude but that these people are winning after all?

They must not be allowed to do that.

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Celtic Fans Know The Difference Between Bigotry And Political Expression

Celtic F.C.The charity Nil By Mouth has called on Scottish football clubs to accept “strict liability” when the SFA next puts it up for debate and a vote.

The organisation founded by the fiancé of Mark Scott, the Celtic fan murdered at Bridgeton Cross by the psychotic Jason Campbell has long concentrated its guns on football fans and was a vocal supporter of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act which has done little more than criminalise free expression and political singing of a sort much of Scotland doesn’t like.

This statement came on the same day that Stewart Regan is all over the papers trying to push the issue. This suggests more than a little bandwagon jumping going on.

Before we know it, politicians who’ve not been in the papers for a while will be all in favour … just watch.

I want to be clear that I have no issue with Nil By Mouth per se.

How could I have?

The organisation exists to combat sectarianism and hate in our society, but I have a problem with the way in which they and other organisations – including Police Scotland – conflate these matters with legitimate political expression … the kind that supports Irish nationalism as opposed to, say, Scottish independence.

I support Scottish independence, and it infuriates me how some people can make all sorts of allowances for one whilst making none for the other. Granted, that isn’t as widespread as the anti-Irish sentiment which courses through many supporters of the union, but it is definitely there, in small ways, and in big ones too like the SNP’s much hated law.

I get tired of trying to educate people on this.

It seems that some folk just don’t want to bloody well hear it, and I find their attitudes entirely dishonest as a result of that.

Nil By Mouth’s statement was picked up by, amongst other media outlets, The Scotsman, where Andrew Smith’s opening paragraph was “Anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth has backed calls to introduce strict liability rules to Scottish football, with campaign director Dave Scott stating yesterday that “people are fed up to the back teeth” with behaviour that the group maintains fuels religious bigotry.

Let’s separate the fact from the fiction here.

First fact: Celtic fans do not engage in sectarian singing.

There is one song – a so-called version of Roamin’ In The Gloamin’ – who’s lyrics are so excruciating, waxing lyrical about how good it is to “be a Roman Catholic” that it’s certainly offensive (especially to Catholics) but even it doesn’t openly stray into hatred although it is mind-numbingly ignorant.

It’s the kind of thing that once passed for wit and which someone probably made up in a pub fifty years or so ago without any thought as to what the lyrics actually mean.

Listen to them if you don’t believe me.

It’s a collection of words with no coherence.

There’s a reference to St Patrick, who was born in the 5th Century, John Knox, who was born in the 16th Century and to King Billy, who was born in the 17th Century. I don’t know how you feel about a song that mentions all three drawing no connection whatsoever between them, but to me it’s the trademark of barely literate goons.

Most people realise this, and find the song crawl-under-the-bed embarrassing.

I haven’t heard it sung, by more than handfuls of drunk arseholes, for years.

There’s a chant you used to hear a lot, but which has also been on the wane for years, referring to dirty orange people of questionable parentage; I recommend those offended by that speak to the Orange Order, to which it’s a clear reference.

They are a sectarian organisation and a secret society, rabidly unionist and affiliated with the far right of British and Irish politics.

That chant is generally used in relation to referees, a number of whom have been proven to be members of said secret society, and whose professional ranks behave more and more like one with every year that passes.

The key term is “Orange”.

Not Protestant.

There is no sectarian connotation to that chant.

Then there’s the H word, which I rarely use and which has never been a reference to any religious affiliation but more about a set of behavioural norms; rioting, nazi salutes, spreading fear and taking part in general disorder … things for which a certain Scottish club’s fans were once famous. It’s also about having no respect for traditions, or loyalty, or lacking a certain moral character.

I have had long brainstorming sessions with people on this subject, and on the etymology of the word itself, tracing it back to Attila and to the Germans in World War I and 2 … and I’m always asked, in the context of Scottish football, who I regard as fitting the bill.

I once answered thus;

I consider Graham Souness to be one, but Trevor Steven not. I know for a fact Maurice Johnstone is one, but never thought Brian Laudrup was. Davie Provan, Charlie Nicholas and Jim Traynor are definitely amongst their number but I never for one second thought Graham Speirs, Alan Davidson or Ian Crocker were. Large sections of the Sevco support fit the bill. A small section of the Celtic support does too, and there are numbers of them at other clubs like Hearts, Motherwell, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Inverness and elsewhere.

I agree with the general sentiment behind Nil By Mouth’s statement, but that organisation is like so many others in this country; it tiptoes around things when it ought to stride forward with purpose.

There is bigotry in Scotland, sectarian intolerance that is both broad and, in some places, deep.

The fault isn’t to be found in football stadiums, although some of its practitioners go to games.

Anti-Catholic and anti-Irish hatred is still a profound problem, and one of the reasons it remains so is that those who practice it often hide behind seemingly legitimate initiatives like this one.

Which brings us to the second inconvenient truth: there was no need to pass the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.

Laws already existed to confront those who engaged in sectarian behaviour; the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act changed nothing except that it placed singing Republican songs into the same bracket as someone singing one of the more horrible hate anthems you’d expect to hear from the people who hailed Jason Campbell a hero.

What that law did is created a moral equivalence between the two, and that’s one of the most tragic features of it.

Because there is none.

The issue is bigger than just Nil By Mouth, but they have a high profile and they get a lot of attention whenever they put out a statement like this. They might not want to further the agendas of the very people they deplore, but I’ll tell you what … they do.

There are people who live in this country who would love to see every expression of Irishness outlawed, who would love every Catholic school closed, who blame us for creating intolerance when, actually, it stares back at them from the mirror.

No other religious or social group in this country is subject to this constant sniping and questioning of its values.

We don’t have a profound problem in this country with anti-Islamic sentiment; in fact, in comparison to certain parts of England things are positively harmonious. We also don’t have a serious issue with anti-Semitism.

Anti-Catholic hatred is Scotland’s own peculiar little fixation, and that has long had its roots deep in anti-Irishness.

The difference is that in some ways it’s now public policy.

Listen, I understand full well that there are people who don’t enjoy hearing the Republican stuff in football grounds. But I don’t mind saying I know those songs by heart, and I defy anyone to tell me where one of them – even one – promotes hate.

Supporting a “proscribed organisation” isn’t the same.

The people who do the proscribing once had the ANC on that list.

The Republican movement now plays an active part in government.

The ANC is the South African government.

The difference is, they were never fighting the British.

You get the point?

You understand why one of those organisations is now feted and the other remains banned to this day?

Here’s a challenge I’ve laid down many, many, many, many times and I do so again with no doubt that the result will be the same as it’s been on all those other occasions; if someone can tell me where in those songs hatred is promoted I’ll close these websites the same day.

No-one will answer that. No-one ever does.

So whilst I do understand that people don’t want to hear this stuff, I’d say to them that, sadly, it’s just too bad because one of the prices we pay for living in a free society is that we often have to tolerate things we don’t actually like. I’m not suggesting they go and look the lyrics up and try and understand the context of them … too much to ask, by far.

I’m asking that they actually embrace understanding of another subject; tolerance itself. Because whether they know it or not, their own attitude is profoundly intolerant. It’s close-minded, insular and yes it’s also arrogant; that the freedoms other people enjoy should be stymied and limited because they dislike certain of their opinions and ideas.

Tolerance means embracing diversity. Hammering everyone into the same mould doesn’t come close to the definition of that. That’s called enforced conformity and I don’t think that’s a country any of us actually wants to live in.

My problem with what Nil By Mouth and other apparently well-meaning organisations are doing stumbling into this minefield is that they aren’t really talking about sectarianism at all … they’re talking about shrinking the definition of what they find “acceptable” and if they don’t understand the danger inherent in that I can’t explain it to them.

The third fiction is that strict liability has been a success for UEFA.

It’s not true.

Strict liability doesn’t reflect well on UEFA at all.

It was introduced to combat right wing extremists using football grounds as recruiting posts. I understand why the sport considered that an issue, but in trying to find a way to ban those groups they did what governing bodies always do when they try to ride the middle lane … they overshot the runway and passed rules where any form of political expression was banned.

Except those which suit them, of course.

One of the recent obscenities was their decision to fine Celtic for our fans flying Palestinian flags. I don’t know what our club’s official response to that was but it was a scandal that UEFA ever considered such a ludicrous action in the first place. Another example was the “F*** UEFA” banner the Celtic fans flew, and which resulted in another sanction.

A refusal to allow criticism is one of the defining characteristics of fascism.

It would be different if they actually took the rule seriously, but they don’t because they can’t.

There are a number of overtly political football clubs in Europe who’s very existence flies in the face of UEFA regulations and there are other clubs whose fans have adopted overtly political views; they stretch across the continent, from France to the farthest corners of Russia.

They are openly ideological and UEFA can’t come close to policing them and doesn’t even try.

Not only does strict liability not work, but it’s barely enforced.

Celtic is not an overtly political club.

Our fans reflect a broad sweep of society, and we pride ourselves on being “open to all”.

Yet some of our own supporters consistently fly in the face of that concept, and make a nonsense of it, trying to tell other fans what they should be singing and what flags they should be flying.

I sympathise with them, to a degree.

Because some of it does get the club into trouble, and that’s wrong.

But it’s the regulations I think are the problem here, and whilst I think they should be obeyed, as long as they last, I think our club should be committed, along with others, to changing them to better reflect the reality; football and politics have always been closely linked and always will be.

This isn’t about flares and smoke bombs.

Those are banned for entirely legitimate reasons and don’t belong in football grounds, and I am wholly supportive of any measure that removes them from the sport entirely.

This is about political expression, and existing UEFA rules on it are as wrong as they can be, and Nil By Mouth and the SFA now want those extended to cover Scottish football too, a country where Irish political expression is already punished enough and where the governing bodies and others don’t even try to hide the intent, which is to restrict the rights of supporters to properly express themselves inside stadiums.

Every Celtic fan should oppose this, and let the club know it, not that they have to because Celtic has never been in favour of it and that hasn’t changed.

This is my last word on this subject for a while.

For the record, I don’t expect “strict liability” to pass.

The clubs in the main don’t want it, because they understand that there will always be idiots in any support and the clubs can only do so much to weed them out. Only someone who doesn’t really understand football could believe otherwise.

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The Offensive Double Standard

Brussels - March 03: Twitter Hit By Hackers.There’s a lot of joy, an awful lot of it, on social media today over the fate of a West of Scotland Primary School teacher who posted some pretty heavy stuff on Twitter and is now facing disciplinary action for it.

I’m not going into detail; if you follow the news at all you can’t have missed the story.

She might yet keep her job, but that couldn’t matter less as far as the wider impact goes.

The media, both old and new, has spoken, declared her guilty and branded her a bigot.

They’ve hung that tag around her neck like a rank piece of dead flesh and that, as they say, is that.

Career cancer. Game over.

What appalling hypocrites some of these people are.

I debated with myself about whether to make this a piece for this blog, but ultimately I decided it belongs here and not over on Comment Isn’t Free, my politics one, because there’s a lot of overlap between the grave dancers online and the issues this site occasionally covers.

For one thing, she’s been reported to Police Scotland, presumably under the auspices of that deplorable piece of legislation the Offensive Behaviour Act, an act any number of those rejoicing at her current fate might be hauled up for contravening themselves based on their remarks.

I’m not advocating that. I’m simply pointing it out.

A lot of these people crawled out of a sewer.

Any number of them have made this an issue about Catholic schools, Catholicism as a whole, Irish expression, Scottish nationalism (there’s a photo of her with Nicola Sturgeon) and, of course, Celtic.

(She was pictured with Tony Stokes too, and it’s not hard to guess which team she supports.)

One guy posted on one of the many articles about this on a newspaper’s website – in almost orgiastic delirium – about how overjoyed he was to find a story that gave him a chance to take a shot at all of those targets at once.

And of course, he called her a bigot for good measure.

This is the level at which these people operate, and others still decided the gutter was too good for them and posted the sort of comments that are simply unprintable here and really do belong in the province of the courts.

If she has good lawyers she could sue enough of these people to put her on easy street for the rest of her natural life, and she should.

Let’s be clear; this isn’t a piece defending her, although I’m moved to suggest that someone who decided to pursue a career working to develop young minds and had to have grafted like mad towards that goal, and who’s record in doing it is probably as clean as a whistle and who has, doubtless, made a huge and positive difference in her community probably deserves better than the witch-hunt she’s currently facing, and maybe a chance to keep on doing her job.

Added to that, I can’t help but wonder about the kind of regulations which intrude into someone’s personal beliefs, and what that has to do with her place of employment.

She wasn’t sending those tweets out on an office computer, after all.

None of this stuff intruded on her lessons to the kids, did it?

I’m fairly sure the tabloid muck-rakers would have mentioned that.

But Hell, those are issues for another day.

No, this is a piece calling out those who’ve forgotten one of the first, and most important, maxims of the Christian faith, which I don’t think is an out-of-order subject at this time of year; not even forgiveness but the one that goes “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Yes, a lot of people forget that one.

Let me give them an example of the sort of things that do my nut in.

For a start, calling someone a bigot in the same sentence as she’s subjected to a sectarian slur is not going to get you into the Quiz Kids.

Ad hominem attacks in the same tweet that question a person’s character … well that demonstrates a high IQ for sure, one that might even hit room temperature when they’re straining all the brain cells.

The Illiterati of the internet are bad enough, but we’ve got media outlets busily destroying her as well, and they are far worse.

I don’t need to give anyone a refresher course on how they’ve behaved over the years.

They’ve excused the inexcusable, and ignored what suited them. Journalists chortle over people like John Brown and his dislike of anything remotely connected to Celtic which goes all the way to not wearing the colour green, but scream from the rooftops whenever supporters express similar views. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

Real bigotry is a subject they’ve kept at arm’s length for as long as I’ve been alive, but that would have been difficult to tackle, and this is an easy target they’re going after, and their relish at the task oozes from every editorial.

This doesn’t even stop with the kind of stuff they routinely ignore.

Most of them clap their hands with undisguised glee at the idea of what they refer to as the “return” of the Old Firm game, the brand built on hate which they’ve spent the last four years falling all over themselves to rebuild and promote anew.

They also think nothing of seeking the opinions of men like Hugh Dallas – who one paper put on the back pages this very week, even as they lambasted her on the front – and radio stations and the evening news channels still go out of their way to seek the opinions of “supporter reps” who’s own social media postings raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Graham Spiers, writing in The Herald recently, even suggested that Scottish football should “rehabilitate” Craig Thomson, who’s own behaviour on the internet was about a million times worse and more extreme than anything this girl did.

You tell me; what’s wrong with this picture?

In the meantime, his newspaper has its reporter’s door-stopping this girl and circling like vultures, which of course does nothing good in terms of her discipline case, making this into a national issue and pretty much leaving her bosses with nowhere to go … something else I hope her legal people are all over, and planning to highlight when the time comes.

And all this is to say nothing, of course, about their political coverage, which has created more “out” groups – everyone from social security claimants to immigrants – than Goebbels’s propaganda ministry would have dared dream about.

Our media as moral guardians?

Give me a sodding break.

They can keep their phony outrage and hysterical commentary, but that’s easy for me to say as someone who’s not been directly in their crosshairs. The stench of their own double standards reeks out their offices, but I understand that they’re simply playing to their traditional audience and this is a story that, as I said above, simply has everything for those retrograde scum.

I posted a piece on this site just last week about the number of their fan sites, and supporter reps, who spend their days trawling the net for information they can use to damage anyone whose opinion doesn’t merge with their own.

I was inspired to write that by a tweet from Jim Spence, about how he’d heard a story about another journalist whose job was under threat by these people.

I now think I know who he’s talking about it, and it wouldn’t be the first time this particular person has been targeted by these folk.

One website in particular has editorialised on this writer at great length, and much of the content is libellous and ought to be pursued.

This story is another case in point.

It’s not difficult, I’m sure, to imagine how this is being greeted on those same forums and websites.

This is like something Santa dropped down the chimney.

It’s the potential ruination of somebody’s life and what it brings to them is great joy.

I don’t know what else to say about that other than it makes my skin crawl.

These same people, emboldened by this action, are now frantically trying to select a target for the encore, and Jeanette Findlay’s name has been bandied about as she, too, works in an educational environment and has views they don’t happen to agree with.

Jeanette has already made her disgust at the hate-mob – old and new media both – known as regards this issue, and I applaud her for that and thank her from the bottom of my heart for reminding us all that there’s still a spark of humanity out there in the world, and those who are intelligent and compassionate enough to look at the bigger picture.

But of course the “big picture” doesn’t matter to the pitch-fork wielding horde, some of whom can’t wait to moralise against anyone and others who have more specific targets in mind and think of this story as a God-send.

Their anger is the phoniest kind there is, and it makes me retch and it ought to make all decent people feel the same way.

Their own hatred is palpable, and even a little scary.

They are a different species.

Someone’s career hangs in the balance here. Someone’s life is quite literally on the cusp of being destroyed, and at Christmas time too. In their attitude towards this lies the truth about their own rancid characters.

Their overriding emotion isn’t regret or sadness … it’s glee.

This is the Festive Season in Scotland, eah?

Goodwill, and all that.

Aye, right.

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The Ingratitude Of Sevconians

JS56340180Today saw another court battle between Mike Ashley’s people and those of Dodgy Dave King.

It wasn’t as explosive as yesterday’s, but it was instructive nonetheless.

The headline story from it will be that Sevco hasn’t actually paid back the £5 million Sports Direct loan, as their legal counsel claimed in court yesterday; in fact, according to them, they’re still trying to get the money together to do so.

They’re £500,000 short … what Ashley would regard as petty cash.

I laughed reading that, partly at my own naivety in so readily accepting that claim yesterday. This was, after all, made at the same hearing where King claimed to have amnesia on so many issues I would not have been surprised if he’d momentarily forgotten his own name.

But all that is to digress. The reason for this piece is the dollops of abuse being heaped on the freelance journalist James Doleman, who’s covering the story from the courtroom, and tweeting back to all those who’re interested.

And for that, he’s being singled out. He’s being labelled a hater.

He’s also being called out for the crowd-funding campaign he ran in order to cover his expenses. I’m going to talk about that briefly for a minute before I go on, and I hope you’ll bear with me.

It may shock some of these people to realise this, but what James Doleman does, what I do, what Paul67 does, what Phil does, it’s time consuming and it’s difficult. This is my day job; it’s not a hobby that I spend an occasional five minutes on.

Yesterday, I wrote and published four different blogs, an article for a magazine, a third of a chapter of a novel and started re-designing a digital magazine. This is a full-time gig, and James is the same, a freelance journalist and blogger of some repute.

Neither he nor myself, or any of the other bloggers with Donate buttons on their sites, is asking for charity. If people like what we do they can support it, or not.

The notion that this is rattling the tin cup is ludicrous, and I don’t feel any sense of embarrassment about it.

I know what rattling the tin cup looks like.

It’s a football club that claims its finances are the “envy of world football” asking its own fans if they can carry out maintenance work at the stadium to save the club money, and the attendant consequences when bits of the roof are falling off.

It’s King going to his own directors for soft loans to keep on the lights.

It’s the club going cap in hand to the supporter’s own “Fighting Fund” singing a chorus of “Brother, can you spare a dime?”

It’s organising a football match for charity, then sloughing off part of the proceeds to pay the bills and feeling no sense of shame at all about it.

I’m surprised they don’t recognise it themselves.

So yes, James asked for help meeting his costs, and I’ve done the same and my own work depends on the steady trickle of support I get from good people who like what I do. So we have Donate buttons and fund raising appeals … and every penny is declared to HMRC.

But let’s be clear; we’re not putting up paywalls and asking for subscription fees. There are a few sites which have online shops, but none of us is making a living selling, for example, unbranded tat ostensibly in an effort to screw a major retailer.

James is a big boy, and he’s batted back easily enough at those who’ve labelled him as some kind of scrounger. It’s those who’ve tried to label him a hater that I want to talk about.

This guy has been working as a freelance court reporter for years. I’ve been following his stuff for a while. His blog is interesting and engaging and he knows what he’s talking about. He covers any matter he thinks there’s a public interest in, and say what you like about Sevco but it’s a circus that never ends and is the subject of much attention inside and outside Scotland.

James is probably not used to the abuse he’s had in the last week, not like some of us are, but the Goon Squad now have him firmly in their sights and I fear he’ll have to tolerate it a while.

An example of the garbage he’s had to put up with:

One tweet called him a “bead rattler”. James threatened to block the guy.

And what response did he get for that?

More abuse, and the guy calling him a bigot.

How do you even begin to respond to that?

Where do you start?

You’re not dealing with ordinary, well-formed individuals here; you’re conversing with the institutionally stupid, people so dense light bends around them.

Their favourite refrain, of course, is to say we’re “obsessed.” James got that one thrown at him more than a few times in the last week. Today he posted a link to his blog to demonstrate the extent of this “obsession” … and I’m sure you can guess what it reveals.

I know why they use that word so frequently, and I’ve blogged on it several times in the past; this is their self-image talking, this idea that the reason they’re still “current” is that they’re a massive football club with wealth and power, and not an impoverished wreck still floundering in the lower leagues. They’re missing the big picture, because all they see is their own narrow view.

And in the big picture they’re nowhere.

All this attention we’re paying to events there isn’t even wholly about them; the larger issue is the governance of Scottish football. The Ibrox freak show is amusement for some, schadenfreude for others and simply banter for more. But to those of us who take the game seriously, and care about it, events at Ibrox are a microcosm of a wider problem; the cancer eating away at our national sport, rotting it from within.

But there’s more. Their attitude stinks not just because it’s the product of unbelievable – and grossly misplaced – arrogance, but because it’s fundamentally unappreciative.

At the helm of their club is a notorious liar, a man who has no qualms about gilding the lily whenever he pleases, a man a judge in his homeland says will alter his narrative to suit whatever audience he’s in front of at any given time.

Yesterday he sat in a courtroom and feigned amnesia for most of the proceeding. Then, in violation of a judge’s orders, he went outside and told a subservient media that he had won some great victory, when, in fact, he had simply avoided jail.

To me, that seems like it ought to be an occasion for relief.

For this guy it’s business as usual, and that ought to trouble these people more than it does.

The media, which today proclaimed his great win, are not going to dig deep into what’s really going on at their club.

They never have before.

Theirs is now a cut-and-paste profession; every major story they’ve “broken” in the last five years was on the forums and blogs first.

They contributed nothing to the cause of “saving Rangers” and their habit of jumping into bed with anyone who claims to want to “invest” and give a manager a “war chest” long ago ceased to be embarrassing and has been a major factor in creating the circumstances that let men like Whyte and Green in there.

King is no better than those men, and I would have thought Sevco fans would have had a great deal of interest in those proceedings yesterdays and those still to come.

But their intolerance keeps getting in the way of their common sense. James Doleman now joins the ranks of “the enemy” when all he, and others, have done is try to keep them informed about events surrounding something they claim to love.

Yes, but he’s just “an obsessed Tim with an agenda.”

If more of them had given a damn, if more of them had focussed their own meagre intellects on events at Ibrox they might not be in such a godawful state.

And they know it. And they hate it.

And that’s why they’re so pissed off all the time.

Nevertheless, their behaviour and ingratitude is shameful.

It says a lot about who they are.

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A Country That Hates Celtic?

15077224_Strathclyde Police Kettle Celtic Green Brigade fans  16-03-2013 Gallowgate GlasgowYesterday, I posted an article here about the coming Remembrance Day match at Ross County, where our fans will be under typical scrutiny, and where a single mistimed fart will result in forum threads and headlines beyond count, all of them casting a bad light on the whole support and, indeed, the whole club.

Last night I posted an article over on the CelticBlog about how Kilmarnock has announced that it intends to implement the excellent “Twenty’s Plenty” policy for the fans of all clubs.

With one exception. Celtic fans.

It pisses me off.

A few days ago, I watched a video of Celtic fans being accosted by police at Hamilton, police who took away their banner despite them having broken no law.

What came across most in that video was the sneering, contemptuous attitude of the officers who stopped them.

They couldn’t tell these guys what crime they had committed.

One actually asked a guy his age and then, like a mother talking to a primary school kid, chided him with the words “you’re old enough to know better.”

“Know better than what?” I wanted to scream at the screen.

Know better, perhaps, to think Celtic fans can walk Scottish streets these days without official harassment and intimidation.

Know better, perhaps, than to think we can do that wearing the colours and the crest of our football club.

Our supporters are targets; it’s as simple as that.

Of unscrupulous club pricing policies. Of the police. Of hacks who twist everything our players, officials and even ex-players and officials, say to paint us in the worst possible light.

We’re also the targets of other fans, many of whom enjoy nothing more than when a small minority of our supporters can let them smear our whole club.

Am I gearing up for a chorus of “no-one likes us, we don’t care”?

Absolutely not, and I’ll tell you why.

This kind of treatment is reserved for us only here at home.

For a long time we’ve fiercely guarded our reputation as the world’s best fans, but it’s not enough for some people and it never will be.

Here, at home, we have enemies.

Here, at home, there are people who will never wish us well.

That asks a hard question of us; how do we respond to that?

Do we change our behaviour?

Because that’s what some in our society say we should do.

Republican anthems, no matter how much they are part of the culture many of our fans come from – in the same way as the Orange Walk is part of the culture of those on the other side – these offend some people; therefore why do our fans sing them?

Our banners, likewise, are often sharply political and can cut close to the bone, as some political expression is supposed to.

But why do we bother flying them?

Because we want to offend people? No, no and thrice no.

That it does offend people ought to be neither here nor there to us. There is no law protecting people from being offended, and God forbid there ever will be. We do it because … it’s who we are. The banners and the songs are about where many of us are from, and the psychic and symbiotic connection between that place and our football club is strong, and deep, no matter who might wish otherwise.

We’re here, and we’re staying.

But in order to better “fit in”, do we become subservient?

Get in with the “accepted norm”?

What if the “accepted norm” is a lot of hypocritical bollocks?

When they are forcing poppies onto the jerseys of every club in the land they have some brass neck telling us they want politics out of the sport.

When our political class is pushing national identity – both at the UK level and here in Scotland – at the same time as denying some of our fans theirs, it makes you wonder if you can ever bring yourself to vote again.

And when the media is calling for more passion in the stands but wants to condemn us for the ways in which express it … then the whole idea of conforming is a bit of a joke, isn’t it?

Because you quickly realise that what they really object to is simply the fact of us.

They don’t like that we exist at all.

If, tomorrow, our fans stopped singing Republican songs, if we agreed to wear the poppies, if we stopped flying the tricolour the very likely result of that would be … no change at all. Nothing short of a winding up order would appease these people.

Knowing that, I wonder why we’d even bother to try to?

Outside of Scotland, none of this applies.

Few other clubs have such a circle of friends across the sport.

Away from here, we’re loved and respected and honoured.

Outside of Scotland we get awards and commendations from towns and cities.

Police forces usually greet us like old friends, with the notable exception being the one in Amsterdam which seemed to want to add us to the list of supporters they’ve terrorised from all across Europe.

Outside of Scotland people judge us on who and what we are, rather than as a social group who others want to hammer into a mould that suits their own prejudices.

UEFA might butt heads with us these days but we know they don’t regard our banners and songs as a major issue, and let’s face it, being moralised to by these guys at the moment is a wee bit like being given marital advice by the folk behind the Ashley Madison site.

If they’re so serious about removing politics from sport I look forward to them telling the Home Associations to get the poppies off the shirts pronto.

So yes, outside of Scotland we have few issues to deal with.

We are not loved here.

Some dislike us with an intensity that almost defies reason, and this isn’t confined only to Sevco fans either.

I read the same preachy, anti-Celtic bollocks on websites belonging to clubs all over Scotland.

These people have myriad reasons why they say they dislike us, but in truth I don’t think any of them stand up to scrutiny.

They hate us … just because.

A lot of it has to do with social conditioning I think.

I had a debate with someone I regard very highly recently, over Catholic school education, which he said encouraged social division, without even thinking that diversity is something to celebrate instead of condemn.

I reminded him that it’s those people who say Catholic kids grow up different who are doing most to cement that view, and many are simply mirroring their own bias, by thinking of those kids as if they are.

He amazed me with his almost unconscious prejudice.

He was, apparently, wholly unaware that these schools exist all over Europe; it’s only here in Scotland that they are the subject of such outrageous attitudes, even hate, and when I told him that he was stunned, and said he’d look into the issue.

I don’t know if he will or not.

I only know that growing up here in a country which is so narrow minded and prejudicial has impacted on his ability to rationally analyse these things, and that applies equally to expressions of Irishness and Irish identity, and perhaps even more so.

Celtic’s support is made up of many diverse groups, and a number of them are highly political in their awareness and outlook.

Our club enjoys that when it brings good publicity with it; the Green Brigade have been, deservedly, lauded for their outstanding contributions to Glasgow’s foodbanks, but when they show the same political awareness to highlight their opposition to poppies on our jerseys or choose to exercise their free speech to make a point about the Offensive Behaviour At Football act, one of the most backward pieces of legislation ever conceived, our club looks the other way and treats them like the bad-tempered step child.

I can sympathise with their position in a sense; it wasn’t the Celtic board that passed the OBAF bill; in fact, our club’s stated position is in clear opposition to that legislation.

Additionally, when UEFA hands down a mandate they’ve got no choice but to accept it.

So the apparent inconsistency of their position is, to a certain extent, something that’s been imposed on them.

They do realise how our fans feel about many of these issues, which is why there will be no poppies on the jersey for the second year in a row.

They also supported the fans who were arrested in Amsterdam last year, and the last I heard they were lobbying UEFA angrily, seeking a clear explanation for why we were fined for the fans flying a Palestinian flag.

I’ve heard nothing about how that particular enquiry went, so if anyone can update me on it I’d be pleased.

In the end, they too realise what we’re dealing with here, what we have to face day in day out.

They get it, when other clubs release inflammatory press statements about our supporters, as Hearts did some years ago, or when we’re accused of “rioting” in Dundee.

I am the very last guy in the world who’d do the rousing chorus of “no-one likes us, we don’t care.”

Neither part of that sentence is true.

But here, in Scotland, we’re constantly on our toes, and some who’ve worn the Celtic strip in the wrong places have paid a savage price for doing so.

Our younger fans continue to be the victims of harassment today, but nowadays it more often than not comes with official sanction and a police uniform.

It’s almost as if certain people are doing everything they can to stop fans going to games at all.

Over on the CelticBlog last night I asked if it’s time our fantastic away fans stopped doing just that, and I was amazed at the number of “yes” replies the article got on Facebook and elsewhere.

Our guys and girls are getting sick fed up with all this; with away fans who treat us with contempt, with their clubs leeching off of us, with the police constantly on our case and with governing bodies which can’t get their act together.

How long before it becomes a critical mass?

I love Scotland, and I voted for independence. But I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I know there are an awful lot of its citizens who strongly dislike, even hate, Celtic.

Many of them do it reflexively, not even fully aware of the reasons why.

I find that more than a little irritating because I genuinely believe our club has been a force for good in the game.

We were founded on a charitable basis. We continue that tradition today. Since the death of Rangers, we have been more than fair, more than generous, in helping to redistribute wealth down through the leagues.

We did as much as any club to bring forth the new cash settlement which the other sides now enjoy.

I would still like to think that we could yet offer a leading voice towards reform of the whole national sport.

But there are too many who will sneer at that.

We are the best placed and best equipped club for the task, but a lot of others would say we were on a power trip, resorting to the old cliché that it was simply arrogance that was spurring us on.

And so progress is halted, usually at the first step.

I am not asking other clubs and their supporters to bow the knee, because we’ve never been that kind of institution.

No-one will be asked to “render unto Caesar”.

Nor do I expect respect from those who despise us and can’t accept any positive flowing from our existence.

But nor do I think we should change – not one iota – in order to appease them.

That means we’ll always take a little flak.

It means we’ll always eat a little dirt.

It means that in some parts of this fair land we’ll always be thought of as the outsiders.

Fine. So be it.

Let the haters hate, because in the end it’s all they know how to do.

We are, and we’ve always been, so much more than that.

We’ve been here for 127 years, and you know what?

This club, and our traditions, will be here long after many of our enemies and critics have gone the way of the team that was once our greatest rival.

(This site faces many challenges going forward. As you probably gathered, Celtic isn’t the most liked club in the world, and that means I’m constantly having to update servers, protect it from spammers and hackers and various other issues. It’s a full time job, and if you want to support what I do, you can make a donation at the link. If every reader was able to donate just £5 a year that would keep the site going strong well into the future. Many thanks in advance.)

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No Standards

PETER MARTINAs many of you know well, I am a geek about the Roman Empire, in particular the early years when it was run by what historians refer to as the Julio-Claudian dynasty; from the era of Octavian up until the death of Nero, from roughly 44BC until AD68.

In the midst of this period – when Rome had five emperors – was the reign of Caligula. Whilst not as insane as Nero, he was, some historians claim, nevertheless barking mad, arrogant and sadistic.

He also hated the Senate with a passion that can best be summed up by stories that he nominated his horse, Incitatus, to that famous body and even talked of making it Consul.

It is probably history’s greatest expression of contempt.

I thought about that a lot when the Sevco directors named Chris Graham as one of them.

I chortled over that appointment because it was so obviously ridiculous, and bound to end in tears.

Caligula payed for his own numerous insults with death; he was assassinated in a conspiracy involving a number of senators and his own Praetorian Guard.

Graham too was taken care of, when it became obvious even to the blinkered idiots who had thought him fit for such a post that he was radioactive.

There were no knives in his back but it seems clear he was convinced to jump before he was pushed, to spare the club further embarrassment.

He is an embarrassment.

The website he helped found, which is called The Rangers Standard, actually started out with good ideas and noble intentions.

I read some of the earlier pieces, and thought they were excellent and opened up a lot of possibilities for the club’s supporters engaging with other fans.

That didn’t last long.

The lunatics were soon in charge of the asylum and the title became a grim unintended parody of itself.

They’ve been scraping the bottom of the barrel for a long time now.

Over the weekend, Graham’s organ went right through the bottom, hit the dirt and started digging for China.

Low standards have become no standards.

Any shred of credibility he and his website had is gone.

When Sevco played St Mirren on Friday night, there was a minutes silence for the ex-Rangers player Sammy Cox.

After the match, somebody with a rather big mouth and an extremely small brain “informed” the team at The Rangers Standard that the journalist Peter Martin had refused to stand in observance of this.

Now, there are many reasons why someone might not stand.

Maybe they can’t.

Maybe they are unwell and need to remain in the seat.

Maybe they knew the person personally – and Martin would certainly have known Sammy Cox, in a professional capacity as well as a social one – and choose to pay a silent, reflective, tribute by taking a moment to sit and think about the times they had spent together.

And, of course, the whole thing might just be cobblers.

Which, you won’t be surprised to learn, is exactly what it turned out to be.

But none of that entered the mind of the erstwhile Sevco director or whoever was in charge of the Twitter feed on that particular day.

They tweeted an accusatory and highly inflammatory, even dangerous, allegation without checking the facts, without considering nuance, without thinking about the consequences.

There are a range of potential consequences too.

When one considers bombs sent to people’s homes and fans running onto the pitch to attack a Celtic manager, you do get a sense of what some on the far fringes of sanity might consider or even engage in following such a dramatic disclosure.

The mind-numbing stupidity of this act is equalled only by its sheer recklessness.

And at its heart is a horrible, evil presumption that can only be the product of a hateful mind.

Graham or one of his people heard this and believed it because they see the whole world through their own set of unhealthy prejudices.

They didn’t bother with the “benefit of the doubt” or anything else; they heard the story, applied their own thought processes to it (such as they are) and concluded that they should put it out there because it sounded right in their own head.

I am harsh on our press. But even I realise that much of what I perceive as anti-Celtic bias is simply the hacks slotting into a culture which we have here.

Every word out of Ibrox is treated as gospel although the institution run out of that ground is a basket case and much of what pours out of its PR wings is purely and simply absolute cobblers.

Celtic, on the other hand, are scrutinised and held to different standards, from the boardroom to the dugout.

It’s more than just because we’re now the biggest club in the country; there’s an element of bitterness in it at times … but that’s just part of living here in Scotland.

The word “hate” doesn’t factor into my thinking.

Hate is a strong word, a vicious word, a word that is overused when it ought to be one we apply very carefully.

Some of the hacks don’t like my club much.

Some of them may be overly enamoured with the Ibrox operation.

But it would take an almost mind-bending display of ugliness – the kind not seen since David Leggat last worked for a national title – before I’d accuse one of the hacks of outright hating Celtic, of wishing us harm, of being motivated by nothing else.

Can you imagine the level of loathing it takes for someone not to pay their respects to a dead man, just because of the football club he played for?

Thank God, but that kind of mentality is exceedingly rare and there isn’t a single one of our journalists – not one, no matter how much I may do my nut at the things they write or say – who is built like that.

And Peter Martin?

A couple of seconds of rational contemplation should have dissuaded anyone from giving even the remotest credence to such obvious bullshit.

For Gods sakes, if you were looking to pick a guy who’s considerate, genuine and without a bitter, far less hateful, bone in his body you couldn’t do much better.

That anyone with a degree of level-headedness would think, for a second, that he’s moved by those emotions … it’s unbelievable.

Whoever sent out that tweet belongs in a secure unit, pulling the padding out of his cell walls.

Sevco are at war with the media at the moment – or select parts of it anyway, those which actually see “doing the news” as an essential part of the job and which don’t just regurgitate Level 5 PR statements as if they were Holy Writ – and the whole club is wrapping itself in the “no-one likes us we don’t care” comfort blanket of old.

But they need to pull their heads out of their backsides and this humiliating screw up – and the Rangers Standard has already apologised, but only after Martin explicitly accused them of lying and said he wouldn’t stand for it, threatening to sue – ought to give them pause and a wee moment for thinking about what they’re actually engaged in here.

Some of them clearly do prefer living in ignorance to being in possession of the facts, even those that could help them.

Some of them are more comfortable making enemies lists than engaging with other clubs and their supporters.

But this perma-rage has made their club weaker, not stronger.

It has made their lives harder, not easier.

For some there’s simply no going back though; this consumes them now, and colossal errors of judgement and breaks with reality are simply the norm with a large section of them, one that really has swallowed the Survival Myth whole and believes in the Victim Myth without question.

The Rangers Standard has apologised on Twitter, to Martin and to its own readers, giving them assurances that they were told of Martin’s refusal to stand and hinting that they used it in “good faith.”

There is no “good faith” argument in running a gutter level lie.

They get no credit for their apology, which actually reeks of fear of legal consequences as much as genuine contrition.

It isn’t the first time they’ve slandered people; Graham in particular enjoys throwing the word “bigot” around, although he’s the one who had to resign from the Sevco board for such conduct. Their twitter feed also throws the words “lies” and “liars” around with almost reckless abandon that, sooner or later, will result in them ending up in court.

So no, they get no credit for being “sorry”.

What started out as a positive, intelligent and potentially important website for the NewCo supporters has become something ugly, something reckless and self-absorbed, but it’s embraced by a lot of people who are simply lost in the darkness in which their club still finds itself, in spite of recent improved performances on the pitch.

These guys could do themselves and the club they purport to love a huge service by disbanding and shutting the Hell up.

At the very least, they might want to consider a name change.

And on the other hand … maybe not.

They have, after all, been key supporters of the Glib & Shameless South African tax cheat and his band of fellow travellers, those who thought appointing Chris Graham to the board was a good idea, as Caligula once thought nominating his horse to the Senate was.

For this shoddy, shabby, cowardly behaviour …it’s the norm now.

Their own board, after all, has broken promises, engaged in shady practices, changed its story like the weather and after promising a “new era of transparency” is banning journalists who have the cheek to do their jobs.

This is The Rangers Standard now, isn’t it?

Talk about fiddling whilst Rome burns.

(Writing is my full time job friends and neighbours, and the support of my readers is vital. If you want to support it, you can make a donation at the link. If every reader was able to donate just £5 a year that would keep the site going strong well into the future. Many thanks in advance.)

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Stirring The Soup

master.national_newspapers_montageAaah the Scottish media and the Sevco supporters.

They are amongst the biggest sodding hypocrites in Scotland.

Today The Daily Record and a large section of the Sevco support are howling anger and spewing venom after Scott Allan handed in a transfer request and got the predictable stick for it on certain social media platforms.

Before I begin with the article proper, I am going to do something that few others ever bother to do.

I am going to defend Facebook, Twitter and the rest.

A lot of people – hacks mostly – say that social media is an open sewer.

I always find myself laughing when I hear that because there are a number of newspapers in this country which have, on occasion, trawled the sewer themselves.

The Daily Mail does it frequently.

By that I mean every single day.

Some of the people at The Sun just can’t help doing it.

And The Daily Record … well, Hell … what to say?

How about “Thugs and Thieves” for openers?

How about employing Jim Traynor for all those years?

How about comparing the Celtic CEO to Saddam Hussein?

Oh yes … and sending a hearse to Celtic Park.

I’m not even going to bother going into their politics coverage, and stuff like The Pledge, which was one of the most obvious forays into the decorative bog roll business that I’ve ever seen.

Social media bothers these people for just one reason.

Social media gives everyone a voice.

Everyone.

Not everyone is coherent.

Not everyone is rational.

Not everyone is sane.

Social media platforms don’t discriminate. They give those folk the same soapbox as your average tabloid journalist, and all those celebrities who are always vying for the public’s consideration.

I love hearing them wail, them in particular, when the people whose attention they are courting suddenly give it to them. Acting like big weans, spitting the dummy out of the pram because of a wee bit of stick … some of them should take a look at my inbox of an evening.

A national newspaper still employs that deplorable, walking haemorrhoid Kate Hopkins, so forgive me for not being terribly interested in fake piety from the press.

I am even less interested in it from Sevco fans with their superiority complex.

Scott Allan has behaved appallingly here, and without the remotest sign of remorse for disrupting his present club’s preparations for the season.

I’m sure it wasn’t just Hibs fans who were colossally unimpressed by pictures of him out jollying with the players who had just beaten his side 6-2 in a cup match. That kind of behaviour is rank.

This is a guy who had a chance to sign for Sevco last year. He opted for Hibs.

He signed a contract with them, and I might be daft for suggesting this but I think he owed them more than spitting on the jersey in the fashion he’s just done.

Is it too much to ask that he acted like a professional and understood the very delicate position of the club who saved his career?

Am I excusing some of the comments that have been posted about him?

Of course not.

But those comments aren’t from fully “with it” individuals.

They are from a handful of asylum inmates, rattling the bars of their cages.

There’s no defending them.

No right thinking person would want to, and it would be a waste of time because these folk are beyond shaming, beyond logic, beyond reason.

They don’t know any better and they’re not inclined to learn.

My gripe is with those who practice the most astonishing hypocrisy.

The Daily Record has spent the last seven days trying to force Hibs’ hand, going to every ex Rangers player who they can get to give a quote about why the Edinburgh side “will have to” do the bidding of the one that plays out of Ibrox.

Intellectual heavyweights like Barry Ferguson and Charlie Miller have been drafted in to give their opinions on the matter, as if either of them were capable of seeing things from anything other than the blue point of view.

The Daily Record is not really a newspaper, which is one of many reasons I do not buy it and never will.

It poses as one, but in fact it has long been the creature of certain vested interests in this country.

The Labour Party is one of them, and whether you sympathise with that organisation or not, whether you vote for it or not, the simple fact is that you will never get proper coverage of Scottish politics within the pages of its principal cheerleader.

There’s no balance. There’s no impartiality.

That’s not me stating a political case; it’s me stating a fact.

The Daily Record’s sports coverage is no better.

In fact, some will say that it’s worse, worse by far.

The paper’s political coverage cheesed a lot of people off this time last year, but the boycotts preceded the referendum by a decade.

The Daily Record is not a trustworthy publication.

It is dishonest, dishonourable and occasionally disgraceful in its conduct and its brand of journalism.

The truth is, the newspaper has done its level best over the past week to put Hibs in as bad a position as possible and to push Scott Allan in the direction of the move.

They were talking about his handing in a transfer request five days ago, almost as if they were suggesting that if he hadn’t already that maybe it was time that he did.

Having played its part in provoking this outrageous situation, they are now washing their hands of responsibility and turning attention to a small group of Neanderthals who have reacted in just the manner they were supposed to.

It’s called stirring the soup.

The Record – which once asked, on the eve of a Celtic – Rangers game, whether Neil Lennon or Hector the Taxman was “the most hated person at Ibrox” – has been doing it a long time.

And as unimpressed as I am by The Record’s “mea culpa”, I am even less moved by the phony outrage gushing out of the Sevco fans sites and their own Twitterati.

As I’ve said, I know all about the lunatic fringe over there and I have the inbox to prove it.

But you know, as bad as it is, I know what I have to put up with is not half as horrendous as some of the vitriol that’s been poured on other people; Jim Spence, Angela Haggerty, Alex Thomson, Mark Daly and others over the last few years.

It was a Sevco manager who demanded the names of an annonymous SFA committee.

It was The Record that chose to publish, and push, that demand, in an outrageous serious of articles akin to a witch-hunt.

But it was the Sevco fans themselves, and their websites, which made sure those names were on the lips of every madman and maniac who knows the words of The Sash.

It was their folk who poured out of the gutter and “hunted” those people.

In their article today, The Record has produced a handful of tweets directed at Allan which, whilst not particularly nice, are more akin to bad taste than genuintely threatening behaviour.

The members of that SFA panel, including a representative of Raith Rovers (whose ground was targeted) actually received death threats so serious Police Scotland got involved.

I’ve looked for evidence that The Daily Record was moved to outrage by that.

I cannot find a single article condemning this vile behaviour except one … and it doesn’t, itself, condemn it but simply publishes the denunciation of those who did it by the arch-hypocrite himself, McCoist, who’s snarling, spitting, spiteful act had got the ball rolling in the first place, and who probably feared damage to his reputation if some of the creatures he had turned loose over-reacted to his all-too-obvious entreaties for action.

What I’m saying is simply this; no-one at The Record seems to have had a particular problem with online vitriol when it’s happened in the past.

(At least as far as football is concerned. When it comes to Scottish politics they display this peculiar myopia time and time again.)

They ignored it when Alex Thomson got it, when Mark Daly was getting it, when Jim Spence was enduring it and when Angela Haggerty was braving it, and the people who were doing it are amongst those squealing like pigs today about the treatment being dished out to an ungrateful (already) overpaid footballer with no sense of loyalty at all.

If I were feeling in a slightly more casual mood, I would say that no-one should have to put up with poisonous remarks on the internet or elsewhere, but you know what?

I actually don’t believe that.

In fact, I think it’s absolute cobblers.

There are professions – and I’m in one of them – where people willingly put themselves in the line of fire, and in the public gaze.

Journalism, literature, art, sport, politics, show business, music …. these aren’t career choices for the shrinking violet.

All of them depend, to one degree or another, on courting attention and encouraging an audience.

Well some of that attention will be the bad kind.

Some of the audience isn’t going to like what you do.

Only a complete halfwit – and it’s usually the kind of person who luxuriates in the praise and lives for every good word – thinks they can have one without the other.

Only the most deluded feel they are somehow above the howling bad reception.

The catcalls. The jeers.

The occasional barbs and abuse.

And on top of that, I’m willing to wager that more people in those fields have chucked it over bad peer reviews than have given up the game because certain parts of their audience told them they were pish, or gave them a bit of verbal.

You know what else?

Some of us even kind of like it.

In last night’s piece for the site, on why so many Scottish football fans have been watching Sevco in recent years (for the Giggle Factor), I said I used to read Richard Littlejohn solely because he wound me up and pissed me off.

If you’ve ever seen Littlejohn, his smug face and in particular that sex pest smile he wears on it, you’ll know just how much he lives for the negativity his work generates. He genuinely does love it. You can’t fail to notice that.

He is never happier, like a pig in its own shit, than when he’s pissed on half the country’s cornflakes of a morning.

His psychic twin, Hopkins, is the same.

I, personally, wear a lot of the insults as if they were badges of honour.

One of the tags I wear with the greatest pride was originally intended as an insult, after all; I am, and have long been, a fully paid up member of the Internet Bampots.

I’ve also been labelled a Cybernat by some and a “professional Rangers hater” by others.

The last one really does make me laugh uncontrollably.

(I don’t earn nearly enough for a start!)

All of this is simply to say that whilst some of the language directed at him, like the stuff urging he and his family a slow death, is vulgar and despicable, that Scott Allan is in the kind of job where a certain amount of that is inevitable.

I’m fairly sure he knew that before today.

He’s not going to be so affected by this that he’ll hang up his football boots to go and work behind a counter at McDonalds.

(Because those sorts of jobs … well the people in them never get stick, do they?)

I’ll go further; I would venture that a guy who tweets pictures of himself out on the piss with the team which just took six off his own is someone who’s stopped giving a monkeys what other people think or say about it.

Someone who does that … you might even say they’re provoking negative commentary, and as long as the folk dishing it out limit it to giving him some grief on Twitter I’m sure he’s big enough and ugly enough to handle that without too much trouble.

The hacks at The Daily Record know all this, because whilst they may appear institutionally stupid (Doha CSC and their “ban” from Iraq comes readily to mind, of course) they actually aren’t as dumb as all that.

The Sevco fan sites, in particular those which have been happy to push crap like the Celtic land deal story, in which they are perfectly willing to “name and shame” and tarnish the reputations of people who simply did their jobs according to the rules (as an EU investigation and several independent inquiries have proved beyond a doubt) either don’t know that or don’t care …. but either way, I’m not impressed by their sudden conversion to online etiquette.

This is typical of the way they behave.

They look at the conduct of a few nutters and numpties online and they don’t react out of genuine anger but instead use it to channel their own prejudices, like a sadistic kid focussing the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass to burn the wings off flies, and in doing so feed their own superiority complex.

“Oh look, he’s getting stick just because he supports ‘The Ranjurs” …”

Underneath all the mock indignation, that’s the self-serving tone that shines through most.

In their eyes, it was ever thus.

Hypocrites all.

It is impossible to take these folk seriously in anything.

(Believe it or not, this is what I do for a living friends and neighbours, and the support of my readers is vital. If you like what I do, and are able, and want to support it, you can make a donation at the link. If every reader was able to donate just £5 a year that would keep the site going strong well into the future. Many thanks in advance.)

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Shooting The Messenger

stock-footage-a-man-in-a-fedora-typing-on-a-vintage-manual-typewriter-film-noirThere are things you get used to when you do this sort of thing.

One of them is the criticism of those who’s closed minds don’t want exposure to the truth, the kind of people who would rather live in ignorance than confront reality.

There are a lot of them in Scottish football.

The last article this site published – on Dave King and why his fortune might not be as large or readily available to Sevco as many of their fans, and our media, seem to believe – was extraordinarily well received, at least in terms of the number of hits it generated.

A lot of those who read it were the supporters of the Ibrox club, and it’s fair to say not all of them liked it.

I understand that. But shooting the messenger … that’s harder to comprehend.

I have a long history with these people taking pot shots at me.

Phil has the same issue, and Paul67 too.

Forget that we’ve been right on the money far more often than we’ve been wrong.

Forget that King has behaved exactly as we predicted up until now – putting not one penny of his own cash into the club.

They don’t want to hear any of it.

Especially not from us.

Check out their forums if you don’t believe it.

The second they realise that a challenging article came from a “Celtic site” they shut down at once.

This marries bigotry with stupidity in a way that makes me want to gawp in amazement.

In truth, though, any blogger who consistently tries to paint a picture of the real world for these people – and I include some of their own; McMurdo has been required reading in the last few months, as one of the very few who won’t touch the Kool Aid – is branded an idiot automatically.

I can take being tagged like that.

What I won’t take is being called a bigot myself.

It’s a charge I refute utterly and anyone who throws it around better be prepared for consequences; I’ve threatened to sue for that in the past and I repeat that threat to anyone who’s game enough.

Simply put, myself and others are going to keep telling these people what they don’t want to hear.

And they’re going to continue resisting that.

Because the truth hurts … and the truth is all I have for them.

Why do we do this so much?

People ask me that all the time.

There are a few reasons.

For one, they are sheer entertainment in a way that has nothing to do with sport, or football itself.

To me, now, they’ve become the ultimate cautionary tale, the example future football fans will come to study in order to learn what not to do as a support, in much the same way as business school students will study the bank who let them, and Murray, live it large only to be brought down when things took a turn for the worse.

I think the Rangers fans will make an excellent case study.

I find it fascinating that so many people can wilfully unplug themselves from facts, logic and even common sense and go on believing that the world is what they wish it were, rather than focus on what it is.

I find it incredible that they can ignore clear evidence and wrap themselves in the comfort blanket of fairy tale ideas as if they were little children who still believe in Santa.

For what is a sugar daddy owner to football supporters but Father Christmas himself, in a good suit?

First it was Murray they believed in, then Whyte, followed by Green and now, finally, they’ve arrived at King.

Along the way they’ve destabilised their club to the point where a man of genuine means, who could play Santa until the cows come home, has become their implacable foe instead.

And this, in itself, is an achievement, of course.

They’ve turned an honest-to-God “nothing personal, strictly business” type into a guy who might well shoot them just to watch them die.

I have the luxury – we have the luxury – of being able to indulge in this guilty pleasure, because we do so from a secure vantage point.

We are the biggest club in Scotland, without dispute, and liable to be that for a long time to come.

There’s no escaping from that fact for them, no matter how much they might wish it were otherwise, and we’re comfortable enough with our position going forward that the occasional diversion to check out the parlous state of the club that kids on it’s our greatest rival is something we can easily afford.

If our position were not so strong, would we be focussing so much attention on them?

Of course we wouldn’t.

We’re not like them, gazing around, looking to pick fights, when we should be trying to drag ourselves up.

Their club is in a chaotic state.

Instead of focussing on that, some of their fans are still chasing dreams of “nailing Celtic” in a discredited “case” over land.

I mean … seriously?

We do this because we can, because our own club, well run (for the most part) and with a plan (whether we like it or not) can navigate whatever troubles come its way. We’re not constantly dealing with crisis at every turn.

They are worthy of our study because of the sheer lunacy of their behaviour.

We’re trying to find method in the madness, perhaps, and we can afford to take time out to look.

That’s the first reason.

The second reason we do it is that we like it.

There it is. I confess. We enjoy their suffering, and why not?

They sure as Hell enjoyed ours.

I rememeber their nine in a row. It’s what made stopping the ten so thoroughly satisfying, and these last few years into something almost blissful.

That’s an unpalatable truth though, one that’s hard to take because it makes me wonder if we’re any better than gawkers at the scene of a car crash, which is undoubtedly the best representation of them I can think of.

They are a car crash, happening in slow motion.

They can hide behind that pitiful “obsessed” nonsense too, and for as long as they like, but we’re no more obsessed by them than we are at the circus freak shows which once drew a crowd.

There is something in human nature that makes you slow you own vehicle down when you see emergency service lights on the motorway, surrounding a hunk of twisted metal.

Maybe we’re sadists.

Watching them flail around these last couple of years has definitely been fun.

Why else do they think a lot of us have OD’d on jelly and ice cream?

The hint is in the stuff itself.

It’s party food, but it’s kids party food, which should tell them how seriously we really view them in our lives.

I am amazed more of them don’t get that.

The final reason I do this so much is that this mind-set of theirs has been truly damaging for Scottish football.

If the only effects of it were to their own club then they would be justified in telling us to butt out and mind our own business.

But when the governing bodies and the media try to bully other clubs into accepting the wholescale bending of the rules, when league reconstruction is constantly being mooted as an alternative to clubs reaching the top flight on merit, when the atmosphere at grounds is polluted by the most appalling, retrograde singing from a section of their support and whilst they continue to indulge in a re-write of history that excuses the most scandalous practices ever seen in Scottish football whilst they simultaneously play the “victim card”, telling the world they have been unfairly treated … well that is our business and no mistake.

All the calamities which have struck them in recent years, whether you’re talking about Sevco or those which obliterated Rangers, were self-inflicted. This constant casting about for people to blame not only damages our game but stops them learning the lessons of history.

They blame Craig Whyte for their demise, ignoring the fact that had they been in good financial health and able to meet their funding requirements as per every other club in the leagues that he wouldn’t have needed to take such drastic action when they were knocked out of Europe.

When you boil it down, their real complaint against Whyte isn’t that he was a bad man. It’s that he wasn’t a rich one, as their media friends had led them to believe. He didn’t have the cash to continue funding a playing squad the club could not afford.

They think we’re stupid, that we’ve forgotten that for a while they were gleeful at the prospect of “starting fresh” without debts.

They spent their first year as Sevco boasting about it, and King was still boasting about it last week, even as BDO continued to sift through the rubble out of which they crawled, blaming everybody else.

They are back in the courts this week too, as the Big Tax Case drags on, another area where they claim to have been the targets of unscrupulous people, as if the Unseen Fenian Hand has reached as far as HMRC and turned it against them.

You really have to take your hats off to them for the scope of what they allege.

It really is something.

In their world, officials at BOS and Lloyds colluded against them.

HMRC came after them out of hate.

Every club in Scottish football lashed out vindictively.

At the same time, numerous Scottish based public bodies were coming together to let Celtic have land on the cheap, and in violation of the law.

This is mind-boggling … a kind of multi-track, multi-agency, multi-level conspiracy involving political corruption, misuse of company funds and public resources, cover-ups and deceit which could send people to jail if true … based on jealousy of a football club.

That is the definition of paranoia.

And to think they used to call it “the Irish disease.”

What’s the truth about all this?

That the governing bodies of football, run by one of their former directors, one heavily implicated in their scandals, let them away with murder and continues to.

That the bank which gave their owner unlimited access to funds, with which he built their ego-stoked “glory days” and let them run up debts in the tens of millions before the financial crash of 2008 stopped all that in its tracks, was the same one that almost closed Celtic’s doors over a deficit of only £7 million.

That they get an easier ride from the newspapers than any other football club in the UK.

That we here in Scotland invented “the Internet Bampots” to counter that.

That we re-wrote the media lexicon to include the phrase “succulent lamb journalism” and were the nation whose press once sat in silence at a media conference after a calamitous result for Rangers because no-one wanted to ask a negative question and there were no positives to be had.

That the whole of our political and media class, as well as the governing bodies themselves, ignored sectarian singing for decades and a religious based signing policy which should have made them a pariah club across world football.

That even the scandalous behaviour of a section of their support, in numerous European cities, including Pamplona, Barcelona and Manchester, was excused – and even blamed on the fans of other clubs.

That they still claim HMRC had no basis to go after them in the first place, and have distorted the verdict in the case as it stands as “a victory” when, in fact, it highlighted numerous breaches of tax rules and revealed a pattern of concealment and dishonesty which is breath-taking.

I’ve long argued that I, personally, do not care what the final verdict in that case ends up because that will simply tell the world whether their smart lawyers dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s properly and so kept their tax scam “legal.”

I’m more interested in whether or not it was moral.

We know the answer to that one.

The consequences we see for society are pretty clear. It was anything but.

In only the second article for this site – “More Than A Sports Story” – I examined those consequences in terms of hard numbers and it still blows you away to go back and look over today.

Through all this, I’ve said, repeatedly, that I do not hate the club that plays out of Ibrox.

There is a section of their support, mired in sectarianism, fuelled by paranoia, wallowing in a superiority complex that is woefully misplaced, which I despise, and I make no secret about that.

You know the ones I mean; those who proclaim their patriotism by making the Nazi salute.

Those who “honour” their “culture” by reminding the world every single year how backward it is.

Those who think hiding behind abused children and even clambering onto the corpses of the dead, is a way to score cheap points.

It is impossible not to loathe such people.

They are uncivilised scum.

They are what we call the Huns.

Furthermore, I would argue that many of their “fellow fans” feel the same way about them.

I know they do.

I know for a fact they do.

I’m going to keep highlighting those people too, because the game (and their club) will be better off when they are rooted out of it.

All of this poisons our game here.

The scandals, the corruption, the rule bending, the bigotry, the Survival Myth and the Victim Myth.

They all feed into a perception, which our media is happy to promote, that our game is a mess; that we’re a basket case country instead of simply one with a single, renegade, basket case club which got “too big to fail” and then failed anyway, changing our perceptions of football reality overnight in a way a lot of people still don’t accept.

But of course, what it really did was introduced that reality to a world which had lived in denial of it long before the Internet Bampots got here.

The real problem they have with us is that we keep trying to make them confront that fact, and all the unpleasant truths that go with it.

They can shoot the messenger all they like.

Their problems won’t go away.

We won’t either.

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