Complete Incomprehension

article-0-0C3CF89B000005DC-856_634x375Yesterday, when I posted in disbelief and mounting anger about the SPFL’s decision to corrupt sporting integrity for a grubby handful of TV cash, I had no idea that the story would dominate the rest of my day, but it did.

First came the outpouring of venom, and bile, from the Illiterati on Twitter, as SevcoLand went into meltdown over what they saw as a piece motivated by hate.

I’ll deal with that first before I move on to the more substantial issues.

For openers, you really have to have hate on the brain to have read any malice into my article, except at that directed at the so-called governing bodies. Sevco fans erupted anyway, with the usual gush of child abuse comments and supremacist remarks.

I argued the toss with them for a wee while before my common sense kicked in, and I blocked a bunch of the more disgusting ones.

To them I’d say this; if you think being blocked represents some kind of victory you are entitled to that view, but your only mistake is thinking I care what you think. I have no wish to discuss anything with you any more than I want to chat away to those who think point scoring on something as appalling as paedophilia is anything less than repulsive.

Those people are gutter rats, the dregs of humanity, and aren’t worth the shit on my shoes far less the fraction of a brain cell it takes to demolish any flimsy argument they stand up. I have a very clear idea of what my own club is, its history and its culture. I also have a very clear idea what their version of their club is, and its own history and ideology.

I know which side I’m on, and I like to think if I hadn’t been brought up a Celtic fan that my politics and my outlook and my social leanings would have made me one.

Yet I also suspect that all of those things come from being a Celtic fan … and I have never been less than proud of that.

If they are proud of their own institution that’s their business.

If they want to believe it lives on, blindly supporting the resurrected version of it, without realising it’s some kind of Frankenstein’s Monster, all the better to fill the pockets of select English based businessmen, well they are entitled to that too, and I say “good luck to you” much as I would not discourage anyone who still wanted to believe in Santa Claus or fairies at the bottom of the garden.

I just wouldn’t want them working in a nuclear power plant.

I have been called a bigot more than once since I started this site.

It’s not true, and I defy anyone to suggest that it is.

Indeed, I’ve threatened legal action against various people who have put that word in writing beside my name. I won’t stand for it, and won’t allow anyone to level that charge at me. It doesn’t stand up to even the slightest examination.

For the record; I do not hate the club that calls itself Rangers.

I do not hate their fans.

I believe some of them are dumb to an almost subhuman degree and that others merely use the club itself to project onto the world their own warped view of it. I do marvel at the club when it panders to those halfwits, as doing so is social, political and economic suicide, limiting their appeal now and forever, but you could say that about any number of other institutions.

I don’t hold that against everyone else associated with them.

In an earlier article, I scoffed at those who would attempt to divide this country into “us and the enemy” because as someone who’s lived beside “the enemy” my whole life, as someone who has loved “the enemy”, worked with “the enemy”, fought alongside them and campaigned for a better Scotland and a better world with some of them, I do not recognise, or accept, the narrow caricature of the “Celtic and Rangers hatred” that some people think drives our lives.

On top of all that, this is a city I love with all my heart, and it’s why I write about it, blog about it and now publish a magazine about it. Everyone says there’s no place like home, but there are few cities in the world – but Glasgow is one of them – where just being from there grounds you and influences you for the rest of your time on this planet.

I resent the Hell out of those who would promote this place as some kind of bastion of hate.

It is not true, it has never been true, it will never be true and I want nothing to do with the lie, or those who have perpetuated it and gotten fat off of it for too damned long.

I write two blogs on football. This is the “big picture” one, the one that I try to make about serious issues.

The other is less high-minded, where I go to vent or to celebrate.

My own club is featured on there, but Sevco are our rivals and so I poke them with a stick where and when I can.

Occasionally I delve into the bigger picture … but mostly I save that for here.

Yesterday’s article was not about Sevco inasmuch as it was about the incompetence and lack of regard the governing bodies have for every fan in Scottish football. Indeed, the sentiments I expressed in the piece were later echoed by the boards at Hibs and Hearts and by Stuart McCall himself, and the media was, for once, almost united in condemnation.

So you tell me; who was on the wrong side of the argument here?

Two groups of people. The Sevco hate brigade and the SPFL.

The hate brigade were doing what they do. Hating. Give them their due, because they do it very well. They’ve practiced it and they have it down to a fine art. They are unimportant to the wider debate because it’s over their heads, outside their narrow ability to comprehend and compute.

The SPFL, well, they are my bigger concern, as the piece made clear.

For the whole day yesterday I got emails from fans of clubs out with Glasgow who were shocked and appalled by the SPFL’s decision, some wondering what my own club’s take on it might be.

I told them that it really isn’t Celtic’s business, but that in SFA terms I hoped we were taking a lead to make real changes.

In truth, my club, acting alone, can’t transform anything. To accomplish any goal that’s worth a damn will take a national campaign, where fans from other teams will need to put aside their differences and work as a team.

Sevco Rangers fans will have to play a part in it too. I know it’s inconvenient for those who want to accuse me of bigotry and hate, but I’ve long argued that and I’ve long said that no other group of supporters has been as badly served by the incompetence of the governing bodies.

Any campaign for meaningful change would help, not hurt, them.

I do believe their club has been pandered to, since time immemorial.

The evidence for it is overwhelming.

Paradoxically, it has done them more harm than good over the long haul. The failure to do “fit and proper person” examinations on their board members, the failure to hold Ashley to account, the way Green was allowed to basically lie his way through 18 months … all of it was tolerated and accepted by the governing bodies, who are mute at the moment as a convicted fraudster takes his place at the club.

If this is love, it is a curious type.

If it was done for their gain, what a mess it’s made instead.

On top of that, unlike a lot of people I don’t believe they “won” anything from the events of the past four years.

Even if you accept their viewpoint that the club lives on, I don’t think you can call it a victory when they’ve lost uncounted millions in revenue, seen an expensive first team of players all walk away for free, had their banking facilities withdrawn, cost them a fortune in sponsorship and watched the infrastructure of club ground down to nothing.

This is to say nothing of the monumental reputational damage it has all inflicted on them.

To cap it all, they wound up in the lowest tier and suffered the ignominy and shame of staggering ineptitude on and off the park, from Ally to Ashley.

That is the damndest victory I ever heard of.

And they had it coming.

They don’t like that either, but it remains true nonetheless.

For the better part of my life they were financially doped to the eyeballs.

They didn’t generate the income that paid for their success; they borrowed it. And then they didn’t want to pay it back, so they bent rules and laws and in the end they folded the hand and the taxpayer picked up the tab.

Shame on them for it.

If the history continues in their eyes, so be it. Their recent past has been the history of disgrace, and it goes on to this day, with Murray and King sitting in a directors box they ought not to be allowed near, and not only because they fail the most fundamental tests.

Two guys who wrought havoc on something they claimed to love, destabilised it to the point of crisis, very deliberately, whilst blaming the previous board for that, and who then used the conditions they had manufactured personally to gain control …

I think to call them parasites would be doing them more justice than they deserve.

If Sevco fans want to support that with their hard earned cash, so be it.

For all that, my gripe is with the governing bodies who allow all this to go on and who, yesterday, shamed themselves and heaped embarrassment on the sport with a scandalous decision which brought the integrity of our game into question.

Then they compounded that grievous mistake – which nearly everyone in Scottish football agrees is a shocker – with a self-justifying statement which is so crass, ill-judged and ridiculous that the only rational response to it is contempt.

Nearly every major piece this website has written in the two and some years since I started it has been, in some way, connected with the way our game’s governors have either failed in their most basic duties or made a mockery of their own rules.

So many of those cases have involved Rangers and Sevco.

The crisis that erupted at the first, swallowed them whole, and gave birth to the second, were not simply manufactured by Craig Thomas Whyte; they existed in embryonic form before he arrived at the club.

Their roots are to be found in what Auldheid and others have painstakingly charted … a decade or more of outright mendacity and concealment of contracts and financial projections, which the SFA was in part aware of and which at least one of its chief officers had extensive knowledge of, if not outright involvement in.

It involved, amongst other things, hidden player contracts and deliberately misleading information over the status of their tax affairs.

For example, we know of at least one season where they were granted a license to play European football when they were materially in breach of the requirements for one.

The documentation proving it is there in black and white, no matter how much people inside and outside the governing bodies, the major clubs and the media might want to ignore it.

The failures of governance that are involved here are colossal.

It is not for nothing that many of us have taken to calling it The Greatest Scandal in the History of Sport.

Yesterday the SPFL wrote another sordid chapter in that history.

Neil Doncaster will have a starring role in the numerous books and essays and studies of this which we’ll certainly see in years to come, and future generations will marvel that he wasn’t sacked in 2012 when he self-detonated the commercial side of the league’s businesses.

That he has remained in post to this day, with all the attendant disgrace he has layered on since, will stagger them.

So much of this happened at one club, and appears to be for the benefit of that club.

I am asked, often, if Doncaster has been “got to” or “bought.”

I tell them the answer is no.

As much as some might shake their heads at my saying this, I believe that if Celtic had been as badly run as Rangers and landed in the same position he and Regan would have been just as willing to bend every rule and co-opt the rest of the clubs, using much the same tactics as they did in 2012, to achieve the ends they wanted.

They would have risked everything, and burned this game to the bedrock if the fans of other clubs had allowed them to get away with it.

The issue here is the duopoly, and the lack of any imagination that our national sport can be something more.

The “two club” scenario in which these people fanatically believe – which is that our game, essentially, only has “relevance” because of the Glasgow sides – is what has corrupted every bit of our sport and got us here.

We Celtic fans, for our own reasons, have long loathed and despised the “Old Firm” tag, which we think insults us in seeking to tie us not to another club but to a pact of mutual hatred.

It markets nothing but bitterness, and tries to tap into something ugly.

We want no part of it and it’s been a long time since we did.

Our national sport could have weaned itself off this evil, corrupting drug … but our leaders and our media wouldn’t let it.

They pushed the Two Club Myth.

To keep it going they invented and nurtured the Survival Myth.

To feed and grow that they’ve invented the Victim Myth, which promotes nothing but anger and resentment and which Sevco fans are mugs to believe in.

Yesterday, even the press were amazed at the ignorance and lack of logic the SPFL showed, and the gaping holes in the decision making process their choices revealed.

The statement the SPFL released late last night, full of self justification and arrogance, but without an iota of insight into the minds of the fans (not that they gave a damn anyway) was greeted with a disbelief and contempt I haven’t heard in the voices of commentators and analysts since Comical Ali stood on the streets of Baghdad and told the world that Iraqi forces were fighting hard against the American invaders as US tanks rolled by in the background.

That’s where we are right now, with these people trying to defend the indefensible, insulting the people who matter most, pissing on us all and not even having the decency to call it rain.

A section of the Sevco support, forever wrapped in its own wee bubble of self importance, saw our condemnation of that scandal as an attack on them. Those who didn’t throw disgusting insults instead chucked back the softball of “obsessed.”

They miss the point, as the clinically selfish always do.

They are at the centre of the story, but they are not the story. I have only the most peripheral interest in their club in all this. My gripe is with the football authorities. They allow this nonsense. They make these decisions. They break their own rules.

Some think that’s none of our business, but they are the same people who come out with crap like “it’s all about the Rangers” and talk through the sides of their mouths about how “necessary” they are to the game whilst wishing every other club had died to prove the point.

Their club is a side-show here. Beyond wanting to see this game made better, I don’t give a damn what happens to them.

My own club is in a position where I’m comfortable that we can handle their pale shadow if it ever lumbers towards our door.

The rest of Scottish football has bigger things on its mind.

Doncaster packing up his pencils should be first on everyone’s list this morning.

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James Forrest

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

12 thoughts on “Complete Incomprehension

  • 16 April, 2015 at 5:57 am

    So why are you so obsessed, even if there is a real conspiracy to favour rangers, I honestly do not remember celtic fans complaining when rangers and celtic avoided each other in the cup semi final draws in years gone past. The SFA has always favoured Celtic and rangers … the rest just have to accept it, that is the way it is, ask your CEO.

  • 16 April, 2015 at 6:40 am

    As you point out James, the S.F.A would do exactly same if it was Celtic who were in this position. The S.F.A do not run the game for the good of ALL of Scotland but only for 2 teams and as a Celtic fan i hate to see this. I have many friends who support Hearts Hibs Kilmarnock etc and it amazes me how they put up with gong to games every week and know that this so called governing body is bias towards the 2 clubs from Glasgow.

  • 16 April, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Do u know what word I really hate right now ? It’s the word Obsessed. Anyone who is not a Sevco fan but dares to express an opinion on the soap opera over at Ibrox is called this word
    James great post again keep up the good work & pity the brain dead zombie haters. I read all your posts & one thing u are not is a bigot Sevco supporters hate needs to be directed at The Lying King & potless Paul where there are still major problems. It’s a fact of life SFA & SPFL have always looked more kindly on Scotland’s top two clubs that doesn’t make it right but unfortunately for the other 38 teams they will have to put up with it now & in the future.

  • 16 April, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    James, much as it may pain Celtic fans to admit this, the same thing would have happened had Celtic been run with such ineptitude – you can bet the media reporting wouldn’t have been as compliant, but every stop would have been pulled out to save them.
    For those who wish to point back to ’94 as some sort of evidence that it wouldn’t, you might like to remember that Celtic were scraping into the top 5 at that time, and Motherwell and Aberdeen were the challengers to Rangers at that time. Celtic has ceased to be important in terms of our league.

    However, the game changed markedly in the next two decades, with ever more concessions made to the Old Firm, which effectively reduced it to a duopoly. The most shocking thing, to my mind at least given that I’m a diddy team fan, to come out of 2012 was that after years of being told that Scottish football was only about 2 teams by the media down here (I live in England), it turned out that the football authorities in Scotland thought the same.

    With Rangers out of the picture, it has actually given space for other teams to breathe and grow, and has fundamentally changed Scottish football. Teams now know that, despite being instructed otherwise by buffoons like Derek Johnstone, they aren’t reliant on the Old Firm pound. Even at lower levels you’re starting to see younger fans at games – previously these youngsters, thanks to peer pressure, would have been forced to choose one side or the other.

    I’d be sad to see it go back to the way it was.

  • 16 April, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    And now they have changed it back to sat lunchtime…when all games will kick off simultaneously. These people are absolute buffoons.

  • 16 April, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    James everybody in Scotland,no UK,no Europe,no the whole World,know’s what is going on at the SFA/SPFL.
    The whole world,including FIFA and UEFA don’t seem interested,therefor nothing will change.
    Scottish football is finished as far as I am concerned,thanks to the Scottish football association’s.

  • 16 April, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    It beggars belief that after this dramatic and rapid about turn by the SPFL that Doncaster can remain in his post. his credibility within Scottish football must be lower than a snakes belly.

  • 16 April, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    I disagree, the SFA serve one club, Sevco!

    Celtic aren’t looked after by the SFA, we are hampered by them!

  • 17 April, 2015 at 2:21 am


    You are a better man than me-I despised the Oldco and Sevco and their support turn my stomach.I just wish they would die (finally, forever and never reappear)..and take their wee rascist watp mentality with them.

  • 17 April, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Great read as always James!

    What really bothers me is the facts are there in black & white, Auldheid etc, and yet no journo or governing body will touch it? If they were ignorant then i could possibly understand, but to willfully ignore documented evidence shows their deceit and bias! The fixture nonsense is just another balls up that happens to favour sevco, suprise surprise!

  • 17 April, 2015 at 7:59 am

    This is the same SFA and rangers as the establishment team garbage. Every other supporter outwith the rangers celtic ‘old firm’ know that the authorities have favoured the two of them for decades.
    Please explain James why celtic and rangers were never drawn together in semi finals until aberdeen and dundee Utd became powers to be reckoned with in the early to mid eighties. Suddenly rangers and celtic were drawn against each other to ensure one of the glasgow teams got to the final!
    So please stop bleating about the authorities supporting rangers your team has benefited as well.

  • 17 April, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    James your opening remarks about Glasgow, mirror my own experience growing up there. It is NOT as bigoted as it is portraited in the media. I just have to recall the kindness Protestant neighbors showed to a widowed, very ill, very Catholic relative, to know that is not the case. Later in life I moved to a small Lanarkshire town and was amazed at how different it was to the Glasgow I grew up in. I was surprised when certain bars were pointed out as “no go” areas for me by my own relatives. I’m not talking about your Loudens or Bairds here, just your average neighborhood pub. This was just one example, but there were many others. Almost everyone I knew only associated with “their own kind” as they put it. The whole atmosphere of the place was sectarian in nature and very, very different from Glasgow. I initially thought that this was because they had nothing better to do with their time, but it goes much deeper than that. Even though they had a Premier League club they could have supported, most left on the buses for Ibrox or Parkhead come game day. Did the “O** F*** Myth” cause their hatred or did it feed it? Based on my experience growing up in Glasgow, I cannot say it caused it, but it most certainly fed it. I’d be very interested in knowing the percentage of arrests at OF games are from people living outside Glasgow? My hunch is that it is fairly high.

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