Lessons In Morality?

AleksandarTonevandShayLoganofAberdeen_3204898One of the recurring themes on this website is the incompetence and corruption of the Scottish media, and that’s not for nothing.

Let me be clear, in case it isn’t already. I find the vast majority of our sporting press to be hypocritical beyond belief, and almost uniformly useless.

They have elevated PR spin and the shilling of bullshit to a High Art. They cannot be trusted, and they cannot be relied upon to do their jobs to what most of us would agree was an appropriate standard.

The irony of this, of course, is that it’s this site and others that have stepped into the breach, going boldly where they won’t, saying the things they are too afraid or too compromised to say. If it wasn’t for their shocking performances, sites like this would not exist.

There would be no need for us.

They’ve been especially infuriating and inconsistent in the last few days, but on the Aleksandar Tonev situation and the crisis howling out of Ibrox they have shown their hand, as if we were ever in any doubt about what it held.

Tom English, Roddy Forsyth, Craig Swan and others have united in a common cause; to smear Celtic, whilst the Ibrox NewCo circles the drain.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out how the two are linked.

Before I start, there’s something I should point out.

On the day the allegations against Aleksandar Tonev surfaced, I told some friends, and I wrote on this site, that on the balance of things – Logan’s reaction, the fact he informed his captain and his manager right away – I thought something had probably been said that he didn’t like. Was it racist? I thought that he had reacted so angrily that – on balance – it probably was.

I made it clear that this was a personal opinion, and that if I had to render judgement on this guy I would not be able to vote him guilty just because of a gut feeling.

I – mistakenly as it turned out – assumed the burden of proof was still weighted in favour of the accused, as it should be. The accusation is far too serious to be decided on the “balance of probabilities.”

When Celtic decided to mount the strongest possible defence of the player, I began to suspect that Logan had misheard something, and my view on the whole situation flipped over. The balance of probabilities, as I saw them, had changed to one where I was willing to give the player the benefit of the doubt … not just benefit of a reasonable doubt.

I thought then, and now, that Logan deserved enormous sympathy … but that Tonev deserved the presumption of innocence.

Throughout all of this, Celtic’s position has been resolute, no matter what the media line is, no matter what Derek McInnes says. He is criticising our club for doing simply what he’s done; standing up for someone who presently plays under our roof.

Where there is still considerable doubt – and two tribunal verdicts later there is not a soul in Scottish football who can actually question the assertion that this doubt remains – Celtic has a duty of care to those within our club, to protect them from allegations such as this.

Duty of care. Is that clear enough for the hacks to understand?

This is a highly complex situation, one which inspires emotion and anger in a lot of people, and understandably so. I have long argued that the game has not done anywhere near enough to tackle racism.

Where the evidence is clear cut bans should range beyond the horizon.

Where fans chant racist slogans teams should walk off the pitch and the clubs or national associations whose supporters behave like animals should be deducted points and fined heavily.

When it comes to this issue I do not equivocate, and I say this quite deliberately because it stands in stark contrast to the likes of English and Forsyth and others who, for years, were perfectly happy maintaining silence as the most appalling racism and bigotry poured from stands all over Scotland, much of it, but not all, emanating weekly from Ibrox.

For long enough they said nothing at all about sectarian singing, or about the scandalous anti-Irish racism meted out to Neil Lennon, to Aiden McGeady, to James McCarthy and to others. Some of them even tried their hand at blaming the victims.

I am not about to take morality lessons from these people, and neither should my club.

Celtic has been steadfast in protection of one of its employees, who they have questioned extensively and believe in. Full stop.

How that harms our reputation, I don’t know, because I don’t think it does, except here in Scotland, in the press boxes, where many of the inhabitants will find any excuse to write a negative story about Parkhead, all the better to divert attention from their shameful lack of proper scrutiny and critique of events elsewhere.

Comparisons with the Luis Suarez case – which one campaigner made, and which the Scottish press, without an original idea amongst them, have jumped on – are ludicrous.

Liverpool were backing a player with a long list of offences, for a start. Where is the corresponding incident in Tonev’s career? Answer; there isn’t one. It doesn’t exist. This guy came to Scotland with a clean record, having played in three different countries before arriving here, and doubtless alongside and against players of every nationality, colour and creed.

Furthermore, Suarez was a guy who didn’t simply represent Liverpool’s best hope for winning a league title but he was a multi-million pound asset they were never going to throw on the scrapheap, no matter what the circumstances.

Celtic, on the other hand, has nothing to gain from standing by their man, and indeed much to lose.

Yet we’ve done it regardless and if the media fails to see the courage, and moral standing, which is inherent in that position I can’t explain it to them. Tonev isn’t even our player. He’s a loanee who has played a handful of games, and not exactly impressed on a grand scale. It would have cost us nothing to let him go back to Villa, and we could have washed our hands of this whole affair.

We haven’t. We have stuck it out, knowing we’d take flak for it.

I understand why the media don’t get this, why they don’t understand that in its way Celtic’s is a moral and courageous stance. They don’t know the meaning of those words, having never shown an ounce of either courage or morality.

English and Forsyth have been particularly shocking, in the way they’ve sought to conflate Celtic’s position with that of the Sevco board in terms of their fights with the SFA.

Celtic is standing up for a player they believe has been wrongly accused of something and the actions of our club are neither selfish nor particularly unique. Sevco, on the other hand, is pissing all over the rule book again, and trying to sweep under the carpet past assurances they’ve given about paying what they owe to the football authorities.

One side is trying to make sure justice is properly served. The other side is trying to dodge justice entirely, and make a mockery of the laws of the game.

One of those sides is being criticised for its stance. As regards the other? One or two probing articles aside, the deafening silence we’ve come to expect.

English says Celtic are behaving like “a law unto themselves.” For standing by their man. For keeping the faith with him. This wasn’t a fight we chose. It was one we were compelled to join.

Yet where is his criticism of a Sevco board which lied about Dundee Utd in the Charlie Telfer case, obfuscates and distorts reality on the issue of Mike Ashley and which flat out refuses to pay its bills in the case of the EBT fine?

He, Forsyth, Swan and others are part of the media which has called for rules to be set aside or warped entirely to get a club called Rangers back in the top flight. What does that do for reputations?

This is the media that, last week, was publishing gob-smacking PR cobblers about Ally offering his resignation out of his affection for all the “ordinary people” who were paying the price for Sevco’s long overdue austerity drive.

In the week since that story broke, though, we’ve found out that McCoist sanctioned unbelievable salaries for third rate footballers, some of which the club continues to pay. He’s also going nowhere until he gets his money – money that could have kept dozens of people employed at Ibrox way into the future.

In fact, perversely, at the very moment McCoist’s acolytes were briefing their media pals about the altruistic motives behind his “resignation” he was getting a pay bump which almost doubled his already over-inflated salary.

Where is the condemnation of this? Where is the scrutiny into Ally’s moral standing?

It’s nowhere at all. He has too many mates amongst the hacks for that.

Aleksandar Tonev, on the other hand, is just a Johnny Foreigner who won’t be in Scotland much longer. He has forged no relationships with the press. He has not worked the room or met the “opinion makers”. He’s not shoved a few hours wages behind the bar to get them all pissed or turned up at their kids birthday parties with an armful of presents.

He has no friends here. He’s an easy target.

Hitting him, and Celtic, offers a nice diversion for the hacks. It lets them appear crusading, and relevant, whilst the ash cloud spews up from Ibrox. They’ve sat on their hands so long over that one, it’s a wonder they can still use their keyboards.

There are people, of course, who are hurting Scottish football, who are doing it immense reputational damage. But the hacks sit beside them at certain football grounds, or they control the level of access the journalists get, so they are off limits.

The media itself has done our game no favours.

When they get their own house in order, I’ll take them seriously when they criticise mine.

Until then they have no credibility at all.

(This site depends on you. You can help us out by making a donation at the PayPal link at the top or the bottom of your page, depending on which device you are using. Thanks, from the bottom of my heart friends.)

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.

21 thoughts on “Lessons In Morality?

  • 19 December, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Good article, and straight to the point, we feel the pain, as someone once said”it must be very cold living in our shadow”.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Tom English is one of 13 journalists sent hard copy of the documentation kept back from SPL lawyers Harper MacLeod by Rangers Administrators.

    That documentation contains the justification for demanding payment for the tax due from De Boer and Flo from August 2000. The justification is Rangers acted deliberately or fraudulently to keep existence of side letters from HMRC.

    It’s there in black and white yet Tom says nothing about deliberate lies being told to authority whilst attacking Celtic for seeking balanced justice.

    Like Doc Holiday in Tombstone his hypocrisy knows no bounds.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    There is a misconception among many that the purpose of the printed media is to report news. Far from it. Their only reason for being is to sell papers and seeing as the majority if their readership is of the blue nose variety then they’re not going to piss off their paying readership so you get the ops you pay for if you’re daft enough to buy into their propoganda.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 2:33 pm


    You ought to document the campaign to get the media interested in this story.

    It would be a storming article for this site, CQN or the TSFM.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Bang on! This is the point that I’ve yet to see in the press or media. Celtic will no doubt have had some sort of morality/behaviour clause in Tonev’s contract which I’d imagine would have been triggered by any racist behaviour. We could have easily sent him back and washed our hands of him. However, he’s protesting his innocence and nothing has been proven so we can’t abandon him as, for the time being, he’s one of ours. He could have been our Sandaza when he was thrown out when the fellow was undoubtedly duped.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Superb James. What has happened to Scottish football reporters? In men like Glen Gibbons, Ian Archer and Malky Munro, with all their normal human failings and prejudices, there was a sense of fairness and decency in their reportage. The current crew would fit in comfortably with Der Strumer or Pravda.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    The irony of English’s ‘Celtic are..a law unto themselves’ is that what Tonev was alleged to have said is in fact a criminal act; a criminal act that would require a much higher burden of proof with which to convict in a real court.

    In any real sense, it is not Celtic who are behaving like a law unto themselves, it is in fact the SFA, a body who literally make up their own rules.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    God James you have not missed them,Journalists no way, this has been mentioned a few times is it not time to ban this lot from Celtic Park.?

  • 19 December, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    James you mention that the sevco press gang were using Suarez as an example,well I would use the referee’s situation as a example i.e. he was suspended on the say so of a coloured Chelsea player accusing him of racist remarks,and two of his playing mates backing him up.
    Needless to say he was eventually cleared,but according to the SFA and the sevco media coloured players in Scotland who don’t play for CelticFC don’t tell lies! HH

  • 19 December, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    The charge was “Excessive”… that’s more than once!

    Tonev should take it to CAS.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    If Celtic and Tonev don’t go to appeal at CAS then he (Tonev) should be sent back to his parent company as failure to do so would be an admission of guilt on his part.I’m astonished to read in the SMSM(can you even believe the date printed at the top of the page is correct) that the player justs wants to get on with his career as a footballer and not pursue this.Lets be very clear about this,he won’t have a career to continue because he will be reminded of this every time he steps onto a football pitch,no matter where.lf Celtic believe Tonev’s version of events they should appeal this monstrous decision.l seem to remember,not too long ago a Sevco player being accused of headbutting an opponent and a” not proven ” decision being handed down in spite of video evidence ffs.Are these people having a laugh !!! Peter Lawwell has a position on the SFA board but even if he pdidn’t he should be asking them wtf is going on.The stench of corruption emanating from Scottish football is overpowering,this has to be sorted before it’s too late but then again that ship may have already sailed for many Scottish football fans. HH

  • 19 December, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Surely Tonev, regardless of the findings of a kanagroo court should be given a second chance, guilty (not proven) or not.
    After all, Mr mcCoist was full fined 150 quid (euro keyboard, dont have a pound option), at Hamilton Sheriff Court in Sep 1987 for attacking an assaulting a teenager. McCoist was 27 at the time and was aided an abetted by Durrant and Ted McMinn.No action was taken by the SFA and Ally was in the squad the next weekend…… Lest we forget!

  • 19 December, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    The SFA stance on this makes my feckin blood boil…..the balance of probabilities is a smokescreen….They are a bigoted Masonic cabal who hate Celtic and our resident Uncle Tom Lawell,who sits in their midst …probably polishing Campbell’s brogues before one of his famous nights out.

    I remember Fat Schitzo Goram……mouthing the most disgusting obscenities I have ever seen a so called professional footballer spew from his mouthful of mangled teeth…….so blatant even Stevie Wonder could have lip read his racist tirade at Pierre Van Hooydonk after saving his penalty.

    The lickspittle SMSM ignored it……The Goat Molesters at the SFA did, too.

    Disgrace of a footballing backwater, my old home country…..Wish Celtic would get the feck outta there.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    None of these present despicable Hacks can be compared to the highly impressive Ian Archer. He stood head and shoulders above this mob.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    The Silver Fhox…..Ian Archer was a wonderful human being and journalist who is sadly missed. Glen Gibbons was cut from the same cloth.Proper journalists hopefully resting in peace.

  • 19 December, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    The Silver Fhox…..This was a brilliant obituary for a brilliant man…….who coined the saying that Deadclub were a permanent embarrassment and an occasional disgrace…..Ian ‘Dan’ Archer….always remembered……………..

    The death yesterday of Ian Archer is a huge loss to the business of sports journalism.

    The man known as ”Dan” to his media colleagues and to his associates in the various pursuits he covered eloquently over some 40 years was a one-off, a combination of hard-nosed professionalism, great humanity, and grand good humour. ”Dan”, so labelled by a colleague after a character in the radio series The Archers, was 59 and had fought a lengthy contest with ill health. He is survived by his wife Irene and his two daughters. His career carried him through the gamut of the media, in newspapers, television, and radio. He was an outstanding exponent of all three branches of the industry but the bulk of his toil was to be found in the written word, his favourite means of communication. His was a life of contrasts. He was born in the working-class area of Glasgow’s Maryhill but in his childhood the family moved to Warwickshire where he attended a public school, Rugby. He went on to study law at Oxford University but the attraction of journalism diverted him from a career in the courts of the land where he would probably have emerged as a ”Rumpole of the Bailey” figure. Still, sports journalism was undoubtedly the winner in the contests of the two disciplines. A short spell learning the trade at an evening newspaper in Coventry allowed him entry to the Daily Mail in Manchester. From there, his travels returned him to his city of birth, in the Mail’s Glasgow office. Yet his definitive move was to The Herald in the early 1970s. There, he found the freedom to fully express his superb talent and it is no exaggeration to state that he revolutionised the presentation of sports writing in this country. What had previously been regarded as an adjunct to the body of the newspaper was re-invented. Archer’s prose earned him a huge following and his popularity demanded that the column inches grew alongside his burgeoning abilities. Inevitably, the awards were hard on the heels, most notably in 1975 when he received the Scottish Art Council’s Munro award for outstanding achievement in journalism. This truly was a watershed. Previously, sportswriters had been consigned to their little corners, not considered worthy of such grand recognition. Ian, however, revealed a truth : good writing is as valid on the sports pages as it is in any other section of a newspaper. Along the route of his career he journeyed to the Daily Express, the Guardian, and most recently to the Mail on Sunday where his columns remained among the most entertaining to be found on the news shelves over a weekend. Almost as an interlude, he fronted Scottish Television’s Scotsport for a time and was regularly heard on sports and light entertainment programmes on radio. So much for his ability to earn a living. But those who knew the man recognise there was a great deal more to him than a professional ability.He had a great love of literature and of music. Bob Dylan was at the top of his list of favourites when it came time to unwind. Unsurprisingly, then, he was a committed socialist, adhering to the views of the radical left, which may strike some as unusual given his public school background. Still, that was Ian, forever the non-conformist. Perhaps this streak of obstinacy contributed to the creation of the journalist and the man that he was. The business is the poorer for his loss and many of us have lost a good friend and ally.

  • 20 December, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Ryecatcher & The Silver Fox:

    Completely agree. Brilliant words, both of you.

  • 20 December, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Thank you James…..just finished reading ‘Fragments’ on kindle……such wonderful foresight on the Ebola,from the dirty bomb,short story.

    You’re beginning to spook me lol….

    All that stuff about the Rangers dying back when you said it……Alloa Athletic,too……..

    Keep on Keeping On Sir……..I’m loving your ‘stuff’.

  • 20 December, 2014 at 3:03 am

    Ryecatcher … the novel is three quarters done 🙂

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