Amidst the mayhem that followed that goal, this story was put on the back burner. Events have moved forward this weekend.
For the last couple of years, a group of dedicated Celtic supporters has been working away, diligently, on the matter we call Resolution 12. Much is at stake; the credibility of the game here in Scotland, SFA reform and exposing the truth about some of what was going on during that period.
Yet Celtic fans, and those of other clubs, still appear largely ignorant of the real scale of what’s up for grabs here.
Celtic supporters have long wondered whether or not getting to the roots of this will do much more than embarrass Stewart Regan and his cohort at Hampden.
This was never about embarrassing people.
One of the consequences of it will be removing them from office entirely.
If it’s found that the SFA helped Rangers to deliberately conceal tax payables owed during the UEFA licensing process then that’s the ball game for everyone involved in that matter. They are gone.
But there’s always been another side to this, and some of the Resolution 12 guys have been wholly aware of it for a while, and their legal reps and those at the SFA most certainly are.
Celtic is well aware of it too, and it’s one of the reasons for their reticence in making a public statement. I am glad to be able to make that clear, and it’s something that only came to my own attention in the last weeks.
Let me make something else clear; Celtic has no interest in this beyond establishing the facts. Our club doesn’t want blood here. It’s not the reason the club or fans are pursuing this matter and you know this because at no time have the guys behind Resolution 12 presented demands for that in a public forum, as a stated objective of the campaign.
But it’s always been accepted that if their case is proved that there will be consequences for people.
So what are these consequences and what do they mean for us?
Well I can tell you now that one of them will be Sevco facing a lengthy European football ban.
Yesterday, the Offshore Game published an addendum to their stunning report into these issues, a document which clarified certain issues. But it also mentioned the UEFA disciplinary committee and its remit to punish clubs after the fact.
I’d heard that might be a possibility in this case a week or two ago. I had been planning to write a piece on the day after the cup final, if Sevco had won, but of course that game went far better than many of us had expected.
But the issue is now starting to come to light anyway. People are beginning to open their eyes to the true consequences should Celtic fans and the club manage to compel a UEFA inquiry into these matters.
This explains a few things about the last week, and in particular the reason Sevco is going on the offensive over the level of “hate” they have to endure. For these things are all connected, all entwined, and people at Ibrox are laying the groundwork for a fresh PR campaign in the event their club is hauled before the beaks.
It will be the most important PR offensive in their history.
Over the last couple of years I’ve written extensively on what we refer to as The Victim Myth, but never more so than over the last few days.
That myth has been allowed to grow to monstrous proportions and at the centre of it is the notion that all of Scotland is determined to hurt their club and that we all played a role in the destruction of the OldCo and would happily send the NewCo the same way.
In the last week I’ve written numerous pieces in response to these fantastic and paranoid claims, but as I wrote every word I knew there was more to them than simple self pity.
When you consider that at the same time as this wailing is going on in the background, that board members have been telling the press that the game has to “move on” you see more to their bitching than might at first be plain.
Go ever further, consider that King himself actually openly criticised the Resolution 12 guys earlier this month, accusing them of having an agenda. Why would he say that, if these issues were not able to impact Sevco?
It’s here that you start to see the outlines of what’s really going on behind the scenes.
People at Sevco are worried about this campaign.
Aside from the Victim Myth, the other toxic issue at the centre of Scottish football is that other great lie on which so much of our game is built; the Survival Myth.
Anyone familiar with these issues knows this one is a real article of faith for many of them. In fact, some of them have accused those of us who scotch it of using “dehumanising language” to refer to them.
I call them Sevconians. They object to that word. Others call them zombies. They object to that even more strongly. One demented article from yesterday appeared to compare the atmosphere in Scottish football to that in Nazi Germany with the Sevconians in the role of the Jews.
It’s an offensive idea, and not just because of how over the top and crass it is. After all, there’s only one club in this country who’s fans stand accused of having used the hated salute of Hitler’s despotic regime; I’ll give you a clue. It isn’t Dundee.
These sort of articles are intended to wed the Victim and Survival Myths, and fuse them into one, and they are a recent addition to the Sevco PR arsenal.
Believe me when I tell you that’s not a coincidence.
Until this week, when the Victim Myth was hyper-charged, I had believed the Survival Myth to be far and away the more damaging and corrupting of the two. In some ways it still is, but it’s not as dangerous to wider society as this notion that their support are social pariahs, “denied their human rights” as that hysterical piece yesterday alleged.
The Survival Myth is hateful not only because it denies reality but it places our game in mortal peril. If this is idea is followed to its natural conclusion clubs which overspend will know they can dump debts, reform and carry on as before.
It will allow guys like Whyte to come and go as they please, looting clubs like a business at the centre of a Mafia style “planned bankruptcy” before walking away knowing the football authorities will barely blink an eye.
It would be open season for con artists, charlatans, even organised crime groups, to come in and use Scottish football for all manner of schemes and scams, and we can’t survive the damage that would do.
Yet at the heart of the Survival Myth and its inherent contradictions, I always believed there were dangers for the club itself.
When Mike Ashley’s loans were all that was keeping their lights on and he seemed as if he might get the whole thing in his grip I wrote that the Survival Myth and this daft idea the holding company and the club were two separate things had created a deadly possibility; that the holding company might well end up in the hands of someone who made a similar distinction. With no ownership over its own stadium, image rights, intellectual property or merchandising the club would be no more than animals in a circus, there to provide the entertainment to a dwindling band of followers, with the company cutting accordingly.
I still think it’s the most stupid – and potentially deadly – separation of a football club and the people who run it that I’ve ever heard of.
How close did Sevco come to ending up just like that? At one point Ashley had an iron grip on nearly the lot of it but ironically the club itself was too unsure about its own hold over the stadium to grant it to him as loan security.
What underpins the Survival Myth is the Five Way Agreement and it’s here the current problems for Sevco exist and present the gravest danger should Celtic fans succeed and UEFA open an investigation into the granting of the European license for 2011-12.
Because that document, whilst giving Sevco a “no title stripping” guarantee, also forced them to accept certain things. The key one was that it should assume responsibility for any “football penalties” the SFA chose to levy.
In the end a dirty, grubby deal was done and those penalties amounted to nothing … but it’s in there, in black and white, and nothing anyone does can change it now.
One of the funniest things in all of football is listening to a Sevco fan or journalist try to square the circle of liquidation and death and the “continuation of history.”
The current club is always trying to distance itself from the old one did, but they want all the good bits for themselves.
The SFA tried to ride the middle of the road on the issue too and it still sits uneasily on the perch where they placed it.
The Resolution 12 guys can blow that all to Hell.
If UEFA opens an investigation into these events – as looks increasingly likely – they will ask for all the information that’s in the public domain and a lot more besides. If they conclude that people with-held information from them there will be sanctions.
Some of those sanctions will fall on the SFA, as the licensing body. Associations have been heavily fined by UEFA for their failures to get to the bottom of licensing disclosures.
But UEFA will also punish the club, and that’s where life becomes interesting.
Because they’ll ask the SFA whether it stands by the claim that Sevco and Rangers are one in the same. What the SFA says in response will dictate whether the Survival Myth is reversed or whether its tenants are upheld.
UEFA do not make the club – company distinction, and they never have, but in handing down a punishment they will be guided by SFA conventions. One of the big issues the SFA will face is the legally binding “Five Way Agreement” wherein whatever they argue, they and the club will still be bound by its numerous clauses, one of which is that Sevco will accept any “football punishment” levied on Rangers.
And then there’s the Survival Myth itself. The SFA cannot escape a choice on that and if they uphold the Survival Myth UEFA will drop the hammer on Ibrox and there’s simply no way anyone can mount an argument against it.
The NewCo will be banned from European competition from anywhere between one and three years. There will be little prospect of an appeal, because the only defence Sevco and the SFA will have is the one they have been busily destroying for the past few years, that these actions were carried out by another club.
Just making that argument will burn the Survival Myth to the ground once and for all and fully vindicate all we’ve said these past few years, which is why the SFA and Sevco are going to have no choice but to stick to their guns on this, to pretend the Ibrox club is still Rangers and take whatever’s coming their way. For either organisation to reverse course on this issue now would be devastating for them.
Had Sevco won the Scottish Cup this would have been looming in front of them all summer long. As it is, the issue remains but it’s no longer one that will disrupt anyone’s passport application process.
Yet I fully expect that before next season starts Europe’s governing body will be well on the way to a decision in this matter and that decision may well have horrendous consequences for the Dodgy Dave King business plan, which is heavily reliant on European footballing income for the club’s very survival.
This coming season will be Year 5 away from that stage. It is not inconceivable that Sevco might spend its first decade without ever playing a game on the continental stage, still paying the price for what its predecessor club did.
I personally don’t think that’s fair.
From the beginning I’ve argued that footballing sanctions shouldn’t be applied to Sevco, that it’s a perversion of natural justice to punish one for the sins of the other just because they play out of the same stadium and wear the same jersey … but through all that time I’ve been told that I’m wrong, that I’m motivated by hate, that the clubs are one and the same. The press and the SFA have backed that line to the hilt.
In the bed they’ve made, now let them lie.
A reckoning is coming, as many of us suspected it would.
The Resolution 12 guys didn’t know this when they opened the can of worms.
It wasn’t even on their radar, far less an objective of the campaign.
But Celtic grasped it quickly and part of their low-key public response was based on that. The SFA and Sevco understood it just as fast, which is why the stonewall strategy came first and now the elevation of the Victim Myth goes into high gear, and with it one last plea for people to “forget the past” and move on.
In this case, the past is like a murder victim, lying in a shallow unmarked grave. Sooner or later someone was always going to stumble over it, and then an investigation would start. Whatever evidence there is out there will find its way to the right place and when people in positions of authority start to piece it together we’re going to see a show.
Then punishment will follow, like night follows day.
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