Still Not Getting It

Rangers-Hold-Extraordinary-General-Meeting-At-IbroxToday Keith Jackson has published another one of his ridiculous articles that attempts to bend reality into a whole different shape. It never ceases to amaze me.

This one is ostensibly about King, but Jackson has gone out of his way to drag Celtic’s Dermott Desmond into it, as well as Peter Lawwell.

It’s about how the Sevco shareholder/wannabe director has to start showing the fans what his intentions are.

The article is utter nonsense, of course, making all the usual assumptions about King the Sugar Daddy, as if that’s what Scottish football needs.

He talks about Dermott Desmond wanting them back in the league and we’re treated, as ever, to a chorus of “Scottish football needs them in the top flight” as if this particular assertion were not a proven fiction.

Jackson and others know that it is.

Celtic are so “in need” of the Ibrox club that this year’s anticipated season ticket price rise doesn’t even bring us back to the level of three years ago, far less go beyond it.

Our club continues to get on with things without them, focussing on its own business, heading for a domestic treble.

Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee Utd, St Johnstone and others are all doing perfectly well. Hibs and Hearts are both on the way back to the SPL and they are in rude health once again, perhaps a better condition than they’ve been in for years and that has nothing to do with being in the same league as Sevco and everything to do with being run right.

Jackson is not prescribing that fix for Sevco, and he’s not asking King to prescribe it either.

As per usual he wants them to spend what they don’t have, relying on hand outs from rich men.

When does that stop? They’ll tell you it’s when they reach the top flight, but you don’t cure a drug addict by shooting them up with more dope.

What Sevco needs – and what Scottish football really needs – is that this club goes cold turkey for a while, the better to smash this notion that teams ought to be able to artificially inflate their abilities and live on debt. That road leads to the boneyard, and not just for one club.

I would find it incredible if Dermott Desmond and Peter Lawwell really did want a steroid built Sevco in the SPL.

If it happened, if King suddenly found the will to pour money into the bottomless pit and was able to reel in enough “business men” (no laughing please) to do the same, running up tens of millions in debts, what would the contrast be between them and Desmond himself?

How long before he and Peter Lawwell were being pressed to take risks with Celtic’s future?

Celtic is regarded as one of the best run clubs in Europe. At times I think we are risk averse, in the sense that we sometimes don’t push the boat out far enough to give us a chance to be all we can be, but we’re in the kind of financial health other clubs can only dream about, and we have a strong team on the park heading for our best season, domestically, in a decade.

Half a dozen of our players could fetch us £5 million or over and our scouts have a great eye for talent.

Why in God’s name would a club run like ours tolerate the situation whereby a rival could emerge run on the basis on which Jackson and others want to see Sevco get out of from their current morass?

It makes a mockery of every Celtic supporter who has bought into The Strategy over the last ten or so years.

It makes the times we failed to qualify for Champions Leagues – such as last season – because we didn’t have the firepower on the pitch into an even bigger outrage.

How much money have we already lost due to financial doping out of Ibrox Stadium?

Haven’t we been through this, and tolerated enough of it?

Are we really to believe that our board of directors want to go back to those days, and those circumstances?

Not in this lifetime.

Jackson’s other key assertion is equally daft, but it’s sneaky too because it seeks to draw parallels between two entirely different situations.

He talks about Craig Whyte and the “fit and proper person” test, and then about Dave King and why his situation need not necessarily end in the same fate, and you know heads are nodding as they read this nonsense, but it ought to make the rest of us bang them against the wall.

Let’s talk for a moment about Craig Whyte.

Craig Whyte, like King, was legally entitled to run a business in the UK. He didn’t declare his previous directorship ban and there were issues with his conduct whilst as chairman. Those concerns saw him declared unfit and improper, after the fact.

During his tenure at Ibrox, and before the facts about him were “known” (let’s forget for a while that almost everything about him was known, and written about by the Bampots), he did his thing un-interrupted.

Paul Murray was there, the second board he had served on where he claimed to be deaf, dumb and blind.

As a consequence, Murray isn’t fit and proper, according the SFA regulations and King certainly is not.

Jackson claims that SFA face a tough test here and that the decision is “complicated” but in fact it’s actually pretty clear cut. There’s nothing remotely diffuclt about this, and he admits as much when he says that a straightforward reading of the regulations should disqualify King from office.

That’s where this conversation should begin and end.

Yet what Jackson says in relation to this is woefully dumb, and it has to be wilfully so because he surely cannot have mistaken it as a reading of fact. He, and others I’ve read, seem to believe that the only function the fit and proper person criteria should have, or should have had all this time, is to protect Sevco Rangers from bad elements.

This is how he can excuse its use in the Whyte case but ask that allowances are made for King.

It’s how he and others can demand that Ashley be run out of town on a rail but that Murray should be able to sit on the board.

The purpose of these rules isn’t to protect the clubs from themselves; they exist to protect Scottish football from being plunged into chaos or scandal on the back of certain individuals.

They exist to keep clubs out of the hands of criminals who’d use them for God knows what purpose.

They exist to protect the integrity of the sport.

If you believe King and his cohort, their stated aim is to financially dope Sevco the gills. To have them rise through the league not on merit but on cheap money and debt. This is the exact anti-thesis of sport and there’s no integrity in it at all.

The rules can’t stop him from doing so, although there is talk that the SFA is planning some form of Financial Fair Play – talk which flared up and then broke down; I hope it’s not been shelved – but they can do the whole game a favour by, for once, following those rules which are written down. There is no barrier to Murray or King playing a role at Ibrox whether on the board or not.

They can invest what they like and run the show through subordinates if need be.

Jackson’s problem – which he shares with others – is about his inability to separate what is good for Sevco with what is good for the game as a whole. Letting someone ride roughshod over the rules does neither the club nor the game any favours and I don’t think those things are necessarily mutually exclusive either, because whatever King and his people have in mind, I don’t think it is going to help the club in the long term.

The best favour the governing bodies can give the Sevco fans it treat King like they would anyone else, throw out his application and see how serious he is. If he’s for real, he’ll respect that decision and do what he said he would regardless.

If he’s full of it, he’ll bitch and moan and there will be a press campaign calling the SFA every bad name under the sun.

But we’ll find out if King is for real.

It would preserve the integrity of our game at the same time.

What is our sport’s integrity worth at the moment? Not much.

Ask Livingston, being pressed to the wall because of “dual ownership” rules.

Had the SFA taken its own seriously, Ashley would no longer be able to hold influence at Ibrox and there would be no concerns over the parts of Sevco he now has under its control. The punishment handed down to Livingston stands in stark contrast to the slap on the wrist the Newcastle supremo got. On the one hand, the SFA fined him personally, a lousy few grand for a guy will billions.

On the other hand they are punishing the club, doing so using a sledgehammer that might make them unable to field a team.

The Ashley story is known throughout British football. Those who know about the Livingston case must laugh at how weak it makes the SFA look, that they treat the small and the vulnerable with such measures when the rich and powerful get off with a word in the ear, and for the same offence too.

The double standard absolutely stinks to high heaven and it makes this game look ridiculous at best.

To now compound that, by giving bending more rules?

Who genuinely cares about the game here, and its reputation?

We’ll find out soon enough, I guess.

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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.

4 thoughts on “Still Not Getting It

  • 14 April, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Refreshing and well written .It certainly is helpful for me to better understand the problems with the Scottish media and the SFA .I find that there is no one you can speak of who will explain what it is better for Scottish Football not what is better for the Govan support to hear .They all pander to Sevco and that has always been the,case .Keep up the good work.

  • 14 April, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I hope I will be the first to do something about the SFA “The S being Sevco”.
    I have supported THE greatest football team in the world for 60 years,but I will not be back to Scottish football again,as long as the same regime are at the SFA/SPFL.
    I was very disappointed that my club who had a proposal at last years AGM to ask UEFA to investigate the SFA/SPFL’s handling of the TRIFC/SEVCO debacle,but talked their way out of it.
    And what about the disgrace of allowing the green brigade to still be dragging the good name of CelticFC and the fantastic supporters into the same gutter as SEVCO.Hail Hail!.

  • 14 April, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    i think every supporter in scotland except the sevco ones cant wait to see what shite our sfa are about to come out with to allow king/murray back in as directors of sevco fit and propper persons somebody should be investigating the sfa who couldnt run a tap like UEFA/FIFA who would sort them (sfa) out in a couple of days max then again these guys are professonals not diddy men that run our game in scotland.hh

  • 16 April, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Owen,this Green Brigade you type about is the same lot who started up the Celtic Pk foodbank collection,I think you owe them an apology.

    James,another fine blog but don’t hold your breath waiting on our SFA doing anything to help Scottish Football,I stated on the very day these two clowns,Regan and Doncaster,entered the 6 th floor at Hampden Pk that we were in deep shit having those eejits in power,I’ve been proved correct ever since.
    We must rid football of the pair of them,the sooner the better for us all.

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