Sky Sports Scotland Insults Scottish Football With Talk Of Rangers’ “Demotion”

3Gduepif0T1UGY8H4yMDoxOjBzMTtyGkSky Sports Scotland has had a bad reputation for a while now. This section of the broadcasting monolith has an almost pathological fixation with what’s going on at Sevco, sometimes to the detriment of the rest of the sport.

Regular viewers can pick their own examples, but the ones that come most to mind for me and for others are Jim White’s fawning over Charles Green in his “deathbed confession”, his lickspittle interview in South Africa with Dodgy Dave King and Charles Patterson and Luke Shanley spending so much time standing outside Ibrox and Murray Park that they might as well have opened a special Sevco broadcasting unit and put beds in there for them.

Today Sky Sports Scotland hit a new low, when they decided to open their coverage for the season at Ibrox, and to include in the press release a scandalous statement about how the club was “demoted” for “financial irregularities.”

I agree with the second bit, in a conceptual sense.

It is as close to suggesting that what happened to Rangers was an act of fraud as they think they can get away with, although it hasn’t stopped myself and others from calling it exactly that, and in those very words. It was an act of fraud, as Sevco’s continuing to trade without the funds to complete a season is.

But Sevco is a new club, which started at the bottom as every new club should.

Sky’s press release insults every Scottish football fan, including a large number of their own subscribers. They may as well have slapped a advert for Android boxes on the bottom of the piece, as that’s exactly how many people will choose to “enjoy” their coverage from now on. This is one of many reasons why people would rather buy dodgy gear than give money to people who’s penchant for slabbering on Sevco is known and who’s relationship with the truth appears fleeting at best.

There was, of course, no demotion.

It’s one of the most absurd statements I’ve seen published on their website in many moons. It’s a concept so discredited you barely see it anywhere except on the more lunatic Sevco fan forums and blogs. There, I don’t mind it. Demented people believe in crazy things. I resent seeing it where people might take it seriously, where it might promote a distorted image of our game.

This isn’t even pandering; it’s flat out lying.

There are people who ask when Scottish football is going to “get past this” stuff. There’s no getting past this until people are honest about exactly what’s taken place here. A lot of us would be happy to move on, but this constant bullshitting isn’t going to be allowed to stand and it isn’t just Celtic supporters who are furious about this garbage.

None of this does them any favours. None of this does Sevco any favours. That club is stuck in the mud by a blind refusal to accept its actual status; not that of a giant in the game but that of a perennial struggler, skint and powerless but still with friends where they think they can have an influence. The longer they cling to this illusion of superiority and supremacy – the very last trait they should have ported over from DeadCo – the tougher ahead the road will be.

Celtic is moving forward with purpose, with a brilliant new manager and what look to be exciting signing targets. Yet Sky has decided we’re the sideshow, that the curtain raiser for the new season shouldn’t be the champions against the team that finished third, but a newly promoted club which has spent the summer scrambling around the bargain basement of free transfers and has-beens whilst its manager sulked on the other side of the Atlantic.

Such are the priorities of the broadcaster. Such is the way it views the Scottish game, and all this feeds into the demented egos of fans who simply have not adjusted to the reality of their actual position. That reality is coming soon, and it’s going to hurt a lot. Many of us are looking forward to seeing how fact and fantasy collide.

Sky clearly isn’t interesting in facts. They would rather live with, and in, the fantasy and the growing contempt in which the media is held in Scotland and beyond only grows greater with every single instance of something like this.

The truth is known to everyone. It was an article of faith before Charles Green scooped up the assets of the dead club that failing to get a CVA meant death. There was no demotion here. I cannot say that often enough, and it makes those who push this line look utterly ridiculous. Still, they continue to push it like a drug and those addicted to this WATP crap lap it up like Pavlov’s slabbering dogs. It defies belief, but it will no longer go unchallenged.

Are the Internet Bampots the only people in this damned country who are prepared to speak the truth on this issue?

Are we the only ones who care?

Sooner or later, the narrative is going to be scrubbed clean of all these lies.

There are those in a position to do it, and it becomes increasingly difficult to understand their reluctance to.

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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The Long Dark Night Of Dodgy Dave King

Dave-King-XXX-high-resThis has been a long few days of late nights and all-day back and forth on social media. The EU referendum produced a shock result, but it was nothing on the chaos and the mayhem that’s followed since it was announced in the early hours of Friday.

A Prime Minister has gone. Labour’s leader hangs on by a thread; at the time of writing this over a dozen members of his shadow cabinet had resigned in an attempt to provoke a coup. EU leaders are terrified of their own people demanding similar plebiscites. Scottish independence seems like it’s a matter of time away. The pound has plummeted in value. A recession looms. Indeed, our economy has been degraded by a number of ratings agencies.

Not even half a week has elapsed, and the stage is piled with corpses.

In the midst of it all stand the men who organised this “victory” – for such is the way they refer to it. Yet amidst their finest moment few can muster a smile. Only Nigel Farage – who conceded, unconceded, reconceded and then unconceded again – seems pleased with it.

One could be forgiven for forming the distinct impression that this is neither what these people expected nor even wanted; when Johnson and Gove – arguably the greatest “winners” in all this – appeared before the media on the day after the vote they were not just subdued, they looked positively shell-shocked.

They and their cronies are already back-tracking on everything.

Except for the consequences.

They, and the rest of us, are stuck with those.

In the immediate aftermath, David Cameron resigned. In doing so, he threw the enormous economic, social and constitutional mess into their laps and they did not look like men who welcomed that responsibility.

They are not the first men to secure a triumph and then find the cost of it was too great to bear; I have, on occasion, mentioned Pyrrhus of Epirus on this site. He won a great success against the Romans but realised that it had cost him the better part of his army, and history is full of examples like it. The phenomenon even has a name; it’s called a Pyric victory, after the Greek general himself, and I thought of it watching Gove and Johnson on Friday.

I also thought of Dave King and Sevco.

In the aftermath of the Celtic v Sevco cup semi-final, I wrote an article on this site called The Storm Before The Calm. In it, I suggested that what our club had needed most was a day of reckoning, because it would inevitably lead to better times. I suggested that for the more cerebral Sevconites it was a battle they didn’t really want to win, because they knew what the consequences of it would be; confronted with that day of reckoning, Celtic would move forward and rediscover our purpose. In the weeks that followed we did exactly that.

In the aftermath of the Rodgers appointment and their defeat in the cup final I wrote an article for the CelticBlog where I asked who really won that semi-final. A lot of Sevco fans told me they did, but those who realised I was asking a deeper question decided to abuse me instead. That reaction was sparked by their very rational fears and the realisation that it was a legitimate enquiry. Their penalty kicks victory gave them one day in the sun, but that’s all they got. Celtic was reinvigorated and transformed. They stumble on in worse shape than before.

The Good Ship Sevco continues to drift towards the rocks of financial crisis. At the helm is a man who, like Johnson and Gove, has been cornered by his own lies, and now faces the prospect of making good on promises he had no business making and no idea how to keep. He will now have to live with the consequences of the reality which has caught up to him and exposed him as a fraud. Dave King should have stayed on the side-lines. Instead he secured a victory in a war he should never have fought and now wishes he’d never won.

Making big promises is easy to do. I was in politics long enough to know that. I saw many people who couldn’t help themselves, knowing it would get them a bump in popularity. Many had the luxury of knowing they could do so with impunity because they would never be near a position where they might have to keep them. Others seemed, to me, to be reckless almost beyond belief. Their pledges might well have to be kept, and some of these people had not the first clue how to take word and make it form. They were gambling that either they’d not win or that the people who cast the votes would quickly forget all that was sworn to them.

It was Rod Stewart’s narrator who lamented “I was only joking my dear” in the famous song, but at least he had the decency to admit what he’d done and besides, he had the wine to blame it on. When you make a promise you can’t keep it’s bad enough. To make those you had no intention of even trying to keep is far, far worse.

From the minute Dave King took over at Sevco this site and others were telling the fans not to believe a word that came out of his mouth. People always focus on the judge who called him a “glib and shameless liar” but I’ve long believed it’s other parts of that withering verdict which should have been focussing fans minds instead;

“As his evidence progressed it became clear that he has no respect for the truth and does not hesitate to lie, or at least misrepresent the facts, if he thinks it will be to his advantage … There can be little doubt that on most occasions Mr King lied, as he knew the correct facts and obviously decided to misrepresent these facts … he is a mendacious witness whose evidence should not be accepted on any issue unless it is support by documents and other objective evidence.”

So what’s a Dave King promise worth? Ask Mark Warburton. He came to Ibrox believing in big transfer war chests and the notion that he was joining a massive club. Within a year he’s been dissuaded enough of the idea of this as a project with a future to have already considered his position. He vanished entirely for nearly two months in the aftermath of the cup final in which, like in the semi, he named only five subs in an effort to focus the attention of the media and the fans on the threadbare nature of his squad.

That squad has barely moved forward. Oh a handful of players have been signed, but an equal number have left, and although more signings are supposed to be on the way we would do well to look at those the club has already brought in to gauge their likely worthiness. As before, I am grateful to the blogger Johnjames for his research on this; it was eye-opening and any Sevco fan not paying attention needs to wise up fast.

Josh Windass and Matt Crooks are being signed from Accrington Stanley for a combined total of £60,000. That’s £60,000 more than they’ve ever been sold for in their careers thus far. Windass, who the media hilariously claimed had been “attracting Arsenal” was playing for the mighty Harrogate Railway FC until Accrington took him on a free in 2013. Crooks has been on loan at Halifax, Hartlepool and the footballing dynasty at Radcliffe Borough.

Last year, Clint Hill, who’s 38, didn’t make the QPR squad in 24 of their games. He was on the bench, and never got on the park, in another 9. You might be forgiven for wondering if he’s injury prone, but in fact he’s fitter than some at Ibrox.

The same can’t be said of Jordan Rossiter, the Liverpool youth player, who’s made only five first team appearances for the club in two years. Last season he was a reserve player who injury derailed for 17 out of 22 Under 21 games. He is said to have serious underlying fitness issues, which would be tragic for a player so young and disastrous for the club which has signed him.

Matt Gilks, a 34 year old goalkeeper, has arrived from Burnley. He featured once last season, in the League Cup. He replaced the younger, better, Cammy Bell who has left for Dundee Utd.

They’ve signed Joey Barton, at 34, a guy who’s a walking liability with a Twitter feed that’s a recipe for disaster and a list of criminal offences matched, at Ibrox, only by Dave King himself. This guy is a time bomb waiting to blow. The irony is that he’s not a bad player, although nowhere near as good as he seems to believe himself.

And what of Niko Kranjcar, the Croatian “genius” who somehow didn’t manage to get into their European Championship squad, despite being the best footballer never to play in Scotland since Mario Jardel? Well, it’s not for nothing that Johnjames has called him the “9 minute Galactico” as that’s precisely how much game time he got last season at Dynamo Kiev. He went to the US after their season was done, and played 7 games.

This is the “standard” they are going for. Don’t let anyone kid you that this is a squad that can challenge Hearts and Aberdeen, far less Celtic. The total outlay is that £60,000 for the Accrington Stanley players, and they had to be forced to meet that commitment.

The website transfermarkt.com – not a definitive source because they traditionally underestimate what clubs are willing to pay for players, but one that has been praised by the Centre for Economic Performance – rates the Celtic squad’s total value to be £39.9 million. The second most valuable squad in the league is rated as that of Aberdeen, at £6.73 million, followed by Hearts £6.19 million, St Johnstone £5.66 million and Ross County £4.67 million.

Sevco’s squad is rated as worth a little more than that, at £4.9 million. For all the talk about them being the “second biggest club in the country” their team is rated as worth less than the Dundee Utd side that was relegated last year, which was valued at £5.08 million.

This is most definitely not what was promised to their fans when King took over.

The £30 million war-chests have never come to pass. The over-investment has never been forthcoming. This club might be charging big money for season tickets, yet its playing staff was recruited right out of the cheap seats. Yet in spite of this, the club remains a loss making company with no clear path towards raising the sort of funds that will enable them to be more.

Sevco is a financial basket case. Before Rangers was liquidated they had sold off or shut down every major revenue creation stream. The merchandising deal that they are so concerned with was the spiritual successor to Rangers one with JJB that was ridiculous in itself. That club tried making its own shirts. They tried entering into a TV partnership with STV, which followed on from their disastrous decision to do the famous NTL deal. None of this worked, but flogged valuable commercial assets for a pittance.

Now even the infrastructure which enabled them is gone. In his Q&A series with the fans, he’s admitted that the task of rebuilding that will cost a fortune and take years. He has neither the time nor the money to pull that off. The rewards for playing in the SPFL top flight aren’t lucrative enough to justify all the excitement over reaching it.

Only playing in Europe could bail them out of this, and anyone who thinks that squad would get past even meagre opposition needs a reality check. King says he’d spend to ensure it, but that puts us back on the carnival ride of lies again.

How many times has this site written about King’s financial predicament? Even if he had the money some have suggested, the South African government would make it difficult verging on impossible to remove it from the country by legal means. If he wants to play Russian roulette with their regulators he can do so, of course, but history suggests he’ll get caught.

All football is run on money these days. When you have costs which top £1 million a month before you even pay a football player you need to be bringing in a steady stream of it just to keep up. King could have made this work, but it would have involved being honest with people and that’s simply not within his DNA.

Like Gove and Johnson, King has played a good game of bluff and bullshit up until now, but as they both found out last Friday morning there comes a time when your distorted version of reality comes into contact with people holding notebooks who remember the promises. More important even than them, so do those you made those promises to and who gave you their trust on the back of them. For the Brexiters the full weight of their unwanted and unforeseen victory is now pressing down on them. For King, a season looms under circumstances he would never have wanted. He needed to raise expectations to sell tickets and with the media machine pumping out the propaganda those expectations are now sky high and wildly unrealistic.

King knows that; more to the point, so does his manager.

The new season looms in front of these people like a dark road with no clear destination at the end of it.

To paraphrase Harry Truman, King is the only person in the history of Scottish football in charge of a major club to talk out of both sides of his mouth and to tell the truth out of neither.

Sooner or later, that catches up to you, and sometimes when you least expect 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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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.

(I’m a full time writer and the support of my readers is what keeps me goingr. If you like what I do, and are able, and want to support the work the site does, you can make a donation at the link. If every reader was able to donate a small sum every year that would keep the site going strong well into the future. Many thanks in advance.)

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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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Crisis At Sevco: Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide

Downfall-Der-Untergang-downfall-der-untergang-32193090-1920-1080On 16 January 1945, Adolf Hitler moved into the final home he would ever know, the Fuhrerbunker underneath the Reich Chancellery in Berlin.

Over the next few months, as his detachment from reality grew more acute, he and the members of the general staff felt the noose grow ever tighter round their necks as the Allies closed in from the West and the Soviets closed in from the East.

It was the Soviets who got there first, on 16 April.

The Battle of Berlin began.

A day later, Eva Braun threw a party in the chancellery itself, to celebrate the dictator’s 56th birthday. It was the last hurrah. During the festivities a Soviet shell landed yards from the building and blew out a wall.

The party ended, those who could escape did and the others settled down to await the end.

In the movie Downfall, which charts the final days of the regime, there is a discussion about whether Hitler himself should try to flee the city.

It is his senior adviser Albert Speer who speaks the words that will determine his fate; “You must be on stage when the curtain falls,” he says, and Hitler nods.

From that moment on, those who had wedded themselves to the dictator, who had pledged to stand by him to the last, had nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. Those who stayed knew the ultimate fate, and they accepted it with him.

Those who have chained themselves to the Dave King regime at Ibrox must feel like that, as if the walls are closing in around them today. It’s been a dreadful, a thoroughly appalling, last few days, from Friday’s bizarre late night press release to the hammer blows which have hit them, one after the other, in the last 24 hours.

Erase any thought that I feel bad for them.

These people deserve everything they get.

Sympathy isn’t exactly my default position when it comes to these folk; corrupt administrators, compromised journalists, braindead and ambitious fan reps. They’ve all conspired to put the club in the hands of a man a South African judge called “a glib and shameless liar” and they tied whatever was left of their reputations to his.

What a colossal error in judgement, one for which they will pay a high price before this matter is fully resolved.

This is a club on the brink of a catastrophe.

Let’s look at where things stand this morning.

Yesterday they published their accounts, and what a shambles they are.

The top-line figure of £7.4 million in losses would be dreadful enough, but that hides a multitude of sins. Without a series of loans, including the Sports Direct £5 million, the sale of a player and some other add-ons the actual figure would have been twice as high.

The club admits it doesn’t have the capital to get through the season, with the cash needed to do it supposedly coming from a proposed debt-for-equity swap that might not make it past the shareholders.

They are in hock to current directors at the moment, and rumours continue to circulate that these guys have had it.

Their other key lender is a guy they’ve pissed off so much he’s now taking legal action to have the chairman thrown in jail.

King himself has already been indicted and convicted for a tax fraud in South Africa, but before this he was on the board of the previous football club, which has just been found guilty of a massive, and long term, tax evasion scheme which in any other football association would have immediately opened an investigation leading to title stripping and historical disgrace.

As Andrew Smith has said, in an astonishingly blunt, and uncompromising, piece in The Scotsman this morning; “At the very least, the titles Rangers won in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010 should be declared void. These honours were won in the most dishonourable fashion.”

He’s correct. The Big Tax Case verdict is a moment that will haunt the club forevermore.

Their liquidation was all the more inevitable in the light of it, and Craig Whyte, the man the media and the Sevco fans love to blame, is shown to have been a spiv and a chancer, but also is absolved of the historic responsibility for their ultimate fate.

Rangers did not “die for nothing”, as some of their more ridiculous supporters reps have claimed.

They died because for too long they spent other people’s money, and finally yours and mine. When they were forced to pay their own way – and Whyte’s season was the first time in decades when they had to do that without European income – that fate was sealed.

At the same time, the manager has reversed himself on team building policy.

He’s seen his club crash out of one of the two main domestic cup competitions already and they just lost to their biggest challengers in the league.

On the football front, things aren’t bad.

They’re certainly not in crisis, but if they lose another match in the next few weeks the pressure on that end will begin to stack up.

The squad as it stands appears capable, but only in their current division.

Furthermore, with this club surrounded in uncertainty that is bound to take its toll.

There’s also the question as to whether the manager feels he’s going to get the backing he was promised.

He seemed genuinely excited a week ago when he talked about bringing in a better class of player. Just a few days later, he was no longer signing them and the statement that the club released later that night made it clear the money for them isn’t there unless it comes from more soft loans from the boardroom.

How long before he’s fed up with that?

This isn’t a guy with “Rangersitus” here. He’s a hardnosed professional, a guy who came from the financial markets. He believes he can build a reputation in football, and he will realise in the fullness of time what a car-crash Sevco actually is, if he isn’t already becoming aware of that.

Remember, this isn’t a guy King and the board can buy off with some cobblers about jam tomorrow.

He knows how to work with numbers. He knows you can’t build the kind of club he wants them to become without cold hard cash. He’s worked in the City, and he knows what it takes to go out and get financing. He knows about market credibility … and if he doesn’t already realise that Sevco has absolute none of that well, how the Hell did he make his money?

So there aren’t immediate problems in the dressing room, but those problems are on their way and you can see it for miles and miles.

If things get too difficult and Warburton believes his own reputation is being tarnished, this guy will walk and not look back.

All this is to say nothing of asset ownership issues, court cases mounting up, and persons connected to the club being under indictment.

Throughout all of what’s come before we’ve heard the usual bleating that none of this is the fault “of the club” itself, that the fans are victims, as if directors don’t make decisions on behalf of the institution that they’re running and those supporters didn’t have a chance.

This is a club where crisis is a permanent state of affairs, where one boardroom shyster is soon replaced by another and where all of them – without exception – are cheered in and jeered out later by a support which appears stone stupid and unable to learn from past mistakes.

They backed Whyte before they turned on him, even as we told them he was a charlatan of the very worst kind.

We exposed his lies even before he took over, and they didn’t listen and hailed him a hero.

They were still unbelieving right up to administration day itself.

They welcomed Green with open arms, buying not so much into his business plan (which had more holes in it than a Jerry Bruckheimer film) as his bombast when he talked about “Rangersitus” and how every other club hated them because of bigotry.

I ask you, if you were a dodgy geezer looking for people to fleece, could you do any better than tens of thousands who would reach into their wallets the moment you started talking about how they were special and the rest of the world was against them because of it?

That’s the easiest money the guy ever made in his life.

Now there’s Dave King, the “glib and shameless liar”, the man who a court condemned in the harshest language permissible without resorting to swearing.

This guy has reversed himself so many times since taking over it’s become impossible now to recognise the place where reality ends and the pipe dreams begin. Fact, fiction, even fantasy, have merged into one with this joker, and you get the impression watching him, reading him and listening to him that he simply says whatever comes into his head, or whatever he thinks the audience wants to hear, whatever its relationship to truth.

The media loves him, for reasons passing understanding as he is not evenly remotely credible.

His record in front of them is deplorable. He treats them like absolute mugs, clearly thinking of them as useful idiots without a shred of backbone at all. He has to, otherwise he wouldn’t so freely, and fearlessly, lie to their faces.

Even today, Keith Jackson has praised King for “openness” in how they’ll get through the season; loans from existing shareholders.

Those loans, according to Jackson, have already been agreed by the directors.

Is that true? I think he should check and make sure this isn’t just a case of King being economical with the facts again.

He’s bought, wholly, into the stated figure of £2.5 million being enough to get the club through the season too. I’m willing to bet that long before the current campaign ends we’ll be hearing that it isn’t quite enough, that it’s going to take the same again – at least – to actually complete their fixtures. And where’s that coming from?

He’s talking the usual nonsense about how the club can “untangle the finances” with a share issue, and goes on to call those of us who are predicting “imminent catastrophe” as indulging in “absurd wishful thinking.”

First, none of us said this is “imminent.”

That is to say that it won’t be tomorrow or the day after that.

They may even limp to the end of the season.

But there are long term structural problems at Ibrox that won’t be resolved as long as Dave King is at the helm, and sooner or later his fellow directors are going to tell him there’s no more gas left in the tank.

Imminent? No. But certain, and it doesn’t take a genius to work this stuff out.

Basic math is all that’s required.

With their losses at the current level – even taking loans into account, by God – this is a club heading for disaster.

That’s a simple statement of fact.

And this share issue he’s talking about … let’s surmise that they’re able to launch it. Let’s even surmise they can hit their target, whatever that is.

This isn’t money for infrastructure spending. It’s going to be spent on the team; King’s made that pretty clear. So the wage bill will rise. Fans will get a temporary hit and buy season tickets.

Then what? Scottish football revenues aren’t enough to sustain their greedy over-reach. Once the share issue money is gone – and it won’t take long – then what?

With a new cost base that will be twice what it currently is they’ll be counting on European income to survive, if they make it that far.

Haven’t they been there before?

That way lies the boneyard.

If Jackson, Scotland’s most clinically stupid “journalist”, wants a textbook example of “absurd wishful thinking” he just gave it to us himself.

The supporters and the media have gone “all in” with Dave King, as have the governing bodies, who passed him as fit and proper despite his criminal past and his relationship with the old club that went bust on his watch.

That they allowed this guy to take up a senior position with a Scottish football club with the words of King’s national judiciary completing his disgrace was stunning to all of us who, nevertheless, had been expecting it to happen.

Like the acolytes of Hitler, who crowded into the bunker, his future and theirs are now inextricably entwined.

If he should, for example, wind up in the jail come the end of the year – and whatever Jackson reckons his suspended sentence for contempt in a South African court, and the noxious mix of what Ashley is accusing him of, makes it dangerously possible that he will – the first thing that will happen is their collective credibility will tank.

He doesn’t even have to wind up in prison for that to happen. Jackson has dismissed, as if it’s nothing, the possibility that the court will simply fine King instead. For contempt of court. Because that happens to football chairmen all the time, right?

Yes, somewhere a village is definitely missing its idiot.

If King is actually admonished by the court the consequences for the club will be further disgrace at the very best.

If he’s jailed they’ll be catastrophic.

My prediction is that they’ll enter administration on the same day, or shortly thereafter, as the directors run to distance themselves from a crisis of Chernobyl proportions.

Their fundraising capability will be obliterated well into the long term future, at least as long as King is chairman and for many, many years beyond.

The reputational damage to the club and to many in the game here, especially those who waved him through Fit and Proper person, will be monumental.

Disaster is closing in on this club, whatever optimistic press releases they might put out and whatever their friends in the media might want people to believe.

There’s a reason a judge in South Africa called King a “glib and shameless liar” and there’s a reason the Scottish sporting press have a toxic reputation with their former readers and the Bampots.

The undertone of panic in some of the coverage today is palpable, and it’s there because these people know that when the roof falls in it’s going to land right on top of them.

That’s the consequence of getting down into the bunker with a madman and his circus of fools.

And with crisis now coming at them from all sides, there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

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Daily Record Forced To Retract Rangers Liquidation Lies

Editor says to journalist: 'I'm looking for a reporter who is imaginative. I did just say 'investigative', didn't I?'Today, The Daily Record was forced into a humiliating climb-down when it printed a correction to a piece that ran in the paper on 25 September.

That piece was originally about Charles Green, but one paragraph in the story caught the eye of some in Celtic cyberspace, and was the subject of a couple of excellent blogs from The Clumpany, where he mocked The Record mercilessly for it.

The offending paragraph read “The club went into administration and subsequent forced liquidation by HMRC over a “phantom” £80million tax bill. The club were later cleared of having ever owed the taxman.”

I’m sure you’ll agree reading it that this is pure and simple garbage, without even the remotest connection at all with reality, but then I credit most of this sites readers as being of above average intelligence anyway, which rules out buying The Record in the first place.

We weren’t the intended audience for this piece of fantasy fluff, of course. That was the Sevco support, and the section of it which subscribes to the Victim Myth.

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the Victim Myth. Indeed, it was the focus of my last piece here, where I laid out the consequences to the club if all the principals now standing trial in connection to the twin takeovers are found guilty of those offences.

The club itself will not benefit one iota from those verdicts; indeed, the best thing that could happen to all the current shareholders is for Whyte, Green and others to be cleared on all counts.

Yet where the Victim Myth most commonly manifests itself – and the media is even guiltier of this than the Sevco support – lies in the distorted version of reality involving the administration and liquidation of the OldCo, with some, even now, unable to grasp the facts.

Everyone involved in this has been blamed for what happened except those actually responsible; Rangers’ board of directors (including Dave King and Paul Murray) and the supporters. HMRC are convenient scapegoats, as are the banks, Ticketus and others, with Craig Whyte the ultimate bogeyman. But Rangers crashed due to the setup of the club itself.

Recently I’ve gotten into the excellent TV show Deadliest Catch, which is about the fishermen who go hunting for crab in the Bering Sea off the Alaskan coast. As reality shows go there are few better; their job is appallingly dangerous, averaging about a half dozen deaths annually and a slew of injuries almost beyond counting, and the physical and psychological toll that it takes on the fishermen is enormous.

The sea itself is unpredictable, and no matter how well crews prepare there are things that can’t be legislated for, but in Season 1 a boat goes down and we watch the mostly futile rescue attempts.

We later discover, due to changes in legislation governing the fishing season, that one of the reasons it sunk was that it left port “top heavy”, overloaded with more crab pots than advised, and thus unable to manoeuvre in rough seas.

No-one was to blame; other ships frequently leave harbour “top heavy” and we see others do it during the show. It’s the way things happen in the industry, much as clubs running up debt happens in football.

Everyone thinks it can’t happen to them … until it does.

Rangers Football Club was “top heavy” for a long, long time and no-one involved in running it had focussed overmuch on efforts to limit the problems. Indeed, as long as they had HBOS standing behind them, pumping money into them via MIH, they might have continued along, running up debts and then rescaling, until the cows came home.

But in 2008 a storm front hit, HBOS was engulfed and Lloyds, a far more conservative company, found itself holding the balance sheet.

From that moment on, the club was under pressure to live within its means … but it continued playing the odds, hauling more weight than it could reasonably cope with in event of disaster, and in August 2011 that’s exactly what came along, when they were knocked out of the Champions League and then what was the UEFA Cup.

This is still difficult for their fans to grasp, but simple arithmetic is all it requires.

Those defeats left a hole in the balance sheet of some £10 million plus.

The banks had already been chased by then, so they did nothing wrong. They saw the writing on the wall and were not prepared to lend the club a single red cent. No bank is willing to do so today.

HMRC only got involved in administration proceedings when the club stopped paying PAYE. What else were they supposed to do? Ignore that? They were legally obliged to go after it and their own charter expressly says that they refuse all efforts at a CVA when deliberate with-holding of tax revenues is alleged. There was no grand conspiracy.

Whyte could have paid the PAYE, but the hammer would still have fallen, because that £10 million plus hole had to be plugged .

Whyte inherited a bankrupt business. The clue was in the sale price; how else do you pick up a company with tens of millions in assets for £1? The only circumstances in which it has ever happened have been in an asset sale when a company hits the skids or in those where liabilities are so enormous that those involved in the selling know it’s only a matter of time.

Only a matter of time, okay?

I understand why they have difficulty swallowing this; it’s reality and it’s hard to take, and it’s scary because it not only explains how the past happened but points to the likely future.

Without external funding their new club, which is running at a loss, will sooner or later no longer have the cash to keep the lights on and pay its bills as they come due.

That’s a fact of financial life. It’s how things work. It’s the ruthless equation every business in the land, from crab boats to internet blogs, deals with every day of the week.

There’s no such thing as “too big to fail.” Global financial giants have been swallowed in black holes of debt. Even countries – nation states, okay? – like Greece know this by experience.

The talismanic word “Rangers” has no magical properties when it comes to dealing with economic reality; the Victim Myth is predicated on a lie, just as the Survival Myth is.

What’s simply inexcusable is when those lies are regurgitated by national newspapers, by journalists who know better and simply choose to distort facts.

Today The Daily Record has offered a half-hearted apology for “misleading its readers.”

It has fewer and fewer of them every year, because whether it’s in headlines comparing Fergus to Saddam, calling Celtic players “thugs and thieves”, giving Rangers fans wet dreams about the “Motherwell born billionaire”, stirring up hate against Neil Lennon, lauding the genius of Charles Green or going to bat for a convicted tax cheat like Dave King, people now know that “misleading the readers” is this newspaper’s stock in trade and have acted accordingly.

Today’s apology is, therefore, a little bit like being on a crab boat in the middle of the Bering Sea, shouting out at the distant horizon, where only the plankton are listening.

Nevertheless, it’s humiliating for them to have to write the truth for once.

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Celtic, Bloggers & A Bankrupt Media Culture

CHINA-KENYA-AFRICA-MEDIA-NEWSPAPERRecently I’ve taken to closely watching the media’s falling circulation numbers.

There are a few people in Celtic cyberspace who’ve been watching those for a while, in particular the Scottish Football Monitor guys and some of the folks over at CQN.

Some of them publish the numbers every so often, and they’re all showing the old media in steady decline.

Paul67 over at CQN mourns this in a way, and says we’ll always need the media with their resources and the few diligent reporters who are capable of tackling a big story.

I agree with him, and there are some outstanding examples of what he means.

One of the best pieces of journalism I’ve seen in the last couple of years came from the BBC not long ago; it was Mark Daly’s magnificent and game changing investigation into doping in professional athletics. It was courageous and devastating.

It was a sensational example of the media doing what it is supposed to do.

We definitely need more of that.

Daly, of course, has been on our radar for a while.

He was the front man for the equally astonishing BBC documentary on Rangers “The Men Who Sold The Jerseys”, which their fans should have applauded for the way it dug into things the hacks hadn’t bothered with.

Of course, in the end they went hysterical, started their campaign against the BBC and that sowed the seeds for the recent ban on Chris McLaughlin.

Daly is at one end of the scale, the high end, that which sees journalists go out and find the news. That’s a small number of top quality operators doing the kind of work we’ll always need them to do, and which makes their profession shine.

Alex Thomson is another of them, and it’s really Alex I want to talk about here.

I read his recent article, on football teams banning journalists, with great interest, in particular as he chose to highlight Celtic in the piece.

I want to take issue with him on some of it.

For a start, because Alex of all people should know better.

He’s been up here to cover stuff they either missed or didn’t want to.

He knows what most of our hacks are worth.

He knows the ranks up here are filled with those who indulge in sensationalism and creating controversy where there is none.

Worse, it is populated with a more dangerous sort, those who write soup stirring, provocative nonsense.

Those people are an affront to journalism, an embarrassment to a profession which needs more people like him in it and less of them.

He is a real journalist, the kind who believes the calling is still sacred, that it’s still relevant and that it’s still important.

The problem, as he well knows, is that these people fall far below that standard.

I remember him going onto Radio Clyde and castigating the hacks for their failures in getting to the bottom of the Rangers story.

I remember him writing that it was not simply incompetence, but actually a media culture that exists up here whereby whatever comes out of Ibrox is all too often simply accepted without question.

He understands the “succulent lamb” culture very well.

He knows that’s how it works in Scotland, a country that for too long took way too seriously the pretensions and “cultural aspirations” of what the rampant egotist Murray called “the second biggest institution after the church.”

But you have to actually live here, and cover the media full time, which in a sense is what I now do, to truly understand there’s more to it than just that.

Take the John Collins thing that has filled the papers over the last week, pouring unrelenting negativity onto Celtic Football Club and its assistant manager.

This is a fine example of why our club has banned hacks in the past.

It is a complete non-story, blown up into something more by a media that creates these little dramas for its own ends.

At the same time, they’ve been endlessly promoting the line that Scottish football is basically worthless without a club called Rangers in the top flight for the last couple of years.

To look over their coverage during the period in which the future of our sport itself was up for grabs, when the SPL and SFA CEO’s wanted Sevco in the top flight, is to glimpse a world where this game only had two teams, and without them our sport was dead.

They know they are hypocrites.

That’s not the point.

The Collins furore was nothing more than an exercise in slapping Celtic and the same people who are stirring this soup have spent the last month trying to destabilise Scott Allan’s relationship with his own club and get him a move to his “boyhood heroes” (who he’s already spurned two chances to join) at Ibrox.

Today those same hacks claim Celtic are in the running for his signature, and a couple of them have suggested that this is “mischief making” on our part, as if we’re in the habit of spending six figure sums of money for the purposes of one-upsmanship … an idea so preposterous that I would be in the carpark with a Board Out banner if I thought it was even remotely true.

Some of these guys are very obviously working hand in hand with PR companies too and if those PR companies happen to have very clear, historical, leanings towards a certain Scottish football club … well that neither seems to bother the hacks or their bosses.

In fact, when said club was trying to sell season tickets last month some of the hacks were only too pleased to help … and a PR firm publicly thanked them for it in the aftermath.

It’s wee things like this that bother a lot of neutrals, and definitely Celtic fans.

And it ought to bother Thomson more than it does, because this isn’t what their profession is supposed to do. In fact, it debases what it exists for.

So for the record, I have no problem with our club banning people who can’t report accurately or fairly and who routinely bang the drum for PR firms and their clients instead of doing the news.

Thomson himself is still allowed at Celtic Park having once compared us to Millwall, and people like English, Spiers and others are perfectly welcome despite their own articles criticising transfer policy, team selection, managerial decisions and much else.

I don’t have a problem with those kind of articles and neither does Celtic.

Those are simply reporters doing their jobs, and giving their opinions, and even if those opinions are thoroughly barking – like Spiers today, and his “mischief making” headline in relation to the Allan saga – by and large I don’t mind them.

Our club is not anti-journalism.

It’s simply not prepared to put up with constant abuse and the twisting of the truth.

Truth. You know, that thing the whole profession used to strive for?

Negativity day on day, just for the sake of it, or to try and unsettle our club … that’s not journalism. As far as I’m concerned that’s an abuse of responsibility and not something we should be allowing from our front room.

Thomson was, of course, writing in the aftermath of Sevco’s decision to ban Spiers and Chris McLaughlin of the BBC. Where he went wrong was in falling into a famous Scottish sports journalist trap; in the interests of trying to find “balance” he equated our decision to ban Keevins last year with what happened at Ibrox, when there’s no similarity between the two.

Keevins’ brand of hackery is a discredited joke, and Celtic’s decision not to credential him for matches simply freed up a seat in the press area for a real journalist.

No-one should be mourning that, or questioning why Celtic did it.

The reasons for it – including a blatantly untrue story relating to Sean Fallon’s 90th birthday – are well known and have been explored here and elsewhere at length already.

The reasons why Sevco banned two journalists a couple of weeks ago are also well known, and they were exactly the kind of attacks on free speech that Thomson has been seeking to highlight in his piece.

He says Celtic’s bans harmed the club … actually the individuals we banned harm his profession and its standing and that offered an alibi to people like Dave King when he decided he was going to go on a crusade against probing questions.

The problem here is that the media has a tendency to protect all of its people, all of the time, as if an attack on one was an attack on all of them … utter nonsense as he doubtless knows.

Too many people hide behind a press card when they want to go off on one, using the concept of “journalistic freedom” to justify agenda based attacks and sensationalism.

A lot of members of that profession come to their aid and lend them support reflexively, instead of considering whether or not their behaviour is suspect.

I’ve looked into getting my NUJ card and so I know they have guidelines, rules and regulations on professionalism, honesty and integrity.

I’m not suggesting they start weeding people out if they devalue those concepts, but everyone knows that a lot of people in the profession have signed the paperwork and then paid lip service to those ideals.

It was Truman Capote who said “The problem with living outside the law is that you no longer have its protection”.

When journalists go off the reservation and start pursing wee personal vendettas and acting as the PR wing for certain institutions that ought to end all discussion of offering them the protections that go with freedom of the press.

Those protections exist to promote the telling of hard truth, and tackling abuse of power; they are not there to give a shield to those who sensationalise and lie.

What I’m saying is that I would have no problem whatsoever with what Thomson wrote if his own profession was more equipped to deal with those who disgrace it rather than waiting for other people to do it and then getting defensive.

Phil Mac Giolla Bháin has echoed exactly the sort of sentiments Thomson recently did, and has called the banning of journalists “the road to succulent lamb.”

He worries that it will lead to the press developing an unhealthy relationship with our own club, in due course, which prevents fans from getting to the truth about what we’re up to.

I understand the sentiment, but I don’t think it’s likely.

Because whereas Paul67 is right that the media will always be needed to do the job of chasing the stories the bloggers can’t, we are becoming very skilled in our own way and we’re perfectly capable of taking our own clubs to task when it comes time to do that.

It was the bloggers who blew open the biggest story in the history of Scottish sport. RTC and other sites were there well ahead of the mainstream press, including Mark Daly and the BBC. Where his documentary proved useful was in holding a megaphone to work done elsewhere, amplifying the volume a thousand times, to a national audience we weren’t able to reach.

He made it a mainstream story rather than one on the fringes.

But the gap between the mainstream and those fringes has blurred of late, and the number of hacks and former hacks now on Twitter and in the blogosphere increases our visibility every single day, because aside from name recognition we’re all on the same playing field.

And holding our own clubs to account is part of that now.

For myself, I’ve tried to tell the truth as I see it. I’ve probably got the facts wrong on a couple of occasions, but I never set out to deliberately mislead … which is the difference.

On top of that, I’ve never been particularly bothered about who my stuff annoyed.

I have criticised Celtic – venomously – on any number of occasions, and whereas a lot of the Celtic blogs and their writers have been invited to Parkhead for tea and biscuits I never have and frankly I never expect to be.

And this is not me complaining or saying those guys go easy on the club; I know a lot of them well and they are nobody’s lackies or puppets.

It’s just that some people at Celtic Park see some value in opening dialogue with them and that’s pointless as far as it goes with me, although I understand that a good relationship between the blogs and the club is valuable.

But I self-exile myself from Celtic Park in light of how strong my views are and, speaking personally, I prefer it this way for the moment as it allows me the benefit of distance and detachment and I feel more comfortable with that.

For all that, I bear the club no ill will as a consequence of my position, because it is a personal choice, and I feel pretty sure that if I were to open that dialogue myself that the club would be happy to extend me an invite to talk on the same basis as the rest.

In short, I do not believe Celtic is in the business of censorship. Phil has little to worry about in that regard, and that’s where I think Alex Thomson was 100% wrong to base much of his article on that proposition.

The truth is that there are people inside Celtic Park who simply will not tolerate day on day attacks on them and the club itself.

Speaking as someone who defends free speech in a way the club doesn’t believe in – the right of our supporters to sing Republican songs and fly their political banners for example – I cannot fault them for taking a hard-line position on certain hacks.

What’s more, Keevins and others were not encumbered in any way by the ban; it was symbolism and nothing more, but symbolism has its importance.

They themselves boasted that it had no impact beyond that; they were able to continue writing whatever they liked. Celtic was not impacting on their ability to make a living or carry out their duties.

They just weren’t allowed to do it from soft seats in the stand, provided to them free of charge.

Sevco’s decision to ban Chris McLaughlin and Graham Spiers, and perhaps others in due course, is different, and it is ludicrous because it is very clearly an attempt at censorship.

Celtic, to my knowledge, never publicised the bans on Keevins, Jackson and others.

They didn’t use those bans as explicit warnings to the rest of the press pack to start toeing the line.

Sevco, on the other hand, went out of their way to make their position public, and their supporters groups were happy to throw their two bobs worth into the discussion for good measure.

What’s more, they were very clear on the reasons for the action.

They didn’t like the journalists involved writing stories that put them in a bad light.

They make no bones about that, or what the objective is.

You have to give them credit for being brazen if nothing else.

It was clearly a move designed to intimidate those who were perhaps starting to ask some long overdue questions, or who were, in McLaughlin’s case, drawing attention to serious, inherent, problems those in the boardroom ignored the last time they were there and would rather pretend weren’t still affecting the club today.

They are gleeful about this on the Sevco forums, where they have learned nothing from recent years when PR companies sold them on Craig Whyte, Charles Green and others and are now feeding them from the same dirty spoons a feast of the same from Dave King.

Alex Thomson chose to focus the bulk of his article on effect, not on cause. His effort to find balance equated one with the other, when they are not alike at all.

There are good journalists out there, those who are in the profession to “do the news”, those who want to uncover the things those in power would rather remained secret, those who are doing the best they can to see that facts and truth come to light.

We will always need them, and those of us who care about the profession and about the truth itself will always have their back.

One of my heroes of the last twelve months is a guy whose opinions and mine could not be more diametrically opposed – Peter Oborne, formerly of The Telegraph – who resigned from his job because of what his newspaper had become; little more than an advertising board, with editorial content skewed accordingly.

Because this isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing with what we read day after day. Intellectual integrity is about respecting differing opinions and even bending some ways towards them.

All we want to know for sure is that our press is well informed, and well intentioned, and that its output is not simply constructed to further agendas or deceive the readers.

As the media appears unable to self-police – and you only need to look at the political writers in Westminster to see how unlikely that is to change – then, sadly for us all, other institutions will have to take a stand against shoddy journalism and the manufacturing of controversy for its own sake, not to mention the dissemination of lies.

It’s all very well for Alex Thomson to point to legal recourse as the way to get justice, but you need very deep pockets and to be in it for the long haul to pursue that avenue, as he knows full well, and the best you can hope for in the bulk of those cases, after you’ve paid lawyers’ fees and court expenses is a short apology on page 51.

Not good enough. Nowhere near it.

Too much of Scotland’s sports coverage is slanted, biased and ignorant.

Some writers even manage to slap together pieces that are a combination of all three.

Not everyone involved in the media here has noble intentions or pursues the higher goals for which the profession exists. Wild egotism, bias and self-interest are rampant.

A press card doesn’t come with a halo, and even if it did there are some who would wear it well and still perform the Devil’s work.

That is an offense against all of us and the media shouldn’t expect that we will simply sit back and take it.

Those days are over with, forever.

(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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Mouthy McCann At It Again

neil-mccann-sky-sports-pundit-hamilton-v-celtic-17th-jan-2015I’m a cynical man at times.

When I read in a newspaper how someone has said “I don’t have all the answers but …” I generally think that we’re about to be lectured by someone who thinks he does.

Today Neil McCann is imparting his “wisdom” to the rest of Scottish football, and as per usual it is arrogant, myopic and centred on one club.

I don’t know about you, but I can only take so much of this “Celtic and Scottish football” needs a strong Rangers” guff before I want to throw up.

Even if it were true, the entity to which the second part of the sentence refers is gone three years now, whether you believe in the Survival Myth or not. The inability of people in our media to acknowledge that – or perhaps just to accept it – continues to stagger me.

How many words have I written on this subject?

Thousands, certainly. Tens of thousands. Hundreds of thousands perhaps.

That’s a good sized novel right there, something with about 500 pages, and that’s just my output.

Other websites have weighed in, and not just Celtic ones.

Those of Hearts fans, Aberdeen fans, Dundee Utd fans, Motherwell fans, Hibs fans … and on and on.

All have had their say and they’ve all written the same stuff; that the era of the duopoly is over, that this is good for Scottish football and that it is arrogant at best for people to simply assume that if Sevco climbs out of the Championship (and doesn’t suffer an administration or liquidation in the process) that they will be Celtic’s main challengers.

It ignores so much evidence. It denies all reality entirely.

McCann’s “interview” is proof of the poverty of our press.

He resurrected that old chestnut about summer football, as if there is even one word that hasn’t already been written or said or published on that subject. According to the press this issue is now “back on the agenda” but the last time I looked McCann wasn’t an official with the governing bodies, who are the only people who are in a position to do any such thing.

Summer football would be nice. But how many times do we need to revisit it?

It’s not going to happen unless the clubs vote for it, and they’ve passed up many a chance to do it over the years.

Maybe it’s a Scottish thing.

Maybe we just can’t get behind the idea.

Maybe we prefer to see football played in the mud and the rain.

McCann has always baffled me anyway. Quite how he landed a gig on the telly in the first place is quite amazing. His commentary is obvious, his biases shocking and his looking for controversy where none exists is the hallmark of the headline chaser.

Last week, he was busy telling every media outlet who would give him airtime how Danny Wilson was a fantastic signing for Sevco, and had he left it at that there would have been no problem.

But McCann went further and said Wilson had chosen the Ibrox club over clear interest from Celtic.

There was just one problem with that, of course; it wasn’t true.

Celtic fans have a long history with this guy and the way he has a pop at us every chance he gets.

This site wrote an article about him after his gurning, spiteful performance on Sky Sports after Celtic had beaten St Johnstone 3-0 at Perth, on the opening day last season, when Derk Boerrigter won Ronny Deila’s team a penalty and was then the subject of one of McCann’s tirades.

McCann’s demand for a video review panel was granted.

It ended up in a disciplinary case opened against our player.

I said at the time that he ought to be banned from Celtic Park fpor that little stunt.

I value free speech, but that only goes as far as the front door of my house,

My view was that if McCann and others want to have a pop at Celtic every chance they get it would be better if the club didn’t let them do it from our own front room.

He had another mad rant a few months later, accusing John Guidetti of “conning” a referee, a move which prompted Celtic’s manager to praise the standard of refereeing and make it clear how little he cared what the hacks and the pundits say.

McCann had been demanding that the SFA do the Swedish striker. When that didn’t work he said Celtic would have no choice but to carpet him in house because otherwise Deila was a hypocrite. Ronny ingored that, because those comments are simply unworthy of a response.

On top of his nonsense about summer football this morning, McCann was also pontificating on how little money there is in the Scottish game, longing for the days when every club was in debt, overpaying sub-standard players.

We can see why he hankers for those times; he did alright out of them.

He was at Rangers during Murray’s years of crazy spending and mad salaries, and he then found himself at Hearts when Romanov was running up the wage bill to the levels which almost wrecked the club last year.

Two clubs at which he played, both of whom ended up in financial trouble.

He was but one player on their books earning more than he ought to have.

Few other eras in the history of our game here have so healthily rewarded those with so little ability.

He was also the recipient of a very generous EBT, valued at £500,000.

Can he really be so dense that he doesn’t understand that this move away from insanity has put the Scottish game on its best financial footing in years?

Oh I know I moaned last week about Celtic and our transfer policy but whereas we can afford to spend a little more the rest of Scottish football has adjusted to reality … and it’s no coincidence this has happened since a certain club from Glasgow went to the wall.

People sometimes talk like Murray’s arms race with Celtic affected only our club. it didn’t. Every other team in Scotland, many of them benefiting from the same relationship with HBOS as he had (but which we, notably didn’t) found themselves chasing dreams.

The consequences of it lasted years.

That McCann doesn’t realise this, that he doesn’t get it, is all the more reason the football world should simply ignore him when he’s on one of his rants, but I guess someone, somewhere, is sitting nodding and reading him and saying “I agree with that”, although who that person might be and why they are allowed The Daily Record in a secure unit I don’t know.

It’s the final bit of his interview that grates the most though, and I’m sure it’s not just me who feels this way.

He’s talked, as many before him have, of the need for an Ibrox club in the top flight, for the “good of the Scottish game” of course, and to “challenge Celtic.”

He even thinks that league reconstruction would be an acceptable way to get that outcome.

I’m sure that the fans of clubs outside of Glasgow, looking at these comments, will be purely and simply furious at the sheer presumption in his remarks.

You might as well suspend Scottish football right here and now, because the biggest issues have already been decided.

Celtic will win the SPL without a ball even being kicked and Sevco will win the Championship.

They will improve so dramatically that next season is a foregone conclusion as well, and so the rest of our sides better learn to adjust.

I mean seriously. This is what the man is saying.

I am well past sick and tired of this kind of crap, and if that’s how I feel as a Celtic supporter, I can only imagine how the supporters of the rest of the clubs react when they are written off or dismissed as irrelevant.

Ask the supporters of Hearts and Hibs, who must have borne the last close season with gritted teeth as they were told their clubs would simply be swept aside.

Ask the fans of Motherwell, who turned up at Ibrox for the play-off final first leg with the whole of the Scottish press engaged in an orgy of anticipation for the coming season, having already made up their minds that Sevco would be in the top flight.

The simple fact that McCann and others have yet to grasp is that the Ibrox team isn’t automatically going up this season either.

Hibs and St Mirren and Queen of the South and Falkirk and others will make that a hard, hard task for them and that task will be one hundred times harder if people at Ibrox believe all this nonsense about going back to “where they belong.”

(Here’s a hint for any Sevconians reading; you’re a NewCo that rose from the ashes of a liquidation. Where you belong, therefore, is the graveyard. That’s why we call you zombies after all.)

Should they make it – and that’s a big if – McCann and others are in for one Hell of a shock, because “challenging Celtic” would be a big enough ask on its own if we were the only team in this league (as some hacks appear to think.)

Sevco isn’t remotely ready for that, and it will take years before they are.

I’ve said before that when a genuine challenge to Celtic does emerge – and one will, it has to – it will not be from this city but from Edinburgh or the north of Scotland.

I would welcome that challenge, of course, wherever it comes from.

But if it comes from, say, Aberdeen or Hearts we’ll know, at least, that it’s built on solid foundations and not on the old methods, the ones Neil McCann seems to be touting, the ones Dave King speaks about with forked tongue.

Whether he’s serious or not, that’s largely unimportant.

What he’s talking about, what McCann wants to see, is a return to the old order, to the old way of doing things, and it’s high time the SFA got serious about Financial Fair Play and forced clubs to spend only what they earn, instead of leaving the door open for another bout of financial madness which does the game no good at all.

The coming season is going to be just as important for what happen off the pitch as for what happen on it.

We have a new head at the SFA, and he deserves to be given a chance, to see what kind of ideas he brings to the organisation, and what changes he makes. Introducing FFP would be a Hell of a start.

In the meantime, we’re going to have to listen to idiots like McCann, pontificating on the need to keep the balls round, to make sure we don’t lose sight of the importance of goal nets and to speculate on whether we’d do better if the pitches were multi-coloured and split into zones. (FIFA were asked to consider that some years ago. If it helped Sevco in any way the Scottish media would be all for it, so watch this space.)

Scottish football needs a strong media, as much as our media appears to need a strong Sevco.

It’s nonsense like the stuff McCann is running out today that reminds us – as if we need it – that we’re about a million miles away from having one. Our press are a joke. Our “standard of journalism” continues to not only scrape the bottom of the barrell but bore right through it.

Thank God for the Internet Bampots.

(I’m a full time writer and the support of my readers is what keeps me goingr. If you like what I do, and are able, and want to support the work the site does, 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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Armageddon Averted

urlYou know, sometimes writing for this website is a pleasure and at other times it really does seem like a chore. Lately it’s been the former, but yeah, at times I’ve approached the keyboard with a sigh.

I try to avoid getting into arguments on here these days because they tend to go no place, mostly because those from Planet Sevco who want to engage in them must be disconnected from reality to be coming on with the points they’re making.

The Victim Myth is simply the latest manifestation of this. That was not the first, and I suspect it won’t be the last, peculiar default of logic we’ll hear around these parts.

I want to lay to rest a couple of things here. Why am I bothering, I hear some of you ask? You know, it’s not clear to me either, but as a smarter person than me once said, the beautiful thing about a conversation like this is that you only need to have it once.

Sevco Rangers fans don’t like to debate when you introduce reality into your argument, and since that’s exactly what most of us do they’ve evolved a number of defence mechanisms for dealing with us. Depending on who you’re talking to you’ll get a variation on one or two themes.

These themes are so intellectually hollow it barely seems worth going over them, but I think we have to, so we can drive the wrecking ball through them once and for all.

The first of these is that we are “obsessed” with their club. This line takes a number of different forms, with some of their fans opting simply to use the word itself, offering no elaboration. This is not just lazy, it’s dumb with a capital D, taking “debate” down to the level of the schoolyard, although admittedly, this is better than the level of the gutter, where many of them, sadly, want to drag it.

A recent “evolution” of this argument is that some now ask us why we are so “obsessed” if their club is supposed to be dead. I fail to understand the logic in that one and I don’t even pretend to know where they’re coming from when they deploy it. Usually it’s Sevco Rangers itself we’re discussing, and not the former club, so the basis of the argument is fundamentally flawed from the start, even if the “obsessed” line itself were not puerile.

The crisis that destroyed Rangers brought Scottish football to the brink of anarchy, if not outright ruination, and it was not the “Armageddon” Doncaster and others predicted that nearly did it but the solution they proposed to avert that. Had Sevco Rangers been given an SPL berth the backlash would have been horrendous. The Scottish game would have been wrecked. Fans were not bluffing when they talked about staying away from the sport.

Sevco fans say this was club’s being led by bigots in their support, that it was based on jealousy and hate. You really need to have water on the brain to see it that way. The very nature of sport itself depends on a level playing field, and the idea that a brand new club should be able to enter the league structure at the top level would have made an absolute nonsense of any notion of integrity in the game.

Hate is a language a large number of their supporters understands well, so I’ll leave it to them to pontificate on that, as they’re the real experts on the subject, but jealousy is one that just won’t stand up to scrutiny I’m afraid.

I’ve always looked at their trophy haul and seen it as something for my own club to aspire to beat. Besides, when you consider the taint that’s stuck to much of it, it lacks the shine you might otherwise expect. I know too that there’s not a single Sevco fan who, whether he or she really believes in this nutty notion of continuing the history of a dead club or not, wouldn’t trade at least ten of their titles and any number of their cups to have, in their possession, the big one we brought back from Lisbon. Any jealousy is on the other side of this divide.

Scottish football acted out of necessity, and fairness, and justice. Nothing more.

Let me be clear; if hate and jealousy had motivated the clubs, Sevco would have been playing in the top flight, because there was no legal avenue for “relegating” Rangers from the SPL because of debt.

It did not happen that way. What we all objected to was a brand new club skipping the queue and being granted a league place based on nothing but the size of their support and their stadium, and some bluster about this being needed for the “good of the game.”

The reason myself and others write so much on this subject is because the NewCo is headed the same way as the previous tenants of Ibrox, and some of us are, justifiably, concerned that the authorities will try the same thing all over again if it ends in total meltdown, as it very well might considering the shambles over there right now.

Some of us care about the game. Some of us are interested in more than just what goes on with our own clubs. The Sevco situation is a volcano waiting to erupt, and those of us who want what is best for football in Scotland don’t want to wait until this situation is upon us again before we start organising against it.

Added to that is the fact we’re scrutinising it because no-one else wants to. The press would rather spoon feed the Sevco supporters fantasies about saviors from South Africa or elsewhere, or pander to the barmy wing who think speeding their club towards the graveyard is the way to help it.

This is not obsession at all. It’s self-defence.

Which brings me to their intellectual dishonesty in pushing this line about the “survival” of their club, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Ah, they will say, but a number of other organisations have confirmed that they “live”. They will list these organisations for you and then smugly wait for you to choke on your words. It always makes me smile when they do this, because it reminds me of the moment in Orwell’s 1984 when Winston Smith debates rationality and sanity with O’Brien, concluding that these things are not a matter of statistics.

2 plus 2 equals 4 however many people say otherwise, and that equation does not change even if you are the only person saying it.

Of course the SFA agrees Rangers did not die. These were the people who told us the game was facing Armageddon and the nation “social unrest” if the club was allowed to collapse. They believe the game needs Rangers, something I’ve always disputed and will continue to dispute all the way up to the moment the plug is pulled on the life support machine which is keeping the current incumbents of Ibrox going.

The fact is, they did collapse and die, and what rose in their place was a Frankenstein’s Football Club which it’s in some people’s interests to pretend is the same one as before.

Just because people choose to promote this nonsense, and others believe it with the fanaticism of a religious convert, it does not alter the simple facts.

The company and the club were one and when the company died the club went with it. What emerged in its place was a brand new entity, as evidenced by a new company number. The very people at the SFA who are promoting the notion of the club’s survival issued a new SFA membership to this one, and tried to secure an SPL share for them. Had the club survived, as they maintain, it would already have had one of those.

The same applied to the license they vacated. The one Sevco has is brand new, and we know this because they were granted the first “temporary” one in the history of our sport before they got it.

I could go on and talk about the mysterious Club 12, the Scottish Cup seeding they didn’t get, I could point to all the press releases out of Ibrox at the time that made it clear what not getting a CVA meant, to the players who were allowed to leave (they were, apparently, contracted to a company, not a club … funny that, eah?) and what nearly every newspaper hack in the country wrote, including Jim Traynor who ended up on the opposite side of his own statements when he started taking their money … but you get the point.

I’ve even, on occasion, asked their fans what happened to Gretna if clubs in Scotland don’t die, and I was given the amusing answer that Gretna weren’t saved because no-one would take on their debts. It takes some mental gymnastics to argue that one, when the whole purpose of the Sevco vehicle in the first place was to make sure Rangers own debts went to the grave with the club.

Gretna could have done exactly what Sevco did if this nonsense about clubs not dying had any basis in reality at all. Why didn’t they? They’d have had to reapply to join the league, start from the bottom and rebuild the team … but surely those things were better than the alternative, right?

Wrong. Gretna died and their fans acknowledged that simple fact and got on with it. They didn’t reapply to join the league setup. Those amongst their supporters who wanted to continue watching a team bearing that name now follow a local club called Gretna 2008, in the full understanding that it’s a NewCo with no connection to the old one at all.

Hearts fans were bracing themselves for death not long ago. Dunfermline fans saw their own side flirting briefly with the Reaper before pulling back from the brink. It’s almost happened to Dundee, to Motherwell, to Hamilton, to Morton and a host of other clubs, and what galls the Sevco fans so much is not what happened to their team at all, because ultimately they’ve embraced this “continuation of history” nonsense like a comfort blanket, but the fact they’re one of only a handful of clubs in this fair land who’ve ever fallen off that cliff.

In that, their auspicious place in our football history is up there with Airdrie, Gretna, Third Lanark and those others who headed into the darkness of administration and never came out on the other side. Their argument that they didn’t die means those other clubs must live on somewhere, but like many others I’ve made the pilgrimage to Scottish football’s most famous graveyard at Cathkin Park and, believe me, no-one is playing football there save for the ghosts.

It galls them that this could happen to them, with their notions of supremacy and of being something special. Too big to fail, they proudly boast … except that they did. Tell it to the guys at Lehman Brothers, folks. They thought the same thing and their own history came to a shuddering, juddering and final stop.

They were the most successful club in world football. That’s another one you hear a lot, as though this was, in itself, a talisman. I would direct them to an article I wrote last year for a full answer to that point, but for those who can’t be bothered looking for it I’ll sum it up in its title and a few additional words.

Empires fall. It happened to Athens, to Carthage, to Rome, to imperial France, to the Soviet Union and there was even a day when Britain’s own stretched from Australia to America. Where is that now? The wispy trails of it can be found in Glasgow at this moment, in the remnants of The Commonwealth, but as Alex Salmond reminded a London based hack who thought he’d try using the existence of that as a stick to beat the Yes campaign with, those countries are all independent now anyway and some of them wanted it badly enough to fight for it.

Yes, empires fall and only a madman thinks a Scottish football club can resist the tide of history and the kind of forces which determine the fate of nations.

Lately I’ve heard another odd piece of rationalising, and it’s that our scrutiny and “obsession” is a product of fear. This is the most laughable of all.

First, what exactly are we to be afraid of? I’ve said before that it doesn’t really matter whether this is a new club or a bizarre continuation of the old one. The consequence, in terms of football in this country, is exactly the same. The Rangers we grew up with is gone, and it’s gone forever. There will be no more Laudrup’s or Gazza’s. The days when they could spend money with reckless abandon, always believing someone else would pick up the tab … they are over with.

McCoist might still act like Posh Spice on cocaine with a gold Amex card, yet even this has limitations which make my point for me. He’s not spending it in Harrods here, not even M&S. He’s haggling down at the 99p shop instead and this isn’t an anomaly or the result of them playing in a lower league. It’s something their supporters had better get used to because it’s the way it’s going to be for them for the foreseeable future.

I ask you, in all seriousness, is being afraid usually accompanied by frequent outbursts of laughter? Does it always come with ice cream and jelly? Does fearing a team usually entail praying you get them in a cup competition, so you can inflict a beating their grandkids (who will be Celtic fans) will still be giggling about in fifty years?

Are we supposed to be worried that Graham “120 day review” Wallace will suddenly find skills he’s never had in his career before? There might not seem to be many comparisons between Man City and Sevco, but his performance at both clubs was strikingly similar in that he presided over huge rises in the level of debt. Does he sound like a guy who’s going to turn things around?

Should we be concerned about moves to appoint a fans board? What exactly are Dingwall, Graham and the rest of The Brains Trust going to do that should scare us? Do they have a plan for attracting investment and getting Messi on board with lower league football in Scotland?

Are we meant to be worried about Ally? The only time I would be afraid of something McCoist might do is if I was in front of him in Greggs and I snapped up the last of the chocolate donuts.

Is it Dave King we’re supposed to fear? The man who’s passed up so many chances to “invest” in the club he purports to love that they should fit a revolving door at Ibrox just for him? Should we fear the return of Walter and his consortium? Malcolm Murray, and his pals? Should we be afraid of another takeover panel from Ulster, or more signs of interest from Russian mobsters? Is Club 8 Sport still waiting in the wings, bored of second division ice hockey?

Sevco doesn’t scare me, or any Celtic fan I know, but what’s more I know for a fact that Aberdeen fans, Dundee Utd fans, Motherwell fans, St Mirren fans and the supporters of the other SPL clubs are equally unafraid. Hearts and Hibs fans are rubbing their hands together at the prospect of taking their revamped sides to Ibrox and turning them over.

It is not fear, it is not hate, it is not obsession. We enjoyed watching The Peepil sitting on the side-lines as their club sunk like a stone, and we’re enjoying the shambles as those same people try to save its pale imitation without the first clue as to how to do it.

The truth is, Armageddon never happened. Scottish football is in as good a shape as it’s been for years, as Aberdeen and St Johnstone’s good results in Europe last week demonstrate quite well. Even Celtic’s abject failure to do better in the cup competitions these last few years has worked out rather nicely for everyone else in the game, as it’s given a taste of success to clubs that haven’t had it for years, and in St Johnstone a club that hadn’t had it before. Those clubs are not simply going to abandon all hope because Sevco fans are engaging in their usual bluster. They’re going to keep on improving and building on what they’ve already done.

Look, for example, at Dundee Utd, who bagged a small fortune for Gauld and might be about to bag another right few quid for Armstrong. There is not a player in the whole of the Sevco Rangers squad who could have come close to commanding the fee Utd got for the teenage winger, and Armstrong’s value is probably greater than half their squad combined. When did you ever know that to be the case? When did you ever know Hibs to snatch a player from under Rangers’ nose, yet Scott Allan will be lining up for them, instead of Sevco.

Stripped bare of all their bluster, Sevco Rangers fans are lashing out in every direction for someone to blame for all this when the answer is looking at them in the mirror. They are responsible for this mess because they didn’t give affairs at their club even half the scrutiny we did.

When Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster predicted Armageddon they were talking about something devastating that befell every club in Scotland, as a consequence of not helping Sevco get on their feet. Scottish football said no. Armageddon didn’t happen.

Armageddon was averted. Everywhere except at Ibrox.

Ain’t irony a bitch?

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