And You Dare To Call Us Sectarian?

133605071-c2bc15dd-b8a9-4c80-ab0d-7e6454f88526-1“No, no, no, it’s not ok, it’s not going to be ok, and I’ll tell you why.

Because you’re fair game, so I hope your knickers are clean because every seat-sniffing little shi@bag that’s ever filed a by-line is gonna be questioning you!

Because now it’s in the f@@@@@@ public interest, isn’t it? And they are gonna hit you with any sh@t they can find and you’re gonna be spread out in front of them like a trollop in the stocks!” – Malcolm Tucker.

They say people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. We’ve all heard that expression, right? I am amazed at the number of times you catch folk out doing just that.

Supporters do it all the time. This week is the first time – and it ought to be the last time – that a football club does it. Sevco’s statement on the behaviour of our fans was disgraceful, but it was also kind of amazing, in that way watching a posing twat walking into a lamp post is. Being lectured on sectarianism by their board of directors … it is jaw-dropping.

You could write an entire dissertation on the shameful baggage that clubs at Ibrox have carried everywhere with them, from a sectarian signing policy to UEFA fines for the song-book. But you don’t have to go as far back as that, all the way to the OldCo to find scandal and hate wafting down the Marble Staircase at you. You don’t even have to dig as far as the on-pitch outrage at Linfield just over a week ago, although that’s an excellent case in point.

No, you only have to look at the day itself to realise that Sevco’s sanity smashing statement about what their fans had to “endure” stank like a week old corpse. It takes formidable brazenness to point that self-righteous fury at another club’s fans when your own behaved, on the same day, like the lowest order degenerate scum.

I’ve written about the behaviour of a small number of Celtic fans over on The CelticBlog, so as far as I’m concerned anyone who wants to accuse me of whatabouttery here can bin it. This isn’t about that. Did some of our fans let us down? Damned right. This is about not wanting – not being willing – to be lectured by anyone who’s double standard is quite so pronounced.

These people aren’t even hiding their own hatred; they wear it front and centre.

Some of them have said the effigies were a reference to suicide, timed to offend their fans and one of their former players, on a day which sought to raise awareness of the issue. I’ll tell you right now that I had no idea Saturday was Suicide Awareness Day and the vast majority of our supporters would have been equally clueless about it.

But of course, they will believe what they want to, that our fans learned this and timed their actions accordingly.

Well it was also the anniversary of Jock Stein’s death. I don’t know whether their fans knew that or not, but there were at least two banners on full display referencing a certain scandal. Did their fans time that well, or was it a coincidence?

I’m happy to accept the coincidence explanation, and not because I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt or because I think the milk of human kindness runs through their veins, but simply because some of these gutter rats fly those banners everywhere they go and have been smearing the great man’s name for years.

So they don’t get to talk about hate, or targeting individuals who were at their club.

They don’t get to make that accusation whilst there are scum amongst their number flying those flags.

We’re not standing for it, not putting up with that.

And I’ll go on, because the National Famine Memorial Day – commemorating the victims of the Great Hunger – was the day after the game, and our club wore a logo on their shirts in recognition of that fact. Did their fans know that? I neither know nor care, but they spent much of the game singing the sectarian, illegal, bigoted dirge entreating us to “go home.”

Coincidence? Who cares?

They’ve been doing it so long no-one even notices anymore.

On top of that we were “treated” to various renditions of The Billy Boys, with its expressions of joy about being up to their knees in our blood. That song is also illegal, and for a while it wasn’t being heard in the Ibrox stands. Now it’s back, as ubiquitous as it ever was, part of that “unique Ibrox atmosphere” Warburton and others go on about so much.

The sight of those effigies at Celtic Park made my skin crawl, but no more than those Sevco fans themselves once brought to Ibrox, one called Green and the other Whyte.

They can spare me the sermon on how vicious the image of the hanging dolls was, because as horrendous as they were their own had names, and wore suits, and did not represent an impersonal generic “they” but were specific, targeted, like one I saw once of “Neil Lennon” and those you see on the top of the Loyalist bonfires every year in July, like the one in the picture at the top of this article, the hanging effigy of Gerry Adams.

And what’s that he’s wearing?

Oh yes, it’s a Celtic top.

“But that didn’t hang from the stands at Ibrox ..” is doubtless the refrain I’ll hear on that, but it doesn’t take much imagination to draw the line from the people who hung that ugly thing and those the club’s players and officials – including some of the hypocrites who okayed that statement – were photographed posing with in Linfield the weekend before last.

Club 1872 can bite me as well; their own foaming at the mouth statement contained an oblique reference to our fans’ support for the people of Palestine, and what do you know? They’ve got a new logo, the six pointed star, so similar to the one on the flag of Israel.

I shake my head at the lamentable nature of that, and marvel at the mind who came up with it.

They will appropriate anything to score cheap points, but this one’s espcially delicious considering their history of Nazi salutes and the undercurrent of far-right, fascist sympathy that runs through their support like a virus. And let them wail about how it’s a Red Hand Salute instead, as if commemorating the killing of Catholics is somehow a better proposition than celebrating the murder of Jews.

Because as they and their media acolytes like to remind us, it’s the visual image that reeks; it’s not what people intend something to be it’s what other people think it is.

See? I too can utilise that particular weapon.

I’ll tell you what; their club and its shareholders group can give us the big talk when they get their own house in order.

They can point their fat ignorant fingers at Celtic Park when they’ve pointed them into their own stands first and said, with loud voices for everyone to hear, “You lot … clear out.”

But that will never happen, because as Rangers was built on the back of barely legal bank largesse, the NewCo, from the moment of its inception, from the moment Charles Green stood on a pitch in front of the media and said that Rangers had been targeted by bigotry and hate – birthing the Victim Lie in all its unholy splendour – was built on bile and hatred, all the better to spoon money out of gullible fools simultaneously preaching their supremacy whilst lamenting the reach and the influence of their myriad, fictious enemies.

Talk about an exercise in doublethink.

This lot are so far outside the margins of reasonable behaviour now that it makes your head throb trying to imagine what they are thinking inside that crumbling ruin of theirs, but see, that crumbling ruin is the point, that wreckage of a football club is the real issue, because if their supporters weren’t all focussed on this kind of nonsense they might instead be focussed on that, because there are real issues there and real problems looming.

But this board knows its audience.

They know its fans.

They know they can get away with anything, anything at all, if they blame every failure on somebody else.

They can blame us for what they like, as they tried with Motherwell fans, as they attempted to do with Hibs supporters. Aberdeen fans will be next, you wait and see, after they leave Pittodrie with a hiding and the gap is even wider than now.

They could go round the block for the whole of this season, hitting every club one at a time or all in one shot, throwing blame hither thither and yon. The media can get behind it, or ignore the double standard, as they like. But sooner or later a reckoning will come, with their own supporters if not with the governing bodies or the legal system.

Until then, this whole country – and their club too – would benefit from a long, enforced period of dignified silence over there. I don’t expect it, because dignity is another word they simply don’t understand any longer … if they ever did.

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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Sevco & The Orchestra Of Hate

rangers_2047642cThis week feels like another red letter one in the recent history of hate in Scotland.

Before I start, I want to share a story with you.

Back in the 1980’s, Italy was being riven by violence as the heads of the Cosa Nostra, many of whom were in prison or awaiting trial, unleashed a war on the state in an effort to back off the many prosecutors and judges who were attempting to bring them to justice.

It was a bad time to be one of that handful of brave men, much like those who were fighting a similar battle, at the same time, against the growing power of the Colombian drug cartels and facing similar unrelenting terrorism.

On two continents, the self-same chaos was being unleashed and at the root cause of it all was money and the corruption that was rampant.

In Italy they had a word for it; pizzo, which is a derivation of pizzu, a Sicilian word literally meaning “beak”, as in “letting me wet my beak”; i.e giving someone a taste.

The Pizzo – the protection money – went both ways; local businesses paid it to the Mafia and they in turn spread it up through the political system so they wouldn’t be targeted by the judges and politicians.

It was a sweet deal for those who took the cash. For those who didn’t, who took their responsibilities seriously, it meant death.

In Colombia the same system was in operation, where it was called Plata O Plomo, “Silver or lead”. You either took the Cartel’s money or you accepted their bullets instead.

It created chaos and it made life exceedingly dangerous for the men who refused to be bought or cowed.

In Colombia they were soon being gunned down and blown up in spectacular acts of violence.

In Italy, where Cosa Nostra was altogether more sophisticated and their penetration of the system more acute, the killings happened in due course but the psychological warfare came first.

It manifested itself in various ways; for example, prosecutors would be sent funeral cards inviting them to their own wake. Wreaths would be delivered, hour on hour, to their judicial offices. Coffins would be left outside their homes.

This was nothing compared to the reaction of their colleagues.

Like an animal cut from the herd, the brave few would find themselves isolated and alone, shunned by their peers, snubbed by the establishment they were sworn to defend.

One described it as walking in a crowd and then watching people drift away from you one at a time until you were standing there in empty space; the “clear field of fire” which would send a very obvious message to the gangsters.

The point of the story is that these criminal elements drew their real power from the corruption of the state.

Without that they would have been the ones standing alone on a killing ground.

In Italy, in particular, the killing of high level individuals usually only happened at the point when the state itself turned its back on them and gave the assassins their cue.

I’ve always been fascinated by that, and by the way other governments and other organisations with influence over the actions of others have, from time to time, sent them subliminal messages urging action or caution, sanctioning certain things or letting them know it was time to stand down.

Which brings me to the point.

Earlier this week, I got an email from a friend of mine drawing my attention to a brand new website promoting an organisation called The Bears Fightback.

I read their editorial with much amusement, all the while recognising the menacing tone in which it had been coached.

I’ve seen similar missives before.

I’m not even terribly ashamed to admit that once, back in my intemperate days, I got in trouble at the University of Stirling for posting a similar article on an official Student Union messageboard, wherein I “invited” a certain right wing organisation to visit the campus, even offering to organise a “welcome party” for them at the train stration.

The Bears Fightback site didn’t really hide what it was all about; it had been created for the same reason as the Italian Cosa Nostra sent wreaths and funeral cards to the offices of prosecutors.

It was intended as a “frightener”, albiet one mysellf and most others in the Internet Bampots didn’t find very frightening.

I mean, just on a personal level how seriously am I meant to take nonsense like that? Targeting my employers? I am self employed, supported in part by you, the readers, especially those who are able to make a donation.

So what are they going to do?

Grass me up? To you lot?

I don’t know this for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion many of you already know how I feel about Sevco and Rangers and that section of their support which refuses to join the rest of the world in laying aside hate and 17th century attitudes.

The “threat” to inform my family, friends and loved ones seems, to me, equally absurd. I have a vague inkling that they just might be aware of it too.

If I’ve been hiding it under a bushel up until now, I should maybe spell it out; I don’t like these people very much, which, I dunno … wasn’t exactly a secret.

As for the notion that they will “investigate” me, what’s there to investigate?

Again, I’m not exactly leading a secret life.

I post under my own name, my Facebook page is an open book, I’m on Twitter, Amazon Authors, I’ve been in a couple of newspapers and I have an active social life which doesn’t require disguises or an assumed identity.

The notion that such people might one day “come after me” is pretty ridiculous as well. In terms of “action within the law” I’m more than happy for them to try because I’m perfectly prepared to sue anyone who steps over the line in that regard, and the money would pay for a lot of tins for the Green Brigade’s annual food-bank appeal.

Such action would also, very quickly, pull back the veil of secrecy these cowards choose to hide behind. That probably hasn’t twigged with them yet.

As to other action, the very futility of it is reason enough not to bother.

It absolutely would would not stop me.

I would simply write down every detail and publish it, shaming them and “their club” further by exposing their behaviour to civilised view.

At some point they have to realise the embarrassment and shame they heap onto the thing they profess to love. At some stage the circuits have to fire in their tiny, infinitesimal brains and they have to comprehend that nothing damages it more than they do, because no sane person who values their own reputation would want it associated with an organisation which attracts such people like flies around fresh shit.

And you know what?

At some point that organisation has to realise it too.

Which is the real point of the article, of course.

As I said earlier, the Italian prosecutors who went after the mob knew the hammer was going to fall the minute their colleagues started to desert them. That official “nod and wink” isn’t exactly subtle, in the way some of the “dog whistle” politics we see here in the UK is clearly about pandering to ignorance, fear and hate.

Equally unsubtle, coming in the same week as “Bears Fightback” rears its head, was the “nod and wink” to the wise which came out of Ibrox, in the shape of another ban on the BBC journalist Chris McLaughlin.

In my opinion, there is a causal link here.

Am I suggesting that someone inside Ibrox, or at their PR firm, is responsible for the sudden emergence of “Bears Fightback”?

Of course not.

My God, how stupid would that make them?

An organisation which did something like that would deserve everything coming to it.

The matter is currently being investigated by Police Scotland. I suspect they will very quickly establish who the “authors” are, and that’s their cards marked.

So whilst I’m sure neither the club nor its PR arm are reckless enough to have been involved in the creation of this horrendous site, I am in no doubt at all that they were fully aware of its existence.

As such I find myself marvelling at the coincidence of it appearing, and the notorious petition targeting McLaughlin with it, in the same week we get news that he is, once again, persona non grata within Ibrox Stadium.

And I ask myself; am I imagining things here?

Because if I’m not … well, isn’t that appallingly dangerous?

Couldn’t it be seen as a de-facto endorsement – by the club itself – of that site, and its not-too-subtle threatening tone?

The BBC has reacted properly, by giving McLaughlin its full support.

As a result, he’s not standing in a free fire zone.

He has the support of his colleagues (that some of his former ones had been given the same) both in journalism and in the blogosphere, and I write that having openly called for people like Keith Jackson to be banned from Celtic Park.

As I’m fond of saying, people can criticise and slag you all they want … but they ought not to be surprised if you ban them from doing it in your front room.

What makes the difference, at least in my view, is that Jackson and others are opinion piece writers, like me, who’s ability to do the job and earn a living isn’t impacted by such bans and who’s writing is designed to provoke a response.

You only have to look at the reactions of those who get banned to see how little it bothers them; Hugh Keevins wore it like a badge of honour for years.

I’ll tell you what though; I would have a very serious issue with our club if it decided it would ban a journalist simply for reporting facts.

I also might wonder what we were trying to hide.

What Chris McLaughlin did in this case – and in the last case where he was banned from Ibrox – was he reported the news.

He simply laid out the facts, and we all know exactly what facts they were and how inconvenient they were for the club; that during the Hibs game at Christmas a large number of their fans sung a song that UEFA and Scottish criminal law considers not only offensive but sectarian and thereby criminal too.

The decision to ban him is an attack on journalism itself.

It’s saying that the reporting of facts is to be discouraged, and that does impact on the ability of these people to do their jobs as well as on how they do them.

And, especially in this case, that has wider implications.

Because to me, and to others, this looks in many ways, like it could be a co-ordinated effort between a website which has threatened “the enemies” of Sevco and the club.

It looks, in some ways, like a nod and a wink.

Other journalists and news outlets were named by this site, all for having the temerity to have reported facts the club, and the site, would rather they’d not. That, in itself, should have every writer out there asking who these people are and where they sprung from.

This obsession some Sevco fans have with the way the world views them, and with trying to “protect their image” – such as it is – appears paranoid verging on hysterical, but it has a serious point to it for an institution which is rattling the tin cup.

What makes it especially hilarious to me is that all their conduct does is heap further disgrace on them, something that appears not to have dawned on them at all.

They’ve made their club famous for this, and brought further – and even more widespread – attention to the stuff McLaughlin and others have been trying to highlight.

I’ll be frank; had I wanted to cause the maximum negative publicity to the club playing out of Ibrox, and in turn eroded their ability to raise external finance … Hell, I might have created Bears Fightback, and written that inflammatory editorial, myself.

For all that, it wouldn’t exactly shock me to find out some within Ibrox were wholly in favour of this latest example of counter-productive stupidity.

After all this wouldn’t be the first time the nuttier elements of the Sevco support have been given a steer by someone from within the club.

Both Craig Whyte and Charles Green were very quick to court those elements from the moment they took over, and the Yorkshireman gave them one of their most famous soundbites when he accused the SFA’s member clubs of “sectarianism” following the decision to make Sevco start in the bottom tier.

And who can forget McCoist’s snarling demand for the names of an SFA investigative panel, and the subsequent targeting of those individuals in the aftermath?

Or his spiteful – and wholly wrong – suggestion that the burning of a garage and the destruction of the club’s new bus was something “rival fans” might have done?

Many of us aren’t surprised by this kind of conduct, but that doesn’t make it any less worrying.

So yes, this does feel like a red letter day for those who chronicle the hateful behaviour of certain elements in their support.

It feels like a new low, and the coincidence of the club’s action in the same week as this website appears, with McLaughlin very publicly in the cross-hairs, is clearly something that needs more than the standard media response.

This is a broadside against their whole profession.

The club itself has serious questions to answer here.

Let’s see if anyone dares to ask them … and if not what else are we to conclude but that these people are winning after all?

They must not be allowed to do that.

(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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Complete Incomprehension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I do not hate their fans.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The evidence for it is overwhelming.

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

If this is love, it is a curious type.

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

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

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

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

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

That is the damndest victory I ever heard of.

And they had it coming.

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

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

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

Shame on them for it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many of those cases have involved Rangers and Sevco.

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

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

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

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

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

The failures of governance that are involved here are colossal.

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

Yesterday the SPFL wrote another sordid chapter in that history.

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

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

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

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

I tell them the answer is no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They pushed the Two Club Myth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Salt ‘n’ Sauce ‘n’ Sour Grapes

annbudgehearts_1959821aA lot of Celtic fans were left scratching their heads after Hearts owner Ann Budge took an almighty swipe at them, levelling all sorts of accusations whilst mildly castigating her own fans.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned eh? Would you like some sour grapes with your salt ‘n’ sauce.

You never happened to lose a game and have your captain sent off Ann, did you?

The situation stinks of sour grapes. Her team was soundly beaten on the pitch and they felt aggrieved at Willie Collum’s inept performance.

Gomis was rightly sent off for his rash tackle on Scott Brown. If he had caught him properly it could have ended the Celtic captain’s career. An apology would have been nice. Too much to hope for I guess.

The “penalty” was never a penalty. Guidetti slipped which was wholly evident and did not claim. Collum somehow pointed to the spot. Never look a gift horse and all that, no matter what the greeting face of Neil McCann might have to say about it. For the second time this season he’s levelled diving accussations at a Celtic player and called for a discipline panel.

I wonder if there’s a discipline panel looking into his own behaviour, at Stranraer the day before?

When are Celtic going to have a wee word with his bosses, and let them know he’ll not be allowed back in the ground if he keeps it up?

As expected, the Hearts manager was less than pleased about the decision. Robbie Neilson’s bottom lip had been like a doo’s landing all week. He’s publicly called out Collum in the media, who have been only too happy to wield the stick for him. Perhaps he got the Ally McCoist DVD on Public Relations Skills. He ought to watch out, though. He’s done a brilliant job up until now, but this one could backfire. The refs could well close ranks on Hearts. God knows they won’t need an excuse to with Sevco floundering.

It’s a bad move for the young manager, who’s going to need plenty of goodwill before this season ends.

I didn’t hear Neilson complain about Commons’ goal being disallowed. Wonder why?

But back to his esteemed leader.

Budge, to be fair, has made one heck of a contribution to the Scottish game, at a time when we’re having this “Sevco needs to survive for the good of the game” nonsense. She saved Hearts bacon and released them from the clutches of Romanov, who’d run the Edinburgh club into the ground.

She has started the rebuilding, and they are making good progress and could win the Championship at their first attempt. They also did what Sevco was unwilling even to try. They bit the bullet and went with a mixture of youth and experience; something it’s now too late for other clubs in their position to learn from, even if they were capable of doing so.

Budge was “appalled” at vandalism she says “caused the destruction of close to 100 seats” at Tynecastle, plus “disgraceful” acts of graffiti.

No right minded football fan would condone this, but damage to seats, and graffiti, is commonplace and clubs tend to bill each other for the costs and do so privately. Why did Budge feel the need to publicly bleat about this? Was it an attempt to take the heat off Hearts and Neilson? Is she trying to make a name for herself in Scottish football?

She should save it. We’ve had all this “A big boy did it and ran away” nonsense already in the game, from the likes of Green, and the fixture is already being overblown by the media as a powderkeg. She doesn’t need to fan the flames of that.

See, I’ve got to laugh at her complaint of “intimidation” of Hearts fans and staff, with some young fans being “traumatised”.

Jesus Wept. Has she walked down Gorgie Road pre and post-match with Celtic colours on?

I’ve been to Tynecastle on several occasions and have witnessed running battles. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been called a “fenian bastard” too. In what way were the young fans traumatised? I’d advise they never attend an Edinburgh derby.

As a parent, I would never take my kid to a Hearts v Celtic match at Tynecastle – it’s become too posionous, and, as I said above, all her petulent rant to the papers does is increases the tension.

Surely Ann should be addressing the problems inside her own walls before picking fights elsewhere?

She’s also wading into something she might not properly understand. It’s possible she’s simply been badly advised here, because I find it hard to believe someone would willingly walk into the kind of minefield she has if she was fully aware of what it meant.

For a start, is she aware of the group of Celtic fans attacked by Hearts Casuals before the game, two of whom were stabbed and one was left with a broken jaw? Luckily none of the stab wounds were not fatal.

Does Budge have any idea of the deep rooted sectarian hatred some Hearts fans have for Celtic?

Let’s not tar all Hearts fans with that brush. I know a few Hearts fans who abhor the sectarian stuff that emanates from the stands when Celtic and Hibs visit and are decent folk who just want to support their team.

But did she miss the home supporter who rushed down a flight of stairs to hurl abuse at a Celtic player only to fall over a gate? That he got back up and tried to get on the pitch speaks volumes for how volatile some of their fans are when we come to visit.

Celtic obviously didn’t miss this, and must be very concerned behind the scenes, especially after Neil Lennon was attacked whilst doing his job at the Edinburgh venue.

Is this ground she really feels comfortable on? Because I’d suggest there are elements of her own support who will do far more damage to Hearts than any visiting fans will, unless she sorts it out.

Budge also ended up with egg on her face when she claimed that the police report confirmed one home fan was arrested for sectarian abuse, while five away fans were arrested for sectarian abuse, coin throwing and disorderly behaviour.

However, Police later confirmed that none of the Celtic fans arrested were charged with sectarian offences.

So the only person arrested for such an offence was a Hearts fan?

Who told her otherwise? Where did she get her initial information? Perhaps she wants to have a word with that person before waving the big stick at Celtic Park. Ann, you really need to do your homework properly before opening your mouth.

Celtic striker Anthony Stokes also took to Twitter in reaction to Budge’s blurt:

“Maybe Ann budge should worry about her own fans,never had so many sectarian comments directed at me in a ground like tynecastle the othr day,” he said.

Stokes is not alone. Former Striker Charlie Nicholas let rip in the Express.

He wrote: “What is Ann Budge bleating on about?

“If she’s as devout as Hearts fan as she claims to been over the years then she will know how bitter her fans can be.”

Adding: “They are as bitter a fan base as I’ve ever came across in my football career”.

Meanwhile, over at the paragon of virtue and impartiality BBC Scotland’s Tom English Tweeted: “Excellent statement from Ann Budge. Strong leadership. Everybody should applaud her.”

What? Even when she omits certain facts from the record and gets others blatantly wrong? That’s leadership, is it?

Trolling at its best Thomas. Applaud her for what? Should we send her an award for “Whataboutery of the Year”?

She should be leading from within as I previously stated, not pointing the finger at another club. If Hearts fans are outwardly sectarian towards Celtic surely this needs to be addressed? No?

We have been here before, of course, and she ought to have a firm enough grasp on the situation to realise that at least. Sevco has made every mistake the old Rangers made, and her club has assidiously avoided them all so far. It would be tragic if this was the point where her club and that one converged. They too indulged in denial about their problems and pointed the finger everywhere else.

In the long run, it’s part of what destroyed them.

Does Ann Budge firmly believe that now she’s in charge at here beloved Hearts that their own sectarian problem has vaporised?

Ann, go and look in the mirror and ask yourself that, and answer it honestly. Don’t paper over your own cracks by deflecting blame to big, bad Celtic. You can cover 3 days old chips with as much salt and sauce as you like. The bitter taste underneath will turn your stomach.

Quote of the Season also goes the Tynecastle owner.

“The match was a disappointing football spectacle for both sets of supporters.

“It does not justify bad behaviour – on or off the field.”

Speak for yourself Ann – I thoroughly enjoyed beating your team 4-0. It was a great spectacle in my eyes.

And I behave impeecably dancing about the living room. i did, however, come close to spilling a beer.

We should give Ann the benefit of the doubt here though. She appears to be learning the ropes in football and could possibly learn from Celtic’s PR Department who issued a more level-headed, less inflamattory, and tactfully written press release.

It made reference to the attack on former manager Neil Lennon at Tynecastle in 2011 and “continued sectarian abuse directed at Celtic management, staff and players”.

They added: “Celtic supporter sustained injuries at the match after being hit with coins … We are also aware of a home supporter again attempting to enter the field of play at Tynecastle, this time to approach one of our players.
“We are addressing these matters with Heart of Midlothian and welcome the desire of Ann Budge to seek a positive and enjoyable matchday experience for all football supporters at Tynecastle.”

Budge later admitted that only “a tiny proportion of the 12,000-plus crowd” had been involved. Well of course. Was this overblown nonsense anything other than an effort deflect criticism from her club’s first home defeat of the season?

It’s a Hell of a reason for trying to provoke mass hysteria.

Once Budge has addressed her own fans and their sectarian problems, then she can direct her criticism where she likes, even at the Celtic support. But she better have her facts right first.

People in glass houses Ann …

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The Roots Of Supremacy

WorldsWhen he remarked that football was nothing without the fan, big Jock was talking about the professional game of course, which needs the fan for funding. There will always be the men and women who wish to test their skills with a ball against others, for love of the sport, for the competition. At this level, the fan is not essential, although he/she is welcome.

Most people have a favourite professional team. Some have more than one. Until recent years, we believed the competition to be more or less honest, although we often had doubts. These were dismissed as paranoia by those in the know.

Scottish football is in the throes of massive trauma caused by the collision of integrity with commerce, brought about by the need for some to win at all costs, whether for monetary gain/survival, or the need for reflected glory to bask in, no matter how tainted that glory.

I believe that to achieve any reasonable kind of outcome we need to see the malady for what it is. In my opinion, the biggest problems for our game and society lie within the Ibrox support stemming from the “We Are the People mentality”. It’s also widely believed that this mindset is based in a feeling of superiority. Certainly supremacism rears its ugly head, but that’s not the same thing.  I’m sure historians, psychologists and rugby players will put me right.

A long time ago with friends who played rugby, I sometimes visited the bars of their clubs. Following a dose of lubrication of the vocal chords players and members would start to sing songs and recite verse you wouldn’t want your maiden auntie to hear. Even your brother in the Marines might have blushed.

When I hear the WATP cry go up it takes me back to those days, especially to the old chant about a fictitious pigmy tribe native to Borneo. Any rugby club regular will know the story. The pigmy tribe members often got lost in the high jungle grasses, the story goes. They would then call out to one another in panic, “Wherrafeckarwy, wherrafeckarwy?” Anthropologists who first discovered this people having followed the shouts for help, logically enough named them the Wherrafeckarwy.

The “We Are the People” shout sounds to me just like the plantiff cry of that fictional tribe. Supposedly a chant claiming supremacy, it is rather the sad, insistent plea of a crowd of people lost and trying to convince themselves and anybody listening that they do have an identity, though they’re not quite sure what it is. It’s a case not of “Wherrafeckarwy”, but of “Hoorafeckarwy”.

How did this almost innate sense of not belonging, having no cultural identity, come about, among so many of our friends, neighbours, relations and compatriots? The response of many Ibrox followers to this area of their collective subconscious is not surprising given their history since Roman times at least.

Ptolemy’s 150 AD map of Caledonia gives us a clue. The Romans didn’t venture north of Antonius’ wall, which was intended to keep the Picts out. Ptolemy identifies the tribes resident between the Antonine and Hadrian walls, from Clyde to Forth, and south to the border with England. The inhabitants then of that part of the country were the Votadini, Novantae, Selgovae and Damnonii who resided between Drumchapel and Dumbarton.

“Roman Scotland” online magazine describes them as the peoples of ancient Scotland, and points out that we do not have to imagine a “different” people, but those intrinsically the same as now, only living in a different period, under different conditions.

These peoples, threatened by the imperial presence, opposed the invader on occasion. They are also the tribes which at different times took the Emperor’s denarius in return for acting as the imperial eyes and ears, passing information to the occupying forces, and acting as local militia to keep their compatriots under the heel, doing the dirty work backed by local knowledge, which no invader can manage efficiently. Rome called them foederati. Local people called them by other names. All of the above tribes from time to time took the money, jobs, housing and security offered, in return for being the client army doing the security chores of the invasion force.

Interestingly this same DNA is still prevalent in the indigenous population according to “Roman Scotland” which quotes one expert contributor’s opinion that “these people are removed from ourselves only in time”. In other words, social conditioning has been continuous since AD 71 at least.

They have a history of working with the invader to keep their own people in subjection. Additionally, always having safe employment and all which that brings, induces a sense of security. All is well, maintain the status quo at any price. In such a mindset, education is an unnecessary encumbrance. Why bother when the milk and honey flow anyway? This mindset of course is encouraged and supported by the forces of the Emperor/Empress. What army of occupation wants a smart, thinking local militia?

Right up through the Jacobite uprisings, the Williamite wars, the Scottish Famines of the 17th 18th Centuries, the Plantations of Ireland, especially Ulster, (see Dr. Karen Cullen’s “Famine in Scotland; The Ill Years of the 1690s”) they stood behind whichever invader promised most, and for those hundreds of years prospered to a degree.

Those days are past now. The wind of change blew the empire out of Africa, the middle East, the Mediterranean. Most of Ireland is now independent. The Welsh have always been totally independent of spirit anyway, hence the strength of their own language and traditions. Scotland is about to decide its own destiny.

What’s left for the foederatus, the vassal, the militiaman, the special constable? Now redundant after hundreds of years of employment doing empire’s bidding what’s to be done when the occupier has moved out and gone back to his ain hoose? I believe this is the source of the problem. This is the cause of the mixed up identity, the confusion, the displays of superiority hiding deep-seated feelings of the opposite.

On that score, the experts say that the superiority complex in reality is an escape from an overwhelming sense of inferiority. It is one of the tricks that a person may use as a method of escape from those feelings of inferiority. False success compensates for this state of mind. The normal person does not have a superiority complex, they say, nor even a sense of superiority. It is normal to “have ambition to be successful; but so long as this striving is expressed in work it does not lead to false valuations, which are at the root of mental disease.”

{Ansbacher, Heinz L., and Ansbacher, Rowena R., ed. The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler – A Systematic Presentation in Selections from his Writings. New York: Basic Books Inc., 1956 (page 260).}

Symptoms of this inferiority inversion according to Adler include:
aggressive bombastic behaviour;
over reliance on reflected glory of association;
overbearing need to be best at everything;
exhibitionism;
need to denigrate other people and their achievements;
Inconsistent behaviour.

Where are these characteristics all on regular display?

The irony is, or as some call it the law of unintended consequences, that when we attempt total suppression of peoples we drive many out. We thus create a diaspora which recognizes the opportunities, financial and educational, available in the host country, and avails of them. This diaspora also becomes active politically and powerful, all the things quietly but firmly discouraged by the masters in the stately homes of empire, and denied to their supporting natives. The slow dawning realisation of this state of affairs is the root of the inferiority feeling. Add to this the dissolution of empire, and is it any wonder an identity crisis develops within loyal imperial servants?

We all need to take a closer look at our history. Scottish history was neglected in our schools, in favour of the British version. We were proud to be the second city of the British Empire. (apologies to non-Weegies, although maybe they too were proud to have one of their nation’s cities with that accolade). A wee bit of flattery now and again kept our minds off large-scale unemployment and other deprivations unknown closer to Westminster.

So those chanting, “We are the People”, are in reality pleading, “Who are we?” They are as “Roman Scotland” quotes, the descendants of the people who have been servants to the imperialistic invaders of this country over the best part of 2000 years. Nearly all of us at least in the Central Lowlands could have some of this DNA. But they cannot be responsible for the skeletons which keep falling out of the cupboards. There is no need for anybody to feel shame, embarrassment or inferiority for the actions of previous generations.

When this small fact is pondered and eventually accepted, feelings of inferiority, false superiority, will melt away, as will the outward signs – bombast, mob mentality, hubris, need to win everything always, lack of identity, keep minorities underfoot and so on.

We might then see a normal football environment in this country, in which all those lost individuals looking for an identity would support their local clubs. That would bring an end to supporters’ buses leaving towns around the country for Glasgow. The Jags could win the League!

At the very least, the matchday experience would be pleasant for one and all, banter and backchat would rule, instead of bile and venom.

We might also see a normal society in which tub-thumping, coat-trailing triumphalist marches would simply peter out as the silly, anachronistic exhibitionism they are. We would all be well placed to get along with everybody else, regardless of faith, colour, or other differences.

Haste the day. Luathraich an latha.

(Gerry Cassiday is a football fan and avid history buff! This is his first article for On Fields of Green.)

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An Offensive Act?

p23-mainIn June 2011 I wrote about proposals contained in the ‘Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill’, which went on to become law on March 1st 2012.

At the time, I praised the SNP Government for their quick action in bringing forward legislation to tackle sectarianism and bigotry: the SNP had formed a majority government just one month earlier after a landslide victory in the Scottish Parliament Election. I still believe the SNP are due praise for making the issue a priority and attempting to take decisive action.

In March 2012, just days after the anti-sectarian legislation became law, I stood outside Ibrox stadium before an Old Firm game. There was no evidence of sectarian songs being sung – certainly not within earshot of the police – which suggested the new law was having an impact. However, I did witness police stand and watch as Rangers fans repeatedly chanted slogans actually containing the word ‘hate’. The chants were not directed at other football teams or members of different religions, but at the First Minister and political party that had introduced legislation preventing the same Rangers fans from singing about being up to their knees in fenian blood. Again, the fact Rangers fans felt driven to chant “We hate Alex Salmond” and “We hate the SNP” seemed to suggest the new legislation was hurting the bigots.

However, in almost two-years since the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill became law, it has been Celtic fans that have been most vehement in their criticism of the legislation. Just last week, Celtic Football Club took the unusual step of issuing an official statement on the subject. Celtic said the club had always opposed the legislation, stating, “We believe the Scottish Government should review, as a matter of urgency, the way in which this unhelpful and counter-productive Act is operating.”

So, did the SNP Scottish Government get it wrong?

Certainly, the intention was right. Launching the proposals in parliament, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Community Safety Minister, said, “This Bill sends out an important message about the kind of Scotland we want to live in, because the vast majority of people in this country have no time whatsoever for the kind of mindless bigotry that has attached itself to the small minority who only damage and undermine our beautiful game – or those who peddle hatred by sitting behind a computer screen posting threats of harm on the internet. This is the 21st Century, and this kind of behaviour is simply not acceptable.”

Who would argue with Ms Cunningham’s statement? Who would support sectarianism, bigotry and threats?

Even political opponents knew the time had long passed for action to be taken, but when in power they had failed to bring forward any concrete proposals. Jack McConnell, Labour First Minister from 2001 to 2007, had initiated a Summit on Sectarianism, which met twice (February 2005 and January 2006), ultimately producing an Action Plan on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland. Ahead of the first ‘summit’ meeting, Mr McConnell said, “The bigoted and sectarian attitudes of a minority have scarred Scottish life for too long. I have seen this bigotry throughout my life and I still see it today in some parts of Scotland. Manifestations of sectarian bigotry may change, but the divisions, anger and resentment that they cause remain firmly entrenched in Scottish life. It doesn’t have to be like this…The tide is turning against the bigoted few and we must let the bigots and bullies know that sectarian behaviour has no place in today’s Scotland.”

Again, who would argue with those comments? Who would support sectarianism, bigotry or threats?

Despite the summits and the action plan, little was done to tackle sectarianism under the McConnell-led Scottish Executive (as it was then called).

So, I stand by my praise for the SNP Government in making the issue a priority and taking decisive action to tackle Scotland’s shame. However, I now believe the SNP and I got it wrong on the timescale behind the introduction of legislation. At the time (June 2011), I wrote that it was right to act quickly and get the new law in place before the start of the 2012/13 football season. With the benefit of hindsight, I now accept the drafting of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill may have been rushed, resulting in legislation that, in parts, reads like a script for a convoluted comedy sketch.

For example, if my reading of the legislation is correct, it is not necessary for a ‘reasonable person’ to be offended by a particular act, simply that it “would be likely” that a reasonable person would be offended. Immediately, the police are being handed the role of deciding who is a ‘reasonable person’ and whether or not that person “would be likely” to be offended by a particular action. The non-specific ‘reasonable person’ does not actually have to be in attendance when an offence is alleged to have been committed.

A person singing the Billy Boys while walking along the street could be committing an offence under the terms of the Offensive Behaviour at Football legislation, but only if they admitted they were on their way to a regulated football match. If the person was on his way to a parade by the Orange Order, the singing of the song would be outwith the remit of the Act.

There are issues, too, involving the watching of Scottish football matches on television. A person could complain his neighbour sang an offensive song that could be heard through the wall of adjoining properties. If the song was sung while the neighbour was watching a Scottish football match on his telly, then apparently the ‘offence’ would fall within the remit if the Offensive Behaviour at Football legislation. If the neighbour was singing while watching Coronation Street, then that would be a different story.

Away from a football-related environment, it would seem that police deal with offensive behaviour by using existing legislation, such as the common law offence of Breach of the Peace. As most people know, Breach of the Peace is often used as a ‘catch-all’ offence to apprehend those accused of just about anything that would alarm, annoy or disturb the public. Offences relating to Breach of the Peace can be ‘aggravated’ where an accused person has targeted their offensive behaviour towards someone based on the victim’s race, religion or sexual orientation.

All of which suggests that, perhaps, existing laws could be used to deal with offensive behaviour at football matches. Perhaps, if the police had been more inclined to act when offensive behaviour occurred at football matches in the past, then politicians would not have reached the conclusion that specific football-related legislation was required.

Having said that, one of the strongest arguments in favour of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act relates to the singing of specific songs. Would Breach of the Peace cover the singing of the Billy Boys, the Famine Song, the Fields of Athenry or the Roll of Honour?

On that point I believe consideration has to be given to the context of the songs.

For example, I cannot begin to imagine how the Fields of Athenry could be considered offensive. Stealing corn from a rich aristocrat to feed starving children is an act of which anyone should be proud. To manufacture offence at the words of the Fields of Athenry is to pervert the English language.

Roll of Honour is not such a clear-cut matter. Families of those who were killed by the IRA could understandably be offended by a song that appears to praise members of the organisation. However, when the song us sung by Celtic fans in the context of acknowledging those prepared to die in the fight for a free and united Ireland – given the club’s historic Irish roots – then a completely different perspective is applied.

It has to be said that most of the so-called contentious songs sung be Celtic fans relate to the underdog rising and fighting back against an oppressor – particularly, of course, in terms of the Irish Catholic population freeing itself from the rule of England (supported on the ground by poor Scottish Protestants). The role of supporting the oppressed stems, literally, from the first day of Celtic’s existence, when the football club was created to raise money to feed the impoverished children of immigrant Irish Catholic families in the east of Glasgow. Today, the championing of the underdog is evidenced in the general support of Celtic fans for the people of Palestine, many of whom live under oppressive occupation by the State of Israel.

The stark reality is that the same cannot be said for some of the songs sung by Rangers fans. Loyal to the British/English Crown and establishment, many of the songs glory in perceived positions of power over others and of inflicting oppression. Even the familiar chant of “We are the people” is a reference to the belief that Protestants are God’s chosen people, with others – particularly Catholics – apparently existing as lesser beings.

The Billy Boys, with its reference to Protestants being up to their knees in fenian blood, surely needs no further explanation of why its singing is offensive, either in terms of a specific piece of legislation or the broader Breach of Peace.

As for the Famine Song: if the words contained reference to sending home Pakistanis, Jamaicans or Poles there would be no hesitation in designating it as a song liable to alarm, annoy or disturb the public. Scots Catholics of Irish descent deserve no less consideration in the yes of the law.

Anyone who has seen the Press TV documentary ‘The Football War’ will have noted the distinctly different contexts in which songs are sung by Celtic and Rangers fans. Scenes in the programme show Rangers fans belting out ‘Rule Britannia’, adopting and maintaining a belief in power exerted by the British State over other peoples around the world. Celtic supporters, meanwhile, are heard singing of self-determination and of people, particularly the Irish, being free to govern their own countries.

‘The Football War’ also shows one man explaining how Rangers supporters are proud to be British, going as far as describing Rangers as “the quintessential British football team”. The fact that the home of Rangers is in a country called Scotland appears to be a minor and ultimately forgotten detail.

In addition, in a scene filmed outside Ibrox, the documentary shows footage of British Union flags incorporating the Israeli ‘Star of David’. Apparently, Rangers fans’ outward expression for the idea of British imperialist aggression and dominance now also extends to support for like-minded right-wing oppressors.

Everything considered, it is easy to see why Scottish Government legislation attempting to cover all the bases and all the strands of possible offensive behaviour relating to football was likely to fail.

I still believe the SNP are due praise for recognising the problem and actually trying to do something about it. Perhaps, though, all-encompassing legislation was not the right move.

It could be that the answer was already available – Breach of the Peace applied with common sense.

Incidentally, the scene outside Ibrox in March 2012, where Rangers fans chanted of their “hate” for Alex Salmond and the SNP, was almost certainly a breach of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, but the police did nothing. Ironic, eh?

Campbell Martin is a former Member of the Scottish Parliament, activist and blogger. You can read more of his work on his website at http://campbellmartin.blogspot.co.uk/

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