There are others who pour everything they have into it, whether that’s money or time or attention or support, because they love it.
The people on one side recognise those on the other.
We know who they are, and what they are about, and they know us too.
Scotland is a small country, and as both sides operate largely in the light – whether that’s bloggers or football administrators or players and officials, whatever – there isn’t a lot of spare room in which to keep secrets.
One of the recurring themes I come back to over and over again here is that none of the things people think of as being buried and forgotten here in our game will stay that way.
Folk are digging, folk are investigating, and wheels are in motion.
Indeed, some of these issues are now in the province of the justice system, and I fancy that in the fullness of time we’re going to learn things that no-one involved thought would ever become public knowledge.
The question is; what happens then?
That one should haunt us, all of us who care … and it should also haunt those who don’t, those leeches, those who prey on the game from the side-lines, and I believe that when the time for demanding action comes they will be with us in that.
We don’t like each other.
But we’re united in our common knowledge of one thing; what’s good for the game here is good for us all.
Without it, they’re nothing.
Without it, we have nothing.
They need it as much as we do, and they’re not any keener on seeing it die.
Scottish football is an odd little place, sometimes quite a nasty one. There are a lot of people in it who take a very narrow view of what’s on the horizon, thinking only in terms of how it affects them and their own club. One area where this is evident is in the constant sniggering the fans of some sides do about the failures of others in European competition.
Celtic plays in the Europa League on Thursday, and I know there are fans across the country who will be rooting for Fenerbahce.
This is so bone-headed stupid that it makes me want to hit something.
We’re not the EPL, with four Champions League clubs. We have one, and that club has to play an arduous series of games every year, just to get to the Groups. Our Europa League teams face a similarly daunting task.
With that in mind, it makes zero sense for any one of us to wish our Scottish sides ill when they step out on continental pitches. Every European reversal sees the co-efficient tank and that makes the job even harder the next time around.
Deep down, most fans know this and do understand why it’s daft to be so gleeful when they see Scottish sides crash and burn on the big stage, and that’s just one example of how myopic the thinking around here can be.
It’s not the only one, and at the heart of this matter and others is a simple, difficult, truth.
If we’re going to change Scottish football, fans need to be united.
No-one wants to see things continue as they are and only one set of supporters in this country, that I am aware of, ever wanted to see the whole national sport torched and they were being force-fed endless guff and the Victim Myth by the media.
Even with that, I would question whether they really understood what they were wishing for.
After all, who really wants to be King of the Ashes?
Had they got what they claimed to want they would have inherited a wasteland.
It reminds me, in many ways, of a cartoon I once saw; two guys huddled round a fire. Behind them, the rubble of a nuclear war and one of them is asking the other “Do you think we really could have won?”
The most important work being done among the fans of Scottish football’s clubs is being done by one website, The Scottish Football Monitor, with the objective of bringing supporters together under one campaigning banner.
There’s no money in this, no glory in it, and some will tell you no realistic prospect of victory either, but the real problem is that their stated intention of reforming Scottish football will only come off if the fans can work together and pressure their clubs with certain key objectives in mind. Tribal baggage has to be set aside, and a certain amount of responsibility faced up to and taken on board.
The last few years have been a self evident shambles, but we know the history enough now to know it was a shambles long before that.
No club gets out of this with clean hands; all have, to one degree or another, allowed us to get to this sorry point. All have put self-interest first, whether that was financially, or for influence or simply because their directors couldn’t be bothered getting involved in the politics of the national sport.
All have failed us, the supporters … and we’ve failed each other in turn.
Some supporters have failed themselves, and still won’t learn that.
We know that Sevco fans have blamed everyone for the ills of their club, ignoring the fact that numerous websites were warning them well in advance of what was coming down. They ignored us, preferring to wallow in their own delusions of grandeur, and they’re still doing it today. That hasn’t served them well, and nor has the media’s indulgence.
For real reform to happen the supporters of that club have to accept that lax regulations cost them, and they have to accept what that means.
Had those regulations been robust, Whyte would never have been allowed to run the OldCo and Green would have been subjected to the proper scrutiny when he was putting together his deal to purchase the assets.
The Sevco fans now accept that this would have been for the best … but if someone had tried to stop Whyte or Green at the time those same fans would have brought the house down. They know it and we know it.
They were almost united, save for a few of the smarter fan groups, in welcoming Dave King’s fit and proper person result, which was, and is, a travesty and his appointment ought to have been resisted every bit as much as that of Whyte and Green.
More than any other supporters, they have to start accepting that the good of the game comes first, that it’s not to be subservient to their will, that it works to their benefit in the long term.
The media has to get a grip too, because they’re just as bad.
People like Graham Speirs were opposed to the King decision, but shrugged in the aftermath of it, as if it didn’t matter. Of course it matters, and this washing of the hands that he and others did was deplorable in people who are supposed to scrutinise these affairs.
There isn’t a single person in the media, not even those of a Sevconian persuasion, who isn’t wholly aware that allowing a guy like King to sit on a board of directors makes a mockery of what the regulations are supposed to do, and weakens the whole framework. There is no excuse for it, and simply saying, as many of them have, that the club “needs” King isn’t good enough.
Even if it were true – and I would dispute it, absolutely – the rules can’t simply be bent with that objective in mind.
This nonsense has gone on too long.
The media which covers the game here should be leading the clamour for changes, and I do think that when the Sevco legal cases begin to resolve and the totality of our failures in governance are laid bare that they will have to join us in promoting real, meaningful change.
Fighting for that change is now the most important thing supporters who care about the sport can do.
I’m not pretending I have the answers here, and nor do the guys at the Scottish Football Monitor, but they are looking for them and I’d like to help them with that, and I’d like us all to try and do the same, because that’s important if we’re to avoid Scottish football turning into the wasteland it would have been in the summer of 2012 if it’s leaders had gotten their way.
In the most recent article on the Scottish Football Monitor site, the founder of that blog bemoaned the fact that three years on from that crazy summer the SFA has yet to firm up the regulations on club licensing to assure we never have a repeat of it.
That’s crazy, and it’s scandalous, and it leaves the door wide open for future abuse.
We never move on, because the people who run our sport never learn.
You know, I once wondered if what Scottish football really needed was some form of “truth and reconciliation”.
Once upon a time, I’d have supported a move towards something like that, with all the parties involved getting together and talking openly about the things that have happened, acknowledging past mistakes, even biases, and letting us start again on a clean slate.
Perhaps I’m part of the problem, because I no longer do.
Heads have to roll. It’s as simple as that.
That is essential if we’re to know the game here in Scotland is clean and ready to move forward.
Allowing the likes of Doncaster and Regan to continue profiting from it, to allow them to run it as if they are not discredited, is simply not on. The elasticity of our current regulations is inexcusable considering the events of the last three years and no sing-song around the campfire will make that better. So yes, heads have to roll, and with the potential consequences for everyone involved in the Sevco case mounting up, I trust that they will.
The question is, what happens the following day?
The Scottish Football Monitor guys are trying very hard to answer that question.
As per usual, this site would like to pledge them our full support.
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