For years now I have marvelled at conspiracy theorists. Not because I think some of what they believe is barmy (although some of it clearly is) but because a lot of them have adopted the most unusual tactics in dealing with their suspicions.
Let’s take the Barack Obama Birthers. Their strategy was to lobby the US government remorselessly until Obama produced his birth certificate. I always found that amusing because if he really had been born outside the United States and was, therefore, ineligible to be elected President their campaign was centred around getting him to admit it.
Cause that happens a lot, right?
The same thing applied to the 9/11 Truthers, who’s strategy was to keep on at the government until they announced a brand new, independent, commission. In effect, they were asking the very people they accused of being behind the atrocity to allow bodies over which they had no control to examine the “evidence” which pointed to an inside job.
As strategies go, it needs work, wouldn’t you say?
Yesterday’s announcement that the European Commission has rejected the claims by some barmy individuals in Scotland that Celtic benefited from “State Aid” should have come as no surprise to anyone, but already many are apoplectic with rage over the decision.
They really did believe this campaign would succeed, but how smart do you have to be to realise they were pissing into the wind? How did they ever expect to prove this?
Let’s assume for one minute that what they were alleging wasn’t, in the first place, the stuff of crack den fantasy. Imagine a conspiracy had existed.
What we are talking about here is a plot involving Glasgow City councillors, members of the Scottish and Westminster parliaments, two different governments, four political parties, the Greater Glasgow Health Board and a slew of others, all neatly bunched together under the eponymous label “The Unseen Fenian Hand.”
Now tell me something; if that plot existed, how did they ever believe that they’d get a result? Wouldn’t our friends in high places have simply dismissed the matter without opening a full investigation, treating it with contempt?
(You see what I just did there? That’ll keep them up at night!)
Seriously though … Just what did they think was going to happen here? What did they see unfolding in their minds?
The resignations of everyone on Glasgow City Council? The downfall of the Scottish Government? No confidence motions in the Commons? The stripping of peerages? A rash of internal investigations, leading to the decapitation of entire departments at any number of non-governmental organisations? The uncovering of a secret cabal of Celtic supporters, controlling every aspect of life in the UK and beyond?
A conspiracy to rival the Kennedy Assassination ending in all of the above, and this before title stripping, the impoverishment of Celtic and their own dominance of the game.
Who out there realistically believed in any of this coming to pass? After all, if our club really had that much reach, weren’t they asking for the conspirators to investigate the conspiracy? How does that usually turn out? How did it turn out when the SFA allowed them to investigate themselves?
Why do I suspect that for all their bluster they didn’t think this through too well?
Their club teeters on the brink of total collapse, in the hands of men who have run it into the ground through a combination of hubris and greed. They stumble between signposts of crisis, flirting with The Second Death, lucky to have gotten this far, ever listening to the big ticking clock in the background, the one counting inexorably down.
Every now and again they buy a little more time … but these days they’re pretty much living hand to mouth. They are losing a million a month, an astonishing sum for a football club playing in Scotland, and this without the high profile players McCoist thinks they need to make them competitive again.
Their fans are divided into various opposing camps, with fantasists at their head. Some think Dave King is going to ride to the rescue. Others think it’ll be Walter Smith and a consortium of “Rangers minded men”. Others think Mike Ashley will suddenly discover philanthropy and start throwing money at them like it’s a scramble on a wedding day.
They are quite literally coming apart, with savage cuts on the way and people staging boycotts and taking part in tame publicity stunts like the one recently where fans walked into Sports Direct stores and piled up merchandise on the counter before offering the staff £1 for it, like Craig Whyte impersonators reliving the big meeting with David Murray.
For the last 12 months though, all of that has taken second stage for some of them as they’ve immersed themselves in land deal contracts in an effort to prove the Grand Conspiracy of Celtic and State Aid. That fantasy – for that’s what it always was – has come crashing down.
Look at these people for a minute. Try and wrap your brains around what they’ve been doing and what they’ve been up to. Try and climb into their wee world for a moment.
These are the people who’ve wrapped themselves tightly in the Union Jack at a time when more and more folk in this country are defining themselves as Scottish.
The biggest highlight of their year is an army recruitment day at their ground, at a time when the country is sick and tired of our troops being sent on military adventures. Their more hard-core elements support Britain and the armed forces on certain days and on certain others can be seen making the Nazi salute.
For a solid year now they have been going through the backgrounds of every single person they could identify as having been involved in land deals involving Celtic. Every second name has been scrutinised for signs of Irishness. They’ve gone through it all looking for the schools people went to and they’ve read through biographical information looking for connections to Celtic.
The Labour Party has been indicted because some of its parliamentarians have served on our board, so obviously they used their connections to get us preferential deals. The Scottish Government has been indicted because some of its senior members aren’t God fearing Protestants and they rubber stamped the deals. Glasgow City Council – all of it – is involved too, of course, because despite being multi-ethnic it is actually run by a clique of Catholics who all follow Celtic.
Some, in non-governmental agencies, were so keen to lend Celtic a helping hand they were happy to perpetrate a fraud against the tax payers, they were willing to write off millions of pounds for their own organisations and, of course, they did this in full awareness that they were putting their jobs and professional reputations on the line at the same time.
Senior politicians and NGO executives … risking their careers … to help their favourite football club.
The people “investigating” this make no effort to contain their bigotry and their hate and they look at the rest of the world through the lens of their own prejudices. They twist the shape of it into that of their own peculiar madness and for a while now they’ve been able to balance the shambolic state of something they care about with their fantasy of seeing something they hate brought low.
But the fact is, Celtic is an extremely well run organisation, built on the safest foundations, in rude financial health and with a board of directors who are thoroughly professional. Not only is there a good squad at the club, but substantial sums have been invested in the very infrastructure Sevco Rangers is going to need if it is ever to catch us.
That infrastructure includes the Celtic Triangle, and other properties which form the basis of these utterly bizarre claims.
That land is worth millions and Celtic have it all locked up tight. At the same time, Sevco Rangers’ infrastructure has been stripped to the bone and what little of it remains is tied up in the Albion Street carpark and in Edminston House. Both are now the security for Mike Ashley’s loans, and may not belong to the club for much longer.
The idea that Celtic could have accomplished all that it has legitimately, living within its means, sticks in the craw of those whose own club appears incapable of doing the same.
But the whole of Scottish football is moving beyond the club playing out of Ibrox; it is not only Celtic who are being prudently run, and striving for success at the same time.
Hearts and Hibs are on the road back to strength, as they restructure their finances and rebuild following their relegations last year. Hearts, in particular, having recovered from their own liquidation scare, look as if they are going to be a model of financial probity at the same time as they’ve got a young, talented manager who likes to see attacking football.
Aberdeen, fresh from last season’s successes, are about to become debt free, at a time when they too have a cracking young team and a talented coaching staff, and are starting to acquire a taste for winning again.
Dundee United have long been a brilliantly run team, with a youth system that seems to produce very good players with ease. Furthermore, they also take chances on promising youth players from elsewhere; their pursuit and capture of Charlie Telfer is a case in point.
At Ibrox they are borrowing money from a sports retailer, and giving up God knows what in collateral and security, just to keep on the lights.
One million a month in losses; say it again until it sticks, until it sinks in.
They have fourteen first team players out of contract at the end of this season, and at this point there is no money to renew them far less sign replacements. The club that was going to rely on youth has almost a dozen first team footballers who are over 30, their careers on the wane, earning salaries far in excess of their abilities.
What a mess they’ve allowed themselves to become.
Until last night, though, they could push all that aside, as they dreamed of the European Commission driving a wrecking ball through everything we have that they don’t.
The dream is over. Reality bites.
Their bigtory and hate pushed them to waste time they didn’t have and effort they couldn’t afford on pursuing a pipe dream that would not have made them stronger or taken away any of the issues that threaten to destroy them.
Instead it was about destroying us. That, to me, sums up exactly who they are. At a time when something they profess to love is being systematically dismantled, this is what they were putting much of their energy into and pinning their greatest hopes on.
Pathetic, and what makes it worse (or better) is that even now some of them are vowing to keep on digging, to find more avenues down which to attack us. The truth is, we’re too strong for them, with or without the friends in high places.
They really have no-one but themselves to blame for the dire state they are in.
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