In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on two projects, two works of fiction which I’ve published on Amazon Kindle.
One is called Believers and it’s a political thriller and crime novel, set in a student union and the other is called Fragments, which is a collection of off-the-wall stories spanning the last ten years of my writing. Some are funny, some are gruesome, some allegorical … but I hope all of them are fun to read. They were fun to write!
I mention this for two reasons. First, I’m advertising (haha, bit obvious, isn’t it?), but the second reason is, to me, more important than the first.
In the collection of stories, there’s a tale called Weekend at Cairney’s. It’s about a spectacularly outrageous and out of control party that takes place over the course of two days and nights at the home of a Glasgow drug dealer, a guy named David Cairney. Despite being in a dangerous business, Cairney is a sap, and what happens over the course of the story is that he gets what we in Glasgow would call a right good using. Seen through the eyes of a real piece of human filth named Andy Milan, we watch as Cairney’s house gets wrecked, his drugs get used up or stolen, his booze all gets drunk and his food gets eaten by a bunch of freeloaders and psychopaths who essentially demolish his place, and cause him a mountain of grief.
As I was writing it, I was listening to a lot of mood music. The song that became the theme tune for the piece was House Arrest, by Bryan Adams. Earlier tonight, I was listening to that tune and reading the latest rantings by Charles “Chuckles” Green … and it dawned on me. We’re watching Weekend at Cairney’s at Ibrox right now … and slowly but surely, they are waking up the neighbours and people are getting sorely pissed off with it.
Green is amusing to me, but only in small doses. Unfortunately, we tend not to get him in that format. Green likes to make a lot of noise. If he’s like a character in the story, it would have to be the unhinged partygoer the others call Blinky. The Blink is violent, perverted, dangerously mad and utterly without conscience.
Although Charlie Chuckles hasn’t gotten out the straight razor, you do get the feeling reading his ranting that he fancies himself as a hard case. All this “straight talking Yorkshireman who calls a spade a spade” nonsense is clearly supposed to be intimidating. It’s not. It’s laugh-out-loud ridiculous, but he doesn’t realise it.
Other people are starting to. And he’s becoming wearying. I, personally, am wholly sick and tired listening to him now. The Scottish media might not call this man what he clearly is, but I have no problem doing so. He’s a lunatic. He’s a delusional fantasist, a complete yahoo, a man who doesn’t even attempt to engage brain before engaging mouth. He’s an embarrassment to Rangers, casting aside the club’s lofty sense of self and superiority, and scrabbling round in the gutter. He’s not building a siege mentality as much as he’s fostering rabid paranoia.
Yet, if he was restricting his yammer to talking about his club that would be fair enough. Let him sell his Miraculous Medicine Bottles to the fans of Rangers. Let them buy it, then try it, and decide if they can stomach what they swallow. In other words, if he limited his bizarre discourse to how much money he was going to bring in to (but actually take out of) Ibrox that would be his business and that of the Rangers support. We might laugh at it, but it would be nothing to take seriously, nothing worthy of wider commentary.
His latest ravings are worthy of commentary. They cross the line between delusions of grandeur and demagoguery. Rangers fans who accuse some of us of being obsessed can whistle Dixie for all I care right now.
When someone promotes an agenda of hate to further his own ends, when someone lies, with almost every breath he can muster, in promotion of a divisive and dangerous cause, to keep the uneducated, ill-informed, ignorant and bigoted on his side, that behaviour ceases to be the business of his prospective clients or customers.
It becomes something else, something much more. It becomes a cause for concern for every right thinking person.
Call it whatever you want. This is our business. This is our concern. The Rangers chief executive is an unhinged maniac, throwing everything over the veranda in a petulant rage. He poses an existential threat to Scottish football, and that means we’re all involved in this developing saga. It means we all have a stake in what’s going on at that club.
In other words, they better get used to the scrutiny. We’re taking a keen interest.
It’s obvious to anyone with more than a single digit IQ that Green’s posturing on a move to England has a twofold purpose.
First, he is trying to keep Rangers in the news, to keep them current. But his constant recycling of the same discredited story is the all-too-obvious result of hiring a half-witted ex hack to do PR. To keep going over the same well-trodden ground is laughable, but when your media head spent the better part of his career cutting and pasting press releases and writing inane garbage in the guise of commentary, you are only getting what you paid for, and what you honestly ought to expect. Imagination and creative thinking were never Traynor’s strong suit, so it’s no surprise to me that they’ve been flogging the same dead horse for months.
Is it keeping them “current”? Well yes, but only in the same way as Rebecca Loos kept current by masturbating a pig. (Rebecca Loos, anybody? You don’t remember? My point exactly.) That act gave her a couple of days headlines, but thankfully also destroyed her reputation. Does Green realise the damage he’s doing to Rangers’? Does he care? Does he realise most other club chairman view him with disbelief at best, and at worst outright contempt?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the freak show always draws a crowd. It doesn’t make the poor sods on display relevant or important. It packs in the punters, but The Human Centipede packed in the punters too, at select screenings, but no-one will ever leave the cinema comparing it to Schindler’s List. Watching Rangers toil against Stirling at the weekend – in front of a lot of empty seats – should have served as an enormous dose of reality for Green. No matter how hard he might try to polish this particular turd, the football team are no more than fourth tier plodders. If they somehow got their fondest wish, and ended up in the top division again next season, they would be thoroughly dismantled each and every week. No question.
Right now, every utterance out of Ibrox screams “Look at me!”, like a lonely girl abandoned at a party, who decides to get her kit off so someone notices she’s there. When did Rangers become like that? Their fall could have been handled with more class than this. They could have worked their way up the leagues in a respectful, dignified fashion, instead of casting around for somebody to blame.
The same mentality afflicts half the reprobate characters I write about. Nothing that happens in their lives is their own fault. Even the destruction they wreck was inspired by something someone else did. There is no self-awareness at all.
Rangers fans accuse the world of looking at them in a certain way. The stereotype is all too familiar; the beer-gutted, shaven-headed, tattooed yobbo with a Union Jack tied around his waist. We know the image is a crass caricature, but right now the club itself epitomises this image entirely, and that has never been the case before in my living memory. The “dignity” is nowhere to be see. They are classless, on and off the park.
Because of this, I partly understand the need to try and maintain the illusion that they are a sleeping giant, and not a partially reanimated corpse. Being honest about that does not help bring in the customers. That’s why the last few days have seen more mindless chatter about how his club will soon be playing in England.
Yet even the manner in which he talks about going is highly revealing, as I’ll shortly explain.
Of some concern here is that he dragged Celtic into his latest garbage, or attempted to. If the word “obsessed” is going to be mentioned here, this might be a good place to do it. He seems almost fanatically keen to tie Celtic to one of these illogical and ridiculous schemes. Some say it’s to give them some fleeting credibility, but the regal silence from Celtic Park is a good indicator of how credible the powers at Parkhead think these plans are. But as I said above, there’s more than one objective here.
The real objective is simple, and this is why it’s the business of every fan in Scotland, and not just the hordes at Ibrox. His objective is to destabilise Scottish football, by any means necessary. This is why he sets timeframes like five years. This is why he constantly brings it up, over and over again. It’s a threat gesture, and it is designed to frighten sponsors and TV companies and investors and the people whose money is needed if the game here is to thrive.
His every utterance on moving to England is a deliberate act of sabotage. He is attempting to destroy the entire structure on which Scottish football is built, and he’s doing it for one reason only; because he believes there is a profit to be made in the chaos.
In Weekend at Cairney’s, the host’s mistake is in believing his house is packed out because these people are his mates. Rangers fans believe Charles Green is their pal because he “stands up for the club.” They, like Cairney, are in for a rude awakening. Green doesn’t care about them any more than he cares about anyone in the Scottish game. Their stadium name has already been flogged. He’s already started charging fans for match tickets when they might not even want to attend the games.
He’s livid at the idea the club will be in the bottom tier again next season because he knows full well he won’t be able to jack up the season ticket prices if they are … and that will put the kibosh on new signings and destroy any chance of anything other than another multi-million pound loss. He already sees his grand plan unravelling, and he won’t just let it die. His hands will be reaching into the wallets of the Rangers supporters very, very soon … and then the ugly truth will be revealed. This man is a mercenary. He’s in it for the money, and he doesn’t give a damn about anyone or anything that might stand in his way.
In a sense, it’s to be admired. It’s pure capitalism, at its finest … if only it wasn’t at the expense of the whole damned game, I’d say “Salud! I wish you well!”
Even the cataclysm about to be inflicted on Dunfermline is something to be taken advantage of, something to gloat over. It’s instructive to note that he, and large sections of the Rangers support, don’t want one corpse, they want ten corpses. They want the landscape of our national sport littered with them. They want Hearts to go. They want Dundee Utd to go. They want Aberdeen gone. They want Hibernian wiped off the map. They want clubs to die like flies. They want the entire top tier decimated, and mark my words, Charles Green will do whatever it takes to get that result.
David Murray has been accused of many things, but he was a moderate, sane individual who understood the symbiotic connection between what was good for Scottish football and what was good for Rangers.
He spoke a lot about European leagues, and would have liked to have taken the club into one. But he also understood that in the absence of an invite, he relied upon a relationship with the rest of football in this country. His policies, including EBT’s, were designed to keep his club on top … not to bring the rest of the game down.
Charles Green is unique in the annals of our game in that he wants exactly that. I don’t expect the media to call it like it is, but surely we in the blogosphere have a responsibility to tell the truth about these things. I’ve been arguing for months now that Rangers fans need to open their eyes and examine what this guy is about. This isn’t taking one club, their club, to the brink … this is the whole of Scottish football he’s threatening here, and that’s where we have to draw the line.
No rational person can accept what Green is saying in this case. Certainly, no rational Rangers fan who examines his comments for longer than five minutes will be anything other than appalled. Because let’s take his scenario at face value. Let’s examine exactly what it is he’s trying to sell them here. He’s talking about a multi-million pound court case with an uncertain verdict, which win or lose, will result in appalling consequences being rained down on them from UEFA and FIFA, probably lasting years, and at the end of it what? When Rangers has climbed to the top tier of the Scottish game again, when the club is in recovery and about to take its place on the European stage once more, they’ve then to go through an even greater upheaval by uprooting all of it, to embark on a brand new adventure, starting in the lowest tier in England?
Excuse me, but am I the only person who sees that scheme as a proposal born of lunacy? It is the football equivalent of Mutually Assured Destruction. He is going to demolish the entire fabric of European sport, to gate-crash a league that does not want them, in a manner that will sow seeds of enmity and hate for the next thirty years, annihilating the Scottish game and the English one at the same time … to start at the bottom of whatever wreckage survives?
What? Really? And that’s a good idea? In who’s parallel universe?
Are they not satisfied with being “hated by all of Scotland” but they want to try their luck being hated by all of England too? Do they think, having caused carnage on that scale, that they’d be welcomed, anywhere, with open arms?
What price national borders at all? Within five years there would be no recognised national leagues anywhere … and UEFA and FIFA would allow that? They would let it happen? They would let a club from Scotland bring down the organisations they’ve laboured so hard to build? In truth, what would happen?
If we’re being honest, we all know what would happen.
Rangers would be sanctioned into oblivion. They would be banned from playing football at all for at least five years. UEFA would first demand the SFA with-held their license, and if the SFA refused they would suspend the national sport in this country entirely. They threatened to do it to Switzerland, the nation which hosts the governing bodies themselves. They are promising to do it to clubs which don’t go along with Financial Fair Play. What do Rangers fans realistically think they will do to a team which is threatening the entire footballing structure?
This will not be a slap on the wrist. This will be a version of football Armageddon Stewart Regan couldn’t envision in his darkest nightmare.
At a crucial moment in Weekend at Cairney’s, Andy Milan realises that the party is so out of control the police are bound to turn up sooner or later. He understands that with half the room loaded up on drugs and enough still lying around the flat to lay waste to the other half, that it’s Cairney who will pay the price when the Bill show up on the doorstep. I can only think of one better analogy for what Green is proposing to do here, and it’s this:
Right now, North Korea is threatening the United States, for no other reason than their Glorious Leader fancies himself as a player on the international stage. He is posturing, and preening, but it’s dangerous posturing and preening because there will come a point when the US will have to take defensive measures, like sending one of their carrier groups to the region. Should something happen whilst they’re there, a misunderstanding, an accident, perhaps some renegade action by a rouge naval officer or pilot, North Korea will end up in a world of hurt.
Who will pay the price for that? The people of that country. The people who, even now, are said to be worshiping the man for standing up to the big kid on the other side of the Pacific. When you consider that the United States could turn the entire Korean peninsula into a car park within a couple of hours, you have one man’s recklessness and ego placing an entire country at risk, for no purpose any sane person can discern.
If Rangers fans really do believe their history survived liquidation, they ought to consider it the luckiest escape in their history. By rights they should be dead. That experience should have fortified them against ever seeing the club put at risk again. Yet some of them are applauding on the side-lines as Green is planning this cataclysmic party in their house, and his attitude is “neighbours be damned.” It’s easy to do that in someone else’s home. If the roof comes in, he will walk away from the wreckage with a bulging wallet, and he’ll blame the football authorities for not living in the real world. If he really does go all or nothing with UEFA in the courts I would suggest the fans march on Ibrox and form a human chain around it to stop him filing the paperwork.
Aside from the enormous risks inherent in his proposed course of action, there is the astounding selfishness of what he wants to happen should he succeed. Should Scottish football survive the fallout he wants to leave a Rangers team there, and have one in England too. Talk about having your cake and eating it. He has tried to paint this as being born of an altruistic motive, but in fact it’s an appalling and cynical move to squeeze even more money out of his fans.
It is staggeringly self-serving and presumptive. One can all too easily imagine him as a party crasher who, not satisfied with bludgeoned his way into someone else’s house, takes over the music system and inflicts his tastes on everyone else at the shindig.
How long before he was demanding that the English and Scottish authorities get together and re-arrange their fixture lists for his benefit, so that Rangers England and Rangers Scotland home games were on alternate weekends, all the better to fill Ibrox every week instead of every fortnight? The natural progression would lead to releasing two home shirts a season, having two separate sponsorship deals … you get the picture, right?
Yes, I can hear him say, but it wouldn’t be for those narrow commercial interests … it would be for the good of football. Of course.
At this point, I have a confession to make. I don’t want Celtic to play in England, and I never have. There are numerous reasons why. I believe that we’re a Scottish/Irish club, and as such our roots are here and it would be a betrayal of those roots to leave. I think we owe a debt of loyalty to the game in this country, even if it hasn’t always appreciated us, respected us or even, at times, wanted us. We are part of this place now, part of the fabric, and we gave this country its proudest moment in history. It would be a tragedy if we abandoned that.
But those are romantic reasons, and my reasons aren’t all romantic. There is a hard-headed part of me who thinks it would be a disaster if we did it. I think the people who want to see it are being blinded by the lights. I think they are the outriders of unreality. I cannot fathom how they can believe it would be a good idea.
There is an arrogance at the heart of their beliefs, an arrogance which fits perfectly well at Ibrox, but that I want no part of. It’s not simply because such arrogance is wrong-headed in the first place. It’s because it’s inherently stupid. It’s dangerous. It leads us down blind alleys.
Let’s start from the Charles Green perspective, that of going down to England to start at the bottom. For a start, I don’t believe he means it for a minute. I’m content to call his words to that effect barefaced lies. Because let’s be honest; if he does mean it it’s a damning statement, and it says more about him than he’d have us believe. Starting from the bottom is a small club mentality. It degrades Rangers, and their entire history, whether you believe they have one or not. Let’s be clear, there is no romance in this proposition. It’s not taking a job delivering tea on a film set, to give you a leg up in the movie business, or something like that. It’s grubby. It’s demeaning.
Even if I were in favour of leaving Scottish football at all, I wouldn’t go down there to be less than a Championship team. I value my club more highly than he values his. If Celtic went down there it would have to be on something like an equal basis. There is no way in Hell I would trade European football for the “thrill” of visiting Doncaster or Crewe. I would not accept, for one second, his sloppy version of “playing in England”, and I don’t believe anyone at Celtic Park would.
If his “vision” really is this squalid scrambling around in the dirt, like a beggar at a rich man’s table, content to pick up scraps from the floor, he and Rangers would do it without us, and Hell mend them for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t expect Celtic to walk into the EPL. Some things would have to be earned. Nor would I expect to replace anyone who had earned the right to compete for the place. For it to work, the EPL would need to become a 24 team league so no-one was disenfranchised and we would need to get there on football merit.
But I wouldn’t have us sell ourselves short.
And it’s not just about how I value us as a club, and an asset to this country and its league. There’s a pragmatic reason, something I think bears facing up to.
Say all this went according to the Charles Green plan. Say Celtic were in favour of this shabby idea. Say the clubs were allowed to start in the Conference, and the myriad legal arguments were settled in his favour. Say, furthermore, that UEFA were quite happy with it and no sanctions were applied. What balls, what arrogance, what disconnect from reality, leads Charles Green, or anyone else, to think it would be a straight route to the top? A climb of five years and he’d been sitting in the directors box at Old Trafford? As easy as that, yeah? No problem at all?
You reckon, do you? You think it’s that easy? I think not.
I’ve been hearing this argument for years, that Celtic and Rangers would automatically become heavyweights in the English game. Seriously? Where do we get off? I mean, really? Does anyone who knows anything about football at all think it would be done in a canter?
The game down there is vast. England dwarfs this country. The climb from the bottom tier to the top would take many more years than a lot of people think. I absolutely believe that, and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding his or herself on. With Celtic’s infrastructure, the scouting network, the stadium size and the support the club would do it, eventually. Celtic would be a Premier League team, and not a mid-table battler, but a European regular. I have no doubt about that at all. But it wouldn’t take five years. It would take ten.
Rangers, if they managed it at all, would not make it in less than twenty. Oh yes, hoot with derision, treat that assertion with scorn, trust in fairies at the bottom of the garden if you like, but you are kidding yourself on if you believe otherwise. Huge crowds would put some money in the bank, but in their current state, Rangers would need an expenditure the equal of their heyday in Scotland just to win League 1, and with parachute payments and TV incentives boosting the strength of the English Championship I have doubts – very serious doubts – that they would get out of that league at all, unless at enormous financial risk, and with crippling debts.
The smallest club in that league right now is Peterborough United, with a 15,000 seat stadium. Their average attendance probably dwarves most Scottish clubs, with the exception of Celtic and Rangers. (League 1 and League 2 have any number of clubs who’s average attendances are in the tens of thousands too.) Three of the clubs, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds, have stadiums capable of seating 35,000 fans or more. Another eight, Birmingham, Blackburn, Brighton, Derby, Ipswich, Leicester, Notts Forest and Wolves have 30,000 plus stadiums and Bolton, Cardiff, Hull and Palace can all boast stadiums which can hold 25,000 fans or more. These are not, by any stretch of the imagination, minnow clubs, no matter what nonsense Green might tell himself, and neither is that a relatively minor league, which his club could expect to win at a stroll. Every match would be a battle, against seasoned professional players. Not the part time footballer car mechanics, electricians and joiners who they’ve struggled against so far this year. The sense of being on “an adventure” would end pretty quick.
Leeds United, who suffered a financial calamity of lesser magnitude than what happened at Ibrox, have a 39,000 all-seater stadium and a club with claims to historical greatness every bit as strong as those of Rangers. They were relegated out of the EPL in 2003-04 and have never been able to climb back into that league. Indeed, at the height of their troubles they spent three straight years attempting to escape League 1. It astounds me that Green things Rangers would only need to be in England to automatically climb through the ranks. It’s an assertion divorced from reality.
The same arrogance afflicts some Celtic fans, and that kind of thinking can be deadly. Those people who see Neil Lennon’s team hoisting a Premiership trophy within ten years of us arriving in town are fantasists. Liverpool, with their eighteen top division titles and eight European Cups, a history as good as any on the planet and a claim to being a social and cultural icon, haven’t been able to lift that trophy since 1990 … a twenty odd year wait with no end in sight.
People tend to forget that of the 45 teams to play in England’s top flight since it became the Premier League only five have actually won it, and one of them, Blackburn Rovers, did so in the early years of the tournament and still had to spend an eye watering fortune to get their hands on the prize. To win the top flight tournament in England would cost upwards of £100 million … and if anyone believes Lawwell and our board, who couldn’t bring in an on-loan striker to take on Juventus recently, would sanction a spend like that … well, I’ll have some of what you’re smoking. No amount of TV money would change the facts; you need oligarchs wealth to take home that crown, and that we do not have, and I would not want. Foreign owners? The £100 match ticket?
Not for me, friends, sorry. Not in this lifetime.
In his dark little heart, Charles Green knows all this. He is not the sharpest kid in the class, but he’s not a complete imbecile either. Even if his all-or-nothing nuclear standoff with UEFA succeeded, he would be condemning his club to a long period of penury and strife, with an uncertain future at the end of a 20 year climb into the light. Any supporter who signed up for it would be as mad as Green would have to be himself. It is a fantasy.
My first novel, Believers, is political/crime thriller about a “military coup in a student union.” It’s an allegory for the processes which led us to the war in Iraq, and might yet propel us down the long dark road to a war in Iran. It’s about the divisive nature of politics, about how it creates divisions where there should be none, and how the leaders who are most effective rely on the naivety of the “believers” in order to push their agendas.
Charles Green makes an excellent demagogue. He understands that process better, it seems to me, than he understands football. He is playing to the gallery, but in truth his tune is only sweet to certain ears, those of the mindless and insane.
What he is doing very effectively is waking up the neighbours, like the Weekend at Cairney’s. He is pissing off everyone, north and south of the border. He is rattling the cages at UEFA. He is threatening the existence of the game in Scotland, and the wider structures on which it is built. He’s doing this in the guise of Rangers … and when the trouble comes it will land on the club – and not the man – with both feet.
If you believe what he’s saying, he’s doing all of this to start again, at the bottom, in a country that doesn’t want them any more than they want to be in this one.
Charles Green’s promised land is an illusion. A dangerous mind-bend. A fantasy of green fields and sunshine, which in reality is a twisted path on the edge of a dark wood, a path leading to nowhere. Only the most naïve or blind could follow him down it.
This is not a man selling an achievable goal or a sustainable ambition. Open your eyes. Clean out your ears. The media won’t say it. I’ll say it for them.
He’s a travelling salesman with a flea circus, dreaming of Jurassic Park.
The man shouldn’t be near our national sport. Shame on the SFA for allowing him to get away with it. Right now, this lunatic is running wild in the asylum.
Someone needs to get a grip of him, fast.
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