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Wings Over Scotland

The customer is always scum

Posted on July 03, 2012 by

We don’t like to write articles that are 70% adjectives, so let’s start with a disclaimer: it’s nigh-on impossible to exaggerate the naked, open contempt with which the Scottish football authorities are now treating their paying customers, so let’s just take it as read that any opinions we might offer in the following piece are understatements by a factor of around 1000 and get on with it.

Direct quotes from those who attended today’s meeting of the Scottish Football League are thin on the ground, with the main participants reluctant to be interviewed, so we’re going to have to rely on second-hand accounts from reporters outside Hampden. Seemingly, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan revealed that Charles Green’s new football company Sevco Scotland (which he intends to rename Rangers, but has not yet legally done) will not be admitted to the SPL no matter how the Premier League’s members vote at their own meeting tomorrow.

This is an intriguing development in itself, but Mr Regan has refused to expand on his apparent comments. The situation now is that the 30 SFL clubs will reconvene in nine days’ time to decide on whether and where to admit the Ibrox-based newco to their own league – Division 3, Division 1 or not at all. We’re told that a simple majority of those voting at the meeting will be sufficient to pass any proposal, rather than the 75% that’s been regularly cited in the press over recent weeks.

We’ve gone through the SFL’s rulebook, and it’s an incredibly vague document that does indeed seem to allow such a process. It makes no specific stipulations about new members joining in the lowest division, and no specific stipulations about voting requirements for general business. (The 75% rule only applies to clubs being ejected.) According to Rule 37, a quorum of as few as FOUR members constitutes a legal meeting, so in theory Sevco Scotland FC could be admitted to any part of the SFL with just three clubs voting for it.

Those are the facts. With two clubs – Airdrie United and Dundee – having already said they plan to abstain from next Thursday’s vote on grounds of conflict of interest (despite abstentions being explicitly forbidden by SFL rules), that means that 15 votes will be required to admit Newco Rangers to whichever division the SFL puts forward, assuming that all clubs attend the meeting. SFL members have apparently been warned of “financial Armageddon” if they reject the Division 1 option.

It appears of little interest to the boards of the SFA, SPL and SFL that an overwhelming majority of their customers are utterly opposed to a newco “Rangers” being parachuted into SFL1 – including Rangers fans. The desperation of the authorities to force through the Division 1 move is now so hysterical that it has abandoned all pretence of balance or sporting integrity, focusing solely on the allegedly catastrophic consequences of Rangers not being back in the SPL by season 2013-14.

This, of course, raises all manner of issues. If the SFA, SPL and SFL are prepared to abandon all their normal rules and apply such incredible intimidation to their own members to ensure Rangers play in the top division, where – if anywhere – will they stop? If Rangers are admitted to SFL1 but don’t win promotion in their first year, will they be promoted anyway? Will the SPL be expanded to whatever size is necessary to include Rangers? Or will referees simply be instructed to avoid the issue by ensuring that Rangers win all their games?

The last of those suppositions would normally belong in the realms of paranoid fantasy, but the actions of those running Scottish football now make it entirely logical. The ONLY reason the entire “parachute” fiasco is being attempted in the first place is to openly cheat Sevco Scotland FC into the SPL within a year, in order to protect the league’s lucrative TV deal with Sky and ESPN. That’s no longer a crazy conspiracy theory – astonishingly, it’s what the SFA and SPL chief executives are both saying, explicitly and freely, in public.

So if you’re prepared to break all the other rules to ensure Pseudo-Rangers get promoted, guaranteeing them a few dozen extra penalties is nothing. Scottish football will already have surrendered all pretence at sporting integrity, so it might as well go the whole hog and turn itself officially into “sports entertainment“, rigged and scripted at every step. There seems little point in the other SFL1 clubs even bothering to show up to their games against Rangers 2012 next season, should the proposal be adopted.

But will it? Frankly, we still can’t see it. The SFL might only need 15 votes to get it through, but by our reckoning 12 clubs have already expressly said they’ll vote No: Stranraer, Stirling Albion, Falkirk, Morton, Clyde, Raith Rovers, Dunfermline, East Fife, Peterhead, Livingston, Hamilton Accies and Partick Thistle. Others have hinted more obliquely at opposition, while as yet NO club has come out in support of the proposal.

Six of those named above are SFL1 clubs, and a seventh (Dundee) is one of the clubs to have said it’ll abstain. That leaves just three possible Yes votes from the only division which stands to gain from the plan. As we’ve noted before, the 20 clubs of SFL2/3 would be acting in serious detriment to their own financial interests by accepting, never mind any notions of sporting integrity. The pathetic bribe (around £27,500) being offered by the SPL for their votes is a fraction of the money they’d stand to make from having The Green Rangers in their divisions for at least one season, so it makes no sense for any of them – let alone the 12 that would be required at a minimum – to have any part in the madness.

The signs are that the SFL clubs are not taking kindly to this thuggish attempted bullying. They have little to gain from the proposal, and little to lose by rejecting it – the settlement agreement by which the SPL pays the SFL around £1.8m a year will remain in place no matter what, and the SFL clubs have little reason to care if Sky pull out of their SPL broadcast deal. We’re beginning to suspect that even admitting Rangers into SFL3 may now become a tight vote, so angry are the lower-league clubs at being told to do the SPL’s dirty work for it.

That’s purely our opinion as uninformed observers, and remains to be seen. But even if the plan succeeds, it seems certain to result in a mass boycott by supporters across the country, particularly in the SPL. The idea that fans will be fooled by such an obvious, cynical, crass perversion of justice is laughable, and easily disproved by the slightest glance at any online forum or Twitter feed. That the SFA, SPL and SFL would be so mind-bogglingly stupid as to even attempt it defies rational belief. Many fans have called for Neil Doncaster, Stewart Regan and David Longmuir to be sacked. In this blog’s view, sectioning – for their own protection – would be more appropriate.

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11 to “The customer is always scum”

  1. Juteman says:

    Isn’t Donald Findlay a director of a Fife club? Possibly Cowdenbeath?

    I wonder how they will vote?

    Even though i’m a Dundee fan, i wished my club would vote no, rather than abstaining.

  2. McHaggis says:

    Donald Findlay is the current chairman.

    Cowdenbeath are possibly conflicted in a number of ways, Donald being one of them. They are new to Div 1 and would see the prospect of Sevco games as a real money spinner. They are also unfortunately not realistic candidates for top league position – last time we were in Div 1 we aimed for 8th place and failed. £30,000 bribe plus is also a lot of money for a community club that has to have volunteers to paint changing rooms etc. The hard core fan base is around 3-400 supporters (yes, that’s three or four hundred). Success has brought old fans like me back to the games and we attracted a couple of thousand at the tail end of last season.

    Of course, I hope they vote no, but take the silence so far as deafening. 

  3. Appleby says:

    They shouldn’t even be given a free ride into SFL 3 or higher or any special help in the process to give them a leg up. They should do what other brand new teams have to do. Earn their place. That isn’t even “punishment” in any sense. It’s simply playing by the rules as others have to, which I suppose is a hard concept for Rangers to understand after all their years of cheating.

    If they’re given a leg up it’s basically saying that it’s okay to cheat as you’re going to get away with years of theft and cheating and be given a nice little free ride back to the sweet spot again once you’re caught.
    I expect the worst to happen with this. I dread it coming down to relying on boycotts with the notoriously weak-willed football fans. The reason they treat the fans with so much contempt is they know the fans always knuckle under and give up any protests before long and then go back to emptying their pockets into the company coffers.
    On top of that there seems to be no forthcoming punishments at all for the years of fraud and cheating. What lesson is learned there? As has been pointed out before it seems that it is being argued that simply being stopped from committing any more crimes is somehow considered a “punishment”, as is being asked to play by the same rules others were anyway. Rangers has managed to get people claiming it is somehow the “victim”. Like a burglar complaining about loss of earnings when the police slap the cuffs on him as he’s caught climbing out of your window, swag bag in hand.

  4. douglas clark says:

    So, where are we now?
    The ping pong ball seems to be bouncing back and forth across the net between team SPL and team SFL with a kind of weird pro-am tournament in progress.

    On the SPL side there appears to be folk that are shouting ‘disaster for Scotland’ if team Phoenix are not admitted to SFL1. In order to defeat their opponents, they have offered inducments – or an iron fist with a velvet glove – which could be summarised as ‘do what your telt.’

    They are trying to lie to you. If football is of any worth whatsoever, it will survive. It does not matter whether an individual club lives or dies. It is the game that either grips you, or it does not.

    On the other side there is confusion, some look at their own precarious financial position and sit on the bloody net!

    However, it is my thought that, for once, money may not win. Any team that is below the SPL level already lives on the knife edge of their means and an overdraft.

    It is not for them the glory of a failed European qualifying campaign. They are, as often as not a community resource. Somewhat on a par with the loval shinty, rugby or cricket club, depending on what part of the country you live in.

    They have cut their cloth accordingly. It is noticeable that tiny teams appear to have the best rapport with their support. Clubs like that know they cannot alienate their fans, for they do not get on Sky very often and they are unlikely to scale the leagues in order to compete with the big clubs. Clubs like that will vote no if their fans tell them to. In many ways, I wish all clubs were like that.

    So we have the strange situation where the ping pong ball is currently defying physics and is hovering over the net. Will the money men win? Will sporting integrity win?

    It is too close to call.

  5. Barbarian says:

    Charles Green offered an apology as part of a last ditch effort to get back into the SPL. Oh that’s ok, don’t repay any of the millions of tax but say sorry to the other 11 clubs.

    I think if there is a deal to get the newco into the SPL, UEFA and FIFA will jump on the SFA/SPL like a ton of bricks.

    (for the record, I watch football but don’t support any particular team)

  6. jimmyarab says:

    I listened to Radio Scotland’s show at 6.10pm tonight and felt a bit sorry for Jim Traynor. He’s obviously devastated that Rangers are destined to end up in Div3 ( or worse) and was throwing everything at the problem to try and stop this happening. Tom English and Jim Spence couldn’t say anything to placate him.
    It was quite sad really but although he will no longer enjoy the succulent lamb that he enjoyed while commenting on the ‘Old Firm’ I hope that he will broaden his horizons and look at the bigger picture. Like why is it healthy to have so many football clubs so dependent on a   double act  in order to survive ?
    I’m hopeful that the end result of all the  shenanigans with Scottish football will be a leaner and healthier set up with young Scottish players being given first team football resulting in better players for Craig Levein to select at International level.

  7. douglas clark says:

    I’d imagine being a Scottish Football Journalist was a barrel of laughs. I’d have thought that, on the odd occasion, eating ‘succulent lamb’ would be a small price to pay for your career.
    It is pretty obvious that we cannot expect genuine journalism from any Scottish Football journalists. I seem to recall one hack being barred from Ibrox, once upon a time. That was a rough passage, for him. How many simply took the press releases and claimed them as their own?
    It, seemingly was more a branch of the PR industry and nothing whatsoever to do with what might be best.
    Scotland has been ill-served by the media it has. They are disgustingly backward.
    To try to get back to the point of this site – independence – perhaps the fact that at least one group of ‘journalists’ have been shown to be inadequate to the evidence in their faces may spill over.  Into seeing that the ‘succulent lamb’ that Unionists – the “Bitter Together” cohort – also see as a way of playing us for fools.
    Perhaps ‘once bitten twice shy’ is appropriate?

  8. charlie says:

    The The Rangers FC [sic] seemed to have 13 players the other day, is that enough to get in the SFL? Fucked as the SFL apparently are suddenly, due to an SPL team dieing :-O

    The huns vs Clachnacuddin – can I get a bet on?

    Independence or the establishment – fitba is still part of that discussion


  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Last I saw there were only eight definitely signed up with the newco, with others still unknown, due to not being back from holidays etc. It certainly looks like they’re going to struggle to even have a starting XI and a full bench in time for the start of the SFL season in three weeks.

  10. redcliffe62 says:

    I think Rangers should abstain on SPL vote, they are not only conflicted but a warping of riules for them to even be involved.
    I think Dundee and Airdrie should have said we will abstain if Rangers does not vote in the SPL charade.

    I further think Dundee were given the nod over Dunfermline if they did not vote against, with all the things going on that would be the least of the issues for the troika. 


  11. Embradon says:

    I was musing this morning on the dearth of coverage of Alex Salmond’s recent and apparently successful trip to California and comparing it with the media profile of Michael Moore’s “mission” to Brazil in November which appeared to have a BBC crew in permanent attendance.
    It had slipped my memory but there, among the movers and shakers, were a delegation from Rangers. Presumably the expenses were tax deductible.
    What was the point of the trip for them? Teaching the Brazilians to play football? Offering advice on football administration? Representing Scottish football? Seeking accountancy services? Checking out the extradition arrangements?

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