Aye ready? Enough already

Day after day, the saga continues, with only desperate fans and even more desperate journalists enthralled.  The rest of us would just like it all to end.

Today’s instalment?  Apparently the administrator at Glasgow Rangers FC has three options – “none of them palatable” according to the sages (sic) that witter on about football stuff on Radio Scotland every evening.

I’ve avoided blogging on it until now, despite being a keen football fan, largely because others have said all that I would say – opportunity for supporters’ buyback, Whyte and Murray to blame both, they should pay their tax like everyone else has to – but a burd can only keep her beak shut for so long.

I have broken my silence simply because – as with the banks that were supposedly too big to fail – the limping, wounded beast that is Rangers FC is threatening to bring down other teams.  And the rest of us, who care passionately about Scottish football must start demanding action from the footballing authorities to prevent this from happening.

Rangers, as the club it is now, is finished.  And despite what some might think, I take no pleasure in writing that statement.  But no club that needs an astonishing £10 million to make it to the end of the season and has a hole of £4.5 million to plug to do so can be considered anything like a going concern.  The longer Rangers is allowed, by everyone, to continue in its current form, the more likely it is that other dominoes will be toppled.  Far better to cut the club adrift now, enabling the possibility of it returning one day, some day.

Already, with Dunfermline Athletic’s plight, we are seeing the whole of the top flight in Scottish football begin to unravel.  It is unforgiveable and unconscionable for Rangers to take ticket money for games and keep the share that rightly belongs to other clubs.  Surely the laws that govern the game have something to say about that?  And even if not, isn’t there a moral code that allows the SPL and SFA to step in and prevent it happening?  Okay, how about the criminal law of the land then?

Of course, the clubs could act on this themselves, and simply start refusing to play Rangers.  In the past, when a show of solidarity has been required, on anything, someone somewhere has always broken ranks.  But surely self-preservation demands a different response this time?

The fact is that Rangers’ success in recent years has been achieved by duplicity and by operating a financial chimera that made it seem like the club had plenty of money to slosh about for player transfers and wages.  It did not: it helped itself to Scottish silverware by not paying its way nor its fair share.  It created a scheme to help itself and its players avoid paying tax in this country.

And this revelation, becoming clear only with Craig Whyte’s purchase of the club, begs a question.  If tax-avoidance on a grand scale was being practised by Rangers, was it – is it – also happening at other clubs in Scotland?  Or indeed, across the UK?

This is what needs to be investigated by er, someone.  Anyone, in fact.  It is unacceptable at any time, never mind in these times, for wealthy footballers to ply their trades in our communities and pay not a penny of tax, or at least pay far less than their fair share.  It is also unacceptable for clubs to enable and condone such behaviour, given that they rely on the hard-earned cash of fans, most of it handed over after having tax deducted (in the main), to continue.

Not in a monetary sense, for as the clubs are wont to remind us, our ticket money doesn’t pay for diddly squat, but in a continuity sense.  It is fans, not TV money, nor big names, nor shirt sponsors, nor even managers which have kept Scottish clubs going, sometimes for over a century.  Without fans, and the baton of support being passed on from generation to generation, clubs have no soul.  They would shrivel and die, as many have done in the past when local support dried up.

And if Scottish football wants to keep fans coming back for more, then it needs to take itself by the scruff of its neck and sort itself out.  Otherwise the whole of the game as it is currently structured is at risk.  If those in charge of clubs feel even a twinge of responsibility for the duty of care they owe to the supporter base and the communities within which they exist, then they must act in their clubs’ interests first.  And that must mean that they all turn their backs on Rangers.

This is one occasion where the clubs are not stronger together.  Many of the SPL clubs are already tottering on the brink.  Protecting Rangers and colluding in its supposed right to continue to exist as a football club, will add to their debt and their woes, and constitutes living badly, madly and dangerously.

And some of us would prefer it if the football governing bodies, authorities and clubs themselves did not proceed lemming-like to follow Rangers over the cliff edge.




13 thoughts on “Aye ready? Enough already

  1. Pingback: Today is D-Day for Scottish football – time to do or die « A Burdz Eye View

  2. Barbarian:

    Of course Private Eye were right all along, which kina puts the Scottish sports press corp in the dock doesn’t it? Especially if Rangers are, as they claimed last week, trading insolvent.

    But to get to the Burdz post. Everythying said is true and correct. The problem is that the footballing authorities in this country (and i include English football in this) suffers from an inability to act as a proper regulator should – the quip not fit for purpose could be thrown at them. Maybe it’s because the clubs themselves make up the SFA and the English FA that there is a hands off approch to regulating the financial side of football. At least UEFA have got the message as financial regulations are due to be brought in within the next 18 months.

    Two further things Burd – firstly i blogged about this in my “sports blog” – Fan With A Laptop, and secondly there is a very good book on how the English FA, and the English Premier League thwarted any investigation into their powers and remit – “Broken Dreams” by Tom Bower.



  3. And things are getting worse ti seems. Latest news is that the administrators are chasing Whyte for £9 million!

    Seems Private Eye was right all along…….

    (But obviously not as high quality as the Burdz article, before I get a boot!)

  4. Lets be honest the SPL has been a disaster for Scottish football. So would it actually be a bad thing for Scottish clubs to fail, crash and burn, be it Rangers, Dunfermline, Hearts, Kilmarnock or Dundee Utd in a domino like effect?

    The SPL has resulted in the clubs being badly run with basically the banks ending up running the clubs and the taxman now not far behind. This situation is miles away from any notion that clubs are community based or that this is a true sporting endeavour.

    We have a situation where fans have no faith in how their clubs are run, the SFA, the SPL or even the SFL. To most the game is being run into the ground by self-interest, a failure to change and adapt, and simply gross incompetence.

    Scotland doesn’t even have a pyramid system. We are still living in the football dark ages.

    Be in no doubt it is going to get a lot worse before it even gets marginally better.

  5. Reblogged this on The Wee Red Squirrel and commented:
    Another belter from Burdz Eye View, on why we can’t let the Rangers crisis drag the rest of us into oblivion.

  6. The objective of “large” Clubs in each League in Europe is to render competition ineffective from others in their domestic Leagues.

    At top League and European level, football is not a competitive sport but an oligarchy fuelled by vanity. In Scotland any Club that has attempted to compete since Bosman has seen their playing squad pillaged or gone bust trying to keep players more than a couple of Seasons.

    I know a Kilmarnock fan with a less rosy view of their non-playing assets but they are certainly heading away from oblivion at present. As a Motherwell supporter I appreciate the horror of having your Club’s fate decided off the park rather than on it – it’s a truly helpless experience. At least we’re still playing football – since Third Lanark oblivion has struck remarkably few Scottish Clubs.

    The financial collapse of Rangers is potentially rooted in practices that breached tax (and possibly other) law. That’s gaining a competitive advantage in act of more than vanity. They may not face oblivion but they have put themselves in with other areas of “the establishment” in terms of dignity and probity.

    Anyway, of more importance – how to control sidelines at public football parks:

    1. All Clubs must re-apply for Membership each Season at League Executive’s discretion.
    2. Clubs and Officials are responsible for all players, officials and spectators.
    3. The League reserves the right to deal with as it sees fit any reported or witnessed behaviour by players, officials and spectators.

    Use suspensions, good behaviour bonds, fines etc and ultimate expulsion as threats/sanctions – always be consistent. While there is a right of appeal for all League decisions (all the way up to the SFA) that is not the case with re-applications for Membership.

    Instruct Referees to communicate with sidelines through the Club Official who’s signed the Teamlines. First warning and request to do something about it followed by the Club will be reported if it continues then you will be then abandonment. Back your referees – they have to abandon the game if there is threatening behaviour or risks to players or officials.

    Better behaviour from Clubs = attract better referees, players and better Clubs = more Clubs wanting to join than you have places = more League control over Clubs’ behaviour = better behaviour form Clubs. It’s a virtuous circle.

  7. Pity I don’t see sensible stuff like this in the media.

  8. I love watching football, although not a fan of any particular club. But Rangers is a sign of football getting too big for its metaphorical boots. I don’t know exactly what went on at Rangers, but it appears that money was raised in rather questionnable ways to fund success.

    Arsenal I believe were using the same tax wheeze as Rangers, except they had a scheme for each player (I may not be entirely correct). They paid HMRC up.

    Rangers are facing a massive penalty from HMRC, and to be frank deservedly so. This has sod all to do with unionist conspiracies, but rather dodgy financial transactions.

    I think Hibs have also sorted out their finances. It’s not an impossible task. If we end up with young players being snapped up by other countries clubs, so be it. It will at least benefit the national team.

  9. “Was it – is it – also happening at other clubs in Scotland?”

    I believe Killie have a debt circa £10 million on an annual t/o somewhere around £6million. If £70 million can put Rangers (annual t/o £40- £55 million) over the edge…………………………

    • Absolutely. But Killie’s is going down. Incrementally. And have got costs under control, reducing wages ratio, income steady. And have considerable assets. Hotel, flats etc. More than just the ground. Was pleasantly surprised when I read this year’s ie 2010-11 accounts.

    • And most others in SPL in same boat.

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