Today is D-Day for Scottish football – time to do or die

I’ve given up trying to make sense of the Rangers saga.  Suffice to say, it’s beyond mess.  Schadenfreude is in plentiful supply, but so too is sympathy.  Fellow fans recognise that for those individuals and families who have passed the mantle of supporting Rangers down through the generations, the pain is visceral and tangible.

But a view from the sidelines.  Duff and Phelps might well go down in history as the worst administators ever:  even an insolvency novice like me can sense that lots of things don’t add up in their handling of this affair.   Craig Whyte might have been the catalyst but the rotten, tax-avoiding practices were well embedded in the club’s operating culture long before he arrived.   Charles Green is not quite what he appears to be and far too many loose ends exist in his model for any fan to find anything but cold comfort.

Anyone who has played a role either as a Director or a senior employee in the club since the turn of the century does not have clean hands.  Indeed, it’s almost worse for most of them – and that includes you, Gordon Smith, with your wide-eyed protestations of innocence – to claim that they knew nothing of what was going on.  That suggests incompetence and the lot of them should be drummed out of Scottish football for good.

And then there’s the rest of Scottish football – the clubs and the governing bodies.  Some of us warned, some time ago, that failure to grasp the mettle and deal decisively with Rangers might result in the downfall of other clubs and the whole precarious edifice.  And lo, it has very nearly come to pass.

For months, dithering has been the order of the day, in the hope that somehow a miracle would transpire and clubs and authorities would not have to take the crucial decisions.  Here we are, months on and only now is an end in sight.  Yet, even though few hiding places remain, still they dither.

The SFL and SPL – the sum of football’s constituent parts, one month exactly from the start of the new season – are now contriving to pass the parcel.  The SFL met yesterday to consider whether or not to allow a New Rangers entry to Division 1 rather than Division 3 – a grubby compromise no one appears to want but everyone feels obliged to accept – blethered a while and came away with a commitment to meet again on 12 July.

Today, it’s the SPL’s turn and the wires suggest that it is minded to agree nothing until the SFL has met again on the 12th and reached its decision.  This ain’t no magic roundabout.

Now, it is not clubs, nor money men, nor key officials driving us to the denouement.  Thank goodness for the fans.  People power has at least focused the minds of chairmen and chief executives across the land and will hopefully force their hand.  Good on us.

Clubs have been pushed into doing the unthinkable in recent weeks and consulted their supporter bases.  Supporters have given their clubs their steer – No to Newco – and yet, the clubs still feel unable to act and compelled to dither.

Fans have not reached these decisions lightly.  They are well aware of the financial consequences of burying Rangers deep in Division three and they are mindful of their role as custodians of their institutions.  But it is exactly that sense of responsibility which has driven their opinion-forming.  Even if those running the game in Scotland still cling to hope that somehow, a solution will fall out of the sky, supporters have reached the inevitable conclusion that the gemme is indeed a bogey.

The only way to sort the morass, of which Rangers is the prime messy suspect but not the only one, is to start afresh.  Kicking Rangers into touch might well cause other clubs to go to the wall but a fresh start all round might be what is needed.

My own club, Kilmarnock, is one such standing at the precipice.  The wee chicklet is a Killie shareholder, courtesy of an inheritance from his late and very great Uncle Danny.  And on account of acting in proxy, me and the wee man took the last minute consultation launched last week very seriously indeed.  In trying to explain to him what the club was asking of fans and what the decision might mean for the club and for Scottish football, I found myself wondering what Danny would do.

A pragmatist, he would have been uneasy at the thought of voting potentially for his beloved club’s demise and he would have been very mindful of the economic consequences of voting No to the Newco.  But he would also have believed – as so many of us do – that fans would rally round.  Kilmarnock might face a shortfall of £300,000 in income this year if a new version of Rangers is not in the SPL, and it might require an additional 1000 season tickets to be sold to come close to plugging the gap but the Chairman has to hear his core supporters and trust in their judgement that making the right decision for the right reasons will cause the community to rally to the club’s aid.

Ultimately, Danny, like the rest of us, would opt for integrity, for the rules to be followed, for justice to be applied.  He was that kind of a man.

As so many other fans and supporters of clubs have proven to be.  Indeed, it has been life-affirming to see supporters take charge of this rudderless ship and lead the clubs where they do not want to go.  One rule for all is the core premise and by standing together, we have a chance to clean up Scottish football and put it on a footing that gives it a future.  It might not be a comfortable future but none of us is afraid of hard work.  In any event, living beyond our means – collectively and individually – has long since been unsustainable, on an emotional and a practical level.

So the fans have decided that Rangers must be allowed to die and rise again, if the club can, from the ashes of the third division.  Today, their clubs must decide;  there can be no more dithering.  They must follow their fans’ lead.  Today, it is time to do or die.


17 thoughts on “Today is D-Day for Scottish football – time to do or die

  1. I have a soft spot for the Old Firm – The Sahara Desert! indeed I have often imagined a Scottish League without them and how competitive it would be. In recent days however there has been a bloodlust for Sevco/Rangers and anyone who raises an enquiring voice in mitigation for them might as well be carried off to the Gulag. Whilst Scottish society would perhaps be better without the religious nonsense, many fans are displaying the very traits that they criticise Rangers for. This is almost mass hysteria on the ‘Diana’s deid’ level.
    I think the rabbit that may be pulled from the SFL hat in the coming days is that under their existing rules, Sevco can be invited to join and can enter at the level of the SFL’s choosing. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Kate but I reckon Killie are next for admin. I hope they don’t get Haudit and Daudit (Duff and Phelps) when their turn comes.

    • I fear you might be right Rab. And the hysteria hasn’t been edifying. But Killie has assets so can settle up debts – if it must – and start afresh. We’re the oldest club and have survived through thick and thin.

      Least edifying of all was our chairman sitting on the fence when he had a clear mandate from supporters to vote against.

      • Just wait for this week’s events! The latest statement from the SFL is unbelievable. It invites a no vote from member clubs to admit Rangers to the SFL at all. IF that happens, watch the SPL form SPL2 in jig time and invite Sevco 5088 to join. Watch sporting integrity then become the most blatant oxymoron since civil war.

        At least there was a hint of honesty about the Killie chairman’s vote. ALL the SPL clubs wanted Sevco there but voted the other way. Financial decision pure and simple. Better to lose Rangers (for a season) than risk a fans’ boycott. The coming week’s events should disavow people of the quaint notion that the original SPL vote had even a tenuous link to sporting integrity.

        If I’m right and that does happen, my own club Dumbarton, having got back to the first division on sporting merit after an absence of 17 years would likely be replaced in SPL2 by a club who have a bigger stadium.

      • Sh do that is what the right to delegate means! I confess to not keeping up with every nuance. But thanks for explaining it and yes, you’re right. The people in charge of clubs and our governing bodies have not a shred of integrity. Ian Smart has a great blogpost on it all.

        And much as you and I care about Dumbarton’s fate – this would be awful Rab – as do ordinary fans out there, they don’t give a hoot.

        Time to remove all the money, all the greed, all the edifices and go right back to basics and start over. As someone has already suggested on this comment thread.

        It will still be football. And like you I have experience of watching lower leagues, it isn’t as bad as all that frankly.

  2. Doug, you’re completely blind, bitter or at the wind up – Celtc men or placemen in all psitions of power in the SFA and SPL Riley and Lawwell and Celtic’s Lawyers conducting, sorry advising, the prosecution.

    Now it’s Campbell Ogilvie under attack solelybecause he used to work for The Rangers. You can fool the gullible and those who wish to pontificate on matters of which they know nothing but don’t try to insult my intelligence.

    Put Rangers out of business and with it Scottish football, fine that may be what you and Peter lawwell want and it appears there are plenty of turkey’s out there willing to vote for Christmas.

    • Mr Randell, do you have anything to say about the conduct of Rangers FC which broke every rule in the book including the with-holding of taxes in the last year alone? Stop making excuses. Did or did not Rangers FC break so many rules we have lost count? And are you saying that’s ok because they are Rangers? You accuse others of being bitter. I accuse you of the same plus I would call you blind to the clear faults in the side you clearly support. Would you let others away with the same sins? Did the SFA let others away with it? The answer to both questions is undoubtedly no.

  3. The Rangers FC (or rather Craig Whyte) is guilty of one thing – not paying a £2.3m tax bill this year. Nothing else done by the disgusting Knight of the realm, David Murray, is or was illegal. Much as that is not something the Scottish media and those others who wish to destroy The Rangers want to admit.

    Peter Lawwell and his glove puppet, Stewart Regan, want The Rangers punished in perpetuity – to such an extent that they keep on making up and breaking up the rules of the association.

    The plan was to keep a much weakened Rangers in the SPL, thus keeping the Sky money, while ensuring The Rangers had no chance of winning anything or even competing properly.

    Unfortunately for Lawwell, the ‘sporting integrity’ teams in the SPL, running scared of their bitter twisted fans, who hate Rangers more than they love their own clubs, have fluffed their lines.

    So now the integrity brigade are trying to, illegally, using bribes and bully boy tactics, to wedge The Ranges into the 1st Division. Again to save the Sky deal. A greater example of ‘sporting hypocrisy’ would be hard to find, in my view.

    No one want to talk or listen to the view of The Rangers’ fans -guilty of nothing except supporting their club, but if they did they would learn that 76% of those season ticket holders who responded to a survey, agreed with the 80% of the fans of other clubs who want to see Rangers in the 3rd Division.

    This goes so much against the Lawwell/Regan plan that Regan is now, again illegally threatening to withhold Rangers SFA registration. You coudn’t make it up but they have.

    No matter how the carve up is achieved Rangers fans will not be flocking to fill the coffers of any SPL clubs in the future – you reap what you sow – and the SPL will die quite quickly, despite the comforting lies the clubs’ fans spout about only needing another 1000 season tickets to be bought. Who do you think you are kidding?

    Lawwell may actually achieve his dream of getting the Irish team, that plays in Scotland, into the lower reaches of the English leagues but only when Scottish football disintegrates. Never mind, you did The Rangers and that’s all that matters, until you try to pay of the bank overdraft with ‘sporting integrity’.


  4. Kilmarnock had no integrity. They abstained in their vote. How spineless!

  5. Well thank you Burd. I have little clue about fitba and even less interest in what I consider the interminable obsession with the game – it just doesn’t do it for me. BUT even I have been aware and at some level perplexed and disturbed by the ongoing sage of TRangers. And even I cottoned on that there was more to this than met the eye – certainly the tabloid and football commentator eye. So huge thanks to you [and your commentatiors so far] for explaining succinctly and clearly in one well written column not only what’s been up but what might be done to fix it. And cheered me up about it all as well.

  6. Agree with most of the remarks of Doug Daniels and the Burd but I believe the parasitic nature of the rest of Scottish football is the biggest factor in the destriuction of our national game and this has to be broken. It may be damaging initially to do so but it has to be done. This is an issue I have thought about for many years and I have thought of solutions and written them up. Anybody interested?

  7. Regardless of what happens to Sevco 5088, the men at the top of the Scottish footballing organisations have demonstrated that they have absolutely no regards for sporting integrity and are willing to throw away the rules in order to facilitate the continuance of a team called Rangers. How can we have any confidence in anything they do from now on that involves this club? A lot of people have always said the SFA and Scottish football in general is institutionally biased towards Rangers – but no one thought it was this blatant. This goes far beyond the Govan club – Doncaster and Regan need to be given their jotters and an almighty kick up the backside.

    And we mustn’t forget that throughout all this, a man who was right in the middle of the EBT business remains president of the SFA. It would be like Bob Diamond being prime minister while the Barclays business came to people’s attention.

    We’re in the midst of an institutional crisis just now. Banks, the media, politicians, sporting bodies (I’m including the Olympics here) – every pillar of society is corrupt. If this was a foreign country, we’d be pointing and sneering at the massive levels of corruption.

    Rip it all up and start again.

    • Doug, that comment probably sums up things better than anything else I’ve read. Especially your final sentence.

  8. Like many, I put off renewing my season ticket at Tannadice until the club’s position became clear. The fans have spoken – and as you say – now it’s time for the clubs to act!

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