Enough is enough

As Celtic prepare to take on one of the Champions league big boys again, a warning to the commentators and pundits.

Like most Scots, I was sad to see Celtic so comprehensively thumped by PSG and Bayern recently. But something about those nights made me angry as well.

Not the players, their effort, or even the schoolboy defending. Not the semi-ritualistic way these games are presented on TV or the ludicrous hype that is generated by the media.

I blame Celtic for their own failings and the executive branch of Scottish football for facilitating that failure. And I think it is the result of a long-term strategy that has clearly failed.

What offends me is the casual referencing of the weakness of the game and players in Scotland as a key reason why Celtic struggle against the best teams, and the implicit suggestion that if only their domestic opponents were more skillful, Celtic’s Champions League training friendlies schedule, aka the SPFL Premiership, might prepare them better for these big games.

Pat Bonner said it outright in his commentary of the Bayern game. The weakness of the SPFL is the problem. Several others made the point that Celtic defenders never get the chance to play against top strikers in their own league and are, therefore, somehow unable to cope with it when they do. Others claim that Celtic are so used to being in possession of the ball and winning games easily at home, that when they face a top-quality opponent, they are suddenly caught like a rabbit in headlights without the faintest clue what to do.

I don’t know enough about the tactics of modern football, or the language used to describe systems of play, to critique that in footballing terms, but I do have a reasonable grasp of what constitutes bullshit. And so much of what our journalists, TV commentators, and pundits say, on occasions like this, is, definitely, it.

I blame Celtic for their own failings and the executive branch of Scottish football for facilitating that failure. And I think it is the result of a long-term strategy that has clearly failed.

Here’s how I think it went. Professional football in Scotland looks like it has been organised around a single goal. To generate Scottish success in the Champions League. A good way to achieve that is to ensure that Scottish teams get plenty exposure to that league. The best way to ensure that is to make sure that the same team, or teams, gain regular entry into it. The way to make that happen is to organise the league such that it is unthinkable that any other team could win it.

How might you do that without making it obvious what your intentions are?

Well, first, you lay the financial ground. Allow teams to keep their home gate receipts. That way, clubs are kept in their place, the big two stay big, the middle six to eight, not so big, and the rest, remain almost irrelevant.

To further entrench the financial status quo, you need to ensure that income from domestic sources (particularly TV money) is kept low enough to stop any other club paying for a team above their station, but not so low that mid-sized clubs go out of business.

It is our fault because we are not brave enough. Not brave enough to stand up to the powers running our game and put a stop to this madness.

Next, you would have to ensure that the rules stay in place long enough for the plan to work. Give the two big clubs the right of veto over rule changes. The masterminds of the plan have to be kept in office for as long as possible and committee members must be carefully selected. A generous portion of executives from the big two, and a fair sprinkling of others too afraid of their own clubs going to the wall to bother about grand generation-long master-plans, should guarantee no one rocks the boat too much. Allow a rogue committee member to challenge things every now and again to make it look good for the punters, safe in the knowledge that no permanent damage can be done to the plan.

But what if something unexpected happened to one of the big clubs? That could be tricky, right? The whole plan could be put in jeopardy. On the other hand, what is there to worry about when you have ensured that the decision makers are either on message or too concerned about their own teams’ survival to get in the way of a stitch up. Sure, we lost a few years, but it’ll soon get back on track.

Journalists would get wind of this surely, or even be able to work it out for themselves, right? Well, in a profession that seems to have lost most of its towering intellects to be replaced by either agenda driven zealots or barely literate fan bloggers (like me, I suppose), we might be asking a little too much of them. In any case, the overwhelming coverage of the big two in the national media and the simple fact that promoting Celtic and Rangers sells advertising space means that they are, more or less, complicit, even if they don’t always realise it.

I hope this sounds like the ramblings of a mad conspiracy theorist, but if any of the above rings true (and it does to me), then there might just be some truth on it.

Pat Bonner and those other pundits and commentators are right of course. Celtic’s failure against the big teams is the fault of the rest of Scottish football. Our players and teams aren’t good enough. But fault is a convoluted thing. It is not our fault because we are not good enough. It is our fault because we are not brave enough. Not brave enough to stand up to the powers running our game and put a stop to this madness.

I have absolutely no evidence that there is such a master-plan, or that anyone at the SFA or SPFL has even considered any of these points or the consequences that might flow from them. I even have serious doubts that any of the current leadership have the intellectual capacity to dream up such a Machiavellian plot, let alone execute it. But one thing I do know is that Scottish football is not in a healthy place. Not even a Celtic victory tonight, even if they gave some of their CL win bonus to Kilmarnock, you know, for giving them such a good run out on Saturday, would fix it.

How glorious would it be for the other Scottish teams to be credited for Celtic’s CL victories (especially the big ones)? I imagine the words would get stuck in plenty of throats. Celtic win CL games despite Scottish Football and lose them because of it. That, in a nutshell, is where we are right now. All that is likely to change any time soon is that Rangers will join them again. Something has to change, if only because my TV won’t survive another shoe being thrown at it when some Celtic minded blowhard tells the world that my team is partly to blame for Celtic’s defence not being good enough to stop Neymar or Lewandowski.

This article was first published in the unofficial Dundee Fans Forum https://www.thedarkblues.co.uk/news/scottish-football/enough-is-enough-r542/ on 23 October 2017. Reproduced, in slightly amended form, with their kind permission.

Andrak

Andrak

A Dundee fan, brought up in the city in the 70s and 80s, now lives in England.

An accountant by profession and temperament. Working in international development mostly overseas (Africa & South East Asia, mostly).

Currently based in Vientiane Laos. Never played football beyond Sunday League but watch as much Scottish football as possible.

840 Comments
  1. easyJambo


    As a follow-on to my previous post, Neil Lennon subsequently questioned Hearts commitment against Rangers at a press conference in the run up to Celtic’s visit to Tynecastle a few days later.

    As we all know Neil Lennon was assaulted by John Wilson that night.  The atmosphere at that game was as poisonous as any I can remember at Tynecastle, right from the start. From a Hearts perspective those comments had provoked an angry reaction in many Hearts fans, although the trigger for the assault was much more related to events on the pitch, including a soft red card for David Obua and Celtic winning the game comfortably.    

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  2. Homunculus

    Homunculus


    SMUGAS
    NOVEMBER 21, 2017 at 14:29

    For info I see JJ has published an extract of a pending Craig Whyte book.  

    ———————————————————-

    It really depends what one means by “pending”.

    “There is already huge media interest in Craig’s story. National newspaper serialisation is guaranteed. True Blue Treachery will be 75,000 words and delivered three months from signature of contract. True Blue Treachery. Sample Chapter”

    It would appear to be “pending” if anyone is interested in actually offering a contract to publish it.

    Did you read any of the “sample chapter”. I struggle to think of why anyone would want to read this garbage. To be fair I have never been a fan of the historic present tense.

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  3. Ernest Becker


    AULDHEID,

    Thanks for your response just a few follow ups.

    There is an obvious contradiction.
    Article 12 states interrupted membership which implies a break in continuity and yet RFC on the UEFA official website has a continuous history,they even have their European history in tact which they alone are in charge of.
    The only explanation is UEFA have accepted the SFA ruling on continuity but banned them for 3 years as some kind of fudge compromise,there will be a UEFA rule to cover their ass trust me.
    I also accept the SFA ruling and will continue to deny death until i am blue in the face.

    A football club can shed debt via a CVA,would Article 12 and its sanctions also apply,surely insolvency is the rule breach not how one exits,both voluntary and involuntary creditors get shafted either way and football authorities don’t care as long as all football debts are paid.Commercial self interest holding precedence over sporting integrity and insolvency law is nothing new.

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  4. Auldheid


    Ernest Becker
    A web site carries no authority. The Head of Club licensing does. It doesn’t come any higher.
    If an interruption had the meaning you are applying, Traverso would not have said “new”. He did, so “new” means not the same as before, not what was before is back.
    Had RFC gone into and emerged from administration like any other clubs they would emerge from it as RFC.
    They did not emerge from administration because RFC ceased to be a viable footballing business, only by becoming “new” was there a viable business to sell.
    The context of Traverso’s  reply was that UEFA could not sanction RFC in 2012 because RFC were no longer in existence to sanction.
    Had they been deemed the same club by UEFA, then not only would sanctions have applied, but the tax they owed would have been overdue and until such times as it was paid, or in the extremely unlikely event of HMRC agreeing to act like a bank and treat the tax RFC collected from employees but did not pass on to HMRC as a loan plus the tax they owed from irregular use of ebts, they would not be eligible to apply for a UEFA licence.
    The problem of the same club notion is that of wanting your cake and eating it.
    You can have one or the other but not both and should be grateful to UEFA for deeming the business that took the place of RFC as a different club.
    Saved the new club a fortune.

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  5. fan of football


    IIRC Sevco 2012 were never banned from Europe ,how would they be, they had never played in Europe ,they were ineligible to play as they did not hold 3 yrs association membership  
    if it’s the BIG LIE old club that was banned ,what would they have done to receive a 3yr ban .

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  6. fan of football


    Auldheid 
    nail on head my friend .
    Every single one of the peepil freely admit that Ragers 1872 went into admin on 14th feb 2013 .
    Not one of them can tell you on which date they exited admin .
    They wish us to believe that 1872 had the amazing good fortune to stumble across a wee company no one knew existed when the fell into admin and this wee company (let’s call it NESSIE PLC ) happily agreed to take all those nasty debts off ragers 1872 hands and jump into the abyss .
    Anyone who comes out with the BIG LIE GUFF really should be made to start each post with 
    ONCE UPON A TIME  

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  7. Cluster One

    Cluster One


    AULDHEIDNOVEMBER 22, 2017 at 01:50
    ————-
    That is so well written and easy to understand that even the blue tinted specks one’s must get it.

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  8. Smugas


    UTH

    agreed.  Which is why I ‘asked’ yesterday that he simply says what he believes happened.  Don’t ‘glam it up,’ don’t titivate it with throwaway stiff like clubs offering to throw games etc just for the sake of copies, not if it takes away from the central message of the book which, it appears, is just a massive con (the story, not the book).  A con that appears to have surprised, never mind almost chewed up, someone who has made a career of operating close to the edge of the law.

    and don’t make stuff up!  We’re really quite good at spotting that and in this case he’s going to have both sides phorensically examining what he says.

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  9. fan of football


    FAN OF FOOTBALLNOVEMBER 22, 2017 at 07:02
    Every single one of the peepil freely admit that Ragers 1872 went into admin on 14th feb 2013 .
    Sorry should of course be 14th feb 2012 

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  10. fan of football


    IMO ,CW was not duped in any way 
    I think he was sourced to do a job and he did it.

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  11. Smugas


    Starting with the spelling of forensically obviously!

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  12. LUGOSI

    LUGOSI


    SMUGAS NOVEMBER 22, 2017 at 07:41
    I wouldn’t worry too much about spelling.
    There are bigger problems.
    For the second day it’s being reported that Craig Whyte’s interest was peaked.
    It was at this point that my interest weaned.

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  13. Ernest Becker


    AULDHEID,
    A web site carries no authority. The Head of Club licensing does. It doesn’t come any higher.

    If this were true the Head of Licensing would order the official website to be changed,the fact he hasn’t suggests there is indeed a higher authority.Andrea’s private position is incompatible with UEFA’s public position and until this changes i will side with the righteous.

    I still think Article 12 allows the same club/company to shed debt via a CVA which defeats the purpose and does nothing to protect sporting integrity.

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  14. Big Pink


    New blog up.

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