History, Neighbours and Made Up News

Or, a story of how and why Mr Lawwell consigned resolution 12 to the deepest grass;
by Finloch


“It’s about history and being neighbours”, young Elisabeth said to her mum.

And it has to be done for tomorrow, Elisabeth said.

“I’m supposed to ask in an in-person interview about what life was like where an older neighbour grew up and what was life like when the neighbour was my age.

It’s not my fault that we’re new here and haven’t spoken to our old, next door neighbour yet and don’t even know his name.

“I’ve an idea her mother said, why don’t you make it up.

Pretend you’re asking him questions and then write down the answers you think he’d give”.

“It’s supposed to be true”, Elisabeth said. “It’s for News”.

“They’ll never know”, her mother said. “Just make it up.

The real news is always made up anyway”.

 

publicLibraryI was lucky enough to catch Ali Smith at the Edinburgh Book Festival.

I was part of a very diverse audience and unusually for this kind of event nobody in the sold-out Charlotte Square tent had a Scooby about what she was going to share with us.

Most would have been expecting a reading or two from her recent short story collection, Public Library, about the cynical, thoughtless and almost silent and unpublicised demise of Libraries up and down our land.

Our libraries.

Our land.

Ali is always value for money though and was amazing, reading from her as yet unpublished “Autumn” book, the first she said of a four-book series.

As I listened to her, I was also thinking and juggling around at the back of my mind about what I was going to write for this blog, having been asked for my thoughts, as a non-involved, non-Celtic supporter, on how I see the Resolution 12 situation.

 

Well Ali’s words stung like a bee and proved quite inspirational. The wisdom and clarity in her new books is highly relevant to all of us who care about Scottish Football and Resolution 12 including Mr Lawwell, Mr Doncaster, Mr Regan, Mr Petrie and us too – the real stakeholders.

 

Ali also shared with us a Bernard Maclaverty insight from when he once visited a school as part of (I think) a Scottish creative writing initiative and in the course of his talk asked some youngsters,

“What is fiction” ?

Someone put their hand up and said “Please Sir, it’s made up truth”.

 

Near the end Ali also got to talking about post Brexit Britain and used the chaos to ask the bigger question.

“Why do we never seem to have real debates about anything and why in any “debate” we might see or read that there never seems to be room for to-ing and fro-ing on points because everyone seems to have already made their minds up and just wants to maintain their status quos, achieve their own personal agendas or to steamroller us all to their point of view”.

 

“People in power seem to be genuinely scared of honest debates”, she said.

She asked how without more real discussions and insightful and open minded debates can any of us (and the debaters themselves too) learn because without that we will just get more of what we’ve had.

And that’s not good enough.

 

So thanks Ali I’m going to combine these three things from your hour along with two personal career experiences and review Mr Lawwell and his company’s reaction to the bona fide Resolution 12 raised by some of his shareholders a few years ago.

(My career experiences were as the head of a small, and treated as unimportant, company that was part of a worldwide group of companies run (badly) out of the US; and my time as head of a trade association that had two very dominant and troublesome members).

 

My Five Insights to review Resolution 12 are.

  1. Some people think  “made up news is fine” and feed us all with it all the time.
  2. Don’t expect real discussions or debates about anything in your club. No two way dialogues, except from those about money once a year.
  3. “Made up Truths” become gospel not to be challenged.
  4. The people running the club know they are smarter and more important than any of their minority or remote stakeholders.
  5. All decisions that really matter in football or indeed in any business are pre-agreed and never discussed in the open.

So now to what I think of Resolution 12.

My starting point is to say this. It is wrong to see or to discuss Mr Lawwell and Resolution 12 as being about the awarding of a license – or the boardroom processes since The Requisitioners first raised it.

Sadly, I’d suggest Requisition 12 was history before it was even raised.

In the late Murray days at Ibrox and in the early Whyte ownership period there had been rumours, and I’m certain deep and meaningful business discussions between the heads of the SFA and SPL and their key committee members.

You can be sure that the SFA, SPL, Celtic and others were all watching the post Murray Rangers situation closely, and the new regime at Ibrox and related financial stuff would have been the talk of the exclusive football steamies.

Despite what some Celtic fans believe, the reality has always been that while Rangers may have dominated (just) all things SFA and SPL, nothing was ever done without the knowledge of and input from the green side of the Old Firm business model.

Sadly, I’d suggest Requisition 12 was history before it was even raised.

Scotland’s unique, idiosyncratic, religio-political old firm business model was not just about driving the individual Glasgow teams to their leviathan duopoly in Scottish football. We all knew (because we were told so) that it was also the commercial bedrock of the business that is Scottish Football.

And yes, for a while David Murray thought his club was bigger than the Old Firm, but he and his ego had moved on when all this stuff happened.

Put simply, Regan who was quite new, was convinced at the time – and still is absolutely certain – that the SFA and Scottish Football needed a dominant Celtic and Rangers, and he also personally needed and needs the support of their CEO’s.

Doncaster too was convinced that the SPL needed Celtic and Rangers arch rivalry with all it entails, delivering TV monies and maximizing his bonuses. He too also personally required and requires the support of the Old Firm CEO’s.

Lawwell the astute numbers man, under a constant watchful eye from Dublin, needed Rangers to ensure his business plan did not develop un-fillable black holes.

And yes, for a while David Murray thought his club was bigger than the Old Firm, but he and his ego had moved on when all this stuff happened.

Importantly, Peter was also one of a small influential football group who effectively controlled the actions of Regan and Doncaster. Nothing strategic would ever have been done by either of them without his involvement and input. That doesn’t mean he necessarily knew all the detail about  Craig’s UEFA license shenanigans but he’d have had his suspicions.

And you know something, – at a squeeze I think he and Desmond might have thought keeping a Rangers team alive (for its future dependable revenue streams) was maybe even worth one season’s lost Champions League status.

There is no doubt in my mind that in 2011 Peter and the Celtic Board were worried but supportive of and committed to keeping the Rangers company alive.

Looking back I don’t know when Lawwell and Desmond actually discovered de facto that Rangers should not have been awarded the license.

Was it before it was awarded?

Was it after by which time it was too late anyway?

Those would be two good questions to ask them.

I’d suggest that by the time they knew for sure it was too late, but I could be wrong.

Anyway history shows that pretty quickly after McCoist failed in Europe, Lawwell committed his club to the complex and complicated secret Five-Way Agreement and all it entailed.

Celtic were senior signed-up members of the attempt to help protect and leverage the future blue revenue streams into the SPL then the SPL 2 then the bottom level.

It was all about the blue pound.

It was all about the blue pound into the future.

It was all about the blue pound into the future being central in the business model at Celtic that needed (then and now) a blue pound generating Rangers.

We all know now that compromise was somehow reached ahead of the Brechin cup tie in the summer of 2012.

Many – in fact most of –  Scottish football fans were glad that football had once again broken out, having become fed up with all the politics, and were glad to return to talking about players and stuff.

Football gossip is after all more comfortable than finding out we’d all been cheated for years.

Not all fans were ready to “Move-on” however.

Some, like many of us on this site and others like it wanted to dig deeper and examine just what happened and who did what.

Some wanted Celtic as the most wronged club to do and say more about Sporting Integrity.

Some wanted to rub their old rivals into the dirt.

Some wanted a full and frank review because they believed that without Sporting Integrity we would make the same mistakes in the future.

I’d be one of these fans.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Celtic shareholders who pieced together the jigsaw that led to Resolution 12, correctly identified that their club were illegally denied a place in the Champions League and denied substantial revenues.

Fair play to them.

If  I was a Celtic shareholder I personally would have wanted to know why my board had not pursued these significant revenues that were due to my company.

It was and is a big deal.

No it was and is a huge deal.

It remains an open sore and everyone involved seems to have ducked any blame.

I applaud those Requisitioner Shareholders for how they have gone about the process, and I have a huge respect for everything they have done on behalf of Celtic and fans of all Scottish clubs.

However in my opinion it was always doomed to failure because of the simple fact that their own club, having been an integral part of the whole murky “Armageddon” process, had already moved on into the new world they had helped to forge, and did not and could not look back.

So Resolution 12 was treated politely but cleverly by the club in the finest traditions of Sir Humphrey.

They did not want to fight their shareholders corner then and I’d suggest still don’t – and wont.

 

So going back to my five points earlier.

 

  1. Mr Lawwell et al did not want to establish the real truth, which they already knew. Hey had already signed up to what had been reported, moved the club on and spent his personal bonuses along the way no doubt.
  2. Mr Lawwell et al did not want a real debate because he and his small team had already done what they believed at the time to be right for the club they were paid to manage.
    Nothing more to say.
    And yes he could mumble agreement that Sporting Integrity is important when cornered but between us chaps it wouldn’t ever have filled the yawning gaps in the stands at Celtic Park without a Rangers counterbalance.
  3. Rangers are now back and the Old Firm is once again dominating Scottish Football.
    The truth at Celtic Park is we need each other and season book sales and TV revenues are up proving my point all along.
  4. We tolerate the intellectual end of our support, just, but they are hard work and you’d think they own the club.
    We even quite enjoy some of their stuff sometimes as long as its not too political but  we have a business to run and quite frankly sometimes they just don’t get it. They should realise the SFA and the SPFL are there to do a job for us and we keep them on a short enough leash.
  5. We will always be grateful to Fergus for what he did. We benefited at the time from the fan’s money and now run a very successful shareholder liaison programme. Once a year we have an AGM and try to manage the reality of running a business while having to hear from people who would prefer us to regress to what we were in the 1880s. Shareholders are fine but this club is a business and must be run as such.

 

My Five Insights sum up the position and stance of the Celtic Board.

I don’t know what will happen to Resolution 12.

The club never wanted it because they are a business and see the world differently from the group of fans who see themselves as the Celtic soul.

I applaud these Celtic fans.

Celtic does not deserve you.

Finloch

Finloch

Finloch has been a member of SFM since it's inception. A Hearts fan, he also penned the blog, Look Back to Look Forward

1,353 Comments
  1. easyJambo


    The BBC has provided a little more detail on what was discussed in Court today, including the name of Alex Prentice as Advocate Depute, whom I had speculated with JC as the individual.

    James Doleman has also tweeted that the BBC had mentioned CF. That appears to have disappeared from the article below, if it was there originally.

    James Doleman ‏@jamesdoleman · 33m33 minutes ago
    Donald Findlay QC at Craig Whyte hearing today (via BBC)
    “The other issue which is hovering in the background is the Charlotte fakes issue”

    Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte could be set to stand trial next year over an alleged fraudulent takeover of the Ibrox club.
    The 45-year-old faces two charges – one of fraud and a second allegation under the Companies Act.
    The High Court in Glasgow heard a trial had been provisionally set for April 2017, with a two-day hearing taking place in December.
    Mr Whyte entered no plea and his bail was continued.
    The first accusation claims Mr Whyte obtained a “majority and controlling stake” in Rangers “by fraud”.
     The charge dates are between May 2010 and May 2011, listing various locations including Ibrox Stadium, Murray Park as well as “addresses meantime unknown” in Monaco and France.
    It is alleged Whyte and his representatives pretended to then Rangers owner Sir David Murray and others that “funds were available” to make all stipulated payments.
    The second charge under the Companies Act centres on an £18m payment in connection with the takeover.
    Mr Whyte was once again represented by Donald Findlay QC. Alex Prentice QC is now heading the prosecution team in the case.
    Mr Prentice told the hearing: “The Lord Advocate asked that I step in… That is what I will do.”

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  2. StevieBC

    StevieBC


    BFBPUZZLED
    OCTOBER 3, 2016 at 17:36
    … 
    Is having to pay Mr Barton/Sanderos/Krancjar/Hill and so on many many thousands of pounds per week a reasonable excuse for defaulting on VAT or other taxes? And would engineering their removal from payroll be seen to be putting a big hoose in order?
    ========================
    Not a reasonable excuse: TRFC/RIFC is simply the ‘collecting agent’ re: net VAT payments due or salary-related tax deductions, so non-payment is like ‘pilfering’ HMRC’s money.

    Only way to legally get shot of overpriced players with no Ibrox payoff…erm, that would be administration and/or liquidation…

    If the SMSM report on the rumour that TRFC/RIFC is withholding HMRC payments, [I know], then shirley HMRC would then have to be seen to act promptly to recover these monies ?

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  3. Big Pink


    New blog up

    View Comment

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