Scottish Football is in a mess that is to a – The Scottish Football Monitor

Scottish Football is in a mess that is to a …

Comment on On Grounds for Judicial Review by Zilch.

Scottish Football is in a mess that is to a large extent of its own making – though not exclusively.

IMO, the ultimate source of most of the problems stem from a severe lack of imagination.

Let’s take two issues being discussed on this page of the blog: (a) SPFL / SPL cover-up and corruption, and (b) Celtic’s Champions League-fueled domestic dominance.

Our football governance bodies turned themselves inside out to try to make sure that there was a team in blue playing out of Ibrox despite the original one going into liquidation. Question is why?

Let’s do it multiple choice style:

A. Fear of financial meltdown through loss of the Blue Pound.

B. Fear of violence from the loyal hordes.

C. Bigoted blazers in the boardroom desperate to maintain an Establishment threat to Celtic.

D. Blazers in fear of being caught out (EBTs for C.O., Masterton controlling clubs etc).

E. All of the above.

Well the cynic in me says E. 🙂

But in truth, given that ALL of our clubs have an equal say in these things, and they can’t ALL have been puppets for the bigots (surely?), I reckon the main issue here was that no-one in a position of power had the faintest idea how to build a successful product that was not fueled on the sectarian bile of the so-called Old Firm.

It’s a lack of imagination.

Moving on to the Champion’s League effect.

I was at Celtic Park on Weds night and witnessed a super confident Celtic demolish a good quality team from Astana. Honestly, I loved every second of it and I think BR is doing an amazing job. Possibly the best Celtic team in my adult lifetime.

I am there to see my team compete and to progress. I know we are going to struggle if we reach the group stage because we will be up against teams with order of magnitude more resource than us. I am disgruntled about this because I know that UEFA have tilted the table in favour of a select few nations that happen to have the biggest TV audiences.

Dry your eyes I hear you say, because that £30m Celtic just won is going to ensure complete dominance in the league for the next few years at least and possibly for much longer.

I hear you. You are right. Champions League money is probably going to destroy the premier league in Scotland as a meaningful competition (at least to win it).

Of course, I don’t remember hearing how damaging this was for Scottish Football when it was SDM planning European dominance on his hover pitch. Maybe it was all the moonbeams that dazzled the SMSM from realising the damage that was being done to Scottish Football by Masterton’s millions flowing into Ibrox and the failure to pay Hector his dues?

For a fair few in the media, the real problem here is that it is a team playing in green and white that has taken permanent pole position and not one in red white and blue.

Much as I enjoy wallowing in the schadenfreude of the misery over at Ibrox (I am at least honest enough to admit that I do), I do genuinely fear for the future of our game as a meaningful sport.

This was true when it was Rangers cheating their way to dominance and it is true now while Celtic win fairly on their way to the Group Stage.

Celtic play the competition in front of them, earn the money they can and are obliged to use it to maximise their advantage in all competitions they enter. I did see a great suggestion on CQN yesterday about using some of it to improve conditions in the stadium for disabled fans and see Man Utd are doing something like this already – would be a great ting if it happened.

Big questions is – how will Scottish Football deal with it?

Is there enough imagination to deal with the fact that there is a hugely imbalanced distribution of cash?

Don’t think for one second this means a conversation about gate sharing etc etc. For a start it would barely scratch the surface.

Think bigger.

Who else is in a similar position to Scottish Football in this regard?

Oh yeah, that’s right, every other nation outside of the big 4.

If Scottish Football had any imagination it would be leading a movement for an alternative set up in Europe where we are not at the mercy of living off scraps from the Champions League, Europa etc.
Either UEFA comes to their senses and starts to provide a level playing field in these competitions, or us wee diddy nations should tell them to keep it and set up our own formats, with our own TV deals. Scotland is wee, Holland is wee, Denmark, Norway are wee etc etc, but together we can do something with real clout.

But it takes real ambition and ability to organise on an international basis. It takes imagination.

Do you think we have anyone in the SFA who wants to really tackle this sort of problem? Sure, they would much rather be on jets to Geneva and living high on the handouts.

As ever, the problem here is the people running the SFA and the SPFL. They have to be run out of town and replaced by people of integrity and imagination if we are going to save our sport.

I hope Celtic and BR give some of the so-called giants a bloody nose in the next few months.

I will love supporting them on the big European nights.

But deep down, I would much rather be in a competition that was entered by winning the domestic league and for which we had a reasonable chance of getting to the final stages along with teams from other diddy nations.

Zilch Also Commented

On Grounds for Judicial Review
upthehoopsAugust 30, 2017 at 20:11 
ALLYJAMBOAUGUST 30, 2017 at 15:27  I am sickened by my club’s refusal to sell Jamie Walker to TRFC at a knock down price – by instalments. How dare any football club refuse to sell to the Govan club at whatever price they offer, they are, obviously, so full of entitlement and are ‘The Peepul’, that we should all bow before them! I mean, that’s the impression one might get from reading this headline from the Herald: ‘Jamie Walker won’t sign for Rangers before the end of the window unless Hearts drop £1million demands’
==============================
In the good old days a quick phone call to the Bank of Scotland to get the overdraft limit increased would have sorted this. Wages would have been no issue either with the player probably being offered an EBT with a side letter. 
Playing by the same rules as the rest is a real bitch eh!
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AJ, UTH

In the Good Ole Days, Rangers phoning the Bank of Scotland did not result in them paying the going rate for Scottish players. How many players did they get at a knock down rate for other Scottish clubs? How many players did they get that the selling club did not want to sell?

Nah. A phone call to the Bank of Scotland was as likely to be to arrange for them to apply the squeeze on a reluctant seller. IMO.

This is the kind of corruption that I believe the clubs and the SFA etc are still trying to cover up.


On Grounds for Judicial Review
AJ, Jimbo and JC

Dead right.

In football terms we are currently a diddy nation acting like we are content to be a diddy nation.

We need the SFA to be actively lobbying and planning for a viable European context for us to compete in fairly.

What have we got? An SFA that is doing contortions to maintain a corrupt domestic scene, basically lying and defrauding all of us.

We could be so much better than this.

The answer does involve UEFA. This is an association of members, of which we are one through the SFA.

We need our clubs to act to fix the SFA, and the SFA to act to fix UEFA.

In each case it is a matter of building a groundswell amongst the smallest to come together and act in untiy to counteract the playground bullies.

We all learned about this stuff when we were kids. It really is this simple and fundamental.

The first step is to get our clubs to find some spine and act to clear out the corruption at the SFA / SPFL.


On Grounds for Judicial Review
bluAugust 18, 2017 at 11:47 
I agree part that Celtic can’t be faulted for driving forward. They were happy though to ally with Rangers on the voting structure of the SPL, which effectively provided the two with a veto  on change. Why the others didn’t kick the door in when Rangers went bust is beyond me.
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Hi Blu

Interesting point – some thoughts… 🙂

Whether we like it or not, I think we have to accept that our football clubs are run as businesses – there may be exceptions.

In the case of a PLC like Celtic, there is an obligation to shareholders to operate the business in such a way as to maximise benefit. This is largely achieved by being as successful as you can manage to be on the playing field and by operating astutely in the market and in dealings with the governance of the game.

This is essentially true for all of our clubs.

The voting structure of the SPL undoubtedly gave the so-called Old Firm a veto on change. Presumably they felt that this protected them from issues like gate sharing and probably gave them an advantage in othe areas too.

As a business, and operating with a fairly narrow view of what is good for that business, this seems to me to be a situation that is comfortably within the ambit of doing what is best for your business – why would they not do it? (There ARE reasons not to, but this comes later).

The question that this raises in my mind is this: How the hell were they able to get the SPL rules set up with this veto in the first place???

You say the others should have kicked the door in when Rangers went bust. Fair point. However, why did the other clubs agree to the SPL ‘Old Firm’ veto in the first place??

Celtic get one vote. Rangers get one vote. There were at least 8 other teams in the SPL at any given time. When the SPL was set up – how did the Old Firm force the issue? What was their leverage?

I struggle with this.

Did they threaten to leave Scottish Football and go south? Sure we saw all the headlines in the press. Did we once see any indication that the English FA was remotely interested in them coming south or that the English clubs would wear it? Nope.

This is one of the emptiest threats ever.

So what else was there? How were votes for the SPL veto managed?

Well it sounds to me like most of the senior clubs in Scotland had a common problem.

The problem was they were in debt to the same bank. And that bank was bailing out Rangers to the tune of tens of millions. Moreover, it sounds a lot like it was being run by a guy, Masterton, who was quite willing to put the squeeze on other clubs if it was in the interest of his beloved Rangers.

I fear this was the real Blue Pound for a long time.

If it was not Masterton (not sure of the exact timing) then it could easily have been predecessors. This is what the Establishment club means.

This stuff is important for how we go forward in the future. We MUST NOT accept a future that is organised to serve the ‘Old Firm’ and relegates everyone else to diddy status.

I say this as a Celtic fan. And I would urge my own board to see the bigger picture where a truly competitive Scottish league would generate much more domestic TV income and support better performances in Europe. We should be promoting the level playing field at all times and being sufficiently confident in our ability to perform at the highest levels.

I want Celtic to be more than a PLC, but I have to accept that this is the true nature of boardroom discussions. However, they have to realise that their paying customers are intrinsic to financial success and that ultimately they need a competititve product on the field, domestic and European, for long term survival.

The other clubs have to get over what ever affliction caused them to kowtow to the ‘Old Firm’ and, possibly collectively, push for the level playing field too.

Diddies no more. (In a Proclaimers stylee)


Recent Comments by Zilch

To Comply or not to Comply ?
borussiabeefburgMay 17, 2018 at 10:38
At various points recently, it’s been suggested Andrew James Dickson will take the token rap for the notice of complaint issued over the 2011 UEFA licence.
Dickson has been involved with every set of directors who have had their feet under the Ibrox table, pre and post liquidation. He’s been a major collaborator with the SFA throughout that time and was even voted on to the bloated SFA Congress last season.
Only an opinion, but given Dickson will have undisclosed knowledge of who, in the governing body, helped with the cover up, I’d think there is little chance he will emerge from the situation as a loser.
He’s a key part of the whole Rangers liquidation/continuation story, and he has been proffered protection throughout by all the warring Ibrox factions. There is a reason for this.
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BB
This point has been mentioned several times in the past, but it has never been fully explained – at least I have not seen such an explanation. Can you say more?

What level of wizardry is Mr Dickson capable of that he manages to stay on the right side of so many factions all through this interminable debacle? We are surely talking about some serious Jedi-Master capabilities to have managed to come through all this with barely a mention, other than the slightly cryptic references on here that appear from time to time?

FWIW, I see the latest developments in much the same light as Iceman described earlier. The SFA were up to their eyeballs (actually, over their heads) trying to provide Rangers with unfair sporting advantage in order to keep them afloat and maintain their status as the Establishment team. This was the only social order they had the wit to imagine and the founding premise for all of their business plans.

The idea that the SFA and other bodies did not know that Rangers were in big trouble on tax is simply not credible.

The extraordinary lengths that they subsequently went to to cover up their tracks and to deflect attention away from this issue was not ignorance or naivety – it was guilt and desperation to avoid being held accountable for their actions.

In what significant way has this organisation changed between now and then?

Has there been some sort of overwhelming Road to Damascus seeing of the light?

Are we witnessing a new dawning of fair play and transparency from the office block at Hampden Park?

Yeah right.

It is odds on a further attempt to bury the real story in the long grass. Maybe they are hoping that some of the chancers that have been hanging around the marble stairs at Ibrox can be sacrificed and won’t spill the beans on what they know? RRM don’t do spilt beans dontcha know.

Maybe they hope that hanging out a couple of spivs or dodgy former directors will satisfy us all?

Who knows, they might even have it in for dodgy Dave King and some of the other miscreants currently wearing brogues and blazers? God only knows he is taking them for a complete ride and probably taking the current iteration off a cliff in the process. Would almost make sense to bump him off in order to save The Rangers.

But really, when it comes down to it, you have to think it is most likely just another attempt to maintain the stranglehold that the SFA has on the game, to avoid having their complete corruption exposed to the clear light of day, and to allow them to keep their snouts firmly in the trough.

Time will tell I suppose.

From what I can gather, the Res12 guys have never been interested in targeting Rangers. Their focus has only ever been on the corruption that eats the heart out of the administration of our game. This is the only game in town for those of us who want to see a level playing field.

Sure, I can get my kicks wallowing in the schadenfreude of seeing any form of Rangers careening from disaster to disaster. I would be lying if I said otherwise.

But what I really want is a level playing field that means we will never again be exposed to the cheating that has so very nearly destroyed professional football as a meaningful sport in this country.

Keep the focus firmly on the SFA and the other football authorities. Who knew about the dodgy tax situation and when? Who knowingly signed off on the European license despite the clear breach of rules? Yes the Rangers directors told porkies and breached good faith. But who at the SFA knew that but decided to go along with it?

Sine die anyone who was involved.


Is Regan a DIDDY?
Mrs Zilch and I have been members of the Scotland Travel club for years. A couple of decades by now. With the kids getting a bit older now, she was recently talking about getting them memberships too. It’s pretty cheap and they have enjoyed (sort of!) going to some recent games. (The wee man greetin’ his eyes out against Lithuania was a real lesson for him in what it means to be Scottish).

Going to the Scotland games has been a really nice bit of our relationship for all this time. It is part of who we are. It’s part of our identity. (weirdly)

When we go we usually meet up with cousins and uncles too. It’s a big family thing.

So our memberships are up for renewal now.

I am going home tonight to tell her I can’t bear to give the SFA a single penny.

I’m going to tell her that I can’t stand to have my kids looking up to a guy like Alex McLeish who has openly admitted he cheated both the tax authorities and the rest of Scottish football so that he could gain an unfair advantage on EVERY team in Scotland.

I’m going to have to tell my kids that their national team is now off limits because it is in the hands of corrupt people who are liars and cheats – that this is not how sport is meant to be run.

We always send the wee man to his football training wearing a Scotland top. I would prefer a Celtic top, but Mrs Zilch is worried about the sectarian side of Glasgow and wants to keep him safe. I guess we will do what so many others have done and get him a Barca top or some other team we have no real affiliation with. This is the state of Scottish football and Scotland in general.

I will be taking the wee man to play a 7-aside match on Saturday afternoon. The guys that train them and organise the team are totally brilliant. They are there multiple evenings during the week and on Saturdays too, teaching them how to play the game, and really drilling into them a sense of sportsmanship. I will take far more pleasure out of being there and being involved at that level than I will with any part of the professional game in this country.

The SFA are slowly strangling the life out of the game in this country. Hell mend them. If Scottish football only exists to support a Rangers ascendancy and the parasites that Ibrox spawned – well it can die a thousand deaths as far as I am concerned.

I should have done this a long time ago – I know. Somehow this is some sort of final straw for me.


Is Regan a DIDDY?
I seem to recall Alex McLeish was once manager of the Scottish national football team. I’m pretty sure that’s the case – right?

I was quite surprised (but only quite) when last night the BBC reported his reappointment to the role using footage of him wearing a Rangers scarf.

I guess they must have lost all the footage of him when he was previously the Scotland manager?

Yup. That must be it.

What other possible reason could they have for using that footage?

Couldn’t possibly be a GIRUY to anyone who has a passing interest in sporting integrity, payment of social taxes or concern that the SFA / Scottish Establishment has shown persistent bias towards one club at the expense of ALL others?

Shurely shum mishtake…


The Vice Closes
Once again, and with deep regret…

I strongly agree that there is no place for songs about the IRA, the UDA or any other source of armed conflict at a football match.

The question is how do we persuade people to move on from it?

If all you can do is tell Celtic fans that they are sectarian for supporting a political organisation then we are going to get nowhere.
 
It may seem like semantics to you, but it is at the very heart of people’s identity and political conscience.
 
It is essential that we have accuracy and balance in any solution to this.

You will not persuade Celtic fans to stop singing IRA songs by complaining they are sectarian – simply because those singing them do not believe that is accurate.

You might have better luck telling them to stop singing them because they are political and their reference to conflict is unwelcome at a sporting event.  That is accurate.

Of course, you then need to have balance. If the problem is politics or glorifying violence, then let’s properly target that.

So, for example, no wearing of poppies on football shirts on the pitch. The poppy started off as a symbol of remembrance for war dead (including members of my own family) but has been politically hijacked and is now used to glorify the British Armed Forces – a prime player in the conflict we are trying to move away from. In the catalogue of innocents killed in that conflict, there is plenty of scope to criticise the British Army too.

I also think we need to question the singing of Flower of Scotland at the national games. Don’t get me wrong – I love singing that song and belt it out with all the rest – but I am questioning myself on whether it is really appropriate now? Sending Edward home again involved a fair amount of bloodshed and death and in these troubled times, how much do we need to drag up the atavistic past?

If we want to find a solution to this problem, we have to do more than just complain about it. We need to find real solutions that are fair and recognise the legitimacy of different political views.

As in any conflict resolution situation, you need to make steps towards those you have previously fought to find peace. Dealing in absolutes gets us nowhere.

As I said previously, I think there are plenty of people here that want to see this problem go. To do so we have to move out of our own comfort zones and do a bit of digging into the nature of the conflict and of our own bias and prejudices.

The alternative is we carry on as previously. The football authorities and the SMSM  seem perfectly content to do this. With some openness and goodwill, I think we could do better.


The Vice Closes
Highlander

We agree on a lot of stuff here.

I don’t deny that our away fans are regularly singing IRA songs. They do. I want them to stop. I can’t be any clearer than that.

I disagree that this is sectarian. Offensive to some, undoubtedly.

I could say similar things about Flower of Scotland (massively anti-English) and God Save the Queen (equally anti-Scottish) – I can live with these songs as I know they are important to people and they have a right to express themselves.

I can’t accept the sectarianism of the Billy Boys. Nor would I accept racist or homophobic chanting.

Moving on I agree with you that strict liability is not going to happen – it leaves all of our clubs at the mercy of fans.

I am suggesting an alternative.

If our fans or Rangers fans are behaving in a way that is unacceptable, i.e. is in breach of the terms and conditions of entry, then evict them from the ground.

If that is not possible (and crowd control is not to be understimated – probably why Police Scotland are not wading in) then how about this?

Persistent breach of the terms and conditions of entry to a ground by a visiting support results in a home club being allowed to refuse entry (sale of tickets) to away fans.

If you don’t want to hear the war songs or the sectarian songs at your ground – campaign with your club to ban the visiting supports.

Not sure if this is within the rules of the game or not? However it would be one way to make an impact on the issue. It could be a way for the SFA / SPFL to make a difference if a rule change is needed.

In my original post I finished with the point that I will make again now.

Given the financial value of Rangers and (following our conversation) Celtic fans coming to grounds around the country, is there any appetite amongst the other clubs to make such a stand?

There is not much point complaining about both cheeks etc if the other clubs are not willing to act in their own patch.

I appreciate you not wanting to go on with this – I am also pretty uncomfortable – no offense will be taken either way. I just think we need to fully understand the nature of the problem and where our clubs and the association really are on it.


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