Squeaky Bum-Steer Time…


Good Afternoon!

I enjoyed the Dundee Utd-Celtic game, particularly the second half(!), and was pleased to see Griffiths get a hat-trick. It will be nice to have a break from playing United for a while though…

But now, some core Clumpany business…

Scottish football needs a strong Rangers* in the top flight

How many times have we heard that since the great and the good on the 6th floor at Hampden, along with Messers Regan and Doncaster(!) asked noted sports consultant Gerry Mander to find a way to shoehorn the new club into the SPL and then SFL1 in 2012?

“Contents may not include any genuine Rangers”
A lot.

An awful lot. Particularly from MSM commentators, and sinecured ex-players wedded to the paradigm that says ‘Rangers’ v Celtic *is* Scottish Football.

The suggestion was a steaming pile of crap in 2012, and it stinks just as badly in 2015…

“May contain traces of ill-informed punditry”
In sport, it should always be the case that you only get what honest open competition delivers. Surprises (and mistakes) happen from time to time, and ultimately they make it more interesting (unless you are on the wrong end of them of course!). But the main story should always be about the beauty and outcome of fair competition.

There’s long been a ‘soothing narrative’ around the club conjured into existence by Magician Green in 2012. This has been propagated by parts of the MSM, and lapped up by the fans. It says that Rangers didn’t die stiffing hundreds of creditors, but instead “emerged from liquidation“. They then set off on ‘The Journey’ aiming to get back to their ‘rightful’ place in the top flight in the fastest possible time … This is a narrative that has little to do with the beauty of fair competition!

“Same club – just like that!”
This ‘Journey’ – which strangely never seems to call at a cash point to get money to pay the creditors of this ‘same club’ – has burned through tens of millions of pounds. It has also blasted its way through Scotland’s lower leagues with a brand of football so agricultural it can only be happening aboard a tractor…

The Sevco 'Journeymobile'
The Sevco ‘Journeymobile’
This level of spending is way beyond anything their lower league competitors could dream of, and was largely unnecessary – notwithstanding the costs associated with TUPE’ing across some ex-Rangers players to Sevco.

The wages may have been extravagant, but they provided Sevco with the means to sweep aside their league rivals, and get some decent results in the Cups against Premiership teams. However, until loans were required to pay the wages, the money was theirs to do with as they pleased. So good luck to them.

From an aesthetic perspective, it was a shame for both players and fans that Ally McCoist didn’t turn out to be the managerial and tactical genius that …err… no one actually thought he would be…  But at least there are now some well-tended gardens in Sevconia, so all is not lost…

Those SFL3 and League One campaigns in full...
Those SFL3 and League One campaigns in full…
Despite the off-field perma-turmoil, few would ever have imagined that the big-spending Sevco would do anything other than cruise their way to the top flight through three successive promotions. The presence of [*gasp*] full-time teams, and a turgid style of play made it unlikely they would completely romp the Championship, but they would still win it, right? And pretty easily too?

But no! Sporting competition has thrown us a welcome curve-ball. The souped-up Sevco tractor found itself ‘unlucky’ enough to be in the second tier at the same time as the devastatingly-resurgent Hearts who have run away with the Division and seized the automatic promotion place.

They also found themselves up against a Hibernian team that – whilst stuttering – has had a very good stab at getting back to the top flight after last season’s collapse, including inflicting three defeats on the Ibrox outfit. Furthermore, QoS have played some great football and beaten Sevco, while a number other sides have risen to the occasion and taken points off them.

With one game to go, Hibs are in second place, a point ahead of Sevco and currently bound for the play-off Semi-Final. Sevco are set for the Quarter-Final, which would mean a challenging route to the Premiership via two-legged ties against QoS, Hibs and then probably Motherwell.

Drama - in tabulated form
Drama in tabulated form
It wasn’t supposed to be like this…

It could yet change, of course. If Sevco beat Hearts at Tynecastle, and Hibs slip up at Falkirk, they will finish second and avoid the showdown with QoS.

The last round of matches is a tasty prospect, and offers the kind of excitement we want in sport. Sevco face their first genuinely crucial fixtures since their foundation and McCall has his work cut out to get his team playing to its potential. He has coaxed some decent performances out of them since his arrival, but there has been no consistency, and they remain vulnerable.

There can be no doubt that the 6th Floor at Hampden would be thrilled to have a Rangers entity in the top flight, seemingly wedded as they are to the fiction that ‘The Old Firm’ (sic) rivalry  *is* the story in Scottish Football and the route to sponsorship deals and TV money.

We also know that large chunks of the media – on behalf of many of their readers and just possibly because of their own personal footballing allegiances – want Sevco to be promoted. The prospect of covering a Rangers entity in the top flight is very appealing and would almost feel like ‘old times’ for them.

I fully expect the volume of the “we need Rangers* back” narrative to be turned up over the coming weeks. We will be given the bum steer that it will be *terrible* if the galaxy’s biggest club remains in the outer reaches of the second tier for another year. There may be visible angst in the papers and audible fretting on the radio as “Scottish Football” apparently stares down the barrel of a gun. Again…

The MSM turns its ‘worried’ commentary up to 11
Well I have news. It’s just froth. Sevco will either get promoted or they won’t. And the world will continue to turn. The game is strong enough to ‘cope’ either way. Frankly, if you have survived ‘Armageddon’ not much else can cause you a problem…

What we have now is a little bit of what fans and clubs stood up for in 2012: a pretty exciting competition for promotion where four teams will slug it out for a significant prize, and with quite a lot of public interest. [Hi Hearts fans! Yes, I know you are miles ahead and already promoted. “Mind the Gap” etc…]

Some see scope for a succession of Honest Mistakes to ensure that the new club gets to the top flight by whatever means necessary. We’ll see about that, but it would be a big ask for them to carry Sevco through up to 7 more games!

However, given the quality of officiating in Scotland I certainly expect all games from hereon in to be littered with all-too-familiar game-changing refereeing mistakes. Which is of course unacceptable.

League reconstruction would seem to be a non-starter given how recently we went through that interminable debate. But also because of the almighty uproar that would result from any apparent attempt to magic a Rangers entity into the top flight!

As someone who is generally positive about our game, I think these are pretty good times. A greater number of clubs are winning cups and a number – particularly Aberdeen – are resurgent in the league. And open sporting competition in the Championship could well deliver an outcome that is not convenient for either the governing bodies or the MSM… This state of affairs is – unequivocally – a good thing for the game.

What drama eh? And how funny to see the Sevco cheerleaders sweating…

It really wasn’t supposed to be like this!


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