Neil Doncaster does like to pop up from time to time to provide a bit of unwitting entertainment.
Yesterday he strode on to the pitch at Celtic Park for the unfurling of the Premiership flag wearing his trademark fixed politicians’ grin.
You would never have guessed that he is probably one of the most unpopular figures in Scottish football, who most of us would quite happily see ‘moved on’ to another job.
But fair play to him for brazening it out!
But the focus of this short piece isn’t Mr Doncaster’s heroic appearance on the hallowed turf yesterday.
No, it’s this article about Hearts from the BBC.
Mr Doncaster offers an unusually upbeat assessment of the state of the league as a whole:
“There’s real anticipation this year”
“It’s good for the profile of the top tier to have the very biggest city clubs back.”
“After such an exciting end to last season: we had Aberdeen pushing Celtic close at the top and we had an incredible battle at the bottom of the Premiership with the top of the Championship in the play-offs; absolutely endorsing the decision the clubs made a couple of years ago to create them”
“With Hearts returning to the top tier, you’ve still got Rangers and Hibernian in the Championship and I’m sure there’ll be as much tension in the Championship this year as there was last.”
So far, so good.
But – this being Mr Doncaster – you just know there is going to be a punchline…
And here it comes…
“The league never gets to choose the clubs that appear at any level of the game. Last year was incredible to have Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers – three huge clubs – in the second tier.”
The league never gets to choose the clubs that appear at any level of the game.
Mr Doncaster’s brass neck really does have incredible blowtorch-resistant properties!
Anyone with a pulse will remember the extensive efforts that were made by the leaders of our game in the summer of 2012 to gerrymander new club Sevco into the upper divisions of the league.
Efforts which prompted a famous outburst from the late Turnbull Hutton, and which saw fans from all clubs with a history come together to demand
- sporting integrity [yes I DID just use that phrase, and am proud to do so], and
- no special favours for the Tribute Act of a ‘club’ which had stiffed an army of creditors, broken manat rules and apparently brought our game to the brink of ‘Armageddon’.
Our senior administrators most certainly did think that the league could choose which division a club could play in, and leaned on the clubs to make it happen!
Had ‘the plan’ been implemented, Sevco would have started life in the top or second tier of Scottish football with absolutely no regard for sporting competition or the impact on clubs living within their means and competing fairly.
Sevco would not have had to climb the leagues, and may well not have had the heartwarming experience of coming a-cropper in their promotion quest against Hearts and then Motherwell.
No. The kind of excitement and tension about which Mr Doncaster enthuses would have been completely thrown out of the window.
The Clumpany sometimes wonders whether Mr Doncaster thinks the fans of Scottish football have the memory of a goldfish, and the intellect of a bowl of rice pudding.
Well I’ve got news for you Mr Doncaster…
We aren’t idiots. And we have very long memories indeed.