Media, Scottish Football

Where Should I Stick This Asterisk?

Good Evening.

Two startling publications came to the attention of The Clumpany today.

The first was this hugely entertaining statement from Sevco.

Rangers International Football Club Statement

It included the customary mention of the ‘club’ having a long history – a habit which always betrays deep insecurity about the truth of liquidation.

But it also contained something rather unexpected: magnanimity.

No really, it did!

However, this being an Ibrox-based ‘club’, the magnanimity was of a self-righteous, condescending and ultimately counter-productive kind.

Responding to reports that the SPFL board had received a factual update following last week’s Court of Session ruling on the Big Tax Case, Sevco stated:

“The first thing to be said is that Rangers has made it clear it wishes to reach out and work with all clubs to help revitalise Scottish football, which has also suffered in recent years. There is much to be done and Rangers wants to be part of the way forward.

Our game has to become more attractive to potential sponsors and partners if the finance levels required are to be generated but this can only be done if we present a coherent and united strategy.”

Ah yes, there’s that legendary interest in the wider interests of the Scottish game. From a ‘club’ which pretends to be the same one that stiffed 276 creditors, and failed to pay a huge amount of due tax while running a system of dual contracts for years on end. And which only accepts responsibility for the trophies ‘it’ ‘won’.

But still, if the new club has belatedly found an interest in collaborative working, who are we to sneer? 

The statement continues:

“Therefore, a line must be drawn now if we are all to prosper.”

“It is our irrevocable belief that this Club’s history, including its many successes, is beyond debate. Rangers cannot countenance or accept any talk, attempts or actions designed to undermine what this Club has achieved throughout its long history.”

“So, as far as this Club is concerned there is no need for further SPFL consideration of court judgements or appeals. They should be saying it is time for everyone to move on and work together for the greater good of the game. Scottish football has suffered enough.”

Oh dear!!!

It turned out that the statement was actually just a straightforward and utterly self-interested assertion that Sevco won’t give up any of Rangers’ trophies, and the SPFL should simply ‘move on’ from the Big Tax Case!

No due process, no consideration of wrongdoing, and absolutely no sanctions whatsoever. Just move on because This Is Rangers*.

Clumpaneers might have had more sympathy for the statement had it contained an ounce of humility, any sort of apology,  or even an argument justifying Sevco’s perspective. But unfortunately none of those things were to be found..

If Sevco genuinely hoped to draw a line drawn under the question of title-stripping then they couldn’t have written a statement less likely to achieve it!

The final words of the statement “Scottish football has suffered enough”, are so ironic, so lacking in self-awareness, and so arrogant that I briefly wondered if the Sevconian author had simply written them to win a bet. 

Perhaps not.

Meanwhile, on Planet Reality, Alex Thomson produced a searing explanation of why (subject to any appeal of the Big Tax Case to the Supreme Court), all the trophies won by Rangers during the EBT years must now be liable to stripping.

Rangers cheated at football: the fraudulent silverware must go

Like the recent Court of Session judgement, Thomson’s piece is ‘common sense’ stuff. And it immediately struck a chord with fans of many clubs across Scotland. But at the same time it seemed utterly remarkable.

Why? Well, because you would have to search for a very long time to find a Scotland-based journalist willing to be as unequivocal and comprehensive in discussing the sporting advantage conferred by EBTs, and the likely need for titles to be stripped.

Some, such and Jim Spence and Andrew Smith have made their critical views known, but they are pretty isolated voices. 

As I have discussed in previous blogs, some of the press pack is still casting around for reasons why EBTs didn’t give Rangers a sporting advantage. Put bluntly, they are seemingly unwilling to even countenance the possibility that an Ibrox club might have done something wrong which could result in tangible penalties. 

Liquidation could be ignored, but the removal of trophies is simply unthinkable!

In short, it has been a day for thinking about the use of asterisks. On the one hand Sevco and some of the press pack would rather an asterisk simply be placed next to Rangers’ apparent cheating. Perhaps denoting that this wasn’t proper ‘cheaty’ cheating. It was just making the most of the available cash, while all the trophies were won fairly on the field of play.

On the other hand, Alex Thomson spoke for a large number of us by saying that title stripping should be the unavoidable consequence of systematic long-term cheating. An asterisk should be put in the place where Rangers’ name once adorned the honours lists.  It would denote that the title is now void.

One way or another an asterisk is coming to Scottish football, and its placement will have a profound effect on whether we have an actual sport or a complete sham.

So where would you stick it?

Polite answers only please!



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