Richard ‘Nine-In-A-Row Legend’ Gough came back into our lives last night.
You will remember that Gough is the ex-Rangers (IL) captain who famously and accurately said in 2012:
“The club I gave blood, sweat and tears for is dead.”
He also heroically performed the role of frontman for Dave King’s ill-fated but disruptive season ticket trust fund which sought to withhold money from the ‘club’ unless security was offered over certain assets [yes it still sounds crazy doesn’t it?].
Since King and co ‘swept’ to power in March, Gough has been on hand to offer some hilarious supportive comments about how brilliantly the new regime and The Warbmeister have been doing:
He has even been appointed as Intergalactic Ambassador for the ‘club’.
And now he is back again, this time in a column for a News International title, which I won’t name or link to.
Gough: When will the Rangers witch hunt end?
In this piece (which you can look up if you feel the need) Gough gives the distinct impression that the sense of entitlement around Ibrox clubs extends to
- entitlement to wallow in self-pity; and
- entitlement to sympathy.
Gough remarks on the hurt of Wim Jansen’s Celtic side stopping 10-in-a-row in 1998, and says that even if Henrik Larsson et al had all had EBTs it wouldn’t matter. Because the title was won fairly and squarely on the pitch.
Well, first of all, Richard they DIDN’T have EBTs. Celtic went about their business respecting the concept of a level playing field. So please don’t try to drag them into dead Rangers’ mire!
Secondly, as I have said elsewhere, the idea of unpaid tax on EBTs being compatible with ‘winning fairly and squarely on then pitch’ is utter nonsense! Many Rangers players wouldn’t have been on the pitch at all without receiving an EBT. What’s more, the way the scheme operated also raises big questions about the validity of their registration and their eligibility to play.
Gough also points to the recent comments of Martin O’Neill and others whose remarks have been taken to suggest that they have no appetite to see titles stripped. He says
“Surely that speaks volumes. Are all the Celtic fans going to turn on them for holding that view? Do they just ignore O’Neill — one of their greatest managers — and dismiss what he says?”.
It isn’t a question of ‘turning’ on anyone Richard. It’s about whether fans and other clubs spent money on a rigged game for ten years, and about whether consequences should follow.
That may mean disagreeing with O’Neill and others. But so what? Most of us aren’t in the business of showing deference to someone just because of who they are.
And now Gough cranks up the emotion:
“What’s to be gained from dredging all this up again? Why are people so hell-bent on attacking Rangers?
I’ve been involved with Scottish football since the early 1980s and never seen hatred like this before. Are supporters of other clubs not content with the punishment Rangers have already had Last time I looked, my old club had been out of the top flight for almost four years. They haven’t competed in Europe since 2012.
There has been an administration and liquidation of the oldco, with a squad full of international players walking away for nothing. There have been fines, a transfer embargo and all manner of on-field humiliations.
Rangers are now on their fourth manager in that period and still have a long way to go before challenging Celtic again.
Off the field, the heart and soul has been ripped out of the club as spivs lined up to take advantage. Oh, and an impending court case might end up proving that the club was the victim of a major fraud during a takeover.
That’s quite a list of punishments. The club has been dragged through the gutter over the last few years. But still fans of other clubs aren’t happy. Still they want to point to a tax scheme that gave fortunes to the likes of Tero Penttila and demand titles are stripped.
Really? Do they hate Rangers that much? Will they ever tire of trying to harm the club?”
Woe is Gough!
With the exception of the still-unpaid £250k LNS fine, and the transfer embargo (which was only ultimately ‘imposed’ by agreement as a condition of the new club being fast-tracked into senior football in 2012), none of the things Gough lists are punishments. They are consequences of Rangers’ financial collapse.
And yes, we DO want to point to the tax scheme and its implications, thank you very much, Richard. It’s a perfectly reasonable and indeed understandable thing to do! It might lead to apparent wrongs being righted, and might allow us all to move on confident that Scottish football can be a fair sport.
Gough tries the old tactic of suggesting that the ‘club’ may have been “the victim of a major fraud”. This is of course a spectacularly flawed point of view which would have us believe that a football club exists ethereally independent of the actions of its officers, staff and players, and entirely separate from all of its financial and commercial activities. In short, that a football club can do no wrong.
And in playing the ‘hatred’ card, Gough seems to employ one of the laziest and most misguided tactics in the book: “They’ve got it in for us because they hate us.”
It is a tactic which seeks to render all counter-argument invalid on the basis that the person deploying it is bitter, nasty and not right in the head.
And it is – of course – utter nonsense. Strip away how anyone might feel about the swaggering triumphalism of the Murray years, and the sneering posturing of those who seem to think Ibrox clubs live in a permanent state of siege, and you are left with two elementary but profound questions which require an answer.
Did Rangers (IL) cheat?
If so, what sanction is appropriate?
There is no avoiding these questions, Mr Gough. They simply aren’t going away.
Now, dry your eyes.