Two blogs ago I wondered what the sponsors and media partners of Scottish football made of the Friendly Choral Gymnastics of the near-50,000 Sevco fans packed into the Crumbledome for their recent game against Hibs.
Well, we have an answer! Of sorts. Or perhaps it is just better to call it a ‘tactful initial response’:
Fair play to @Tykebhoy for asking the question of the Scottish Cup sponsors, and to William Hill for replying. Complete silence would have been an easier option all round.
Clearly (as William Hill say) this is a matter for the relevant authorities. However, although we are told that the SPFL is still waiting for the match delegate’s report (which may or – somehow – may not mention singing about ‘Fenian Bastards’ and the joys of wading in their blood), I stand by the comment I made in the above-quoted tweet.
On the basis that there is no UEFA-style ‘strict liability’ in place in Scottish football, (where clubs are responsible for the actions of their supporters in the stadium), Mr Doncaster and co will probably wash their hands of the incident. And they will state that Sevco ‘have done all they can’ to combat discrimination. Indeed, they may point to the statement which Sevco decided to issue today, which spoke of “anti-social behaviour”, “unacceptable behaviour”, “inappropriate singing”, and “unacceptable conduct”.
Of course, should the authorities choose to applaud the statement without question, they would fail to note that Sevco did not instruct their fans on quite why their singing was wrong, and quite why they should desist from repeat performances…
If there genuinely is no mechanism by which to take action against Sevco (which would be a pitiful position), then the likes of Messers Doncaster and Regan should still come out and condemn the singing unequivocally. No ifs or buts.
They should call it out for what it is. And then announce that they are going to hold meetings with clubs to discuss changing the rules. They should show leadership and not be afraid of embarrassing anyone. They should say ‘enough is enough’ and attach their standard to the UEFA code of ‘strict liability’. Even if it means that numerous clubs are potentially liable for all kinds of fan behaviour – including the use of flares as well as sectarian/ racist/ offensive singing. And even if the sanctions are painful to administer for a couple of seasons.
The phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is particularly apposite here.
In the current situation, where the same old tired embarrassments are on display, the leaders of our game should show leadership for no other reason than that it
- is the right thing to do; and
- makes the sport an infinitely-more attractive proposition to sponsors.
There should be no fear or favour.
It tells its own story that most readers will doubtless have laughed out loud at the prospect of these things actually happening at the hands of our esteemed administrators…
But I digress…
The Clumpany wonders quite what William Hill meant when they said they expected “the relevant authorities to deal with the situation”. Do they mean that they ‘hope for a feigned-and-feeble reaction, predicated on the basis that the rules don’t actually allow televised prejudice to be punished’?
Or do William Hill SINCERELY hope that the shareholder cash they have invested in Scottish Football isn’t supporting a platform upon which intolerance and violence can be celebrated without sanction?
Quite simply, I ask ‘how far is William Hill prepared to be associated with intolerance’?
Presumably there is a point at which they would be prepared to tell the SFA that they cannot support a sport where loud intolerance is seemingly given a free ride? It would be fascinating to know what that point might be!
Perhaps William Hill will tell us, and allow their shareholders and the betting punter to quantify the borrowed time upon which the Scottish football authorities might be living?
Because money always talks. And it beggars belief that William Hill and other sponsors and investing broadcasters don’t have a limit to which their cash will tolerate intolerance.
Please ‘have a word’ with the SFA, Mr William Hill. You will be doing Scottish football a great service.