Media, Scottish Football, Sevco, SFA, SPFL

Are You A Moron?

Good Afternoon.

Are you a moron?

Yes. YOU.

If you are a ‘Bampot’, ‘Clumpaneer’, or another sort of fair-minded person with critical faculties, there are some (but not all) writing and broadcasting about Scottish football who I suspect think you came down in the last shower. And I can’t help but wonder if they care whether you notice.

An excellent new Twitter account @mintys_lamb has appeared in the past few days, and it has undertaken a single straightforward task with gusto and admirable comprehensiveness.

It has identified and retweeted a large number of tweets and articles about the events of 2012. Specifically the slide into administration and liquidation of Rangers Football Club, and the fraught activity which was undertaken to admit Sevco Scotland into Scottish football via some innovative acts of governance.

The story is all there in… errr… Green and Whyte. Rangers fans, other fans, journalists, Real Rangers Men, and insolvency commentators etc all knew what was at stake. In fact they described it as it happened.

And an incorporated football club duly went into the abyss of liquidation before Mr Green et al bought the assets and applied to join the league and SFA. His new outfit were eventually admitted and started life in the bottom tier of Scottish football mainly using the players who were still left handing around Ibrox.

Finally, Rangers’ old SFA membership was transferred to them in a heartwarming bit of window dressing.

There was no relegation, no prize money or European football for Rangers’ second place finish in the 2011-12 season, and absolutely no separate holding company.

The ‘new Rangers’, as it was commonly known, started life against Brechin on 29 July 2012 in a strange twilight condition before permission to use the name ‘Rangers’ was granted to them, and under cover of a ‘Conditional Membership’ of the SFA.

The one thing that this entity simply couldn’t be was Rangers FC. Its last input into Scottish football had been to back Sevco Scotland’s doomed application to join the SPL. And then BOOM! It was gone.

Everyone knew it at the time and the evidence of that knowledge is all still out there. But since then, the truth – a very simple truth  – has (variously) been warped, rewritten, ignored, and imposed upon a footballing public who simply look on with incredulity.

I have never really understood why parts of the Scottish sports media have done this. I don’t know whether the reason is

  • fear of threats and intimidation from Sevco fans who can’t handle the truth,
  • a deluded conclusion that a feel-good Ibrox narrative is the ONLY way to make their ‘old media’ sell these days; or because
  • they don’t like what Rangers did to itself, and think they can get away with peddling an alternative narrative.

I have heard the argument from some journalists that “the SFA and SPFL treat Rangers* like the same club, so we go with that”. That might have a measure of credibility if they

  • actually got the authorities to state their position (with reasons) on the record – something which even seemed beyond the SFA’s Counsel in recent court hearings; and
  • if they didn’t persist in using the lexicon of fantasy which speaks of ‘holding companies’ and ’emerging from administration’.

A good starting point would be for someone to follow up John James’ excellent question of how the SPL/SFL/SFA actually assigned all Rangers’ trophies to Sevco Scotland. Asking precise questions about when, how and on whose authority this happened. They might then ask why the current Aidrieonians hasn’t been reassigned Aidrieonieans’ history given the great lengths that were gone to to replicate the club which everyone agrees died…

I won’t hold my breath.

The truth of the matter is that we are being taken for a ride. Everyone knows this, and yes parts of the media seem content to brazen it out. Day after day.

Occasionally some in the traditional media do react to these ‘new club’ issues being thrust in their face. Sometimes a full-on ‘wibble’ ensues (see for example the outbursts of Adrian Durham and Michael Hannan). But on other occasions, something more gentle occurs.

And so it is that in the last few days we have seen the ‘wee joke’ card being played in response to the ‘new club’ comments of Dundee’s Gary Harkins, which I discussed in this recent blog.

First of all the latest Evening Shark-Jump column from multiple Pulitzer-winner Derek Johnstone had this to say:

“THERE has been a bit of a storm over Gary Harkins’ comments about Rangers but I don’t think the Ibrox crowd will bother too much when Dundee visit in the Scottish Cup next Saturday.

When he said what he said, he was making a joke. It was stupid and he shouldn’t have said it, but I think it was a joke and he was smiling.”

DJ is entitled to his opinion, and Michael ‘Mr’ Gannon who first reported on the comments made it clear that Harkins was engaging in a bit of banter. But I don’t agree with DJ one little bit when he says that Harkins shouldn’t have made his “stupid” comment. Harkins wasn’t stupid, and he should have said it if he wanted to. Because it’s the truth. Plain and simple.

Thankfully DJ’s view was counterbalanced by other opinion pieces in the Evening Shark-Jump which went full throttle on the truth about the ‘new club’…

[*Pause for tumbleweed*]
Today’s Sunday Mail went into similar territory as DJ with this piece from Gordon Parks:

Gordon Parks: Scottish football has lost its sense of humour as players are gagged in fear of upsetting social media mobs

“During a chat with the Dundee midfielder last week he voiced his reasoning for an impromptu reopening of the debate as to whether Rangers are oldco, newco or going loco in Acapulco.

An off-the-cuff remark, only designed to raise a giggle.

My advice was this: ‘I’ve heard players accused of racism, unadulterated sexism and seen them scrape the boundaries of poor taste but there’s one big no-no. Never call Rangers a new club.’

The lunatic fringe reacted to Harkins’ words with predicable outrage on social media.

Jeebs, as he’s better known, committed the cardinal sin of forgetting that Scottish football has long since lost its sense of humour. Making a pitch to become patron saint of the “Rangers are dead brigade” amongst Celtic followers wasn’t the intention .

The last thing he would have wanted is to become the poster boy for Hoops fans who obsess with the Ibrox minutiae.

They’ll have finished painting the Forth Road Bridge well before there is any agreement reached over the irrelevant oldco, newco debate. But it also raises a bigger point over the issue of footballers using free speech to indulge in a bit of banter.

Harkins will now be put into cold storage in terms of press outings until the heat dies down – and more’s the pity.”

Oh dear! Where do you even begin with that? Perhaps by noting the glaring omission in Parks’ piece, which is the part which some in the MSM has played by simply failing to continue to tell the truth about 2012. In my opinion they have helped to make the ‘new club issue’ the ‘taboo’ it is asserted to be.

If Mr Parks thinks that I am part of a lunatic fringe for asking for the truth to be spoken without fear of favour then I plead guilty! Better that than being part of the other sort of lunatic fringe that threatens journalists and wants them sacked simply for pointing out that a football club was liquidated.

A quick look at my timeline confirms that Mr Parks’ assertions about Celtic followers forming the “Rangers are dead brigade” is as incorrect as it is cheap. This issue (which most certainly ISN’T irrelevant) goes to the heart of the way the entire sport is run in Scotland. And guess what Sunday Mail?! There are more than two ‘clubs’ in that sport! Fans of Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs , United etc share the sorts of concerns which are expressed in this blog.

And look! There’s that word ‘obsess’! Possibly the laziest of all ‘insults’ that can be directed towards those who remain deeply suspicious of the attempted recreation of an entity which engaged in financial doping and rule-breaking for years.

Mr Parks’ piece makes a very valid point about football – and footballers – not having a great sense of humour these days. We need more personalities to enliven things. And I certainly agree with his point that “Sports writers are no different when it comes to telling it like it is. Some do, others shirk the big talking points and some prefer to adopt a sycophantic approach.”

However, I find the content of the piece to be laughable in its breezy dismissal of so important an issue as Rangers’ demise and the untruths surrounding it which now masquerade as ‘facts’.

Whatever media commentators may think, that is most certainly no laughing matter.