Media, Scottish Football, SFA

A Humiliating Silence 

Good Morning.

“The Offshore Game project, which was set up by the influential Tax Justice Network to look at the role of offshore finance in sports, has published a report that is highly critical of the SFA. It makes a number of allegations about the conduct of the Lord Nimmo Smith Commission which imposed a £250,000 fine over Rangers’ use of Employee Benefits Trusts in 2013. 

The report also raises questions about the circumstances in which Rangers were granted a UEFA licence in 2011 against the backdrop of tax demands from HMRC. We approached the SFA for their reaction to the report, but they declined to comment”.

The above is a simple, neutral form of words that could be used by any media outlet to report the publication of The Offshore Game’s remarkable report last week. It doesn’t go into any of the whys and wherefores of the issues raised, and would create space to obtain legal advice before publishing any further details or analysis.

Crucially, it would also mean that the publication of the report would actually be acknowledged. Which is pretty important when you consider that thousands of us have read it, and that it raises some absolutely explosive issues around the governance of our national game and its status as an actual sport! 

It would certainly be a welcome change from the current position, where an army of folk who presumably worked very hard to get their jobs in the highly competitive field of sports journalism have simply opted to ignore the report.

How hard can it be to actually report some genuine news which is a matter of great public interest? And why wouldn’t you want do so? Heaven knows the Scottish sports MSM is already held in extremely low regard by large numbers of people without them apparently wilfully treating us like idiots. 

I almost ruptured something last night when I saw these Tweets from the BBC’s Kenny Macintyre.

Given the epic sporting trivialities which fill Scotland’s airwaves on a nightly basis, I initially assumed that Kenny was at the wind-up. But I fear he wasn’t…

The silence over the Offshore Game Report from the entire Scottish MSM is utterly contemptible. Quite understandably (and not for the first time) many people are asking why they are staring at their shoes rather than doing some actual journalism. Is it down to genuine concern about legalities?  Do they sincerely believe that the story isn’t newsworthy? Or do they simply not want to ‘rock the boat’ in relation to the SFA and the late Ibrox club? 

As far as I can tell, none of those matters should be a reason to avoid reporting on an apparently remarkable story.

Shame on them for letting their readers, listeners, and viewers down. As well as their profession and themselves. Sadly however, as long as there are still awards ceremonies at the end of the year to engage in mutual back-slapping, I suspect that they can happily live with the embarrassment.

Unfortunately for our MSM, however, the issues of governance and fair play in Scottish football are not going to go away. And the longer they remain silent about them, the more their credibility, sales and website hits will go down the drain. Who knows, Scottish football journalism could end up becoming an even bigger sham than Scottish football itself? Wouldn’t that be something to be proud of?

I am now away to read about a 60ft tall squirrel which has been ‘linked’ with a summer move to Sevco.


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