This is a post I could’ve and should’ve written weeks and months ago, but I’ve left commenting on the Rangers subject until now, mainly because there’s been too many ifs, buts, and maybes during the whole saga. Understandably, there’s been an overkill of media coverage and I didn’t think I needed to add my voice to the melee especially when some of what’s been reported on a daily basis has been excellent. I’ve particularly enjoyed the objective and rational views of Channel 4’s Alex Thomson. The respected journalist and broadcaster’s comments have not only carried considerable weight but Thomson has shown some of his more football conscious contemporaries how it should be done.
The award winning Rangers Tax Case blog has not only given forthright views and explained the legal nuts and bolts in layman’s terms throughout (thanks for that) but also, at times, exposed the failings of the Scottish mainstream media. Tom Hall’s The Scottish Football Blog is another online voice that has told it like it is and continued to question the motives of those involved whilst understanding the consequences of what ‘the correct decision’ will mean for Scottish football. That’s not to say there hasn’t been some great reporting. Kenny Millar and Alan Temple have have been bang on the money with their passionate comments and Graham Spiers, who is never one to shy away from a controversial subject, has regularly let his thoughts be known, delivered in his opinionated and inimitable tone that we all know and love.
Love him or hate him, and I don’t necessarily agree with everything he’s written on the matter, but Jim Traynor has made some interesting points on the whole sorry affair. And while he unfortunately changed his stance on where the new Rangers FC should begin their rebirth (from the Third to the First Division) I’ve no doubt his u-turn is based on how he thinks Scottish football can best survive and prosper, as like those mentioned above; he genuinely cares.
Photo: Channel 4 News
But these are my thoughts.
The correct decision has been made. Rangers/Sevco/Newco/whatever they’re going to be called, starting again in SFL Division 3 is the only way forward for Scottish Football. For once in the recent history of our game a long term decision has been made that hasn’t been dictated by money, by T.V. deals, or by Chairmen who want to keep the company of an exclusive but poisonous elite. Fans have played their part, now they must really PLAY their part by realising where Scottish football is in the grand scheme of things. I’m not saying we can’t have big ambitions but we have to realise that Scottish football is in a dire state before predicting the comeback we all wish for.
Supporters must do this by going to watch their team whatever the division and understanding that there are now no Dalglish’s, Baxter’s, Johnstone’s, Waddell’s or Law’s. Yes there are times (maybe too often) when the standard on show doesn’t merit the entrance fee but there are some equally awful games in the self-styled best league in the world – the English Premier League. However, there are some exciting young players that just might get the chance to help make our football better again. There are also players trying to make a living and achieve at whatever level they possibly can and sometimes they will surprise even the most fervent pessimist. The revolution looked and sounded good on the social networking sights – is it going to continue in the stands? Lets hope so.
Clubs have listened up to a point. They couldn’t help but listen and I feel that in a lot of cases the supporters have been a get out of jail free card for some Chairmen. But now is the time for these clubs to start helping, beginning with lowering prices. They’ve ignored the fans (the customers) for too long. No doubt, they’ll make their excuses. In the past, they’ve told us reducing ticket prices doesn’t work because the gates don’t increase. They’ll also probably say that they’ve voted for what the man on the terrace has been shouting for, and that the fans now owe them something for making this ‘momentous’ decision on their behalf. They cannot use this as some sort of bargaining chip. This is the time for reconciliation from both parties and also for clubs to finally start working together – all 42 of them.
Where do the SFA, SPL, and SFL fit into the ‘Scottish football landscape’? I honestly believe that everything these organisations have done was, in their mind, an attempt to safeguard the future of our game. However, that doesn’t mean it was right and they are all guilty of going about their business with a lack of integrity and leadership, particularly the Scottish FA and the SPL. Changes have to be made so that there are rules set in place when clubs fail to play by them. It shouldn’t have taken an event of this magnitude for those in power to sit up and take notice and attempt to restructure our game. It’s been crying out for someone to take it by the scruff of the neck and out of the hands of the Chairmen who got it into the current state it is.
In fairness, I think that the excruciatingly overdue restructuring of the league was, and still is on the cards in the next couple of seasons. Whether everyone will come to a consensus is another matter. It’s a main recommendation of the McLeish report which the Scottish FA have certainly taken heed of and they have successfully pushed through some changes in the last 18 months that I think will have a positive long term affect on the development of future talent.
What is unforgivable is the attempt from our games’ leaders to bend rules to suit one club, no matter how big or important. My brother’s life changed when his contract was torn up as Airdrie went into administration and then liquidation, and I can’t remember The Scottish FA coming up with any plans to help save the Diamonds. Not only that but their attempt to railroad clubs into making the ‘correct’ decision is unacceptable. The phrase ‘sporting integrity’ has almost been worn out due to the incompetence and lack of leadership shown by our associations. I interviewed some of the main figures earlier in the year and everyone of them to a man talked about how in an ideal world, they would start with a blank piece of paper. This is as close as they’ll get.
There’s going to be a lot of collateral damage. I’ve no doubt we are going to see some clubs go into administration and I have the utmost sympathy for those who are going to lose their jobs but Scottish football has relied on the ‘Bank of the Old Firm’ for far too long. I’ve witnessed first hand clubs paying overinflated wages to average players, bank rolled on the back of future gate receipts when Rangers and Celtic come to town. All in the hope of keeping up with the Glasgow giants, but realistically to battle it out for a top six finish and another couple of pay days. Where has it gotten them in the grand scheme of things? On a positive note, we have exciting young players and some teams that want to play the game in the correct manner. Lets get behind that.
What now for Rangers? I feel for Ally McCoist. He has taken a beating. So have the fans and employees that love the club so much, and so have those businesses and honest individuals that have lost money in this fiasco because of the actions of people who were trusted with the reputation of one of Britains biggest clubs but couldn’t honour it. Before I went to Broomfield when I was 11 years old, my team was Rangers. I had the shirts, I read the books I found in my Grandpa’s loft, my Dad took me to Ibrox when he could afford it, and I can’t believe what’s happened to such a great club. It’s history has been tarnished but it can rebuild with dignity and honour, so much of which has been lost.
McCoist has conducted himself with grace and humility and while his ambitions have been stifled for now, I’ve no doubt he’ll attack the challenge he now faces with the same intensity he showed every time he pulled on a Rangers jersey. Scottish football will once again use Rangers on their journey back to the top League, however long that may take and in whatever form it will be. At least this time the benefit will be for the many and not the few that have been running our game into the ground for so long.
Feel free to get involved in the discussion by posting your thoughts below…