…A NewCo Hope?

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.

Photo: The Guardian

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…

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29 comments
  1. Graeme McLaren said:

    Impressive stuff Craig, bang on the money.

  2. Shona McKinnon Whitelaw said:

    Great writing Craig. Im not sure McCoist has been particularly graceful though. Although quiet of late I feel some of his comments have been deliberately inflammatory. How he spoke out about the guys that exercised their right to leave under TUPE rules was downright disgraceful, especially as they had just spent a period of time with a large pay cut in the hope of saving their club. I believe the outcome is correct. It is now time to get on with the football. I dont go often for personal reasons but I shall be renewing my girl’s Young Membership and buying new tops for us both as a small measure of my support.

    • Shona McKinnon Whitelaw said:

      Young Arabs membership*
      Lets not forget McCoist demanding names of those imposing embargo in an “off with their heads” fashion, Traynor has been a joke in the radio shows I have listened to and Gordon Smith and Archie McPherson were like an Ibrox PR machine on television a few days ago. Burley’s column where he referred to the boards of lower league teams as “imbeciles” and “knuckle draggers” was some of the worst writing I have ever read.
      Doncaster and Regan need to go.

    • Thanks for commenting Shona. I think you’re right about some of McCoist’s comments. However, I think he knows more about the players’ individual positions than has been reported which is the way it should be and he’s probably felt let down in some cases so I can understand him venting on that one.

      Good to hear you supporting the club at this tough time, I wish you all the best.

      • Shona Whitelaw said:

        I think they were right to try and protect their income/careers whatever they want to call it. That is why TUPE rules exist. They were being asked to move to something completely unknown. I have absolutely no time for Rangers but to come out and berate them knowing the idiot support would also get on their case was ridiculous. Would you sign a contract into the unknown? I wouldn’t. At least when I was subject to TUPE last year I knew I would be doing same job with same partner agencies and it wasn’t a case of having no idea where I would be doing my job. They had to go when they did. I think they can equally feel let down by the club.

  3. Agree absolutely that clubs relying on 3 or 4 visits from the old firm cannot be sustained. The SPL has to cut costs. The irony is that, with the possible consequences financially of top tier clubs, the league itself will become more competitive from 2nd place downwards even whilst going through this. Youth will be given a chance of expensive signings too. It could turn out to be the best thing that’s happened to Scottish football in decades

    • Thanks for commenting Gerry. I think most clubs started cutting costs a few years ago and some will be in a better position to survive than others. I just hope that doesn’t foster a more divisive attitude because exactly the opposite is needed. I think the league will become tighter and I would go as far as to suggest a salary cap in future.

  4. Derek Bell said:

    I think you are being extremely generrous towards Traynor. His opinion pieces have been shocking in the build up to the SFL meeting, he has been very much part of the bullying of the SFL along with Doncaster and Regan.The West Coast media have been appalling all the way through this sorry saga.With supposed exclusive after exclusive and a failure to investigate Whyte from the beginning. The BBC are far from exempt in this criticism – they couldn’t even get their facts right on where Sevco will play their first game.If I hear Gordon Smith being treated once more as a credible commentator on events I’ll scream, meanwhile the written press rely on so-called experts like Mark Hateley,Criag Burley and Murdo McLeod. If anything it has shown how out of touch the written press are in comparison to the blogs – which are better written, better researched and place honesty before pandering to their readership and old mates to maintain all their contacts.

    As for McCoist I his dignity went out the window when he demanded to know thenames of the panel who passed the transfer embargo. Feeding into the belief that they had been punished enough when in fact they have yet to be punished.

    • Thanks for commenting Derek. Like I said, I don’t agree with everything Traynor has written. I also haven’t seen everything he’s written in the last couple of weeks as I’ve been back down South. However, I interviewed him back in February for my final project for my journalism degree and he had a lot of good points to make regarding the future of our game. I’m surprised he changed his mind on Rangers starting in Div 3 because when I spoke to him he felt that was the only way forward. I also included him in the piece to show that even those who we don’t agree with can have valid points and an opinion on such an important matter.

      Fair point on McCoist, I had forgotten all about that. In his defence, he’s probably felt helpless and that everyone’s been against him, but no excuse for that.

  5. Matthew Topp said:

    Hello Craig,

    As a Torquay fan I have recently started to follow you so it was a pleasant surprise to see you also write a blog, I will now keep an eye on this with great interest especially if u plan to blog about how you are finding life at TUFC and your opinion of how the season is going.

    Re the article I understand completely with what you have posted and I think in any other league around the world people would applaud the decision that has been made. The worry for the SPL and the Scottish football throughout is that Rangers and Celtic are so important in making the Scottish leagues tick, with the threat of TV money now being lost with rangers banished to the fourth tier my concern would be the long term future for Scottish football. I hope the SFA can see past the importance of rangers and Celtic and that this is the fresh start Scottish football needs. I have a close friend who is a big rangers fan so I hope for him that this isn’t the end but merely the beginning.

    All the best for this season to you and the boys. COME ON YOU YELLOWS!!

    Matt.

    • Thanks for following and commenting Matthew. Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply, it’s been a bit hectic the last little while.

      I like your positivity and I too hope it’s a fresh start for Scottish football like you said. I think there could be some real positives that emerge once things get cleared up but it’s been so disappointing the way the whole things been handled.

      Same for Rangers. Imagine the story, if they can get back to the top of Scottish football after all this. I wouldn’t bet against it. I’m sure the majority of Rangers fans will be there to support the club and it could end up being an amazing journey of redemption.

  6. As an Airdrie fan since April 1969, and the author of a history of Airdrieonians, I have felt very strongly from the confirmation of liquidation of Rangers about what should happen. This is the right decision. However, might there be a chance that the new Rangers (who should be stripped of the no longer in existence old club’s history) emulate Airdrie Utd’s Plan B, when their bid to join the SFL was rejected in favour of Gretna (RIP)? Airdrie bought Clydebank, moved that club to New Broomfield, and changed the name. I don’t see there being anything to stop that happening as a way of taking a short cut through the leagues. The current President of the SFL could hardly object, could he?

    • Thanks for commenting, sorry I’ve taken so long to reply. Between being at a Royal Marine training camp, pre-season and sketchy internet, I’ve also been a bit lazy.

      That’s a great point Brian, and one not many people have brought up. I also think there’s too many people involved that have a conflict of interest. I might be wrong, but does the current chairman of the SFL also hold shares in Rangers along with other prominent people in the game?

  7. connie said:

    Great read Craig, I totally agree with you it is a joke how everything has been handled and I don’t know why everyone is saying that rangers/sevco/newco whatever need to accept the punishment its a new company they have to apply to join the sfa its a joke on how this has been handled!! If this was any other team like Dunfermline, Rovers etc we would have all been left to join the football club grave yard like gretna, Airdieonians etc!! Then you have people saying its a waste of time voting as rangers will be reinstated to SPL or div 1! We have about 3 wks until season starts and you have Dundee and Dunfermline uncertain as to where they are gonna be playing nxt season its a bloody joke!!!!

    • Thanks for your comment Connie. Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply, it’s been a bit hectic the last couple of weeks. I’m glad you liked the piece, you make very good comments. At least we now know where Dundee and Dunfermline will be playing their football but the fact this is still rumbling on is amazing. No wonder people give Scottish football a bad name. It’s a shame because we have some really good players and some great clubs but our leadership has let us down for years and I’m talking about those in charge of clubs not just our governing bodies. Saying that, I think some chairmen are starting to see the bigger picture. Lets hope so.

  8. Mal Kane said:

    Excellent Craig, a very interesting read.

    As an O’s fan wish you every success at Torquay with Lingy,still fondly remembered at Brisbane Road.

    • Thanks for your comment Mal, sorry for taking so long to reply – pre-season et al! Looking forward to a new adventure with Lingy. If it’s anywhere near as exciting as my time at Orient then I’ll be a happy man!

  9. David Cameron said:

    Well written Craig. My only concern is that we don’t actually know the identity of the newco shareholders. When that is clear and the shareholders are satisfactory it would make a difference to many and we could move on.

    • Thanks for your comment David, sorry I’ve taken so long to reply. I agree, things were a bit sketchy when you posted this but I think that Charles Green has good intentions to take the club forward in a positive manner. Lets hope so.

  10. Allan said:

    re: bend rules to suit one club

    Craig

    Thanks for a good article.

    I think we all know that the attempted rule bending was not to suit one club but the remaining 11 SPL teams as they scramble to keep sponsor and TV money coming into the game. I am not going to quote Bill Clinton but I am sure you get the picture.

    Charles Green is a businessman with financial backers to satisfy and, no doubt, will attempt to find the quickest route to profit. Hence his efforts to gain access to the SPL and SFL1. Rangers fans, for reasons of “sporting integrity” or spite, want Division 3.

    Rangers situation was due to corporate mismanagement. This should be the responsibility of the charirmen and directors throughout the years. The club will be punished for this as only the corporate structure has changed. I am sure that the investigation into Rangers corporate failure will run for some time and provide more headlines eventually.

    The parlous state of a number of the other SPL clubs is down to their own charirmen and directors and not Rangers. Whilst the fall of RFC will contribute to reduced TV/sponsorship income, they are not responsible for the failed business plans of these other clubs.

    Here’s hoping that what survives of Scottish Football in the coming years develops their youth systems and players instead of wasting money on itinerant journeyman players who offer no lasting benefit to the Scottish game.

    • Thanks for commenting Allan. Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply, pre-season, no internet and all that.

      I think you sum it all up there, and for me a major point from your comment is the mismanagement of Rangers by their former chairman and directors. It’s these people that must be held accountable but how many times do we see those in charge play with peoples livelihoods and walk away to start on another project, go on to better jobs or just disappear. I’m talking Airdrie, Livingston etc. It shouldn’t happen to any club but I still can’t believe it was going at Rangers.

  11. Excellent blog post. Rangers being held up because the SPL have dug their own financial grave. This is the time for Scottish Football to start again. Like you said, when the Diamonds went bust , the SFA couldn’t give two craps. Division 3 and hell mend them

    • Thanks for your comment. Sorry, I’ve taken so long to reply. I agree with you but the worst thing for me is that our governing bodies have embarrassed us once again for being totally inadequate in the way they have dealt with the whole situation

      • Totally, we as a footballing nation are seen as a laughing stock for the way things are up here and this made it no different. Now that the season is beginning, it is nice to see that all the scaremongering that was taking place has not come true and the game is still alive!

        SFA needs restructuring from top to bottom. Get all the corrupt and incompetent out and get some “footballing” people in there to restructure our game.

        I have said for a few years now that the way it should be is a 16 team SPL, 14 team Div 1 and 12 team Div 2. Relegation from Div 2 via a pyramid system with juniors etc if they wanted it. 2 up from div 1, 2 down from SPL. playoff between 14th in SPL and 3rd in div 1.

        Actually make a “League cup” format where we out them in world cup style groups before the knockout stage. Start the challenge cup later on in the season so that the teams who are not going to be mounting a challenge for promotion can give there supporters something to look forward too rather than their season being over when they exit the Scottish Cup.

        It’s all pie in the sky but personally, I think that an SPL with 16 teams that has derbies in dundee, glasgow, the highlands and edinburgh is definitely marketable.

  12. Blakey said:

    Well said Craig, perhaps some Leyton orient supporters should take note before baiting sir Barry Hearn for not spending his hard earnt,…..kassam 2006

    • Sorry, I’ve taken a while to reply, thanks for your comment. There’s a line between what constitutes ‘having a go’ and putting your club into jeopardy to achieve success. Barry’s always lived within his means, he knows the fan base is limited and the gates Orient get aren’t much different between League 1 and 2. And while some may say he doesn’t push the boat out, I’m sure those same fans would have plenty to say if they never had a club to support due to overspending.

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