Watching football fans watching the football
As each SPL member club in turn listens to its fans and decides to vote against allowing a ‘newco’ Rangers into the league, the fact the issue was even up for debate demonstrates all that’s wrong with football in Scotland.
The SPL have, for a long time, been accused of being a law unto themselves and have often bent rules to suit those chairmen out for short-term financial gain at the expense of long-term investment and growth.
This time, fan power was the winner, with supporters talking of boycotting if the 'new' Rangers are allowed back into the top flight without question.
But why was the issue even up for debate in the first place when in any other country or league, a club that’s gone out of business have to start at the very beginning? Only in Scotland would there be the chance of shooing the 'newco' in.
As St Johnstone and Aberdeen publicly announced they wouldn’t support a ‘newco’ in the SPL, joining Hibernian, Hearts, Inverness and Dundee United – no Celtic, you’ll note, who have been rather quiet in the whole issue – it pretty much ended the fallen giants’ hopes of a Dallas-style comeback, in which the last 18 months would be nothing but a nasty dream.
The money that Rangers bring in, from their hefty support to their status as one of the Old Firm, attracts some serious TV money. From a short-term viewpoint, you can see why clubs would be reluctant to see them go.
Far be it for me to tell anyone how to run a business, but is it not a little risky to put all your eggs in the Old Firm basket, given other clubs’ warning of possible administration for themselves?
Let’s not forget that when there was plenty of talk of Rangers and Celtic joining the English Premier League, those other clubs said little about impending financial doom, instead salivating at the thought of a more competitive SPL.
As for Rangers, it leaves them in limbo with Third Division football a real possibility as their SPL peers ram metaphorical stakes through their hearts with every statement.
It leaves new owner Charles Green with a huge problem, especially as players such as Scotland internationals Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker have left the club, not happy that their contracts were transferred over to the ‘newco’ apparently without proper consultation.
Charles Green (r) arrives on the scene
Many feel a new Rangers is not the Rangers they’ve spent their lives supporting, but would get behind a new team, such is the emotional detachment. As someone who has spent almost 35 years following the Gers, this correspondent doesn’t see it the same way.
The Rangers I supported have won 54 titles, competed in four European finals, won countless Scottish Cups and League Cups and be one of the continent’s most successful club sides in terms of silverware.
This new outfit starts with nothing. Zero titles, zero European nights, zero trophies. The only link will be the shirt colours, the fact the club plays at Ibrox and Ally McCoist, who should be manager, barring a major change of heart.
Plus there’s the intentions of Charles Green, who has inherited a mess, which is fast becoming a major nightmare. Rangers fans hoping he would be the man to lift the Ibrox club from its depression were soon warned by fans of Sheffield United, where he was reviled in the 1990s.
The worry is that Green is a wheeler-dealer trying to squirm the club into a place they’ve no place being, with big soundbites and little to show for it. Right now, as much as Ibrox fans might not like the comparison to the man who turned Celtic from near-bankrupts to financially sound champions, Rangers need a Fergus McCann. They don’t need an Arthur Daley.
But, as a fan, what astounds me more than anything is the complete lack of humility from anyone associated with the club throughout this whole episode, from Sir David Murray and Craig Whyte onwards, as they continue to pass the buck. Not one of them has actually held his hands up and accepted responsibility for the mess.
Meanwhile others are happy to play the victim card, claiming that the club are the subject of an agenda from not only the Scottish footballing authorities, but Her Majesty’s Government itself.
The bottom line is: you break the rules, you deserved to be punished. Fans happy to peddle the line that it was all that dastardly Craig Whyte’s fault, as he sits in his Highland castle laughing at the supporters he’s swindled, need to realise the current mess is not simply one man's fault.
Finger-pointing has to stop and realise the SPL (and, for all their faults, their members) are actually doing the right thing. This could be a watershed for Scottish football as a whole to get its house in order – not only for Rangers, who should be a little more humble and embarrassed.
Perversely it could be the best thing to happen to Scottish football. Others however just refuse to see the bigger picture that way.
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