A New Day

By Mike Small

It’s worth getting a few things straight before kick-off. This isn’t about relegating Rangers FC. Rangers don’t exist anymore. This isn’t about Craig Whyte. Craig Whyte’s not around anymore. It’s about a culture of failure, a total lack of transparency and connivance from the very top of the SPL and the SFA in a rigged cartel that has brought Scottish football to total crisis. The good news is that the inept coterie at the top of the game has been bypassed by ordinary fans and smaller clubs. This is what democracy looks like.

Just when you thought the corporate takeover of society was just about complete, an event takes place, or a movement pops up to renew your faith and make you realise that big change is not just possible, it’s inevitable because right across society the elite that runs our world is being daily exposed as a corrupt and incompetent failure.

SEVCO5088Ltd being forced to start their existence in Scotland’s lowest league is one of these events, and the sweeping grassroots network that made this happen is one of these movements. Only a few months ago this was completely unthinkable, and only a few days ago it seemed like the efforts of the now utterly discredited Neil Doncaster to parachute this new entity into Division 1 would succeed. Sporting integrity, or integrity of any kind, would it seemed be crushed under the weight of corporate expectation, a conflation of embedded sports and business journalists and the staggering sense of self-entitlement of Rangers and their allies in the governing bodies.

Instead, incredibly, we’ve just seen the transformation of Scottish football, realised almost entirely through twitter and key web sites that have proliferated as the story has dominated every media outlet for over a year: the award-winning Rangers Tax Case, fans site Pie and Bovril, rebel journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, Wings Over Scotland, Scotzine [http://www.scotzine.com/] and Paul McConville, to name a few. These sites give us hope that what may follow is not just a renaissance in Scottish football but in Scottish media. A core part of this saga has been the failure of the sports and business media with allegations of laziness, partiality and just a complete lack of any critical faculties.

Whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of Rangers, the fact is that SPL chairmen would have quite happily connived to drop the Newco into the top flight. Without a networked resistance of ordinary fans unconvinced by the governing bodies (or the mainstream media’s) account of things the money men’s perpetual short-termism would have prevailed. Faced with unsubstantiated apocalyptic scenarios, ordinary fans put huge pressure on their own clubs in advance of the vote at Hampden this week, withholding their season tickets.

An absolutely pivotal institution of establishment conservative Scotland has been brought to account by united action across Scotland. This is a sizeable result by any standards, and one achieved by a network without any single identifiable leadership. If lessons are learnt from these networked movements it is that the strength comes from the network itself. Resilience comes from the model of many speaking to many, not the model of one to many. Leadership looks different these days.

You could argue that while the fans’ movement is great for tearing things down it’s not so good at rebuilding and re-creating. But online network action doesn’t have to be negative. Think of CarrotMob or MoveYour Money. Time will tell but there’s a (completely unreported, unacknowledged) unity and respect amongst Scottish football fans, across divisions and from east to west.

The collapse of Rangers and the shock it’s put through the entire Scottish game has wider consequences. The allegations of widespread tax evasion and the brutal gangster behaviour of football executives has exposed an entire class of feral businessmen. Will the tribal nature of the football world blind supporters to these people and their practices at the same time as Bob Diamond and his ilk are also brought into the light? That seems unlikely.

But this is about more than exposing bad business. The model of endless growth has been challenged. The consequences of consigning Sevco Scotland to start where any new club would start may well mean drastic cuts in Scottish football. Some clubs may have to close or downsize to an appropriate level. This is no bad thing. We know we have too many clubs in this country. Endlessly chasing an utterly unsustainable model is a failed economics. It doesn’t work. The club chairman and journos still bleating about the SPL and SKY are just clinging to the wreckage.

The deeper lesson from Rangers collapse is that, if they represented the very worst practices – they were surely not alone in living desperately beyond their means. This is the drive behind our current economic model we all signed up to: grow or die. It’s been rejected.

But this has been a profound failure of governance, not just amongst the series of dodgy geezers who lined up to fleece Rangers fans for decades, but the entire edifice of Scottish football, especially the leadership of Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster. The reality is that the SPL, founded in 1998 has failed by any metric you can choose: attendances, club success in Europe, entertainment value, national team success. Incredibly, Since the SPL began, five of its member clubs have entered administration. The newly leaked email from the SFA’s Stewart Regan (see here) marks him out as a clueless fixer, who’s failed at every effort to collude with Rangers. BBC Scotland reported yesterday that a vote of no confidence in Regan was proposed and seconded at last Fridays SFL meeting. Given this vulnerability it seems extremely unlikley that there will be energy or goodwill for whatever dark arts are proposed when the SPL meet tomorrow.

But something amazing’s happened. Just when you thought you were entrenched in the clutches of narrow-minded directorheads and functionaries a whole world of possibility has opened up. By having the courage to break from the old failed model, the SFL clubs have done the whole of Scottish football a huge favour. There won’t be any ‘social unrest’, there will be renewed enthusiasm. But there’s still a problem. There’s still a lack of real accountability for this year long farce. As Rangers Tax Case has written: “They still dish out fatuous lies and peddle disinformation as if Sir David Murray was still in his heyday. The hysterical exaggerations and tales of impending financial doom should be transparent to the businessmen who fill most of the Chairman roles at Scottish football clubs. Anyone with even a few minutes of business experience will see through the lies of the Scottish football establishment.” True, and they did. But Regan and Doncaster must go immediately. They presided over this shambles.

More people in Scotland per head of population watch their domestic top-level league than any other European nation. Let’s rebuild, let’s transform Scottish football. Let’s learn the wider lessons not just about the failed corporate economies but the lively powerful networks that can offer a real alternative.

 

Next week Bella will be hosting a forum of ideas for how to support and innovate to develop the Scottish game. This is a new day. A shorter version of this article appeared on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website here.



Categories: Football, Identity, New Scotland

Tags: , ,

28 replies

  1. Brilliant article – and we need this kind of positive thinking and action to make sure that Scottish Football thrives and survives.
    I run the Spalding Celtic Supporters club, we were listening to the messages of Armageddon and implosion put about by the main stream media.
    That there was any question that integrity may be defeated by commercial interests shows what a sad state Scottish Fitba has got into.
    As part of the biggest club, family, community we have a responsibility for the rest of the SFL.

    Brother Walfrid founded our club to raise funds for the poor in the east end who were being ignored and left to struggle on their own…we have the same scenario today.

    SPL clubs have left the SFL teams to starve and beg for titbits fae the big table. We relied on these same clubs to put integrity above money, they did not let us down (well 5 did…).

    We as supporters need to consider how we can help the lower league SFL clubs, financially, as a way of reflecting the values and traditions we stand for. Today we need to reach out across the Fitba community.

    Our CSC decided to take some direct action and put a financial interest in Clyde, a fans owned club, who have been at the forefront of the debate. We purchased an owning share in the club for 2012/13 (which was cheaper than buying a new tic home top), and will do so again for the next few years
    We will also attend some Clyde games.

    This would have been unthinkable – and we would probably have been laughed all the way down London Road – prior to the Rangers situation.

    My plea would be to fans of fitba – it’s easy to tweet, it’s easy to e-mail…only by coming out buying season tickets, adopting a lower league club and taking the direct action will we ultimately win.

    The Scottish fitba spring has arrived – no time to march on Tahrir Square and do your bit to make this sport better and prove that we are not just keyboard warriors.

    • I agree that the other club in Glasgow – Queen’s Park – will probably benefit from this new Rangers being in Div III. Other than that, Rangers still ‘exist’ in the sense that the Mini is still a ‘British’ car.

      • Oh dear, humour is alive and well in Scotland I see, no wonder Frankie Boyle has a career

      • Isn’t Partick Thistle the other club in Glasgow? They’ll certainly be in a higher division than the Gers anyway…

        Gloating aside, people are ranting and raving about this, without taking note of the obvious point. It was run by corrupt businessmen. Even some of the new people bidding for the club were not exactly the kind of folk I’d have round to my granny’s tea party.

  2. It would have helped if you had managed to at least not forget to use facts from the opening line! Its really quite tragic, although unsurprising I suppose Roy.

    “Rangers don’t exist anymore” – yes it does, quite simply, even though you clearly wish it didnt

    “SEVCO5088Ltd” – has nothing to do with anything, if you had checked, the holding company of Rangers FC is currently….. Sevco Scotland Ltd, until 31/07/2012 when the name officially reverts to it.

    In your quite appropriate comments on Regan, why did you not bring into things Mr Lawwell? Who, apart from being close friends with him, is also on the board of the SFA you are slating here?

    This part “a total lack of transparency and connivance from the very top of the SPL and the SFA in a rigged cartel that has brought Scottish football to total crisis” I agree with, although, this “rigged cartel” you speak of doesnt relate to Rangers does it? But moreso to another club residing in Glasgow, who are the main beneficiaries of this situation, as it allows them to try and “close the gap” in titles on their more successful neighbours, at the same time hoping the European TV money allows them to reduce the not insignificant amount of debt they currently have.

    All in all, this piece could have been so much more, hard hitting and accurate, but it appears your preferences have allowed it to become just another shoddy, ill conceived article

    • Rangers or not Rangers? I’d say no. Of course, I am a Celtic fan so you’ll say I am biased, which I probably am. Why not look up the company numbers? According to Companies House, Sevco Scotland Ltd is SC425159, Glasgow Rangers FC PLC is SC004276. Different company number ergo different company. If you want to see that as a continuation, cool by me, but it IS a different company.

      Perhaps you can enlighten us as to what Peter Lawell has to do with anything, other than as the representative of a justifiably interested other party. What exactly are you suggesting by him being “close friends” with Stewart Regan. While you’re there you can also let us know what Celtic’s “not inconsiderable” debts are, and their ability to repay them.

      As to Celtic being the “main beneficiaries of this situation”, if you don’t like this, with respect, too bad. Rangers should’ve paid their taxes and not allowed this situation to happen. Celtic have been paying taxes and did not engineer the Rangers situation in order to benefit from Rangers’ collapse.

      You may have valid criticisms of this article but surely not for the reasons you state?

      • I have no issue with who you support when you reply as you did, of course you are biased, as am I, and everyone else. In addition, I wont disagree about the company numbers, as, to do so would be silly. You do have to remember that the company number, and, “company” is actually irrelevant. All clubs are “company” t/a “football club. So, the company is interchangeable, the club isnt. Much like Celtic dont trade using the Athletic club, but, the PLC. Albeit for different reasons.

        With the best will in the world, an interested party, should not be so heavily involved in a process for punishing their main, and some may say only, rivals. Regardless of who is involved, team wise, and person wise, that should be the case. It removes all notions of parity and neutrality, does it not? You are aware they have been “close” for many many years? Its common knowledge.

        Celtic have a debt of roughly £30m at present. I didnt say it wasnt technically servicable. They also “trade” via 3 separate companies, which, is interesting to say the least.

        Whether I “like” it or not doesnt change the fact that they are, and, in that sense, they should not be in a position to hold sway over punishments or outcomes. I would also say the same if it were the opposite way round. It creates the possibility of unfairness, or, perhaps a lack of “sporting integrity” to use a popular phrase. This shouldnt be hard to see, and, it apportions no blame, or accusations. I also didnt say they engineered Rangers collapse, however, its folly to suggest that Lawwell, your lawyers, and Regan are not hindering the recovery process, intentionally or not, and they shouldnt be in a position for it to be able to be suggested in the first place!

        I believe Rangers did not pay tax under Whyte, thats a given, however, you (perhaps based on the misinformation in the press) are implying its been ongoing for years. Not the case. Or at least, not in an illegal manner, as, nobody knows yet. Maybe so, more likely not. Have the SPL started to look into Juninhos EBT while he was with you? Or, Keanes privately finded contract? The former should be a concern, if the SPL finds Rangers in the wrong re contracts, then, it looks like you guys are next.

      • So if Sevco Scotland wished to trade as, say Third Lanark, that would mean they would inherit all of their past honours?

        I am not aware of Lawell’s friendship with Regan. Not saying it doesn’t exist, just not aware. I am still unaware of what, if anything, Lawwell has done in regards to the Rangers situation.

        I am unaware of the debt figure you quote nor of the fact that Celtic apparently trade under three companies. Definitely is interesting, I agree.

        You’re right Lawwell should have no part to play in any punishments meted out to Rangers, at least not any more than any other SPL club. Again, I do not know what part he has had to play in anything regarding the Rangers situation.

        I said that Rangers hadn’t been paying their taxes. I was referring to Whyte’s non payment of season 2011-12, not anything else. Although I do believe that Rangers were served with a £24 million bill in regards to the use of EBTs. The £24M figure excludes the interest and penalties, popularly referred to as the big tax bill (amounting to £49M or whatever figure it is now). Rangers have disputed that bill but I do believe it was served.

        I also believe Juninho was indeed paid by an EBT but the dubious legality of it was recognised by Celtic and any unpaid taxes, NI etc was paid in full. Not aware of Keane’s privately funded wages.

  3. I just wrote an AMAZING comment, mostly highlighting how silly JJ’s comment above is with it’s paranoid “Celtic conspiracy” rubbish and how Scottish football is not just about Rangers and Celtic, but unfortunately it seems clicking both of my mouse buttons at the same time makes the browser do funny things. Oh well.

    Great article though Mike. I remain hopeful that, come the referendum in 2014, people will remember the scare stories about financial armageddon and impending doom that were perpetuated across the media and from the establishment over the Rangers scenario, recognise the similarities in the coverage of independence, and come to the conclusion that they are similarly utterly, utterly baseless.

    I also wonder if there is a direct correlation between Clyde being perhaps the most vocal critic of the attempts to bully the SFL clubs, and the fact they’re fan-owned. I think it’s a model more clubs should adopt, and perhaps more will do so over the next few seasons.

  4. JJ have you been sniffing glue? Trying to blame Celtic for the mess that other club in Glasgow are in! This has been brought about by David Murray and David Murray alone.

  5. @Doug, its silly? I was commenting on the writers own conspiracy theory (“rigged cartel”), although, its a common one permeating the Scottish media, in that, all the moves were happening to benefit Rangers, which, is in fact genuinely stupid, not silly, to suggest. It was also not the main point of my comment. The problem is, how can it be a “fantastic article”, when much of it is based in fantasy? Or is it a story? As a comment on current events/affairs its not very good, the opening line was a lie. Not a good start and tainted the rest of it for me.

    Scottish football, sadly, IS more or less all about the 2 clubs. They generate almost all of the revenue, and, all of the interest. Many many other games are normally far far better, but, nobody cares out with their own support. That has more to do with shocking marketing and promotion of the league, along with the ridiculous league format we have up there. (And now they want to copy the even more bizarre Belgian league set-up?

    I think there have been many SFL clubs who have been very vocal about things, Clyde were the ones who were critical of allowing Rangers to continue on, which may be why they are popular here, but, overall, I think you have to say the SFL and the SFL clubs have shown the SPL teams/organisation exactly how to conduct yourself, and, the true meaning of the now cringeworthy “sporting integrity”. They behaved properly, yet are being vilified by these SPL chairmen and fans who voted the same way. SPL doesnt do irony does it? It does double standards incredibly well.

    On 2014, good luck, I really dont think it will happen, and, I do think its a less than good idea, but, I am sure we will see.

  6. think u will find that sevco5088ltd has alot 2 do with it as they own sevco scotland and once again old co/newco fans try bring in lawwell. fact is thier are alot of chairmen on that board and we dont have to name them all because if we did we would be namin half old co shareholders take ur head out sand and c the article 4 wot it is a true reflection on the people charged with runnin our game.

  7. @barry – No, why would I sniff glue? You seem to have missed the point I was making, but never mind. I do agree about Murray when it comes to Rangers problems, yes. However, much like he shouldn’t have budgeted for Champions League money to break even, the rest of the SPL shouldn’t have budgeted on the teams in the league 😉

    @Smoo – you would be better served on the Scotsman or Record comments section, up until you arrived, I was rather impressed with the quality of comments here, even if I dont fully agree with them. However, since you are deluded, let me help. Sevco Scotland Ltd, are not owned by Sevco 5088 Ltd, separate companys, no group structure. I love how you are so bitter that you cant say Rangers, why not? Dont you understand the difference between FC and PLC? I can say Celtic, see? with a capital C no less! I could go down the Pacific Shelf 1994 route, but there is no need, all you do by continuing the “newco” nonsense, is prove that you are a bit silly, and, compounds one of my criticisms of the article, its simply a lie to say Rangers dont exist. How will you distinguish between Livingston and Rangers? Or Leeds? or Middlesborough? or Fiorentina? Afraid there are far too many precedents in football to show that its just stupidity I am afraid. Its a bad sign when even Traynor says this!

    There is the same PERCEIVABLE conflict of interest in the SFA, as there was when Gordon Smith was there. Old friends from their brewing days? Fact. Who headhunted Regan? (google if you dont know), Lawwell gets onto the board after many legal wrangles with the SFA? Using Celtics lawyers to investigate their biggest rivals?

    One thing you failed to check, or think about, is, who do I support? I never once made mention of being a Rangers fan, and, quite clearly from my initial comment I dont live in Scotland. But never mind eh? Dont let that stop you jumping in there.

    • JJ am no bitter m8 just statin a fact thier is no rangers there adminastrators & soon 2 b liquidators. just because ur no fae glasgow doesnt mean u cant b a old co supporter. read wot ur writin in fact r u really mark hately? Lawwel got regan the job & old co n rest of spl & sfl & sfa went way him clutchin @ straws. and am pretty positive green has stated that sevco5088 was the origanal name they wanted 2 go with but 4 wotever reasonthey went way sevco scotland. But then again he is a guy who thinks slavery is still legal also read bdo website about basic insolvency old co cant call thier new self anythin thats similar 2 old co ie anythin way rangers innit. Way the comments ur makin u could b editor 4 the daily old co or get the presenters job on superscaredboard. 1last point hotshot do u think its rite 4 an sfl chairman & sfl manager bn @ an spl AGM? Both have nothin 2do with old co

      • Except, with respect, you are wrong, everyone knows this, Rangers are Rangers, its been repeated everywhere, and, its a simple fact that only a certain element in Glasgow refuse to acknowledge, water off a ducks back really though. Hately?? Oh, cheers for that! I had been polite up to there. I didnt say I wasnt from Glasgow, and, I didnt say I wasnt a Rangers fan, I simply said you assumed I was 😉

        Both separate companies, Sevco Scotland set up so Rangers retained a scottish company reg number, simple as that. Also, “sevco” is a temp name given by certain organisations when a company is formed.

        You really are ranting in tangents here. Slavery? I dont need to read the bdo website, I know about insolvency. They can, if given permission, which has been given, and, why this is being carried out 31/07/2012, when there will be no more sevco. In addition, the company name makes zero difference to the trading name. It could be “anything” trading as “Rangers Football Club”. Thats the truth, like it or not. Its standard business I am afraid.

        Hotshot? Well, cheers for that, I like to think so. Is it right? sorry, but, perhaps they were invited? Dundee were of course, to quote “replacing Rangers”, not any other name you like to use. Also, McCoist is manager of Rangers, therefore, he does have something to do with the club. In the end, its an irrelevant point, that doesnt matter.

        So, do you think Regan and Doncaster should go?

  8. Smoo did your local school close when you were 4?

  9. The Rangers fans I know are bemused, angry, philosophical but resilient, I haven’t met anybody yet who is suicidal. The club will always be Rangers, no matter what happens or what it’s called. Some of those rubbing their hands at the clubs reverse would have them play Peterhead in sackcloth & ashes. They’ll hit the bottom and bounce back to the top. That’s life folks.

    • “They’ll hit the bottom and bounce back to the top. That’s life folks” – I suspect they’ll be back up in three seasons, but if they can’t watch the games in person or on the TV, I think the club will lose a lot of fans straight away. All the Man U style glory hunters will drop away too. But there’s still an element that will “follow follow” even if the club was as dead as Third Lanark.

      • I think the element is the genuine supporters. A good cull of glory hunters is not a bad thing. Supporters are good, customers are less so. They ruin the atmosphere, and, take up seats that people would actually want.

    • Well said wullie take it on chin & if my understandin of liquidation is correct 2-3 years u can apply 2 court and have ur name back & no1 can say a word.

      • Wullie is right, and, Smoo, you need to read up a little more re the name, as I have mentioned above, and, also the complete irrelevance of that name. Maybe there should be a course to teach people the difference between FC and PLC? I think so

        • Ok JJ well u tell companies house that then cause they have already knocked back the rangers football club plc but u know best. oh and by the way pacific key became the owners major shareholders jyst as murray did way old co b4 he buried uz but u hang on 2 ur fantasys kid

  10. RE the Topic, I would suggest we lose Regan, and Doncaster, and the SPL. The SFL, these “diddy teams” and “diddy chairman” in a “diddy organisation” as many like to put it, have shown themselves to be a far better run organisation, with genuine leadership. We have too many leagues, and too many blazers. Why not simply have an 18-20 team top division, and a championship under that, with playoffs and, 3 up 3 down. No split, not playing 4 times. Less repetition, fresh fixtures, one governing body, and, have the Juniors/Highland League teams a route into it as well. 100% possible, 100% simple, and, ONE body overseeing the whole thing.

  11. @ Smoo, I know all about the companies house story, then again, I also told you how, why and when it was happening, so, I wont bother repeating myself. “Kid”? Cheers for the compliment. Its Pacific Shelf, rather than Key I think you will find, just a small point, but, perhaps important. I also know about your company structure. Since you are aware, how about if Green aquires back the PLC at some point? Then it will be exactly the same as your situation. “Buried”? again, your lack of reality on the existence of your biggest rivals is quite tragic, even moreso than your use of text speak, but, each to their own.

    • Yes he could hqve the name reinstated by a judge after 3 years but u know that anyway ur a clever guy oh thats only if sfa dont expel old co 4 not acceptin transfer embargo. u should work 4 sevco stop them diggin so many trenches 4 ur new club.

  12. I hope that all football supporters of all clubs (including all the so-called ”diddy teams” in the Third Division) get behind their local club and support it in large numbers. That way even post dead rangers / sevco f.c Scottish football will survive and thrive. This week has been a great awakening for fan power and we need to consolidate that over the coming years. If supporters had not raised their voices in large numbers to their Chairmen and through various web sites like this one we would still be lumbered with dead rangers/ sevco f.c in the SPL and that would have been unthinkable. So, well done all Scottish football supporters in realising your own power and making your voice heard. Despite the threat of Armageddon we still managed to do the right thing. We still managed to show that Sporting Integrity is the true value of our game. A value that is not for sale at any cost. Had we allowed sevco / rangers / newco / oldco or whatever they like to call themselves into the SPL or even the SFL Div One then the game really would have been up. Lets hope for the sake of the SFL that a new brand of sevco supporters attend their games and behave like normal human beings instead of the bigoted rabble that followed followed them before they died a death. We will see. Excellent article btw.

  13. Good article Mike, far better than yon rubbish about Barcelona.

    .

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