The idea of Rangers as some sort of parable of our times is becoming compelling. A club riven by debt and mired in bad practice collapses under the weight of it’s own illegality and bad management, then lashes out at everyone around them in a perpetual circle of self-deceit.
Perhaps having been given – what they perceive to be outrageous punishment and what many consider hardly any punishment at all – they might reflect on the financial models they’d pursued and considered how sound they were? They might have reflected on the culture of the club and considered a root and branch overhaul was required? Contrition might be a good idea. You’d think.
Instead we get the £1 Million Crossbar Challenge .
But it’s not all their fault. A pliant and unquestioning media continue to exacerbate the problem. What could have been a watershed moment for Scottish football and sports journalism continues to be a missed opportunity.
On the day when the truth about the Sun, the police and the Hillsborough Disaster cover-up finally comes to the cold light of day, it’s worth thinking about this. This is the day when we discovered how 96 men, women and children met their horrible deaths and how unforgivable lies about the Liverpool fans’ behaviour came to be spread (and recycled by The Sun), and further how there was a systematic cover-up involving police and politicians, as the victims’ families believed all along.
The paper is still bought by millions of people, it’s former editor Kelvin Mackenzie is aregular on BBC Question Time, one helluva
The report by the Hillsborough independent panel, established three years ago and chaired by the bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, found that there was a failure of authorities to protect people and an attempt to blame fans.
The panel concluded that the main cause of the Hillsborough disaster was a “failure in police control” but also revealed “multiple failures” within other organisations that compromised crowd safety. It underlined the “clear operational failure” that led to the disaster and the attempts by South Yorkshire police (SYP) and the ambulance service to cover up their shortcomings. The fact that the ambulance service also altered statements from staff is revealed for the first time. The evidence shows “conclusively” that Liverpool fans “neither caused nor contributed to the deaths” and shows the extent to which attempts, endorsed by the South Yorkshire chief constable Peter Wright, were made to smear them.
As writer Owen Jones has said on Twitter: “Blood was taken from the fans to check for alcohol, including children.”
Documents released to the panel show how high-ranking police sources, the South Yorkshire Police Federation and the Tory MP Irvine Patnick were responsible for feeding the stories to White’s News Agency in Yorkshire.
This is just an appalling litany of malpractice and deception. But it was only made possible only by a tabloid press and a whole cultural backdrop which can be summarised as: hating ordinary people and holding ridiculous deference to authority.
Consider the press in Scotland and the Club Formerly Known as Rangers.
An early account of this is outlined at Rangers Tax Case but the problem persists in language and lack of editorial enquiry to this day. What people want more than anything else is ‘for things to go back the way they were.’ The EBT scandal is treated as a sort of irrelevance now as is Sir David Murray’s involvement who still holds a spectacularly inappropriate position of high regard in Scottish society.
As RTC states:
“Once the First Tier Tribunal (Tax) finally rules, the SFA will have to act. If, as I expect, that the FTT finds that Rangers had been knowingly operating an illegal implementation of the EBT scheme, it would discredit every trophy ever won in Scottish football if the honours acquired by Rangers during this time are not withdrawn.”
Little if anything is said about this from the 3rd Estate. Now the Sun, who’s own credibility surely after the Hillsborough inquiry can not ever have been at a lower ebb, seems to be kowtowing to threats and intimidation – a persistent motif of Rangers culture.
A book detailing the downfall of the great institution was first trumpeted as a scoop then buried after complaints from Rangers fans. It’s an extraordinary example of how the press has a complete lack of faith or integrity and how little has been learned in the past extraordinary year.
The Scottish edition of the paper had planned to start running extracts today from a book entitled Downfall: how Rangers FC self-destructed by the journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bhain.
But within 24 hours of its lengthy puff announcing its serialisation the paper ran a leading article explaining that it had changed its mind. The reason given reason was a blog from earlier this year called The Incubator, it was a satire on the bigotry of many Rangers’ fans. It employed some pretty offensive images. But you could only really be offended by it in the same way as you’d think Mr Swift was actually advocating eating Irish babies.
The ironies of this are threefold.
1) The Sun boldly featuring an investigation into the biggest sporting scandal in Scottish history, folds under pressure from that club, with Ramsay Smith from Media House said the Sun would have no access to Ibrox if they published.
2) It was The Sun’s Scottish editor, Andy Harries, who admired Mac Giolla Bhain’s work and, on hearing about his book, made a swift decision to buy the serialisation.
3) Yet a story about lies and liars takes a further twist as the Sun claimed they didn’t know Phil’s work. But Mac Giolla Bhain was well known to The Sun, having previously freelanced for the its now-defunct stablemate, the News of the World.
Finally as we consider the role of The Sun in British society, here’s the verdict of Guardian’s Roy Greenslade on why the Sun stopped publishing extracts from Downfall:
“Two experienced non-Sun journalists, both of whom did not favour serialisation, read the situation differently. They believe Harries was shocked by the hostility of Rangers fans and feared a possible sales boycott not unlike the one that the paper suffered after its infamous accusation against Liverpool fans following the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy.”
You couldn’t make it up. Unless you were a Sun journalist that is.