I went to bed on the evening of April 23rd fairly astonished; not because Microsoft Word had crashed spectacularly losing me some work, or because yet another Sallies meal had been underwhelming in the extreme. No, I went to bed perplexed at what the Scottish Football Association perceive as being a fair punishment for what has gone on at Rangers Football Club in recent months.
We all knew there would be a fine, but by not allowing player registration for 12 months is frankly superfluous and unnecessary. I would like to remind the powers at be, Peter Lawell’s highly incorruptible and impartial former colleague from Coors, Stewart Reagan, that the people they should be going after are Sir David Murray and Craig Whyte for carving up such a scandalous deal for Rangers this time last year.
To punish the footballing side of things for the financial misdemeanours of two shysters like Murray and Whyte is useless and side stepping one of the underlying issues in this saga, that the SFA were showcasing the utmost incompetence in protecting a member club. This is not to divert from Craig Whyte not adhering to PAYE or other financial strictures, but if the SFA had investigated him properly, checked his background and made sure he was a “fit and proper person” to run the biggest team in the land, then their beloved two bob fiefdom would not have been “brought into disrepute”.
The SFA are culpable in this, make no question. If they really want to make an example, go after Craig Whyte with every bit of vim, vigour and vivacity which you have sought to show up Rangers and you might get somewhere.
The short term aspects of this farce could be the potential torpedoing of any takeover bids for Rangers. Rangers should withdraw from the Scottish Cup, not allow any Rangers player at any level to represent Scotland, boycott away grounds, ignore joint sponsorship with the SFA, refuse TV deals and perhaps even offer the facilities at Auchenhowie or Ibrox Stadium to any team playing a Scottish club or the national team in European competition or international qualifiers.
If the SFA want a dirty war, then Rangers have to use the Khruschev analogy of squeezing the SFA by the balls, and the SFA’s dangly bits are suspiciously close to their coffers.
This article will inevitably rouse such responses as “aye, but ra hunz pyoor cheated n that wur thur taxes n that, shut thum down n take thur titles n that, mon eh selik”. I am not saying that those at fault in this deserve not to be punished, but go after those who instigated EBTs, did not pay PAYE or VAT and lied about their wealth.
I’ll give you a hint where you can find them; I walked past the office of one in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square on Friday and I had a drink in the same bar at the same Edinburgh hotel where the other one was spotted skulking around a few hours before. Also, for what it’s worth, last time I checked complex tax arrangements don’t make any difference to how a team performs on the field; given that Celtic won the vast majority of league titles while the EBTs were in place and Rangers were rotten for most of the last decade, it fails to stack up. In my humble opinion, of course.
I’m about to raise a mind-set more associated with Rangers’ erstwhile Glaswegian bedfellows, that of paranoia. Rangers do not do paranoia; this is an arrogant club, with an arrogant support with a sense of their position in life. Any club which runs out to “Simply the best” and uses the slogan “We are the people” does not have an inferiority or persecution complex, but in this instance, something is clearly rotten in the state of Hampden.
The journalist Darryl King, not afraid to stick the boot into Rangers over the years, said on Radio Clyde that there are people out there who hate Rangers for everything they stand for and want them finished. That is obvious. This is not a fair fight, this is an ideological campaign which has been waged for some years by errant journalists and biased figures in the game to finish the biggest club in the land. Well, when Scotland’s “Premier” League plunges to the depths of the Welsh, then the zealots out there will be reaping a dreadful sow.