Never having been one for believing in ‘agendas’ or ‘conspiracies’ against Rangers, this season has been something of an eye-opener. While the BBC may have ultimately been correct about Craig Whyte (while being admittedly slightly tabloid in their presentation), this season has felt closer to a witch-hunt against the club than can be recalled for some considerable time.
There has always been a notion of ‘no one likes us, we don’t care’ about the club, one the supporters have ultimately been defiantly proud of, but this season that statement has only been proven half correct. No one likes us, but we definitely care now, especially when the treatment of the club as a result has been so close to a vendetta from many quarters.
The difference in authorities globally from Scotland regarding their stance on stricken clubs is vast and embarrassing – where suffering clubs are aided by those in control. Take Real Madrid – the Spanish government have historically helped the Galacticos financially, using public funds to do it – notably when the City bought Madrid’s training ground in order to clear the club’s gigantic debt. They have also furnished other Spanish clubs with similar cash from the tax purse. In England, Portsmouth’s City council leader Gerald Vernon Jackson has proposed a purchase of Fratton Park to save it from the bulldozers. Admittedly this would only be in the event of liquidation, but the plan B is there to protect the club’s stadium from peril.
|The man trying to save Fratton Park. Could use him in Scotland.|
Back to Scotland and to help Rangers during the worst spell in their entire history the SPL are trying to deliver further sanctions on the club, following investigations regarding supposed non-disclosure of certain player payments – something the club rigidly deny ever occurred. Add to this the current stance of the SFA of crucifying Rangers to the tune of £160k and banning the Govan side from engaging in any transfer activity for 12 months and the help these organisations are providing Rangers with is heart warming.
This stance from the authorities not only unfair, perverse and extreme, but it is close to masochism too. Rangers and Celtic critically need each other, no matter how much certain individuals argue to the contrary – both clubs feed off each other, and the truth is many fans on both sides need to hate their rivals as much as loving their own club. Take that away, and the slippery slope into oblivion would begin for the Scottish game.
|Sorry chaps, but without Rangers you too would suffer badly.|
So take the next step and focus on why the governing bodies feel the urge to castigate Rangers as much as possible, near into the abyss as they can. The SPL and the SFA need Rangers – financially, commercially, and on a basic football level. They need Celtic too, but fortunately for them Celtic are not in financial peril. Rangers are, and need help from anyone capable of providing it. So these constant sanctions against the club, putting it closer and closer to liquidation can only be described as some kind of curious self-harm process from the SFA.
Rightly furious Rangers supporters have been calling for a boycott of SFA sponsors as a way of hitting the association where it hurts. The problem with this line of action is these sponsors are contracted to the SFA – boycotting their services simply hurts their own profits and the SFA would be unaffected. Take Adidas – their contract with the SFA runs till summer 2013 – there is a chance they might withdraw if their profits here get affected, but that is over a year away. It is a noble line of intention, but the truth is it will simply not affect the SFA at all. Not immediately and not for many, many months.
The more effective way to hurt the SFA is to categorically withdraw club participation from SFA competition, as suggested by the Rangers Supporters’ Assembly’s Andy Kerr. Withdrawing from the national team would affect qualification for Brazil in 2014, without top class players like Naismith, McGregor, and Whittaker to call on. But even more vicious upon the SFA’s coffers would be non-participation in the Scottish Cup – the majority of cash this tournament generates is from Old Firm matches, particularly when they play one another. Take half of that cash away and it is a huge and significant hole:
“Potentially, there will be a call not to enter the Scottish Cup. The other one is non co-operation with national squads.”
There is also a very useful suggestion of boycotting away grounds. Such action might even tempt Sky Sports and ESPN to reconsider their contracts on expiry – albeit that is not for another 5 years so is a pretty moot point. In general this action would hurt not only the SFA, but very importantly lesser clubs in the SPL, many of whom have been anything but supportive of Rangers during this period. The flip side of this coin is the club’s players having no support away from Ibrox. But it may be a necessary evil.
Rangers appealed the SFA embargo and fine, but given the ‘independent tribunal’ was chosen by the SFA, it rather questions the ‘independent’ part of the affair. Naturally, the appeal was thrown out. This brings a further question of why an appeal had to be made to the very body who punished the club. It seems absurd to expect them to ‘change their minds’. This is where CAS would come into play.
Furthermore, the punishment itself is debatable legally:
“The decision by the appellate tribunal to uphold the sanction, namely the suspension of registration of players for one year, is not competent in the view of the club and its legal advisers. Such a sanction was not available to the tribunal and should not have been imposed and it is the intention of the club to challenge the determination.”
Did the SFA even have the right, never mind the desire, to sanction the club in this way?
The actions of the governing bodies controlling the game in Scotland are simply bizarre. They are not even in their own self interests. Whether Celtic fans agree with the punishments, surely even the sensible ones among them know the potential demise of their rivals is only going to hinder themselves and the national game down the line?
The SPL and the SFA badly need to overhaul their practices. And Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster especially are responsible for the health of Scottish football.
If they do not change procedures, they will be responsible for its demise.