Sporting No Integrity Whatsoever

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SPL and Rangers fans have long
been discussing the concept of league reconstruction. When the Ibrox giants
were voted into Division 3 it was clear a huge financial hole would engulf the
top flight – this was realised due to, in part, the massively cut terms of the
ESPN and Sky TV deals. Quite simply, the respective broadcast giants
renegotiated the terms and paid out a significantly reduced sum thanks to the
loss of Rangers in the top flight. There was also the obvious loss of gate
receipts thanks to the absence of Rangers fans.
So, throughout the sheer chaos
that has descended upon Scottish football this past year, it seemed the SFA and
SPL would endeavour to fast-track a return for Rangers to the top-flight in
order to restore financial parity and to refill the staggeringly bare SPL
stadiums by reconstructing the game in this country in order that Rangers would
be part of the Premier League once again.
It would make financial sense
given the black fiscal hole Scottish football is fast-becoming, and it would
make moral sense given Rangers’ expulsion from the SPL was based on a complete
lie. Yes, Whyte did indeed with-hold PAYE and NI, but the entire mess had been
based on the Big Tax Case, something which Rangers famously won not that long
ago proving the entire EBT use to have been kosher.
So, it stands to reason that the
powers-that-be would quietly shift the club back to the top to rectify the
errors made previously and, more important to them, fix Scottish football’s
increasingly stark problems resulting from Rangers’ absence from the summit.
It is all about ‘Sporting
Integrity’
, remember, conducting oneself in the game according to an
ethical code, and engaging in behaviour befitting moral and upstanding
circumstances. Celtic’s Peter Lawwell famously coined this phrase in 2008 to
represent the importance of honesty,
decency, playing by the rules and, most importantly, imparting justice.
So, when we expose the proposals
put forth by Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster, they fulfil this crucial
criteria, right? They restore Rangers to the top, they make the game fairer and
more interesting in this country, they expand the top-flight to 16 teams as has
been long-suggested and ultimately while Scotland will never be what it was,
it would be a better mess than it was before.
Only, no they do not. They do
none of this.
Regan and Doncaster
have managed, somehow, to make Scottish football more complicated than a
Stephen Hawking book. In doing so, not just have they compiled nonsense
proposals of a ’12-12-18′ format but they have brazenly decided Rangers are not
only not being restored to the top
flight, but, get this:
The ‘Sporting Integrity’ we
all admire and love is being utilised to the full because Rangers will not be promoted at all this season!
Even if the Ibrox men finish top of the table by 50 points, even if Lee
McCulloch scores 20 hat tracks and increases the current GD to +23432542, even
if Barrie McKay figures out a cure to cancer – none of this matters. This
season is now officially, if these proposals by the powers-that-be come to
fruition, a complete busted flush.
Under the new guidelines, Rangers
remain in the bottom flight (or
‘National League’ as it is now being renamed) and the top flight of 12
remains…12!
So not only are they refusing to
acknowledge their own errors and that of the member SPL clubs, but they
refusing to fix them too. It is almost as if by restoring Rangers to where they
belong, Regan and Doncaster and the SPL admit
they need the Govan club. And they appear to be refusing to do that and think
these crazy proposals are the answer to the financial abyss and empty stadiums.
What is worse is they are
actually apparently endeavouring to make it even harder for Rangers by effectively branding the Third Division a
dead rubber because Rangers remain in its equivalent next season regardless of
what they do this year.
It was absurd enough when
Aberdeen remained in the SPL when they finished bottom in 2000 thanks to not
having to play a play-off with Falkirk given the First Division winners did not
have a stadium which met SPL standards, but to actually deny a league-winning
team of Rangers’ stature promotion is a new level of utterly ridiculous
governance.
‘Sporting Integrity’ is a
complete and total sham, and was a buzzphrase compiled by Peter Lawwell as an
argument as to why Rangers should not have a fair crack at the SPL and UEFA Cup
Final. It was of course transparent nonsense, and still is, yet is still used
when convenient and amusingly ignored when it is similarly appropriate.
To paraphrase an epigram composed
by the magnificent Eric Arthur Blair (Or George Orwell as he is better known);
“All teams are fairly treated and equal in Scotland, but
some are treated more fairly and equally than others.”