Day: March 4, 2013

Rangers & The SPL Commission’s Verdict

BBC Scotland’s senior football reporter Chris McLaughlin broke the news that Rangers would not be stripped of Scottish Premier League (SPL) titles by an SPL Independent Commission an hour before its findings were formally released on Thursday. The initial reaction from delighted Rangers fans was that their club was exonerated by the Commission of any breach of SPL rules in their registration of players paid partly through Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs). Yet before that pre-release hour was out, it was clear that the opposite was true. Rangers were guilty of just about everything thrown at them. And the Commission’s report condemned the conduct of the club’s directors and representatives between 2000 and 2012. Yet Rangers’ fans’ sense of victory is undiminished. How so? McLaughlin rightly identified the “agenda”; fellow-journalists looking for a “sexy” story from 40-odd pages of legalese, fans of other clubs (mostly, though not exclusively, Celtic, for obvious if hardly responsible reasons) and Rangers’ fans, apparently happy to take any condemnation (which is just as well) to keep their titles. So journalists have focused on the non-title-stripping. The “mostly Celtic fans” (categorised as “anti-Rangers haters” by one confused tweeter recently) have scratched their collective heads at how Rangers could improperly register players for years and not receive the sporting sanction usually applied in such cases. And Rangers fans have interrupted their cheering long enough to say “time...

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That Was The Weekend That Was: A London Weekend In The Premier League

It is an obvious reflection on the extent to which Manchester United are running away with the Premier League championship that the most important match of the weekend was the North London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. Much had been made over the course of the previous few days or so of whether this was a match that would somehow “alter the balance of power” between the two clubs, but most Spurs supporters have seen far too many false dawns – they provide, on average, two to three per season – to get over-excited by all of this, although the league table will make for particularly satisfying reading for those of a navy blue and white persuasion in that part of the world this morning. As things turned out, though, Spurs did air a couple of their more neurotic character traits at White Hart Lane yesterday afternoon. Having been gifted two goals in three minutes in the first half by an Arsenal central defence which might as well have been made of rice paper and strips of parcel tape, Spurs wasted a handful of chances of their own and allowed Arsenal back into the match early in the second half with some chaotic defending of their own. Still, a granite-like performance from Jan Vertongen was enough to keep Hugo Lloris’ goal relatively free from incident, and Spurs are...

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