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Last Sunday’s website statement from the Hibernian Supporters Club (“Hibs Club”) and the Rangers Supporters Trust response to it exposed a chasm in thinking on Scottish football’s current problems. Supporters appear split down the middle between those who see Rangers as persecuted victims (Rangers fans) and those who see them as having taken Scottish football to the brink through their own poor financial management over the last 20 years (everyone else). Club statements have almost become passé in Scotland in recent days. No sooner had SPL clubs finished explaining why they didn’t want Charles Green’s currently league-less new club than SFL clubs were, mostly, doing likewise.
The intricacies of today’s SFL SGM, at which its clubs are due to vote on Green’s club’s membership application, were dealt with in impressive detail by Gavin Saxton on this site earlier this week. Meanwhile, Rangers fan groups and sites have punted their line with impressive consistency and, as various decisions on their fate draw nearer, with increasing passion. The line is that their financial misdemeanours were the fault of individuals no longer at the club, not the club itself; and that all calls for “further” punishment are fuelled by revenge, jealousy, bigotry and, I discovered this week, much, much more.
The “Hibs Club’s” Statement on Rangers and Scottish football pulled no punches criticising Scotland’s football authorities and their treatment of “new Rangers.” The focus of their ire flitted between SPL and SFA “attempts to protect a business model that operates more for the benefit of TV executives than ordinary supporters,” and the “damage being done to the game by Neil Doncaster and Stewart Regan,” the respective bodies’ chief executives. They railed against the football authorities’ “favourable” treatment of Rangers, criticising recently-introduced league reconstruction thinking as “aimed solely at rebuilding a strong Rangers” and lambasted their “craven gerrymandering” of the SFL vote “for the sake of one club.”
There were harsh words for “SPL clubs” who “have stood silently on the sidelines as their own Chief Executive has tried to bully and threaten lower division clubs” into voting new Rangers into SFL division one, and for leading Rangers figures, including manager Ally McCoist for his “attempt to destroy a disciplinary process…created to help move the game forward.” The RST were not happy and immediately set about “correcting some of the inaccuracies” in the Hibs club statement, “before others make the same mistakes” thereby avoiding “another myth being perpetuated by those clubs and their fan groups.”
Whilst agreeing that division three was the place to be for new Rangers, the RST labelled as “absurd” the idea that “placing Rangers into division one of the SFL” was “being done to assist Rangers,” suggesting instead that it was “cobbled together for the benefit of clubs in the SPL, like Hibernian, who have based their business model around having Rangers in their league.” “It is being done,” they continued, “so that Rangers can be used as a cash-cow to sustain these clubs whilst inflicting maximum damage on our club’s ability to compete.” And the Hibs Club were taken to task for using “Rangers’ successful court challenge against an unlawful SFA sanction as an excuse to attack our manager” which said “everything about the motives behind their statement.”
“Perhaps,” the RST suggested, “they should address their concerns to the boards of the Scottish football authorities rather than taking it as a further opportunity to attack our club.” It was strong stuff, entirely in keeping with the spirited defence Rangers fans have put up both before and after their club went into administration in February. Unfortunately, also in keeping with this spirited defence, much of it was irretrievable tosh. The Hibs club certainly appear to have misrepresented Doncaster and Regan’s motives. Because while backs have been bent over to “assist” Rangers ever since the old club went bust last month, this has not been to help Rangers per se.
The “craven gerrymandering” was “for the sake of” the finances which Rangers attract, through their large fanbase and the TV and sponsorship deals which flow therefrom. The new reconstruction proposals are “aimed solely” at the finances “a strong Rangers” will attract (and “sporting integrity” didn’t register with them any more than it has with anyone in this tawdry tale. The RST’s point about Rangers as a “cash-cow” was a good one…but not well-made. It came with the arrogance and snobbery which has helped fuel the current antagonism towards their club every bit as much as bigotry and jealousy. The assertion, for instance, that SPL clubs have “based their business model around having Rangers in their league” will be news to Celtic fans.
You can almost hear the sneering tone behind the words: “…the SPL chairmen clearly feel that they can sustain their clubs with reduced, or no, TV revenue and sponsorship and without the patronage of our away support. We wish them the best of luck.” And the RST appear to wilfully misinterpret the Hibs’ club criticism of McCoist. The Hibs club made no mention of “Rangers’ successful challenge of an unlawful SFA sanction.” Their criticism was of McCoist’s well-publicised and equally ill-advised call for the naming of the tribunal members who dared to find Rangers guilty of bringing football into high disrepute. This criticism “said everything” about the “motives behind” one particular paragraph. But the Hibs’ club were less critical of Rangers’ role in Scottish football’s troubles than the football authorities handling of them. They weren’t looking for an “excuse to attack” McCoist, just being critical of him. There is a significant difference between the two.
Throughout the Rangers saga, I had assumed that the RST were representing the most hot-headed defenders of the club. Accusations that the SFA were taking decisions “with the sole purpose of crippling Rangers” or “attempting to blackmail Rangers (by) using a licence document concocted specifically threaten the club” were not, I presumed, the mindset of ordinary Rangers fans. Yet studies of blogs and comments on Rangers fans’ websites such as Gers Net, FollowFollow and Rangers Media suggest that RST views are remarkably in tune with the average Rangers mindset. And, perhaps more disconcertingly, the official “club” web-site is following suit.
Charles Green’s legal advice on TUPE regulations appears to have come from The Simpsons’ Lionel Hutz, or the top of Green’s head – or the side of his back (e.g. “the players had 24 hours to object”). The official website even said the players refusing to transfer to new Rangers were “exploiting a loophole” in the regulations. This is simply nonsense. Green appears to relish his unpopularity – not unlike his fellow controversialist Ken Bates. “Everyone outside of this room and the people we represent” is anti-Rangers, he told a fans’ meeting last week (at least according to minutes which noted that “Charles Green left the meeting to attend another meeting with our enemies”).
And developing a siege mentality among Rangers’ support was no problem, given what Rangers Media this week called the “extraordinary and unprecedented campaign of hatred aimed at” the “total annihilation” and “utter destruction” of Rangers, waged by “chairmen, directors and fans of other clubs.” Not to mention “the vitriol, invective and sheer naked hatred that we have been subjected to.” Oh…and…“not content to simply witness (Rangers) descend into chaos, these people have actively and diligently worked towards our demise at every twist and turn and, in many, many instances they have sought to exacerbate our difficulties, manipulate circumstances to their advantage, deliberately mislead others and bully, intimidate and cajole them into joining the anti-Rangers bandwagon.” Blimey. No wonder I’ve been feeling tired these mornings.
Because much of that “hatred,” sheer naked or clothed, comes from people like me who wish to see Rangers punished for whatever laws they have broken, football, civil or criminal. People like me who refuse to treat the question “haven’t Rangers been punished enough?” as rhetorical, preferring to answer: “I don’t know yet. I don’t yet know how much they’ve done wrong.” In recent weeks wildly varying definitions of “punishment” have emerged, ranging from the 10-point deduction for entering administration – a clearly-defined punishment – to the “humiliation of liquidation” – a clearly-defined punishment if, say, it involved club directors being dragged naked through Glasgow’s streets in a Celtic top. Rangers fans appear to be confusing (again, I would suggest wilfully) punishment with natural consequence. For instance, the 10-point penalty would not have become two punishments if Rangers had finished nine points behind Celtic last season.
The on-and-on-and-ongoing shenanigans surrounding new Rangers’ place in the SFL are a consequence of Rangers going bust. Even Livingston, demoted to division three in 2009 for breaches of SFL insolvency rules, didn’t – quite – do that. And the new Rangers’ ineligibility for European football is similarly a consequence of Rangers going pop. Uefa regards new Rangers as a new club – with the fierce debate about where Rangers’ soul belongs (i.e. the trophies) being of no concern to them. And they have treated them accordingly. On Newsnight Scotland exactly a month ago “blogger” Chris Grahame noted that “Rangers have already been punished quite severely for everything that’s happened.” And that is the line taken by Rangers spokespeople.
At the time of typing, “everything that’s happened” constitutes Rangers entering administration, the failure to file last financial year’s audited accounts and the football rule breaches covered by the SFA’s independent judicial panel in April – the legal responsibility for which was acknowledged by Rangers’ own legal representative. The “severe punishments” have been the standard 10-point deduction for entering administration, the standard denial of the requisite club licence for the European football for not filing audited accounts and the £160,000 fine for the £13m Rangers failed to pass on to the relevant revenue authorities. There is, of course, one genuinely “severe” punishment to come – whatever the SFA’s appellate tribunal deem a replacement for the one-year transfer embargo which was not within their power to impose. So the “severe” punishments remain those imposed, or about to be imposed, for the severe misdemeanour.
Also to come are the findings of the SPL and SFA investigations into potential rule breaches on Employee Benefit Trusts…and the Court Service’s First-tier Tribunal (tax) on Rangers’ appeal against HMRC’s assessment of underpaid tax. I would wish any punishment to arise from them to be…well…standard, or no more or no less than appropriate. If no wrongdoing emerges, no punishment should emerge. And…er…that’s it. These views are common currency among Rangers’ many current critics.
So, maybe I’m “a short-sighted bigot and a bullshitter” (FollowFollow), one of the “New Puritans…seeking out witches in blue” (Gers Net), a bludgeoner, bruiser and belittler who has “brazenly revelled in our downfall and has actively conspired to bring about our demise” (Rangers Media), or among the “wildest and most vile elements” of football fans (FollowFollow)? According to Rangers’ fan sites, yes, because “it is not Rangers FC that has brought ignominy and discredit on the Scottish game.” It’s us, indulging in our “petty jealousies” and “festering hatred” which Rangers fans “will never forgive and never forget.”
This polarisation of supporter opinion will take some forgiving and forgetting. Rangers fans seem surprised at the depth of feeling against their club. And given the language used to describe their “enemies,” it is perhaps a surprise that they are surprised. They should never forget, however, that this period of Scottish football history began because Rangers went into administration having overspent hugely on their team, thanks to huge underpaying of their taxes. So huge, in fact, that their debts even increased despite administrators’ cost-cuts and they will soon go out of business altogether.
And you don’t have to be a Celtic fan, or a bigot, bludgeoner, intimidator, manipulator, bullshitter, witch-hunter, destroyer, annihilator or sheer naked hater to believe that that isn’t right.
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Rangers have had punishments, despite the attempts to spin them away. Going to Division One would itself be a relegation, a serious sanction. There may well be more punishments to come. But the reality is that no consequence short of complete extinction of the club would be enough for some fans of rival clubs.
Rangers have suffered from bad owners. Other clubs have too. I honestly felt some sympathy for the fans, players and other staff of clubs like Dundee when they suffered from bad owners of their club….
To take issue with your second last paragraph :
“They should never forget, however, that this period of Scottish football history began because Rangers went into administration having overspent hugely on their team, thanks to huge underpaying of their taxes.”
Rangers actually went into administration for non payment of taxes for last year.
The only taxes which Rangers have been found guilty of not paying are for the year past when it was under the leadership Craig Whyte , for which there is currently a criminal investigation ongoing at present.
what a load of crap we want to be put into division 3 as we feel that is the appropriate punishment for the club to accept however we will not be labelled cheats because we tried to better ourselves in world football not just scottish ignorant fans like yorself seem to forget that rangers put in 51% of the co efficient in european football for other scottish teams to compete including the rotten mob from the eastend this would not have been achieved had they not bought the players they signed this catastrophe is the fault of very bad mismanagement by an incompetent board who do not want to take the blame i would also like to add that spl is full of greed when they can’t even come to a decision that the rfc supp want that includes peter lawler of cfc the biggest bigot in scottish football
dingus true blue
Frank, your stance says it all and show the route of the problem.
Rangers in div 1 is not Relegation it’s gerrymandered promotion missing outthe bottom 2 tiers
EUFA say you’re new club “the rangers” – hence no football in Europe until you have 3 years accounts – not a punishment – the rules for new clubs in leagues.
I agree though, the spl are wanting div 1 for their own sake not the Gers
If clubs gomtonthe wall cause rangers are in Div 3 tough- cut your cloth etc.
As far as the TV money scaremongering – have a look at the think below. A St. Johnstone fan has done great work showing how we’re actually getting ripped off in scotland with SKY compared to what other “didd” leagues get paid
I say Newco Div 3 like any other new entry to our leagues and every club start running your business within your own means. New Gers should not be a cash cow. And we should tell SKY to GTF
The SPL are trying to parachute RFC in to the 1st division for no other reason than money. The fans of very other club in Scotland have been given a voice to decide which league RFC play in this coming season, EXCEPT RFC FANS.
We want, as has been said before, to rebuild from Div 3, that way nothing can be leveled at us re: sporting integrity, which after all is the SPL buzzword by the SPL mandarins. But, it is only the buzz words when it suits them. They want us punished, over and over again, but as long as we aren’t out of the top league more than 1 season, otherwise the SPL will collapse without the television, sponsorship etc that RFC bring. It is bad enough that all the SPL teams build their business models around the income RFC will bring, but for he SPL to be in the same position is ridiculous. We should be punished, no doubt, but the SPL cannot have its cake and eat it. Div 3 please.
Been ‘relegated to division 1′ would be a serious sanction to a premier league club – if it was being applied to a going concern. However, no sanction has been applied because the old company has been dissolved and its a NEW COMPANY that is trying to be parachuted into division 1.
To be clear, then, being put into division 1 for SEVCO Rangers would be a gift, not a sanction.
The SFA have also waived the ‘3 year accounts’ rule to allow even being placed anywhere in the SFL to be considered – another gift to a company who is using the name of a previous incarceration to gain favour – one that brazenly stole millions of pounds from the Scottish people.
It amazes me that – in this day and age of communication and information – Rangers fans still struggle to digest this.
thank you for this.
hopefully, the whole truth will eventually out.
Just to suggest that Mark and others have a look a a new Rangers website, The Rangers Standard, which attempts to look at the club’s traditions and current troubles in a self-critical way and to cut through a lot of the hysteria exhibited by both Rangers and anti-Rangers sites, many of which seem to be simply vehicles for the unhinged and deranged.
I take it that the RST is footballs equivalent of Napoleon and his cronies from Animal Farm in that some sre more equal than others. Rangers broke the rules and should go. Had thois been Hibs or Aberdeen or Inverness, they would have gone immediately without all this hoo haa,
Frank & Dingus
Rangers are not being punished; they are dead. Your owner’s financial recklessness and their fans willful blindness to our warnings, dismissed as Timmy lies, led them to their demise.It had nothing to do with the behaviour of other clubs. We could do nothing to kill Rangers off and, in fact, did nothing to encourage your reckless spending, contract duplicity and tax avoidance.
It is Sevco, however it will be renamed, that is applying to join either the 3rd Division or Division 1. They are not being relegated; they are being promoted from oblivion to this level. They do not have the required 3 years worth of credited accounts in order to satisfy the existing rules for entry to Div. 3 and the rest of Scottish football is being incredibly generous in conspiring to overlook this requirement in order to allow Sevco, assuming that is the team that you are going to transfer your support to,entry to Div. 3. We are unduly rewarding you, rather than punishing you, if that comes to pass.
Now you may be believing the recently invented fiction about transfer of share in the SPL allowing for an unbroken history. This fiction, dreamed up out of nowhere by Duff & Phelps, Neil Doncaster & Stuart Regan, ignores, yet again, all pre-existing rules and commercial reality.
When Third Lanark, Airdrieonians and Gretna liquidated, they lost their history. Even in the closely comparable case of Airdrie United, when they bought the league “share” of the former Clydebank, they neither inherited the history of Clydebank’s achievements nor did they inherit the achievements of their former status as Airdrieonians. Like Third Lanark and Gretna and Clydebank, they had to reform as an ahistoric club at a much lower level than their former club had left. They all had to start as new clubs with no history.
If Sevco re-appears as The Rangers, how do you protect yourself from HMRC, who will be looking for the debts of old Rangers to be paid. There are rules around presenting yourselves as a continuation, following a liquidation and HMRC are less likely to be open to the influences that have serve your club in the past.
You do not get to ditch £100m+ of debt, buy assets previously estimated to be worth £100m for £5.5.m, and waltz back in with little lost. There has to be a price.
My preference is not to punish you. I’d rather you stayed as Rangers FC in the SPL and paid back what you owe. But, since you are all unwilling to take that honourable road, the only sanction which will make a mark on the shameless lack of remorse and morality displayed, is that you lose your history. Nothing else will make an impression on the other financially reckless clubs who try to cheat their way to success and expect others to pick up their bill. The money is gone and, bar a £160k fine (compared to the £100k that Celtic were uniquely fined for “tapping” Tommy Burns as manager), no other official punishment has been imposed on Old Rangers. The transfer ban, was not a punishment but meant as a temporary measure, soon to be lifted, to prevent Duff & Phelps from recruiting to pile on more debt on your dead carcass.If you get back into a league, you will be allowed to assemble a squad. You may not be allowed to spend money you do not have to buy players you cannot afford, thus repeating your old errors, but you do not get to escape the consequences and go back to old behaviour. Transfer restrictions will help you get back on a firm ethical footing and cannot be seen as a sanction. The 3 years out of Europe is a generic rule for newcos not a specific sanction against Sevco.
Before you present yourself ludicrously as a “cash cow”, pay back what you owe. Oh! and stop listening to the usual sources that played you lullabies when you sleepwalked into this situation. You need to acknowledge that contributors like Phil Mac (first to outline the Ticketus scam, many months before the Record) and the Rangers Tax Case blog, have been on the money right from the start while your support backed horses like Murray, Whytey and Greeny. Your enemies seem to have the better intelligence information.
Dry your eyes, make your apologies if they are sincere and then concentrate on making Sevco as good a club as it can be, free from many of the faults associated with the club its support used to back.
You can thank Scottish football later for our generosity.
Messrs Reagan & Doncaster should do the honourable thing after today’s meeting…and RESIGN. They have tried every trick in the book to reinstate Newco into the SPL,then when that failed, into SFL1…all to protect TV revenue….
I am SICK listening to Newco fans trying to replace the phrase sporting integrity with sporting hypocricy…….your club, sorry your recently deceased club, broke the rules…..the people YOU trusted…..they have rode off into the sunset with bags full of cash…..directors, managers and players….
YET….you STILL bleat….”woe is me’…we have been punished over and over etc….
B*LLOCKS……no punishment has been meted out for your footballing misdemeanours YET……
Financial Doping, using taxpayers money to entice high profile players to turn out for your club……Dual Contracts?this is punishable by stripping of titles and honours won during the period of ‘obvious cheating’…..
YET we still have to listen to this ‘we-arra-peepul’ mentality….
There are decent hard working Rangers fans out there who are sickened by the actions of individuals within their ex-club……but there are also bipolar, bigoted, selfish morons who look to blame everyone else for the mess their ex-club have brought upon Scottish Football…..
All I am waiting on now is a ‘we blame it on the schools’ comment…….
First few comments are exactly what this blog refers to – utter obstinance and repetition of the words punish, punishment etc.
…and then there’s the criticism of other team’s business models – deary me.
My second last paragraph was referring just to last year. You are absolutely right on that point. As I said in an earlier paragraph, punishments, or not, relating to the EBT affair are still to come, if they are due at all.
Apologies if I didn’t make that clear.
One of the strangest aspects of these blogs that try to justify other clubs’ fans insatiable appetite for punishing Rangers ad infinitum for crimes that they can’t really explain, is that there is absolutely no empathy from them what-soever.
This includes clubs that have already been in administration which in itself shows the same crimes of financial mismanagement and in particular Hibernian FC whose very existence was threatened by such an event.
The question is: how much punishment would you be demanding if this were your own club?
Would you be posturing for the mythical “sporting integrity” which I have no idea of the modern semantics but I do know it has NEVER been applied to any club in the past for their misdemeanours on and off the park.
How would Hibs fans have liked it if the SFA had forced the merger with Hearts “for the good of the game” as a single strong Edinburgh side my dilute the duopoly of the Old Firm and increase the competitiveness in the league?
After all, Hibs were mismanaged and there has never been an apology or contrition – in contrast to Rangers. Their own immense arrogance at the led to condoned death threats to a prominent member of society.
Perhaps we should retrospectively kick Hibs out of the league for having an owner who didn’t run the club properly. However, I can bet you’ll change your tune and start bring in technicalities for Rangers crimes which makes them “different” when what you’ve said in your blog does not imply that at all.
Take a look in the mirror for you own arrogance and hypocrisy, the humble would definitely have a bit of empathy for supporters of another club who have spent half a year in purgatory for the crimes they did not commit.
Setting aside the evetual outcome of the EBT and the SFA enquiry into ‘Double Contracts’ any fair minded person would recognise that to date the crimes for which Rangers are being held to account were committed by one man, probably fraudulantly,and were not in any way a cultural or systemic fault of the club called ‘Glasgow Rangers’.
For over 140 years Glasgow Rangers were absolute pillars of World Football, recognised for their integrity and fair play and for those who describe the Murray years as financial doping they seem to set aside the fact that pre Whyte we paid our bills and moved into the Whyte era practically debt free.
We bought players and paid for them, players signed contracts and we paid their salaries, the fact that the club was the benefactor of a wealthy, well connected owner was to our advantage but is hardly unique in the world of football.
Is this not the business model which has sustained the like of Aberdeen and Dundee United for years, have the Milne and Thompson families not being ‘doping’ these clubs with their personal wealth, I cannot see the difference between their situation and that of Rangers and the support of Murray.
If, as I hope, we have to go to Division 3 then the financial punishment for Rangers through lost revenues, both domestic and European, the loss of their main playing assets without re-imbursement and the cost of building a new squad will amount to something in excess of 100 million pounds, this surely cannot be regarded as equitable punishment for the criminal acts of Whyte.
A man conned his way into my house and robbed me and the neighbours and I go to jail, is that fair?
Of all the shenannigans over the past few months the thing I am most shocked by is the hate being shown to Rangers by other football fans, I remember how sorry I felt for Dundee and Livingston fans, I was able to seperate their plight from the acts of those who ran their club.
I would ask fans of other clubs and those pundits such as Jim Spence who want to see us forever crippled to sit down and list the crimes, all perpetrated by Whyte, for which we have been found guilty and then set beside them the extent of our punsihment. They should remeber that with regard to the EBT and Double Contracts we are innocent until proven guilty.
Rangers is me, an honest hard working family man, not a racist not a bigot. A man who has followed his team for all my 55 years, a man who’s family has had Rangers in their hearts since the club’s inception, a man who loves football, a man who loves his country, a man who jumped for joy when Celtic won the European Cup, a man who was delighted when Aberdeen did our country proud against Real Madrid in Gothenburg. Why would fans of other clubs want to hurt me so much, why do they hate me?
The author of this piece is an outsider to the Scottish game but has clearly come to understand it very well. Telling the truth is considered hatred by Rangers fans though so expect to join the Follow Follow banned list.
SFTB hits the nail on the head.
I see where you are coming from but you need to think more about what your club has done – largely aided and abetted by the MSM – to understand why you have no friends or sympathy.
It would seem that the bigoted element are those in green and white tinted glasses. The relish that you feel is obvious by your petty name-calling. The only thing RFC have been found guilty of is Whyte’s theft and fraud. We have never, as far as i can remember, being found guilty of anything else, so all your posturing and chest-beating is in vain
One other thing, no matter how many times you try to say different, the only thing that is being liquidated is the “holding company”. The football club carry on, with all our history intact, and it hurts you all even more.
Now is the time for several reforms. Want to improve Scottish football? Return to real names, within one Scottish Football League. Division 1, 2, 3, and 4. Divide up all television monies like this: 10% to Div 4, 20% to Div 3, 30% to Div 2, and 40% to Div 1. The Old Firm will still be richest based on gates. But you know what? Even THEY will be healthier than they are now (not as profitable, but healthier) because they will actually have some competition. Someone famous who wrote “The Wealth of Nations” (goodness me, he was Scottish!) would agree that competition leads to better quality than an oligopoly does. The duopoly of Scottish football won’t end, but it could at least be forced to compete if it’s competitors had the power to occassionally challenge it.
I’m intrigued by the comments that infer that it’s all Whyte’s fault that Rangers FC is dead. Surely, given Rangers’ global reputation and fan base, if the previous regime had managed the club well, then, when the time came to pass on a Scottish institution to the next generation, investors would have been crawling over each other to continue a proud tradition.
But they didn’t. So why was that?
Rangers fans need to address that question honestly.
The oldco hasn’t been liquidated yet , it is still in administration.I assume till BDO have finished their thorough enquiry into it.
Norman Fraser – “Innocent until proven guilty” is criminal law NOT civil law. Read up on “balance of probabilities”.