“Nothing changes on New Year’s Day,” Bono sang in 1981 (I forget which song). For those who had good 2016s and deserved them, I hope that’s true. For those who didn’t have good 2016s but deserved them… well, Bono’s a pretentious prick, eh? On New Year’s Eve, two years later, the then-Greater London Council leader Ken Livingstone was asked what the actual, looming 1984 of George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel would be like. “Pretty much like 1983, really,” he whined, a less dystopian answer than required, but more accurate. Bono and Ken were right about football, too (aren’t they always?). After all, football’s “year” in the Northern Hemisphere isn’t a January-to-January affair. So, by definition, “nothing (much) changes.” And the main issues which I hope to address on 200% this year are on-going (if Ian doesn’t do them better and quicker beforehand, as is invariably the case…see his latest piece on Hull City’s logic deficit) After all, if England’s club game can allow “Big” Sam Allardyce credible employment after recent and not-so-recent revelations about his off-field work-ethic(s), there’s plenty of moral high ground for the taking.

The on-and-on-going battle for truth and justice for Hillsborough disaster victims reaches a crucial stage “early this year” when the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is expected to give the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) details of its investigations into allegations of cover-ups by the South Yorkshire and West Midlands Police forces. As recent IPCC findings in favour of police protagonists show, that fight is way further from conclusion than suggested by the euphoria of the second Hillsborough inquest, which found that football fans had not in “any way caused or contributed” to any events which resulted in 96 unlawfully killings. Senior police officers have either been exonerated of misconduct despite, ahem, “misleading” investigators (former South Yorkshire police inspector and soon-to-retire Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe) or deemed unworthy of investigation entirely (South Yorkshire Police chief constable David Crompton).

Crompton, it is particularly important to remember, “profoundly” apologised in 2012 to the bereaved families and “Liverpool supporters in general” for “the lies” which blamed supporters for the tragedy. And he accepted his force’s responsibility for this. Yet, two years later, his force’s lawyers attempted to re-rewrite this history, lengthening an already lengthy and traumatic inquest process. The vehemence of families’ complaints forced a review of the Crompton decision…to no avail. Much more vigorous, persistent campaigning will therefore be required.

One of 2016’s more gobsmacking moments was FA chairman Greg Clarke saying “no” when asked “who or what is Vibrac?” by Labour MP Chris Matheson during a parliamentary committee hearing last October. Revelations about clubs’ opaque, mystifying and invariably off-shore ownership structures, and the “personalities” involved continue to emerge on-line, many involving the “Vibrac Corporation,” with a continuing list of ownership transfer tales to tell. Campaigners @WatchedToffee (Everton), Millwall AMS group (@A_M_S_Group) and others nowadays undertake the detailed investigation which is increasingly beyond increasingly under-resourced “mainstream” local and national media. Hopefully, therefore, Clarke has done a touch more research since, especially as China becomes an increasing financial player in world football, through the acquisition of high-earning players for its domestic league and of foreign clubs for fun…or world domination, depending on the depth of your conspiracy theorising.

And in March, the final, final, final chapter of the Rangers Tax Casezzzzzzzzzzz concludes. On the 15th and 16th, the UK Supreme Court will hear the appeal of Rangers liquidators’ BDO against the “common sense” Scottish Court of Session (CoS) ruling that “of course it was” taxable emoluments which Rangers paid into offshore Employee Benefit Trusts (EBT) throughout the 2000s. If the Supreme Court overturns the CoS ruling, the whole shemozzle will be over, bar a few fanatics insisting that “Rangers” sue HMRC and many other sets of initials for what has been “done to them” since they failed to exit administration in June 2012 via voluntary arrangement with HMRC and its TWO…HUNDRED…AND…SEVENTY…FIVE other creditors.

After all, the same Rangers plays today, so they should get compensation. This would be handy, with a financially-rampant Celtic to challenge, “for the good of the game,” or “to mix it up a bit” as SKY TV pundit Neil McCann said, explaining why “I want Rangers to win” on New Year’s Eve against Celtic. Nice impartial punditry there, Neil, if hardly news to more cynical observers. If the Supreme Court upholds the CoS ruling, a lot of people in Scotland (including many Glasgow-based local and national football journalists, for reasons of unprofessional partisanship) will want the whole shemozzle to be over anyway. After all, a new Rangers plays today. And “for the good of the game” we “must move on,” even if thirteen trophies throughout the 2000s were won with the help of an “unfair sporting advantage.” Remember, the Lord Nimmo Smith Commission’s verdict on Rangers’ Scottish Premier League rule breaches was predicated entirely upon Rangers’ tax avoidance schemes being lawful, having provided a fair “sporting advantage” over clubs who could also have used them.

More rampant hypocrisy and demonstrable nonsense to follow, you can all rest very assured (some of it from me, many will claim). But for now… January’s transfer window will dominate Anglo-centric thoughts as English Premier League (EPL) clubs continue to overspend TV billions. Meanwhile, more broad-minded football fans will gravitate towards one of the world’s biggest and most important tournaments, currently viewed in Britain almost exclusively through the twin-contexts of EPL clubs missing players for up to five weeks or EPL players being “surprisingly” left out of squads.

The 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals start on January 14th in Gabon on Africa’s mid-west coast and will mainly be shown on British Eurosport, show jumping advertorial magazine shows allowing (these have often cut across AFCON and other international football tournament coverage… Eurosport must pay the bills somehow). Expect a fuller preview on 200% and extensive/excessive/interminable (delete as applicable) coverage throughout the event. Ohand Fifa? Yep. I might have a peek at what they are up to… just in case…

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