16 April 2013

The Innocent Villains


by Andy McKellar | Deputy Editor

The uniquely mad world of Scottish football yesterday provided further evidence that the lunatics are indeed running the asylum and that there is absolutely no place for voices of sanity and reason. The Scottish Premier League clubs met deep within the bowels of our national stadium and it is probably fair to acknowledge that the resulting vote has caused quite a bizarre furore. 

The meeting lasted in excess of four hours and as each minute passed I was probably joined by a growing number of fans who feared that the much maligned and hugely unpopular plans for league reconstruction would be approved. Reports prior to the meeting had suggested that both St Mirren and Ross County would vote against the proposals however, as we all know, nothing can be taken for granted when it comes to Scottish football. 

The Scottish Premier League rules dictated that a majority of 11-1 was required in order for the plans to be approved and passed over to the SFL clubs for the next stage of voting. Both Stewart Gilmour and Roy MacGregor however were not satisfied enough with the proposals to vote in their favour and thus the attempt to hastily push through league reconstruction fell embarrassingly at the first hurdle despite the immense pressure and bully-boy tactics applied by some clubs and their officials. What followed though was rather incomprehensible. 

The chairmen of St Mirren and Ross Country yesterday acted in the best interests of their clubs, their shareholders and their supporters. To those of sound mind and reasonable sanity that would probably appear to be the right and proper thing to do in any situation. These men however were vilified and demonised for their actions and have rather foolishly been accused of potentially destroying our national game. 

One of the noisiest critics was of course Stuart Milne of Aberdeen, a man who was close to tears when emerging from Hampden Stadium following the meeting with his fellow clubs. The decision apparently sent a “horrendous” message to all and sundry and St Mirren in particular were the main target of his anger and frustration. His interview was comedy gold. I suggest you give it a watch sometime. 

Ironically of course it was Milne who stood shoulder to shoulder with Celtic earlier in the season to maintain the controversial voting structure which proved to be the downfall of the reconstruction plans. He predictably failed to mention that point and instead continued in a bitter tirade against men who attempted to do what they are supposed to and act for the benefit of their clubs. In fact, they have a legal duty to do so. Think about that for a minute, Mr Milne. 

Last summer amidst the chaos and uncertainty of the Rangers’ situation it was the fans’ voices who were powerful and persuasive. Stephen Thompson knowledgably informed us that “any business which ignores its customers is doomed to fail” and this provided the justification required to deny our club entry to the SPL. Many other clubs of course followed suit and consulted their supporters and it was key that their wishes and desires were adhered to. Or so we were told. 

Only one year on from that “sporting integrity” sham we now have ten clubs willing to completely discard the views of their fans. A recent survey by the Scottish FA showed that an overwhelming majority of 87% were not in favour of the plans put forward but this seems to have had little impact on the chairmen and officials casting the all-important votes. The hypocrisy of these men is absolutely astounding however it has been hidden behind smoke, mirrors and the inevitably pathetic claim that this was being done for the good of the game. Please, spare me. 

I fully support the statement issued by Rangers Football Club which stated that “the vast majority of supporters did not want 12-12-18 and the two clubs who voted against this should not be singled out for criticism. They stood up for what they and their fans believe”. Unfortunately such a balanced view is not common within the twisted world of our national game and so inevitably the clubs in question have been thoroughly demonised for doing the right thing. If that sounds completely mental, it’s probably because it really is. 

The Scottish media now have story after story waiting to be written. Question marks remain over the urgency behind this reconstruction campaign and the desperate attempts by Celtic to amend the voting requirements during the course of the meeting earlier today. There are also answers to be sought from Neil Doncaster, a man who is destined for a career in politics as he effortlessly and repeatedly swats away and dodges questions. 

What happened to Rangers’ prize money, Neil? What are the details of the current television deal? Why have you deliberately withheld the value of this deal when you were so vocal about the previous one? Will you be looking to form an SPL2? The list is endless. Let’s just hope we have some journalists out there brave enough to ask the questions and, to be fair, it was a valiant attempt by Graham Spiers and Tom English on BBC Sportsound yesterday evening. Let’s hope the questions continue to roll in. Maybe one day we’ll get an answer. 

As a Rangers fan I am personally delighted that the proposals have been rejected because it means that we progress to the Second Division and don’t have to endure another term in the bottom-tier which would essentially render this season’s title win as meaningless, at least in terms of its practical benefit. This means that we can now start preparing for the campaign ahead, get the renewal forms sent out and begin building for the next stage of our journey back to the top. 

Again, I’d just like to congratulate and applaud the bravery shown by both St Mirren and Ross County in their decision to vote against seriously flawed proposals which many were attempting to bulldoze through. They stood up for their fans and themselves and that is commendable when many around them were desperately trying to influence their decision to suit their own needs. 

These clubs have been accused of acting in self-interest. And what if they have? Hasn’t every club attempted to do that? Isn’t that the whole point of a democratic vote? Aren’t they entitled to look after themselves? Put it this way, I want every decision Charles Green makes to benefit Rangers Football Club. To criticise other chairmen for doing the exact same would just be completely hypocritical. 

Anyway, I don’t know what all the big fuss is about. The SPL is completely fine without us and is in rude health. We’ll see you in a few years’ time. Well, if there is anything left that is.