14 August 2012

Vincent Lunny's broken record

by Andy McKellar | Contributor

Earlier this week Rangers returned home to Ibrox, the first time since their Third Division status was confirmed, where they rewarded their loyal supporters with a display of terrific, free-flowing football against Gordon Durie’s East Fife. It was refreshing to finally return to the glorious enjoyment of the action on the pitch after the seemingly never-ending saga that unfolded throughout the summer. We have however been served with another unfortunate and ridiculous distraction and it will come as no surprise to many that the Scottish FA are the perpetrators. 

Over one-hundred days after Ally McCoist first questioned the Judicial Panel and their decision to enforce the ludicrous registration embargo amongst other sanctions, including three maximum fines, the Compliance Offer has finally decided that our manager has a case to answer. Vincent Lunny has also brought charges against Charles Green, Rangers’ CEO, following his comments about ‘bigotry’ being partly behind the decision to deny our Club entry to the Scottish Premier League earlier this year. 

The charges against McCoist and Green include both ‘bringing the game into disrepute’ and ‘failing to act in the best interests of the game’ and I’m sure the irony of such claims won’t be lost on many of you given the conduct and performance of the Scottish Football Association in recent months. Not only did the SFA contrive to block entry to the SPL but they then disgracefully proceeded in threatening and bullying the Scottish Football League clubs into parachuting Rangers into the First Division. Just ask Turnbull Hutton. 

Interestingly Hutton and many other SFL chairmen who spoke out against the actions of Stewart Regan and the rest of his organisation, as well as the SPL of course, have not been taken to task over their comments. Is this because they are officials representing smaller, less significant clubs or is it because they were in fact entirely correct with what they were saying? Unfortunately there is no good answer for the SFA to give. Their lack of action speaks volumes. 

For whatever reason the Scottish Football Association decided that the identities of the Judicial Panel members, making one of the biggest decisions in the recent history of Scottish football, were not to be disclosed. This rather seems to contradict the previous claims made by Regan that the SFA were to be characterised by transparency and openness, not that we should be surprised I suppose. McCoist clearly objected. 

Super Ally claimed that both he, as well as the Rangers’ supporters, deserved to be informed of just who was passing judgement on the actions of our Club, even if the Scottish FA rather ignored the fact that such actions were the result of Craig Whyte’s dictator-like operation at Ibrox. 
Regardless of their rationale, the SFA proceeded to release the names of the Judicial Panel amidst the emotional furore that was emanating from the blue legions. Of course, and perhaps inevitably, some morons overstepped the line and threats and abusive emails were reported as being sent to the individuals involved. Needless to say any threats were completely empty, however that does not excuse the fact that they were sent in the first place. 

What followed was a media frenzy which attempted to tarnish the name and reputation of Alistair Murdoch McCoist MBE. Our friends in the media simply couldn’t wait to link the behaviour of a few idiotic fans to the comments made by our manager, who was by then the custodian of our club in all but name, and ignoring that many in their own ranks had been asking the very same questions about the tribunal for days prior in print and on radio and television.

If the SFA's logic is to be consistently applied then one must surely acknowledge that the attacks and threats made to Willie Collum following his controversial decision to award Rangers a penalty at Parkhead were as a direct consequence of post-match comments made by an enraged Neil Lennon. This was not the case, and the rather distasteful exercise in reporting witnessed following McCoist's comments may well have played a part in ensuring they were not ignored by the football authorities, but that the journalists own calls were quickly washed away.

Strangely the Scottish FA then proceeded, without the need for any prompting, to announce the members involved in the Appellate Tribunal following Rangers’ appeal against the draconian punishments issued initially. Following this sound decision there was no report of threats or any such undesirable actions. I would even be so bold as to suggest that it was the secrecy and ‘cloak and dagger’ like set-up of the Judicial Panel which heightened the interest in just who was involved in the first place. Under the circumstances, I certainly find it to be utterly ridiculous that McCoist can be punished for requesting transparency from a self-proclaimed transparent organisation. Nevertheless, that is the situation we find ourselves in. Laughable isn’t it?

Speaking of laughter, let’s now look at the charges raised against Charles Green. The Yorkshireman, who is still acquainting himself with the joys of Scottish football, claimed that ‘bigotry’ was part of the reason that Rangers were not permitted to ply their trade in the SPL this season. 

Of course in this part of the world the word in question carries certain connotations which unquestionably bring a religious aspect into play. Crucially, Green made no mention of religion or sectarianism during his speech, although it hasn’t stopped others putting words in his mouth since. At this point in time it may be worthwhile taking a minute to grab your Collins’ English Dictionary or typing ‘bigotry’ into your Google search bar and examining its exact definition, especially if you are still of the opinion that the Rangers Chief Executive has a case to answer. Unfortunately, it seems Mr Lunny didn’t go to such lengths. 

Personally I agree with Mr Green’s assessment and James Traynor, amongst others,  went as far as to suggest that there was certainly a case of old scores being settled when the votes were cast at Hampden. If Green is being charged with failing to act in the best interests of the game then what about the chairmen who have instantly removed so many millions from Scottish football as a direct consequence of Rangers’ absence from the top-tier? I’d also take this opportunity to highlight that such office bearers are potentially in breach of the Companies Act 2006 in terms of failing to act in the best interests of the company. If any clubs do encounter financial problems, it will be interesting to see if any shareholders will take action against the responsible directors. They may well have a decent case. Just deserts and all that. Moving on.

If representatives of football clubs are not allowed to give their honest and humble opinions on certain matters then just where does that leave the right to freedom of speech? I can understand that there are limitations to what is allowable and acceptable, however in this specific scenario I simply cannot see how the comment in question is worthy of a disciplinary charge. Mr Green gave a personal opinion, one which he of course cannot prove beyond complete doubt due to the subjective and intangible nature of the claims, although there is undeniably evidence out there which would support his argument. Unfortunately I feel that Charles Green is being victimised for representing a certain club rather than for the comments actually made. Some may call that paranoia but I would ask them to firstly consider the events of recent months before being overly critical in that regard. 

Fortunately Malcolm Murray responded immediately with a statement which made it clear that Rangers Football Club would strongly and firmly defend both Ally McCoist and Charles Green against the charges raised by the SFA. Quite simply this is the only way to go and we cannot allow ourselves to be targeted unfairly and steamrollered by those who lurk inside the corridors of Hampden. 

The Rangers’ situation in recent months has indeed made a mockery of Scottish football and I don’t doubt for a second that people down south and further afield will have allowed themselves a childish titter as the events unfolded. We have suffered from leaderless, incompetent and negligent governance from the very moment that Regan and Doncaster were appointed to their positions of power. They have done more to bring the game into disrepute than any club ever could, and one ventures it should be them answering to legitimate charges, instead of Green and McCoist having to account fro trumped up ones.

But then that wouldn't be the SFA we've come to know so well over the past months, would it?