30 November 2012

Everything is Just Fine, Honest

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

The creation of the Scottish Premier League was said to have “heralded a new dawn in the history of Scottish Football with the top clubs taking control of their own destiny to drive the game forward on and off the park and deliver a brighter future”, at least according to its website. And to be fair, the SPL produced some remarkable league championships and witnessed some outstanding talents from across the continent ply their trade in our country. Sadly though, those days are but a distant memory.
In theory, this breakaway from the original Scottish Football League would drive our national game forward, making it richer, more exciting and bringing more quality to supporters and viewers alike. In actual fact, the reverse of such an effect resulted as a promising start gradually faded into the dark and harsh reality that it on show today.

The SPL, quite simply, is a failing product and fans have turned away in their thousands from the top-tier as high quality football from England & Spain has become more readily available to your average household. There has been no response to this in our country. There has been no innovation. There have been no big ideas. We have allowed our game to stagnate and we are now seeing the consequences of such apathy in abundance.

Neil Doncaster though apparently disagrees. Today he was on the record as saying that everything was just fine in the Scottish Premier League, that attendances were up for half of its member clubs and that the banishment of Rangers has had minimal impact on proceedings thus far. He also claimed that “Scottish football is renowned worldwide in a very positive light; renowned for its passion, drama and excitement”. It’s a shame football fans in this country don’t see things the same way, isn’t it, Neil?

Mr Doncaster’s attendance claims are of course aided by the fact that there were two new clubs promoted into the league, which naturally increases the crowds of any club moving up a division. He does however fail to mention the estimated £30M lost to the game in broadcasting revenue alone through the decision to omit the country’s biggest club from the top-flight. What a surprise.

Doncaster also appears to be completely oblivious to the current financial crisis at Heart of Midlothian FC and the various financial losses recorded by clubs in their most recent financial year, when incidentally Rangers were still a member of the league. The accounts for this season should certainly make interesting reading in about twelve month’s time. Bank managers across the country may already be getting rather edgy as it is. I suspect Neil is already preparing his next round of excuses or mistruths for when that time eventually arrives.

There has been a lot made about the competitiveness of the SPL since Rangers’ departure however this seems to have had little or no effect on attendances or viewing figures whatsoever. In fact, the League is reliant upon 15 games involving a certain Third Division club to prop itself up, at least temporarily. What does that tell you?

Even the current SPL Champions can’t be bothered to turn up and watch this newly exciting and competitive league. A conservative estimate would probably account for a drop of twenty-thousand people at Parkhead each and every game in comparison to last season and that in itself tells a hugely concerning story for everyone connected with the top-tier. Even more so when you consider the biggest attendances and largest viewing figures lie with Rangers in the Third Division. And don’t even get me started on “Sell-Out Saturday”.

I’m afraid that Neil Doncaster must surely have joined Peter Lawwell, the master puppeteer, in his parallel universe somewhere far beyond the reality of Scottish football. He cannot be oblivious to the failings that lie in front of his very eyes and he is insulting the intelligence of every supporter in the country with his claims that all is hunky dory in the Premier League.

There is a very good reason that league reconstruction is being pushed to the forefront of discussions at this moment in time. The fact of the matter is that changes have to be made, particularly at the top end of our game, if we wish to revitalise and improve the standards in this country. What is unfortunate however is that incompetent idiots like Regan & Doncaster are involved in such talks and, in all honesty, both should have been shown the door quite some time ago.

A couple of weekend’s ago Rangers hosted Peterhead at Ibrox Stadium in front of a crowd of 48,500 people, the biggest crowd in Scotland that weekend yet again. There were four SPL games played on the same day and the combined attendances narrowly scraped over the 16,000 mark. Rather embarrassing for a supposedly thriving league, wouldn’t you say?
If Neil Doncaster wishes to continue to ignore the facts which are unavoidable for most supporters in this country then he can be my guest. I hold no sympathy for the Scottish Premier League or its member clubs. I hold no sympathy for the fans who urged their chairmen to vote the biggest asset out of the competition.

They have made their bed, now they must lie in it.

29 November 2012

The King in Waiting

by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

David Longmuir had a very busy past weekend. He was already due to attend the Supporters Direct conference at Falkirk when he received a call on Friday afternoon about the Elgin debacle. Too many tickets sold. Game called off. 

Longmuir addressed the Supporters Direct meeting in Falkirk on Sunday as planned. He was presenting his plans for reconstruction to the fans: The end users. The consumers. What a nice change of pace for a Scottish football administrator. 

Notable then that one of the primary themes was a fairer distribution of money around the Scottish game. He pointed out the disparity of getting 10 times the prize money for finishing bottom of the SPL than for winning Division One. 

It’s a redistribution question that Rangers ignored for years, and I hope finally that we work to our fellow member SFL clubs to sort it out. That will of course meet strong resistance from current SPL clubs, but a compromise will have to be struck. After all, it's for the good of supporters up and down the country if all the clubs are present and accounted for financially.

The Elgin call off has provided an unexpected test of leadership for Longmuir, and when called upon how has he reacted? Only five days later we have the decision - Elgin will be fined £25k (peculiarly £5k of which to a charity of Rangers choice, a classy and unexpected touch) and pay Rangers expenses. 

It sounds pretty harsh for a 3
rd Division side, although points could have been deducted as well. Reverberations on Twitter indicated RFC support was overwhelmingly opposed to any such punishment.

There is reason to feel sorry for Elgin: had Rangers not ended up in Division 3 then it wouldn’t have happened. Division 3 infrastructure was never meant to cope with a club the size of Rangers. 

The flip side of that is that our presence in the SFL has started the redistribution of money in Scottish football by default. It presents a great opportunity for the smaller clubs to make good money for once, to clear their books up not for weeks or months but for years to come. 

Elgin made a mess of it, and it’s not clear whether by accident or actions of greed, but make a mess of it they did. And the level of the fine is commensurate to the fact that big TV companies and big TV contracts were involved. I can’t imagine ESPN were exactly pleased. Longmuir doesn’t want a repeat or to diminish the SFL’s ability to deliver big TV contracts in the future.

And it must be remembered that he is a football administrator. And rules are rules, they must be applied (with a little bit of common sense thrown in). Maybe not all football administrators are useless after all.

In contrast, think of the SFA and SPL faffing about re: Rangers and the way they effectively passed the buck to the SFL. Backward thinking, illegal punishments, inaction and paralysis dominate.

Think of the SFA faffing about over letting Levein go, or not actually letting him go, but not letting him be manager anymore whilst still paying him £35k a month for the remainder of his contract. They took an age and still made some shocking decisions.  

I’m not sure of the circumstances around the reconstruction plans taking shape but it’s clear the SFL and SPL weren’t working together on it. Longmuir and the SFL got a jump on the SPL by announcing their plans first, the SPL again made to look sluggish and reactive. 

Of course SPL teams will carry some weight around reconstruction, but they won’t have it all their own way and sorting it out demands quality leadership, something the SPL does not have at the minute. 

Longmuir will reiterate his ideas on reconstruction to the Professional Game Board of the SFA on Wednesday. The SPL will be pitching too. The future of the game is up for grabs. Battle lines will be drawn. What will the SFA do?

I have also been also impressed by his comments on inflated ticket prices for Rangers visits -- it’s what the SPL clubs did to our away fans for years and years, so it's certainly nothing new in our world.

Elgin apparently increased ticket prices on their oversold match, and Queen's Park popping for a maximum £20 a ticket for our game at Hampden on 29 December has raised eyebrows and drawn criticism from Longmuir. A football body standing up for the fans? That’ll do for me. 

Inability to lead and ineptitude from the SFA and SPL has crippled Scottish football, and the Rangers saga has only gone to magnify their failures. The game is suffering a long lingering death, entangled in politics and in-fighting, with further cracks appearing at board level. Who really thought Baldy Thompson being the first to jump ship?

David Longmuir and the SFL appear to be different. We have a king in waiting and the anointment should be at the earliest opportunity. Longmuir to head up a revamped and overhauled two tier SPL as a compromise? Don’t count it out yet. Money talks, and SPL clubs swimming in pools of debt facilitated by Neil Doncaster and Stewie Regan's abdication of leadership should not soon be forgotten.

So arise David Longmuir. You've got our backing. Now don't go bollocksing it up.

28 November 2012

The Minority Rules

by Scott Ferguson | CRO Guest Contributor 

Gasps of horror!

Mouths open in disbelief!

Hooped shirts drenched with cold sweats!

An impossible nightmare became a reality … and I don’t mean Freddy Krueger.

For many the world ended a little earlier than the Mayans had predicted when the long awaited result came in…

… Rangers had won the Big Tax Case!

Suddenly the haters and enablers were thrown into the twilight zone with that familiar music ringing in their ears. Doo Doo Doo Doo!
‘Quick! Someone save us from this!  This can’t be real….nooooooooooo!!!!!’

‘To the RangersTaxCase website!  He will have the answers. He always has the answers!’

‘Holy virtual shredding Vatman!  It’s disappearing in front of my eyes!!!!
Alas, this panic didn’t last too long as the usual instigators came to the rescue.  It appears Rangers only won by 2 to 1…phew!

Apparently this wasn’t a victory. The logic I’m sure you’ll agree is baffling but I’d be lying if I said it surprised me.

It seems the reasoning behind this is that a 2 to 1 decision in ‘these cases’ is highly unusual.

‘These cases?’

If only we had known that there had been so many precedents set for EBT Tribunal battles between HMRC and football clubs. I must have missed them all.

But, wait, wasn’t I told that HM Revenue & Customs were treating this as some sort of ‘test case’ with Rangers Football Club and the Murray Group playing the role of the guinea pig?

Now, the same people who told us we should never question the decisions of esteemed law lords in any manner of tribunal have now decided that that is indeed utter bollocks and have now began doing so, at great length and with great enthusiasm.

Thanks to Dr Heidi Poon, the only member of the panel who incidentally is not a lawyer, the great obsessed are still largely living in denial.

Given the complete ignorance of the majority opinion it does indeed seem that the minority rules.

In the process of ignoring the opinions of the majority many are now instead revelling in the opinion of someone who was paying such close attention to things that she has subsequently awarded Rangers a ‘UEFA Championship’ which, according to her, resulted in six of these sub-trusts being created. Quite remarkable isn’t it?

Thank goodness the entire fate of the Big Tax Case wasn’t decided by her understanding of the offside rule! N.B. The CRO legal team have advised me to state that this comment is not sexist in any way, shape or form...honest.

Alex ‘Tomoblog’ Thomson became the latest to jump on the bandwagon of denial when he released his latest entry whilst sitting sipping coffee at Starbucks after returning from a successful spell in Gaza where his Vodafone network signal seemed to serve him rather well.

Mr Thomson claims that Rangers, who were all but guilty whilst under appeal, can now NOT be considered innocent on the off-chance that there may be another appeal by HMRC. Again, the logic is completely baffling but we should be used to that by now I suppose.

Oh, and now Rangers FC are wholly responsible for a library being closed in Govan apparently. Thanks for that insight, Alex.

I foresee that in the months that will follow the usual suspects will continue to spread this nonsense until the minority belief once again will become the majority opinion. Contrary to the official decision, the majority will again begin to believe that Rangers are still guilty. This will at least continue until the Kangaroo Court under the SPL banner reveals their decision.

If Rangers are deemed innocent I’m sure at this point they will apologise and admit their mistakes, won’t they? Okay, probably not. 

What is more likely is that they will continue to push their agendas until enough people believe in the minority. There would appear to be science behind this, an art of convincing so many that the truth is not what we have been told and not what the facts continue to tell us.

A few years ago at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, a study was conducted by scientists into how a minority opinion becomes a majority one.

“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”

So, once 10% of the population becomes committed to an idea it is highly likely that it could eventually become the opinion of the majority.

The key it would seem is to stay committed to your ‘opinion’. And they undoubtedly will. What other choice do they have - admit they were wrong? Will they say they are sorry and show contrition?

None of the above is likely.

Our only hope is to continue to fight those that appear to want to blacken the name of our club at any cost, regardless of any facts that get in their way.

Every Rangers fan needs to stand up and be counted and ensure that the truth comes to the surface.

A good starting point would be by adding your name to this petition:


Those that have used underhand and potentially illegal tactics to attack Rangers Football Club need to be held accountable.

Only when the majority are on board will the haters and enablers be discredited and finally silenced.

Scott checks in at the CRO and with our friends The Rangers Standard from time-to-time. He can be found on twitter at @st2oh

27 November 2012

Since the rest of the Scottish media will run as far from this as possible, we'll go ahead and post it up, let you make your own decisions instead of trying to fit this under the rug. That fucking thing is PACKED with stuff that's been swept under already.

Just in case you want to read beyond the headline, here's your link.

Underclass indeed. As you were...

26 November 2012

This post has been legally cleared by CRO lawyers

By Shane Nicholson | CRO Executive Editor

There are methods shoddy journalists will use to fill in the gaps in their reporting, or make themselves look a bit more credible than they are. Anonymous sources are always a winner, or playing the travel card -- I couldn't cover it. I was on my way to such-and-such and there is no such thing as mobile internet connections in my universe.

BEWARE: Marks of the perpetually lazy.

One of the all-time greats is trying to make it appear as if your story is so cutting, so mad raging shit-stormingly awesome, that you had to have your outlet's legal department pick through every word with a fine-toothed comb before releasing it:

Nothing this stain on modern journalism reports in regards to Rangers is worthy of this type of clearance, and as for his "tax experts," well, we know who they are. Bravo on working "downfall" into your close for this piece, Alex. What'd you win in RTC bingo this week?

This is A1 in the handbook on how to take a story in which you have no part to play, zero significance that you haven't already created by your own hand, and perpetuating your continued involvement. What I'm saying is so mind-blowingly fucking spectacular I had to have a dozen lawyers read it first.

No, you didn't. And if Channel 4 is making you screen your shit past their legal department first now it's only so you don't get them on David Murray's ever growing litigation hit list, Alex.

You're a con artist, and you can't stop the momentum of your own downfall now, so you figure you might as well ride it out. Your pay plan must have a heavy bonus for web-traffic, a trick learned from the freelance golfist, no doubt.

If I was a betting man, I'd say "legally cleared" in this case roughly translates to "waiting for the intern on the web-side to remove all the soft returns from my story so it isn't a complete fucking mess when it hits the site."

I'm not sure you could climb any further up your own ass at this point, Alex, but it's going to be fun watching you try.

23 November 2012

Phil's bad week

By the time Friday arrived, it was almost as if Swift himself had penned it.

Ol' 3-187names is not having a good past few days, we think. Chin up, Phil. Weekend's coming!

Thanksgiving, or Why we don't have a comments section

There's been a common question throughout the existence of the CRO from fans, enemies, moderately interested souls, passersby, wives, etc. etc. That would be, "Why don't you have a comments section?"

The simple answer is, I don't want one. Moderating such a thing seems a terrible nuisance, and you can imagine the type of people we'd end up with commenting on our site.

Beyond that, you are more than welcome to talk to us individually on Twitter, fire us an email, harass us in the various forums we inhabit, threaten to brutally beat someone you believe to be one of us (it's not) at the pub... whatever floats your boat.

I don't see the value, and I'd recommend any other Rangers blogger who doesn't thrive off the rush of a comments section to resist the urge. It will not only drive you insane, there's every chance it will neuter your work. Here's an example by the brilliant Matthew Inman, otherwise known on the interwebs as The Oatmeal:

You can and should read this whole cartoon. We take absolutely no credit for its level of amazing.
Very funny. Very true. And with what goes on in the little world of Scottish football Andy and I would go mental trying to keep up. That's why we contracted with Do the Bouncy to be our de facto forum, and they are excellent sports because I'm doing a terrible job at getting our stories up there the past couple weeks.

Anyway, moral is, comments can be good. We're never going to have them on the site. Please please please always feel free to send us a note on Twitter or via email. We're all good sports and enjoy the discussion.

So with that, I'd like to extend a big THANK YOU to all of our readers and followers, and I know all the rest of the crew would join me in doing the same. It's been a great bit of fun bringing you guys Rangers news and views since the summer, and we've no plans of slowing down anytime soon.


22 November 2012

The Truth

by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
Winston Churchill

Lies are quick because they are easily made up. And they are so often made up purely to hide the truth. Eventually however they catch up with the liars and those trying to conceal the truth will do one of two things – repeat the lies in an attempt to get people to accept it as the ‘truth’ or alternatively they will provide a stubborn wall of silence. They will never ask questions, nor will they field them. Questions are troublesome to liars and are therefore ignored or deflected because questions are trying to get at the facts. And the facts would reveal the truth. You can’t make them up. And if you do try and make them up, people see through them, eventually.

This is what we have witnessed throughout the troubles at Rangers. The truth has been and to a large extent still is elusive. The lies, misinformation, manipulation of fact and propaganda have come thick and fast from Rangers-haters over the past year and more. It has been almost relentless.

 This narrative was apparent at last week’s Celtic AGM. Truth-teller Britney tweeted:

 “Punter at Celtic AGM calls Rangers/EBTs scandal ‘the biggest fraud in the history of sport.’ Whooping and clapping greets his remarks. .”

 As it turns out the punter may yet be right, but most definitely not in the way they meant. In any case the propaganda had done its job. Fantasy had become fact. It was never questioned, simply repeated and repeated time and time again.

 For some it was too easy to believe because they desperately wanted it to be true. Eventually many others believed - other clubs’ fans believed, even some journalists believed it or least didn’t question it. We were cheats. We were tax-dodgers. Even some of our own fans began to believe it. We had put together an illegal scheme and owed millions to HM Revenue & Customs.

 The EBTs though were never illegal. Yesterday, at long last, we finally discovered that we never owed millions in tax regarding our use of Employee Benefit Trusts. It was a phantom debt.

 The problem with lies is that they are very difficult to keep going. Those that want the truth will keep asking questions and when they do you’d better remember your story. You need to be consistent in your fantasy and that is very difficult to keep up, particularly in today’s electronic age.

 You can delete a blog, you can delete an article but the electronic footprint lives on much longer than you could imagine. In the end it is easy to tell the truth because it happened and easy to forget the lies because they didn’t.

 It isn’t for me to tell you what the truth is. You can tell the truth from the facts that exist. And in this case there are plenty more facts still to be established.

 Ask yourself: who shouted loudest and cried repeatedly that we were cheats, that EBTs were illegal, that the club was dead and their version of events could never be questioned? And who are still shouting?

Who changed their version of the ‘truth’ as they went along and in particular since the FTT decision went in Rangers favour? Some of the ‘truth’ rather appears to have disappeared., coincidentally I’m sure.

Which journalists were asking the pertinent questions? Who have been afraid or unwilling to seek the truth? Why weren’t the right questions being asked of the right people?

You can draw your own conclusions. I started with Churchill, I shall leave you with George Washington:

 “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light”

 So keep asking questions until you get there. We’ll be asking them too.
Peter is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @Seasider06 and via email: pewart@thecoplandroad.org

21 November 2012

The Finger of Blame

By Andy McGowan | CRO Contributor

The announcement that the ‘Big Tax Case’ had gone in favour of Rangers was a bittersweet moment for fans of the club. For years the story grew with continuous lies, sensationalism and half-truths published as full facts by both the main stream media and the undercurrent of East-end bloggers. As the story gathered momentum the liability grew with it ending in a journey from £25-30 million to £75-100 million. Even the BBC, a beacon of journalistic integrity, reported that Rangers were £130 million in debt with a hypothetical tax bill making up almost all of this.
Wrapped up in all the rumours and whispers was the truth that was unavoidable for Rangers and more importantly for potential investors in the club – Rangers did potentially owe a huge tax bill that no one, not even the club itself truly knew the extent of.  The tax case hung over the club like a dark storm cloud. Walter Smith and Ally McCoist brought us success on the park and the balance sheet continued to look better and better as Rangers recorded profits and slashed millions from the club’s overdraft with Lloyds Bank who had taken control of David Murray’s vast crumbling empire.

But despite the success on and off the park the club simply wasn’t attractive enough to a buyer with the tax bill unresolved. Many flirted with the idea of bidding for the club but no serious offer was tabled, leaving an increasingly frustrated Lloyds TSB willing to consider any offer that would see them get their money back and the club off their books.

This offer came from Craig Whyte who declared interest in the club in December 2010 before going on a charm offensive that had some of Scotland’s most senior journalists falling over themselves for several months. The Daily Record even went as far as to describe Mr. Whyte as a ‘Billionaire Whiz kid.’ 

While the media were increasingly falling in love with Whyte the current board at Ibrox were becoming increasingly alarmed by his now long and drawn out bid for the club, leading both Alastair Johnston and Martin Bain to speak out before the deal was concluded. Paul Murray was also alarmed enough by what he had seen to launch a last minute bid to buy the club himself. 

What became apparent in the days following Whyte’s takeover of the club was that Lloyds TSB had left David Murray and the Rangers’ boardroom between a rock and a hard place – Sell to Whyte, or face our wrath.
Whyte’s ownership of the club went sour, as AJ, Martin Bain and Paul Murray expected it would. Throughout the whole process – as Duff and Phelps were brought in, as bids were welcomed for the club, as CVA proposals were rejected and as Charles Green set about rebuilding - Craig Whyte stood on the side lines telling us this wasn’t his mess, that he may have been driving the train but it was David Murray who had set it on its course. Even in his statement on the 12th February as the club were plunged into administration Craig Whyte told us that a £75 million tax bill was inevitable.

The announcement that Rangers have won the Big Tax Case has left Craig Whyte with nowhere to hide. Make no mistake, every inch of the pain felt by Rangers fans over the last 9 months lies squarely at the door of Craig Whyte. He inherited a healthy football club and in the space of only a few months plunged it into a chaos which we may now never know the full extent of. I also suspect we will never hear from Mr. Whyte again following the outcome of the tax tribunal. A coward only speaks out when he is shielded and now that his defence has been stripped away he will disappear like a thief in the night, never giving the fans the closure or apology they deserve for his reign at Ibrox.

The roles of David Murray, Lloyds Banking Group and the SFA in this matter should not be downplayed however. The events that led to our administration and eventual collapse may have been caused by Craig Whyte but the man he inherited the club from set the conditions for these events to unfold. 

David Murray ran Rangers into debt time and again as his ego continually ruled his head and was quite simply too big for his wallet. His disastrous practises left MIH and Rangers in the hands of a banking group who cared not a jot what happened to the club once they had their money. Lloyds were well aware of what was to come; no one involved at the top table there will have been shocked by the current mess at Ibrox one suspects.

And as the Rangers board lobbied furiously for the sale to be blocked the SFA looked on, in full knowledge of the man who was taking over and did nothing. They stood idly by as a man they had deemed not to be fit and proper took over the biggest club in Scotland and only sought to act when Whyte was long gone. The damage was done and the club was in no position to ask why they hadn’t acted sooner. If Craig Whyte knocked the dominos over, Murray, Lloyds and the SFA had set them up for him.

All of the blame for Rangers liquidation now belongs to the man many of us always blamed but the tax tribunal decision only makes the actions of David Murray, Lloyds and the SFA much harder to take. Questions need to be asked especially at the SFA why they allowed this to happen and Charles Green, with Rangers now on their way back to full strength, is the man who has to ask these questions and get what little justice Rangers can by holding the people in question accountable, morally and financially.

Andy is a regular contributor to the CRO. You can find him rambling on Twitter at @iEmpire_Andy or via email at: amcgowan@thecoplandroad.org

Graham, just stop

And you can take these for the road:

Now run along back and cover the golf, where people are perhaps a little too polite to point out your shortcomings.

Shut Down the Kangaroo Court

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

The Big Tax Case cast an ominous shadow over Rangers just as a dark cloud does before a storm. David Murray’s decision to operate an Employee Benefit Trust scheme may have been beneficial at the time, minimising the Club’s tax bill through the clever utilisation of discretionary loans, but there is no doubt that it was very damaging due to the uncertainty and panic it eventually created. HM Revenue & Customs did of course believe that these payments were taxable and so issued Rangers FC with a liability in excess of £40M, much to the distress of the owner, the supporters and even the bankers. The whole case carried on for far too long and it is a relief to at last have some sort of decision made.

Yesterday’s victory was very much a bittersweet moment for many of us. We have been subject to a ridiculous trial by media and the outcome of the FTT was undoubtedly pre-judged and pre-determined by many journalists, bloggers and fans of other clubs. There was a real willingness and eagerness to find Rangers guilty of illegally paying its staff and there was an outcry at our disgraceful tax-dodging antics which deprived our country of hospitals and our soldiers of equipment. Nevermind jelly and ice-cream, humble pie is on the menu today.

There should however be a realisation that so many painful events of the past few months and even years could have been avoided. Lloyds Banking Group twitched nervously at the thought of Rangers having to pay such a tax liability and sought to recoup their money at the earliest possible opportunity. This was achieved when David Murray shamelessly sold the club to Craig Whyte and, well, the rest is history. If only Murray had accepted responsibility for the mess and stood by Rangers then we would most probably still be in the SPL and quite possibly still be playing in Europe. But alas, the past is the past. We must now look forward.

The Big Tax Case victory does not impact immediately onto Rangers under the operation of Charles Green and his investors but instead is a matter for the previous company and the liquidators to deal with. That is not to say that it is completely irrelevant though and in fact, it should set the Club up for yet another victory in the days and weeks ahead. I am of course referring to the SPL investigation.

Many Rangers’ supporters, including myself, have maintained that the investigation made by or on behalf of the Scottish Premier League has been nothing other than a Kangaroo Court. This has again been heard and decided upon in the tabloids and on the internet and the only fitting sanction (guilt is already assumed) is the stripping of titles won unfairly through the participation of ineligible players and financial doping perpetrated by the Club.

Neil Doncaster and Co may want to look away now though, for hidden within the mass of pages of the FTT document is a statement which confirms:

“the majority view reflects the argument that the controversial monies received by the employees were not paid to them as their absolute entitlement. The legal effect of the trust/loan structure is sufficient to preclude this. Thus the payments are loans, not earnings, and so are recoverable from the employee or his estate”

You will note the words highlighted in bold and I have done so for good reason. The SPL and its case against Rangers hinges on the EBT payments made to players being for their footballing activities. If that is the case then these payments were required to be disclosed alongside signed acknowledgements from the players in question. Now, are the SPL going to claim that these loans were in fact salaries and go against the judgement of the FTT? I certainly don’t think that that would be an advisable route to go down, do you?

The argument above is one which I have previously scribbled about here at CRO and I was baffled by the SPL and its Independent Commission continuing its investigation despite the FTT verdict previously being outstanding. As you can clearly see, the treatment of these payments is absolutely vital to the claims against Rangers and so there must surely now be good cause to drop the investigation and finally allow our Club to move forward.

Our former chairman, Alastair Johnston, clearly supports such a view and in an interview with STV last night he said the following:

“What this decision does is it totally removes any obligation that the club would have had to submit these contracts to the SFA or the SPL because they would not have been considered for participation in football.
Unless there are some very strong vested interests who are harbouring a different agenda, at this point – that goes away.
The tribunal has made a ruling and we stand by that ruling”

His argument is logical, sensible and cannot be reasonably countered given the treatment of the payments in question. Put simply – the SPL must drop their investigation immediately or they could be running the risk of a day in court, something which they are unlikely to favour.

It is now clear that Rangers won their titles and trophies fairly and honourably and that any claims of cheating or financial doping are quite simply unfounded. This whole affair has demonstrated that people will choose to believe whatever suits their agenda but in this case the facts simply cannot be ignored.

Charles Green was forced to apologise for the sins of Messrs Murray and Whyte and even that wasn’t enough for some people. Perhaps it is time that some apologies were sent our way after the latest revelations although I certainly won’t be holding my breath.

Turnbull Hutton has previously called our game “corrupt” and any further action taken against Rangers by the SPL would only succeed in fully justifying his claim.

The titles are ours.

54 and counting…..

Andy is the Deputy Editor of the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @AMCKEL and via email: amckel@thecoplandroad.org

20 November 2012

You, journo, no more from you

by Shane Nicholson | CRO Executive Editor

What a day. As has been said all along, the 140 years of unbroken history and unmatched success that is Rangers Football Club will carry on unscathed, even if those at the helm of the headlines still refuse to take heed.

Today brought the long awaited vindication of thousands of Rangers supporters screaming out for someone with a notebook to listen, those in the journalistic upper class of Scottish society, and those who have injected themselves into it uninvited.

Today their pens carry no weight, as their word has been bought and sold repeatedly by liars and discredited professionals of all walks of life.

For you, the journalists who sold tickets for this kangaroo court via your hateful and uninspired brand of “journalism”, shame on you.

You, Britney, your duplicity knows no bounds. You got on Clyde today and pleaded no contest to charges you had pinned Rangers as guilty on the advice of the one with 3-10 names and the failed lawyer's “award winning” blog. You mocked anyone who dare point out to you that they could in fact be wrong; in fact, there was every chance that they were. You peddle vindictive lies about how our support has become more dangerous as a result of the actions taken against our club. You pretend to be one of us when it suits you. Fuck off.

You, Gravy Boat, today you tried to bury an “apology” in regards to your accusing our glorious away support of singing a tune that’s not found its way into the song book for many years. You spewed forth some of the most venomous bile I’ve ever seen from someone who’s paid to entertain and inform the general public. If you worked in the States you would have lost your job long ago. Fuck off.

You, Tomo, are lucky that you’re spending the day in Gaza or Syria or wherever the fuck it is you claim to be. For if it was the case that you had readily available access to a keyboard and a reliable internet connection there is no doubt you would be stumbling all over the pile of bullshit you have gradually built via your “reporting” over the past months. You sympathize with terrorists, value your sources above human life, and have almost single-handedly rekindled a nasty and unnecessary element of Scottish football. You are dangerous, with no regard for what your dishonest and immoral take on something only loosely resembling classical journalism has done. Fuck off.

You, the dozen or so other journos I’ve had many conversations with via email in the past months, you who ignored and shrugged off when I tried to point out repeatedly that there was a bigger story at play here, that you could make your career meaningful if you were willing to ask basic follow up questions, that you had sitting in your lap the biggest story of your life but instead you chose to continue peddling the lies and misinformation of anonymous bloggers, fuck off.

You all bought into the hype stirred up by social media. You wanted to believe it could be true so bad your ignorance and disregard for fact became comical. Even today, you couldn’t possibly wrap your head around it that your web of lies was crashing down. You spent nine months building up some form of intellectual equity on a subject you knew little about, and relied on people hiding behind avatars for your information and insight into it.

You delighted at the thought of dozens of people at Ibrox losing their jobs. You trolled employees and fans of the club with your “Newco Rangers” headlines. You are complicit in this low-ball attempt at the social engineering of a country. If there were any justice, you would all be fired tomorrow.

Sadly, you all cashed checks on the back of this, as did your editors. Some of you even won awards for regurgitating the lies and innuendo. You are supposed to be objective observers of the world around you, and watch dogs for the public without your access and sources and reliable information. You became puppets of a dangerous underclass in Scottish football and society, all the while decrying good Rangers supporters protecting the integrity and history of their club as being nothing more than common criminals.

You should be out of a job, your bosses, too. You are not journalists; you are con-artists. You work in a world where your word is your livelihood, and you have given that up. And for what? What’s your grand reward at the end of the rainbow? We are still alive, stronger than ever, and we’re not going to stop coming after you until the day comes that you can do no harm to any set of football supporters ever again, not that any single one of you would ever say such things about any supporters but those who back Rangers.

Today we won, like we always have, 140 years and counting. If you’re not used to it by now then you never will be. But if you want one fact to take into your next column or investigative exclusive or hate-filled tweet to a football fan let it be this: Rangers then, Rangers now, Rangers forever.

Now fuck off.

Shane is the big boss man of the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @ofvoid and via email: shane@thecoplandroad.org

Time to Forgive and Forget?

by Robbie Devine | CRO Contributor
They were labeled as traitors who turned their backs on the club who had been so kind to their careers and of whom many claimed to be life-long supporters at a time when their loyalty was required more than ever.
For Steven Whittaker, Steven Naismith, Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty, Allan McGregor, Jamie Ness and Rhys McCabe the decision to seek pastures new last summer left a sour taste in the mouths of many supporters whose admiration for such players quickly changed to disdain.

Solid arguments can certainly be made on both sides though as the players had their futures to consider and did not want to waste some of the best years of their careers plying their trade taking on the likes of Elgin and East Stirlingshire in the lower divisions of Scottish football.

But the opinion of a large bulk of the support was that they had let the club down by making hasty exits to earn a fast buck instead of sticking around and helping Charles Green and Co land a much needed boost to the coffers in the form of transfer fees.

It is a real shame that the reputations of these guys will no doubt be forever tarnished in the eyes of the fans as each of them made a real contribution in the team’s successes in recent years.

The memories of Whittaker’s lung bursting run and finish in Lisbon, Naismith’s howitzer against Celtic last August, Davis’ Old Firm winner, Lafferty’s title winning hat-trick at Rugby Park, McGregor’s glorious penalty save from the inglorious Greek, Ness’s superb third minute strike against Celtic and McCabe’s man of the match performance in the famous 3-2 win over our friends from across the city last March will live long in the minds of the Rangers faithful but it is up for debate as to whether the fans will ever welcome these guys back at Ibrox.

The anger and frustration which erupted following their departures has surely subsided and perhaps now it may be a good time for bears to reevaluate their opinions of them. It may also be worthwhile taking time to judge just how successful they have been since packing up their bags at Auchenhowie and heading south, or in McGregor’s case off to Turkey.

Whittaker has now established himself as a regular in the Norwich team after overcoming his injury problems and indeed played a big part in the weekend win over Manchester United. Naismith has become a
favourite with the Everton faithful, scoring the equiliser in the Merseyside derby and netting again last Saturday at Wigan, whilst Davis has featured for Southampton on several occasions as they battle to maintain their Premier League status.

Lafferty has netted three times for Sion while McGregor has now became the first choice keeper at Besiktas. McCabe has made twelve appearances for Sheffield Wednesday whereas injury has predictably hampered the contribution of Jamie Ness at Stoke City.
It is far too early to judge if any of these guys will enjoy productive careers with their new clubs but history tells us that very few players ever leave Ibrox and go on to experience greater success or enjoyment.

Gattuso and Arteta are rare examples of those that have went on to bigger and better things and it would surely be churlish for any real Gers fan to feel so aggrieved at the exits of Whittaker and Co as not to wish them the best of luck with their future endeavors.

Who knows, perhaps one day the thought of them pulling on the famous light blue shirt again will not be something considered unimaginable and unwelcome?

Robbie is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be reached via email at: rdevine@thecoplandroad.org

19 November 2012

All the Best, Sandy.

This weekend the beautiful game of football was once again put into perspective with the saddening news that Rangers’ legend Sandy Jardine is battling cancer. In the dark times that have encompassed our Club in recent months he has stepped forward and played his part in our revival which now sees us firmly on the road to recovery. Alongside Ally McCoist, he fought as hard as anyone to keep Rangers Football Club alive and for that we should be forever grateful.

Sandy Jardine was born in Edinburgh on 31 December 1948 and made his Rangers’ debut when only eighteen years old. He went on to make a tremendous number of appearances for the Club and to win 38 international caps for Scotland. Many of us at the CRO are too young to remember his playing career, but we've seen the footage and we're sure we could do with a few more players of his quality nowadays.

Sandy has since worked for Rangers FC in a public relations capacity, also assisting where necessary in the sales and marketing department. He was of course influential in the Rangers Fans’ Fighting Fund and the protest at Hampden which saw thousands of fellow Bears follow his lead and make a stance against the football authorities and their actions and for that he deserves recognition.

The word 'legend' is too carelessly tossed around nowadays but Sandy epitomises everything that the word should stand for and represent. He dedicated his best years of service to Rangers as a player and continued to serve the club through his behind-the-scenes role in recent years. He rightly sits alongside fellow greats in the Greatest Ever Rangers Team and that too is evidence of his contribution to our great institution.

We're sure you will all join us in wishing him all the best in his fight with cancer. Sandy won nearly every battle in his career. No doubt he can win this one too.

-The Copland Road Organization

15 November 2012

Taking the Lead

by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

Which one of these is not like the other?
The phony war is over and league reconstruction is very much back on the agenda of Scottish football. First to break cover was the SFL who have proposed a 16-10-16 structure which they discussed on Wednesday in addition to also revamping the League Cup format. 

Less than 24 hours after news of the SFL plans, the SPL appeared with proposals of their own. And just when you thought the Football League proposals look lopsided, the SPL excelled itself with something ridiculously complicated.

I'm not going to discuss the merits of the proposals in full detail here, for there simply isn’t the time, but suffice to say that the promise of all sides working together on reconstruction proposals seems to have fallen by the wayside. There certainly seems to be a bit of a power struggle developing.

What is however very clear to me is that Rangers Football Club has to be at the centre of any reconstruction development. That immediately presents its own challenges and difficulties but those have to be overcome as these changes will be crucial and we need to shape it not simply react to it.

I hope this is clear to Charles Green and the Club but I'm not exactly convinced about that at the minute. Green was apparently not at the SFL meeting at Hampden. He was in London on IPO business with the club secretary representing Rangers at the reconstruction meeting instead. I'd like to know how much input, if any, we had into those proposals announced by SFL. Our voice should certainly be heard.

Of course first and foremost we need to get the Club back functioning properly but it would be foolish not to commit resources to the reconstruction of the Scottish game too. Afterall, these proposals will undoubtedly impact upon Rangers in one way or another.

Kenny McDowall was quoted earlier in the week as saying:
To be honest, after everything we’ve been through we’ve had a lot to take on and we’re still only just accepting where we are.  
"Our main aim at the moment is to win the Third Division and that’s all we can do. Whatever happens after that happens. 
"It’s outwith our control and we’ll obviously take it but there’s no point in us looking any further than where we are at the moment. 
"It’s all talk at present. We’ve been put in the Third Division and we’re expecting to have to work our way back up the leagues. 
"We’re not looking any further than that and we’re not worrying about anything else just now.”
Quite frankly, I couldn’t agree less. I can understand that from the football side that yes McDowall, McCoist and Durrant's focus should be on winning the Division Three and Ally has more than done his bit on the non-football side this year. But the Club should certainly be interested in it.  It could be vital to our future.

It is going to be a delicate negotiating job. Our relationship with the SPL is pretty well documented. It is absolutely dire and their dealings with our club are unlikely to be friendly. In addition, there will certainly be a job in finding allies in the SFL. 

There is a heavy irony in Rangers’ apparent support for reconstruction. It was far from being on the agenda when we were in the SPL and I'm sure that some will not let us forget that. Whatever happens, I do think there should be a fairer distribution of finances within our game. In some respects I suppose that our presence in the SFL has started that process already.

The question though is what is best for Rangers Football Club and I don't think anyone is close to answering that just yet which is exactly why I suggest we need member on the board focussing on almost solely on league reconstruction.
Charles Green is not the man for the job given the negotiations involved and he already has a full-time job as Chief Executive and his involvement in the upcoming IPO. Sir Walter though could certainly provide invaluable input in terms of long-term vision for both the Club and for Scottish football. As a non-exec director he is not full-time but can suitably advise someone in a more prominent role.

So let’s appoint a ‘director of structures and development’ (or whatever fancy title you want to give it) and let’s do it with some urgency. We must ensure that whatever is decided for the future for Scottish football suits Rangers as best as possible. It is after all our support and our money that the authorities and clubs will be after. It is time to grasp the nettle. Let’s take the lead on this one.

Peter is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @Seasider06 and via email: pewart@thecoplandroad.org

Who's Next?

by Shane Nicholson | CRO Executive Editor

I've got to be honest: I haven't watched minute one of an SPL match this year, read a single match report, even looked at a league table before I sat down to write this, and the only reason I did that was because I had to prior to pulling up attendance statistics on the SPL's website. (By the way, Hibs? Really?! That sort of shit didn't happen when we were around.)

Some of the numbers are pretty shocking, especially at the east end club, who are nearly 25% off their mark from last year. We've heard the excuses, from school uni's to the world economy. Mr Lawwell may be a believer in the Reagan-era theory of trickle down economics, but the effects certainly haven't reached his turnstiles. They're just not showing up, home or away, although we're led to believe they're gearing up for a second half bonanza! Right after they finish crossing the names off their Christmas shopping lists.

Outside them there are gains to be seen across areas of the board, mostly modest sums. The only clubs showing a substantial improvement over last year are the sheep (+1200 a game or so) and Dundee Thompson, who have upped their body count by nearly 1700 a game, although no word on whether those 1700 were made to pay twice to see the same fixture.

Beyond that, the gains are much more subtle, a few hundred or so here and there. Still, credit due: some sets of supporters have answered the bell however small the boost has been. Good on 'em.

Then comes what has to be costing some chairmen and directors sleep at night, the group of diddy clubs that have shed valuable supporters in the seats, and it's mostly the ones we thought this summer could hardly afford any loss of revenue this year in order to survive.

Hearts we'll give a pass to. They've got it bad enough without us noting they're down almost 1300 tickets a game on last year, a little shy of seventy-percent capacity on the season. In fact, over 2000 fewer fans are turning up at Tynecastle for SPL fixtures than two years ago. Not a good indicator for a fan base clamoring to save their club, although it's a bargain of a buy if I ever saw one. That property has to be worth double what the adminstrators and liquidators would eventually part out the club for.

There's Killie, who had players ringing up fans at home to come on down and buy up some season books. They're down fully 500 fans a game, a ten-percent decrease from last year. This after Chairman Johnston was reported as saying the club needed to gain 1000 fans per home date to offset the loss of Rangers in the SPL.

And then comes my personal favorite, Cash Converters FC themselves, Motherwell. Some of you may recall that it was the Well who cut loose with a board report pinning a number on the loss of Rangers supporters rolling through their turnstiles. You'd expect when over thiry-percent of your walk-up gate disappears there will be consequences.

Remember, it was club director Andrew Wilson who told us that Motherwell "must challenge their fans to step up, and they will." He cited their solid improvement over 2010/11 of ten-percent more people in the seats, and even offered me "luck...in finding redemption" for the sins of Messrs. Murray and Whyte. Top man that one.

So how has the support at Fir Park responded to the challenge laid down by their own board? A challenge raised from the very people who knew their club stood to lose at the bare minimum eight-percent of revenues without us simply coming through the doors twice a year, and this after turning a loss of £500,000 the year before. Not to mention a scaled-back television deal and sponsorship dollars bleeding from their insolvent league. 

All that taken into account, surely the Well fans would be packing out their ground, yes?!

Nah. That ten-percent gain last year has been handed back, and this for a club that was celebrating "Champions League" football coming to their home just a few months back. (Just a note: No one calls it the Champions League until the group stages, at least no one who's used to their club playing in it.) On top of that, they got to come to Ibrox for their yearly rogering.

This is the SPL in a nutshell, the busted flush of a top flight that Doncaster and Regan are trying to do everything within and outwith their powers to save.

So who's next? One has to hope it's the men in charge of the game in Scotland, if there is anything resembling a merit-based system to their performances, or balance to the universe. Regan's reign at the SFA is on par with the worst joke you ever heard, except the person telling it keeps fucking up the punchline and starting over again.

The SPL has been an abject failure, and their fans by-and-large are turning away. Even at the home of its marquee club, the one that promised to save all the rest from themselves by going mobile to every ground round the league, the empty seats can't be hidden by clever camera work.

Love ain't for keeping, and neither are these two cunts at the helm of our game for any longer.

Thankfully there's a new bird on the scene just now getting in tune. David Longmuir and the SFL as a whole have been a breath of fresh air. Packed grounds, better TV ratings than the big SPL derbies, and forward minded plans for our game. You couldn't draw a starker contrast to the SPL than the amazing scenes and ideas emanating from the lower tiers of Scottish football this year. Replacing Lawwell's wonder twins at the top may not be so difficult after all, especially when nearly seventy five-percent of league football clubs in Scotland are on the side of logic, not blind idiocy.

So barring Neil and Stewie's heads on a platter (Not literally. It's sad that I have to clarify this to prevent being flagged by the NUJ's crack investigative team.), I'll go ahead and put a tenner on Motherwell. Why not? They're just as good a bet as any of the other half-dozen or so clubs teetering on the brink. Just wait until they discover Clydesdale Bank's not coming back next year! One assumes since they have such a difficult time analyzing their own books they couldn't be bothered what's going on in their wee world at large.

Of course sponsors who pay money to put their names on products so people will throw money at them in return probably haven't even noticed we're gone. Or that a team drawing over 45,000 a game has been replaced with one drawing less than 5500. Or that the must see side in the league is down 12,000 sets of eyes a game over last year. Nope, as we were told over and over, our fans and their pounds meant nothing to the rest of the SPL all those years.

That could still very well be. A broken product that has failed upward - or at least sideways - for 15 years somehow may survive, and the insolvent Scottish top flight filled with soon-to-be insolvent clubs may prove everyone wrong yet.

As for us, well, as Big Chuck said, we won't get fooled again. In the eyes of our CEO, much the same as our fans worldwide, in the SPL's case the song is over.

Shane is the founder and executive editor of the CRO. He can be found on twitter at @ofvoid and via email: shane@thecoplandroad.org

13 November 2012

In Neil Doncaster's SPL, League Expands You!

by Andy McGowan | CRO Contributor

In June 2011 SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster told us that a 16 team SPL “would mean a £20m loss” for Scottish football. This was in response to a poll that showed 88% of fans wanted an expanded SPL and were overwhelmingly against a smaller SPL, which Big Neil was pushing for.

Now, just over a year on, the SPL again looks at reconstruction under Neil Doncaster following the unprecedented events over the summer at Ibrox. And it's looking BIGGER.

Currently the SPL is a 12 team shit show league. Each sides plays the others three times, 3x11 = 33 games. The league then ‘splits’ into a top and bottom half with the top half teams playing each other once for the title/European spots while the bottom 6 sides play to avoid just a single relegation place, bringing the total number of games up to 38 games.

The current model is unpopular and clearly doesn’t work despite constant claims of the SPL being in ‘rude’ health.  The much maligned split is one of the most unpopular mechanisms ever introduced into Scottish football. It was often mocked by our English counter-parts early on and it has now sadly become ingrained in the top division.

The SPL has given us two new proposals for its traveling circus: the first, a simple expansion to 16 teams (sounds a hell of a lot like that SFL plan we saw yesterday, eh?) with no plans to improve revenue streams to the lower divisions. Basically the bust breakaway that is the SPL would become a more bloated corpse.

The second "plan," if we can call it that, is for an SPL1 and SPL2 both consisting of 12 teams (presumably two broken leagues in rude health is better than one). Each team would play the others twice for a total of 22 games. Following these initial 22 games (try to stick with us here, it gets pretty ridiculous) the leagues would then merge, then split into three groups of eight. Each team would again play the teams in their respective pod, leading to a total of 36 games being played across the course of the campaign.

The first of these groups would be to decide the championship and European places, the bottom group to decide relegation and the new middle child to decide which clubs start in the SPL1 and SPL2 in the coming season.

The lunatics running the asylum have genuinely now lost the fucking plot. Of all the proposals and plans ever submitted or discussed this is by far the worst ever produced. One SPL doesn’t work? Attendances are falling? Clubs are struggling to survive? One is about to be liquidated? The league itself is insolvent? Better get ourselves another SPL then! It also sees Neil keep his beloved smaller league, which almost 90% want rid of.

I almost fell off my chair when I read the line “After two rounds, the leagues would then merge and split into three groups of eight.” It is simply the most ridiculous idea ever proposed in Scottish football. What the fuck are they thinking?! Fans hate the split, so instead of scrapping it they bring it back in the most convoluted and impractical fashion imaginable. Only a mind as warped as Neil Doncaster could deliver us two 12 team leagues which are actually a single 24 team league which is actually three smaller leagues. The solution to a problem is never to take what doesn’t work, double it and make it more complicated.

One of the biggest problems with this system is its cut throat nature. Finishing a few places lower in SPL1 could be the difference between competing for a European position and relegation to (presumably) SFL1. Neil Doncaster talks about avoiding ‘boring’ and ‘meaningless’ games; what he’s actually doing by forcing every club into a win at all costs situation is denying them the opportunity to give younger players a chance (wasn't it he who pushed through the U-21 rule we have?) while also hamstringing the chances of clubs playing expansive entertaining football. If every game is a ‘must win’ game, which it will be under these proposals, you will see cautious football with very little opportunity for young players to go and learn their trade.

What my faithful readers may not know is that my day job is designing computer and board games which for the most part involves balancing mechanics, i.e. making things that don’t work work. So here is how I would reconstruct our football system, and my secret is that I am going to be sensible:

A reshuffle of the management of the SPL and the SFA: A polite way of saying get to fuck Regan and take that square headed mongo Doncaster with you. The damage they have done to Scottish football at international and club level is staggering. The first priority for all clubs in Scotland should be to remove the cancerous leadership that will be constant roadblocks to positive change.

Bigger Leagues:  Occam's razor is a principle that suggests the simplest solution is more often than not the correct solution, in this case – if almost 90% of the supporters want a bigger league, give them a bigger league. Scotland has 4 divisions with 42 clubs, a top division of 12 teams and 3 lower divisions with 10 teams each. A country the size of Scotland has no need for 4 leagues. Reducing the number of leagues by increasing the sizes of the top division to 16-20 teams, with more promotion or relegation places across the leagues, is the most sensible and straightforward solution. (Part of the SFL's plan)

Play-off games: Something else fans are craving is promotion play-off places. The play-off system works well in England, with the Championship play-off final being one of the most watched football matches of the year. (Again, part of the SFL's plan)

A Proper Pyramid System:  Yet another implementation fans have been asking for. Fans want to see a system in place similar to the Blue Square Premier League in England where teams are promoted and relegated from the professional league setup.

Summer Football: This one is more polarizing. Personally speaking I don’t see why summer football isn’t already happening in Scotland. The one and only reason we keep to the current football calendar is tradition. Russia plays summer football. It is absolutely workable and, sadly, as all Rangers fans found out first hand in Manchester, Russian clubs are no mugs. Clubs can be successful with Summer football, and I can’t speak for anyone else but I would much rather pay to watch my club on a sunny July afternoon than a wet and windy day in December. Summer football would open up the game to more casual fans in a big way. Couldn't hurt our chances in Europe, either.

Hearts may not even survive to see these new plans come to pass, yet the SPL leadership will press on with proposals that aren’t even popular with their own member clubs who would prefer a 16 team setup.

My ideas here are broadly similar to what most fans want to see. The current proposals will lead Scottish further down a dangerous road of complicated solutions to a problem which seems an easy fix in most fans minds.

Andy is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @iEmpire_Andy and via email: amcgowan@thecoplandroad.org