09 May 2013

For Scottish football, what a difference a year makes

by Shane Nicholson | Executive Editor

Amazing isn't it, that the first test of the draconian hand of the SFA post-bottling of the Rangers situation results in merely a weakened transfer embargo for Dunfermline.

Their own administration event has been handled with white gloves on compared to the mess that unfolded before us at Rangers: Heavy fines levied against a club on its knees. Transfer embargoes with end dates specifically tailored to try and keep us from trading.

And yet the East End Park club will have to survive just one transfer window without being able to sign any players aged 21 and up. Tell me, what were the odds of them doing that whilst having no money to spend? Why does their transfer ban end immediately before the opening of the second window instead of coinciding with its close?

An utter shambles, and exactly as many said it would play out. The SFA, hiding behind its own appalling mishandling of the Rangers situation from the start, suddenly learning its lesson when another of its members faces a hardship. Fair's fair and all that. But then...

Remember them threatening to pass Craig Whyte's fine onto the club if he refused to pay?

Remember them telling us months after it was too late that Whyte may not be suited to own a football club, let alone a goldfish?

Remember them holding our license over our head with what was deemed an illegal transfer ban?

Remember them then holding our license over our head in an effort to strip titles?

Remember Stewart Regan coming before the cameras with nothing resembling a plan fully four months after Rangers went into administration?

Remember that HMRC forced us into administration over a tax bill that never existed, and the SFA's punishments were based on violations and illegalities that never came to fruition because they never existed?

They rewrote the rule book every step of the way for us and it appears they'll continue to do so for every club that comes after. Dunfermline were the first test and it appears the SFA has passed with exactly the marks that were expected.

And just think, they've not even gotten to Hearts. My lord, imagine the sweetheart package being put together now in the halls of Parkhead Hampden to try and talk the Edinburgh side's creditors from parting out the land Tynecastle sits on. An SPL without its second derby–what would the game come to then?

Certainly no more of a joke than it is right now. Because here it was, on full display: the first test of the SFA's resolve to stick to its guns and maintain something resembling a precedent when Dunfermline tumbled down the line. And they bottled it, just as they have every step of the way for what must be the longest running marathon of chancers football has ever seen.

Remember their failures as they try to shape the future of our game behind closed doors. Remember that these were the men tasked to do the job that has led Scottish football to this dark place, this place where its own top-flight television contract is linked to a SFL3 team they tried to see dead.

Just remember while they carry and nurse Dunfermline and Hearts and whoever's next to join the party – and there will be more – what they did to Rangers. Time to move on and forget? Naw. Now's the time to be stronger in our principles than ever, to be the voice of reason and logic as the game tries to pick itself up.

We're going to have to, because we know all too well what waiting on the SFA to do it will mean.