28 June 2013

SPFL: Bring on the clowns

by Peter Ewart | Contributor

A new era has dawned: the SPFL is upon us.

You would be forgiven for thinking that next to fuck all had happened, and in truth it happened in Scottish football’s own inimitable own style. Not a lot done for much of the day at Hampden—a complete shambles once again, however fitting that may be.

The meeting itself did not start until well into the evening. For most of the day the SFL were taken through the ‘due diligence’ of the SPL that had mostly be lacking, led it seems by the Annan Chairman Henry McLelland who has made a habit of being constructively awkward by asking very sensible questions like Why would SFL clubs take any share of historic SPL liabilities?

But it was all fine in the end. Move along now, nothing to see here.
We now have the brand new SPFL board. Okay, not so brand new at all. Stand by to be utterly underwhelmed and unsurprised

Celtic's Eric Riley, Aberdeen's Duncan Fraser and Dundee United's Stephen ‘resolved his professional differences’ Thompson are the 3 SPL reps. Michael Johnston amazingly missed out.

“Sorry Michael, remember when you abstained last summer. Oh, and we heard you might be around for too long.” The dozen or so Killie fans protesting outside Hampden got part of their wish anyway. 

Astonishingly there were no places on the Board for either Stewart Gilmour or Roy McGregor. Funny that.

So Celtic’s grip on proceedings continues with Lawwell pulling the strings. They have the dominance on and off the field and their puppets at Aberdeen and Dundee United safely in tow. The bloc of power remains firmly in place; let’s just say it will not be doing us any favours and have done little for the Scottish game.

But fuck it, we are not now and never have been looking for favours. What we are left with though is what we’ve been having to do the whole way along—fighting them all the way to get any sort of parity of treatment. 

That will remain the case as we head into the SPFL. It’s going to take strong leadership at RFC, but we should be up to it. We aren’t the club that’s closing stands or selling players for the season ahead.

The good news from yesterday (don’t quote me on that) is that we are full members and have full voting rights in this debacle. Well, as full as voting rights get in this new tiered voting system for second and third division clubs. The SPL retain the power. 

Craig Mather, in attendance for Rangers, said, "I'm very happy, it's been interesting but we've got there. We've always been active. We continue the road and...be humble.” 

Now Chris McLaughlin cut a bit out of this quote, so we’ll see exactly what when it makes the RFC website. But Craig, I have news for you: Humble is the very last thing you are going to need to be. You’ll need to get the finger out and defend our corner as Scotland’s biggest club. 

There are 3 other members of the Board, that come from the current SFL:

Hamilton Accies Les Gray gets his reward for banging the SPL's drum throughout, threatening the SFL2 and 3 with SPL2, crying, whinging and generally applying the pressure. Kudos, big man, kudos.

To remind you how booming SFL1 is at the minute, Les Gray’s Hamilton, along with Falkirk and Queen of the South, are in the middle of laying artificial pitches. Desperate for revenue? Well you could say that.

Alloa’s Mike Mulraney also gets on for the First Division. 

Head of the Mulraney Group with a number of commercial interests in Central Scotland, he was a fervent critic of Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster’s ‘Armageddon’ paper and of the SPL in general: "The creation of the SPL goes hand in hand with the failure of our national game, the Scotland team have not qualified for anything since it was created, the standard of football has deteriorated and the excitement of Scottish football has deteriorated.” 

We’ll see if such candour remains now they’ve got into bed with the SPL. His manner and business experience suggests an interesting character to watch amidst the SPFL circus.

Finally, for the bottom two divisions, we have Bill Darroch from Stenhousemuir, who we’ll be playing in SFL2. Darroch voted in favour of putting us into SFL1 after the ‘Armageddon’ paper hit. In fact, Stenhousemuir were the first club to declare they would put Rangers — or ‘Rangers Newco’ as Mr Darroch liked to call it — into the First Division. Everybody needs a 'Yes' man.

To the 23 SFL Chairman who sold their League out, we can only wait to see what happens. Will the promises of pots of gold at the end of the rainbow come true? I wouldn’t be too hopeful. 

For Scottish football at large the 30 SFL clubs have swapped a decent SFL model for the failed SPL one with its usual absence of leadership thrown in for good measure. I await Neil Doncaster’s appointment as Chief Exec to make the transformation complete, although they may go through the charade of applications and interviews for such highly prized and presumably very highly paid jobs.

For Rangers, well, nothing changes. No one likes us, we don’t care. Try as they may they will not halt our march back to the top. 

At least it’s not 12-12-18. 

For this season...