Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Greed That Binds

"It's incredulous that, despite our attempts to explain this rationally to other clubs, some of them refuse to accept our approach."

So says ex-knitwear model and current Rangers chief executive Martin Bain about the reaction of the "tiny ten" about the Old Firm's decision to add a 5 percent handling charge on to the sale of away tickets for their fans.

First a small point of order: Mr Bain can be "incredulous" if he wants but, I would argue, "it" must be incredible not incredulous.

Secondly: There is a way of rationally explaining things. Claiming to not be working in tandem with each other, Celtic and Rangers sent out exactly the same letter (word for word) on the same day. Some coincidence that. That smacks of the two big beasts ganging up on the smaller kids. That's bullying not rational explanation.

Mr Bain also suggests that the proposal is in the best interests of his club. That might well be the crux of the matter. The best interests of Rangers. The best interests of Celtic. Not the best interests of the other 10 clubs.

The reaction from the "tiny ten" is because:
  1. They either pay the extra 5 percent themselves or charge the Rangers and Celtic fans. They can't afford the hit themselves but if they charge the fans, who will immediately blame the home team for the price hike, they risk falling attendances. They can't afford that either. Catch 22.
  2. As one club director said: "What next?" 5 percent now 15 percent next season. There comes a time when the other clubs feel they have to make a stand against the Old Firm. Now would appear to be that time.
  3. By bouncing the other 10 into this the Old Firm create a interesting conspiracy theory. We're always told by Parkhead and Ibrox that the problems they have with crowd behaviour comes from their away fans. If, as seems likely, the other clubs cut Rangers and Celtic out of the ticket distribution they can say they have washed their hands of their away support. Therefore Celtic and Rangers as clubs are entirely blameless for any problems that occur. Again, the "tiny ten" are backed into a corner.
I hope the rest of the clubs hold out on this one. It seems always to surprise fans of the Old Firm that other supporters often lump their clubs together as one focal point for hate. It's episodes like this that explains why that happens.

Because while the fans get lost in rivalry and one upmanship the two clubs act in concert to force the whole of the SPL to bend to their will.

Maybe now the other 10 can say "enough is enough."