Thursday, July 05, 2012

Rangers newco: Looking for a revolution


A drookit summer has seen Scottish football drowning in uncertainty and indecision.

We finally got a decision yesterday. The SPL chairmen voted against letting the Rangers newco into the top flight.

That was hardly surprising. Some of the chairmen - 10 said "no" - might have voted with a heavy heart and some might very well be daft.

But not daft enough to risk losing the core of their own support.

A predictable decision and not one that removed much uncertainty.

Too many clubs - the Rangers newco among them - don't yet know what league they will be playing in when the season kicks off in just a few weeks.

That the SPL saying "no" would force Rangers into the Third Division seemed the most plausible outcome until a few days ago.

Then the argument that the only way for Scottish football to survive was to parachute Rangers into the First Division was unleashed.

If the SFL clubs didn't agree then the SPL - whose role in all this should have ended yesterday when they said an emphatic "no" - would engineer a breakaway SPL2 to accommodate the newco.

Last night that theme was picked up by the SFA's Stewart Regan in a series of quotes that should - in a game governed by any sanity - disqualify him from holding office.

He has certainly destroyed any lingering hope that the SFA will adopt a neutral stance in any of this.

I don't really care that Regan diminishes himself with every utterance. I do care that he diminishes our game when he's doing it.

When a director of a First Division club stands on the steps of Hampden and denounces our game as "corrupt" then something is rotten to the core.

And for what?

Regan is giving up. Aided and abetted by the SPL's Neil Doncaster - who should really be run out of Hampden forthwith - he's surrendering.

He's seeking comfort in a broken business model. His vision of Scottish football is one where any real change is possible only if it suits the needs of television companies whose commitment to Scotland is half hearted at best.

He's saying that we can only thrive if we fix the game to allow a quick route back to the top flight for a club that has seen the most gargantuan mismanagement in Scottish football history.

A quick fix that most fans of that club seem to reject themselves.

He's saying that it's OK to bully lower league clubs if it provides solace for all the SPL clubs who have mismanaged their own finances.

And he's turning this cowardice on it's head and painting himself as some sort of hero.

He sees something heroic in saying that he's worked out a way to return as quickly as possible to a flawed status quo.

We deserve more. More than Regan and Doncaster, a couple of middle ranking marketing men who have fallen into the trap of believing their own lies.

More than footballing authorities who care not a jot for moving the game forward.

What could we learn from this long, bleak summer?

We know that fans care about the future, that they're prepared to speak up and show their passion.

Would the future of the Scottish game be better served by harnessing that passion or by allowing Regan to disenfranchise more and more supporters?

We've seen that the SPL experiment has failed. It's failed to create a sustainable model for its clubs, failed to create an environment that could predict or halt a huge corporate collapse in its midst.

The SPL was the game's attempt to hitch a lift to a promised land,  to the riches of unfettered sporting capitalism. Scottish football didn't get there. It got run over and left behind.

Greed, chasing the quick buck, canoodling with corporate sponsors and ignoring the fans hasn't worked.

But the fans are still there. They still care.

Could we not take the positives from that and create a more sustainable game, a more sensible game?

A new football model for Scotland that has fans and communities at its heart? A game that we could again be proud of?

It won't be easy. Of course it won't.

But if Dundee United or Hibs, Hearts or Aberdeen, Kilmarnock or Elgin, Cowdenbeath or Stranraer are surviving only on the back of four Old Firm games a season and 30 pieces of Sky's silver then we need to make hard decisions.

We need to reinvent. We need to involve the fans in that reinvention.

And we need to do it quickly.

It will take vision though. It will take inspiration.

When we look for vision or inspiration at Hampden what do we find?

Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster.

Their vision condemns us to relive the mistakes of the past. Their vision won't halt the "slow, lingering death" of Scottish football it will only perpetuate it.

Don't believe them, stand up to them. Tell your club how you feel, shout it from the rooftops.

Every fan of every club should have had enough of being let down by non entities like this.

It's our game and they are our clubs.

Now is the time to prove it.


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