Prior to writing this article, I take pause to salute Leicester City for winning The English Premier League. As I watched The Battle of Stamford Bridge unfold, I was reminded of a bygone era when the Glasgow duopoly was as fiercely contested. However as we saw at Hampden recently, CFC no longer have a spine. CFC’s feeder club, Dundee United, were relegated and to add insult to injury it was their neighbours Dundee who administered the coup de grâce.
Irrespective of CFC’s decision to play girls, such as Johansen, Mackay-Steven and Bitton, they also decided to play Brown and Boyata who were not match fit. Those individuals who believe a new manager will galvanise this bloated, imbalanced squad are in for a rude awakening. Spurs gave everything they had to maintain their title bid last night. Some of their players crossed the line, but no-one could fault their conviction.
In contrast to this, the Scottish football season is coming to an end like a damp squib. The team with a player budget of £30m won Neil Doncaster’s Scottish Premiership. Ross County won Neil Doncaster’s League Cup. Rangers won Neil Doncaster’s Petrofac Cup and also picked up 87 historical titles from Mr Doncaster. Winning 88 titles in one season must be a world record. The Scottish Cup has yet to be decided, but who can doubt that this cup has Rangers name on it? For good measure, Stewart Regan at the SFA has decided to spice up Scottish football with his innovation of win one, get thirty-three free.
I understand that there will be a major boycott of CFC season tickets. When I look at the root causes of this, I consider a number of factors. The product on the park is inordinately poor, but that in itself has not incited boycotts in the past. There is talk of resolution 12 being a factor, but as this would merely embarrass the SFA I’m not persuaded that this is a major factor. The reason why so many are planning to boycott Celtic Park is CFC’s complicity in the renaissance of Rangers.
It is my strongly held conviction that David Murray was pulling the strings at The Bank of Scotland when his cronies called in CFC’s marker for £2.5m in 1994. Had it not been for Fergus McCann, CFC would have been liquidated and their history would have been lost. They knew what was at stake. However when Rangers inevitably followed suit twenty years later, they were not allowed to continue as a going concern by their principal creditor, HMRC.
David Murray’s Rangers had played fast and loose with HMRC since 1999. I state 1999 as there are records of the DOS/VSS receipts from this date. There are those who contend that he engaged in systemic tax avoidance in 1997, but I can find no evidence of this. There can be no doubt that this systemic tax avoidance resulted in a competitive advantage. Mr Murray rode a cart and horses through HMRC regulations. He paid former managers an EBT bung for buying Rangers players, as was the case with Graeme Souness and Walter Smith. The surprising thing about this white collar criminal activity is that he got away with it. He set up a patsy, Craig Whyte. He introduced him to Ticketus, and he walked away with his £6.3m EBT, Scot free.
In James Traynor’s bitter valedictory tirade in The Daily Record, he maintained his position that SDM had not cheated. However the game had changed for the Succulent Lamb Brigade who had turned a blind eye to the criminal tax avoiding excesses of SDM. They traded their last vestiges of journalistic integrity for the inside track on the latest Rangers transfer target. Traynor was not a journalist, he was an errands boy for David Murray. His protege Keith Jackson is cut from the same cloth. He is the last remaining dinosaur in The Daily Record’s Jurassic Park.
When Charles Green’s liberty was at stake, he blew the gaffe on a conspiracy at the heart of Scottish football. Rangers were being liquidated. His company had bought a basket of assets to trade as Rangers. They were a new club. Charles Green’s counsel blew the lid off a five way agreement that was set up to propagate the myth that Rangers had survived liquidation and continued unchecked with 114 titles intact.
When the SFA are exposed in regard to this conspiracy, they resort to the Radio Clyde tactic of playing the man. John Clarke of the Scottish Football Monitor experienced this first hand when he had a meeting with Alan McRae and Darryl Broadfoot at Hampden. When he took them to task on this conspiracy, they resorted to inquiring whether he was on his way to Celtic Park that evening. Their subtext was: ‘Run along now Timmy, remember your place. We at the SFA decide the rules and if we state that they are Rangers continued you can just suck it up.’
So despite Charles Green’s revelations and HMRC’s appeal that resulted in three of the most senior Scottish Law Lords stating that EBT were vehicles for disguised remunerations, i.e. illegal, the SFA and the SPFL want us to move on. They allowed David Murray’s Rangers to illegally register players for twelve years. As he did so two of his former executives, Gordon Smith and Campbell Ogilvie, were in senior executive position at the SFA. It should be noted that the judges at the Upper Tier Tribunal took a dim view of the witness statements by David Murray, Mr Black. This was a euphemism for his lying through his back teeth.
You could not make it up. The corruption in the Scottish game is overwhelming. It is tainted at so many levels that individuals throw their hands up in despair. As the Rangers fans don magic hats and bread wrappers, the bombast is back. They cheated, they got away with it and they plan to rub CFC’s nose in it. They even sing about it with the anthem ‘We’re up to our kness in EBTs.’
At this point I’m going to add a little fuel to the pyre that is Scottish football. There is a victim mentality at Celtic Park. Referees who despise their supporters and their pro I.R.A. chants of the past have punished them with corrupt decisions. Alan Muir, who officiated at The Scottish Cup Semi-Final of 2015, is the latest in a long line of Rangers supporting referees who love nothing more than to subvert one of their matches. Jim Farry was proven to be illegally delaying the registration of Jorge Cadete so that he could not participate in an Old Firm derby, a game Rangers won 2-1. When Cadete was eventually registered, Farry instructed the referees to go hard on him in retribution, so they chalked off one of his legitimate goals in an Old Firm derby.
With this mindset, and the overwhelming corruption, they are looking for a Fergus McCann type character to stand up and be counted, but all they have is the obsequious No Pistol Pete, who thought that he could play them by offering them four victories against Rangers. However Rangers were not prepared to be Lawwell’s sacrificial lambs to the slaughter. While he continued in his four year strategy of downsizing, Mark Warburton was building a football team.
With less than £1m, he has created a team that any independent observer would agree was the match of CFC at Hampden. He has gelled a confection of loan signings, Bosman signings, out of contract players and EFL rejects to play eye-catching possession football. I was one of many critics when he unveiled his acquisition of the two Bosman signings from Accrington Stanley. Mr Warburton has had a look at the CFC squad and has come to the conclusion that the majority of them are of EFL standard, with a couple who might get a game in a Championship club. Rangers have an excellent manager and an ethos of possession football. CFC will hire the latest failed manager looking for a route back to The English Championship.
Mark Warburton will not have a significant budget, if any, in the close season. Rangers are broke, are heavily in debt and have no access to overdraft facilities. Despite this they can compete against CFC who have squandered their financial competitive advantage.
The CFC fans are deserting in their droves as they know that CFC are complicit in the conspiracy that lionises Rangers. Peter Lawwell’s almost thirteen year tenure at Celtic Park will count for nothing when only 20,000 supporters renew their season tickets. No Pistol Pete has been invited into a tent where they are all pissing out on sporting integrity.