First of all congratulations to Celtic. Play-off games, with so much at stake, are never easy. The message from Lennoxtown will be that it’s only half time. Rodgers and his team will nip complacency in the bud. This is as it should be. However no team has ever overcome a five goal deficit in CL history and those who have prevailed after a four goal reverse have invariably done so on the away goals rule. Keeping a clean sheet last night made Astana’s forlorn task even harder.
Prior to the main thrust of this piece I have some insights on matters off the field of play. Patrick Roberts has been briefing his former colleagues at Lennoxtown for the past three weeks of his intention to rejoin them, preferably on a permanent deal. Lawwell seems to be the bottleneck to this deal being concluded, much to the chagrin of Rodgers. Could the former be waiting until CL group stage qualification is in the bag or an offer he cannot refuse is made for Dembele? I know which senior player is confiding this information to my source but I’m not at liberty to divulge his name.
As I revealed exclusively in a comment on this site, Chelsea have tabled a bid for Dembele. The quantum is £23.8m. My source is a football agent. Could Lawwell get closer to £40m if he holds out until the last day of the window? Should Chelsea not budge, would Lawwell instruct Rodgers to play the ‘showing ambition by retaining our best players’ card?
As for Armstrong he has a year left of his university course. He will sign a new contract with a view to a move in the next close season.
I digress. Two delegates from the Celtic Supporters Association (CSA) met with Neil Doncaster and Rod McKenzie on Monday evening. Joe O’Rourke, the General Secretary of the CSA, issued a statement which I will reproduce verbatim in bold italics, adding red typeface on points on which I wish to expand upon:
“I had a meeting with Neil Doncaster and McKenzie.
by Joe O’Rourke » Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:47 am
I and Association President John Andrews met with Neil Doncaster and Rod McKenzie on Monday night. The reason for the meeting which incidentally was at the request of Mr Doncaster, was for them to explain their position with regards to the Lord Nimmo Smith (LNS) Inquiry.
From the outset they both made it clear that they thought that the SPL did everything by the book and that they had no further part to play in accordance with the advice they got from a Senior Counsel.
They also stated that they, the SPFL, were happy to have an Independent Review of Scottish Football as stated about three weeks ago after they elected their new Board. The problem with that is, no Independent Review is worth having unless it also agreed by the SFA, and so far Mr Regan and his cronies have not agreed to a Review.
Mr Doncaster made it very clear that the decision taken by LNS cannot be revisited, the decision to fine Sevco £250,000 is final.
Mr McKenzie stressed that all the information held by the SPL was put before LNS, which included the proof of about 51 side letters. But what they cannot answer is, did the SFA act honestly with regards to LNS.
Mr Doncaster also agreed with us that the Five Way Agreement (FWA) was a barrier to Title stripping. That is the FWA that no-one outside if the signatories has actually seen.
McKenzie and Doncaster actually admitted that in one of the early drafts of the agreement Title Stripping was one of the avenues that could be used as punishment to Sevco, not surprisingly Green, and apparently more so McCoist strongly opposed that route, so that clause was taken out.
That’s akin to a High Court Judge telling a convicted criminal that he could face twenty years in jail and the criminal saying I’m not having that. So the Judge says, well ok what about a fine of £250? That will be fine (excuse the pun) your honour.
You have to wonder, if the FWA was good for Scottish Football as a whole, why has it not been made public? According to McKenzie the five signatories would have to agree to that, and he said that wouldn’t happen, but he never told us just exactly who would be opposed to going public, I think they would all oppose it to protect themselves.
Interestingly the SPFL Board backed the call for an Independent Review as proposed by Peter Lawwell at Celtic Football Club, but not one club came out publically and supported Peter Lawwell before the Board went public, which was about three weeks after Peter’s statement.
McKenzie said that club chairmen were backing Celtic, but not in public. I think that proves the point the Bullying and Intimidation by the Sevco Support is actually working, I also think the comments from Ann Budge and Stewart Milne prove that too.
So where do we go from here? Well we’re not beaten yet. We have to force the SFA to back the Independent Review. The only way that can be done is by supporters putting pressure on their own clubs to call for it.
Doncaster claims that the SPFL do not have the power within their rules to strip titles, but the SFA do have that power.
So honest supporters throughout the whole of Scottish Football must stand up to the Bullies and Intimidators and force action from your own club’s. This is not a Celtic v Rangers issue, this is Honest and Integrity v Bullies and Intimidators issue. Football has to win, but it can only win if the honest decent supporters unite to make it happen.”
It’s not the most eloquent of pieces. Using ‘publically’ when ‘publicly’ is the correct form is indicative of the fact that Mr. O’Rourke is more of a shop steward than a man of letters. I don’t have an arrogant bone in my body but I’m much better informed than Mr. O’Rourke seems to be. I don’t anticipate Neil Doncaster inviting me to sit down of an evening as I would deconstruct his arguments and dismiss his objection handling with consummate ease.
O’Rourke and Andrews made a significant error. They led on their assertion that the Five Way Agreement was an impediment to title stripping. Doncaster and McKenzie were no doubt delighted with their assertion. They know otherwise, but were happy to add the CSA’s ignorance of the facts to their canon of objections. I have exclusively published Charles Green’s take on the 5WA. I was the first to reveal that fifteen titles would have had to be surrendered had the SFA, who were actively pursuing this course, been able to shoehorn Charles Green’s basket of assets into the SPL or SFL1. When this failed all bets on title stripping were off. Doncaster, Regan and Longmuir knew that these titles should be stripped and signed off on it. Green only signed the sixth draft. I refer Mr O’Rourke to the SFM archive where he will find this final draft in full.
I have seen drafts 1, 2, and 6. Dave King published 1 and 2 on his/Murray/Traynor’s CharlotteFakes account to undermine Green. The inference was that he was prepared to surrender 15 titles. Is Mr. O’Rourke oblivious to this?
Let me state unequivocally for the hard of understanding that the 5WA is no impediment to title stripping. Charles Green confirmed this to me in writing.
The Rangers social media boards are fully aware of the proposals to strip the titles. However why would Doncaster, Longmuir and Regan choose to revisit any draft as the latter and former are hell-bent on avoiding what they initially negotiated on as an intrinsic part of their bargain?
Doncaster and McKenzie not only dodged a bullet; Mr O’Rourke actually gave up his gun and his ammunition for good measure.
As for the assertion that only the SFA have the ability to strip the titles does it follow that the SFA conferred the titles to the new club? The titles that are listed on the SPFL website? How remiss of Mr. O’Rourke and Mr. Andrews not to ask this salient question.
The idea that the recommendations of the ‘advisory’ LNS commission are set in stone is risible. Nothing could be further from the truth. This commission was a private undertaking by a retired Lord Ordinary. Stewart Regan imposed himself on this commission to tie Nimmo Smith’s hands and keep a lid on Pandora’s Box. Regan protected the President of the SFA who was complicit in a tax fraud. He also covered his own exposure on the malfeasance that led to Rangers being granted a UEFA licence in 2011.
Could Mr. O’Rourke not have asked why the Chief Executive of the appellate body was given the authority to define the scope of the commission?
The conclusions and recommendations of this commission are predicated on a number of false premises. If Mr. O’Rourke had read any of my articles on this he would have had the facts at his fingertips.
We now find that the SPFL are in favour of a review, but the SFA are, rather conveniently for Doncaster and McKenzie, dragging their heels. A blind man could see that Doncaster and Regan are going out of their way to do the square root of fuck all.
The reason Doncaster set up the meeting is that he wants to get the CSA onside. He wants them to believe that he and McKenzie are honest brokers whose hands are tied. Meanwhile Regan works with Darry Broadfoot to build a consensus with the SMSM to sweep it all under the Hampden shag pile and move on.
If Mr. O’Rourke and Mr. Andrews had any self awareness they would know that they were being used.