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D&P finger in the dyke set to slip on Sunday as club disintegrates

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In three months Duff and Phelps have not made an inch of progress on the key issue, the Only Show in Town, Craig Whyte, who has security over the stadium and Murray Park is extremely likely to inhibit any attempt to dispose of these assets against his will.

Without a stadium the SFA and SPL cannot licence and admit a football club.  While Duff and Phelps may have preferred the SPL to negotiate directly with the owner of Newco (once he was appointed), they were not in a position to ask the SPL for admittance yesterday without a stadium – perhaps a more practical explanation as to why they didn’t attend yesterday’s meeting.

Now that a CVA has finally been acknowledged as undeliverable, players will leave Rangers after Sunday’s visit to St Johnstone as free agents.  There will be no Newco on hand to offer them a new deal.  Those who can, will find employment elsewhere.  This will be more than just the headline players, I know youth players at all levels have been scouted by clubs across Scotland and England.  The chance to scoop up another club’s prime youth talent for free will not be passed up.

Getting a deal done this week with the SPL, the SFA, Bill Miller and the players would have allowed Duff and Phelps to maintain continuity, with Newco taking over for Sunday’s game.  This will not now happen.  The finger Duff and Phelps placed in the dyke back in February is set to slip.

Staff who cannot find employment elsewhere will remain at Rangers until 31 May.  If Duff and Phelps sell ‘the club’ before that date, players who want to transfer to Newco can do so under TUPE regulations, which maintains their pay and conditions, however, they will be unable to transfer their player registrations until Newco is a licenced football club (which is dependent on SFA approval, which in turn will indirectly be dependent on Craig Whyte disposing of the stadium).

Duff and Phelps have no money to fund Rangers FC after 31 May, so must sell all assets before that date or the padlocks will go onto Ibrox and Murray Park.  Yesterday was their last best chance to pull a deliverable deal together.

The fact Duff and Phelps didn’t even turn up to the meeting, and yesterday evening Neil Doncaster told Radio Scotland they didn’t return his calls when he phoned to ask why, indicates how on-target plans are.

Incredibly, I read one newspaper today suggested ‘Rangers [were]to benefit from SPL delay’. Where there’s life, there’s hope, I suppose. Somehow I cannot see Duff and Phelps’ Clark and Whitehouse high-fiving at the prospect of withdrawing from yesterday’s meeting. It is more likely that an undignified disintegration of a football club is set to take place in the weeks to come.

On a separate note: Just when Duff and Phelps would have presented Craig Whyte with a take-it-or-leave-it offer for all his assets, Brian Kennedy nips in as a second potential bidder for the stadium. Unless Kennedy is putting more skin on the table than Bill Miller all he is doing is fortifying Whyte’s negotiating position.

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  1. Som mes que un club on

    Paul 67

     

     

    Amazing how quickly this all changes.

     

     

    I recall a leader from you last week, which gave us (or perhaps the more cynical amongst us) the assumption, there was some light at the end of the tunnel for Them.

     

     

    Now this week, we await the Grim Reaper.

     

     

    Excellent stuff.

     

     

    ‘The end is nigh’

  2. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000 on

    Good Morning.

     

     

    Let me start out straight away by pinning my colours to the mast. Just in case anyone doesn’t know, I am a Celtic Fan. That means that I support and feel an association with a particular club that just happens to play football, and it is called Glasgow Celtic. This is not the forum for spouting my beliefs and preferences for what I describe as the Celtic Ethos—I have written elsewhere at length on that—but suffice to say part of my affiliation to Celtic has deep seated roots in certain charity work and a way of life. It has nothing to do with football…. And certainly nothing to do with my religion before that is suggested.

     

     

    However in sheer footballing terms,I have followed Celtic FC all of my life, and it is a journey which has taken me to many strange and varied places. All over Scotland, England, Europe and beyond. As a 6 year old, I was the youngest Celtic fan who travelled to Buenos Aries to watch the infamous second leg of the 1967 World Club championship match in the Estadio Presidente Juan Domingo Peron, and I was there again at the ill-fated decider across the River Plate in the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. There will be better travelled, more experienced Celtic fans, and there will be those who can recount more facts and figures, who have attended more games, who go to Dinners and functions, and are members of this or that Supporters Club—all of whom may well be able to claim some kind of better status or greater love of things Celtic…… But I would give them a run for their money.

     

     

    However, this post is not about following Celtic…. Not at all. It is about following something much more basic. It is called…. Football.

     

     

    You see as well as following Celtic, at various times in my life I have taken mad notions to go and watch other football teams. As a teenager from the West end of Glasgow, 2:30pm on a Saturday would often see me and a pal start the long walk up Wilton Street from one end to the other to get to Firhill just in time for kick off. I Had a pal who played in the first team at the time and he would leave tickets with the redoubtable Molly for me every week, and as often as not if Celtic were “away” I would be at Firhill for thrills to shout on Partick Thistle. Sometimes I would be there even when Celtic were at home if fate dictated that I couldn’t get to Celtic park.

     

     

    Then, even later still, I found another footballing home from home at Holm Park Yoker. There were a variety of reasons for this. First, I was originally a Bankie, and Yoker kind of spanned Clydebank and the West End. Second, I again knew ( and had played with ) some of the guys in the team. Third, by that time I had a working relationship with the late Willie Blaney who was an office holder at Yoker Athletic and at the Scottish Junior Football Association, and fourthly for a brief period I personally or the firm I worked for ( can’t remember which ) was the company secretary to the company which ran the social club or the club itself.. the detail is lost in the mists of time.

     

     

    However, the real reason that I sometimes went to Holm park, was that if the football was rubbish, or even if it wasn’t, You could wonder out of the ground and go for a pint in the Lovat Arms at half time… or any other time for that matter….. and then go back into the ground if you chose.

     

     

    Following Yoker also took me to games at Pollok ( now there is a Glasgow Derby! ) and all sorts other other places. I have frequented the grounds at Auchinleck, Giffnock North, Petershill, Maryhill and various other junior and Amateur grounds……………….. even as far as Carnoustie Panmure…. but I am still a Celtic fan.

     

     

    I wonder how many of a certain age who read this or any other blog, remember being utterly entranced by the 1970 World Cup where we may have known the name Pele but where we were introduced to the wondrous football of Jarzinho, Gerson, Tostao, Carlos Alberto, Everaldo, Clodoaldo, a dodgy Goalkeeper called Felix, and the magnificently moustachioed and wildly eccentric genius nicknamed “The little king of the park”- Roberto Rivelino?

     

     

    Or who will admit to taking a huge intake of breath when you first saw Johan perform the Cruyff turn, and then endlessly practice it in the play ground for years to come… and I do mean for years… like still doing it in my 40’s only to just about give up in my 50′s!!!

     

     

    Who watched the last World Cup final and wondered at the passing of the Spanish Midfield, and willed that style of football to defeat the more cynical and physical approach of a Dutch team that bore no resemblance to Cruyff, Neeskins, Haan, Rep, and company nor Gullitt, Van Basten, Reikard & crew.

     

     

    My point is this. Football fans may well own an allegiance to one team or another, but all football fans will watch the game played properly and openly. We want to see football, and football played well and competitively. That is part of supporting a team—whether you win lose or draw—and a part of having an interest in the game even if you are a neutral in terms of the teams playing.

     

     

    That love of and interest in the game is what bridges otherwise bitter divisions and rivalries. Apparently you will be hard pressed to find a Madrid fan who does not want Carles Puyol as captain of Spain despite his heroic status at Barcelona, and apparently you will struggle to find a Catalan who will not support Vincente Del Bosque as manager of Spain despite his long and successful association with Real Madrid.

     

     

    Football is football. Football fans love football- it is a love affair that stretches beyond the love of a team or club. A love affair that gives you goose bumps if like me you have been lucky enough to walk in to the Bernabau, the Camp Nou, The Meazza, Old Trafford, Old Wembley, Hampden.. and yes Firhill or Holm Park.

     

     

    That is all a long way about bringing me to the SPL.

     

     

    It seems to me that everyone concerned- fans (even Rangers fans), chairmen, journalists- are all of the view that Rangers FC just cannot go unpunished as a result of the way that the club has been run, both recently and in the past two decades. However, the reluctance to administer real and proper punishment is based on not the justice of the situation, but on the fear of the cost of proper justice to other SPL clubs. The views of SFL clubs seem not to count too much.

     

     

    In determining that cost, it would appear that the view of the Clubs’ bank may well be the determining factor. Both bank and club seem to be afraid of the financials in the event of Rangers not being in the SPL, and presumably that fear has its roots in the potential downturn in TV Income and the loss of the Rangers travelling support.

     

     

    While it has been said that some Football Directors do not understand business and living within their means, I would have to argue that it is even more the case that Bankers do not understand both football or the football fan.

     

     

    That must be true, as the banks (Ok then HBOS) gave absolutely ridiculous sums to football clubs over the years. Sums which were never sustainable, and so showing a complete misunderstanding of the football business. To be frank. HBOS funded the Murray Mint to such an extent that it effectively killed off all of the opposition other than Celtic. The same bank then funded other clubs to levels which were unsustainable in the sense that those clubs were never going to be successful as a business because they lived in a land where one of their competitors were so hugely funded to achieve success that every other club was only funded to fail—in both footballing and business terms.

     

     

    In turn that “borrowed” success made Rangers so commercially successful in the eyes of sponsors and TV etc that the remaining clubs are afraid of losing the monster that has been unlawfully and arguably illegally created. They are afraid to stand on their own even though the cost of keeping this unfairly enhanced business monolith is ultimately to their cost, reputation in sport and the cost of their league’s standing in the eyes of the fans. In short, they are afraid to exist outwith the shadow of the financial bully. Financially petrified, terrified and castrated.

     

     

    Now, their bankers are looking at how they get their money back, and seem to be putting pressure on Club Directors to allow a Rangers New Co back into the SPL, for fear that without a Rangers of some sort the clubs will go bust!

     

     

    There are a few problems with that scenario.

     

     

    For a start, who is going to bust the clubs and what would they get out of it?

     

     

    If the Rangers debacle has taught anyone anything, it is that the fixed assets of a football club ( stadia ) tend to be worth bugger all in a fire sale, and that there are very VERY few people in Scotland who are prepared to invest heavily in a football club. If no business person in Scotland is prepared to take a punt on a cash cow like Rangers after a 4 year exposure to the market by the owner, where is the sense in busting a provincial football club? Imagine the bank force the liquidation of Kilmarnock FC? Eh what will Ernst & Young or PKF get for Rugby Park?? Does such a course of action make any sense for the Bank’s shareholders?

     

     

    Further, as someone whose business is business, I am firmly of the view that the best way to recoup the banks money from any football club in debt is on a slowly but surely basis. That comes from filling seats, not from a small share of a pathetically low TV contract. Anyone who has read my “Good Morning Fatty” article on CQN Magazine will know how one businessman with experience in the EPL argues that the business of Football is all about bums on seats—not about a share of TV income. Relying on TV income in his eyes spells inevitable financial failure each and every time.

     

     

    I have read on Dunfermiline FC forums that they achieved Higher attendances in certain SFL games than they did in the SPL. Games against Raith Rovers and Cowdenbeath brought a local Derby edge and so attendances were higher than for say the visit of St Mirren or Inverness in the top flight. Just watch the attendances at Inverness when Derek Adams & Co come to town next year!

     

     

    At times this year, Motherwell had big increases in attendance when they dropped the entry price, and Hibs enjoyed their highest attendance of the season last night in the relegation decider against the Pars. Over 14,000 were at Easter Road last night when the game was A) Important and of Consequence and B) was not on the TV.

     

     

    Again, my point is that football people will come and support a football club or watch a football match if there is something to play for, if there is an edge to the game, if the game is not on TV and most importantly THE RESULT MATTERS. You do not need Celtic or Rangers to make the games viable and profitable in Scotland, you need your own fans to care in the competition. When Hibs did suffer their relegation a few years ago, more fans turned up to watch a Hibs team actually winning in the SFL. Bums on seats makes football- nothing else.

     

     

    Does anyone think that Hampden will not be full on 19th May because there will be no Celtic or Rangers? I know fans who support neither of the Edinburgh clubs who are talking of going just for the sake of the atmosphere and the spectacle—if they can get a ticket.

     

     

    With respect to the Banks, if you influence the structure of the league for fear of a TV contract, and in so doing you leave the football fan—fans of all clubs—believing that in certain ways competition in the game is predetermined and not open to proper sporting integrity, then you will succeed in nothing more than chasing customers away from the market. You defeat the very business model you should have been lending against; you make your security less valuable and the possibility of actually getting your money back far more remote. That is what the bank has already done by supporting the Murray lead Rangers so heavily. Fact.

     

     

    There are clever money men among the Directors of the clubs of the SPL, and I would hope that in this time of crisis someone from say a club like Celtic, would prepare a business plan for the poorer off clubs and the league as a whole which in turn could be shown to the banks so that the business idiom and argument presented by the bank can be challenged. Given that Rangers Football Club does not have a bank willing to provide ANY facilities, such a proposal would not present any conflict of interest. In fact, a business plan which preserves sporting integrity, increases overall competition, improves the chances of prize money, increases the likeliehood of fans coming to grounds over all and so improving the league must be a better business bet than a league with an already poor TV contract featuring a weakened Rangers , which kills sporting integrity and which tens of thousands of league customers have openly stated they will not financially support.

     

     

    Any other business with access to such considerable market research would not ignore it—could not ignore it—- and any executive who had possession of such research should be expected to resign if he or she acts in the face of such clear evidence from their customer base. In fact ignoring such potentially damaging market research could in theory result in Directors being held to account by Shareholders who suffer loss as a result.

     

     

    However, the reality is that the football fan doesn‘t really want to know about legal actions, Directors accountability, Adminsitrations, Liquidations, Hive ups, Hive Downs or any of that sort of thing.

     

     

    The football fan wants to know about a game called football. A Game where the rules are applied to one and all, without fear or favour, without being influenced by outside forces such as bankers, lawyers, insolvency practitioners, courts or whoever. Where the same rules of entry, admittance and play can be relied upon by the common man whether he be at the Camp Nou or at Holm Park Yoker.

     

     

    The Financial and commercial mistakes of the past are what have lead us to this mess in the first place, and it makes absolutely no sense to allow them to shape determine and dictate a drab commercial but televised future especially where they have been shown to be wrong in a business sense and where they result in the football fan feeling that the very fundamental basis of fair competition in football has become extinct. That will only drive fans away.

     

     

    In the early 80’s when Aberdeen and Dundee United were at their zenith the attendances at provincial clubs were far better than they are now. Games at Celtic Park with those clubs were full of excitement, were eagerly anticipated and were full of that buzz that is needed in football. At that time, Rangers were a far weakened force in Scottish football, and it was that situation which lead to the Souness revolution and ultimately the introduction of David Murray and his “resurrection” of Rangers Football Club.

     

     

    Does anyone think that the Murray plan has improved football? Does anyone think that the same plan has really improved Rangers overall? I doubt it.

     

     

    I believe that in football and financial terms you only need to look back to look forward. I know things are hard all round financially. I know it is a tough decision. I know that some but not all Rangers fans will not agree with me. Yet I genuinely believe that in this instance you have to trust and appeal to the customer, the football fan. Rangers will recover and survive and even prosper if run properly and in a true sporting sense.

     

     

    The SPL clubs and all of Scottish Football should just play the game. Play it fairly, with integrity. If you do that then the fans will come. Sell your soul and the only people filling the grounds will be ghosts, troubled souls and insolvency practitioners by the busload.

  3. What about a CQN whipround to buy the stadium from our man Craig ?

     

     

    It seems that it is key to it all and it would be good for our U19s to have a park to play on !

  4. starry plough, ha!

     

     

    bournesouprecipe, no, really.

     

     

    Som mes que un club, we are weeks after D&P’s ‘last chance’ day. I cannot see anything positive for them in recent events.

     

     

    What happens to Newco is, like the big tax case, a side issue for a later date. There are more immediate problems to overcome.

     

     

    BRTH, I’ll bookmark that for lunchtime, thanks.

  5. At the point that the assets are sold, assuming that ever happens, surely D&P must immediately liquidate Rangers FC PLC (in administration)? There can be no justification to continue the club and spend more money with no hope of any future income. They do in theory have the interest of the creditors to satisfy.

     

     

    At that time., Rangers becomes ineligible to hold a share in the SPL and Article 14(i) and (ii) come into force. These require an 11 – 1 vote for the transfer of a share.

     

     

    Can Newco make an application before Oldco is liquidated? Well, it depends at what point it is deemed to be a football club. Could that be before it owns any footballing assets or employees any football players? I can’t see it.

     

     

    Whoever is drawing up the proposed rule change that will give the vote on any Newco to clubs had better do so very carefully to avoid conflict with other Articles that relate to share transfers.

  6. BRT&H

     

     

    Just one thing,could you not have invaded the pitch in Buenos Aries and

     

    get the match stopped?

  7. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    Many happy returns to excellent CQNer Vmhan.

     

     

    Vinny gets to share his cake with heavy boned chanteuse wee Michelle Mcmanus, heavy fisted boxing champ Sonny Liston,and the great Franco Baresi.

  8. Auld Neil Lennon heid on

    Son Mes

     

    I’ve just penned my own layman’s view in club licencing that I hope CU will publish soon.

     

    First thing is Rangers would fail criteria on 3 count, unaudited accounts, unpaid tax and unpaid football debt and that is not to mention irregular player registration.

     

    Newco only have the 3 yr accounts hurdle but that faces integrity and political problems from UEFA should the SFA make an exception case.

     

    In any case the original point that Rangers qualified on sporting merit is itself wrong. They did’nt. Mothetwell and Dundee Utd would make this point.

     

     

    Lawyers eh?

  9. I have a sixth sense… I see cheating people.

     

     

    Cheating people in the media; cheating people in the banks; cheating people in the boardrooms; cheating people on the pitch; cheating people in the courtrooms; cheating people with cheated freedom; cheating people advertising spectacles; cheating people wearing them; cheating people denying justice to cheating people; cheating people in admin and admin in cheating people; cheating people in halls of fame; cheating people in suits; cheating people in shell-suits; cheating people on heat and no heat on the cheating people; cheating people in office; cheating people out of the office; cheating people at the next desk; cheating people with truncheons; cheating people in Fife and Ayr and Nyon too; cheating people at the top of the mountain and cheating people spawning in the gutter; cheating people in blue rooms; cheating people on marble; skint cheating people; booglie eyed cheating people; myopic cheating people; cheating people in Mount Florida; cheating people in Park Garden corridors; cheating people in wigs; cheating people in their heart and their soul and their home and their family and their future and in all that they will ever be. I see stigmas coffins beckoning those cheating people. Cheating people, cheating people, cheating people.

     

     

    Where will it ever end?

  10. Mountblow tim on

    Paul another Excellent piece of work

     

    Keep up the good work

     

     

    Keep the faith

     

     

    Hail Hail

  11. celt for life on

    Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000 on 8 May, 2012 at 11:10

     

     

    Just a point of clarity, the Hibs v Dunfermline game was live on ESPN last night, so the attendance was all the more remarkable.

  12. celt for life on 8 May, 2012 at 11:24

     

     

    Hibernian fans attending last night got a voucher for a cup final ballot.

     

    They still have tickets to sell.

     

     

    LB

  13. Thanks for the birthday wishes Celts, a belated happy birthday to Mr Z who’s birthday was yesterday.

     

    I hope all that are ill recover fully.

     

    V

  14. Dontbrattbakkinanger on

    The gate might have been boosted as Hibs were linking attendance at last night’s game with Cup final ticket applications, but a good gate nonetheless.

  15. celt for life on

    LiviBhoy on 8 May, 2012 at 11:26 said:

     

    celt for life on 8 May, 2012 at 11:24

     

     

    Hibernian fans attending last night got a voucher for a cup final ballot.

     

    They still have tickets to sell.

     

     

    ********************************************************

     

    Wasn’t aware of that, but shows you if there is something in it for the fans they will turn up even when the game is on the telly, more at last nights game than was at their home game against the min huns at New Year.

     

    Now Mr Petrie, imagine your crowds if you were going for a champions league place.

  16. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    Paul 67 I read and enjoy your posts and for the hopes of most Celtic supporters that Rangers are dead lifts spirits.However,and I said this yesterday you are baseing your opinion on the normal rules being upheld and I am not sure that is a good basis to reach a conclusion on the Rangers situation.Rangers are the establishment team in Scotland and during this administration we have seen some strange decisions none more than not turning up at yesterdays meeting but asking for a postponment on any decision.Now my concerns are that rules can be changed or bent what ever you care to call it and in my opinion they will be I still say it is to early to rule out Newco.Rangers in the SPL next season every shaky hand shaker will be working to ensure that is the outcome of this sorry mess.H.H.

  17. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000 on 8 May, 2012 at 11:10 said:

     

     

    A rollicking good tale, why can’t I imagine Neil Doncaster writing or even thinking such a thing.

     

     

    Football in Scotland needs a vison and a visionary to move it forward not these Feiglinge that run it now..

     

     

    Hail Hail

     

     

    Starry

  18. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan supports Kano 1000 on

    Celt for life@11;24

     

     

    Ha I didny know that!!

     

     

    Ok it wasn’t on proper telly…………

  19. Celtic_First on

    Brogan, Rogan, Trevino and Hogan

     

     

    Apparently you will be hard pressed to find a Madrid fan who does not want Carles Puyol as captain of Spain despite his heroic status at Barcelona, and apparently you will struggle to find a Catalan who will not support Vincente Del Bosque as manager of Spain despite his long and successful association with Real Madrid.

     

     

    Whit?

     

     

    Iker Casillas is the captain of the national team and the least cool thing for Barcelona fans to be seen to do is to give two hoots about the Spanish team. Their players play in it, the way some of ours have been asked to play for ‘Team GB’ and the fans want their men to do well, but most tend to refrain from being seen to care while some avowedly refuse to acknowledge Spain as their national team.

  20. Great article Paul67!

     

    The light at the end of the tunnel is simply the headlights on the truck hurtling towards them.

  21. Snake Plissken on

    Zilina 1 Senica 0

     

     

    Early kickoff in Slovakia.

     

     

    Mon the Green and yellows.

  22. CultsBhoy loves being 1st forever & ever on

    SKY Sports cancellation

     

    I posted below earlier, I slightly lied as I had to make a 2nd phonecall to cancel my uncle ‘s subscription and was actually in between calls when I posted.

     

    2nd Sky Rep was very sympathetic to my request sharing her allegence with Celtic.

     

    Ominously she left me with a parting thought…’a lot can happen in a few days..!’

     

    —————————————–

     

    I cancelled my sports package today. I also cancelled my uncle’s as I pay for his.

     

    I had a lengthy discussion with the SKY customer account rep. Seems like they are getting plenty of cancellations from Celtic supporters.

     

    I certainly think it will be registered at a senior leve.

     

    If you are even thinking of cancelling- call them on

     

    08442410266

     

    Make sure you cite Rangers remaining in SPL as the reason.

  23. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    I thought Hibernian played very well last night and Pat Fenlon is to be congratulated for that.I can see Hibs being a much harder team to beat next season and this can only be good for Scottish football.h.h.

  24. Som mes que un club on

    Celtic_First.

     

     

    Carles Puyol, the epitome of all things Catalan, a prouder Catalan footballer, you are unlikely to come across (in the literal sense), has 99 Caps for the Spanish National Team.

     

     

    Hardly someone who sounds like he doesn’t give a hoot about the Spanish National Team.

  25. 'crushed nuts?' 'Naw, Layringitis!' on

    As liquidation becomes inevitable, is there any danger of someone in authority telling the truth?

     

     

    Why, if they didn’t return (Doncaster’s) his calls, were D&P allowed to submit motions to a meeting which would require an explanation?

     

     

    Why, if there is no prospect of the staff recovering the substantial salary deductions, were they advised to accept this?

     

     

    If the BTC is upheld will D&P sue MIH for the ‘tax advice’?

     

     

    Will D&P try to recover any monies ‘loaned’ to present and former employees?

     

    What will Sandy Jardine do?

  26. Oh Dear the someones upset the football hacks in Scotland

     

     

    Scottish journalist leaps to the defence of Scottish sports writers under siege from Channel 4 News

     

     

    Scottish journalist leaps to the defence of Scottish sports writersA former sub-editor on a number of Scotland’s sports desks has leapt to the defence of Scottish sports journalists who have been severely criticised by Channel 4 News’s chief correspondent Alex Thomson in his on-going investigation into the tangled financial affairs of Rangers FC.

     

     

    Writing on the Caledonian Mercury online news site, Jack Jonson declares: “I didn’t think I would ever be defending those hacks that made my life a misery as deadlines loomed and, in a fever of ferocious rewriting, I had to recast their illiterate ramblings.

     

     

    “However, Channel 4’s chief investigative reporter Alex Thomson has attacked their role in the Rangers fiasco and his criticism is unworthy in the extreme.

     

     

    “I suspect he was alerted to the Ibrox crisis by Celtic-minded bloggers who insisted there was a story of ‘Watergate’ dimensions that is being suppressed by a pro-Gers media. Fair enough. Certainly worth checking out.

     

     

    “He spoke to Graham Spiers who explained the meaning of the ‘succulent lamb’ jibe frequently parroted on Hoops blogs as proof that the Scottish media hate their club while favouring the other lot.

     

     

    “Spiers, of course, found a comfortable niche in football journalism as the fair-minded, middle-class good guy among the cynical, hairy-arsed working-class hacks. Which he did, and does, admirably.

     

    “It has to be said though that since becoming freelance he’s having to take a piece from anybody’s door – and Channel 4’s will do nicely.

     

     

    “But let me explain how ‘succulent lamb’ really works – though I would have expected an experienced journalist to know anyway. Maybe Thomson – as he likes to point out frequently – has been in too many war zones where things pan out differently.

     

     

    “So, a quick lesson in elementary sports journalism. The bloggers – or ‘internet bampots’ as Hugh Keevins calls them – should tune in carefully too.”

     

     

    Jonson claims that football is showbiz – the game needs the media and the media needs the game.

     

     

    “That’s why the big clubs employ PR staff and contractually insist that players and managers do interviews – to maintain a flow of info to the media that keeps them in the spotlight. Also keeps the sponsors happy, ensures ticket sales soar, papers get sold. Everyone’s happy.

     

     

    “Cosy relationships are formed on both sides and indeed there are drinks and dinners where bonds are formed and contacts strengthened.

     

     

    “As Jim Traynor, author of the ‘succulent lamb’ article, recently pointed out, that meal was vin ordinaire and he’s had much better fare at the table of Celtic’s high heid-yins. And, given his portly disposition, you have to assume he’s something of a trencherman…

     

     

    “Oh and Spiers has also admitted to partaking of the same dish – at Celtic Park. No mention of that, though, from Thomson.

     

     

    “This idea of ‘agendas’ is perpetuated by fanatics because they get some sort of kick from being on the receiving end of a bigoted media – as they see it. Scottish football may be in crisis but any failings by the football authorities are due to acts of incompetence rather than anything sinister.

     

     

    “If Rangers go down the plug it will be because David Murray gambled and lost on a dodgy tax scheme then stupidly sold the club to a numpty. That’s it. Not because the SFA and the media were involved in some massive Masonic cover-up.

     

     

    “Then Thomson insisted he was ‘physically’ threatened by an NUJ member and made a great deal of this. He even went on Radio Clyde and castigated the Scottish media for not taking this seriously.

     

     

    “When asked for proof he read out a Twitter message threatening him then said the matter would be reported to the police. Someone who uses their social media account to commit a criminal offence is clearly not the brightest, eh? And an NUJ member too…

     

     

    “Roddy Forsyth, in the Daily Telegraph two weeks ago, reported the police had dropped the matter, with a source claiming the complaint was ‘laughable’. However, it seems the inquiry – or is it another one involving a blogger’s threat to Thomson and three others? – is still on-going.

     

     

    “Forgive my confusion, but it’s all a bit complicated now. I just hope that justice is eventually done and the real story emerges. I also hope it doesn’t end with someone getting a “reddy” – a good Scottish word for Thomson to check out.

     

     

    “Now to the central charge he makes against the Scots media – implying they favour the team from Govan and have sold football fans ‘down the river’. Well, what has he revealed thus far which they haven’t? That Campbell Ogilvie had an Employee Benefit Trust, he claims.

     

     

    “Alex, it’s been common knowledge in the media that EBTs at Ibrox were widely used throughout the club – not just by players but directors and senior staff. So in the six weeks or so he’s been on the story he’s found nothing that hasn’t been in our media ad nauseam for more than a year at least.

     

     

    “That means he really does have some cheek insulting NUJ colleagues. But, then again, if you can’t uncover anything of substance, a campaign against Scotland’s sports hacks might do in the meantime to deflect attention away from his failings.

     

     

    “I have worked on news and sports desks of many national titles in Scotland – broadsheets, mid-markets, tabloids – and never once witnessed any agenda being played out. I have seen incompetence on a grand scale – I’m a crabbit sod – but not deliberate bias.

     

     

    “As Thomson is, no doubt, finding out, there is a deep bitterness among many fans of the Old Firm that brings shame to Scotland. Both sets of supporters insist their team is a victim of the authorities, the SFA, SPL, referees, the media. It is, of course, absolute nonsense. Well, they can’t both be right. Can they?

     

     

    “The real story, in fact, is the depth of the hatred, bitterness and delusion among the warring tribes. But that’s not as sexy.

     

     

    “From where I’m sitting it appears Thomson arrived up here with the mindset – no doubt passed on to him by the deluded hordes that sucked him in – that there would be rich pickings uncovering wide-scale corruption among the media.

     

     

    “That can be the only reason he has thrown insults around like confetti. At best, that shows an appalling naivety for one so experienced.

     

     

    “I wish him well in uncovering some smoking gun because, as it is, his reputation is taking a bit of a battering among real journalists in Scotland who have been on the receiving end of spiteful taunts from Old Firm fans for decades.

     

     

    “Let me give him an earth-shattering exclusive – Scottish journalism is among the best in the world, so his cheap shots have done him no favours whatsoever.

     

     

    “Finally, no one will be happier than me if Thomson does get a big exclusive – and I’ll treat him to a succulent lamb dinner washed down with vintage Château Lafite.

     

     

    “Alas, tail between the legs and back over the border is how I see it all panning out for him. It would be nice though if he also found time to apologise to those NUJ colleagues he has insulted so readily.”

     

     

    http://www.thedrum.co.uk/news/2012/05/08/scottish-journalist-leaps-defence-scottish-sports-writers-under-siege-channel-4-news

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