Graeme Souness was in town to promote a book yesterday with some incredible statements for those of you who “rejoiced at Rangers’ problems”, saying:
“Scottish football needs a strong Rangers and a strong Celtic to create interest outside of Scotland.
“If that’s not the case, Scottish football would die.
“As much as Celtic supporters and other supporters of clubs in Scotland have enjoyed the moment, [Rangers’ liquidation] has damaged football in Scotland beyond belief.
“My luck was that, at the time, the English clubs were having to rebuild their stadiums post-Hillsborough.”
Set aside for a moment the fact that the 97 fans of Souness’ former club, Liverpool, died at Hillsborough three years after he took over at Ibrox.
Ignore, for a moment that we, according to Souness’ former Scotland team-mate Willie Miller, are as good a Celtic team as he has seen, that our income has reached new heights and will go higher still this season, that we are packing stadiums wherever we go, and that all of this is the product of a long-term, sustainable strategy.
Disregard that Hearts are nearing completion of their stadium expansion, or that Aberdeen are set to build an impressive new stadium, or that Hibs are packing out Easter Road at a rate not seen since the 60s.
Pay no attention to the fact that Motherwell have found an ownership model, a manger and players to have them sitting third in the table and in the League Cup final.
Instead, remind yourself why Rangers got into trouble. They introduced an aggressive tax avoidance scheme which they knew would be challenged by HMRC, and they made no provisions for this challenge.
The paid over 55 football players through this tax scheme, ‘loans’ which were never to be repaid and which were eventually ruled as disguised remuneration.
Most strikingly, while manager of Blackburn Rovers, Graeme Souness received such a loan from Rangers. When asked to explain by the Daily Record, Souness even claimed the loan was remuneration – for scouting services. More flagrant remuneration than disguised.
Souness went on to say, “I live in England and there was always an interest in Scottish football from football fans in England. That’s no longer the case.” Maybe if he spent more time with BT Sport, than Sky his impression of interest in the Scottish game would be different.
If Graeme Souness wants to offer advice on Scottish football, perhaps he should be magnanimous and write a cheque for repayment of that loan. Hillsborough matters way more than any book promotion. If you are a former Liverpool captain and want to reference Hillsborough as an aid, get it right.
Souness and the other ‘loan’ recipients should be chased out of town for the carnage they caused at Rangers. Instead, he gets a platform to spout nonsense about Hillsborough and Scottish football, despite appearing to know little about either.