Season will be decided on the field, not in the courts


I received a text early evening on 18th August last year: “Gongalves starts”.  Former Hearts player, Jose Gongalves, was one of a handful of players FC Sion signed illegally in the summer 2011 transfer window and he had been named to start against Celtic in the Europa League qualifier, first leg.

As a contest, the tie was over.  There followed two matches with considerable effort and drama from both teams but the eventual outcome was, literally, never in doubt, the courts would have their way.  Sion would be expelled from the competition and Celtic would progress to the group stage.

Today Celtic’s only remaining competitor from the chasing pack for the SPL title is up in court to face the HM Revenue and Customs.  The courts will have their way again but although you may feel the outcome of Rangers tax case is inevitable (I do), the impact on this season’s league championship is less assured.  Should they lose, Rangers have the option to appeal, postponing any negative impact on the company until next season at the earliest.

If Rangers have, or can generate, enough cash to keep the lights on this season the league will be nip and tuck until the end of the season. The tax case will attract most attention but if you are looking for indications of how the season is likely to go, keep an eye open for cash related incidents.

Well done to Rangers’ broadcast partner, STV, for their story this morning on SPL discipline.  They report the Ibrox club have the worst disciplinary record in the league, having accumulated a total of 41 bookings, contrasting starkly with the cool class at Celtic Park who are best behaved in the league with only 20 bookings.

With Beram Kayal out for the season Ki Sung-Yeung is the Celtic player closest to a suspension, a further three yellow cards would put the Korean over the threshold.  Rangers have Lafferty one booking, Edu and Bocanegra two, with Goian, Broadfoot, Bartley and Whittaker all three away from a suspension.  Lee McCulloch has only been booked twice this season but shows enormous potential.

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  1. Can somebody who listened to Clyde last night tell me what was the significance of Darrell King saying that some Rangers players had two contracts and that he had seen them? He would not lie about that… would he?

  2. .






    Got bit 3 Times by a March Fly Yesterday..Drew Blood Little (Big) Fecker..So Beyonce would be Good..Ole Bourne Might get Jealous tho..or Immigrate..



    Hope the Little Fecker is Dead Now..




  3. Parkheadcumsalford



    I have a book by David Remnick on Ali that is very good. Would post it to you for a read if you are interested.





    I’m immune to such things.



    The little blighters instinctively know that if they bite me,they will die from alcohol poisoning.



    I recommend this approach….

  5. Some say that he is Mrs Brown’s 4th son


    and that he has a tattoo of the European Cup on his left buttocks



    All we know is he’s Victor Wanyama

  6. Parkheadcumsalford



    When the mountain came to Muhammad


    by Hugh McIlvanney



    In the middle of Tuesday afternoon the lobby of the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan was so crowded that people who wanted to stay on the ground floor were riding in elevators to take a rest from the jostling. One man tried to reduce the crush by elbowing his way through the bodies shouting warnings. “You’re creating a fire hazard,” he yelled. “Get back! You’ll have to move back. Somebody could get killed here.” No one moved and he turned away hopelessly. “All this,” he said, “for a beaten fighter.”



    A few minutes later the door of one of the express elevators opened and the beaten fighter stepped out and attempted to make his way to the street within a straining ring of his black friends and attendants. He was taller than almost anyone else in the lobby, so that his disembodied face rode above the swaying crowd, composed and detached, the lips pursed in a patient expression. He remained undisturbed, signing the pieces of paper that were pushed at him, when his protectors had to give up on their first effort to force him through the main doors. The pressure eased when at last he reached the pavement. Most of the mob fell in behind him, scurrying to compensate for the length of his stride. There were at least 200 people with him when he turned out of 8th Avenue into the hard wind of 34th Street on his way to the basement garage of the hotel. A tiny black boy, thin as a stick, was held high in his mother’s arms for a glimpse.



    “Hey Muhammad, hey Muhammad,” he called. Then in desperation: “Hey Cassius Clay.’ Ali’s eyes rolled round slowly in mock rebuke. It took long minutes for the police and his friends to extricate him sufficiently to squeeze him into a black cadillac. “Oh Jennifer,” an attractive black girl said to her white friend as the car door closed. “I saw him. I saw him.” The white girl laughed. “I touched him.” she said.



    “Muhammad, you’re beautiful,” a young white man shouted from the fringe. “You’ll be back. You’re coming back.” Ali turned towards him and winked above the hard ball of swelling on his right cheek. As the car edged out and swung tentatively across to the other side of the street, someone muttered that after all Frazier had won the fight. A big man with red hair and a brown outdoor face spun round on the voice. “He won’t win next time. Believe me. Frazier won’t win next time.”



    It was a moment that no one but Ali could have created, a scene that had little to do with the usual mobbing of a celebrity. Pop singers and film actors can have young girls scrambling to touch them, but they don’t make 16-stone building workers tighten at the throat and offer emotional declarations of faith. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of that utterly remarkable heavyweight championship fight in Madison Square Gardens is that defeat, far from diminishing Ali in the eyes of his admirers has deepened their feelings far beyond the normal limits of public respect and affection.



    That suggestion will represent sentimental rubbish to many people, but they are the people who have always been immune to Ali. By no means all of them are racists, blatant or latent. Nor are they necessarily so superficial that they can only see him as a loud-mouthed boor. What is common to most of his detractors is a failure to let themselves become attuned to his spirit, to his dream. To those of us who believe in him, such a failure is astonishing. The beauty of his physical performances, his whole impact as a performer, are inseparable from his bizarre but ultimately heroic vision of himself. Arthur Miller’s salesman is not the only man who has to dream. Whoever you are it comes with the territory. The world would be uninhabitable if all of us dreamt on the epic scale of Ali but it would be a considerably drabber place if one among us had not done so.



    That was why all the sadness of last Monday night was diluted, even transformed, by Ali’s refusal to let his dream be tarnished. Against an opponent of genuine nobility, one of the most honest wills ever put to work in the prize ring or anywhere else, he stayed true to himself and everyone who identifies with him. He fought a unique fight, one that was almost baroque in the intricacy of its stratagems. And when all his elaborate attempts to conceal the total erosion of his leg speed, to reduce some of his weaker rounds to a vacuum of restful play-acting to “con” Joe Frazier into believing him far stronger and less vulnerable than he was. When all these failed, he took the consequences with magnificent courage.



    The white American reporters who screamed “Kill the sonofabitch, take his head off, his time’s here now,” were blinding themselves to the truth of what was happening in the ring as much as the hotel maid who said, “So the big mouth got hit good,” and offered a smile that was an invitation to dance on a grave.



    They wasted a crucifixion, but if they think that is what they got they are bad judges of the genre. The big man came out bigger than he went in. He lost. There should be no doubt about that. His own claim that he thought he won nine rounds, and therefore the fight, was a confirmation of continuing pride rather than a logical analysis.



    Exactly the same interpretation must be put on his opinion that if he had fought Joe Frazier before the politicians put him out of boxing four years ago, Frazier “would have licked me quicker because I wasn’t as strong as I am now.” To say otherwise, as I certainly would, clearly would be seen by Ali as an admission that he is in decline. That, for such a man at the age of 29, is unthinkable. Inevitable, in the midst of all his generous words about Frazier, he finds himself saying that he would have done better with “a referee from England or Scotland and judges from Japan and Germany” in place of the officials appointed by “the authorities that took my title away, guys who are a lot more friendly toward the Veterans of Foreign Wars than the Muslims.”



    Newspaper stories which gave the impression that he was ranting about having been robbed were ridiculous distortions. During an hour and a half in his hotel suite on the twenty-fifth floor of the New Yorker Hotel on Tuesday I heard him correct several interviewers who called him “champ”. “I ain’t the champ,” he said quietly. “Joe’s the champ, I call him champ now, not before but I do now. I ain’t protestin’. He’s a good, tough fighter. Not a great boxer but great at his own thing. He puts pressure on you all night, cuts off the ring, and he’s the best hitter I ever met. I always thought of him as a nice fella. What I said before, that was to do with the fight. Just the fight. I got to know him pretty good from travelling up from Philadelphia before he fought Jimmy Ellis. I was low on money that day and he loaned me a hundred dollars. He’s a nice man with a family, just another brother workin’ to make a living.”



    Ali was lying back low in an armchair that had been placed to suit the television crews that had just left. He wore a fawn and beige wool shirt and blue slacks. His eyes were heavy and his voice was subdued. He said he was sore rather than tired. The worst pain was at the top of his right hip, where Frazier’s left hooks had made regular contact. They had hurt him more and there than in the body, he said, contradicting those who had concluded wincingly at ringside that he would be “pissing blood for a week.”



    He was suffering less than might have been expected from the bruise on his jaw and kept telling us proudly that it was the only real mark on him. His hands were sore and he extended his right one lightly clenched when anyone wished him luck. He would talk quietly for a while and then fall into silence, glancing absently through a newspaper . Three men who said they were from Blackpool, and gave no reason to question it, had come to deliver an obscenely large stick of rock with “Muhammad Ali” printed through it. “What you tryin’ to do?’ he asked smiling. “Give me the sugar diabetes?’ “If you had licked this, you’d lick Frazier,” one of the three told him. The line sounded no better than it had at rehearsal.



    Ali had more practical explanations of what went wrong. “If I knew then what I know now I would have done different. If I knew I was going to lose those rounds when I played about I wouldn’t have fooled around so much.”



    This came across as wishful rationalisation of something that was forced upon him. Such contradictions, the tendency to submerge yesterday’s facts in today’s feelings, come naturally to him. He is an existential thinker. The truth is that the use he made of his equipment in this fight, though inevitably riddled with all kinds of dangerous exaggerations, was basically the approach that offered him the best hope of winning. No one knew better than he did that his legs had lost the elastic agility and inexhaustible fluency they once had. He knew he could not invalidate Frazier’s strength and rhythm by the once favourite technique of “surrounding” his man, dancing outside the range of his opponent’s punches while using his speed, reach and precise timing to pour in his own. At his best that unequalled mobility had made him as secure as a dive-bomber attacking a wagon train. But a long look at his training in Miami had left me sadly convinced that his foot speed was a memory, that against Frazier he would be obliged to fight flat-footed for much of the time.



    It was equally obvious that if he allowed this realisation to commit him to a straightforward slugging war, there would be only one winner and it would not be Ali. He had always sought, and always previously found, a highly specific solution to the problems posed by each opponent, and here he appeared to decide that he had more of chance of overwhelming Frazier with his personality than with his pared-down talent. In the past he has concentrated on psyching himself into invincibility. Here the emphasis was on psyching Frazier out of belief in himself.



    From the moment of entry into the ring Ali set out to persuade Frazier that he was taking on impossible odds. The two corners told a story. Yank Durham, Frazier’s manager, brought in the minimum help. Ali had half-a-dozen corner men, all clad in aggressive scarlet uniforms. A lesser fighter might have been unnerved by the sight of such a red army. But this one was content with the knowledge that Ali would be alone when the bell went. He was only mildly irritated when Ali, gliding sideways past his corner, muttered contemptuous predictions.



    When the bell did go, the big man started well; exploiting the anticipated clumsiness of Frazier’s early moves with accurate jabs and right crosses. As Frazier pressed in close, Ali smothered his attacks, tangling up the arms and employing the advantage in height to lean on the smaller man’s neck and shoulders. If the thunderous hooks got home to the body, Ali exposed his mouthpiece and shook his head in dismissal of their efforts, implying that the hitter was punching himself out. In fact Ali was being hurt. He simply takes hurt rather well.



    Despite a substantial improvement in Frazier’s work by the third, he could not, in my judgement, have won more than two or – at the absolute outside – three rounds up to and including the ninth. Ali had avoided draining himself too severely in this early period, especially in the sixth and eighth, by filling in time with some highly calculated comedy. He held a glove against Frazier’s forehead, seeking to ward him off with insulting ease, or stood against the ropes with both hands down, eluding many punches and frowning pityingly over those that landed. Occasionally he rapped his man’s face with playful little flurries of his right hand. Spectators who felt that his tactics were insanely hazardous did not appreciate how careful he had to be with his energy. Boxing positively is much more tiring than boxing negatively. Ali knew that if he tried to attack vigorously in every round he would burn out fast. He was more confident of his endurance than his destructive strength, so he gambled on breaking Frazier’s spirit rather than his body. It was the boldest bluff imaginable.



    This strange mixture of sharp aggression and farcical histrionics went very near to winning the fight. Ali had a superb ninth round, drawing traces of blood around Frazier’s nose and mouth and adding to the already distinct swellings around the eyes. When Frazier staggered back, his mouth open in an almost drunken grin, after taking jolting hooks and uppercuts to the head, the fight seemed to have swung decisively.



    But all this time, in his most frustrating moments, one simple statement could be read into everything Frazier did: “My time is coming.” Now it had arrived. He rallied in the tenth and in the eleventh he took control. At last the left hook reached Ali, who had wearied himself in the ninth, and soon he was staggering around the ring at a crazily reclining angle, like a surf-rider before he loses the board. “What surprised me most was how often Joe caught me with the hook, with good ones after the eleventh,” he said later. His ability to withstand a punch is prodigious, however, and Frazier could not put him down.



    For the next two rounds he was catching but not disastrously and in the fourteenth, managing perhaps the best footwork he had shown all night, he boxed beautifully and won the round comfortably. But he had done his grandstanding too early. In the fifteenth his legs were leaden; Frazier punished him immediately and before the round had gone a minute a sickeningly violent left hook smashed across the right side of Ali’s face, instantly increasing the swelling that had developed there earlier and lifting him flat on his back with his legs kicking high towards the ring lights.



    Now came one of his worst and greatest moments. Any possible ambiguity about the result was removed by that punch, but so were the unjustified doubts about Ali’s heart. Any man would have been entitled to stay prostrate after such a blow, but he rolled over without hesitation, was up at the count of two and when he had taken the compulsory eight he went straight at Frazier to hold on through the rest of a brutal round. I found it impossible to give Ali less than six rounds, with probably two even, but the eleventh and the fifteenth were won so easily by Frazier that he was well in front at the finish.



    Joe Frazier, a thoroughly pleasant and admirable man, is also a champion fit to share a ring with any who have held the world heavyweight title. “I have fought anybody y’all put in front of me and God knows I beat them,” he said afterwards. “What more can I do? Now I got to live a little man. I’ve been working for 10 long years.”



    Both men say they want to meet again – “All we need is six million dollars split evenly down the middle,” says Yank Durham – and the odds are that all the objections of lawyers and politicians and wives will not prevent a second collision. “Next time would be different,” Ali said in his hotel room. “Myself would make it different. When you get as big as I got in this game you get intoxicated with so-called greatness. You think you just have to run three miles a day. That’s all I did for this fight. And I didn’t rest properly, didn’t train as hard as I used to. You convince yourself you’ll get by on natural talent, that it will all just explode in there on the night. But it don’t. Next time I’d run more, get the legs right. That would make it different.”



    Unfortunately one remembers the same self-criticism of his preparation for Oscar Bonavena. The signs are that he is no longer capable of driving himself through the endless training that maintained his unrivalled condition, that he no longer has the obsessive, unsuffering enthusiasm for it. He, too, wanted to get home to his hacienda style house in New Jersey and live an ordinary life for a while, “washing the dishes, putting out the garbage, landscaping the backyard. We been whipped. Maybe we’ll get a little peace now.”



    But he was not about to abandon those people who were waiting for him down in the lobby. “I’ve never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened the only thing is to do right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life. We lose loved ones, or a man loses his property or his job. All kinds of things set us back, but life goes on. If so-called great people can take these defeats, whatever they are without cracking, the others are encouraged. They feel strong.



    “If I had lost again I’d say “That’s it. I’ve had my day.” You don’t go mad. You don’t shoot yourself. Soon this will be old news. People got lives to lead, bills to pay, mouths to feed. Maybe a plane will go down with 90 persons on it. Or a great man will be assassinated. That will be more important than Ali losing. I never wanted to lose, never thought I would, but the thing that matters is how you lose. I’m not crying. My friends should not cry.”



    The last time I saw him before he went home he was at the wheel of a caravan-bus that was taking his entourage to New Jersey. As it pulled away through the crowds he gave a slow little smile and waved, like royalty. How else would he wave?

  7. Serge,



    Many thanks for the offer. But, it was Hugh McIlvanney’s writings I was really interested in. So, a great thanks for posting that link. He really is different class is Mr McIlvanney.

  8. Sorry that would be Muhammad Ali!



    Quite frankly the Greatest Sportsman of All Time. An absolute hero.



    Happy 70th Birthday Ali!

  9. Drambowiecelt says:


    17 January, 2012 at 08:43



    Oh that is easy:



    Oh! the Rangers are sh***

  10. Parkheadcumsalford



    no worries mate, not sure if it was the article you were after but a good read. there is another 2 or 3 articles if you just google him. HH

  11. Anyway, after doing a wee bit of reading it appears that what the significance of Darrell King saying that some Rangers players had two contracts is that it was not within the rules.



    Does that mean anything?

  12. Billy’s Bhoys



    No mate this one is called King Of The World. I will have a look for the 1 you mentioned. HH

  13. Drambowiecelt



    hahaha, All in good time. Hows yourself anyway?



    I’m not finding much on The Soviets on youtube, Do they have albums out? Been listning to the waitress non stop since friday! HH

  14. kitalba



    the side letters basically render the EBT scheme defunct. Players wanted assurances about wages and the ebt is not able to offer this and be tax compliant, so the side letters may hang them.

  15. EBT stands for Employee Benefit Trust, ie it is taken on trust (a handshake). Rangers did a EBC, Employee Benefit Contract which doesn’t exist (hopely Rangers will be the same in a few months)!


    Cracking little article in the record today,you have to suspend reality to read it all the way through.






    Rangers suspend chef after pictures of him posing next to IRA shrines appear on his Facebook page



    Jan 17 2012 Exclusive by Stephen Stewart





    A CHEF has been suspended by Rangers after posting photos of himself at IRA shrines on Facebook.



    Jamie McGinness was sent home from the club’s training ground when pictures of him beside a mural of Republican Bobby Sands and at an IRA garden of remembrance appeared on his profile page.



    Grinning McGinness is pictured giving the thumbs-up next to another large mural in Belfast depicting the Starry Plough – a symbol of the Irish Republican movement – which says “Support Republican Socialist Political Prisoners”.



    Catering chiefs at Murray Park, near Glasgow, have suspended McGinness pending a probe.



    In a series of photos, McGinness can be seen standing next to a memorial in Belfast’s Falls Road, a Republican stronghold.



    The black shrine commemorates killed members of IRA’s Belfast Brigade “D” Company.



    Five pictures on McGinness’s personal page show a gable end mural to IRA hunger strike leader Bobby Sands, who died in the Maze Prison near Lisburn in 1981.



    It is emblazoned with the Republican slogan: “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” and hails Sands as a “poet, revolutionary, IRA volunteer”.



    The photos led Rangers fans to flood supporters’ websites with calls for McGinness to be sacked immediately.



    Steven Smith of the Rangers Supporters’ Trust, told the Record: “I have seen the pictures and find them abhorrent. It raises questions about how someone who follows that kind of terrorist agenda can work for Rangers.



    “It is terrible that a man who supports any proscribed terrorist organisation can end up with a job at a football club.



    “People fail to realise that their activities online can be clearly and easily tracked.



    “This shows that people should use social networking sites responsibly and not as a vehicle to propagate their repulsive views.”



    Last night, a spokeswoman for Rangers’ catering firm Azure said: “We take speculation of this nature very seriously and have suspended this employee pending a full investigation.”





    “It is terrible that a man who supports any proscribed terrorist organisation can end up with a job at a football club.””



    A quote from RST Stevie Smith,a teacher I believe,who clearly doesn’t do irony.



    And has never heard of Andy Goram amongst others.

  17. Morning bhoys, damp and dreich, but as ever hun free.



    As far as I understand the side letters are the basis of the big tax case.



    On the football side of things players are not allowed to be paid through an outside agency, Carlo Tevez when at West Ham was paid this way and there were serious financial penelties for them about 30 mill I recall.



    Uefa’s rules do not allow for players to be paid other than by the club, and the trust is what it implies a trust and not the club, I could be wrong but I doubt it.

  18. The big guy at the back....of Neil Lennon on




    If it’s the Spurs game you’re referring to, it’s in London, rather than Lennoxtown, as the squad travelled down yesterday. No idea of K.O time yet.




  19. Kitalba, I think Dawell alluded to the existance of letters which stated that the players being paid using the EBT’s were not liable for the tax.



    Meaning that all liability lay at Rankers door. Pretty daming stuff really.


    It’ll be interesting to see if it’s included in the podcast. ;)





    /Bishop B

  20. Kittoch:



    cheers mate, I wonder when Daryll saw these contracts and letters; was it only yesterday or was it a month, a year ago. Just remembered, Al Capone died in jail after he got caught fiddling the books, I wonder if Martain Bain, Alastair Johnston, Donald McIntyre or John Greig have recently watched that old favourite of mine… The Untochables. I’m sure Walter Smith and Sir David Murray would enjoy a re-run too. Maybe Mr. King’s South African defence team have not yet seen it though.