By Tony B – 12th May 2020
After weeks of posturing, threats, thinly (and some not so thinly) disguised insinuations from The Rangers and their lapdogs, the real motive for all the tantrums, bluster, attempts at intimidation and propaganda has been brutally exposed. (As if we never already knew why).
Plainly and simply, this was a The Rangers FC led revolt in a final, desperate attempt to try and do off the park what they failed miserably to do on it. Stop Celtic being crowned Champions of Scotland for the 9th consecutive season.
From the minute the league was suspended all we have heard from The Rangers and their cohorts is that titles can only be won on the park. Where exactly do they suggest that Celtic built up a 13 point and 25 goal advantage before the cessation of the season if it wasn’t done on the park?
It’s undeniably true that the league wasn’t mathematically over. However, it’s laughable and highly unrealistic to suggest that a squad chock full of winners, who had won 8 league titles in a row, 4 league cups on the trot and were on course to win a 4th consecutive Scottish Cup, a team who had dropped a grand total of 10 points in 30 games and hadn’t lost a domestic cup tie in 4 seasons were suddenly going to drop more points in their final 8 domestic games than they had in the previous 30, whilst a team made up largely of serial losers – with a captain without a single senior footballing medal to his name, a side who hadn’t won consecutive league games in their previous 9 SPFL matches were going to do something they haven’t achieved in the 4 seasons since they were finally promoted to the Scottish Premiership and win 9 games back to back. All this with a team who have wilted and capitulated in every single big game they’ve had where pressure was on them to deliver. It just wasn’t going to happen and Steven Gerrard must be eternally grateful that a global pandemic has been able to deflect from the fact that he has once again failed to deliver when so much was demanded from their support.
The silence from the Celtic board during this debacle has only served to emphasise that the chasm between the clubs off the park is at least as great as that between the clubs on it. For some time now Celtics boardroom has been made up of men who operate on a global platform. Genuine and firmly ‘on the radar’ billionaires like Dermot Desmond and Denis O’Brien have reputations, contacts and influence well beyond the UK’s shores. We’ve previously taken senior members of the UK cabinet, executives of blue chip companies, world leading economists and former Deputy Governors of the Bank of England and supplemented them with guys with a significant track record in performing at the highest levels in their various industries within the UK, Ireland and beyond. To a man the Celtic board has long been one that has been filled by men of significant substance. Professional men and the type of men who can and do lead and influence. In contrast, the Ibrox boardroom comprises of a gaggle of blinkered, occasionally bigoted West of Scotland businessmen.
Douglas Park is currently the biggest hitter in the Ibrox boardroom and has a more than respectable track record in business. He is a wealthy man on the back of his endeavours over nearly 50 years, but his wealth, influence and business history doesn’t even register compared to his Celtic counterparts. Indeed, one doubts if Denis O’Brien or Dermot Desmond would even have heard of him prior to his turning up in the Ibrox boardroom.
The Rangers fans will argue that they had Dave King, but despite being based in and having most of his business interests in South Africa, he could in no way be described as a global tycoon. He is a pariah in the business world now and like Park is a man with little influence and with limited contacts beyond SA and the UK. Indeed, where he does have contacts beyond those borders, they tend to be guys like fellow Ibrox board member, Hong Kong based, Barry Scott who have – to put it kindly – controversial business histories.
Not to put too fine a point on it, the board members at Celtic operate on a completely different plan to the ones at Ibrox. It’s therefore unsurprising that the Celtic board are shrewder, smarter and consistently outthink, outwit and outperform their Rangers counterparts in every area.
It’s a few weeks since HWS asked if I’d do this article to look at the voting and fallout from the SPFL vote on concluding the season and I’m sure most reading this will be familiar with the background to that story without going over it in detail here.
Few anyone would argue that there were some flaws in the SPFL voting process. There quite clearly were but what has followed from The Rangers and Inverness has been a vicious, undiluted and potentially libellous attack on the SPFL, its members and senior individuals on its board. When the dust settles, one would expect that serious SPFL charges – and possibly civil proceedings – will follow against both of those clubs and, in particular, Douglas Park, Stewart Robertson and Scot Gardiner.
In the case of Robertson, his place on the SPFL board must surely be untenable now. Arguably, his position at Ibrox should be too. What purpose does he serve if he is unable to represent The Rangers interest on the SPFL board or exert any kind of influence? The SPFL have claimed Robertson never spoke up or raised his alleged grievances or concerns at any point either during board meetings or in private. What the hell was he doing? Where was his voice? If you are operating at that level, you need people there who can speak up and assertively fight their corner and say things people don’t like to hear. We’re not talking about a modern apprentice or office junior sitting in on meetings to gain a wee bit of experience here. We’re talking about a highly experienced guy on the board of and representative of 2 major organisations.
The constant flow of contradictions, misinformation and vitriol from Ibrox and Inverness have been nothing short of a disgrace. Serious public allegations were made against the SPFL and its representatives. Despite the recent backtracking, the words ‘bullying’, ‘corruption’ and ‘coercion’ all originated from them. It is completely unacceptable in any line of business to make such damning comments and allegations and refuse to provide evidence to substantiate them. To go further and demand suspensions of senior board members without providing anything to support that request is incredulous. As well as their public utterances, Douglas Park is alleged to have made even more serious and damaging accusations in a private telephone conversation to Neil Doncaster. The nature of these comments were so serious that Mr Doncaster felt compelled to get the SPFL lawyer to draft and issue a cease and desist notice to Park.
As for the vote itself, The Rangers are unhappy that their own resolution to replace the SPFL motion on the table at that time was refused. The reason being – as the SPFL have gone on record as saying – is that Park’s motion was not legally competent but if they wished, they could have access to the legal representatives of the SPFL to produce one that was competent and could be which could put to the member clubs to vote on. This offer was refused. To date (at least 5 weeks later), no updated resolution has been put forward.
Another complaint was that the SPFL board tried to influence members. I struggle to see why this is being portrayed as unusual or underhand. This was a board resolution being put to its members, of course they would lobby for its acceptance. Any board putting forward a resolution will be hopeful that it passes.
The inference that there was any bullying or intimidation of clubs has also yet to be substantiated. If anything, and in light of this morning’s comments from other SPFL clubs, there has been more evidence of The Rangers and Inverness attempting to bully and influence other clubs than there has of anything else.
Rangers motive from the outset has been transparent, it’s never been about the good of the game or even self-interest for their club. Whilst Hearts, Partick Thistle, Falkirk and Stranraer can have legitimate grievances about their fate and are rightly voting for and fighting for what’s best for their club, The Rangers board and fans are absolutely consumed by the thought of Celtic winning their 9th consecutive title. Their board are voting and rabble rousing based on hatred, bigotry and in defiance of all logic. They will gladly pursue a scorched earth policy if it means stopping Celtic. The end game has always been thus.
In Scott Gardiner at ICT, they have found a willing stooge. A long-time friend and colleague of Rangers 9-in-a-row stoater, John Brown, Gardiner’s allegiances and motives don’t exactly require a Deloitte auditor to work out.
A former employee of the original Rangers, rumours have abounded for some time that he now craves a job back at the new Ibrox club having rejected a chance to return to Edmiston Drive a few years back. Given his track record of failure at Dundee and Hearts (where he laughably oversaw the failure to order seats for their new stand, resulting in a delay in its scheduled opening), most Celtic fans will surely hope that he gets the chance to join that board of insignificant brothers mentioned above.
The Rangers, many of their fans and Gardiner will all deny it of course, but the thought of Celtic being crowned champions is tormenting their every waking moment right now. The Rangers fans social media pages, fan forums and websites have spoken of little else for weeks. As ever, Celtic and their continued success is forever prevalent in their minds. For them, there is no escape. Irrespective of how they try and dress it up or make excuses, their behaviour betrays their true emotion.
After 6 weeks of bitter infighting, 1 failed coup, 10s of thousands of words, several hundred newspaper articles, 1690 statements and 2 SPFL member resolutions and not a single peep from Parkhead, nothing can alter the fact that for the 9th season running, Celtic are once again the best damn team in Scotland.