"Let the others come after us. We welcome the chase. It is healthy for us.
We will never hide from it. Never fear."
- William Struth

England v Scotland – A Tale of Two Leagues

Written by: Nineteen-SeventyTwo
Tuesday, 3rd May 2016

In Scotland we love to slate the English game, and have done for as long as I can remember, but in Scotland we can most definitely learn a thing or two about dignity from our brothers across the border at least from the conduct of fans in the last week.

As the football community in England came together to support Liverpool after the courts had finally attributed blame at the authorities for Hillsborough, someone in Glasgow was vandalising Ibrox with an offensive slogan about the Ibrox disaster.

As Leicester were winning the title last night, there was a genuine warmth across the media and other fans for the club, their players and support.

It truly is a remarkable story coming 14 years after the original company that owned the club went in to Administration, with the club ultimately saved, rebuilt within a new operating company, then ultimately sold to the Thai billionaire making dreams come true without the silly outlay previously used by the billionaire owners of Man City, and Chelsea.

When clubs are spending hundreds of millions on players, Leicester winning the title spending a fraction of that is irresistible, and the vast majority of fans in England appear to agree.

While the Spurs Chelsea match was as feisty a match as has been seen in recent years, Spurs will probably face some level of FA punishment for their conduct, but it will most likely end there. There will be no Government Summits set up to discuss it, no new specific football laws to govern football fans, and no dedicated fans movements and websites where haters of one club all put their own differences aside to cause as much damage as possible to one club.

English football learned a lot of lessons as it recovered from the dark days of the late 1980s, and while it is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and not everyone’s conduct is perfect, with some of the exchanges between Liverpool and Man Utd supporters as tactless and tasteless as it gets, there is a general common sense of purpose that the league as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

It means that, if one of the bigger sides happens to drop out of the Premier league, then the league itself remains a strong attractive product.

It also means that, while it has one of the world’s biggest clubs in Manchester United, it’s just one of a number of clubs within the Premier League. When the TV and league payments are made, they are of course weighted towards the top sides, and the most popular sides, but the spread is such that the winner does not earn such an advantage, that it becomes counter-productive for the league.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the ridiculous carve up of the tv deal to suit the winners of the premier league, and punish those at the bottom of the table means that the gap gets wider if the same club wins the league year after year, for instance, if the biggest threat to the winner is not in the league.

Our top clubs in 2012 ganged up to kick out the country’s top side, even where it meant damaging the game in Scotland, and damaging their own clubs in the process.

Since then Hearts also went in to Administration and back out; Celtic have become a selling club hustling to make ends meet, Hibs have been relegated, and now Dundee United have been relegated, against a background where the league went 3 years without a sponsor.

While it’s easy to blame Neil Doncaster for the standard of the tv deal and sponsorship deal, he has been trying to sell a fractured product, where the clubs within the league actively damaged that product in order to damage Rangers

It’s worth bearing in mind, that as Rangers attempt to claw their way back to the summit of Scottish football, that obstacles are still in our way, and we enter the Premiership in August with less than £0.5M TV revenue against Celtic’s £2.8M, with the league still pursuing a fine of £250K from Rangers, after already depriving the club of £2.1M prize and TV money in 2012 when the previous operating company went in to Administration.

In the summer of 2012, with the club stolen of a licence to play football, Rangers were presented with the infamous 5 way agreement that needed to be signed to allow the club to participate in professional football in August of that same year. One of the conditions was that Rangers waive their right to that money, and it has never been pursued, yet the SPFL are looking for £250k IN ADDITION to the withholding of £2.1M  that should have been given to the club.

The architects of that agreement, are still in positions of power in Scotland, albeit that Hibs and Dundee Utd have since been relegated.

What it shows is that the interests of many are not to build a product that we all benefit from, but to make any sacrifice possible to damage the one club capable of marketing that product.

Astonishingly, Rangers, in the Championship, had the highest average attendances in Scotland this season, and the highest tv audiences, while playing in the second tier. The only exception was the Old Firm Semi, which attracted a global audience of 100M, and reminded people across the globe that Scottish football still exists.

It is clear that for our game to move on in Scotland, it is not sufficient for our soon-to-be rivals to ask Rangers fans or the club not to be bitter about the events of the last 4 years, or for us to let bygones be bygones, while there are still a small amount of headbangers trying to rob Rangers or our history, and a small amount of leading figures in the game unwilling to take the kind of decisive action that would build the bridges that need to be built in the game.

Will one leader in the game in Scotland, take the decisive kind of action required to ignore the hate filled headcases, and make Scottish football the pride of the nation once again?

Who has the bottle and the charisma to carry it off? Anyone?


by Nineteen-SeventyTwo
by D'Artagnan


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