Fans of other clubs are now starting to realise that the table may be tilted in favour of one particular club. If internet forums and various online polls are to be believed, the non-Rangers fans in the Scottish football community will desert the already desperate SPL if a newco was to be allowed straight back into the SPL.
If a new club is allowed to stroll back into the SPL with all the unashamed braggadocio of a petulant acne scarred teenager, with little or no punishment, then it would put Scottish football on a par with the wacky world of professional wrestling, where the blood and sweat may be real but the outcome is fixed.
This would cause the extinction – and possible UEFA intervention – of the SPL over the long-term. Sport is not sport when a team is not allowed to fail.
Let me nail my colours to the mast right now. I am a Celtic fan and unashamed of my allegiances. The fact I am a Celtic fan does not affect my ability to judge Rangers as I would any other club who had committed the same ridiculous and immoral actions to gain a sporting advantage over their brother clubs in the SPL.
In fact, I actually love the Old Firm rivalry. My dad is a Rangers fan – as are his entire side of the family – so I am from an “Old Firm” family, in fact Old Firm games are my favourite games of the season. I love beating Rangers and I would love for that rivalry to always be there. BUT I have put aside my own personal opinion and try to look at this logically.
Firstly, just look at what they have done to our game.
Rangers stand accused of misusing a tax avoidance scheme to pay players monies that they would be unable to afford otherwise.
Rangers owe circa £50 million in confirmed debt to everyone from a children’s face painter to small businesses and from the local newsagents to the Scottish Ambulance Service.
They owe millions of pounds to other clubs for incomplete transfer fees, including the disgusting way they treated Rapid Vienna over Jelavic.
They carried on for the last 20 years with the most disgraceful and unmanageable debt bubble hanging over their club and even when it popped, they went out and kept on spending.
Rangers were withholding gate money from other clubs and not to mention the £10 million unpaid PAYE that they still havent bothered with.
Then we have the “big tax case”. These are not the actions of a sane and realistic business. These are the desperate actions of a business which is driven by a demented ideology which seems to be “beat Celtic at all costs” even if it means failure to pay those costs.
This illogical and deranged behaviour has helped con the officials who govern our game into believing that the SPL could operate on a business model which is dependent on Celtic and – what we now know was a financially doped – Rangers being our main selling point to the faustian arbiters of our televised game….SKY TV.
Rangers have done untold damage to the SPL and to other clubs and now their fans and borderline propagandists want them to simply start again and get away with it? Vile.
There can be only ONE logical and justifiable punishment for Rangers. That is full expulsion from the SPL and having to apply to join the Scottish Third Division.
We then have to completely and radically downsize the Scottish Premier League.
Our current premier league’s business model is unsustainable. In any other business, the business cycle and market-place must be allowed to kill-off unviable businesses.
The SPL business model is based on limited variables. No other business survives this way.
We must downsize the SPL to a level slightly above the First Division where clubs survive by only spending what their income allows them to spend and clubs exist by cutting their cloth to survive. If a club cannot sustain itself, then like all businesses, it must be allowed to go the wall. It is natural and healthy.
I love Celtic and want Celtic to be strong, but I would take Celtic playing in a downsized league if I knew the competition was honest and the books were balanced. I will follow my club wherever they play and the fans of other clubs will do the same.
It is, put as simply as I can, a lie to suggest that if Rangers are not in the SPL then Scottish Football will die. Scottish football out with the SPL will carry on as it does just now and the SPL will downsize to ensure its survival.
What we have right now is a bunch of SPL chairmen protecting their OWN immediate and short-term gain, rather than protecting the long-term existence and viability of their own clubs (to try to protect what they have now is simply protecting an unsustainable business model).
While I was listening to Neil Doncaster’s jumbled and nervous pseudo-explanations on television this week, I found myself turning to my St Mirren supporting work colleague and saying: “What do you think about that?”
His reply was barbed but honest: “The man is a joke, just like this league. I want relegated into a proper league next year.”
I never EVER thought I would hear anything like that.
So for those who say we “need” Rangers, I say look at our other divisions.
For example the Scottish First Division has higher average crowds than the premier leagues of Ireland, Croatia, Sweden, Slovakia and many more. Our First Division has higher average attendances than leagues who have clubs which regularly feature in the Champions League.
Ally McCoist himself admitted that morally, the proper course of action, would be to demote Rangers to the third division.
We stand on the precipice of either a slow failure or a spectacular rebirth.
We can “let the cheats win” and simply let Rangers come back into the SPL as a newco with no punishments, we can keep on operating an SPL based on an unsustainable business model which is dependent on bending the rules to accommodate one team in order to keep this temporary gravy train running or, and here’s a thought, we can act with integrity.
We can downsize to a level of SPL operation where we DON’T have to rely on the Murdoch pound, where we don’t live above our means, where we don’t prop our clubs up with variable and limited income streams, where we can apply rules without fear or favour.
We can cut out the toxic element which has brought our football to its knees, let them serve their punishment, let them go away and shut down like the failed business they are and let them take the other unviable businesses with them. Maybe then, we can start running our football in the proper way. Maybe then, will we be able to wean ourselves off this strange delusion of grandeur we have about our football. Maybe we can actually save ourselves. Who knows?
Maybe the zombie Rangers will rise from the grave and operate itself as an honest and viable business and maybe even go on to act with some of the dignity that their fans love to yell about.
But then again, without mobilisation of all non-Rangers fans I think that is about as likely as me stopping after my next glass of fine red.
So to those who try to defend Rangers and call for light punishment or no punishment, I say this, we do NOT need Rangers, it is a lie and for the all the shame they have brought to our football I say this…..you have NO case for defence.
Written by Thomas Payne