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Bribery & Threats from the SPL hierarchy to rid our game of sporting integrity

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A proposal was sent out to all 30 clubs in the Scottish Football League on Thursday which outlined plans for league reconstruction or should we say the Grand Plan to get Rangers back into the SPL asap.

This so-called proposal was sent by the lower league governing body to its member clubs, following talks between the SPL, the SFL and the Scottish FA. It includes the plan to see Rangers welcomed with open arms into the First Division, despite comments from SFL chief executive David Longmuir only two weeks ago.

However if the clubs do not vote for the Rangers newco entry into the First Division, the SPL have threatened that they will create a breakaway SPL2. Where are the Scottish FA and the Scottish Football League in all of this? One body threatens member clubs from another body and no one speaks out in condemnation? Why not?

Individuals at Rangers and then the newco also have made threatening statements on how Scottish football would die if they voted them out of the SPL. Yet no official condemnation for their rhetoric, their threats and their intimidation and incitement from the powers-that-be also. Again why not?

The Proposal

The wording of the proposal is pretty clear, it is being used to scare, to force, to threaten the wee clubs into voting in the big boy to come to the rescue of the Scottish game. A big boy who poured tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers money into buying top talent and buy domestic glory forcing their domination on the other clubs. Did Rangers care about Scottish football then? Did they care about the state of the game when they were winning titles and playing in europe? Did the SPL, the SFL and the Scottish FA ask if Rangers’ dominance and splashing the cash was good for the Scottish game? Did they really care? They certainly do now given the amount of work behind the scenes – and there is a huge amount of work behind closed doors in this issue to try to get Rangers back into the SPL as quickly as they can so that the financial hit is only for one year at most.

Come that time, sporting integrity in the Scottish game is dead and the clubs can close their turnstiles because tens of thousands of fans will turn their back on the Scottish game for good. But who cares when an £80 million TV deal with Sky and ESPN which has not even been signed is on the table and being waived around the room like a carrot to a donkey.

It is funny how a change in the game is needed drastically now, days after clubs were forced by their own fans to vote against the Rangers newco. These clubs could never ignore their own fan base but it seems that they think this new proposal will be enough to appease their fans – it may do, but there will probably be a good percentage who will not be appeased by it.

The proposal claims that Rangers have nowhere to go – says who? The Third Division is waiting for them to place a bid to join the league. So straight away that is a lie.

It also states that the SFA wish to see a solution in the interests of the game. Don’t we all. But what are the Scottish FA saying exactly? They have certainly been very quiet lately haven’t they?

The wording of the next point is pretty clear what the proposal is trying to state. Moral/sporting question vs financial collapse. Financial collapse is a a scary phrase for any businessman, but has any relegated SPL side ever went into administration or liquidation solely because they have lost the revenue of both the Old Firm? We have 30 clubs in the SFL who don’t play the Old Firm yet they manage to survive. How? They work within their budgets, the adapt and therefore they survive.

The option to demote Rangers to the Third Division will reportedly see £16 million taken out of the game. Okay so where is the evidence to prove this? How much money will Rangers newco bring to the game in the Third Division though? Oh right that’s not the point of THIS proposal now is it?

Commercial partners will walk away and seek compensation? Sky and ESPN can walk away anytime they like as the TV deal is not signed. Again how many companies will jump onto the Rangers in the Third Division story and then advertise their wears in the lower echelons of the Scottish game?

The sporting opportunity is quashed for other clubs? Didn’t Rangers do that themselves by funneling tens of millions of pounds into buying the title year on year? Where was the sporting opportunity then?

The jist of Rangers into the First Division is to see the financial hit on the SPL clubs minimised so that they can recover quickly. Yet no official from the SPL, the SFL or the Scottish FA has came out and quoted financial fair play to the masses? Platini’s baby is due to be rolled out in the coming years, but what gives a club the right to run their business into the ground only to survive on the proceeds from one or two clubs? That business model is unmanageable and is sheer incompetence at its best. How many clubs in the SPL who have built up huge debts over the years are now quaking in their boots after seeing one of their cash cows being neutered and put into the bottom field?

The threatened SPL2 – is not CURRENTLY supported by the Scottish FA. The divide increases, leads to short-term commercial losses. Again where is the evidence, the financial spreadsheets and flowcharts to prove this? A legal challenge could paralyse the game – in what way if the league reconstruction is taken to the court then the leagues stay as they are until the court case is settled or ruled on.

And the worst case scenario if Rangers were terminated [Arnie is out of a job now is this is next gig?] or suspended. This would lead to complete financial meltdown, fans are lost to the game forever [how many fans are already lost to the game because of sky-high ticket pricing and the huge draw of the English Premier League?]. Of course many thousands of Rangers fans would no longer support a Scottish club. But take for example the likes of Third Lanark, when that club folded into oblivion many of their fans turned their back on the game altogether, but many more went to the juniors to support their local sides. Manchester United and Liverpool fans have established clubs in the lower leagues of the English game in protest against their owners or other issues. So could Rangers fans – what is stopping them if this ended up reality?

So the SFL fronted by David Longmuir said on the 17th June: “There would be no provision for any newco Rangers to go into the First Division rather than the Third Division.”

Yet 11 days later the rhetoric emanating from Hampden is that Rangers are now being given the option to enter the First Division by the SFL and David Longmuir. They would sell their sporting integrity for 1 million pieces of silver so that the SPL can keep the media rights to Rangers games to protect current contracts in place. Are these the same contracts that are still unsigned and are worth less than the paper that they are printed on at this moment in time? I’ve never known a contractual document with no signatures on it being confused with a document that is in force.

And the benefits well there are SOO many that I have just listed them below:

•Play-Offs immediately, based on our format
•A new distribution model with the settlement agreement value protected and future proofed
•An amalgamation of the SPL & SFL
•A more balanced governance model (as circulated)
•Immediate cash benefit for all 30 clubs!
•Gate receipt uplift in Division 1
•Potential hospitality & advertising values increase
•Sponsors receive added value through additional exposure
•Scottish Government remain committed to our community strategy
•SFL has more influence at the top table
•Play-Offs restore the sporting meritocracy and deliver additional value
•A unified plan presented to the Scottish footballing public which offers real possibilities for the game
•Keeps all 42 clubs together avoiding a divisive SPL2 split
•Deals with the need for sporting integrity with regard to Newco
•Delivers innovation in the form of a single league, Play-Offs and a pyramid plan
•Delivers new value for the game
•Potentially narrows the financial gap between Scottish Premier League & Scottish League
•Shows leadership for the game in Scotland
•Allows fans to engage in the bigger picture

And above all a positive media outcome. In what way?

With this proposal reaches the public domain on Thursday I already had readers send in emails and tweets saying that they would turn their back on the game of such a proposal was voted through. Of course there are many others also who would back such a proposal – but at this moment in time Scottish Football is in a state of chaos, a state of civil war. And what is the peace deal? A rushed through proposal which does not provide anyone with any evidence of what it states or what it claims, filled with choice words to scare and to force chairmen into voting through the proposal.

I would love those behind this proposal to take it in front of Dragon’s Den. Not only would we hear audible laughs, but the so-called businessmen would be lambasted, ridiculed and then told that their business acumen is next to zero.

No proof, filled with threats and divisive language. Rhetoric written in a way to give the clubs no other option but to vote in favour of the proposal.

The Dragons would vote no, the fans would certainly vote no, boycotts are already set to take place, but will the 30 SFL member clubs vote no? Time will tell but either way our game has been scared for life by the actions of one club and the ineptitude of the governing bodies who are supposed to be ruling our game and their lack of leadership.

A vote of no confidence must be placed on those who are trying pushing through this proposal.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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