It has been quite a week for Ross County. Firstly, we formed the “Gang of Two”, along with St Mirren, and sent the proposed 12-12-18 fragmentation to Room 101, never to see the light again. Then came the news that skipper Richard Brittain wished to renege on his move to St Johnstone in order (it is presumed at the time of writing) to remain at Ross County.
For the latter, the hyperbole has already started elsewhere and Brittain – a decent man who I have written about elsewhere – his wife and young daughter could probably do without the speculation and second-guessing. I won’t add to it here, except to say all Ross County fans wish him and his family well – wherever his future lies.
I shall, however, make a passing reference to the vote on reconstruction. Scottish top ﬂight football this calendar year and last has been something of a mess, to put it mildly. The case for, and the critique of, the restructure proposals has been made elsewhere, and frankly it is wearisome. It is boring, contrived and, in many ways irrelevant. But what is not irrelevant is the culture of buffoonery that masquerades as football club ownership in Scotland’s top ﬂight.
The laughable incompetence which saw Rangers elected to the third division and Dundee rushed up to the SPL at the eleventh hour a year ago was merely the start of things (although the SPL has never been sailing calm waters even at the best of times). The Rangers thing just would not and still will not go away, after the Glasgow club (with seemingly no sense of irony) announced an independent enquiry into the behaviour of their Chief Executive Charles Green.
When the news of Rangers administration and subsequent liquidation broke, a lot of SPL chairmen looked rather foolish. No decision was made until they could not afford to put it off any longer. And that left pretty much everyone not knowing whether they were coming or going. The television contract needed torn up and re-written. A mediocre Dundee side were thrown in to the mix with no time to prepare. You have to think these chairmen are successful at whatever line of business they are in. You wonder why they seem startlingly unable to organise a coherent football structure. Ross County fans could be excused for thinking they had things pretty sweet in the ﬁrst division. Even as the remarkable season progressed, the faint whiff of incompetence stemming from Ibrox-gate never really went away.
And so, as a result of the 10-2 vote on league Ross County and St Mirren, the only two clubs who consulted their fans, were left holding the baby. They were the two clubs who decided a failed experiment in the Austrian league was not the way forward. They were the only two clubs who saw the “take it or leave” spiel from the Yes lynch mob as the disingenuous claptrap it patently is. At what stage, precisely, should the undeniable decency of wealth redistribution and uniformity of management trump the ridiculousness of wiping everybody’s points off the board in order to create an artificial split (or indeed splits) midway through the season? The argument that it is guns or butter, to use a strangely apt metaphor from the Vietnam war, is disingenuous at best. I am tempted to say it shows the whole farce up for what it really is. Stuart Milne, the former toupee-wearing Aberdeen
Chief Executive came damn near to tears in his aggressive response to his St Mirren counterpart, but ended up saying nothing other than “Doomed, doomed, doomed, we’re all doomed Captain Mainwaring”.
By resorting to apocalyptic hyperbole, Milne made the No case abundant. If the state of Scottish football is so tortured, so broken, so hapless, why did they come to the meeting table with absolutely nothing by way of plan B? I repeat, presumably Messrs. Milne et al are successful businessmen in their own rights. Is this really how they’d go about things on a daily basis in other walks of life?
The SPL is littered with myopic chairman – snake oil salesmen – who genuinely don’t have a clue what they are doing. With Dundee now doomed to relegation and Partick Thistle looking set for promotion, the outlook may – just may – become slightly more progressive. I wouldn’t count on it. And for Partick Thistle fans watching on in bemusement from the outside, a word of advice; yes, it is always like this.