Tag Archives: Aberdeen

Simply Gone Bust

One of the benefits of having moved ‘down south’ is being able to watch the demise of Rangers from afar. I have no torch for either half of the so called Old Firm, although that term will have to be rethought. The less pleasant aspects of both clubs have spread throughout the country like Japanese Knotweed, choking off any chance of growth in support of clubs around Scotland.
Whilst there is no doubt something chastening for all clubs that one of the stature of Rangers can go to the wall, it’s mixed with amusement and dollops of schadenfreude. They did after all bring it upon themselves.
Most amusing has been the strident tones with which Rangers fan base have maintained that somehow it’s all the fault of Craig Whyte, a johnny-come-lately owner who purchased the club from Sir David Murray barely a year ago. Yes, he’s been complicit. He wanted to make a fast buck, but, one look at the various charges laid at the clubs door should tell even the most rabid of the “Follow, Follow” brigade (and that’s Blindly follow follow), that something has been amiss in the state of Denmark for some time.
In the early to mid 80’s Rangers were not the club most are familiar with. They were a mid table side, playing to crowds of half the number they’ve seen in recent seasons. Aberdeen and Dundee United were the successful clubs in Scotland at the time, using youth policy and shrewd management from Alex Ferguson and Jim McLean to become respected in Europe. Enter David Murray, rebuffed in his attempts to buy his boyhood team of Ayr United, he successfully purchased Rangers. Installed Graeme Souness as player/manager and things would never be the same again for Scottish Football.
Rangers embarked on a spending spree. Established international players Chris Woods, Terry Butcher, Trevor Steven et al were persuaded north, trophies were once again piling up and, loyal fans flocking back. Club after club spent good money after bad enticing third and fourth rate European players to their squads in an effort to keep up. Fergus McCann at Celtic had to do away with the infamous biscuit tin. The thing is, sanity gradually took hold. Clubs began to cut their cloth, yes, even Celtic. Not however, Rangers. Blinded by the need to one up their hated rivals, new and more elaborate means were found to continue bringing in the mercenaries. The sense of entitlement amongst their fans only grew.
And now, the house of cards has come crashing down. The financials don’t appear to have been wholly above board. Tax evasion, EBT’s, double contracts. Systematic cheating to further tilt a playing field that was never level to begin with, Rangers enjoy significant advantages over the rest of the SPL, except Celtic. More TV money goes the way of the big two than does the rest of the SPL, the numbers required in a vote to change anything in the SPL were skewed to ensure nothing could go against the big two.
Outside of the financial wrong doing (alleged), it amounts to cheating on the field of play. By not paying certain things everyone else was paying, they could pay more on players. Thus bettering their squad further and probably winning more than they would have done had they played fair. Not for one second do I imagine it would have been a utopian ideal, Rangers may well have won all the trophies over the time frame they did anyway, but, we’ll never know.
Has there been one word of remorse? From anyone connected with them? Err, no, just finger pointing and claims of a vendetta. The usual paranoid fantasies of Old Firm fans who believe everything is about and for them.
For any number of years now, both Rangers and Celtic have publicly claimed to be seeking entry to the English Premier League, for that way riches lie, and indeed Scottish clubs were reassured that the SPL would continue without them, for no club is bigger than the league. Suddenly, with the club facing the prospect of liquidation, it became, “Scottish football NEEDS us”.
And so, they have been liquidated. Rangers are no more; instead there is The Rangers, a club with no history and at the moment no league to play in. The SPL will vote on July 4th on whether or not The Rangers should be allowed Rangers’ SPL share and thus take their place in the SPL. This leads to further complications. Many Rangers fans point out that as The Rangers are a new club, with none of the history etc. of Rangers, they therefor should not be liable for any of the punishments to be meted out once the legal processes have taken place. This ignores a couple of things:
1. If no punishment is to be made that sets up a precedent whereby any club can just walk away from it’s debt and carry on as though nothing was amiss.
2. It’s a new club, therefor it should have to go through all the same application processes as any other new club would in order to gain league status.
The second of these is the most interesting to me. Assuming a vote is passed denying them access to the SPL, it seems to have been taken as read that the club will just enter the SFL in division three. This just glosses over the fact that there is a process to gaining entry to the SFL. Clubs like Cove Rangers and Spartans have tried and failed recently, and I’m sure there would be legal challenges should this be a mere fait accompli. There is no guarantee that SFL clubs would vote to allow them in anyway, quite apart from the due diligence angle, as Peterhead have already mentioned, why ruin the competition by allowing this club in. Once again turkeys, voting and Christmas spring to mind.
The new season fixture list was announced and it threw up some interesting discussion points. The SPL list contained “Club12” the designation given for whatever club takes Rangers place. Conspiracy theorists have been analysing the list since and the following points jump out:
1. Celtic face Club12 on Boxing Day. It’s normal at this time of year for there to be a Rangers v Celtic clash – is this a sign that The Rangers will be allowed in the SPL?
2. Celtic have a home game on the same day as Club12 once, Dundee United have a home game on the same day as Club 12 nine times. – another sign The Rangers are coming? It’s widely believed that Dundee are in pole position to take Rangers place, in this scenario that would require 9 games to be rescheduled on police advice. Does this make it more likely that The Rangers are Club12? I could be that Dunfermline get unrelegated!!
3. Whilst the SPL have taken a simple route and can just replace Club 12 with whoever, the SFL will face a bit of a nightmare reshaping their fixture list should Dundee/Dunfermline be in the SPL and should The Rangers pitch up somewhere in the SFL. Another sign that The Rangers are expected to go to the SPL?
Who knows? It just gets more complex and more surprising by the day. Walter Smith appeared to lead a bid to take over The Rangers, however his white steed had a panic attack and bolted with him still on board just a few hours later. News of another bidding team has been reported in the last day or so too. To top this though, stories have begun to circulate of the new ownership at the club hatching a plan to purchase Bury, an ENGLISH League 1 side. Bury would then be moved wholesale to Glasgow, renamed as The Rangers and presto! Goodbye SPL, hello, well ok, League 1.
This smacks of yet more, “we’re taking our ba’ away” posturing, the big “we dinnae need you but you need us” grandiose arrogant scheme old Rangers were very fond of. The logic of it defies thought!
Worst case in Scotland would see them entering Div 3 of the SFL with the likelihood being that with the Rangers name and new financing they would cruise through to Div 1 in successive years. Year 3 would be a bit tougher but they should gain promotion to the SPL then. That would also be the end of the 3 year European ban. So Year 4, when they are again eligible for Europe, they are in the SPL and probably mounting a challenge for trophies and qualification for Euro competition.
Assuming the myriad logistical issues and footballing boards in England, Scotland, UEFA and FIFA can be overcome, there is no guarantee of anything in England for them. League 1 can be tough to get out of, ask Sheffield United!, and the Championship even harder. They could slog for seasons just to get a sniff of the EPL, and Europe a pipe dream long after the ban is lifted.
Sadly though all of this seems moot, despite numerous SPL clubs having made noises about ‘sporting integrity’ it seems they are paving the way for a vote that would allow The Rangers into the SPL. Kilmarnock being the worst offenders here, tripping over themselves to kiss Rangers buttocks at every opportunity. Recent boardroom shuffles at Aberdeen can be interpreted wither way, but many feel it clears the way for a yes vote. Rumours are also emerging of a “compromise deal” that would see The Rangers accepted to the SPL and then immediately relegated to Division 1.
Whatever happens, we do indeed live in interesting times.

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