Struth, Truth and Justice
Historical Revisionism in the modern world takes two particular forms. It can be the legitimate evaluation of existing or new evidence to help us reach a greater understanding of historical events. In its more sinister form it uses half-truths, propaganda and outright falsehoods to foster an agenda. We see such sinister intent in holocaust denial narratives which lack any serious historical accuracy but nonetheless find willing believers among certain groups who wish to rehabilitate National Socialism of who simply hate Jews. Sophistry is the order of the day with such people. Winning the argument or at least undermining the alternative view is more important than the truth. Verifiable evidence is ignored if it conflicts with the revisionist agenda. For such people truth is not important and the ancient Greek writer Sophocles could have had them in mind when he wrote 2500 years ago that…. ‘What people believe often prevails over truth.’
In the Scottish context, the humiliating collapse and liquidation of Rangers FC presented the media with verifiable facts they could build a story around and run with. The club was insolvent. The club entered administration and the, after a failed CVA bid, was put into the hands of the liquidators who would usually dispose of any assets in order to compensate creditors in some small way for their loss. Fairly straightforward so far. However, sections of the Scottish media decided to allow certain individuals to revise history and make statements in newspapers and online which passed without the sort of scrutiny one would expect from any decent journalist. Ally McCoist’s blatant falsehoods that Rangers FC 2012 were punished severely by the footballing authorities for the misdeeds of the oldco were printed in full…
‘We’ve already had a 10-point deduction from the SPL, lost our Champions League place for finishing second last season, had a £160,000 fine, been refused entry to the SPL, been relegated to Division Three and lost most of our squad.”
Any intelligent person could have told Mr McCoist that most of these ‘punishments’ were in fact not punishments at all but the consequences of the Oldco going bust and the New Club not being the same legal or football entity as the original Rangers FC. Next we had Charles Green making statements which a fool could see lacked accuracy and were simply aimed at feeding a false narrative to the hurting Oldco fans in the hope they’d buy into his new venture. They did; hook, line and sinker. Most of Green’s more outrageous statements pander to the victimhood narrative which those unable to accept the death of the old Rangers have created. If we accept the revisionist tosh coming out of the Newco then it seems the hateful and jealous clubs and fans who form the bulk of Scottish football saw the old Rangers on its knees and formed a slavering wolf pack which ripped the ailing giant apart. The truth is rather more prosaic. Their own greed and hubris brought Rangers down. No apology or statement of remorse has ever been forthcoming from Murray or others responsible for the mess to the creditors large and small ripped off for tens of millions of pounds.
We witnessed the Administrators, Duff and Phelps, allow Charles Green to purchase the listed building and grade 5 football stadium that is Ibrox Park and the training ground for a mere £5.5m and despite this being hugely under the market values of these assets, the media said little about this and the creditors took another hit. Green’s purchase surely rates as the bargain of the century? We also heard Mr Green claim that he had ‘Bought the Titles and trophies’ won by the Oldco! How can a club own the titles won by a different club? How can you buy history? This nonsense is printed in our newspapers with barely a critical word. Hugh Keevins was asked by a Celtic fan on Radio Clyde if the old Rangers was dead. He chose to ignore the actual legal fact of the liquidation of Rangers FC and fobbed the caller off with some ‘There are two schools of thought on this issue’ nonsense. There are many schools of thought about it but the only ones which count are the legal and footballing authorities opinions and both of them are clear; Rangers FC are in the final process of being liquidated and the Newco are different club. They are as dead as a dodo and Keevins knows it.
Last summer the SFA, SPL and SFL sought a just solution to the problem of the New Club seeking entry to the league. In the end they did the only fair thing possible and allowed the New club to start at the bottom of the league structure as all new clubs must. This was portrayed by some as the Scottish game ‘Kicking Rangers while they were down’ yet it was nothing of the sort. This was not a problem made by Scottish football, this whole disgraceful mess was created by Rangers FC and the cavalier way they managed their finances. Yet, still sections of the media tried to shift blame. It was all the fault of Craig Whyte some claimed. Here was a man who appears to be the ‘Lee Harvey Oswald’ of this whole sorry saga. It was ‘Bigotry’ which caused Rangers 2012 to be asked to start life in Division 3 claimed Charles Green in a disgraceful attempt to revise history and pander to ‘Rapeepo.’ It was none of these things. It was mismanagement at Ibrox on a monumental scale and the attempt, however imperfect, by the decent majority in Scottish football to see justice done.
It could be argued that the implosion at Ibrox has its roots in Lisbon in 1967. How could the establishment club, the club of Bill Struth allow these ‘immigrants’ to lay claim to Europe’s biggest prize. It ate away at Rangers for decades that Celtic had conquered Europe and that they had always failed there. The wild spending of the Murray era was an ill judged attempt to remedy this and it too failed. Jock Stein cast a shadow over Ibrox which eventually brought the whole house of cards tumbling down.
Soon Lord Nimmo Smith will make public his report into the dual contracts issue at the Oldco. The question he must answer is simple. Did Rangers FC pay players for footballing activities and not declare these payments to the footballing authorities as they are obliged to do by the rules of football? Whether EBTs are taxable income or not isn’t the issue here; that is an argument for another day and the HMRC appeal. The issue is whether improperly registered players represented Rangers FC in matches. If Lord Nimmo finds that they did then the logical course is for the footballing authorities to overturn the results in the games involved and strike any trophies won using such players from the record book. If this is the case we shall no doubt hear the bleating about how perverse the judgement was and that this is all about hatred of Rangers and not justice.
I urge you to watch the media very carefully during the days after Lord Nimmo Smith’s verdict is published. Will the truth be promoted for the integrity and good of the game or will some continue to seek to placate their readers and viewers of the blue persuasion? It is to be hoped that Scottish football, the Newco included, can face up to the hard truths it will be presented with and move forward to better days. If we see legal challenges, long and bitter disputes to save a tainted history then we will remain mired in this vicious circle of blame and hatred. It’s time to deal with this whole sorry mess and to move on. Within the Newco and among their followers there will be those who will never accept the stripping of titles and who will rant about principles and boycotting grounds etc. Never forget who is responsible for this mess. It is Rangers FC themselves and no one else. However what matters is not their vanity, but that the authorities who run our game do the right thing, the just thing, the honourable thing. If sport is to mean anything then it must be fair and be seen to be fair. We want a clean game in Scotland, one where truth is valued and not distorted by a biased media or self interest groups out to make a fast buck.
If the soon to be liquidated Rangers FC are found to have infringed the rules, then no sophistry, self-interest or denial should halt the wheels of justice. Anything else would be a disgrace to the game and an insult to the creditors robbed of millions of pounds. We await Lord Nimmo’s report with interest.