Celtic, Rangers and The Old Firm: the Enlightenment of a Leeds Fan – by Rob Atkinson

31 Jan

Obsessed vitriol is an eye opener for Leeds fan.

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

Old Firm - healthy rivalry?Old Firm – healthy rivalry?

Following on from yesterday’s Old Firm piece which was provoked by an advert placed by Celtic fans in the Scottish Sunday Herald, I find myself one day on having taken quite a lot on board. I’m somewhat bewildered by the strength of feeling on both sides of the argument, considerably better informed as to the legal position insofar as it defines the status and existence of Glasgow RangersFC – and not one whit persuaded away from my original position that trying to wish or argue a rival football club out of existence is just plain wrong.

I’ve been accused of many things by those outraged over yesterday’s piece. Some of these people have been Leeds fans – the very last people I would expect to support the idea of football fans wishing the worst that can happen to rivals – to lose their…

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Celtic Fans Open to Ridicule Over Rangers “Old Firm” Claims – by Rob Atkinson

31 Jan

A neutral football fans view of the obsessed.

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

At Leeds United, we’re no strangers to the unwelcome feeling and experience of your club in crisis. We’ve seen our beloved Whites pushed to the brink of actual expiry and ejection from the league; we’ve seen administration and League sanctions. Spectacular collapse and the plummet from the heights of the game to the depths of despair was a process raised almost to a perverse art form by United – to the point that it became known as “doing a Leeds”. So we know what crisis, despair and poverty are all about – the only thing that can really surprise a Whites fan these days is to see a club in straits even more dire.

Which brings me on to Glasgow Rangers FC. There is no need for me to re-hash here exactly what has happened to them over the past few years. In short, it was a precipitous fall, and…

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Should we be told?

27 Aug

I’ve seen a lot of chat over the past few weeks, on twitter and on forums, accusing our higher profile bloggers of being paid to appear on TV or write blogs.

The inaccuracies and lies being spouted on the BBC last year needed answered with a balanced response, because without any response they would become fact.

I don’t know or particularly care if Chris, who appeared on the BBC to defend against the lies, was paid to do so. Any money paid wouldn’t come from Rangers and, in my opinion, the less money the BBC have in their Rangers budget the better as It may be the difference between making another Rangers documentary or not.

There has been a lot of spin coming out of the club recently and the return of Jack Irvine to look after the board members’ PR means there’s probably going to be a lot more.
There won’t be many Rangers fans who are happy with toxic Jack being back on the clubs payroll but at least we know what to expect from him and media house. He is a spin doctor, pure and simple.

Bill McMurdo also appears to be part of the spin machine surrounding Ibrox.
Many people think Bill’s blogs over the past few months have been commissioned by the Ahmad/Green camp and it’s difficult to argue with this given the one sided view and blindness to certain facts.

Bill describes himself as ‘Writer, Speaker, Consultant’ on his personal twitter account which he tweets from daily and uses to post links to his blogs.

A wee twitter search brings up another McMurdo account. This account is named @McMurdoMedia and the bio reads ‘Marketing, PR and media consultancy’.

This confuses matters slightly. When we read Bill’s blogs are we reading Bill’s own views or the views others want us to think are his in order to railroad other fans into the same way of thinking.

Surely if Bill is doing PR and media work on behalf of Ahmad and/or Green he would release the blogs relating to said work via his business account.

He wouldn’t release blogs via his personal account without letting his fellow Rangers fans know that they may not be entirely his own or at least skewed views, would he?

I don’t doubt Bill is a Rangers fan but are his blogs written by a Rangers fan or a marketing, PR and media consultant?

I think we should be told.

Chants, Rants and Proper Discussion.

26 Feb

Let me start by saying I have spent endless hours this weekend ‘hand-wringing’ on forums and twitter by having a go at some of my fellow Rangers fans about the events in Berwick on Saturday.
There’s no place at a football game for some of the songs that were sung and i believe that some of the progress made in eradicating offensive chants from Ibrox over the past few years has been set back. I will also say I was a little dismayed at some of our fans inability or refusal to acknowledge the potential damage caused on saturday to the club they love.

One recurring excuse being trotted out by some fans to justify their actions was the fact that many, rightly or wrongly, see bias and hypocrisy in scottish football – particularly within the media – as being a contributing factor in pushing some of our younger members to rebel. I don’t accept that as a defence as you cant defend the indefensible but it may well be a factor. Anybody who has been to Ibrox this season will tell you that there are a lot more youngsters attending games. The other side of that argument is that more families are attending games with young children, I took my 3 year old son to his first game at Ibrox earlier this season and I don’t really want to have to explain who terrorists, that deserve no more than being wiped from history, are or why some people don’t care for the pope. In my opinion, the older and wiser fans amongst us are perfectly within their rights to point out mistakes our younger fans make in an attempt to stop them embarrassing our great club again.

This blog is not intended to deflect attention away from our fans display nor is it intended to have another go at them. They have been condemned and its time to try to stop it happening again.
Although it was Rangers fans on this occasion it is not only Rangers’ problem. We also shouldn’t forget that Rangers and Rangers fans have done more to change the perception of the club more than any other in recent years.

There is a discussion to be had with regards the double standards Rangers and Rangers’ fans are coming up against in Scotland and that has been highlighted more since Saturday.

No doubt any journalist reading this will scoff and try to lay responsibility solely at Rangers door to sort this out but if some journalists are part of the problem then they have to be part of the solution by changing their attitude towards football fans and Rangers fans in particular.
Some of the stories in the media around the anniversary of Rangers going into administration were astounding. One article claimed Rangers ‘carries a disgrace’. The article failed to even mention Craig Whyte, who’s actions deeply damaged the club or that Rangers fans are the ones still suffering for this mans actions. Many journalists, both in articles and on twitter said Rangers had nobody to blame but themselves. There is an ongoing criminal investigation and surprisingly, given the paper in question, it was reported that there is likely to be criminal charges brought against individuals, meaning Rangers has been the victim of criminality.

Some journalists who have admitted there was a ‘succulent lamb’ culture in the media during Sir David Murray’s time at Ibrox don’t appear to have learned from their mistakes and seem far from embarrassed about it. Im fact they appear to unable to function as a journalist without pandering to one of the big two and it appears this is Celtic and Peter Lawwells turn.

The IRA supporting Green Brigade have recently been in the spotlight after they boycotted home matches in protest at perceived mistreatment by police officers at their matches this season. They named a police officer in a statement which also took a swipe at celtics Peter Lawwell. This shows, as far as fan groups on both sides are concerned, the police are targeting both clubs fans.
I wonder how a Rangers fans statement naming a police officer and costing him his career would’ve been reported in the media when it could easily have endangered the officer and his family.

If you believe what the Green brigade say you will believe that Peter Lawwell has told them in a meeting that he believes the word “Hun” is not sectarian or offensive. I wonder how that would’ve been reported had it been a high ranking Rangers official.

I hold a slightly different view to Mr Lawwell and as a Rangers supporter who is often on the receiving end of bile containing the word “Hun” I can assure him it is offensive. I feel offended when I am called that particular name therefore it’s offensive. The level of offence isn’t for Mr Lawwell to decide so I’m sorry if its a little inconvenient for him and his terror supporting ‘wolf pack’ if i feel offended, but I do.

This leads me onto my next point.

When the small number of Rangers fans went against the clubs wishes and attended Tannadice recently, there was a chorus of “go home ya Huns” from the first minute to the last.
Not only does that chant contain the offensive word “Hun” but it also has other connotations. The people chanting “go home ya huns” towards Rangers fans believe we have some affiliation with Germany or England, therefore this is a racist chant in my opinion. Maybe the chant has nothing to do with their belief that we belong in England or Germany and “Hun” does actually mean Protestant? The meaning of the word tends to change depending on discussion and agenda.
The interesting thing is that the people who use the word “Hun” in an offensive manner are allowed to dictate what they actually mean by it.

The Rangers support have almost completely cut the word “Fenian” -which some Celtic fans use to describe themselves – out of their vocabulary . I could count on my hands the amount of times I’ve seen a Rangers fan use the word in an offensive manner in the past year. But I wouldn’t have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times I see the word “Hun” – which i have never saw a Rangers fan use to describe himself – used offensively in a single day on twitter. A lot of people speak of “hating Huns” in their twitter account bio and make a point of saying the word over and over again as they know nothing will be done about it. I’ve seen journalists on twitter having discussions with people who call us Huns and although they themselves don’t use the word they just ignore it.
I wonder what the reaction would be if somebody used the ‘F’ word to describe a Celtic fan in a discussion on twitter. I would suggest the journalist would (rightly) block and report the person immediately.

Now, I’m not saying I want the law changed or the word “Fenian” to make a come back on the terraces but i do want some parity in the media.
Watching some journalists actions and reactions on twitter exposes personal agendas more than ever.

It seems to me that one group of people are allowed to decide the meaning of certain words and whether they’re offensive or not. This can’t be right when that group is both ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’.

The chant “go home ya Huns” which was belted out at the Dundee United game – which was rumoured to have a large section of Celtic fans in the stadium – is very similar in meaning to ‘the famine song’ which contains the question ‘why don’t you go home’ which is (rightly) deemed offensive and possibly racist/sectarian. But as far as i know, the offensive chants at Tannadice were ignored by Tayside/Strathclyde police forces and wasn’t mentioned in the media.

One journalist even listed the Tannadice chants in a newspaper article the next day as good old ‘banter’. Oddly though, he left “go home ya Huns” out of the list of fun. I think we can take from that omission that the journalist knew it was offensive and it wouldn’t have suited the agenda of the story to include it in his list.

Were there any arrests or attempted arrests in the ground or follow up enquiries using video evidence taken at Tannadice to identify those people responsible for the offensive, racist and/or sectarian chants?

If not, why not?

As i said, these two chants are very similar in message if you want to take each one literally. But one of the chants contains an offensive word and the other doesn’t.

It seems to me, the only real difference between the two chants, apart from one being a question, is one contains the word “Hun”.
So why is it ok for one group of people to tell the other to “go home”, Is it because the group being targeted at has thicker skin?
Or is it because the target of these chants are only “Huns”?

Would the famine song be more palatable if a name was used to dehumanise the group of people the chant is directed at?

As I said at the start, this blog isn’t intended to justify the actions of the minority nor is it to argue for songs and words which have been eradicated from the terraces of Scottish football to make a comeback. But I believe there is a debate to be had on the double standards in this country. Not because it changes what happened on Saturday but because if the perceived bias was a contributing factor to Saturdays events, it’s in Scottish footballs interests to sort it out. If we don’t tackle the contributing factors there is a possibility of it happening again and nobody wants that…. Do they?

The SFA – harmony, honesty, transparency and corruption.

9 Jan

A couple of weeks ago Queens park played host to Rangers at Hampden. SKY sports put on a great show with montages and interviews with ex-players including Sir Alex Ferguson who started his football career as an apprentice at Queens park before moving to Rangers in what he described as the greatest moment in his life. The Queens park v Rangers game was a great day for scottish football but nobody can pretend days like that will keep people interested in Scottish football and it certainly won’t keep TV and sponsorship money coming in. Our game needs a radical overhaul and major changes in personnel to turn it around.

I’m sure we’ve heard this before. If my memory serves me correctly, Celtic championed a complete change in strategy and a step away from the norm of bringing people in who’d been in and around the game in scotland and instead bring in people with a new vision and a determination to put that vision in place. There was no need for them to have previous connections to scottish football. In fact It might be better if they had no connections to any scottish club. This would ensure they were free to make decisions ‘without fear or favour’ or being accused of bias, which many officials, referees and board members were, by one club in particular. Something had to be done to stop the steady decline and nobody could do much worse than previous CEOs..

..could they?

Stewart Regan had worked in the brewery industry with John Smiths and later with Coors where he then set up a division in scotland and brokered a sponsorship deal with Rangers and Celtic before becoming chief executive of Yorkshire county cricket club. Presumably he grew bored of the cut and thrust of the cricket world, or perhaps he was unsettled by whispers of a massive scandal involving an English cricket chief. Or Maybe somebody or something else persuaded him to leave, who knows.
Whatever the reason, his luck was in as while he was scanning the situations vacant pages, or talking to the ex secretary of defence he stumbled upon one of the most influential jobs in scottish football. Lucky us!

A year exactly, after Neil Doncaster started as CEO of the SPL Stewart Regan was installed as CEO of the SFA and was handed the task of overhauling our national sport. It was now down to him to stop the downward spiral and turn the game around by making it more attractive, efficient and streamlined. He promised to make disciplinary procedures faster and more transparent and to stop infighting and conflict.

He said: “As an outsider looking in I have seen lots of fallouts, lots of disagreements, challenges and criticisms of how things are done. There hasn’t been enough focus on the common agenda.”
I wonder what this “common agenda” is or was.

Harmony:

He started this new era of harmony by sacking Hugh Dallas who had allegedly forwarded an e-mail containing a joke about the pope harming children. Around the same time, just months into his time as custodian of our beloved game, SFA referees went on strike after accusing Regan and the SFA of not backing them after they came under attack from Neil Lennon and Celtic players after an incident During a match against Dundee United. Referee Dougie McDonald had awarded Celtic a penalty then quickly rescinded it. Everybody makes mistakes, but to Lennon and Celtic it was proof that McDonald was a bigot and part of a bigger conspiracy to cheat Celtic out of points. Regan then lied about the situation to foreign officials who said they wouldn’t cross a picket line to referee Scottish football matches.
In the days after the incident Dougie McDonald received threats to his safety and within days had been successfully forced out of the game and decided to take early retirement.

This wasn’t the good honest and transparent start for the new CEO that most fans had hoped for, but it was a sign of things to come.

Honesty:

Jim Traynor and Keith Jackson who worked for the Daily Record revealed in a podcast in November 2011 that they had information that CW was withholding PAYE and NI payments. They informed Stewart Regan of this fact but he failed to act until Rangers went into administration. He then set up an ‘independent’ panel which would work within guidelines set out by the SFA to punish Rangers for bringing the game into disrepute. Rangers were found guilty and handed a fine and year long transfer embargo.

Duff and Phelps the administrators who were running the club at the time, took the SFA to the court of session where lord Glennie deemed the embargo to be outside of the SFA’s own rules and ordered the SFA to look at the case again. But Regans arrogance would make sure Rangers accepted the punishment and during negotiations in the ‘five way agreement’ between Rangers,the SFA SPL and SFL Rangers were blackmailed into accepting the embargo and handing over TV rights in exchange for transferal of their licence to play. The licence was finally transferred just hours before Rangers were due to travel to Brechin for the first game of the season.

Fairness:

While he was CEO of Yorkshire county cricket club Mr. Regan was known for his interaction with fans on twitter and forums. He carried this on when he arrived at the SFA when he hosted what could be described as Q and A sessions with Celtic fans – about Rangers obviously. When Rangers fans asked reasonable questions they were almost always blocked. I asked if Rangers would be compensated for damage caused at Ibrox during a youth match between Rangers and Celtic. When I returned to his page a couple of hours later he had blocked me. He also had a strange list of ‘favourited’ tweets, including one from a Celtic fan which said “I would cheerfully see him hung” in reference to Lee Mculloch. Another one of his favourites from a Celtic fan was a photo of the front page of a newspaper claiming gleefully that Rangers had died.

These events would normally be a story to journalists, but oddly some on twitter immediately jumped to Regans defence. A couple of examples were that “he was probably favouriting these tweets to keep as evidence incase he had to report them” or that “he didn’t know he had favourited them”. Regan had been using social media for years. It wasn’t a mistake. But even if there was a reasonable explanation why would journalists think up excuses for him rather than ask the question?.
Another example of the ‘without fear or favour’ attitude was when he answered open letters from Celtic fans groups and met them for ‘constructive talks’ on various issues regarding Rangers. But when he met a Rangers fans working group he stormed out when asked a question he didn’t want to, or couldn’t answer.

Transparency:

During the summer while the SFA and SPL were delaying the process of deciding where to “accommodate” Rangers, the Raith Rovers chairman Turnbull Hutton accused the SFA and SPL of corruption and bullying during negotiation’s to ‘parachute Rangers into the first division’.

Hutton said: “we are now at the stage of bending rules, accommodating, threatening and blackmailing” and “the word corrupt is now being banded about and I’ve got difficulty arguing against that.”
Mr Hutton has never been reprimanded for these comments but Charles Green was charged with bringing the game into disrepute and censured after he said: “Some of it has been driven by bigotry, some of it has been driven by jealousy and some of it has been driven by all the wrong motives.
“Some of the business decisions that have been made really have been nonsensical from a business point of view.”

Again journalist’s didn’t seem to want to ask why there was different rules for two different people. Jane Lewis, a journalist with the BBC eventually asked the question and got an answer. It’s a pity the conversation was strictly off the record so we’re none the wiser. But at least Jane and the BBC know why. Another example of SFA transparency and the BBC helping to cover something up, but thats for another blog about BBC corruption and cover ups.

These are only some of the disasters and corruption Mr Regan has overseen in his time as CEO of the SFA. If I were to list everything he has done to damage our game this blog could become a bible on how to ruin football.

Vision:

Stewart Regan is still in place at the head of the SFA which has responsibility to all member club’s but only seems concerned with the SPL. The latest disaster under his watch is the 12-12-18 reconstruction plans.
I wrote in my previous blog how I thought Rangers fans money might be used as a bribe to force the SPLs reconstruction plans through, but given Stewart Regan’s previous actions it’s just as likely that threats and blackmail are the preferred method of ensuring the corrupt cabal at the heart of our game get what they want. Given the cabals previous record it’s possible that the talks on reconstruction are being used to sound out which SFL clubs would be open to starting a breakaway SPL 2 and let any dissenting voices know what will happen if they don’t toe-the-line.

These clubs have stood by and watched Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster dig a grave for our national game. Voting the 12-12-18 structure through against 90% of fans wishes will be akin to pulling the trigger for them.

Determination:

I wonder if Mr. Regan will still be there to kick dirt on top of the corpse. He seems determined to see Scottish football dead and buried.

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Are the SPLs intentions for the good of the game?

5 Jan

David Longmuir has revealed the SFL/SPL “working party” are closer to agreeing a plan for reconstruction.

He said:

​”I feel that we’ve established a lot of common ground between all parties and that’s what we’re going to take forward and build on.”

Nearly everybody is in agreement that something needs to be done to move Scottish football forward. The game is dying and everybody can see it. Even the ones who spend their days trying to convince people that “Armageddon is great” can see it. As far as Rangers fans are concerned, the SPL is a ‘busted flush’ and should be disbanded.

The SPL’s inaction and willingness to damage Scottish football just to have a kick at Rangers looked, at best incompetent or at worst, just plain corrupt. As a Rangers fan I hoped the SFL clubs would stick together and fight for their own 16-10-16 team league reconstruction plans. Personally I quite liked the SFL format; there would be a bigger top tier, which most fans want and the second tier would have 4 play-off places at the top and bottom, making the entire division exciting and would give a club in the bottom tier a chance to get to the SPL after 2 seasons.

David Longmuir said today on Radio Scotland:

​”The only way to get full agreement on reconstruction…”

…was to back the SPL’s plans, which are two leagues of 12 and a bottom tier of 18.

When the SPL format was first mooted the plans were for a 12-team SPL1 and a 12-team SPL2 which would consist of SFL clubs who would be invited to leave the SFL and join the SPL. This was a veiled threat to clubs who dissented that they would be cut adrift. This is how the SPL rolls.

David Longmuir also indicated that there will only be one league body. Again, most people agree there is no need for two league bodies but the SPL will be desperate to stay in control and, if they succeed in gaining complete control, it will be bad news for Rangers. We would have no option but to join their league setup and give them free reign over us, which, in my opinion, will embolden their title-stripping plans and allow them to withhold any amount of prize money they need to keep their league afloat.

The way Mr Longmuir’s statement came across to me is that the SPL are digging their feet in and refusing point-blank to accept SFL plans and SFL clubs are happy to be dictated to, again.

For a lot of Rangers fans this will look like the SFL are caving in, even though the SPL is financially weak and the SFL has the biggest club in the country and the ‘Rangers pound’ backing them. Viewing figures suggest that Longmuir is also holding the aces in negotiations over TV rights.

So why do the SFL clubs seem to be lying down over reconstruction?

If the SPL’s 12-12-18 plans are put in place and, as SPL chairmen seem to be desperate to point out at every opportunity, ‘there’s no plans for Rangers to be fast tracked up the leagues’ where is the ‘sweetener’ for the 18 clubs at the bottom?

The SPL has no money to pay bribes…unless Celtic are going to pay it out of their Champions League income. Being the great “love me” club that they are, you never know.

According to Mr Longmuir no details have been agreed yet, so any figures are only speculation. But one thing that is guaranteed is the loyalty of Rangers fans. We stand by our team and are happily funding our team via season tickets, match tickets and the share issue. We’re a defiant lot.

So how are Peter Lawwell and his sidekicks in the SFA and SPL managing to win the votes of the clubs who will be left outside the top 2 divisions?

Are they using the Rangers fans’ loyalty and money to sweeten chairmen of the bottom 18 clubs?

If the SPL plans get the go-ahead we will need to play every club again at least once in their own grounds on our way to the top, and something that is almost guaranteed when Rangers come to town is a huge following and a big payday, unless you are one of the few SPL clubs who spent the summer actively trying to hurt Rangers, as Dundee United recently found out.

I think Rangers fans are being taken for granted and being used for the self-preservation of the clubs in the Self Preservation League.

Rangers fans are perfectly happy to put money into the clubs at the bottom of Scottish football. For some it is a way of repaying the clubs for inviting Rangers into their league and to pay something back into the game after the damage Whyte did in Rangers’ name. And for others it is about earning our place back at the top.

But if the details show that we are being taken for granted and used by the people who have done all they can to hurt our club should we threaten to withdraw our money from the leagues altogether and just support our club at Ibrox? If these clubs are happy to give up the chance of proper reconstruction for one payday maybe they are not thinking about the good of Scottish football.