Published on 13 Jul 2012

Football chairmen living in ‘fairytale world’

Just into Glasgow after an illuminating day speaking to club chairmen and officials of Scottish football which right now appears in a state of something like civil war.

Hyperbole?

What has it come to when club chairmen will openly agree with that description – one of them on camera?

When such people openly talk of a complete breakdown of trust between the FA in Scotland on one hand and the Premier League – on the other and personal breakdown of trust with their chief executives Neil Doncaster and Stewart Regan.

They stand accused as men hell-bent on pursuing the existence of the “Rangers” cash cow and bleeding it at all costs, as high as possible in the game. Men, they say who care about money and not sport.

Mr Doncaster and Mr Regan vehemently deny this and accuse the chairmen of living in a fairytale world and not thinking that ‘sporting integrity’ has a big price tag.

So this is the atmosphere on the eve of Friday 13th – Hampden.

I have in front of me a leaked email form Stewart Regan dated 23 June and sent to a small number of football officials and lawyers.

He thanks them all “for your contribution and support…in trying to deliver a programme of change that will move Scottish football forward whilst addressing the need to deal with the Rangers matter with integrity and in line with our own values as an organisation.”

Laudable enough – yet Mr Regan has presided over a sport where key relations between leagues, fans and governing bodies are poisonous.

Once upon a time Ibrox was toxic – now the inflammation’s spread and a crisis infects every club in the land.

No wonder therefore that one chairman twice told me today that he has had conversations with several other chairmen discussing a vote of no confidence in the SFA and SPL leadership.

Chairmen I’ve spoken to regard the financial sweeteners proposed by these men to smaller clubs to allow “Rangers” into Division 1, as ‘derisory’ and ‘laughable’.

“They have not even begun to address proper redistribution of wealth from the SPL and they show no real desire to do so,” said Gordon McDougall of Livingston.

And look at how apparently out of touch Mr Regan is with the mood of both SPL and SFL clubs.

His email plans out what was supposed to happen inside Hampden-world as opposed to what did happen in the real world:
 “D) DL (David Longmuir SFL boss) to organise SFL Board Meeting w/c 25th June to gain buy-in to the plan…

 E) ND (Neil Doncaster) to gain support from SPL Clubs 28th June

 F) SFL Clubs Meeting to be planned for 3rd July

 G) SPL Club Meeting to be planned for 4th July

 H) Scottish FA Board to sign off on the final plan post July 4th
Well -best laid plans. Nothing went according to this recipe.
And all the while the man about whom the clubs know so little; about whose financial backing so much remains mysterious – Charles Green, “Rangers” owner, was to be kept in the loop.

The email goes on:

“In parallel to the above, could Rod Petrie please brief Charles Green confidentially on the discussions from a Scottish FA perspective so that there are ‘no surprises’ and there is a general acceptance of the plan…”

So the “Rangers” boss gets full briefings on the quiet to keep him sweet whilst -as clubs like Clyde make clear – they go begging for basic information about what’s on offer in return for soft-landing Mr Green’s Blues.

SFA/SPL are gambling hugely on giving Mr Green a helping Division 1 hand his own fans have rejected.

The SPL rejected the punt. So now, as one chairman of a league club Donald Findlay put it, ‘the gun is being held to the head’ of league chairmen.

Well, it’s an odd way to gamble – an even odder way to do business and the oddest way possible to manage and to govern.

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39 reader comments

  1. Paul Cochrane says:

    Unbelievable….no wait….totally believable. Now – if this is what the SFA get up to in public…..

  2. Derbyshirebhoy says:

    I cannot believe that there is not a will amongst fans of all colours to remove the stench of corruption that exists within the ranks of those responsible for managing and governing the game. It does need however a leader to emerge around which fans organisations can convene to determine a strategy both to remove the present leaders of the SFA and SPL and to determine a future strategy which serves the game overall rather than those who feed off it.

  3. bigt says:

    So Charles Green was to be briefed confidentially on the discussions from a SFA perspective so that there is no surprises and there is a general acceptance of the plan.Why? He is only the owner of a club that is not a member of any of the leagues and has no licence or membership in SFA. This shows how corrupt the SFA is. Regan Doncaster and Longmuir must resign now and if Rod Petrie briefed Green he should be removed from holding any position in SFA/SPL

  4. The Old Castle Rock says:

    Stewart Regan is supposed to be chief exec of scottish football’s regulatory body yet here is smoking gun evidence that he (with others) is acting as an intermediary for a company not even affiliated with the SFA.

    A bombshell of a revelation and Alex Thomson can’t be commended highly enough for uncovering it.

    We can see clearly that scottish football has suffered from complete regulatory capture by the two large clubs and the broadcasters. Many fans of smaller clubs have suspected this for some time.

  5. Iain says:

    I wonder what number of comment Bruce will achieve this time?

    I laugh at the fans who think this is all geared to help Rangers, when in fact it is the ‘cash cow’ they are looking to retain in order to help the rest of the clubs, particularly the SPL clubs.

    1. Marty says:

      You’re right, Iain. This is not being done for Rangers’ benefit, whatever the conspiracy theorists might claim.

      As for the information given to SFL clubs about the company now running Rangers, I don’t know what has been placed in their hands but there is a fair amount available to the public from Companies House, let alone any other source.

      1. Bruce says:

        ‘I wonder what number of comment Bruce will achieve this time?’

        Entirely depends on the volume of lies and nonsense spouted by Rangers supporters on here.

      2. deliasmith says:

        The newco has produced “no business plan, list of directors, details of ownership, statement of capital adequacy or any proposals relating to the provision of any similar information in the near future.” – Clyde FC’s remarkably clear statement.

        Further. Newco’s tanding with regard to penalties and liabilities of Rangers FC is still undecided. And, in passing, note that it has not actually acquired the assets of Rangers oldco. By any standards it is entirely unfit to be admitted to any professionalleague anywhere

      3. Marty says:

        Well, you can get names of directors and some other information via the Companies House website….

        The club will continue in the Third Division according to today’s vote. But clearly the club being sent to the bottom division is not enough for some folk….

      4. Spuds says:

        The “club” has not been “sent” anywhere. it’s been accepted into the 3rd Division, despite having “no business plan, list of directors, details of ownership, statement of capital adequacy or any proposals relating to the provision of any similar information in the near future.” You wouldn’t get a small loan for a business from a bank without any of the above!!

        And all the while we’re expected to believe the club can pay wages and continue to service the stadium and training ground? It’s like winning 2 million quid in the lottery, building a mansion for 2 million quid, and having no money to pay the bills!!!

        “Rangers” are in the 3rd Division, and should consider themselves fortunate to be there

  6. KG says:

    The sad thing is that this does not surprise me.

  7. TPE says:

    A generalised wail, sorry, but…

    Thank you for taking a professional interest in the governance of Scottish football and for helping to somewhat alleviate the sense of powerlessness the gobsmacked fans may feel in the face of (football) administrators who give every impression of being corrupt – or seriously conflicted – and a national press that seems incapable or unwilling to trouble itself with facts, investigative toil or the most basic levels of morality.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to articulate how shocking and depressing it is to see members of the Scottish press (and certain elements of the footballing fraternity) openly sneer at the concept of integrity (as professed and longed for by a seemingly overwhelming majority of fans). They actively disdain the desire to see the rules implemented fairly, as if the very notion itself is contemptible – borne of nothing more than a bitterly vengeful desire to see a particular football club (Rangers) punished and humiliated. And yet if this were my own club, Aberdeen, I would feel exactly the same. In fact, I should probably feel even greater intransigence, as the betrayal would feel more personal, more acutely close to home.

    We are asked, in a sneeringly dismissive manner, “ah, but would you still like to see “Rangers” kicked out of the game if it meant the financial demise of your own club?” The answer to this, of course, is yes, emphatically so, because how could I ever support a team that depended on ethically distressed cheats to stay afloat? Why can they not see this? And why can they not fathom that our moral disgust is soul-deep and real?

    Football itself is utterly ludicrous, of course, a mere game that ought always to be kept in a sensible perspective and enjoyed accordingly. In the course of your investigations, however, you shine an uncomfortable light on aspects of Scottish society (and modern day western societies at large, I suppose) that fairly sicken the soul. This microcosm of the terrible greeds that seem to propel people towards stark immorality and the self-serving (and faintly – okay, often overtly – psychopathic) lack of empathy they display in pursuing their goals may begin to feel like a rampaging cancer in our collective midst.

    This disease might be incurable, unfortunately, although your journalistic morphine may occasionally ease our pain, for which fact, I’m sure, the vast majority of us feel grateful.

    1. Mike the Arab says:

      TPE – thank you for expressing so clearly what I’ve been trying to express myself, but failed. I support Dundee United and if my club can’t manage it’s finances correctly then it too should be penalised.

      The authorities and press seem to think we, the fans, are idiots and/or are filled with hate towards Rangers.

      The reality is that most right thinking fans – including some Rangers fans – realise the pain that would be inflicted on our game if the fans views are heard, but the long term objective of a healthier Scottish football is worth that pain.

      Rangers the football club deserve to be saved. However, Rangers the bigoted, arrogant institution (having read many of their fans forums!) and Sevco the unknown company do not have the right to bypass the precedents set of having to apply as a newco to the SFL.

      The rules are there and they should be implemented –

      1) 3 years accounts required – even oldco Rangers couldn’t provide them, never mind Sevco.

      2) full disclosure of directors / accounts / finances as per Clyde’s statement.

      3) if they are to be treated as Rangers with all their history, then they have to accept every punishment coming their way following the SPL appeal tribunal’s decision on a fine / transfer embargo. They must also accept any penalties applied as a result of findings of the investigation into the dual contracts for EBT’s.

      4) If they are found guilty of using dual contracts, this means they fielded ineligible players which means that every title or trophy won with these players is removed from the record books. The runners up should not be changed, only the record of the cheats who have single-handedly broken the back of Scottish football by making other clubs try to keep up with a club which was guilty (if found so) of financial doping on an outrageous scale.

      As a nation we should be sorely aggrieved that the Scottish press has not investigated the questions which amateur bloggers have raised so notably. The SFA, SPL and SFL chairmen should not be leading this change for the sake of one club, they should be listening to the supporters and making logical decisions which can be supported by all the fans and clubs, instead of back-door deals they think will keep the game alive.

      The “game” will live on, just some of the faces might change, if the SFL clubs make the decision which abides by the rules of the game.

      Without rules there is no game!

    2. zicoinexile says:

      TPE – fantstic post.

      Saved me the bother.

    3. Stan Free says:

      Excellent post. Sums up everything I’ve been saying to folk out here oin the rig.

      Stand Free

  8. cmcconna says:

    Alex – why not publish the email rather than giving us titbits?

    REGAN MUST GO

  9. Andy Mc says:

    As a journalist (business), it’s great to see some professionalism brought to this matter by you Alex. So much of Scottish journalism in sport is tainted by deep bias, that is barely disguised.

    On the actual matter, it is strange that the SFA’s default stance was to save Rangers and therefore, in there eyes, save the game, rather than thinking about the game’s future in isolation.

    1. Ipd says:

      As a journalist you don’t know the difference between there and their? Muppet.

      1. Andy Mc says:

        Thanks for adding so much to the debate. One to be proud of.

      2. Bruce says:

        As a business journalist, Andy, what are your thoughts on the whole Rangers the club being liquidated issue?

  10. davythelotion says:

    alex, saw you on ST last night. your expression reminded me of the time I went to the wrong funereal meal! I struggled with the description of the deceased before the penny finally dropped. Mind you, I bet you didn’t get a delicious steak pie! STV are well known for their parsimonious hospitality.

  11. Neal says:

    Thanks Alex, It is good to read real journalism on this sorry debacle rather than the heavily spun ill- informed stuff we have thrown at us daily by people like the BBC and others who know better but whose impartiality is being called into question by agendas unknown.
    The BBC are still calling Sevco “the newly formed Rangers” on national radio.

    Please Alex publish the full email – it is more grist to the mill in this unfolding civil war.

    This whole sorry tale is about corruption in business rather than just football.

    And the silence from our normally vociferous politicians has been deafening.

  12. NPK says:

    Still can’t understand this comment I the cash cow being needed, didn’t the old company die from providing c.-£100m to the economy?

    1. Chas says:

      NPK whilst I would not like to be flippant,the point is the cash cow brought wealth to other clubs and they may have spent that better than the Rangers,but here lies the problem that cow stream of money has now gone and every club out with Celtic will have to adjust,how this pans out is a hard one,what I do know and I’m no genius that it wont be good with the present Leaders in charge,a lot of good footballing people out there whither they will put their head above the parapet who knows but I don’t think it’s the time for let’s wait and see how this works out something has to be done,I’m a Gers fan and where we are suits everyone apart from the money men so as Rangers we have a massive job to keep the club afloat until hopefully we work our way back,the ground swell from supporters gives me confidence so onwards and upwards

  13. baz says:

    They asked me to appear on the programme last night and then after hearing my views decided that a “fans view” was not needed give the time allocated. That’s half the problem with Scottish football, the fan’s views are all to often ignored, if it wasn’t for the fans in this instance the chairmen would have allowed a new club straight into the SPL with no second thought. Glad you were there to talk some sense.

  14. George Bailey says:

    Is there any mileage in releasing who the recipients of the e-mail were? Would be interesting to find out which SPL clubs may be paying lip service only to the recent “expulsion”.

    It is reaching the stage where nothing is too shocking and the “guardians” of our game have the brass neck to be acting on behalf of the game as a whole.

  15. Let it fall says:

    I have been attending LD1/SPL matches to follow Celtic since I was a boy. Like most Serco fans its part of my DNA. However, I am not surprised Serco fans do not know where this “sudden ground swell in sporting integrity” has come from, which precisely how you have brought us all to this. Have a little humility and try to go with whatever dignity you can salvage from the mess you have created.

    That said, I would rather see the end of my own club Celtic than attend another game in the knowledge that I had been bought. If the game is not based and managed (SFA/SPL) on a solid foundation of sporting integrity and trust, then let it fall.

    I would advocate the rather serious action of none attendance by all Scottish football fans until the Boards of the SFA and the SPL are removed by a vote of no confidence.

  16. Philip Edwards says:

    Alex,

    The real culprit in all of this is the financial model of profiteering from majority private shareholdings. The football club becomes merely a vehicle for making money.

    It will stay that way until all clubs are majority owned by fans, as they are in Germany. There, each club is 51% owned by the fans and they can and do block any undesirable moves by spivs and profiteers. The result is the German game is in a much healthier state than the Scottish or English versions.

    Of course such a step in this country would require government legislation. But can you see the public school boys and their banker chums doing that? I think not.

    So it is likely things will get worse. In present circumstances, sadly the best hope lies in the possibility of truth dawning on the spivs that football “success” (and thus profits) cannot be guaranteed. Sport is not a production line.

    In truth the whole of professional sport is in a sick condition. You need only look at the betting scandals in cricket, racing and snooker to name just three.

    Too many people have lost sight of what makes sport worthwhile.

  17. michaelk1888 says:

    “Football is nothing without fans”
    Jock Stein

    “Without fans who pay at the turnstile, football is nothing. Sometimes we are inclined to forget that. The only chance of bringing them into stadiums is if they are entertained by what happens on the football field.”
    Jock Stein

    Quotes made by the most impressive, influential icon for SCOTTISH football, how he must be turning in his grave now.

    Pressure your chairmen and CEO’s to get rid of these biased, contriving, conflicted, useless, individuals that collectively between them have brought the Scottish game into total disrepute, namely the collective executive board of SFA/SPL and SFL under any guise they choose to present or reform themselves.

    Today or Monday may bring some news but the heart and soul of Scottish football stills beats with US the true fans of the game. Don’t let ourselves down now.

  18. Kevin says:

    I do not have enough adjectives to describe how happy l am at this news today

  19. Oscar says:

    Just heard the SFL chairmen have voted Sevco into Div 3. However, the actions by the governing bodies has gone too far. I have no faith left in the competitive nature of Scottish Football. Unless, Regan, Doncaster and Longmuir resign and replaced by honest (wo)men, I’m using my season ticket money to join a golf club for my Saturday sport. I’ll get better value and better fitness; and I will assured of fair play!

  20. Alan Thomson says:

    Hello Alex
    What a breath of fresh air to hear your views on STV last night and on BBC radio last Saturday. On both occasions you were the only one who seemed to even ubderstand the view of most fans in Scotland. These glasgow based radio,TV,tabloid newspaper men have been so deeply immersed in this whole Scottish/Glasgow/Old firm cesspit for their entire lives that they are simply unable to see things from any other perspective.
    On STV particularly, I felt embarassed watching you try to inject some intelligent reason into the discussion but Messrs. MacPherson, Smith and the tabloid journalist simply couldn’t understand your reasoning.
    There are some sensible views to be heard on the subject but very few of them emanate from the Glasgow based media or the old firm spokespersons.
    Please keep up the good work.

  21. joe burt says:

    When will someone tell Charles Green etc and the MSM that sevco were not punished they were merely given a more than fair hearing by SPL,SFL and SFA.The team formally known as rangers went into admin then liquidation thus meaning newco are (the clue is in the name)a new club and new holding company.

  22. Deepdale says:

    Alex congratulations on your persistent intelligent, balanced reporting of the shambles that is Scottish football today.In my English youth, we were endlessly entertained by superb Scottish ball players but in the last 30 years the only marvellous Scottish ball players I can recall are Larsson and Laudrup! Surely the Regan, Langmuir,Doncaster, Ogilvie bunch must go and some efficient people who love the game take over instead of some gerrymandering intriguers. The concentration of money in only two clubs has not improved the quality of the game here in the last 30 years. Croatia, Czech Republic and other small nations have far better results and class that we have these days. More skill, better admin and better refs please.

  23. MAC says:

    Thanks Alex.

    Enjoy and appreciate your articles … your help for Scottish Football is appreciated by Football fans supporting all Scottish Teams.

    Today is a great day for Scottish football and history has been made – fans have united and backed by their clubs chairman choose Integrity over Commercialism. Is this not a truly noble decision. I am so proud of Scottish Football today and proud of my Chairman. Uefa and FIFA wake up and applaud the Scottish Football fans. This is a decision that should be communicated globally – world football will be all the better when other countries make similar decisions.

    I still struggle with the main stream media – on such a momentous day they still focus on their half empty glasses reporting doom and gloom – wake up and smell the coffee – if they want people to listen and/or watch and/or read their programmes/articles start writing about what’s actually happening or shortly fans will stop tuning in for your programmes or buying your papers – fed up with the SFA fed propaganda.

    Are Regan/Doncaster merely messangers or did they truly make these decisions – I wonder?

  24. local loon says:

    Alex I lost all respect for your co-debater Archie McPherson last night, when all he could rant on about was everyone hating Rangers, when will he get it into his thick skull that all that Scottish football fans want to see is the same punishment for every club(no matter how big or small)e.g. Gretna,Livvy,Sevco. Don’t even get me started on Gordon Smith sitting snarling in the studio like a rabid dog!!

  25. Just a Fan says:

    Tomo
    I n all of this very sad saga two things stick in my mind. As a young bhoy I watched Greig and co and of McNeil and co take Scottish football to the highest heights in European football. We should never forget our proud football heritage or the number of Scots who helped shaped the English game to where it is today. Somehow we have to get back that ethos of our sport for the kids of tomorrow and at the same time lose some of the sectarian drivel which has blighted the Scottish game almost since its inception.

    My 2nd point is that in all of this mess you should be highly commended for stepping well outside of the ” press pack” and delivering a robust analysis of the situation. Rangers have been deservedly punished for an extended period of financial doping and the MSM and leading administrators of the Scottish game should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen.
    Personaly I bear Rangers no malice but I do hope as a club they can remerge from this damaging debacle as a club more focused on football rather than historical predudice.
    Football is making great stride to endorse respect in our game at grass roots levels and its time for the modern exponents of our game to endorse that ethos of sportmanship ( Terry et al)and deliver a modern interpretation of the great Scottish Visionarys like Stein Shankly Nicholson intended. Irrespective of what Regan and Doncaster may think the game is nothing without the fans.I have spent my life watching the game from watching Celtic at their peak to encouraging my daughter to play and ultimately coach and start to build her own professional career. I believe Scottish football whilst facing its biggest challenge has also delivered another huge message to the games administrators.
    Yours in football

    1. Bruce says:

      ‘Personaly I bear Rangers no malice but I do hope as a club they can remerge from this damaging debacle as a club more focused on football rather than historical predudice.’

      Sadly, the only way that will happen is if the supporters of the old club accept that it is bankrupt and gone, move on, snatch at the opportunity to leave behind a toxic past and concentrate on the future and a new ethos. I don’t think we should hold our breath.

      1. Just a fan says:

        Bruce living south of the border I have been able to enjoy the Glasgow cameradie on match days without too much of the offensive behaviour normally associated with it. What really upsets in the aftermath is the number of currant buns who seem to be wishing for some of the more financially fragile teams to fail as if to prove something. Rangers demise and subsequent folding was of their own doing and they should consider themselves lucky to be playing at any professional level, as a new club, given the magnitude of their financial mismanagement. Perhaps we should be a good samaritan and send Fergus to their door!

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