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.
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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