Published on 21 Jan 2013

Scottish football: sport first, business second?

As I head north to Edinburgh, hopefully leapfrogging the incoming blizzard which has turned Stansted white, news of an interesting initiative going out to the main fan organisations and thence clubs across Scottish football.

It arises from the community of contributors to the Scottish Football Monitor site. It also arises from the rubble of last year, the shockwaves sent out across Scottish football by the Rangers implosion and most of all the shameful, tawdry attempts by the football authorities in Glasgow to keep Rangers in “the SPL” at all costs.

The latter, the proverbial straw that imposed spinal trauma upon the Caledonian Camel, for many fans. So they want change.

Fans said “Enough!” So did Rangers fans too and many for reasons of integrity as well. And so, memorably did the clubs whose chairmen converged upon Hampden to remind sporting officials that they officiate over sport.

The draft resolution has a covering letter the key message of which is:

“It is our view that the SFA is as tied to the commercial impact of Rangers demise as the SPL and so had to be reminded that to the fans, football is sport first and a business second. Both the SFA and leagues on the face of it still appear to be too commercially oriented to act in a way that balances the demands of commercialism with the need for maintaining sporting integrity.”

So it is that I print the draft resolution to fans’ organisations in full. The voice of the silent and silenced majority? The soul of the game derided or ignored by Scottish football’s MSM? Or just a bunch of mavericks?

You decide.

“DRAFT proposal for representative supporter groups e.g. trusts or associations to send to their club to convey to the SFA/SPL/SFL Boards.

We [insert association/trust name here] and in association with fans’ groups of other clubs, ask [insert club name here] to convey the following to the Scottish Football Association, SPL and SFL on our behalf.

1. We believe that the commercial viability of Scottish football at the professional level depends absolutely on the belief by supporters that sporting integrity is at the heart of all competition, and that those governing them and the rules by which they exercise governance, must hold sporting integrity as paramount above ALL other concerns. This belief can be summed up in the one word “trust”. Without trust in those responsible for governing Scottish football, commercial viability will suffer, to eventual ruin of our game.

2. There is a perception (accompanied by some dismay and anger) among football supporters throughout Scotland that those who were charged with upholding the rules of the SFA and SPL/SFL, only did so partially – and even then only because of the threat of supporter action if they did not.

3.There appears to be no distinction or order of hierarchy between those governing the game (the SFA) for whom we believe preservation of sporting integrity should be the prime purpose, and the leagues (SPL/SFL) for whom commercial aspects are (understandably) uppermost. As a result sporting integrity lost its primacy and it was left to supporters to insist on it.

4. Consequently many Scottish football supporters have lost confidence that the Scottish Football Association will fulfil their purpose of safeguarding the sport. Indeed their silence following the revelation of a five-way agreement last summer on the future of the liquidated Glasgow Rangers has exacerbated this loss of confidence in the SFA’s ability to administer professional football in Scotland in a manner that reflects their duty of care to all aspects of the game and everyone who takes part in it.

5. Decisions and deals have been taken by the SFA, SPL, and SFL without any public scrutiny. The operations and decisions of those bodies lack transparency and they are not accountable in any recognisable form to the football supporters throughout the land, without whom there is no professional association.

6. In our view this loss of trust can only begin to be restored by the SFA publically committing itself to:

(i)The production of an unequivocal “mission” statement of purpose/intent which will state (in whatever form they may exist) that maintaining sporting integrity is and will always be their prime goal. The statement will also describe how they intend to ensure this principle is followed in their interactions with leagues and clubs, particularly when commercial decisions that might undermine sporting integrity are implemented by the leagues. (eg In the case of TV contracts, sponsorship or any significant league reconstruction).

(ii) Further: in recognition of the inability of some individuals to provide leadership during the past year simply because of conflicts of interest, take steps to remove any such conflict, and in doing so enable the organisation and its office bearers to function unhindered.

(iii)In the interests of transparency, publish the “five point agreement” that allowed The Rangers entry into SFL and SFA, provide a supporting rationale for entering into the agreement, and confirm that the terms have been or are being complied with.

Along with other trust restoring measures (see attached Annex) these steps should mark the end of the continuing lack of trust in the authorities.

7. We appreciate that it may be the start of next season before there is any visible evidence of our concerns being addressed although the statement of purpose/intent by the SFA (i) and action at (ii) can be readily put in place – would be a welcome early development.

8. All club’s supporters groups will be watching closely for signs of progress before advising our members and our other supporters if we feel the necessary trust restoring steps are being taken and advise that they can purchase their season books for 2013/14 knowing that sporting integrity is once more absolutely paramount in Scottish football to the betterment of our game.

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41 reader comments

  1. Campbell says:

    If Celtic fans don’t want to buy season tickets for next season they should just come out and say so rather than getting their knickers in a twist about “sporting integrity”.

    1. whistle says:

      Why is it only Sevco Rangers fans that have a problem with Sporting Integrity? Cultural thing?

      1. Frankie says:

        Last summer, “sporting integrity” was overwhelmingly a pretext for wanting to bash Rangers. Not much has changed. If fans want a real chance of pursuing genuine sporting integrity, they need to move on from obsessing about Rangers.

      2. Tom says:

        Christ, look, The Rangers were a new company seeking access to Scottish football.
        The SFA require three years accounts of a new company/club before they can be considered, the SFA binned that and allowed TRFC entry at Div3, you guys are so far in denial, its pathetic.
        RFC cheated, bye bye.Hello Newco, get on with it, try some humility with yer bitterness.

    2. Merciatic says:

      They do want to. Hence the greatest number of season tickets sold in Scotland.

    3. Cdenbhoy says:

      Very good. Greater average attendance, easily double RIFC’s season ticket income and more income from x6 Champs league games than the total RIFC ticket sales for the season. Aye, we’re struggling.

    4. Steve says:

      When are you going to realise its not just Celtic fans who are hacked off.

      It’s fans of every other team, in every league.

      That’s what happens with the continuing WATP attitude.

    5. MacAlba says:

      Do you really think that this only applies to Celtic supporters?
      Open your eyes, even us ‘diddy club’ fans want answers from the people who supposedly run our game.
      All they had to do was apply their own rules in the first place. That’s all we wanted, a level playing field, where every club is treated exactly the same.
      Scottish football exists outside of Glasgow, or more to the point, one area of Glasgow.

    6. Bruce says:

      Still hurting?

      You clearly didn’t read the blog properly or pay attention to what happened last summer. This is not about Celtic fans. Its not just Celtic fans. Its fans of every other club in Scotland.

      You’re too busy looking for a scapegoat. You want to blame everyone but yourselves.

    7. John says:

      Let me guess, you’re a Sevco fan.

  2. Joeninho says:

    “Celtic fans”? “season tickets for next season”? How do you get THAT nonsense from THIS blog? And without “sporting integrity” the geme’s deid.

  3. john mccormick says:

    Campbell…… Typical attitude :( Do you honestly think this is only to do with Celtic fans ? This is fans from every corner and club in the country INCLUDING RANGERS!

  4. MR FAIR PLAY. says:

    ALL scottish football fans ,of ALL clubs not just Celtic , want fairness and honesty. Not backroom deals and dodgy handshakes. Were in the 21st century for gods sake , It rediculous and embarrassing. Dont make riles up to suit one club … Whats the point of everyone else even turning up then?

  5. tcup2012 says:

    Campbell…
    WHY not log on to TSFM and see for yourself the diversity and differing opinions of posters
    But the 1 thing they all have in common is THE GOOD OF SCOTTISH FOOTBALL AS A WHOLE!

  6. James A Barr says:

    Generally, followers of all sports put integrity to the fore. I admired Lance Armstong grealty for his achievements. I certainly do not admire him now. All those who share that view believe that without sporting integrity, sport is meaningless.
    As for Campbell above I would suggest that , not being able to articulate an argument against the draft proposal, he simply has a go at the perceived author.

    JJ

  7. jomac says:

    Campbell.

    I think you will find far more Celtic fans have attended games this season than sevco fans.
    We do it to support our team,seems to me sevco fans go through anger and denial of what Murray did to your club.

    Truth hurts and maybe once your fans realise what Murray did to your club and the whole of scottish football will you be forgiven.
    Man up.

  8. J Maclure says:

    Once again you are being led up the garden path by people who are not really interested in sporting integrity or real justice, you are being a mouthpiece for the Celtic fundamentalists.

    It is their hatred of Rangers that drives them,old co or new co, McCoist, Jardine or Green, right or wrong, sporting integrity or plain integrity, they want Rangers destroyed.

    If it was any other club their voices would not be heard, believe me.

    1. Bruce says:

      And so we see the problem, the rump of The Rangers fans who will not see what’s plainly in front if them. Who will not concede one inch that their old club did anything wrong, Who still delude themselves that they and their clubs are somehow the victims in all this.

      1. Carntyne says:

        They are victims.

        Of their own stupidity.

        A bottomless pit of it.

  9. Kev says:

    So the SFA are now claiming Sporting Integrity is their mission statement and prime goal.

    The SFA have shown in the past the proper procedure for clubs going into administration and also going bust. Instead of opening up that place in the SFL they done everything they could to stop that membership from going to a vote. So why did they decide to change those methods to allow a Newco with no financial history ‘associate member’ status of the league?

    After all that secretive dealings and meetings, after the ‘5 point plan’, after all the pleading and powerpoint presentations trying to get a foothold for ‘The Rangers’ they are now claiming Sporting Integrity is their agenda.

    SFA & SPL are not fit for purpose.

  10. James says:

    Why o why do you give these ‘inetrnet bampots’ any credence? These are the same people who were constantly on the now discredited RTC and who claimed that they will not attend fitba matches if Rangers were allowed into the SPL, but STILL DON’T ATTEND matches even though Rangers are in SFL3 – hypocrites!

    Taking about hypocriscy Mr Thomson, why don’t you ask about the ‘sporting integrity’ of the football authorities in Scotland MAKING UP ‘RULES’ after administration to punish Rangers, enforcing an ILLEGAL TRANFER EMBARGO to play fitba, BLACKMAILING the club for MEMBERSHIP to play the game, trying to ENFORCE ‘TITLE-STRIPPING’ when NOT PROVED GUILTY, RESTRUCTURING Scottish fitba to ensure the TV RIGHTS of Rangers.

    ‘Sporting integrity’ is very thin on the ground in Scotland. You certainly won’t find it among these internet egotists and ‘self-appointed paragons of virtue’. You will only find a distorted version among the football authorites and the SPL. Maybe if you looked a wee bit closer you might actually see integrity in a sporting sense among the 48.000 Rangers fans who follow their club through thick and thin week in and week out, unlike these hyocrites who you give a platform to.

  11. iain says:

    Another “do as we say or we don’t buy tickets”.

    The clubs believed them once, will they do so again?

    Ever heard of the boy who cried wolf?

  12. integrity says:

    Well done again Alex.
    The strange thing is the above draft is the minimum required. The most important step is for all top administrators to step down before any of the above can be put in place.
    Of course this won’t happen, they know too much!! Furthermore they know when they depart that the files will reveal the level of corruption that has been part and parcel of Scottish football for so many decades.
    Of course most files will be destroyed but little bits of paper and little memo’s have a nasty habit of appearing at the most awkward moment.

    Fogra..
    This five way agreement is assuming the same notoriety as the Munich agreement.

  13. Bloom says:

    Alex, when will you move on to reporting matters that are important? This is a loony document proposed by a puerile rump of ‘sporting integrity’ Rangers haters. Are you so blind that you cannot see this? These people really are the most boring souls in the universe now. Sad beyond belief that you are still obsessed with their agenda.

  14. Hamish says:

    The proposal isn’t about just Celtic fans. I’m a Dundee supporter and we should all be aware of the catastrophic mess that the footballing authorities have got themselves (and us) into. It’s a matter for all of Scottish football, not just for Rangers or Celtic fans to debate. It’s great to see this proposal being given the light of day on C4’s website.

    1. Tom says:

      Hamish well said, unfortunately, The Peeple will ignore you, they will presume you are a cunning Celtic fan possing as a DFC fan, they are like Alcoholics, until they realise they have a problem and ask for help they will remain detached, alone and walking about in soiled troosers!

      I say clean oot the SFA, they are the problem.

      T.

  15. Odear says:

    Campbell, your, seemingly automatic, assumption that all fans of Scottish football concerned with integrity, are de facto Celtic fans is naive and will win few allies in the wider arena of Scottish football.

  16. kalashz says:

    Sporting integrity is not about celtic fans buying season tickets.It’s about fairness for every team in every league in the land.Well almost i forgot there is one team that does not do that.

  17. Stan says:

    Rangers and sporting integrity is a contradiction in terms.

  18. Frankie says:

    The “resolution” boils down to one long whinge that Rangers didn’t disappear as they wanted.

  19. I hate currant buns says:

    Perhaps Campbell hasn’t read the article properly. It must be understood by all fans of football that the tide has turned. No longer will one team have the arrogant belief that they own the right to lord it over others by cheating, and that’s what The Rangers (sorry Sevco) (RIFC) (or was it plain old Rangers) did for years.You are where you are,unfortunately. Many would prefer you left us with dignity, like Gretna did. I for one don’t miss the club or their supporters, and never forget you will always be reminded you don’t exist despite your protestations.

  20. The Iceman says:

    I admire Auldheid’s endeavours on this. I wish him luck. He has no chance of making the slightest difference.

    The problem is that the SFA is now totally beyond any attempts at reasoning and has become a completely loose cannon inventing rules, and saying anything to protect itself from its own rule breaches.
    It is a sorry mess and sadly beyond any repair.

    The Rangers will now believe their own paranoia and feed eternally on grievance and seek revenge instead of showing gratitude for being allowed to exist at all in cases where all other clubs have died – and not been reborn. The MSM will back them no matter how absurd, ludicrous or damaging the actions and utterances from Ibrox are.

    The SFA is so compromised by its own actions that it is powerless to act in the interests of the game and must stand by its Fausstian pact with Green and His new Rangers.

    The game is sadly doomed. I can see no way out with honour or integrity whilst the decision to allow Rangers to continue remains intact. There is no way that the decision can be reversed without bringing the game into disrepute.

    The five way agreement which placed the necessity to reincarnate Rangers above the rules of the game marked the end point of Scottish football. Like cycling’s UCI, the SFA has been shorn of all credibility, and the sport that it governs has been left utterly rudderless.

  21. Aldo 1903 says:

    Campbell, the TSFM has many followers, some who post but many like me who just like to follow the thread. I think you will find a growing appetite for change. Supporters are very wary of what appears to be going on right under their noses.

    It’s not just Celtic fans who follow the site.

    Guys like Alex Thomson has made every effort to expose the sham of what has happened in the past 18 months. Like it or not Scottish football cannot continue on like this. There clearly has been little integrity shown by the bodies in charge over this period and enough is enough.

  22. Robbie McGeddon says:

    In season 11/12, I went to about 20 scottish games; Scotland, my own team, and other random matches. Since last summer, I haven’t been able to find the motivation to attend even a single one.

    It’s not that I’m a Rangers sympathiser, nor a hater either. It’s because I’ve lost confidence in the people who run the game and their ability to provide a level playing field. I watched Gretna, (a club of more similar stature to my own favourites), disappear a few years ago with hardly a word said. No Third Division lifeline for them. And then, last summer we had the whole circus freakshow of headless chickens when the same thing happened to a seemingly more important club. Ongoing at present is the proposal to reorganise the leagues in time for the next, which would effectively end this season as a sporting spectacle and so any chance of my being enticed back to my local ground.

    So, is that it then? The games a bogey? Should we just give up, or follow teams in some other league? Or will the governing bodies act to restore my faith? These proposals would go at least some way towards that.

    Well done, whoever wrote this!

  23. Dhougal says:

    Great piece Alex,we can but try. I’m afraid the ”shenanigans” are still going on though(an opposition player being sent off when The rangers are struggling ,a grade1 ref. in charge of a 3rd div. game,MSM ignoring a riot at a The rangers v Clyde game) .Thanks for trying but i think you may be tp against it with the dark forces !! Maybe i’m paranoid?

  24. rossco says:

    is this the same TSFM site that devotes 99% of its time plotting Rangers downfall and gets it right about 1% of the time.

  25. youllalwaysbeknownasSEVCO says:

    if Sevco fans don’t want to buy season tickets next season because they’ll STILL be in the bottom tier of Scottish football they should just say so rather than getting their no suspenders snapped still thinking they’re RA PEEPIL!

  26. Madalyn says:

    A commendable effort from the supporters’ groups. However doubt there will be action from the authorities who are quite happy, it would seem, with the status quo. Far too many areas of conflict involving individuals whose moral compass may be at odds with the ordinary fair minded fan Hesitate to mention any particular club but the one mentioned by Mr. Thompson seems to be enjoying very advantageous decision making from the referees officiating in their league games. Some would say “twas ever thus”

  27. Michael says:

    Campbell broaden your horizon man. If you honestly think this is driven purely by Cfc fans then l am afraid you are kidding yourself on.
    Fans of all clubs were outraged by the underhand tactics to save oldco and place the trfc as far up the legs possible.
    Time football in this country got fit for purpose.
    That my man is a fact.

  28. Tonyd67 says:

    If there is no integrity, then where does the game go, supporters from clubs from all over Scotland did not like the way our game was being ran and spoke up and voted accordingly, now The Rangers are STILL moaning, they should thank these supporters that they allowed them back in, there are none so blind as those that can not see.

  29. johrogi says:

    Without getting into the content, the draft resolution is so poorly constructed, it’s embarrassing. From the outset, we need a definition of “sporting integrity” – it seems to have a multitude of meanings.

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