|Keep Playing Uphill or Restoring Integrity to Scottish Football?|
|Written by Auldyin|
|Monday, 09 May 2011 23:52|
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality
Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy……
What I do need though is a reality check. With every passing day the suspicion has grown in my mind and I am sure others’ that Scottish football is “bent”/corrupt or in fancy English, is bereft of integrity. I do find myself wondering if I have gone overboard in thinking we are playing in an environment increasingly revealed as totally corrupt and conniving.
I look back at:
That is my reality check completed and after listing that lot (have I missed any) I have to conclude that were this list presented to a court of unbiased opinion as circumstantial evidence that something stinks, they would find that the Scottish game if not rotten to its core is bent in such a way that Celtic are playing uphill on a very steep gradient if not actually on a cliff face.
Now there are those who say we should be good enough to overcome all of this, and no doubt Celtic have contributed to our fate in the last few years, but how good do we have to be to overcome the gradient and what is the cost to Celtic supporters of having to be that good? If Rangers have a tax case so do Celtic in terms of the extra income the club needs to generate to stand a chance of being competitive. That is an unfair tax on Celtic and our support and something has to be done to level the playing field.
In that respect Celtic themselves have put a lot of faith in Stewart Regan the new SFA CEO to make changes that will start to address the integrity issue, but he clearly has a battle on his hands with his employers to push through meaningful change. By meaningful I mean ones that pass the litmus test of will they restore the game’s integrity, will they remove the factors that have damaged it?
A key point in the change process will be on the 7th of June, when the SFA full members consisting of all clubs and sub associations across the swathe of Scottish football will vote to implement the recommendations in the McLeish report. These recommendations will not of themselves restore integrity but will put Regan in a position where he is able to do his job, because the committee and other internal SFA systems that have produced some of the decisions that have damaged the game (see above) will be removed.
It will be essential however that what is put in place is not just window dressing but real change, that recognises the reality of the demography and polarization in Scotland, instead of sweeping it under the carpet and introduces measures to nullify the integrity destroying aspects that such an environment has clearly created for all the world to see.
Mr Regan needs help, he has already said he wants to involve stakeholders in the change process; well you Celtic supporters, indeed ALL Scottish football supporters, are stakeholders. Your views on addressing the following three key areas, with the ultimate aim of restoring the game’s integrity need to be sought and listened to in order to satisfy us that the playing field has been leveled.
(The first two are self evident, and the first is already set to change, but had a more rigorous and fit for purpose licensing regime been in place, Glasgow Rangers would never have got into the financial difficulties that have caused such damage to Scottish football on a number of fronts. Particular issues to be addressed are:
There are two stages to making change happen:
To do the second something like Celts for Change is required, possibly “ Celts for Integrity” would be an obvious banner under which the CSA/CST and other Celtic groups with an interest in becoming stakeholders can coalesce with the single overall objective of giving us back a game we can believe in.
However to become stakeholders we need Mr Regan to have the power to bring in supporters representatives as stakeholders and then we need to persuade him we have constructive suggestions to make. Now the vote in June at the SFA AGM might be a “shoo in” but with so much self interests at play in the SFA it might not be, in which case a little persuasion would not go wrong and for this and any Celts for Integrity movement to get off the ground your help is needed to nudge events in the right direction..
According to the 2010 SFA annual report “Commercial revenue of £12.6m was generated by the Association last year thanks to the involvement of several new sponsors and the renewal of key contracts. “
These contracts are with a number of sponsors and partners which are listed at the end of this piece. The suggestion is that you write to them in your own words or using the points in the following draft to impress on them the importance to you of making changes at the SFA to restore the integrity of Scottish football.
You might want to copy your letter to the SFA CEO so that those who might oppose him know that no change is not an option and will have consequences, which might also invoke the deferred away match day boycott, suspended after the CST/CSA met Mr Regan earlier this year, if the support feel they are not being listened to. However lets hope the SFA full members see the sense in voting for change anyway AND also see value in including supporters as a stake holding group thereafter. The AGM is on the 7th of June so if you are going to write to any sponsors/partners please do so quickly.
Suggested Letter To SFA Sponsors or Partners. (Please write to one or all of the biggest sponsors and/or to a few partners but please send at least one letter/e mail.)
To: (The Commercial/Marketing Manager/Company name and address)
I am writing to you because of the sponsorship/partnership your organisation has with the Scottish Football Association (SFA).
The SFA is an organisation whose objectives, according to its MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION (for The Scottish Football Association, Limited: The Companies (Consolidation) Act, 1908.
“3. The objects for which the Association is established are:-
(2) To promote, foster, and develop, in all its branches without discrimination against any organisation or person for reason of age, gender, disability, ethnicity, language, religion or politics, the game of Association football, and to take all such steps as may be deemed necessary or advisable for preventing infringements of the rules of the game, or other improper methods or practices in the game, and for protecting it from abuses.
(3) To support and promote the principle of Fair Play by encouraging everyone involved in football to read, understand and accept the Laws of the Game, to show respect to opponents and to behave in a sporting manner both on and off the field of play.”
Yet they stand accused, following a series of events involving their Disciplinary Committee and Paul McBride a leading Scottish QC representing Glasgow Celtic of (in his own words)*
“The SFA are tonight officially the laughing stock of world football,” he told BBC Radio Scotland. “And they have been shown to be not merely dysfunctional and not merely dishonest but biased, because McCoist – who undoubtedly said something that provoked a reaction from Neil Lennon that caused a four-match ban for him – has received no punishment. We know that Bougherra – who manhandled the referee not once but twice – doesn’t get a ban. We know that El-Hadji Diouf – who was involved in an altercation in the tunnel with a Celtic physiotherapist, refuses to leave the park when given a red card and throws his top into the crowd against police advice – isn’t given a ban either. What is any sensible person to think of that set of affairs?”
(* whilst protocol demanded Mr McBride subsequently tone down his sentiments, I am under no such protocol and I use them to express how I feel about the Scottish Football Association)
I am but one of the world wide Celtic support, numbering around 170,000 directly involved supporters, but possibly amounting to around twice that number or more when their families are taken into account and with a reach to North America, Europe, Japan and South East Asia. I believe the vast majority of our support share Mr McBride’s views and think that this set of affairs at the SFA must be brought to an end.
The SFA themselves have commissioned a review of their organisation and a summary of the key issues uncovered by the author (Henry McLeish) in his Review of Scottish Football Part Two, can be found on page 74 of the review but you can get a flavor from the following:
“In many ways there is much to be said for history, tradition, nostalgia, sentiment or institutional memory and a respect for individuals and time served participation -all of that has a part to play in our thinking and approach BUT not when this becomes a constraint on modernisation and an obstacle to improving the game in terms of status, performance, achievement and greater national and international recognition and achievement. This is a
huge issue for the SFA and not easily resolved. But more controversially the work of the SFA can often look like serving the institution, its traditions and procedures, its members and narrow interests-personal or sectional and in doing so becoming incredibly defensive in relation to the wider world within which football operates. This is a block on progress, grasping opportunities and exploiting potential and in getting to grips with modern business approaches, the changing world of football and the massive weight of national expectation on the game. The health and well being of our club and national game have to be more important than any sectional interests and we need structures to reflect football in the 21st century and not the practices and methods of the late 20th century. This is the challenge, respecting the past but no longer being a prisoner of it.”
Clearly therefore it is not just Paul McBride or the Celtic support, whose club have been on the receiving end of bizarre decisions (whilst our main rivals have invariably benefited from equally bizarre ones), who recognise that the SFA is no longer fit for purpose and is damaging the integrity of Scottish football as it is currently constituted.
However on 7th June this year at their AGM, the members of the SFA have the opportunity to adopt a number of recommendations in the McLeish report that will go some, although not all the way, to addressing some of my concerns, not just as a Celtic supporter but as a lover of the game in Scotland.
I would hope change is a given, but in view of the apparent determination of some at the SFA to cling to tradition, it is by no means certain that the recommended changes will be adopted and it is in this specific regard I have contacted you.
Having read the foregoing, I hope that you may well share by now my concern and wonder at the wisdom of continuing to be a Sponsor or Partner of the SFA as things stand. For my part if the recommendations for change are not voted for in June, I will stop using your products and/or services where you provide them to the public and you take the risk that many other Celtic supporters will feel as I do. Where you do not provide a direct product or service to the public I hope you will reconsider if you should remain in partnership with such a dysfunctional organisation should it vote against the changes in the McLeish report.
I regret that such a step would even have to be considered, but the actions of the SFA, as currently constituted and as events have shown, require that some form of persuasion be applied to encourage them to vote for the recommendations in the McLeish report at their AGM in June.
I trust that you will convey my feelings to the SFA CEO Mr Stewart Regan who has the unenviable task of bringing change about.