Sevco State Aid Case Ends With A Whimper

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The Sevco fans “State Aid” case, which a number of them pursued with vigor, and which had, briefly, attracted the attention of the national press, has ended not in a bang but a whimper, with Ecobhoy from The Scottish Football Monitor reporting that, according to Glasgow City Council, the matter is now dead and buried.

The news comes at the end of another torrid week for the Ibrox club and its fans, opening with their shattering knock-out from the Scottish Cup, and which culminates at Ibrox, with Hibs coming to town to inflict further damage on their shattered institution.

It is the news that the State Aid case has now been officially laid to rest that will frustrate a section of their support most, however.

A large number of them had placed almost talismanic faith in the European Union finding in favour of a dodgy dossier of “evidence” of corruption and connivance between Celtic and Glasgow City Council and other organisations, submitted to them last year.

This “evidence” was examined, and rejected, by the European Union’s investigators.

The State Aid case was predicated on the notion that Glasgow City Council and the Greater Glasgow Health Board had sold land to the club at a knock-down rate. This, according to the demented Sevco sleuths, meant that Celtic had benefited from a direct state subsidy, which European Union competition law specifically forbids.

Their fevered claim was based, in part, on other state aid cases involving football clubs in Spain and in the Netherlands, none of which has, thus far, resulted in a negative verdict.

Indeed, all are robustly denied by the clubs involved.

In addition, the State Aid complainants in this case were alleging that not only had Celtic benefited from a land deal, but that they also received loans at below market rates from the Co-Operative Bank, and that the path for these had been smoothed by Celtic minded individuals in the Labour Party and the then Blair and Brown governments, with Brian Wilson and John Reid specifically playing a starring role.

None of these claims has even the flimsiest basis in reality, as numerous Celtic sites have already outlined in some detail, but this did not stop the “seekers of truth” on a number of Sevco forums from pushing the issue, in an effort to embarrass us and damage our club and its standing.

All of this is particularly ironic when one considers that one club in Scotland – Rangers – was an even more direct beneficiary not only of banking largesse but in receiving funds that should have gone to the taxpayer.

Amongst the many “assets” taken over by the state when it secured control of Lloyds TSB and the Bank of Scotland in 2009 was a chunk of Murray International Holdings, including a significant shareholding in Rangers itself.

The club was not sold until 2011, and for at least two years it existed, as did all Murray’s holdings (with many continuing to) at the expense of the banks, which to all intents and purposes means at the expense of the tax payer.

When Rangers’ crashed in 2012, they ultimately owed nearly £20 million to the Exchequer in unpaid taxes and VAT alone, not including the Big Tax Case, which is under appeal and for which the Oldco may yet be found liable.

When you further examine the scale of the Bank of Scotland’s indulgence of Rangers, and you consider that much of the debts incurred by Murray – and which had their roots on the Ibrox pitch – were ultimately written off as “toxic assets” when the state took over, you cannot escape the conclusion that the Ibrox club itself cost the tax payer more money than any imagined State Aid to Celtic ever could or would have.

But of course, this campaign was never really about getting to the truth.

It was about smearing the corporate governors at Celtic Park who have put the club on a financial and football footing which is light years from that enjoyed at Ibrox.

It was about an attempt to one-up the Celtic bloggers who were right on the money when it came to investigating people like Whyte, Green, Graham Wallace and others, who had been slavishly welcomed into Ibrox and proclaimed heroes even as we were charting their every wrong move.

More than anything else, it was about a witch-hunt against the Usual Suspects – anyone who’d ever been to Celtic Park or had an Irish enough sounding name.

It was based, in short, on narrow bigotry on one hand and wishful thinking on another.

It was a demented pursuit of fantasy masquerading as a search for facts, which has been exposed, along with its authors, as lacking any credibility whatsoever.

Glasgow City Council has confirmed that not only did the EU investigation turn up nothing to indicate anything untoward, but that the time-frame for an appeal has now expired, laying this matter to rest once and for all.

Now that it is at a close, those who invested so much time and effort in it would do better to turn their attentions to saving what remains of their own football club, which is circling the drain a mere three years after its founding from the ashes of the dead Rangers.

It is frequent forays into obsessions like this case that made their position worse than it has to be, for if the same so-called forensic analysis had been pointed in the direction of their own boardroom one suspects they wouldn’t be in quite so big a mess as they are today.

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  • Sean Og McG says:

    This farce was driven by a man involved in the upper echelons of NI politics(if that’s not a contradiction in terms); who should have better things to do than wild goose chasing. Bitter, twisted; a self confessed hater of all things Celtic, Irish and Catholic; and that was before the death of the Ragers tipped him over the edge. What do expect from Gregory Campbell?

  • holy sea says:

    Excellent piece,James.
    Ah…state aid,for this ,read deluded,bitter,jealous fans,who are green with envy,at the businesss acumen and success,of the world renowned,Celtic Football Club plc.
    Yourself,James,and fellow bloggers,are 2 steps ahead of the Sevco equivalent.Where you deal with truths and facts,they make up lies and fictionous stories.
    Their sad existence,is one of hatred,and anti-Celtic feelings takes up all their time.God, by hating the colour green,this shows,how deep-rooted,their problems really are.

  • fess19 says:

    So all that gold & oil under Celtic Park are now officially ours. Yehaw!!


  • gerry says:

    The real force behind these types of gratuitous complaints isn’t a sense of being hard done by but more the ‘we are the people’ attitude.
    ‘Bluemail’, as spurious online complaints from people whose raison d’etre is to protest are often called,comes NOT from a grassroots movement wishing to right a wrong but a group whose sense of self-entitlement makes them think that just a word to authorities is enough to prove them right.
    No wonder,when for so long ‘the authorities’ were their allies.
    Society moved on and got more inclusive but the supremacist ‘volk’ were left behind, somewhere in the 16 hundreds,and I don’t mean 4 o’clock.

  • Dresden says:

    It makes me smile, when you look at the depths these people resort to! They tried, and failed, to bring Scottish football down with them. The people ‘responsible’ for the game, have done everything to ensure ‘their’ team survive; but the game on and off the field is better without them. Hearts, Hibs, Aberdeen, Dundee United, etc, all showing healthy bank balances and increased attendances!
    Tonight, Hibs play them in the league and I’m sure we will hear the usual bile coming from the fans. They’ve not changed, their anti-Catholic /anti-Irish ideals haven’t changed and probably never will, if people like DCK are back on the board! For me, when they fail again and I’ve had my latest ‘bowl’, it will be interesting if they try the Sevco route again, but only if MA allows it!
    Have a great weekend ???? Glasgow’s Green and White!

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