One of the longest standing, and most pervasive, beliefs amongst the people who run the game here in Scotland is that there is a huge groundswell of opinion in favour of a return to the duopoly which has almost destroyed our national sport; the restoration of the “Old Firm” rivalry and the re-emergence, as a force, of a team calling itself Rangers.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Before I get to the point, let me tell you that I consider that, along with the Survival Myth and the Victim Myth, to be the other most dangerous lie in our game.
It allows all manner of mendacity and deceit and it promotes this “too big to fail” nonsense that entitles the Ibrox club to do as it likes.
In many ways, I understand where this idea has come from.
It’s been fed by the media and a steady stream of pro-Sevco PR, and by the leaders of the governing bodies themselves, who we know were up to their necks in the Craig Whyte saga and let Charles Green take over the ruins of the oldco in what were less than transparent circumstances.
Some of it is self-preservation for people who can’t afford to be asked, far less answer, serious questions about their conduct.
The idea that they did this on behalf of the fans gives them some breathing room, or so it seems.
The motivations of others are harder to explain.
Yesterday, Stewart Milne went in front of his own supporters at the Aberdeen AGM and delivered the most spectacularly offensive performance since Ian Bankier’s catastrophically dire display at our own.
Before I move onto Milne, I am going to say this about Bankier; I don’t care that he tried to roll some of those comments back. People are too focussed on his branding a few fans “racist”, but I prefer to focus on the part where he said “The messages posted, in quite a few cases are criminally racist and in all cases the vocabulary chosen is base and highly abusive.”
In all cases?
What, including where some of us wrote in very clear, concise language about why we supported the motion, and gave good reasons for doing so?
I refute his disgraceful allegation that my language, or that of many, many others, was “base and highly abusive” and we’ve received no apology for that dreadful slander and I don’t expect we ever will.
Milne clearly feels the same contempt for the Aberdeen fans, and yesterday that arrogance and lack of concern for their wishes was on full display.
To the horror of the shareholders, he launched into a full-throated rendition of the Survival Myth, and put on record his fervent hope that the Ibrox club would soon be in the top flight, where presumably his side can soon thereafter take up its historic position of playing third fiddle – or worse – to the Glasgow duopoly.
To say that his club’s own supporters aren’t terribly impressed is an understatement.
The weblogs and forums were filled with fury, and that’s not surprising when you consider that his club hasn’t been this healthy in decades – a direct consequence of them being the second biggest in the land and challenging for the league title.
Over on On Fields of Green, I recently wrote that there are a lot of people in our game, people at the clubs themselves, who are going to have to answer to their own shareholders and supporters should the day ever come when a new Glasgow rivalry skews the whole of our sport once more.
I said that those running the game out of Hampden would scorch the earth and everything on it in pursuit of that goal, and that the well-being of other clubs would be sacrificed if need be.
Milne appears not to care; in fact, he seems to be keen to lend a hand to those who’re seeking the restoration of the old order, and what’s worse is that in order to do it he’s equally happy to leave aside the catalogue of offenses against sport which have characterised the last few years.
In an interview with STV he was asked if title stripping should be pursued if the guilty verdict in the big tax case is finally set in stone, and his answer would have shocked his own fans and it fired a warning shot at those fans of other clubs who think the mood in their own boardrooms is still focussed on sporting integrity.
“Scottish football has to move on,” Milne said. ‘I think most people want to see our top clubs playing in the top league. We want to have the top league perceived in the best possible light. What’s happened in the past has happened. We all have to be focused on what can we do to take Scottish football forward.’
If this is the thinking of the other club chairmen then, truly, our campaign of the last three years, to reform the Scottish game, is dead on its arse because too many of those running the clubs hanker after the destructive past and are all too ready to abandon justice and fairness.
Once again, its clear that the only people in Scottish football who care enough to pursue these things are the fans themselves.
Without that justice we’ve been watching a rigged game for nearly 20 years and we’ll be watching the same for the next 20, or until the clubs themselves say “enough is enough” and actually work to reform things.
Milne’s comments were a disgrace, and this subservient attitude towards the Sevco operation is a dire statement on the level of ambition he has for his own club.
We can only hope that the passionate and committed Aberdeen supporters, who have spent too long in the shadow of “Glasgow’s big two” and have been enjoying life in the new era, can make their voices heard and their disgust fully known, or before they know it they’ll once again find themselves in a footballing environment that isn’t in the least bit kind to them.
Milne has done very little to develop and grow that club over the years; it is the fans themselves who have rebuilt the finances and the standing of Aberdeen FC, and I fully commend them for that. Three years ago, when Rangers collapsed, it fell on them to lend support to their team and get them through a lean period … and they did that and much more.
The task of maintaining what they’ve created now falls on their shoulders too.
I wish them well in it, because having a rival club on your tail, but one which plays it straight and respects the rules, has been a breath of fresh air.
We’re approaching the four year anniversary of Craig Whyte putting Rangers into administration and the people who torched our national sport in the aftermath are all still in post, albeit except Ogilvie, who retreated with his pension – but not his reputation – intact.
Yesterday we caught a glimpse of why that remains the case.
Our national sport drifts further away from the supporters every day.
Only they can drag it back from the brink of a fresh disaster.