It’s Another Dreadful Day For Free Speech As Threats Force Closure Of Scotzine Site.

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Today I learned, to my enormous regret, that the Scottish football website Scotzine is to close down. Andy Muirhead, the site founder, has simply had it. Threats to himself and to his family have gone on long enough. He’s decided it’s just not worth it.

I can’t stress enough how bad a day this is for Scottish football fans.

Scotzine is one of the oldest fan blogs we had in this country and Andy, whether you like him or not, has been one of the leaders of the blogging culture, an original Internet Bampot. His contribution to the way in which we conduct debates over the game here has been enormous, game changing in many ways. He has never been afraid to ruffle feathers.

No-one could ever accuse him of sitting on the fence.

There are fans on both sides of the divide who will welcome his decision to close down, but it’s nothing to celebrate or be grateful for. His is a voice we’ll miss, because his kind of honesty and courage are in short supply these days. Let’s not forget, this is a bloke who’s been doing this for years now, under his own name. He’s left himself an open book, and that’s had consequences for him, and in turn that has consequences for all of us.

I haven’t always agreed with everything Andy Muirhead has written, but that’s the point. This is still supposed to be a free country, and that means folk are allowed to have their say. In his time writing the blog, Andy has been subjected to constant abuse. On one notorious occasion he found himself on the so-called Vanguard Bears “enemies list”, which is a basic invitation for scumbags and psychos to have a go at you. This is scandalous.

Yet the worst part of his decision, by far, is the suggestion that he’s arrived at it because the police will do nothing about the level of abuse he’s had to endure. They would, it seems, prefer to prosecute for the songs people sing or the banners they take into stadiums. In the meantime, the real stuff – that for which they actually exist in the first place – simply gets ignored. Andy claims his own complaints to them were ignored four times … which is astonishing.

I’ve written on this site before about the appalling level of hatred some sections of the Sevco support directs at anyone who examines their club in any meaningful way.

But Andy Muirhead never shied away from covering either club or the wider issues in the game. He did what he was supposed to do – he tackled things head on, he wrote about what was important, and he did it at great personal sacrifice and risk.

Andy Muirhead loves Scottish football, but he values his personal safety, health and the wellbeing of his family more, and not a one of us can blame him for it. It is a shocking indictment of how toxic things are at the moment that he feels he can’t go on with a project which was way ahead of its time and blazed a trail for the rest of us. It is not the way he wanted to celebrate ten years of the website, and it’s not something anyone should take pleasure in.

I am going to miss Andy’s work on the Scottish game. In one way or another all of us will. His writing was truly balanced, truly neutral. Although a Celtic fan, he was never afraid to look critically at the club or the support and this is why we were better off with him out there doing his thing.

We all owe Andy our gratitude because without him many of us would not be doing what it is that we do, and if the gutter rats can force him to chuck it they’ll be emboldened and refocus their efforts on getting the rest of us to do the same.

This is another sad day for our online community and the hole this leaves makes it all the more important that the rest of us keep on doing what we do.

Thank you Andy for all your hard work over the years.

God bless you and yours.

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