Yesterday, I wrote about the Scottish media’s sudden embrace of the Hampden Conspiracy Theory when I talked about how, at his very first press conference, Ian Maxwell was asked if he was beholden to Peter Lawwell and to Celtic.
I should have known that question was not just some hack desperate to generate a headline.
There was more going on.
Today The Record has splashed a big exclusive; one of the non-executive directors of the SFA, Gary Hughes, called Rangers fans “the great unwashed” in an interview he gave to a trade journal twelve years ago.
The report has obliquely suggested that he is linked to the governing body’s decision to investigate the 2011 European license. He wasn’t. Non-exec directors play no part in those kind of matters, but in the attempt to create that impression The Record has showed its hand.
It is even more clearly on display with their assertion that this creates trouble for Ian Maxwell.
Because, of course, Hughes is not the target here although it looks to the uninitiated as though he is. I’ve spent too long inside and on the fringes of politics to have missed what this is. It’s Ian Maxwell who’s being fitted for a bullseye here.
Sevco has decided that the new CEO of the SFA needs to be put under immediate pressure.
There are license issues both current and historic.
There are fit and proper person investigations underway and required.
There are financial fair play issues that need resolved.
And all of them adversely affect the Ibrox operation … and Maxwell is being pushed into a corner already.
By Sevco, yes. As expected.
But today The Daily Record has advertised its intention to help out.
Ralston, of Scotland’s bog-roll rag, wrote this; “His crass and insensitive comments are set to hand new chief executive Ian Maxwell his first test of leadership less than 48 hours after he was paraded at Hampden.”
And that’s why he was asked the question. That’s what the purpose was. Is Ian Maxwell going to save his Celtic minded SFA board buddy who called Rangers fans a nasty name? It doesn’t matter how far removed Maxwell is from whatever “internal investigation” is going on. It doesn’t matter whether or not other clubs decide a twelve-year-old quote made in jest doesn’t matter at all and re-elect Hughes as would have been a formality a day ago.
If Hughes stays, Maxwell is tainted.
He is beholden to Peter Lawwell after all.
And that is the angle here. That’s the game being played. This casts a shadow forward to what Maxwell might do in the future, and it casts one back to the decision to open an investigation into the events of 2011. It effectively takes Hughes out of play, whether he stays on the board or not. Which actually doesn’t adversely affect the reform agenda as he publicly opposed Celtic’s call for an in-depth investigation earlier on this year.
But make no mistake about what this is; this is Sevco throwing a gutter-ball in the dirt. I’ll be writing more on how this should be handled later, but the idea that Hughes is a self-confessed Celtic fan (he has never hidden that) is completely unimportant to what’s actually happening here. He is the subject. He is not the target.
Someone at Ibrox is very concerned with the new CEO at Hampden.