Last week I wrote what I thought would be my final article on Show Racism The Red Card Scotland. I left it alone because if Brendan Rodgers intends to take legal action against them for defamation I didn’t want to complicate matters.
When they decided to comment on the behaviour of Sevco fans in Macedonia I left that story alone, although I was troubled by it.
And then today I heard something that troubled me even more. I decided to dig a little deeper and what I found sent me to do even more digging and I uncovered something that is not only troubling but deeply disturbing.
I will leave it to my readers to decide how much, but I find the picture clearer but even darker than it was before.
First, there have been changes in the organisation. Their campaigns manager has been replaced, perhaps as a result of that person’s suggestion that I write a story about how Celtic was not fully committed to the anti-racism causes the organisation espouses.
I didn’t do the story, but I did publish the suggestion, which I am sure didn’t help.
They have spent the last two weeks embattled, but they got themselves into the hole with their scandalous, libellous, treatment of Brendan Rodgers and their rush, without a shred of evidence, to brand a section of the Celtic support as racist.
The backlash was enormous.
It wasn’t helped with the kid-gloves treatment they showed to Sevco fans where their spokesperson went out of the way to differentiate between “so-called fans” and actual ones … that’s a distinction we were not allowed, of course, and one that muted the criticism the club got.
The Daily Record, which had no problem branding Celtic fans as racists and the manager an apologist for racists, took a very similar line; they focused not on the Sevco fans who disgraced their club with their appalling behaviour but on those who criticised it.
If you recall the coverage of the incidents in Sunderland that, too, is something we were denied the benefit of.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the coverage – both that in the media and that which Show Racism The Red Card Scotland gave it – was being steered in a similar direction, and perhaps even by the very same people … and that’s an interesting thought, right?
When the organisation took a bit of a hit over the Phil Mac Giolla Bhain story when it came out, I had opined at the time that they might want to sort out their public relations … information I received today suggests that a well-known PR firm offered them its, on an advisory basis and for free. That organisation has connections with Scottish football, and knew that certain Show Racism The Red Card Scotland “ambassadors” would recommend them.
Was that organisation responsible for “doing the spin” these last few weeks? Did it use Show Racism The Red Card Scotland to get its own messages across, turning the organisation and its campaign staff into its “useful idiots” to divert attention from goings on elsewhere? Or perhaps just to add to the general impression that Celtic, and not another Scottish club, are at the heart of dark events and have too much influence over the game here?
I’m not saying it’s true, I’m saying it’s what I’ve heard and my source is a good one and with no dog in this fight and no reason to lie.
But if it is true, then said PR company might have its work cut out for it over the next seven days, because there’s an even bigger story brewing involving the anti-racist charity and it’s one that casts them in an even darker light, and in an odd one way even lends credence to the story I heard about PR pit-bulls and steering the coverage.
Show Racism The Red Scotland last put out a press release on 16 July. That press release was saying thank you to an organisation called First Scottish, who made a donation of unspecified size to them last week.
I use the word “unspecified.”
They used the words “generous” and “phenomenal.”
And indeed, for a body which relies on public and private funds every penny counts, and where government fails it falls upon businesses to take up the slack.
It’s something I usually applaud … but there are a couple of things about First Scottish which ought to make everyone in our support, and everyone interested in Scottish football governance, think long and hard about whether or not we do in this case.
First Scottish is an organisation with an interesting bunch of characters on its boards past and present. We’ll get to the present in a minute, but its previous directors come right out of the Scottish Football Book Of Horribles.
One of them is a gentleman called David William Murray Horne, and he worked for the other David Murray in a variety of roles. In one of those roles, he was the secretary of a company you might have heard of; David Murray Sports Limited. And that was the company that owned Rangers.
In his time there he served on the board not only with Murray himself, but with another chap whose name you might be familiar with; David Cunningham King … the glib and shameless liar. He also served on a company called RIFC Investment Holdings Limited and a bunch of others.
Another gentleman who served on the board of First Scottish was a guy called Gavin Masterton; history will remember him as the guy who almost sunk Dunfermline FC, but he’s even more famous for being the senior banker whose friendship with Murray allowed Rangers to spend its way to the grave, and who tried to shut Celtic back in 1994.
Another of their former directors was Masteron’s pal and former Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston. Now, I have to defend him from at least one charge, that he is in any way Sevco or Rangers minded; during the 2012 dispute over the NewCo and its future he was one of the most vocal chairmen in wanting to see the Ibrox club start in the bottom, famously saying that “An SPL without Rangers is preferable to an SPL without integrity.”
But others have their own memories of him, and I know not all of them occasion happy thoughts.
Here’s where it starts to become even more foggy.
One of the folks on the First Scottish board is a guy called John Douglas Berthinussen, and he’s an interesting guy because his closest relationships in business are with an organisation called Souter Kent, and they, in fact, appear to be the biggest shareholders in the First Scottish Group … and that’s intriguing because of who they are.
They are part of the sprawling business empire of the famous Brian Souter himself, the founder of Stagecoach and one of the richest people in Scotland.
There is no doubt that Souter runs First Scottish; in fact, Yorkston – who is still a shareholder – and Masterton left the company at the same time, in 2012, after a falling out with him.
The Mail On Sunday said at the time, “Last summer £400,000 was transferred from First Scottish to Dunfermline Athletic without Sir Brian’s permission. Upon learning of the move, Sir Brian is understood to have ordered Mr Masterton and the then First Scottish managing director John Yorkston – who is also chairman of Dunfermline Athletic – to repay the cash and then forced them both off the company’s board.
Documents lodged at Companies House show both Mr Yorkston and Mr Masterton – who between them own the majority of shares in First Scottish Group Limited – both resigned as directors of First Scottish in September last year.
An associate of Sir Brian was appointed to replace them.”
The associate who was nominated to replace them was none other than John Douglas Berthinussen.
Show Racism The Red Card Scotland is, in effect, taking money from an organisation linked to Souter and on whose board have sat the people who tried to kill Celtic, and who helped David Murray run his corrupt football club on the basis of debts, until he ran it into the ground.
And this after a week of riotous Celtic bashing where they labelled our manager an apologist for racism.
But even if you don’t believe in conspiracy theories – and I’m not trying to promote one, I’m simply giving you a few facts – the wisdom of an anti-racist charity taking money from the guy who ran and funded the notorious Keep The Clause referendum back in 2000, which anti-racism charities, trade unions, political parties and national newspapers branded “homophobic”, a charge that Souter has always vehemently denied, well that has to be questioned.
Show Racism The Red Card have policies on homophobia, and have aggressively campaigned for its removal from society; their Let’s Tackle It campaign has had widespread coverage in the media and it’s had the support of numerous other public bodies, many of whom were calling Souter a bigot back in 2000.
And the concerns over him don’t stop with the 2000 campaign.
In fact, not so long ago, in 2015, women’s rights organisations were slamming him when the press uncovered a donation he had made to an organisation which seeks to “counsel” women who’ve had abortions to ‘show accountability’, ‘seek forgiveness’ and ‘repent.’
The Herald’s report said his donation had funded a “crisis pregnancy centre specialising in ‘post-abortion syndrome’, a theory linking terminations to psychological problems – which is disputed by the medical establishment.”
The report went on; “According to its Facebook site, it received an undisclosed sum in 2013 from the Souter Charitable Trust (SCT), the personal charity of Stagecoach bus tycoon Souter and his wife Betty … Choices offers a 10-step ”recovery” programme, which includes ‘moving out of denial’, ‘guilt and shame’ and ’forgiveness’ … According to reports, the course’s manual also states: ‘Part of the healing journey to post-abortion recovery involves repentance …’ (Sexual-health services provider) Brook produced a dossier on crisis pregnancy centres last year after doing a ‘mystery shopper’ investigation. It found two centres had falsely linked abortion to an increased risk of breast cancer, with some service providers also claiming terminations caused infertility.”
You have to wonder who’s running things over at Show Racism The Red Card Scotland, because their judgement stinks.
Their credibility is now completely shot.
There is no public relations organisation in the world who would have encouraged Show Racism The Red Card Scotland to take money from this guy and then trumpet the fact.
Or perhaps it’s just that we have a media here in Scotland which is lazy beyond belief.
A media that the PR firm knew would never look into the matter or write the story if they did.
Fortunately, the mainstream media aren’t the only people who cover the news here.