There are a handful of journalists in this country upon who you can always rely.
One of them is Gary Ralston.
There is a consistency to his work that you can put the mortgage on.
Unfortunately, we are not talking about the highest of quality here.
If you want sophomoric writing, village idiot opinions and pro-Sevco spin he is the go-to-guy at The Record.
Above all, it is an endorsement of the Ibrox point of view, pushing like a hard drug every conspiracy theory in vogue over there, even those which have already been shot down by those at their very centre.
That is Ralston’s day job, no matter what his official contract of employment should say.
This man is a Sevco propagandist. And today he excelled himself.
Entitled “Rangers’ call for SPFL inquiry is the only way to restore trust after voting fiasco”, you already get the gist of it. Suddenly, the club that has lied, smeared, threatened and up the stakes of hate are the paragons of virtue here, and the guardians of trust.
You would laugh if this wasn’t such a serious moment for our national sport.
“The beautiful game has been reduced to an ugly caricature of a sport in which fair play is just another commodity to be bought and sold on a market of blatant self-interest,” he squeals early in the piece. You would think, to read that, that every club who had voted Yes were doing so for utterly selfish reasons whilst those who voted No did so with no agenda whatsoever … except that’s actually the reverse of what actually happened.
It is the clubs who voted no for whom self-serving motives are the most obvious.
And since when is it not representative of “fair play” to call the leagues after 30 games based on what has happened over the length of the campaign so far?
This is the weakest part of any argument against ending the season now; the “void” supporters would disenfranchise every club and every supporter in the land and do so under the cover of “sporting integrity.”
It is like a bad joke.
Does Ralston prefer – as some at his paper do – voiding the campaign?
He never says in this piece, but ending the season as-is and voiding it are the two options left when you conclude, as most reasonable people do, that there will be no more football until August.
“The corporate governance of the SPFL has been woeful, their arrogance and disdain for member clubs a shameful blight for an organisation that should exist for the many, not just the very chosen few,” Ralston writes.
But you know what? The way this voting saga has unfolded may give the impression of unprofessionalism, but the motion itself was right on.
It is “the many” who spoke loud and clear about wanting the campaign ended so that they could get their hands on much needed funds.
It was “the few” who tried to prevent that, foremost amongst them the club with the second biggest income in the league.
This was not a revolt of the little people, coming out swinging for fairness and justice … this was an attempted coup led by those in the officer corps, at the very heart of the Scottish football power structure.
The vote had the overwhelming support of the clubs.
Ralston is not singing their praises but crying the blues for a cabal which was defeated in a shame-faced effort to derail the wishes of the rest for their own ends. Sevco is the guiltiest of all of them in that regard, with nothing left to play for and doing what they did out of spite and anti-Celtic sentiment.
“(Events) around the vote last Friday night that gave Nelms his release clause to shaft Inverness and Partick Thistle deserve more than just a glib line in an official statement,” the piece says.
But if he wants to talk about being shafted, how about the way Inverness has released private communications in an effort to shame Dundee and promote the idea of a conspiracy? Someone on that chat has also released transcripts to several Ibrox fan sites.
I believe that might well be the most disgraceful act in all of this.
And it’s now that Ralston’s strains against his strait jacket with his first stab on behalf of the Ibrox club, targeted against the SPFL CEO.
“The SPFL say they will launch an in house enquiry, but it’s too important an issue for transparency and supporter confidence to allow chairman Murdoch MacLennan, whose impartiality has already been questioned by (Sevco), to mark his own homework.”
Let’s imagine for a second that MacLennan said what he’s alleged to have said once upon a time; I’m still not sure why Sevco wants to bring that up now. Because this motion had the sum total of nothing to do with the Ibrox club. To read Ralston you’d think this was all done to shaft them, when in fact this was a vote on much bigger issues.
Sevco did propose their own counter-motion, but when the club’s own opening statement on it freely admits that they knew it lacked competence why are we even still debating it? To my eyes, they quite blatantly manufactured a controversy when it looked, initially, as if the SPFL proposals would pass at the first go and they have been stoking it ever since.
“The decision of chief executive Neil Doncaster – he really is the Teflon Don – to be party to a call to sanction the result of the ballot before all votes had even been received appears a sinister manipulation,” Ralston adds.
I don’t know a single person who does not think Doncaster is a prize idiot.
But for a national title to dredge a paranoiacs phrase like that up from the basement of the fan forums of Sevconia is ridiculous.
It’s an allegation without a shred of proof … “sinister manipulation” for God’s sake? He sounds like one of the nuttier writers over at Ibrox Noise Up.
This is his second to last paragraph, and it sums up the general stupidity of the whole piece.
“An independent investigation is a must to restore fan confidence but unless other clubs, particularly Hibs and Aberdeen, decide there are concerns to address then the next football crisis is just around the corner.”
And right there is the central thrust of it; this is really all about one club and their concerns and those concerns have nothing to do with the greater good of the game. I have yet to hear a single official at a single club support the idea of voiding the campaign, and most clubs are perfectly happy with the way the vote went. For Sevco to get even a minor victory here they need allies, but their behaviour over the last week has repelled many clubs.
Chris Sutton summed it up with a late Tweet;
“Democratic vote… overwhelming result… frustration must really be the wheels came off after the winter break… but blame everyone and everything else…”
It is easier to get the word out if you have a pet hack to do your bidding. We might not be impressed by Ralston’s scribblings, but I am betting the PR department at Ibrox, who are floundering right now like a drowning man in stormy seas, are happy enough.
Celtic should be taking note of all this, and I’m sure we are. We aren’t named directly as conspirators trying to do Scottish football harm but you don’t need codebreakers from Bletchley Park to work this out. It is the subtext to the whole piece and to numerous other articles I’ve read in the past few days … as if this whole thing were confected for our benefit.
Sevco is desperate right now, so we can assume that the PR war over all this is just getting started.
We had better be watchful, every single step of the way, and ready to correct every false narrative.
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