The Summer’s Little Farce Is Over. Now Can Celtic Fans Look Forward To Football?

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Last night and early this morning, we got the news most of us were expecting; the summer’s little dance over league reconstruction is almost at an end.

Clubs in the Championship will not support the proposal, and as there are considerable doubts about whether those in the top flight would agree to it we must assume that it’s now dead.

It should be. Not only should we kill this thing, but we should dry a stake through its heart to make sure that it stays that way. The last four weeks of this have been tiresome, and at the heart of them was a despicable fraud that this would help a single club except for that handful of them who would have automatically gained from it.

One of those clubs – Hearts – has spent the last eight weeks trying to pull Scottish football apart, or supporting those who would have. Any residue of sympathy I had left for them – not much to begin with, I freely admit – has evaporated over the course as ego and arrogance have run amuck.

Hearts are going to the Championship.

With their club’s lamentable leadership, it might be a long stay.

Last night, in my article on Sevco’s dysfunctional board, I wrote about the movie Margin Call, about a company and its directors who will do anything to survive as the financial crisis of 2008 looms. Their objective is purely to make it through a very long day, a day in which they have to clean a lot of toxic debt off their balance sheet by selling it to unwary customers.

That’s what the press and the SPFL have been trying to do with league reconstruction for the past couple of months.

This is an idea with precisely zero merit to it, being pitched at the wrong time and for all the wrong reasons.

The sight of Celtic joining in with this charade, in a bid to resurrect the colts proposal, was deeply disturbing and still makes me angry.

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In the 1951/52 season, SFA chairman George Graham tried to stop Celtic from flying the Irish tricolour flag over Celtic Park, leading to a bitter stand off between him and the club. Which Scottish club backed Graham over his stance?

Throughout every one of these lamentable efforts, this blog has been saying that no form of league reconstruction was going to pass. The media and the SPFL have been spinning a fiction, for no reason at all that I can see except perhaps in an effort to appease Hearts – who must have known that none of this was remotely likely.

I mean let’s be blunt; if Ann Budge really believed – and got her board to believe – that clubs were going to fall into line behind this stuff then the people running Hearts are thicker than mince and deserve everything they’re going to get.

That the media swallowed this is not surprising at all; although most sentient people would have been well aware that these proposals were never going to go through much of the commenteriat were positively salivating about some of them, and in particular the one that came out of Ibrox.

Not one of the hacks stopped to wonder how any of this was going to be sold to club chairmen who know more about how football works than any of us do.

I read with some amusement the ignorant prattling of Gordon Smith the other day, as he tried to sell himself as some kind of visionary who had offered a “solution” for league reconstruction a decade ago. Look at his proposal; it was a hodgepodge of ideas so old the copyright on them would have expired.

Clubs opposed it, he said, because it included the colt’s idea and lower league sides were afraid it would cost them publicity.

“Who’s talking about them just now?” Smith asked his colleague David Longmuir.

We can presume that wasn’t supposed to be taken back to said clubs as a point for debate.

Because that’s exactly the sort of sneering arrogance that lies at the heart of the colt’s proposal, and is exactly why that particular strand of thinking was a non-starter from the off.

Those of us who were opposed to it did not take the stand merely to be controversialists; I personally thought that league reconstruction to save Hearts was a tactic some were pursuing solely as a means of devaluing our title win.

The league positions have to be taken on the basis that the winners are honoured and the losers are punished … all these proposals would have done was make this into a season without losers, and that demeans those on the winning side as much as it gives the losers a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

For all that, many who didn’t support reconstruction might well have done so had there been the slightest visible benefit for the game as a whole.

We might even have supported it knowing that the only gains would be made from that handful of clubs who have something to lose from the status quo, but Ann Budge’s face in front of it made that impossible and then Sevco’s intervention put another nail in the coffin even as it was being lowered into the ground.

There let it lie.

All this did was distract people from the real issues and take focus away from where it belonged; how do clubs who rely on gate-money survive when there is nothing come through the gates?

How do clubs pay players when they have zero income?

Reconstruction would not have answered those questions.

Indeed, as I said last night, in a game where there are already too many professional clubs this latest – and hopefully last – proposal would have added two more … that’s how farcical all this was.

Time to give it a proper burial and move on from it.

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