Ewan Murray writes for The Guardian. Which convinces me that he has more than a spark of intelligence.
He is also a Hearts fan, and in recent months has become hopelessly partisan to a degree which is almost embarrassing.
To read his columns on the SPFL lately is like reading a slavering Record hack dribbling anti-Sevco conspiracy theories all over his computer.
Murray is pissed off, as a lot of Hearts fans are, because his club is in a perilous position.
He lashes out at other club’s fans, at the governing bodies, at anyone really within reach. Today on Twitter he has had a min-detonation by alleging that Hearts and Thistle have been “wrongly thrown out” of their respective divisions, as if a glaring injustice has been done.
The trouble is, as this site and others have continuously pointed out, it is simply not true. Hearts won as many games in the SPFL this season as Celtic dropped points on; an absurdly low number, in other words, considering the rigours of a thirty match campaign.
The number is four … four wins in thirty league games. It’s relegation fodder.
Nothing would have saved Hearts from their deserved fate.
I see no evidence that anything would have saved Thistle either, a team in freefall who were only going to stop falling when they hit rock bottom. Major changes were required at both clubs … their respective boards are using this as a Get Out Of Jail Free card to avoid scrutiny.
Murray is in a good position to provide some of that scrutiny.
He is a writer at a major national title, and one with some credibility left.
He could be asking the tough questions this board of directors richly deserves both for the way the season went and for how they handled the aftermath. At times it was as if Ann Budge went out of her way to alienate the very people she needed if she was ever to deliver on league reconstruction … she gave a crash-course in bad management.
Instead of taking a swing at anyone who points out that Hearts are getting what they deserve, he should be looking, instead, at the swirling problems within the walls at Tynecastle, problems which are not the fault of the SPFL or the clubs that make it up or the supporters of other teams.
Instead of posing rhetorical questions and indulging in Whataboutery he ought to be using his position to act on behalf of his fellow supporters by putting the pressure where it belongs.
Last night, when Radio Clyde wrongly reported that the virtual season tickets would not include games which were being shown live on Sky, this blog laid out the specific promises the club had made to its supporters on that matter.
Had Clyde had that right – I didn’t believe they did and of course they had blown it big time – I would have been excoriating in my verdict on Celtic and those in it.
I said at the end of the piece that if it turned out to be true people should lose their jobs over it.
Murray mistakes us sometimes for a whole other set of supporters, those who believe every word that comes out of their own club and never subjects those running it to the slightest scrutiny. His snark today about how we’d have been singing a different song had our own club suffered because the season was brought to an early close would certainly apply across the city … but as long as the rules were followed and it was demonstrably impossible for games to continue, we’d have swallowed it however reluctantly and however bad a taste it left.
Celtic fans were not burning witches in 2012 and since; this blog and others are concerned with only one thing when it comes to football governance … are the rules being followed? Our support for Neil Doncaster and his board over this saga was not unconditional; indeed, if Murray wants to check the archives I said right from the first that if the SPFL behaved in a way that contravened its own regulations I would not support it.
In 2012 the SPL were preparing to do exactly that.
The SFA invented new rules on the spot.
This is why we were angry and why we remain angry.
What happened here was in the regulations and the end result is broadly consistent with those regulations.
As I said yesterday, it’s not even clear where the SPFL board required the vote of the clubs to take the action they did … they sought it anyway, and then bound themselves to requiring a supermajority.
Whatever else I think of the pen-pushers up there – and I reckon that most of them, Doncaster included, are as useless as a chocolate teapot – on this one they went by the book and delivered the best, indeed the only, responsible outcome.
And I’ll tell you how you can tell how fair it was; Hearts and Thistle put the very idea of legal action on hold until after they had pursued every avenue of league reconstruction.
See, they don’t disagree with the vote or the principle of ending the season early, only that it had consequences for them. The narrative they are feeding, and which some in the media have accepted, is so dishonest it’s incredible.
Nobody was “thrown out of the league.” The clubs voted to end the season early, not to disenfranchise anybody. The end of the seasons means that things are decided on as “as you were” basis … but even then the league still tried to do it in a way that would be fair. I didn’t agree with “average points” because to me the standings should have been taken as they were when the season ended, but I do accept now that it’s a fair method for sorting things out.
It did not save Hearts or Thistle, and that’s perhaps because their own form had been so rotten for the whole of the campaign that nothing would have.
Instead of bitching about the nasty people at the leagues and the selfish people running the clubs and the fans who he thinks at sneering at Hearts, Murray should be directing his fury and frustration at those who earned it; those running the club he supports because that’s where the real culprits are to be found.
Their grotesque mismanagement are why the Championship looms and their incredible and destructive decision to take this to the courts is why the consequences are going to be even more severe with a Scottish Cup ban perhaps in the offing next.
Who’s he going to blame for that, I wonder?
As Scottish football goes through the current crisis it is important to keep up with developments and the key issues. We are determined to do so, and to keep you informed as well. Please subscribe to the blog.