And so it ends as we always said it would, with the SFA panel rejecting the Hearts and Thistle case, based, as it was from the start, on a fantasist’s view of football on this island.
Nothing that has come to pass over the course of these events will have surprised anyone who carried out the rudimentary task of checking the rulebook and what was in there.
Only the moon howlers of Sevconia and a handful of willing fools in the media ever believed this would end as they hoped it would; not with Hearts and Thistle being saved – they didn’t care about that – but with a null and void league and Scottish football’s descent into chaos and civil war.
They seem to believe that in those ashes there was some benefit to Ibrox.
This has been one of the remarkable periods in the recent history of our game.
Even whilst it was all unfolding, even as we were shocked and appalled by it, it was often hard to believe that it was really happening. Sevco’s behaviour was so self-serving and their agenda so blatant that you marvelled that nobody called them out on it, even accounting for our awful media.
Their role in this was truly lamentable. They cheerlead both Thistle and Hearts into what they had to know was an unwinnable fight, because those clubs were never the priority to begin with. I actually laughed, at times, reading some of the more bitter hacks – Ralston foremost amongst them, but a special mention must go to his pal Jackson too – as they tried to present this is a fight for justice against an “undemocratic regime.”
The truth was, the clubs had voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the league campaign.
Almost everyone took a hit from these events; nobody walked away smiling and happy at the end of it all.
Many clubs felt angry or frustrated.
When it came down to it, the media was only promoting one cause; the one at Ibrox, which had sod all to do with unfairness or injustice. They were hell bent on preventing off the field what they had proven unable to stop on it.
On top of that, it was a settling of scores, a purging of grievances scooped from the floor of their most rabid fan forum.
It was the pursuit of vendettas based on conspiracy theories and discredited nonsense. It was an attempted coup, who’s ultimate aim was to place people at the top of the sport who would have pursued the agenda of one club and one club only.
At the height of it, The Daily Record tried to paint Sevco as the potential saviours of Scottish football, as a club with the best interests of the game at heart. It is an idea so incredible and distended from the real world that the only adequate response to it is open mockery and scorn.
They weren’t the only outlet to act like this. The BBC’s coverage of the dodgy dossier, and in particular the comments of Tom English, brought disrepute to an organisation people once took seriously.
Their coverage on the night that pitiful document was finally published for all to see took sycophancy to new lows. It really was quite disgraceful how they stooped to find some shred in that mish-mash of half-truths, inventions and paranoid garbage that would support all the hype that had gone with it. Although we never got Celtic’s official take on it, nobody disbelieves stories that Lawwell’s reaction to it was to label it “embarrassing” at the SPFL meeting.
Because it truly was, but more embarrassing where those who tried to prop it up.
Perhaps the media’s real sin here, though, was their beating of the drum for Hearts and Thistle and the open encouragement that these clubs should seek recourse through the courts, which everyone involved must have known violated the SFA charter and would only result in defeat, humiliation, great expense and, eventually, punishment.
Right from the start, this blog and others pointed out that what the SPFL had done was entirely in keeping with the rules.
Their own internal inquiry into the Dundee vote and other events surrounding it was scorned by a media who either didn’t understand or didn’t care that the only people that inquiry was designed to satisfy were the SPFL’s own legal team … who pronounced themselves perfectly happy and said that the organisation was on solid ground.
Once they’d done that, Hearts and Thistle didn’t stand a chance.
There was never any real doubt that this dispute would be won by the league body.
I cannot stress enough that they scrupulously followed the rules as they were written down. They didn’t even require a vote of the clubs, but to play it as straight as they could not only did they seek that mandate but they insisted it be done by a supermajority, which they were able to secure.
The media chose to ignore that and attack the men at the top of the house, with Doncaster in particular given a roasting on the word of the Ibrox smear machine.
Had Doncaster decided to sue, and he had good grounds to, The Sunday Mail would probably not be able to re-employ Hugh Keevins, a retrograde step, announced at the weekend, which confirms that this is a media organisation which doesn’t deserve to survive.
Imagine being a young journalist told you’re losing your job, just to hear that news?
Keevins himself predicted that the move would be attacked on account of his age.
No, Hugh, it’s being attacked because the idea that you are a journalist is a gross insult to every person who ever worked hard in the profession and who earned it the reputation it once enjoyed as one of the single most important outside of those dedicated to keeping people alive.
It insults everyone with an interest in seeing journalism thrive. It is a particularly grievous crime against that paper’s handful of remaining readers. Those running it clearly view that dwindling number with utter contempt, or else the editors are out of their minds.
The amazing thing to me is that Neil Doncaster appears to have won a resounding victory here, simply by doing what his job description said that he should, and probably for the first time in our collective memories. That is the true measure of what our media has wrought.
Tonight, a guy who not one football fan believes should remain in post, a guy who has been out of his depth since the hour he took the job, a guy you wouldn’t hire to promote a car boot sale, is strolling through the landscape of Scottish football like a swaggering conqueror, talking about being vindicated and nobody can offer up any coherent argument to the contrary.
I cannot think of a greater indictment of our press than that they have made Neil Doncaster look good these past few months, and right now he is pretty near untouchable although he remains what he has always been; a hapless joker, a drag on the whole of the sport.
In pursuing a vendetta on behalf of Ibrox, the last remaining shred of credibility has been stripped some of these people forevermore.
The likes of English, Ralston and Jackson.
In doing so, and in keeping with the standards we’ve come to expect at that club, they have actually weakened what they fought for and strengthened what they were up against.
That is pretty remarkable.
It is the ultimate measure of their failure.
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