In 2012, Celtic, my club, was facing the imposition of a brand new football entity in the SPL.
Some say Celtic were in favour of that. I don’t believe that’s the case.
The entity, which we call Sevco, started on the lowest professional rung in the game.
If the current pyramid system had existed, God knows where they would have started.
The reason Sevco didn’t reach the SPL, or the Championship, which was the fall-back position which Turnbull Hutton described as “corrupt” was based on two things; one was that the club themselves were opposed to any such venture.
But that was a corollary of the other thing; the fans told the clubs that they simply weren’t going to tolerate it.
This is the curious position you find yourselves in today.
But take heart from our victory in 2012, because that should be what inspires you to yours.
I understand that a lot of you have concerns about what your clubs did yesterday; it is perfectly right that you do.
It was a travesty.
It was a violation of the sanctity and the integrity of the sport.
They gave that up for a few shillings from a rich man’s table.
Celtic and the club across the city threw £25,000 at this; their initial offer, to clubs in the upper leagues, was over £1 million.
Not only were your clubs bought, they were bought cheap.
These clubs pay that to a single footballer in a week.
It’s a disgrace that your own sides accepted such a paltry sum for the purposes of permitting this sham.
Scottish football should be ashamed that it has tolerated this, that two clubs can buy their way into the lower league setup for a few measly quid.
They’ve opened a door that can never be closed; access to the league system for cold, hard cash and every club will eventually pay for what they have done.
Scottish football is a morality free zone, where everything from financial doping to debt dumping is permitted instead of frowned upon. Why not this as well?
The clubs have voted to approve this … but it still has to be ratified at the AGM of the league, and that, my friends, is your window of opportunity.
Between now and then is how long you have left to pressure your own clubs as we all pressured ours in 2012. Until that vote is cast in stone it is not official, and the only people who can now protect the integrity of the game are you.
And I’ll tell you this; I hope that you do it, because my own club is behind this and in proposing it and bribing your clubs to let this through, they have shamed themselves and betrayed the ethos that this institution is supposed to represent.
They can attempt all the justifications that they like about how this is only for one season, about how it will benefit Scottish football … it will benefit two clubs, ours and the one across the city, and not that much either.
Because with all due respect, your clubs are in one of the lowest tiers in the game and the idea that our young players will learn skills and technique playing blood and thunder football is ludicrous.
Not only have we sold out our principles for this but I don’t see any material benefit arising from it.
Which makes me wonder what this is really all about.
You need to think on that as well; what’s the real purpose of this one-year trial run?
Its transient nature is a warning that there’s something else lying not too far down the line and I don’t trust any of the people who have done this or their motivations in doing so, and neither should you and neither should the Lowland League.
Your club will try to kid you that there will be some magical gain for you from this; tell me what that is? Increased attention for your league? Really? Because of this Frankenstein’s monster of an experiment? This is a freak show.
Do you need its profile raised that much?
Cause if you don’t mind a freak show there are other ways to do it; you could change some regulations and turn it into Rollerball. You could have the referee bite the head of a chicken prior to kick off in every game.
Guys, this is not in the hands of the SFA or the SPFL or the Lowland League or any of the other august bodies, some of which have opposed this entirely.
SPFL clubs have refused to support his measure every time it has been proposed to them, and it is not too late for your clubs to do the same but the pressure’s going to have to come from below.
Which means it’s going to have to come from you.
But you can win; in fact, I know that not only can you win, but that you will win if you push this hard enough, if you express your disgust, if you hammer on the doors of your club and you demand that they reject this corrupt measure … because that’s what it is.
I bet you didn’t expect, when you started this season, that by the end of it someone might have put it in your hands to save Scottish football from itself.
Jeez, you want to see how I thought this season was going to go.
Man oh man, I’ll trade your surprise for mine any day.
But this is where we are, it’s where you are; with the responsibility of making sure this game retains its soul.
The media will not back you; they are firmly on the side of the so-called “big clubs” in this, although for me the “big clubs” here are the ones who’ve already rejected this.
Don’t look for support in the press, most of our hacks will not give it to you.
But we didn’t have it either, don’t forget, when we started out.
The media was screaming that the game needed a club called Rangers in the top flight.
Journalists insulted the “wee diddy teams” for daring to impose their will on that … and still they resisted, because their fans urged them to.
Don’t look for friends in high places; they are happy for this corruption to go ahead which is why people like me have been screaming at our clubs to clean out Hampden and reform this game with some honest people at the helm of it.
Although considering my club’s role in this it’s difficult to see where they have any moral authority in trying to do that any longer.
This is going to come down to you and people like you; some of them will be at other clubs and some of those clubs will be your rivals. That could not matter less. You have to come together and do what is right.
Your victory will be their victory and their victory yours.
It’s only going to take a couple of clubs to fold the hand and the rest will do it as well.
So believe in yourselves and believe you can win.
Stand up and be counted; this is your time.
Defend the integrity of the sport and put your own directors on notice that they can’t sign your club up for this sham without your permission any more than the directors at Liverpool and Arsenal and those Super League clubs can drag their fans into that.
This is not just for you, it’s for all of us … whether some people realise that or not.
The words “sporting integrity” are overused, but not at a time like this … and sporting integrity is what’s at stake here and its future is very much in your hands.
Use the power, and change the course of this thing.
Good luck to you friends.