Last night, I snagged a copy of Glasgow’s famous crime periodical The Digger because Peter Lawwell was on the front cover.
The story this latest issue recounted was of how our biggest national tabloid has been keeping the truth about the fire at his house under wraps; The Digger claims it was the work of heavy duty organised criminals extorting cash from football.
The publication – which gets far more right than it gets wrong – also claims that a top Scottish football boss is in fear of these people and was partly responsible for getting the story spiked.
That has the ring of truth to it and no mistake. The whole story is profoundly shocking, linking the attack on Lawwell to incidents at the homes of Leigh Griffiths and Allan McGregor.
These incidents, you’ll recall, were more often than not blamed on football fans.
We live in a horrible wee place where this is the primary assumption and something a lot of people believe.
There have been numerous incidents in the recent history of the Scottish game which bear the signature of the professional villain … such as the torching of Ibrox’s team bus some years back which McCoist darkly hinted was the responsibility of our fans but which this website, correctly, predicted was something far more sophisticated and would never result in an arrest.
It is not a secret that organised criminal activity has buzzed around our game for years and only a mug would dispute it.
One of the things this website warns of time and time again is the way the SFA has left the door open for these people in any number of ways, from the lax licensing, lack of independent scrutineering, dreadful fit and proper person tests and no financial fair play.
There are also issues with refs and the way the system of not questioning their decisions or holding them accountable for their “honest mistakes” leaves us vulnerable to match-fixing.
Indeed, The Digger says that serious organised crime gangs are involved in trying to fix Scottish football matches and that this is one of the things that clubs have tried to warn young players about, and whilst none of the tabloids has written this, The Times of London actually has. They broke the story, linking the attack on our CEO to gangsters.
The Digger has simply sought, and got, independent verification of that … and the news that the dailies have spiked it.
But the Times of London appeared to suggest that the governing body had finally got serious about this, and that it was Peter Lawwell himself who acted as the SFA “point man” with the young players, and has played a key role in trying to steer them clear of the shadowy figures who have been trying to push into their lives.
I have no reason whatsoever to doubt that; it’s exactly the kind of thing our CEO would get involved in, for the benefit of the game as a whole, and whilst I think he has been grossly lax in pushing for the kind of reforms that could assure serious gangsters couldn’t’ get a toe-hold into clubs, I absolutely do believe he has tried to council young players and paid for it.
There are criticisms you can level at this guy, but it’s clear that he has taken many courageous stances on behalf of our game behind the scenes.
What’s happened to him here is beyond dreadful and our national media is doing the game no favours if it’s really sitting on the story. Lawwell should be hailed for this, and in doing that the press should be casting a light on the people responsible.
He has been brave. What the Hell are they supposed to be?
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