An article which appears today in the so-called Rangers Review, the sister publication of the discredited Celtic Way, and which is written by the editor of both, Jonny McFarlane, an ex-Ibrox blogger, repeats various claims that Ibrox is on the brink of withdrawing from the Australian event.
Or at least, that’s the headline claim of the story.
Dig a little deeper, and the whole thing is full of speculation, guesswork and the Ibrox fan-base’s usual denial of reality. There are a number of claims in that piece which don’t stand up to scrutiny and there’s at least one based on a fundamental misunderstanding.
First, this article does little more than repeat Jim White’s assertion that he has “intelligence” which suggests that the Ibrox club is pulling out. It’s been days since he made that claim and in the meantime the club has launched a major attack on its own fans … certainly not the sort of thing that they would have done if they were halfway to getting out of this thing.
Secondly, he claims that there are “issues” over the use of the “Old Firm” trademark, but he doesn’t elaborate which is odd as I’m sure he knows what they are.
The fact is, the phrase has been used on early promotional material, and if Celtic have now stepped up and told the organisers that they don’t endorse its use then that’s a straightforward legal block on it which they have no choice but to accept.
Celtic has always claimed that we registered the trademark so that it could not be used. As I pointed out last week, the phrase is being used on some of the early promotional materials. If Celtic are demanding to know why and if we’re using now what is, in effect, a veto on the term then that’s all to the good, and the other parties are just going to have accept it.
They can make an “issue” out of it all they like, but if Celtic stand firm then that’s it. Reading the article, McFarlane is obviously dancing around it; let’s not do the same. It sounds as if Celtic has now imposed its will on this matter, and there’s simply nothing that either Ibrox or the organisers can do to change the legal situation.
What’s more, the organisers must have known that referring to it as an “Old Firm game” was simply not going to fly, as Celtic would have made their position clear.
So McFarlane has actually brought us some good news there … which sort of harms the central thrust of his argument that all these behind the scenes machinations which help his club if it decides to withdraw from the tour.
But none of it will.
He claims that Ibrox’s refusal to advertise the availability of tickets suggests that his club is considering pulling the plug. Again, this is simply not the case. There is a lot of chatter on their fan forums about people who have already purchased their tickets for the game, so even if their club isn’t going to advertise them, there’s no hint that the game is not going ahead because if there was they’d be telling their fans to hold off.
He has suggested that Celtic jumped the gun and announced this early; Celtic, actually, did no such thing.
It was, in fact, Australian journalists who announced it before the organisers wanted to put the word out, and the Scottish media followed suit … Celtic only confirmed stories which were already in the public domain, with most of the details known.
It is clear that we had a PR campaign ready to go … but the only thing that changed about it was the timing.
The PR campaign itself was clearly already laid out … so to suggest that we did some rush job to brand this in our own terms is, to put it as bluntly as possible, pure bullshit.
We didn’t brand it the “Ange homecoming tour.”
Once again, that was the Australian media and the reason they did it is that that’s how it’s seen over there.
This was not an invention of Celtic’s; watch the press coverage of the event, the interviews between their media and our manager. They all represent it as an event centred around him.
McFarlane claims talks on an “Australian fixture” have been ongoing since 2019, so this can’t possibly be an Ange Postecoglou centred event. He’s wrong on both counts.
There have been discussions about playing a friendly abroad since before that, with talk of America and other places.
The reason that we’re finally going ahead with it is that making it about Ange makes it more palatable to the fans.
There’s a reason it hasn’t been done before now.
His assertion that the security apparatus needed in Glasgow for one of these fixtures will need to be replicated in Sydney is simply ridiculous.
Ex-pat fans over there don’t have any of the baggage that swirls around this fixture; there are going to be family sections and everything.
If there is a heavy travelling support from abroad they will be taking their chances if they cause any serious trouble; Hell mend them if they get the idea that the Aussie police will be a soft touch.
This is being marketed as a friendly.
The further away from the announcement we’ve gotten the more obvious it becomes that Celtic see this is a low-key event, something to make a little money and promote the manager and the club to the Australian public.
We’ll turn this into a publicity tour with some football thrown in … if their club starts World War 3 over it then so be it, but I’m more and more coming to the view that we would not share the disgrace.
McFarlane proposes three possibilities for how this ends; two of them are fanciful rubbish and another is so vague as to render it ridiculous.
We’ll start with that one, the first one.
“Come to an agreement to make the tournament work for all parties.”
What exactly is that supposed to mean?
There are three sides to this; two of them are perfectly happy with the current arrangements save for the term “Old Firm” which Celtic, clearly, will not permit to be used in any widespread publicity campaign.
So what he really means is that the organisers and Celtic should pander to their own prejudices and demented demands.
Which is simply not going to happen.
This tournament will certainly go ahead largely as it is being promoted right now.
Does this joker expect the Australian public not to fete a national hero?
Does he expect the media over there to promote this as something other than an event with Ange at the centre of it?
No, that’s a preposterous suggestion and he is an idiot to hope for it.
The second of his three “possible outcomes” is delusional, wishful thinking and he appears to think that it’s the most likely.
“Split from the agreement mutually and walk away.”
On what planet do you have to live to think that the organisers of this are going to simply walk away from the table, when they are pushing this hard, when they see this as a showpiece, when they have invested time and money in it … and when all the parties agreed their roles in it many, many weeks or even months ago?
Just because one of them is now swithering as a result of domestic pressure?
That’s Ibrox’s problem, not that of the organisers or Celtic.
More likely than that, by far, is that Ibrox would have to pay the break clause and then they’d be allowed to go … but on no account would they be allowed to simply do so for free.
In some ways, his third possible outcome is even more deranged than the second, although it is far more likely in one sense than everyone walking away with no hard feelings.
“Both parties begin legal action.”
The organisers of the event will certainly commence legal action in the event that Ibrox tries to walk away from the table without an agreement, and without sanctions.
Those break penalties in the contract would kick in immediately.
It’s just not clear what Ibrox’s grounds for refusing to pay would be.
What legal basis would they have on which to refuse?
What possible avenue could they explore for “legal action” when they are the ones who are walking away from a signed contract, where nothing has changed about the arrangements except that they simply don’t feel like honouring it any longer?
Yet McFarlane, with a typical Ibrox bloated sense of importance, actually thinks that the prospect of bad publicity could prevent the organisers – who include the local state government – from insisting on enforcing the deal one way or the other.
“This third option would surely be strenuous and difficult for all concerned and potentially counter-productive for the organisers of the event,” he writes, which is true as far as it goes, but it only goes up to the word ‘counterproductive.’
How can it be “counterproductive” to insist that a signed deal is honoured?
If Ibrox walks away the whole thing collapses anyway, so how is it counterproductive for them to take remedial action in that event?
Does he really believe this lunacy?
The next bit is even more batshit.
“Given the New South Wales Government’s reason to create the tournament in the first place is to boost tourism, there may be a lack of appetite for such a dramatic choice, especially when any action could threaten the public purse.”
So in order to protect tourism and the public purse the New South Wales government will let a party to an event such as this walk away … damaging the whole concept, thus affecting those very things?
Is this for real, or some kind of Ibrox satire which we’re just struggling to understand.
How does it help tourism or the public purse to send a message that signed contracts and commercial deals can be circumvented and even breached entirely in New South Wales without there being any sanction at all?
This is my favourite bit of his article; the height of the deluded mess he’s got himself into.
“It’s also been little reported that the Sydney Super Cup is a bi-annual event that will take place again in 2024 with undecided teams. How would the sight of the organisers becoming embroiled in a complex legal dispute with a top European club look ahead of their ambitious plans for the future?”
The organisers won’t give a shit.
This reflects badly on Ibrox, not on them, and it’s actually in their interests to enforce the contract even if that means going to court because if they intend to hold this event bi-annually they need to make it clear that once teams accept the invitation that there will be sanctions unless they actually attend.
There’s nothing “complex” about the legal side of this either.
It’s one party trying to back out of a signed deal for no reason.
The idea that this is complicated is as stupid as the notion that the Ibrox side is a “top European club.”
“All this seems to bode well for Rangers’ chances to extricate themselves from this mess sooner rather than later …” he says in the next to last paragraph.
Honestly, the more you study these Peepul and the things that go through their heads the more you wonder why we allow them to pollute the genepool. Their reality is not our reality.
They live on the margins of it, believing in fantasy and fiction.
I will repeat what I’ve been saying for the last couple of weeks; Ibrox may bite and scratch and claw, but they will not walk away from this event, because they need the money and they know the immense harm doing so would inflict on them.
James Bisgrove himself said that they don’t normally get invited to these sort of events.
He knows full well that if he and his club don’t fulfil the contract that unravelling the mess will be difficult enough but that it will be decades before they ever get an invite like this again.
Anyone working in their commercial department knows that it would be rank insanity to leave millions on the table and then have to find millions more to pay off the organisers. With reputational damage on top of that – the impact of which could be far worse than the financial consequences – it’s a total non-starter.
If they do pull out of this, then they deserve everything they get for giving too much power away to the lunatic element of their support.
That club is doing everything it possibly can to harm itself at the moment, but something like this would be a shocker even by their standards.
If McFarlane really does believe otherwise, he’s not playing with a full deck.