To My Fellow Directors
I have just received the submission from Scotland to go towards our joint statement, and I’ll be honest with you; it has left me somewhat confused and more than a little troubled.
There are several things in here which don’t make a whole lot of sense, and I’d like to suggest that we come together and ask that our counterparts in Glasgow take another look at what they’ve given us.
I certainly do not think that it can be released, in joint form, in anything like its current state; if it was to be put into the public domain as it stands we would have to publicly distance ourselves from it.
I feel that if we tell them this they will be receptive to the changes that I will outline below.
Now, I have included their statement in the attached PDF.
I suggest you all read their submission before looking at the issues that cause me most concern.
I am sure you’ll be broadly supportive of what is in here.
My comments will now be listed.
This is not an exhaustive list of my concerns. Hopefully, by expressing our reservations over these sections they will look over the statement as a whole, and some of the other issues will be resolved.
Here goes then;
References to Catholics at UEFA are bizarre, and I fail to see what relevance this has to the issues at hand. I have no idea why there are three separate mentions of this in their statement and I certainly have no intention of allowing those sections to appear in anything we release with our name on it.
There are several mentions of Catholics in the section on the city of Seville, and the line about how the stadium is run by people “of a Popish mind-set” is more than a little disturbing. Seville is a Catholic city in a Catholic country; this much is true. The suggestion that “the game would have gone off without a hitch had it been played in East Belfast” is difficult to comprehend soberly. I wonder if it was written by a drunk.
Who is Neil Doncaster, and why is there an entire section devoted to his behaviour during the summer of 2020? The suggestion seems to be that he has friends at UEFA and that they somehow form part of a … conspiracy? That’s the only word I can think of here, but surely nobody in Glasgow is alleging that?
References to fans lying on bathroom floors and fellow supporters having to save their lives is the worst sort of dangerous hyperbole and needs to be toned down at the very least. There were some issues, for sure, but the idea that “tens of thousands of fans were at risk of death” is clearly not a claim we want to be associated with. The line about how they rejected a plan by the stadium authorities to “pump holy water through the system” is surely intended to be humorous, but if it is then I fail to see the funny side of the joke.
The line about how the water crisis stopped their fans from singing “in a way that surely influenced the result” made me laugh out loud, but I suspect that it is intended to be serious. I think we should point out that this is not a suitable claim for a joint statement.
The suggestion that we claim our victory was a “greater European football success than any German club achieved prior to 1992 and the formation of the Champions League Groups” is more than a little strange. I think our friends in Munich, with three consecutive successes in that competition from 1974-1976 would disagree, and Hamburg would wish to vigorously defend their own triumph in 1983. I struggle to understand why they would want us to put this on the record, or why they would “wholeheartedly agree” with it.
Their demand to know if a journalist called Graham Spiers was at the final makes no sense and I certainly don’t think we should be holding an inquest into how he got a ticket if he was. I also find the line about how “Peter Lawwell picked the referee” to be another poor attempt at humour; do they understand how bad it would look for both clubs if we allowed these numerous asides to be included in a joint statement?
The suggestion that we should both be prepared to ask UEFA if it would be feasible to replay the game is certainly amusing; I would argue that their contention that “both sets of fans deserve the spectacle they paid for, without any of these problems” is obviously designed to sound egalitarian but is more or less self-serving.
Lastly, and this is a general observation; their “suggestion” that we limit the distribution of our joint statement to what they refer to as their “official media partners” is highly unorthodox; they sent me a list of these “partners” and they seem of astonishingly low quality. The BBC was to be specifically excluded as was “any outlet which employs Chris Sutton”, which just sums up how bizarre their whole submission was.
I spoke to one close friend in Scottish football, and he told me that the Ibrox board has a history of releasing strange press statements and that their previous “dossiers” have been strange and filled with similar claims and wild leaps of logic as they have sent us today. “Moon-howlers” is how he described them, which did make me laugh.
Overall, I am concerned about how some of this will play to the wider European football audience; we want action here, not derision. I hereby suggest that we agree to ask for these changes and ask that the club remove any references to things which have no relevance to the issues at hand, and further that they tone down some of their more lurid claims.
I suggest we do this poste-haste.
The Champions League Final has shown that this is not the only game where there were issues, and as there is likely to be a UEFA investigation into what happened in Paris it would be a good time to insist on one for Seville.
Get back to me by close of business today?