The game in this country is in dire, dire trouble today. The self-congratulatory tone of the SPFL’s statement yesterday in no way hides that what happened was a disaster for football governance in Scotland. We are effectively lawless.
Every club in the country bears some responsibility for this. They continue to allow weak leadership – more on that later – and they have waited too long to get real about reform.
There is a streak of selfishness a mile wide in most of them, and a short-sightedness which is almost beyond belief. We saw that this week with St Mirren’s board bending to the demands of its fans in excluding paying customers from coming through the gates, thus weakening the club. Only in this little parochial hell-hole would such a thing take place.
Clubs know that the game’s governance is a joke. They understand that our television deal is pathetic, that our league sponsorship contract is pitifully small and they look to countries beyond our borders and see them pulling in far bigger money than we get. They know that’s in no small part because of the poor quality of our administrators.
But not a single one of them is capable of leading a push for change. Not a single one of them possess an iota of ambition or imagination beyond what we have now. In the absence of that there are only two clubs in the game capable of taking a front position and pushing for major changes … one of them is at Ibrox, and they will never do anything for the benefit of the sport, preferring to act out of selfishness and spite. The other club capable of doing it is us.
We do care about the greater good of the game, and we’ve proved it numerous times down through the years. Yet we have never taken leadership seriously, and when you are content for others to assume that role you better hope they can and will, and we knew a long time ago that those who run the game today are incapable of that.
We could do something about that if we chose to. We could propose a series of reforms and changes and be sure of getting support from others. We could take the lead. Instead we’ve chosen to sit and observe as the game comes apart at the seams.
We cannot pretend that this is anything other than a conscious decision. Sitting on your hands is a conscious decision, just as getting involved is.
Letting this happen is a choice, and like any choice it has consequences. It means that this mess is in no small part down to our failure to act. We are the strongest club in the game, with an impeccable moral case for leading a drive towards the betterment of the sport here, and instead of doing that we prop up this discredited system.
The SFA and the SPFL are organisations pitifully hamstrung by their own lack of ambition and grotesque failures of imagination. They are hamstrung by the abysmal quality of those we have entrusted to run them. Leaving these people in post is just one part of the problem, but it’s a substantial part of it. There are smart people out there who are capable of taking our game forward in a big way … we prefer small men of limited talents instead.
Celtic suffers for this. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. The dreadful executives at Hampden are the reason Scottish football cannot get value for its product … and that impacts on us, and keeps us in European football’s slow lane.
I cannot fathom why we are content to allow that.
This is the very worst possible time, too, to have a completely un-engaged CEO. His lack of profile means that we have a lack of profile and in strict terms that translates into a loss of political muscle. Our club, of course, was passive and silent before he was in the job, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on him over this … still, his lack of visibility is clearly not helpful at a time like this.
I have long wondered if perhaps one of the reasons the SPFL has not gone out and hired a real professional to do this stuff is that someone like that would shake up the whole game, that they might refuse to go along with some of the more corrupt little “understandings” which we live with as a matter of course. That they might not endorse the lies.
In the meantime, we are where are.
Which means, tonight, that we have the SPFL in the crosshairs of a bus salesman and his Ibrox board of charlatans, demanding apologies and all manner of other nonsense as befits the most self-entitled people in the world.
The damage this does to the reputation of our league is enormous.
Future sponsors will look at it in utter disbelief and think twice.
But let’s be clear, it is the SPFL’s own spineless response to Ibrox’s continual foot stamping that has brought us to this sorry pass.
And more and more the question needs to be asked of everyone connected with our club; why does our board allow this farce to go on?
Why aren’t we leading reform? Why aren’t we pushing to have the likes of Doncaster replaced by someone better, and there have to be a million and one better people out there, none of them tainted by the past ten years of disgrace.
More and more, I find myself asking what our supporters organisations are doing about all of this, and why they aren’t pushing the board to action. Are there any leaders amongst them, or simply a bunch of old men content with their comp tickets and the occasional pat on the head from those in the director’s box?
Scottish football governance is a joke and it’s a joke in part because this club of ours, which is the biggest in the country, allows it to be run that way … and so maybe then the question belongs to us and not so much to them.
Why do we allow Celtic to be run this way?
Solve that problem, and maybe we’ve got a shot at sorting the rest of it out.
Roll up your trouser leg and put yourself in the shoes of one of our “esteemed” officials for a day … take our quiz on You Are The Ref, and find out how well you understand the famous Lanarkshire rulebook …