Today the media is reporting another firebomb attack up in the Bothwell area; it’s one of a string of them that has taken place in the last couple of years. One of the victims was our former CEO Peter Lawwell.
I have written a couple of times about the motives behind that attack.
The latest article in the media, like most of the others, does not mention those at all.
The article this time around is about a luxury car that was destroyed, and it almost paints these incidents as though they were random. But although one or two might be mistaken identity errors there is nothing random about them whatsoever.
These are targeted. They are directed, and probably by the same individual or organisation.
There is a central thread which links them.
That is what the press won’t discuss.
The long and short of it is that these are gangland related attacks.
Lawwell stumbled into their netherworld because the SFA needed someone to offer advice to young players on how to stay out of the clutches of these people. He went where others feared to go, and knowing Peter he probably butted heads with some very nasty individuals.
He is not the sort of man who would back down, and that might appear reckless.
I prefer to call it brave.
It resulted in a target being painted on his back.
If people wonder why Lawwell so readily stepped back from Celtic last season, I can tell you that results on the pitch and the failure of the Lennon experiment were only part of it.
I cannot say enough times that this guy put his neck on the line for the benefit of other people, and he has paid a huge price for it.
The credit he deserves for that is more than he’ll ever get.
Frankly, the guy should get a medal.
That he won’t is nothing to do with bias, it’s to do with fear.
There are people in the press corps who know what these attacks are motivated by and perhaps even who is behind them; whereas Peter was not afraid to tackle them, too many others are.
There are people out there who are working to bring this stuff into the light.
One of them, and I cannot praise the guy highly enough, is the Tory MSP Russell Findlay, a former journalist who has written several huge exposes on organised crime in Scotland, including some best-selling books.
He was the victim of an acid attack on his own doorstep, as a direct result of his coverage.
He is an exceptionally courageous individual and is something of an expert on these matters.
He wrote an outstanding article for The Times last year after a councillor was driven from his home by gangsters, utilising firebomb tactics amongst other methods of intimidation.
He was one of the first people to formally link the Lawwell attack to organised crime.
He said that organised crime’s involvement on the periphery of Scottish football – including the involvement of gangsters in the agent’s business – has been an “open secret for years.”
He has tried hard to make this a point of debate … but it’s one no-one wants to have.
I have written on this site for a long time now that there are dangerous people hovering around our sport, and that current SFA regulations, especially on refereeing and fit and proper person tests, make it almost inevitable that gangland elements will eventually come to play a huge role in our sport. The barbarians are at the gates.
The SFA would roll the red carpet out for them.
Few people properly appreciate, for example, how the SFA’s change to the rules about debt dumping would allow these people to take positions at Scottish clubs, loot them and then throw them aside like rubbish, only to re-acquire the assets on the cheap via proxies, maintaining their league memberships and all, and taking only an initial 15-point hit.
They could, in theory, do the same thing over and over again at a club, taking increasingly larger points penalties, but never actually being brought to book.
Our failure to properly scrutinise refereeing, or hold officials accountable for mistakes, or ask them to make declarations about their personal lives, all based on some code of honour which heavy duty criminals wouldn’t care less about, leaves us wide open to all manner of risks.
Bias isn’t the only thing to worry about; it might not even be the main thing.
As has happened in other countries, there’s coercion, there’s greed.
The recent attack was not related to football, but this story has tentacles reaching into our sport, via the Lawwell incident.
The lines met there.
If the SFA took any lessons from that we do not know what they were, but if there was ever a time for putting that stuff into the public domain it is here.
The SFA should be asked to commission, and then publish, an expansive, independent report on organised crime in Scottish football.
It should take submissions from former players, directors, officials and anyone else who can inform the discussion.
Russell Findlay would be an outstanding contributor to such a report.
That report should make recommendations.
The SFA should follow every single one of them, and update us regularly on their progress.
Scottish football fans deserve to know if our game is clean.
They deserve to know that this is taken seriously.