The SPFL is tonight patting itself on the back as a result of a “revised” deal with the sponsors cinch, in which the club from Ibrox will not be required to participate.
They are congratulating themselves on a victory. In fact, this is a full-scale defeat.
Cinch have what they want. Their brand will be promoted. They have even been granted what Doncaster describes as “additional media resources.” Ibrox’s exclusion probably means that they won’t be eligible for a penny of sponsorship money, although crucially this has not been announced and so that matter is largely up in the air.
One would surmise it, but really that’s all we’d be doing. With this lot you just never know, because we have the weakest governance in football right here.
The announcement reeks of weakness, and all the self-congratulations will not change that. Ibrox is crowing about it and claiming that it fully vindicates their stance. In allowing them to behave like this, without material sanction, the SPFL has endorsed a lawless approach to all future contracts. All the Ibrox club (or others) have to do during contract negotiations with the next sponsor is open talks with someone in the same field and cut their own deal.
The SPFL regulations are explicit that all clubs must participate in joint sponsorship deals; are they now admitting that other features of those regulations are wide open for this kind of reinterpretation? Apparently so, so their calling it a victory is farcical and disgraceful and sets a shocking, and dangerous, precedent for all future negotiations.
Ibrox’s gleeful statement is one I cannot even argue with.
They are right to claim that their stance has been vindicated, even if it costs them a few quid. They are right to raise questions over the way the SPFL governs our leagues.
But this raises bigger questions than Ibrox is asking.
That club has, once again, bent the governance of Scottish football into a shape of its own choosing, and I cannot find a single thing about that to celebrate. It creates the raw conditions for anarchy.
The Ibrox club should have been told that they had no choice but to participate here. Sanctions should have been automatic.
Removing them from the money is only part of it; they should, first, have lost their place on the league board and everything else should have flowed from there. They have jeopardised not just this deal but future deals and there should have been grave consequences for that, because the potential costs to the whole game are enormous.
Our game is a lawless banana republic, in a perilous place tonight.
Right now, the SPFL’s grinning fool Doncaster is acting a lot like Neville Chamberlain did, standing in the well of the House of Commons and being cheered by MP’s as he waved the Munich Agreement in triumph.
Only one man, Winston Churchill, was willing to stand up, and his speech lives in history as one of his finest and sadly his most prescient.
“I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat … £1 was demanded at the pistol’s point. When it was given, £2 were demanded at the pistol’s point. Finally, the dictator consented to take £1 17s. … and the rest in promises of goodwill for the future … And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year …”
He was booed for it. Doubtless there were a handful amongst those tasked with running our game who understand this for exactly what it is.
We will never hear what they had to say, but I assure you that they will be proved right, and all of us will suffer for it.