Celtic, The SPFL-Japanese TV Deal And The Dangers Posed By The Cinch Surrender.

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It is always great to get affirmation of that which every Celtic supporter knows; our club is the last remaining superpower in the game here.

The club across the city might have stumbled on the “brilliant” transfer strategy of selling its best players (most other clubs in Europe figured this out ages ago, but they are a bit stupid over there) but we are the undisputed only show in town.

That is reflected in two things we’ve seen lately, one of which I want to talk about briefly and the other which I want to explore in a little more detail.

The first of those things, and I will try not to touch on it much, is the Australian tour.

It is evident that Ange was to be the focus of it, and our club with him.

Ibrox’s involvement was a little bit like the carnival tent for the freak show; a nice little extra but nothing that was going to distract the customers from the Big Top and the Main Event.

We know that Ibrox withdrew from that, denting their global standing by making them seem, to a wider audience, what we in Scotland know them to be; insular, arrogant, petty and pandering to the worst elements of their own toxic fan-base.

All information we already had available to us, right?

But it did something else, and that’s not been commented on as much.

Their absence from the event has not dented the thing in the least. We still have it all to look forward to instead, and the show goes on. This means more than it seems.

The other event I want to touch on is sort of related to this; the announcement, today, of a broad and sweeping TV deal in Japan, signed off on by the SPFL. Everyone involved is perfectly clear that it is Celtic who lie at the core of this agreement.

And it is here where the rest of Scottish football should be afraid, because of what happened with the cinch deal and the deadly precedent that it sets for the whole sport. The media would rather ignore this, focussing on Ibrox’s “big victory”.

But really, this was a game without any winners at all and the idea that anyone should have celebrated it is grotesque.

It was a standoff Scottish football could certainly not afford, and it is one that has done actual damage to the sport here. The damage done so far is nothing on that which would be done, however, if this destructive precedent inspired Celtic to hold the whole sport to ransom the next time TV contracts and other things are up for discussion.

The Ibrox “victory” in the cinch standoff has allowed the perception that certain clubs can ride roughshod over the rest and get away with it.

One of the things that has always troubled me is that so few people are able to look at the potential long term effects of decisions made in the moment. That is readily apparent when you look at this situation.

Scottish football sits on the slippery slope as it is.

The 2012 precedent, that clubs are allowed to dump debts, phoenix and maintain their histories has not, yet, been tested by some unscrupulous individual or group of them. But it will be and it will have devastating effects on the credibility of the sport.

But it’s not hard to see how the cinch surrender could have equally dangerous long-term consequences and they are obvious from Celtic’s increased profile in Asia.

What if we wanted that money for ourselves?

People will say that the SPFL by-laws and the SFA regulations lock in joint negotiations. Yet Ibrox found a way around that. Celtic could too, and we can easily afford the lawyers to get started on it.

Even if there was no obvious legal path, the Ibrox club has proved that the people who run our game are yellow from bow to stern. We could simply threaten the sport with some nuclear option and wait to see who gives in first; my money would be on the governing bodies doing it before we did.

What are they going to do? Kick us out?

2012 established the credos of “too big to fail” and “social unrest.”

It established the bending of rules and the re-writing of them to facilitate a NewCo’s direct entry into the league system.

Ibrox fans will tell you that the rule book wasn’t even followed, that their club was simply kicked down the divisions.

A lie, yes, but one that people believe.

And because people believe it, and because Celtic is the recognised power in the game, and thus we hold all the cards, the chances are very good that in order to save the deals that currently exist that we would be allowed to go our own way and forge partnerships of our own, if we threatened the SPFL in order to let us do so.

And this could already be done if we signed agreements which “came into conflict” with those at the governing body.

It would be easy to do, because one of the hitherto overlooked parts of the cinch debacle is that Ibrox, by virtue of its seat on the SPFL board, knew who they were in negotiations with, and had time aplenty to formulate their strategy.

Celtic, with the same power, have the same option.

Only one thing stands between Scottish football and a scenario just like that one, and it’s this; Celtic is a socially responsible club which takes its responsibilities to the game seriously.

That should offer the rest of our sport no comfort whatsoever though.

Because Celtic’s board is overwhelmingly comprised of old white men, and those guys will not be around forever.

Even if this club is passed to a new generation intrinsically linked to those who presently sit on the board – and I hope to God it isn’t and it mustn’t be allowed to be – a new generation might have very different ideas on that score.

They might wonder why Scottish football has never properly served us, why it has never reformed, why it has allowed scandals like the one involving cinch to go unanswered, and they might conclude that if the SPFL has left open a door that our club should not be afraid to walk through it.

We would only be doing what the strong have traditionally done throughout recorded history; crushed the weak and taken whatever they wanted.

I sometimes think that those who run Scottish football have proven themselves too stupid to be offered the protection that our benign outlook provides them. There are times when it is so obvious that the amateurs who run our sport are holding our club back that you do wish that we would turn the status quo on its head and scare them half to death.

I’ll tell you this, if Ibrox felt strong enough to plant its own flag in the turf and dare the rest of the game to respond on more than just the cinch deal, then Scottish football would already be in significant bother.

Well, their club hopes to be in that position one day.

They hope to be big enough that they can attract investment like the Japanese TV deal.

Something that depends on them.

Something built around their global status.

Because they would do exactly what I’ve described above; they would try and keep the biggest piece for themselves if not the whole pot of gold.

What the cinch debacle did was undermine the structure on which the whole of our game is built; collective bargaining and joint responsibility, the pooling of resources and everyone putting the sport first, above their own individual desires.

There is little doubt that Celtic could make more from cutting its own commercial deals than the pittance we currently get as a part of the SPFL. We don’t cut loose for two reasons; not only do we respect those signed agreements but we support the philosophy which underpins them. The cake belongs to us all.

We would have nothing without those other clubs to provide competition, and therefore we are all entitled to an equal share.

It’s principled. It’s egalitarian.

And because those who negotiate those deals are so seriously shit at it, we’ve been paid a fraction of what we’re worth. Every club has been sold short, one way or another, by the rank incompetents at the top of the house.

But until last year, the wall held.

Then Ibrox was allowed to opt out of the cinch deal, and that now threatens everything.

If Celtic were ever to take the same attitude, and act accordingly, then all of the commercial deals which underpin Scottish football would collapse like the proverbial house of cards.

We won’t.

That doesn’t mean we never will.

The SPFL’s Statement On The Cinch “Settlement” Is Not A Victory But A Surrender.

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  • Terry Thomas says:

    Celtic should just do a deal with them like they do with Celtic TV sign up to see the games, then we won’t get any issues if the rangers don’t agree why should we be making them money.

  • John S says:

    The precedent has been set. That is the new legal position.

  • Peter Cassidy says:

    This deal will help all spl teams including the bigots celtic I hope get the biggest slice of the pie this is the way forward as the spl sfa are poor at getting us a good deal from sky bbc bt to show our football well done celtic Scotland top club leading the rest.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Good article James, the sad thing is Celtic never get any credit from most of Scottish Football and the Scottish Media for taking the fair and sensible path.
    I sometimes wonder if it is about time that Celtic came out publicly and pointed out the selfishness of that mob across the city. In the last 10 years “The Rangers” have made a fool of Scottish Football, and the SFA, SPFL and the Scottish clubs including Celtic made it easy for them to do this. The day of reckoning will come someday and Scottish football will pay the price for turning a blind eye to the blatant cheating and corruption that went on.

  • SSMPM says:

    If we ever did challenge it then better be certain that we don’t give them the opportunity they want, to kick us out of the league. Better be sure there’s no exit or trapdoor to fall or be pushed down should we be judged unsuccessful.
    You forgot one thing James these institutions are infiltrated with and run by huns and as with the past 10 years that lot across the city want revenge and damage done to clubs in Scotland. They would support every and any actions against us or any other SPFL club regardless of any hypocritical position it might put them in.

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