How many more dishonesties are going to unravel at Ibrox over the course of the next few months?
In attempting to get their fans back onside after their start to this season, and the fiasco of their transfer strategy, their board has gone on a rash of truth-telling.
And this would be funny at the best of times, but what it reveals, actually, is the depth of lies already told.
Back in 2015, one of the stories that the Celtic sites covered in great detail was the appalling state of Ibrox.
There was a spell when we wrote as many pieces on this as we did on any other subject, and especially because at that point 7000 of our fans were going there twice a season to watch games.
It was important, therefore, that we were on top of it.
A year after a piece of the roof at Ibrox almost fell off – resulting in the cancelation of a game – I wrote a piece for this site called “The Ibrox Roof Scandal Shows That Ignoring A Story Won’t Make It Go Away”. I
t was a follow-up on stuff that some of us had done the year before, and by that point stories had gotten so bad about those roofs that many of our fans were talking about going to the next derby wearing hard-hats.
Funny, but not actually a joke.
In the piece I summed up the media’s total failure to look into those stories with the following;
“The Ibrox frontage is a crumbling ruin. They always make much of the status of their Main Stand as a Listed Building, but those require constant attention and fixing. You only have to look at photos to know none of that is getting done. Cracks run up walls in ways that don’t inspire confidence in those who walk under them, and now we have this thing with the roofs …
Yet that story has generated two media follow ups, and one of them was a jokey piece laughing at the Celtic fans who are headed for the game at the end of the month in hard-hats, as if public safety was suddenly a laughing matter. I understand our fans wanting to poke fun at the Ibrox club, and I especially understand why anyone who had a ticket would want a little extra security on the day, but I don’t know how the media can be so blasé about it.”
The other “media follow up had been done, of course, by Phil Mac Giolla Bhain.
The rest of the mainstream press steadfastly ignored it, even after Dave King himself said that no maintenance work of any real substance had been done at the ground for over a decade … a quite incredible admission which drew no heat at all.
All the while the press was being briefed that everything was in hand.
That there was no danger to publicly safety.
That the roofs and the rest of the ground were in good nick.
And we now know – because Stewart Robertson had let the cat out of the bag – that none of that was true, and that we were much closer to the truth than anyone at Ibrox let on, even to their own supporters who were the ones, of course, who were most at risk of disaster.
He now says that the ground itself was within 24 hours of closure at one point, which suggests that there were people in 2015 who were very seriously concerned that the structure wasn’t sound.
We know that “emergency work” had to be done … what we didn’t know was the extent of it, or that people might actually have been in danger.
He’s also revealed that even today the necessary work on the roof still hasn’t all been done … presumably the structure is safe, but how do we know?
Ibrox so routinely disseminates falsehood to its fans – their own shareholder association accused them of that very thing earlier this year and King himself has confirmed it – that trusting them requires a great leap of faith.
But the principle point here is that when we wrote about this stuff in 2015, and then in 2016, we were dismissed as cranks and obsessives and haters and all the rest of it, not least by the Ibrox fans themselves, but primarily by the media who ignored the story as best they could, even after a part of the roof almost came down, even after the club brought in the emergency repairs, even after King confirmed it was the first bit of “maintenance” in a decade.
They kept on denying it until the 2016 admission, by the council and the Scottish Executive, that they had concerns.
And that lasted one day – the hate over our banners has lasted longer – and the press moved on to something else.
How much did the media actually know at the time?
If fans were put in danger, did they even care?
I know we cared because we talked about it and wrote about it, and we kept on doing it long after the media should have been shaken awake and out of its slumber.
This is how I chose to end that piece. It’s a fitting ending to this one.
“I have never known so many media outlets to not want to write news.
It’s easy enough to blame this on PR firms with way more influence than their performances and the intelligence of their leaders justifies, but these people should never be able to cow the media so completely … unless the media saw its own interests and theirs as co-joined. But as the Ibrox roof’s story has evolved, to the point where the Scottish Executive had to respond to it, confirming that Glasgow City Council has concerns and is looking for answers, one fact has been established above all others.
Ignoring stories no longer makes them go away.”