Last night, I posted about how Hugh Keevins is taking pelters on the Ibrox fan forums because he dared to criticise their board for their scandalous behaviour in ripping those same fans off. I marvelled at supporters who would rather turn against the bearer of a bad message than acknowledge that the message itself might be correct.
But Keevins should not have had to stand alone.
The whole of the media should have been up in arms about the two stories Keevins highlighted; the fine levelled against the club for their cartel-like behaviour and the releasing of a fourth strip during a time of enormous financial strain.
The cost of those strips – up to £100 – only adds to the sense that their board is out of touch with the realities many of their supporters face, or perhaps just indifferent.
It was an Ibrox fan forum which produced the most incredible statistic in relation to their incredible fleecing of the supporters; in the two and a half years since Castore became their kit supplier they have released no fewer than 14 separate football strips. This does not, by the way, include goalkeeper kits, “European versions” or the ridiculous “pro-kits”.
They have issued home, away and third kits in all three of those seasons and a fourth kit in each of the last two.
In addition to those they have released one “retro kit”, one “champions kit” and a “legends” kit. Not to mention enough training gear and other “premium” products (school uniforms with badges sewn on, anyone?) to fill a good sized wardrobe.
And at every stage of it, there have been production problems and a host of other issues.
If this was any other company in the country, producing stuff to this extent, and catering to an audience of obsessives who seem to think they have to spend money on it all, there would be calls for national inquiries and everyone would be screaming “scandal.”
It’s all well and good saying that their gullible fans don’t have to buy any of it.
It’s not that simple, as any parent is well aware.
A lot of adults are just as taken in by “shiny thing” syndrome, and of course they have the MyGers scheme which has its hooks in every one of its members. If you don’t buy all the tat Castore produces, someone else will and they will, by virtue of doing so, much in front of you in the queue for match tickets and everything else.
Ibrox has these fans right where it wants them.
The nature of the MyGers scheme has been obvious to some of us from the start – which is why we’d be highly resistant to any Celtic version of it. But their fans joined in their droves, and once in you can’t get out without forfeiting every “point” you’ve built up. Some of these guys will be in for years and the longer you’re in the hardest it will be to get out.
This reminds me, in an odd way, of the titular story in Stephen King’s wondrous book Hearts In Atlantis, in which a group of college students engage one another in a never-ending series of time-sapping, class-missing, self-destructive card games where they play for chump change, and worthless “tournament points”, whilst all the while the spectre of flunking out and being sent to the Vietnam War hangs over them all.
It is those “tournament points” which keep some of them playing until they are literally handed their draft papers. (As well as the kid who tries to off himself with a quart of vodka and a bottle of orange flavoured aspirin.)
The point is, the press knows that between MyGers points and kids hassling their parents for more and more of this stuff, the Ibrox club has lost all sense of social responsibility to its own fans and, like I said, no other organisation in the country would be allowed to behave this way.
Good God, can you even imagine that this was us?
If we had been fined for ripping our supporters off, and in the same week –as prices go up in every area of people’s lives – we had released a needless fourth strip in order to bleed people who are bleeding enough?
We would be crucified for it. Deservedly.
And the media wouldn’t have had to do it because we, the fan media, would have done it instead.
The club would be reeling, like a Tory Prime Minister buckling under the weight of a bad policy.
The Ibrox board is still riding high.
The press has let them off scott-free on this way, all but a handful of writers who have mentioned it in passing, and Chris Jack who slammed it whilst trying to make excuses for those who implemented the policy.
And of course, Hugh Keevins, who alone has actually put it in the most naked and unvarnished terms and called it an absolute outrage. Yes, the broken clock is right this time, but it should not be up to this guy with no credibility in making this case.
Because this one is so obvious that it makes itself. Or it should, anyway. But our press is too busy trying to stay on Ibrox’s good side to give them the treatment they deserve.
It was ever thus.