Reality bites. What does it mean? It means two things, basically.
It means that reality is not fun because reality is tough on you. How great life would be if we could all live in a fantasy world of our own design. Unfortunately, that would last about a day before there was general anarchy.
Yet more and more this is what some people want to do.
You see it most especially in politics. Take Brexit for example. The idea that we could leave the world’s largest free trading block and exclude from the workforces of the NHS and other public services hundreds of thousands of immigrants on whom those services depended and yet still be richer and stronger at the end of it was quite obviously fantasy.
And yet it was that position which secured a majority in the 2016 referendum. During that campaign Michael Gove, then a government minister, actually said, from that position of responsibility, that people were “tired of experts.”
Incredibly, he turned out to be right.
The Brexiteers chose their own facts, their own version of reality, and even to this day many will argue that black is actually white and that things are working out relatively well when the evidence is piling up that it’s not.
We have had two Prime Ministers in a row who dwelt in their own reality. One of them was merely content to lounge about there, and he did tremendous harm to the reputation of the country whilst he was in that office. The other did far more damage because she actually tried to govern from her bubble, and with policies are unmoored as she is.
That was every bit as disastrous as all those “reality based” organisations claimed that it would be. Yet she stood behind the podium today, as the former Prime Minister had before her, on her final day in the job, and pointedly refused to admit that she had made mistakes or deserved her fate. She did not even repudiate the nonsensical ideas which did for her.
He was one of the shortest serving Prime Ministers in history.
She was the shortest.
Neither of them acknowledges that it was their inability to see the world in a realistic way that caused their downfall. They will both go to their graves believing they were right.
Lately I’ve begun to believe that the world’s problems are not, in fact, ideological ones. This isn’t about left and right. It’s about people who believe in objective facts and who are willing to deal with our issues based on those and those who are not.
Which brings me to the point; Ibrox and the long war with the SPFL.
Those who run things at Ibrox are definitely not tuned into the frequency of reality, and it’s been a long time since they were.
So much of what happen at that club, so much of what it does, is based on a Trumpian-Johnsonian-Trussian outlook where facts don’t seem to matter, where they can convince themselves that their own delusions represent the bricks and mortar world and where simply repeating lies over and over again can make those lies the truth.
It was Joseph Goebbels who, when talking about the secret of successful propaganda said “it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”
This is the basic strategy at play with Ibrox’s battle over the cinch deal.
They keep on saying that this is about the incompetence of the governing bodies, and our incredibly stupid media keeps on repeating the same. But what is this really about?
The “commercial contract” which Ibrox has, and which in their view negates the cinch deal, is basically a deal between the football club and its own chairman. It is a sheer nonsense to claim that this makes their participation in the cinch deal impossible. It is immediately clear to anyone who looks at it that Ibrox’s intention is simply to cause trouble.
To what end though? They have failed, utterly, in their goal of removing Doncaster, MacLennan and the SPFL legal team. The chances of success on that score are basically zero.
They have leaked to the media this morning that they have “called a meeting” of the clubs in the topflight to put forward their case, as if the top flight clubs don’t already recognise what’s actually going on here.
What they are actually doing, of course, is attempting to extort the rest of the league by making a ridiculous claim over legal expenses and continuing to demand that the league body apologises to them over this perceived slight. This is basically the same strategy, and for the same goal, that they attempted to hold hostage the Sky TV renewal.
This is a club driven batshit by its own refusal to realise that the gig is up.
That the rest of Scottish football wants no part of their pitiful vendetta.
This is a club that has gone rogue, and everyone knows it, everyone can see it clearly, and their behaviour continues to represent a clear and present danger to the rest of the game because although the TV issue might be resolved Ibrox is making it clear that it will continue to obstruct all other business until every other club embraces its delusional thinking and the game is plunged into bloodletting for its own sake.
It is not so much that Ibrox believes that it can win here – that is mad enough – but that it believes, in fact, that there is a win to be had. There isn’t. The SPFL board is not going to collapse, the major commercial deals are not going to unravel, the clubs are not suddenly going to turn their guns on the people who just boasted about delivering record revenues.
But even if those other things were likely, who would benefit from them? If the board fell, if the deals they signed were suddenly voided, if Ibrox was vindicated in full, what then?
They would have won what exactly?
The damage to their own club would be immense. That it would also kill half a dozen smaller clubs wouldn’t bother them at all, but there is no way that they would emerge from any such scenario unscathed, or better off for it.
As with the Brexiteers, they would have a brief period where they would feel good about asserting their authority and their will … but then all the time in the world to deal with the dire consequences of having done it. A game in ruins. A football landscape left bleak and desolate. All for what? To satisfy what bloodlust? In the service of what fantasy?
They appear to think that with better leadership – i.e. them – that the commercial sponsors would be queuing at the door. That the TV companies and streaming services would be all over Scottish football and throwing money at us.
But those organisations would look at the immense act of self-harm that had just been done to our sport and conclude that the game here was in the hands of dangerous lunatics who might do anything, much as the markets responded to Truss and her barmy economic policies. After Sky had been alienated, after firms had been discouraged from sponsoring the league, who would be left who had the slightest interest in doing business with us?
We know Ibrox’s views on what a signed contract is worth; no more than the legal costs of abandoning it if they change their minds later on. Imagine they suddenly had control over the SPFL’s business affairs?
Who could have confidence in that?
Even if they could be trusted, their judgement stinks.
This, remember, is a board that boasted about how Castore represented a quantum leap in terms of quality for their fans and a financial triumph that would put Celtic’s deal with Adidas, an established sportswear firm, in the shade.
Neither of those things were remotely true; the whole deal has been a catastrophe, just as the many thousands of other contracts they’ve signed have turned their shirt into a Formula One parody whilst not actually making much money.
These are the Peepul, then, who have allegedly demanded a meeting with the rest of the clubs, a tiresome chore which the game could do without, in order to continue a personal crusade which no-one else has the least interest in or time for.
This is their obsession, their retreat from reality, their witless blood-feud but one which – and they hope no-one notices this – also serves as a useful distraction from the chaos going on in their own walls.
It is time the other clubs firmly put this lot back in their box.
All who care about the game need to see a robust response from those clubs when that meeting comes around.