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Celtic Fans Did Not Act Alone In 2011-12, And We Cannot Alone Defend Its Legacy.

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Yesterday Paul Brennan over at CQN published a piece on the Manchester City case, and at the end of it offered a reminder as to the events of 2011-12.

One of the revelations which surprised some people was that it was Lawwell himself who steered his sterling article of October 2011 where he laid out the route Craig Whyte intended to take Rangers, towards a pre-pack administration, wholescale debt dumping and then continuing as before.

There are so, so many misunderstandings about what Celtic was doing in that period. Peter Lawwell was certainly concerned about the financial impact on our club of the one across the city going out of business, but he cared for that possibility much, much more than he did the alternative, which was their club making a mockery of all of Scottish football and our financially prudent policies, which had been in competition with their spendthrift madness.

People still tell me to this day that we could have “killed them” and chose not to. It’s not even close to being true. It was never in our gift to do any such thing; a club calling itself Rangers was always going to emerge from the ashes of this thing. That is just a fact. This is Scotland, and we have a small league. Their fan-base is too big and too well connected.

Look, when there’s a club called Gretna still playing football in Scotland, does anyone really think it was possible, then or now, that a club calling itself Rangers wouldn’t be?

I never cared what name the NewCo gave itself; I do care about the trophies and titles they fraudulently claim, and about a media narrative which prefers fantasy to fact.

I’ll never refer them to them as Rangers because they aren’t.

So the idea that we conspired to assure that a club crawled out of their grave has never held up to examination.

I know, I know for a fact, that it’s simply not true.

We recognised that there were two scenarios; in the first, Rangers did the pre-pack and got away with everything.

In the second, Scottish football rallied and prevented it and the NewCo was forced to start at the bottom.

That was our aim, and that was what Peter Lawwell set out to do when he gave Paul Brennan of CQN a push towards writing that article.

That wasn’t the shock to me that it evidently was to some others.

Because I’ve always known that Lawwell inspired that piece, and that he guided a lot of what was being written on that blog at the time and since, and yet to this day I still get people telling me that Celtic never wanted them to start at the bottom and that we would have been perfectly happy to see them in the top flight.

Nothing I have ever heard in public or in private supports that view.

Nothing at all.

Indeed, I can tell you that it’s utter tosh, and know that I’m right.

Celtic’s opposition to the Ibrox club being voted into the top flight or the second tier is a matter of public record. We stated our views on this openly at the time and made our opposition crystal clear.

The club was not saying one thing in public and doing another in private either, as others might allege.

The CQN article of October 2011 suggests very strongly that if Rangers had gone into administration at that point, done their little switcheroo and got it put to a vote that Celtic would have opposed it but that we would, in all probability, have seen it happen regardless.

Because at the time, the other clubs were terrified of the impact doing otherwise would have had on commercial contracts, TV deals and other sponsorships.

Whenever anyone tells you that Scottish football would welcome the departure of ourselves and the current Ibrox club, think back to that time and the genuine fear in the air at the prospect of Rangers not being in the league. You can see how preposterous the notion is.

Lawwell and Celtic’s objective in pushing for that article was to let our fans know what was going on, what the concerns were and to rally us for the fight ahead. On the day the piece came out, I was working with Paul and Dave Faulds, now of The Celtic Star, on the Celtic Quick News magazine which published Issue 3 in the same week.

I wrote a lengthy article on CQN that day on what our next steps had to be.

Most critical of all was that the fans of other clubs harness their own anger.

Because we couldn’t do it alone. We didn’t need to convince our club of this, our club was already on board. We needed to get organised for the job of convincing the rest of Scottish football.

That was our assigned role in those days of 2011-12.

To make sure that fans elsewhere knew what the scam was, knew what the Rangers board under Whyte was up to, and to make sure that no matter how much the press favoured the corrupt stitch-up that they let their clubs know that they would simply not stand for it.

Fans of all clubs hate one thing above all; they hate thinking they are part of a rigged game, and they all understood Scottish football would have been confirmed as one had that disgrace been allowed to happen. So what we did in broadcasting the details of that plan was critical. Those of us who were activists on the front line of that campaign soon found ourselves for the first time, but certainly not the last, in the crosshairs of the hacks.

We were soon given the derisive title The Internet Bampots. We still wear it to this day, as a badge of honour. I’m never taking the ribbon off.

CQN, The Scottish Football Monitor, The Rangers Tax Case blog, E-Tims, Cybertims, Scotzine and a handful of others (for there were only a handful at the time) did amazing work.

Scotzine, run by Andy Muirhead, was particularly influential because it was not a single club site and had a wide and varied readership across the boards.

And as much as I was a part of the CQN community, I still think the site called SFM, the Scottish Football Monitor, run by a good man called John Cole, influenced people even Paul’s site could not.

A lot of non-Celtic fans were prominent in that campaign, and crucial to changing the direction of travel of their own clubs. I know a couple at Hibs and Hearts who had a profound importance in that debate, and more than a couple at Aberdeen.

The thing that still inspires me to this day, and makes me hopeful about reform at some point, the reason I keep on banging on about how it’s other clubs who have to make the running in changing the way refereeing works is that those other clubs might have supported the Craig Whyte plan, or the NewCo plan which the SFA was later to try to impose … but by the time Administration Day came about the groundwork had been done, other fan groups were inspired and making their voices heard and we were no longer pissing in the wind.

When the SFA did attempt to push clubs towards letting the NewCo start in Rangers’ spot the fury from their own fans is what kept them from falling into line. One by one, fan groups demanded that sporting integrity come first and that’s the only reason it did.

For the first time, and so far the only time, Scottish football supporters spoke with one voice, and their clubs had no choice but to listen.

Remember what was arrayed on the other side of this debate; the SFA. The whole of the mainstream media. Even some politicians, to their shame, leaped on the bandwagon and demanded that “common sense” play its part.

Some media careers – that of Craig Burley for example – were almost completely destroyed by those events because of the blowtorch language they used against the “pygmies and part-timers” at the so-called “lesser clubs” who dared to vote on the fate of the Ibrox operation.

SFA careers should have ended, and Neil Doncaster should have gone with them, and it all looked like it might happen on the day Turnbull Hutton, on the steps of Hampden, called the conduct of the governing bodies “corrupt.” And it was.

We were not alone in that campaign, but our fans and our club led from the front, whatever some want to think, whatever some sections of our own support wish to believe. I was privy to a lot of what was going on, and I know what happened. It is something I am immeasurably proud to have played a role in. Those days are why I do what I do now.

The Manchester City saga has thrust all this back into the light and into the public discourse, and this is an opportunity to challenge some of the blatant bullshit which has been injected into the bloodstream of Scottish football by those who will not acknowledge what actually happened.

The fans did then what our “succulent lamb” media was too corrupt to do, a corruption which is now endemic and systemic and probably incurable.

Those same fans should take this moment to come together again and make sure that the spirt of those days endures.

That a supreme halfwit, but someone who was once at the heart of the game in England, like Richard Keys believes in such a warped narrative as The Victim Lie, and openly pushes it on other gullible fools, is proof of how necessary it is.

What happened was not an injustice done to Rangers. It was not about revenge or hatred. It was about standing up for the integrity of the game we all care deeply about.

It was an act of love for Scottish football, something we all cherish and hold dear. We must never let the Victim Lie or its ugly twin the Survival Lie replace the truth.

We fought for the greater good of the game, and we won. Together. Fans of Hibs, Hearts, Motherwell, Aberdeen, St Johnstone, Raith Rovers, Alloa, Brechin and all the rest. We were united then, in that common cause and we protected this sport from its own governors and a media which would have utterly destroyed it.

What we did then, all of us, was remarkable.

It is a legacy that I think is worth fighting for.

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  • Roonsa says:

    Brilliant article.

    Thank you James.

  • SFTB says:

    Very sober re-telling of the accounts, James.

    You have always written well and you are at your best when you remove the emotions and the personalities from the narrative.

  • FTH says:

    Great article and confirms what we knew all along, Dirty Cheating Bastards

  • Bunter says:

    A cracking accurate read. Thanks James. Keep up the good work.

  • Adam Thomas says:

    What a refreshing read .

  • Adam Thomas says:

    What a refreshing read.

  • SSMPM says:

    Most in blue, in the blue institutions, definitely see what happened as an act of revenge by Celtic and the other clubs and it is exactly that which they seek to impose on our club. Their anger since has been barely containable and been enraged still further by failed attempts by their institutions (newspapers, media, SFA, judiciary, etc) to fault find against “The Fenian hand”.
    With these City revelations, it has fuelled these corrupted misguided liars to stand to the fore once again seeking just that but once again without any valid evidential basis.
    It’s not paranoid delusion from them, not jealousy, not envy of our club, not a path to future harmony and growth for them and the future of Scottish football.
    It’s clear, indisputable and unadulterated revenge that they want.
    The next Paradise encounter need more hanging effigies and Horsemen of the Apocalypse to remind them once again of their devious death.

  • Scouse bhoy says:

    The new club have never won the league cup but dont expect the gutless mob to say or print that fact in the lead up to the final. They sold their soul by refusing to call out the same club insult.we do not have a free press for whatever reason be it bias or intimidation when it comes to reporting anything about the new club and in my opinion that is as much a scandal as what murray and whyte got up to. The front page headline in 2012 was a fact of law which we will never ever let them forget.

  • Paul Mac says:

    Not defending Keys but don´t forget who his best mate is and where his loyalties lie!! All the info that Keys has is probably spoon fed by Gray.

  • Somehow says:

    Bollicks James, they fielded hundreds of ineligible players for over a decade. Where are the retrospective 3-0 defeats? All the trophies still claimed, 55 et Al and the “same club” nonsense with not a word from the SFA, SPFL, or any of the Clubs including Celtic!

    • Gerry H says:

      Why were they allowed entry into the SPFL , fourth tier in front of teams like Kelty Hearts and Cove rangers.
      They should have been killed for good.
      Lawwell wanted them back . He told us how much Celtic were losing a season without the huns in the league.

    • Jim Duffy says:

      You’re right there, Somehow,55 and all that pish,in reality they’ve never been punished at all,never paid their debts but get to keep all their cheating titles,it’s a joke ,only in Scotland mate.

  • Duncan says:

    “wholesale debt dumping and then continuing as before…”

    Another Debt for Equity dump in February again (1 of 23 since 2017) beimg heralded as a cash injection.
    Meanwhile Club 1872’s “Investment” gets diluted yet further still.

    Honestly this stuff writes itself 🙂

    • Duncan says:

      The Scottish Sun reporting a profit of over £5m for the year despite their Accounts actually recording a £919k loss.
      There’s problems at Ayebrokes when the media are spinning these types of yarns .
      With an Exodus of players this summer due to contracts running down it could be quite Biblical should they fail to qualify for the Champions League.

      • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

        Don’t know why anyone would pay to read what’s a pack of lies in The Sun (or any of the rest for that matter) but cheers anyway for reporting these said lies…

        Cheers also for the great reporting on the share percentages – they defy logic Duncan !

    • Duncan says:

      Club 1872 Shareholdings as of 20th June 2016 was :
      4,900,776 Shares which was 6.01% of the overall Shareholding

      Club 1872 Shareholding as of the 12th of April 2022 was:
      22,202,838 Shares which was 5.13% of the overall Shareholding.

      Which is in a 353% in Shares but a 0.88% DECREASE IN SHAREHOLDING


  • scouse bhoy says:

    the club you supported and played for now no longer exists. keys was in the same studio when gray was told that fact.

  • REBELLIOUS says:

    Great work, thanks James, excellent article.

    That lot are blaming us for their own klubs mistakes, FQn typical of them, looking for a victim to appease their delusional fantasies; anyone would do, but it’s best if it’s us…

  • James Cullen says:

    Hi James….very informative piece….inciteful and informed.
    I have no doubt that some form of “rangers” would emerge from the ashes of the liquidated club….for the reasons you’ve given, it was inevitable.
    Where I hold a grievance, as with many supporters, and not just of celtic as you’ve stated, is that they (the newco) were shown leniency and favoured by being granted admission to the bottom tier.
    You mentioned Gretna, they and others did not recieve such favour when a similar fate met them…..and they failed for reasons outwith those which the Ibrox club created for itself.
    The Ibrox original RFC cheated by deliberately setting out to avoid taxation with the use of EBT payments accompanied by side letters….cheating all of the football World…INCLUDING UEFA….
    The other gripe is that the CORRUPTUON of the SFA including those who created the new rules, did so to allow the newco to overspend and get back to the top as quickly as possible by NOT SCRUTINISING THEIR SPENDING (the evidence of this is seen in a decade of losses in the multi millions)…..Yet to cover this, the new rules meant they could not face exclusion of their gamble failed.
    EVERY club should have stood against these laws…..but the fear of financial losses by other clubs has allowed the newco to prosper …claim titles they NEVER won…and state they’ve never had their history interrupted.
    Had the newco been sent to the Highland league….who knows how long it would have taken them to reach the premier league….and had they been held to scrutiny and financial liability, they would STILL be making their way through the leagues…..
    The debacle around MAN City has seen the neanderthals scream for severe retribution….seems they forget their own sins, or is it because they are a new club and the liquidated club committed those sins.


  • John Budis says:

    Great post James.

    A wee bit of history retold by the active participants is very prescient in the current situation and it is a hard narrative to refute.

    All real supporters of football played their part.

    The story since has caused a lot of division amongst our own support at least on-line.

    Keep up the good work.

    For the love of Celtic and beautiful inventive fitba
    Against a corrupt game and the bigots who enable it.

    Chapeau as Phil would say.


  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    Magnificent journalism James…. Thank you !!!!

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