The SPFL’s “Apology” To Ibrox Is The Moment The Governing Body Stops Governing.

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Today, Scottish football has been rendered an ungovernable banana republic by the very people who are supposed to be in charge of it. The “apology” which has been offered to the Ibrox club by the league body, after an entirely manufactured controversy, might not have given Park and his cohort everything they wanted, but it gave them enough.

They have been vindicated, and whilst the victory might seem minor to some people – the board, which they had wanted to pull down, remains in post having spoken a few words and agreed to meet “some” but not all of Ibrox’s legal costs – it is a bad day for the game here nonetheless.

The “apology” covers “reputational damage” done to the Ibrox club; what nonsense that is.

If harm was done to Ibrox’s reputation they did it themselves in pursuing such a preposterous action in the first place. The real reputational damage has been done to the league body and its standing with sponsors and advertisers of every shade and stripe.

And that damage, by virtue of that, will most keenly be felt by the other clubs.

Let’s be clear here; the damage that has been done was not done by the cinch deal, or the league entering into their deal, nor by their very realistic expectation that every club would fall into line behind it.

It has been done by their failure to properly defend that deal and to make sure that it was adhered to under the contractual obligations which all clubs enter it in order to get licenses and memberships of the league in the first place.

Joint commercial partnerships are critical to the functioning of the game here; without them, it’s every club for itself, and although that might suit certain teams it would sound the death knell for almost all of the others. It is the responsibility of the governing bodies to defend those deals and to make sure that any threat to them is crushed.

By formalising their long retreat here – they have been on the back foot since Ibrox opened this front against them, unable or unwilling even to muster the courage to remove the Ibrox club from being able to hold a governance role – they have confirmed that all of Scottish football’s commercial contracts are built on sand, that any club can, on the slightest pretext, challenge or even opt out of those contracts entirely without the fear of adverse consequences.

Not all our clubs will be able to rely on a subservient media to support their claims, or be reckless enough to risk the complete collapse of the league’s ability to raise money, but it only really takes one, doesn’t it? Just one to, before real harm comes to the whole of the game.

As part of its efforts at “resolving this” the SPFL has agreed to have an independent commission look into its governance procedures; some will say that this is long overdue and might be the best thing to come out of all this, but I say be careful what you wish for because depending on who you get to do the reviewing there are risks our “leaders” haven’t even thought of yet … and anyway, the truth of it is that this evening there is no governance to speak of.

McLelland and Doncaster have brought us to the brink of anarchy, and if they believe that this is the end of this matter or that the Ibrox club, having been “vindicated” are now going to jog along and play nice in future, they have completely lost the plot.

This isn’t the end, it’s just the start of the trouble.

It’s obvious what comes next, and that’s more.

More chaos, more havoc, more undermining … and more of the governing body allowing itself to be undermined.

Who knows where the next blow will land? We only know that it will.

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