There is a long standing “joke” amongst some Ibrox forum owners that if you want to know what their club is up to, you really need to be reading a Celtic site. I cannot believe that anyone would make a joke out of that. Especially as it isn’t one.
You know why the same joke isn’t made about Celtic fan sites? It’s not because they don’t talk about Celtic over on their own sites. It’s because nothing they could possibly write over there would come as the least surprise to us. Our sites know everything that’s going on with this club. Our sites cover Celtic extensively and passionately and knowledgably.
And we do it without fear or favour.
We are capable of critical analysis and even, when necessary, facing up to hard truths. The piece I wrote the other day about the situation at Everton and how it echoes back into 2012 was not some whiny piece about the injustices we suffered; it was a critique of what Celtic’s failings were. It was our own club’s inactions which denied us that justice, and as difficult as that is to face a lot of our fans long since accepted it.
What those Ibrox forum owners really means is that if you want to read bad news about their club go to the Celtic sites, and they don’t even appear to understand what a compliment to our own diligence and commitment that actually is. They don’t seem to understand what it says about them and their colleagues either, or the mainstream media.
They cannot trust those people. But they can trust us. Isn’t that incredible? And when you think about it, it’s not really that crazy. If you buy an outlandish outfit or get in toe with a partner who has a “reputation” your mates or those who want to protect your ego might tell you what they think you want to hear. But your enemies will always give it to you straight, and you can trust that, especially if they are laughing as they tell you it to your face.
Still, I think it’s an indictment that they possess no self-awareness and are incapable of being honest with themselves or each other.
It is shocking – genuinely shocking – than not one of their sites has done a full examination of the accounts and their implications. I guess that faced with a choice between Uncomfortable Truths and Comforting Lies they’ve made their choice, and of course, it’s one that the media will never ask them to confront in any meaningful way.
The last week has driven home a point that this site and others have made over and over again; those amongst their number who want facts and truth are forced to look for it on our sites, and this has been true for more than a decade.
We told them Rangers faced a major financial crash. I wrote my first story on it that, The End Of Rangers?, in 2009 and I was relatively late to the party; Paul Brennan of CQN and Phil Mac Giolla Bhain had been writing about it for years before that. It was the financial crash of 2008 which woke me up to the scale of the trouble they were in; a club dependent on bank debt, and where the bank that had that debt had been sold as a toxic asset to another, one that was determined to cut costs as much as it could in order to repair the damage.
We told them that Craig Whyte was a shyster when the papers were calling him a billionaire, and their fans were celebrating. They were gleeful over the sale of the club to that guy, and even the cost he paid for it – £1 – was a red flashing warning they ignored. I remember the night that happened; I was with my then girlfriend in a Glasgow pub laughing at the Sky Sports News ticker-bar announcing the deal and what Whyte paid, and I’ll tell you what I told her; “£1? The last company I heard of that went for that price was Barings. Which was broke.”
We heard, and wrote on the forums, that Whyte was shoving bills into a drawer because his plan was to let the club go bust and then to phoenix out of it. Our concern was that the football authorities might permit them to do it in a way that would not punish them for any of it. It was Celtic sites who started rallying others to prevent that and we knew that we’d done enough even when the papers were offering every alternative scenario going.
We knew who Whyte was before the BBC documentary exposing him, although Mark Daly turned up faces which we’d been unable to run down. It was Celtic sites who first broke the Ticketus story, which Keith Jackson then shamelessly claimed, months later, was his own exclusive. We also broke the story – which wouldn’t be proved for years, until it was confirmed in court – that it was Murray who introduced Whyte to them in the first place.
We said they had no money to spend when they were talking about war-chests, and we did that same thing to them over and over and over again.
When Charles Green appeared, we told them to steer miles clear of him. In the deep dive, some folk found out things about him that still haven’t been publicly aired because small elements of the story are still out of reach and can’t be verified enough to make the stories bomb-proof or we’d have been writing about them for a long time … and if they’d come out whilst he was at Ibrox they would have been a major embarrassment to everyone at the club.
We’ve had some fun along the way, for sure … we spoon-fed them paranoia over the time when Ashley was on the board, which was the last thing any of us wanted, a genuine billionaire with a plan to turn them into a credible, self-sustaining team and a merchandising arm which would have been a superb thing to have on their side.
We poisoned that relationship. I do not believe they would have behaved so abysmally towards him had we not been toxifying their perceptions of him at every turn, and look at the long-term damage the crash of that relationship did to them. Even throughout it, although we were part of the reason they turned on him, we exposed the lies their board had tried to feed them over the status of that relationship and warned them he hadn’t gone away.
We tried to tell them that hiring Warburton, with his very little experience, was a terrible idea. We gave them the same warnings about Caixinha, Gerrard and The Mooch. Van Bronckhorst at least was a credible candidate, and so is the guy in the job right now, but we’ve also warned them that they are massively outgunned, and they are.
Repeatedly, we’ve warned them about their financial state. The live in denial instead. Repeatedly, we’ve warned them that they aren’t doing as well in this regard as their own sites and the media is telling them they are … they scorn us for it.
Yes, we’re doing all of it to rub their faces in it. Yes, our motives are not pure. Still, as I said earlier, who are you going to listen to? The people who tell you the facts, even if it’s to laugh at you, or the people who’ll blow smoke up your backside even if that does you even greater harm?
The week just past was terrible for our media and the refusal to acknowledge that the Ibrox club actually posted a loss, but it was a worse one, by far, for their fan media who didn’t dig too deep or look too far. Instead, they’ve presented an overwhelmingly positive picture of their club and some of them are actually indulging in Fantasy Football signing speculation for January.
Which is why it remains as true as it ever was; if their fans want to know what is actually going on with their club, the Celtic sites are still the best places to be. And as long as their own sites, and the media, continue feeding them non-stop feel-good fluff, it’s going to stay that way.