Suspicious minds

Date: 3rd August 2020

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

The last car I bought was a cracker. I didn’t realise how much of a cracker until, one day, on the M74 I blew a tyre.

Not a problem I thought.

Nip into the old boot there, get the spare tyre out and off we go.

I got into the boot; in there, was a tyre. I cannot deny that. It had a shiny thing in the middle and a rubber thing round it. It even had air in the rubber thing. It was a real tyre, I knew, because it looked like one, but the rubber was so worn that the metal was showing through it.

I now realised why getting RAC cover as part of the deal for free was such a really good sales tactic. I had bought the car from a well-known garage locally but I hadn’t checked in the boot to look at the spare tyre – who would?

This was, however, my fault for not being thorough enough.

Now I have a suspicious mind – woe betide anyone who tries to sell me another car.

It is therefore a universal truth, I would suggest, that we ought to learn from our mistakes.

But fitba is different.

Looking fondly at my car, I now I feel like every SPFL chairman or woman as their experience, like mine has soured their outlook. I was at fault for the feelings I had on the highway, the SPFL chairs are not quite equally at fault on their byway, but they share the blame for where we are now.

They gave the SPFL this power to screw up.  They had an opportunity when the biggest financial scandal since the 1967 loss of Third Lanark hit and they blew it. I am not going to go in and through the opportunities that they lost out on, but they scandalously threw away the opportunity to change the nature of our game for the foreseeable future when Glasgow Rangers imploded.

They had blueprints from Henry McLeish and more opinions than a divided parliament but once again – we got the arrogance of we know best and if you challenge too hard then you are only fighting yourselves because we are a member’s organisation.

And now? Ann Budge says “What has been allowed to happen, where fellow member clubs and our governing bodies have stood back and allowed totally disproportionate financial damage to be imposed on three of its members, can only be described as shameful.” Jacqui Low, on behalf of Partick Thistle said, “I ask everyone associated with Thistle to never forget today. To never forget how it feels to be relegated unfairly. To never forget that there are many good decent people and clubs who stood with us, publicly and privately – but there are some whose fear and self-interest got in the way of doing the right thing”

Strong words that follows some equally strong process involving Courts, lawyers and QCs. We cannot forget we have had the Ranger’s dossier, the fall out of the finish line, the injuries to Stranraer, Falkirk, Thistle and Hearts, the doubts and cost cast at Cove Rangers, Dundee United and Raith Rovers and the fiasco of a miscast and then changed vote at Dundee. Has there ever been an organisation not at civil war when they have upset so royally nearly a quarter of their membership – I haven’t gone into the claims and counter claims of underhand tactics in WhatsApp groups.

And now it is settled. According to Neil Doncaster, “I am absolutely delighted that our approach has been vindicated throughout, following an intense period of legal scrutiny and review. It has been a very demanding process, but I had complete confidence in the actions and decisions of the SPFL board and the SPFL executive team.” And no, he is not having a laugh.

Is it done? Not nearly Neil. Why can’t the members hear about what went on in the wee room in Hampden about relegation? They signed a secrecy clause? They agreed no tae tell their mammy’s?

So, if that is the case, could it be that the SFA don’t get the information from their hearings into the conduct of both member clubs? Or does that rule no apply tae telling yer daddy when he gets hame?

It’s risible and once again we are a many footed beast, in the dark with a loaded shotgun trying to avoid once again shooting another foot as we try to get past this pandemic. It’s unique this pandemic and we have never faced a thing like it before but like me buying a car, I have learned my lesson and will change how I do things. I have heard various ideas about how to change Scottish football. I like some more than others and we all have opinions but see the last change – it didnae work. We are way past laughing stock and increasingly even I would balk at buying a second hand car at some of the gurus put forward as saviours of the game. We may not have a flat at the side of a road and an RAC man turn up and look at you like you are a fool when you tell them you never thought to look when you parted with your cash, but when fans part with their cash, to support their clubs, they did so in faith that there would be football, not vindication. As the kick off for the Premiership has shown, football we can do…

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