The main theme that the Laptop Loyal will have taken from a recent interview with Neil Lennon that appeared in the Guardian is that the former Celtic manager agrees with them that there should be a return to a Scottish football paradigm that died with the stroke of a liquidator’s pen following an eight minute meeting in 2012. In an article that appeared in NTV 206, Henry Clarson debunks a long-propagated but now defunct myth.
There’s a recurring myth which I want to address, viz, the myth that Scottish football needs a “strong” Rangers.
Let us see first of all how this “strong” Rangers has worked in practice.
For the best part of the last quarter of a century, Rangers’ “strength” and apparent success lay in their ability and determination to outspend every other team in Scotland. They fully played their part in contributing to the collapse of the Bank of Scotland in order to finance transfers and wages for players which no other Scottish team could even countenance.
Using tens of millions of pounds from a bank which would ultimately collapse and pass on its debts to every man, woman and child in the nation, “Strong” Rangers signed prominent internationalists from England, Denmark, France, Scotland and elsewhere to fill every place in their starting eleven.
After David Murray took control of the club, Strong Rangers went on to win 16 titles. Five of these went to the last game of the season – strongly, I’m sure – even though Rangers, uniquely, were allowed to use fortunes of the doomed bank’s zombie assets to boost their “strength”.
And despite the media propaganda that tells us otherwise, Strong Rangers’ most recent title successes were still claimed by the most expensively assembled squad in the country, underwritten by tax-payers who were saddled with the tab for the reckless practices of the failed banks.
Question One: How many titles might Strong Aberdeen, Strong Dundee United, Strong Hibs or even Strong Partick Thistle win if a tax-payer owned bank decided to give one of those clubs a credit line that would allow them to outspend their nearest challengers by a ratio of “ten pounds for every fiver”?
Strong Rangers, not content with having used everyone else’s money to buy their nine-in-a-row (which was obviously a Good Thing for Scottish football) then apparently decided that having to waste money paying the income tax of their expensively assembled international mercenaries was too much of a handicap to their future ambitions. So they strongly rejected this practice and availed themselves of more tens of millions of pounds which the rest of their competitors were too honest (“weak”) to steal from the nation.
Question Two: How many titles might Strong Aberdeen, Strong Dundee United, Strong Hibs or even Strong Partick Thistle win if any one of them was allowed to compete for the signings of top players without the inconvenience of having to give millions of pounds to the taxman each time they offered a contract to their potential employees?
If Scottish football needs this kind of “Strong” club, let’s be absolutely honest about it in unequivocal terms.
Let the government propose the formation of a new club for the good of Scottish football. Its name doesn’t matter much but let’s not actually call it Strong State Supported Football Club For The Good Of Scottish Football.
Let it simply be called Babylon Establishment FC.
For the good of Scottish football, Babylon Establishment FC must have a line of credit with the nationalised bank of its choice.
The credit limit must be raised if Babylon Establishment FC struggle to dominate the Scottish league.
For the good of Scottish football, Babylon FC will not have to pay taxes on the wages which it offers to its players. Otherwise those players might choose to sign for another club.
For the good of Scottish football, there must also be some kind of constitutional arrangement in place which guarantees that Babylon FC will always play in the top division of the Scottish league, even if other clubs have to go to the wall as a consequence.
And for the good of Scottish football, the press must clear all of their copy about Babylon FC with the government before it is published.
The alternative is unthinkable; it might herald a return to the dark days when Weak Rangers languished in mid-table while Dundee Utd, Aberdeen, Hearts and Celtic were competing for the championship title. Clearly, that was a Bad Thing for Scottish football.
Who would want a return to the misery of watching Scottish clubs horsing Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Hamburg, Sporting Lisbon and others out of European tournaments, year after year. That was self-evidently a Bad Thing for Scottish football.
And heaven forbid that Scottish international teams might ever again go head to head with the likes of Brazil, Germany and Holland in the World Cup Finals or the Euro championships.
So let’s not accept the false paradigm of the need for a Strong Rangers. If there is to be a debate on the principle, let’s be clear and honest about the terms and parameters which pertain.
Let there simply be a Babylon Establishment FC which is exactly what it says it is on the tin instead of straining to maintain the pretence that Strong Rangers was anything other than Babylon FC by another name.