Big Fish No More

Grim news out of Ibrox with the sticking plaster solution to Rangers’ cash flow problems.

My understanding is that the monies raised – hopefully, it has to be said – from the rights issue will only take the club limping along till Christmas, when new funding will be desperately required.

It appears that the attempts by Charles Green to procure a different and vastly more lucrative funding option have either hit the buffers or been knocked back by the board.

The inside word I am hearing is that things are not good and that Admin 2 is a real possibility. This could be a fatal blow at worst or at least one that severely cripples the club for years to come.

Those who withheld their custom to teach the board a lesson may just have to learn one themselves pretty soon.

That lesson is how to learn to support another team.

Celtic fans need not crow over this latest development at Ibrox.

They are waking up to the realities at the Co-op Dome, where millions in CL and transfer riches appear to have been magicked away.

Those expecting the board to authorise a spending spree have had their hopes turn to dust so often and for so long that they are no longer susceptible to the stupefying propaganda which proclaims Celtic as richer than Croesus.

The fact is, Celtic are nowhere near as wealthy as the complicit media in Scotland has hoodwinked gullible hoops fans into believing.

These fans are seeing for themselves what I have been telling them for a long while. That is that the player pool at Parkhead is getting substantially weaker in quality season upon season.

And they are asking the question: If our club is banking all this money, where is it?

The irony is that many Celtic fans are still self-righteously lambasting Rangers fans for not asking this very question of the RFC board during the SDM years.

Of course, having Rangers and Celtic supporters embroiled in the ceaseless hostilities suits those who would prefer these fans engaged in tribal warfare rather than ask the probing questions they should be asking.

These questions should, in fact, be asked by every football fan in Scotland, not just by those who support the Old Firm.

The reality is that Scottish football is dying a long, slow, painful death.

Rather than engage in the eternal one upmanship and the “Youse are worse aff than us” mentality, Rangers and Celtic need to realise that they are no longer the big clubs they once were.

It might not be what people want to hear but I have no papers to sell or seats to fill so I can say it.

In financial terms and increasingly in football terms, Rangers and Celtic are minnows in British football, let alone European football.

And the outlook is bleak.

Fans are no longer conned. The need by clubs to paint a rosy picture is now just insulting to those who dig deep to support their team. The truth has to be faced.

Scottish football needs leadership, not control freakery and short-term fixes based on self-interest.

What chance of finding strong, visionary leaders in this wee narrow-minded backwater?

Awrabest with that.

Who Do You Think You Are? – Identities, Allegiances And Loyalties

I have to be honest and say I don’t get it.

I don’t get the anomaly.

What anomaly am I referring to?

Let me explain.

Traditionally and historically, Rangers Football Club stands for Protestantism, Unionism and Monarchy, while Celtic is a Roman Catholic club with Irish Republican sympathies.

I have no problem with any of this. I have no problem with football clubs being an expression of religious, political and cultural loyalties and I have no problem with Rangers and Celtic’s particular affiliations.

Yes, I have pointed out the “plasticness” of the religious dimension i.e. it’s more about Proddies and Kafflicks these days than theological disputes.

In fact, I want to take religion out of it altogether to help enforce the point I am trying to make. The reality is that Protestants support Celtic and RCs support Rangers – many from Catholic countries such as Spain and Italy.

So my point is very simple: Rangers is the club associated with the Union and the Throne. Celtic is the club with strong links to an independent Ireland and Republicanism.

Now for the anomaly which, I confess once more, I have failed to grasp despite pondering it for a long time.

That anomaly is brought out very markedly in this independence debate we are having in Scotland just now and it is this:

Fervent anti-Unionists and anti-Monarchists support Rangers. On the other hand, many Celtic fans vote for Unionist parties and even support the Monarchy.

As I said, I just don’t get it.

I can maybe just about get it where these people say that it’s just about football and where the politics are not a major deal to these people. And other complications do come into it such as the support for Irish Republican terrorism, which is a totally different thing from a love for dear old Ireland.

My own perspective is as a Rangers supporter so I am not really best placed to comment on the anomaly from the Celtic side of the fence. However, I recognise it is there and am puzzled by it.

On the bluenose side, it completely mystifies me. Particularly when, as I have been told by Rangers fans supporting separation that they hate the Britishness of Rangers and despise the patriotic singing, the Union Jack, the Union itself and the British Throne.I have pointed out to these people that their views would go down far better across the city. Maybe that was a bit uncharitable of me but once you take away all the Britishness they hate so much, what is left?

My logical view on it is that you would support the football team which best matches your political aspirations and cultural affiliations.

Rangers fans who support independence do so in the full knowledge that they are sharing the platform with both Rangers-haters and bitter Irish Republicans. By this I mean supporters of Irish terror murder gangs. Even some Celtic fans cannot stomach the glorification of IRA murderers that goes on at Parkhead. This is part of the anomaly, I suppose, but I find it astonishing that Rangers supporters would share the same political platform as those who glorify terrorists. And, frankly, for the same reasons i.e. the lies and spin of so-called British imperialism and oppression of us poor wee Gaels.

Listening to Rangers supporters spouting the same mantras we have heard for decades by Irish terrorist mouthpieces is stomach-churning to say the least.

I get that Rangers is a broad church and I have no objection to that.If those who claim they hate the PUL culture at the club just ignored the bits they don’t like and followed the Gers for footballing reasons alone, there would be no problem to speak of. But can we really expect this? Already we have Scottish nationalist Rangers supporters going public and arguing their case.

No-one is disputing their right to support the team of their choice. And they have the democratic right to pick their own political path. The real question is: Do they have the right to marry the two and impose their political will and views on an institution which already has a settled and defined identity?

I see the attempt to change Rangers’ cultural identity and allegiance to Throne and Nation as a hostile political coup. This makes it something sinister to me. It is also deeply disrespectful of those of us who express our own identity and allegiance through our supporting of Rangers.

My reaction is to say: Why don’t all those who hate the Union and the Queen just go to watch Celtic? They can express their hatred there in full flow with no objection. And why don’t Celtic fans who are sick of the glorification of Irish terrorism and who quite like being British just transfer their football allegiance more inline with their other loyalties – and come to Ibrox?

Rangers and Celtic are by no means unique in having fans who express cultural, political and religious affiliations through their footballing allegiance.

The argument about whether politics and religion should be an inherent part of sport is a different one – the fact is, these things DO play a role and it is a big one for supporters of both Glasgow giants.

But there is this anomaly, this dichotomy in it all. As I said, the independence debate is bringing it out.

Perhaps the real reason we have a divided nation is that we as people have divided hearts. We are like those the Bible speaks of as “those that oppose themselves.” In short, we are our own worst enemy.

For me, separatists are people who have bought a lie of inferiority and victimhood. These people see Scotland as oppressed by the Union, not leaders and drivers of it. It’s all about perspective.

As a Rangers fan, I don’t want this chip-on-the-shoulder mindset to prevail in the club and its support.

In the Union, Scotland finds its true destiny as the Chief of the Nations.

Rangers is the very embodiment of this ethos for me. Anything less is a poor, inferior substitute.

For me, Rangers will always be the team of Throne and Nation.

The Queen’s Eleven.

The quintessential British club.

And Scotland’s pride.

Smoke And Mirrors

When I first started saying on here that Celtic were weakening substantially season upon season, despite access to Champions League riches, even some of my friends thought I was losing it.

The trend was there for all to see but the sparkle of the CL lucre blinded many to the underpinning financial realities.

One of those realities is Celtic’s indebtedness to the Co-op Bank, something which was highlighted on this blog by PZJ and others.

The brutal truth is that Celtic Football Club has for years been employing smoke and mirror techniques to hide the true financial condition of the club. This includes having a compliant media tell everyone how rich Celtic are.

This has resulted in hoops fans crowing about the club having a huge cash pile but the glaring question that an increasing amount of them are now asking is: Where is it?

It is clearly not in the playing squad. This squad has been plundered year upon year for its best talent and the undeniable fact is that the Celtic team of 2014 is distinctly inferior to the one of three years ago.

So where have all the millions of CL riches gone?

More importantly, why are Celtic not building a team that can really compete in Europe if they have all this money?

And why will the Celtic team that faces Rangers on the Ibrox side’s return to the top tier be substantially weaker than the one which last faced them? Given, of course, the untrammeled financial superiority the Parkhead outfit has enjoyed for several seasons.

Some Celtic supporters have held on to the pitiful notion that Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell is holding back investment in the side until Rangers return to the top division but surely this makes a mockery of previous claims that Rangers were irrelevant to Celtic? And surely the time to start building this team to face The Rangers is now, not next year?

Let’s be honest. There will be an attempt to bolster the squad for next season but it will be with a mere fraction of the millions raked in from the years of seeming financial superiority. Superiority which also includes significant transfer fees, it has to be said.

Again, begging the question: Where have all these millions gone?

And I have no doubt that there will be one or two departures from the squad to compensate for the loss of CL revenue this year – further weakening the player pool.

If rumours are true, Celtic received handsome compensation for hosting the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. The club certainly got the area around the stadium tarted up on the back of it but again, let’s be honest: Is the plush new walkway leading up to the stadium fitting reward for years of superiority?

Celtic fans have already answered by staying away in their thousands.

More and more of these fans are asking why their club could not capitalise on having a clear path to CL millions and build a team that would have them dominate for decades.

I can tell them.

Both Rangers and Celtic need the CL money just to tread water. Sustaining the squads and stadiums they have done takes money and only the Champions league can provide that for them.

Of course, there is only room at the CL trough for one club and this means that if you don’t win the Premiership and get into the group stages, then it is a dull yin in financial terms. There isn’t enough money in Scottish football and the Champions League is necessary.

Rangers have had to downsize, not having access to the Champions League for a few years.

But so also have Celtic, who have had the access.

The true state of Scottish football is writ plain for all to see.

Rangers and Celtic are big fish in an increasingly small pond.

It doesn’t help that the two teams have not competed with each other, resulting in further loss of revenue for the game.

Of course, Celtic fans may discount all this as the ramblings of a mad bluenose. But if they don’t believe me, they can and should be asking piercing questions of their CEO.

Because if there really is money behind the smoke and mirror show, it’s time it was revealed.

And if not, why not?

Celtic fans might also want to know why one of their players is buying a Ferrari but the club can’t afford to buy any quality players.