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Scottish Football Stories: Fairies At The Bottom Of The Garden

When I set up this website, I wanted to make sure it was broad-based and entertaining as possible on many different fronts.

I didn’t want it, and I don’t want it, to turn into an extension of the other stuff I write.

But from the off, I was also determined that it should have a clear-cut editorial policy and outlook, and the team agreed with me.

We decided to be broadly left-wing, highly suspicious (but not paranoid) about those in power, critical of the media where necessary and unafraid to tell the truth.

We knew this would limit our prospective audience somewhat, but we figured that’s something we’d have to live with in one way or the other.

Eventually you’ve got to pick a side; we picked it from the beginning, and we take comfort from believing it was done for the right reasons rather than just chasing hits, and think it bodes well for the future.

With that in mind, I never had any doubt that I would get to the point where I wanted to write truthfully and openly about what happened in Scottish football in the year 2012 and since. I always thought that article belonged here.

It will shave another couple of percentage points off the audience share, but that’s just too damned bad.

Here in Scotland, and in our football, there are strange phenomena; fairies at the bottom of the garden.

I don’t object to the idea that they are there. I do object to being told to watch where I’m stepping whenever I go for a walk.

Because I don’t believe in fairies.

I know they aren’t there at all.

I am content for others to think and believe what they like, and to act according to that belief but I won’t play ball. I won’t pretend that their delusions are mine, and I certainly won’t adapt my life and my behaviour to propping up their fantasy.

Our media up here – and a lot of the fans – do believe in those fairies.

They believe that football clubs exist as ephemeral entities, without structure or form. The idea is barking, and deep down everyone actually knows that it is, but they cling to it in the way a vain, but bald, guy might grab onto a bottle of Miracle Hair Grower.

Sometimes, it’s more comforting to believe in the illusion than face the facts.

The issue at the heart of it all is Rangers, both the version that existed before 2012 and the version that has existed since.

It’s the considered opinion of many people in the game here that those are distinct, different, things.

It is the view of others that they are one in the same.

This might seem like a rather parochial wee argument – and it certainly is when you compare it some of the other stuff we talk about on this site and will cover here in the future – but to those of us who’ve spent the last few years on one side or the other it has its own weight.

This isn’t simply about a form of words, or a matter of football rivalry.

It’s not a trivial point or one that’s even simply about the sport itself.

If we truly live in what some have termed a “post-truth era” then it’s because these days facts are too often rubbished, language is distorted and plain bullshit is allowed to go unchallenged. The media are amongst the worst culprits, pushing outright falsehoods, working with PR companies and political organisations to push a certain “line” and creating confusion in public discourse.

They may not like to admit it, or accept the blame, but “fake news” was born in the offices of the mainstream media’s titles.

They were the organisations who first decided that the pursuit of ratings was of a higher value than the pursuit of truth.

News made way for entertainment and every outlet cozied up to those in power and pushed the lines they were told.

And in the end, public trust collapsed.

New media sprung up and filled the gaps, and some of it is every bit as horrendous, and distasteful, as the mainstream press likes to point out, without accepting that they created the conditions for it in the first place.

The genie is out of the bottle, and yet even with so much of it out there you only have to look at the titles on the right of the political spectrum to see that lies and scaremongering and stirring the soup of hatred and division are their everyday tools of the trade.

Fake news is everywhere, including the front pages.

There’s just no way you can fight all of it, not even close.

If a well-intentioned individual were to sit down with just a single day’s output – just from the mainstream press – and try to sift the fact from the fiction in it, he or she would be there for weeks, and pretty quickly overwhelmed.

So we pick our battles where we can, usually in the places we currently stand. We’re under no illusions about changing the direction of Trump or his government; we will try to bring some light to political issues here in Scotland though, and that’s a much more manageable job. This is a small country and the media here isn’t very big. It’s also not very good. When it screws up – or when it flat out lies – we can challenge it more readily, and successfully.

So what exactly are we challenging here?

What do the fairies represent?

They represent what some of us call the Survival Lie; that when Rangers went into liquidation in 2012 that they “survived” that.

That the club which bears the name today is the same one as existed then.

That it maintains the history.

Back then, no-one was in any doubt at all as to what liquidation meant.

The newspapers carried front page pictures of a Rangers coffin being lowered into the ground. Former players and officials lined up to pay tribute and were unequivocal that it was the end. The club lost its membership of the SFA and the SPL. Every player who was under contract was given legal advice that their employer no longer existed and they could walk away for free. Most of them did exactly that, with only a handful agreeing to move to the new company which bought the assets.

All of this actually happened.

The new company that was formed appropriated the name.

Then, in a bizarre moment of funk, Charles Green, their founder, said he’d “bought the history” of the old club as well, and we were off to the races.

Are football clubs really allowed to purchase the history of other teams as if it were just another asset?

And that’s not all.

The SFA initially seemed to agree with the original prognosis; they had to grant the new club a temporary license to play its first match. They wanted them to be given the league position vacated by the club that had died. The other clubs said no. Newco Rangers finally had to apply for a place in the lowest tier of the game, and that was only approved in an open vote by the other teams. Otherwise they wouldn’t exist at all.

Suddenly none of that was valid.

Overnight the new club and the old one became “the same”.

The media started referring to what happened as a “relegation.” There’s a guy who’s got one of the high street bookmakers in court over the use of that word right now. He had money on a relegation happening, but the bookies refuse to pay.

I’m with the bookies on this one.

But he was able to cite, as evidence, the reams of newspaper reports which have used that word to describe this situation.

The use of that word flat out distorts what really took place.

For the last five years, the media and the governing bodies have tried to ram this abysmal idea down our throats, that the club which plays at Ibrox is actually Rangers. The fiction is insidious, enough so that some of those who once endorsed the truth now actively push the alternative reality.

The fiction is also dangerous.

It has spawned another deadly idea which we call the Victim Myth, which suggests that what happened to Rangers was a consequence of jealousy or hate, a campaign of destabilisation launched by the other clubs, to hamstring them.

This has played into a number of dark fantasies amongst the new club’s fans.

On top of that, the lie is dangerous to the club itself.

Rangers fell into ruin because of over-spending and debts.

The fans of the new club, in being asked to accept that the two clubs are one in the same, have a series of expectations consonant with that view. They expect their club to be able to challenge Celtic, for one thing, in spite of having spent four years climbing through the leagues to the top flight.

Scottish football has a number of major problems, and one of them is the level of trust between the governing bodies and the fans.

There’s also a serious issue with the media, who are viewed with deep suspicion by almost all the supporters, the only upside of which is the growing prominence of those who write for the blogs.

This site will write about issues in football, and some of them will be in Scottish football.

We will collect those under the heading Scottish Football Stories. There are enough blogs focused on individual clubs that we won’t do that, and we won’t give a biased perspective although the bulk of our writing team do follow one particular club, Celtic.

It’s because of that we think the best article to open with is one that lays everything on the table from the off; we know this will result in accusations of bias but we also know that this claim won’t stand up when subject to scrutiny.

What it means is that we’ll tell the truth, no matter who is offended, no matter what people throw back in our faces.

Too many people in the game here prefer to indulge fantasy rather than reality; we’re going to write about the way things are, not the way certain people wish they could be. And if that’s a problem, people are free not to read any of it.

But we’ll neither endorse nor write fake news, and we will not deal in fake facts.

We believe Scottish football fans – all football fans – are capable of reading and dealing with the truth, as unpalatable as some of it might be.

Nobody should be critical of those who believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden; everyone is entitled to live in whatever fantasy world they choose, but the rest of us should have no need to structure our own behaviour around their existence.

Too many people in Scottish football tiptoe around this issue.

We’re not going to write about the game in this country from that illogical perspective.

If you like the work this site does and want to support it, please share these articles on social media. If you want to help us meet running costs you can make a donation at the Paypal link below. 

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