A Lie for a Lie

The “Lawwell Letter” is trending everywhere this week. To elucidate, it is email sent to (among others) Peter Lawwell and Eric Riley of Celtic on 26 July 2012 by SPL CEO Neil Doncaster.

The email came with an attached copy of the Five Way Agreement (hereafter “5WA”, the deal between Sevco, Rangers, the SFA, the SPL and the SFL). Now that it has been made public, it seems safe to speak openly about what it all means for us as folk who believe in sporting integrity.

I would preface my comments with a caveat though. On the face of it, the Celtic Chief Executive appears to have misled the gathering at the recent Celtic AGM. He was asked by a shareholder if Celtic were involved in the Five Way Agreement. Lawwell replied, “No”, and gave same “No” response to the follow up question, “have you seen it?”

Given that a copy of that email was in the possession of a few folk before that AGM, I have to admit to being surprised by that answer – although even more surprised at the apparent lack of due diligence implied by the lack of knowledge of its content.

We have attempted to contact Mr Lawwell to ask him if he would like to comment on the apparent discrepancy between the evidence and his answer (and I am sure we are not the only ones to have done so). To date, we have received no response. Given the complete lack of acknowledgement of the existence of this anomaly in the MSM, we should perhaps assume that none will be forthcoming.

Perhaps there is an explanation (yes I know), but Celtic should know, like Rangers old and new have come to realise, that silence on these matters breeds deep suspicion and distrust.

Assuming for the minute that Occam’s Razor applies here, there may be an uncomfortable truth emerging for Celtic fans – that Rangers (old and new) do not have a monopoly on dishonesty. There is also an uncomfortable truth that should emerge for Rangers fans too – that as we have said all along, this has never been about just Rangers, but about the governance of the game.

If the Celtic CEO did lie to the AGM a few weeks ago what are the consequences? He broke no laws as far as I can see. One insider I spoke to said simply this,

“So he lied. So what? What happens now? It’s irrelevant”

That is of course absolutely true. As long as controlling shareholders are happy that Resolution 12 is buried, and that no deep inquiry into governance is held into the workings of the game in Scotland, the lie is nonpunishable, though it would be a mistake to believe that accountability is confined only to the corporate rules governing Boards and shareholders; the corporate veil of “I was only following company policy” can be readily challenged in the court of public opinion, which has no statute of limitations.

What all this demonstrates of course is that Celtic have been saying one thing to their fans and shareholders, nodding agreement in private meetings about how appalling Rangers behaviour was, tut-tutting over how amateurish the authorities were, and wringing their hands in frustration at what a sham the LNS inquiry turned out to be.

At the same time, they have done nothing, allowed small shareholders to spend not inconsiderable suns progressing the matter, and quietly hoped that the “appetite” for justice would diminish so they could get back to whatever it is they and the rest do when subject to little or no scrutiny.

Whilst ten in a row is on the table of course, they can get away with it. To Celtic fans right now, understandably, nothing else matters. But what if TIAR is derailed? Not a stretch to imagine that the Parkhead kitchen could get uncontrollably hot in that circumstance. And when the TIAR squirrel finally ends its scurry, in either success or failure, where will the fans attention be diverted?

Perhaps the arrogance that permits making (allegedly) false statements to a general meeting, and (allegedly) misleading shareholders over Res 12 is borne of the knowledge that the parachutes are ready to be deployed when either of the above scenarios come to pass? If TIAR is achieved or goes south, are they already prepared for an emergency exit?

Celtic have two major shareholders whose combined holding is over 50% of the club’s shares. Dermot Desmond and Nick Train. Desmond is now in his eighth decade and Train is reportedly having some business difficulties. Both may well be moved to get out anyway, but fan unrest would make their decision a whole lot easier.

And Lawwell himself is – if you believe the MSM – on the wanted list of nearly as many top clubs as Alfredo Morelos.

The foregoing of course is extremely “Old Firm” centric, and as the two biggest clubs in the country they certainly have the biggest impact on the game, culturally, socially and financially. However there is no get-out clause here for others.

We KNOW there is evidence of fraud surrounding the licencing issue in 2012. We KNOW there is evidence of a cover up over that, and the EBT-related registration issues for Old Rangers. We KNOW that the Five Way Agreement was signed by football authorities in the knowledge that it would rob their own rules of judicial authority with regard to compliance by RFC prior to 2012.

We also know that NOT ONE club has taken a meaningful stand against any of it.

Clubs are saying one thing to supporters and doing their best to derail those supporters’ efforts on the other. We can also infer (not unreasonably) that the folk who run the clubs think that we as fans have no right to interfere in how they run their operations.

As I said earlier, Celtic can do what they like whilst TIAR is live, but afterwards, however it ends, the fans and shareholders involved in Res 12 will still be asking questions. Celtic in particular know how fatal it can be to alienate their own fan base – a fan base that has flexed its muscles with devastating effect for the boardroom in the past. And it is the wrath of the fans of all clubs that will eventually see the charlatans get their just desserts.

Our job as fans is to continue to hold those who care little for the honour and beauty of football to account, to continue to press them on their refusal to deal with arguably the biggest sporting scandal in Scottish history.

The bottom line (which is of course what the folk in boardrooms care about) is this. They need us far more than we need them. As fans of different clubs, the sensibility of those of us at SFM recognises that the real battle, the real war, is not between rival fans or rival clubs, but between the arrogant, self-entitled clique who run our game; who lie for fun, who cheat and belittle the sport; and the good folk who make it possible for the game to prosper.

Resolution 12 is not just about Rangers – nor is it just about Celtic. It deserves to be embraced by every true football fan in the country. The Res 12 franchise needs to widened

Sooner or later the fans will demonstrate their unhappiness with the money men. They did it in 2012, and they will inevitably do so again.

2,251 thoughts on “A Lie for a Lie”

  1. Thanks Watcher and to your friend. 

    Rangers statement may have appeased some of their fans but your friends comments seem to be in agreement with the rest of us that in reality it is just a feeble attempt at pretending to care! 

    A club that has taken a "mañana" approach to financial difficulties by merely deferring wages is unlikely to be the best at pointing the way forward. Anyone paying the least bit of attention should surely be aware that we are a long way from a return to normal income levels for football. 

  2. 3 Whats in these difficult times.


    1. What a lack of leadership in our game.

    2. What a Hobson's choice series of divisive, unfair, dysfunctional and almost certainly expensive solutions. 

    3. What an opportunity for real change and changes across the board about to be missed.




  3. From the reported Rangers* proposal : “…..member clubs shall be entitled to effect repayment by written confirmation to the League that the loan provided to that member Club may be set against the equivalent amount of the payment to be made to such member club on such determination.”

    Note the use of the word 'entitled'.

    Why would this not be an automatic deduction from the prize money when that is decided?

    What if a club elects not to have their loan set against the prize money? How would the loan then be recovered? Would the club still get their prize money?

    I can see problems ahead if there happened to be a cash-strapped club without access to other lines of credit.

    Scottish Football needs to keep their eye on this ball!

  4. Finloch 9th April 2020 at 14:51

    3 Whats in these difficult times.


    I’d echo those three “whats”

    With regard to your second “what” and “expensive solutions”:

    There is something that is fundamentally wrong with the process, when your club can be relegated simply by the votes of competitor clubs, thereby cutting your club’s future revenue from all sources including gate receipts, hospitality, prize money, broadcasting, retail, advertising, sponsorship etc.  I’d estimate a drop in turnover of £5-£6m for Hearts, should they be relegated in a similar way to that proposed for Partick and Stranraer.

    Had the season been completed and Hearts was in bottom place or had lost a play-off from 11th place then they would have fully deserved the consequences of relegation, but having it imposed by your competitors (some of whom benefit as a result) seems unjust in the extreme.

    Let’s say that the majority of  Premiership clubs sought to impose an end to the season now and award the title to Celtic.  Would Celtic actually vote for that with the knowledge of a risk that UEFA could seek to exclude Scottish teams from UEFA competitions next year, as a result of not completing the season? 

    That would be an illustration of Celtic potentially being disadvantaged financially by a vote of its competitor clubs.  It’s the same situation that Hearts finds itself. 

  5. redlichtie 9th April 2020 at 14:58

    From the reported Rangers* proposal
    They want another loan to add to the loan they recieved from close brothers to add to the loan they got from Dave kings company to add to the deferred wages they will have to pay back
    All to be paid back at a later date but if a bill comes in for the Ashley damages and a bill comes in for memorial walls?
    Any creditors of the ibrox club just now may be very worried about getting any kind of payment from then any time soon.
    Feck looking at it i’m worried they won’t last until the end of the month

  6. At such a time of crisis, with difficult / potentially controversial decisions to make for the SPFL…

    IIRC, both Maxwell and Doncaster have their offices on the same, 6th, floor at Hampden.

    The two of them could have sat together in front of a laptop for 10 minutes and recorded a short video to stick on YouTube – displaying a united front and explaining the proposals on the table, explaining UEFA's input, reassuring supporters, etc.

    Agreed, they probably couldn't add any specific detail, or indicate any preferences, but at the very least it would make the key stakeholders – i.e. us, the paying customers – feel like we are in the loop, being kept informed of what's going on.

    Would have cost nothing.

    Could have generated some much needed goodwill towards the SPFL and SFA.

    But, that personal approach probably never even crossed the minds of Maxwell or Doncaster.

    Today we had the inaugural, virtual 'First Minister's Questions' live – so why can't Hampden initiate something similar?

    Improving Customer Service at Hampden should be top of their list! Start by asking for Customer Feedback, to state the bleedin' obvious.

    If they don't want feedback, they won't improve.

    If Maxwell and/or Doncaster are too scared to ask, then they are not leaders of anything, IMO.

    Rant over. smiley

  7. easyJambo9th April 2020 at 10:26


    HirsutePursuit 8th April 2020 at 23:50

    When a club, or clubs, cannot complete its (or their) fixtures, the SPFL board can make any determination it considers appropriate in the circumstances. That specifically includes a determination of a scheduled Play Off Competition.


    I think that the application of rule C50 isn’t appropriate n this circumstance. In fact I’m not sure that is applicable at all, unless you are a lawyer that is looking for loophole to justify the SPFL’s position.

    It is the SPFL that is proposing that Brechin cannot complete its fixtures and as a result has decided that it shouldn’t have to face a play-off.  It is not the club deciding that it can’t complete its fixtures and participate in the playoff, which is where C50 might come into play.



    I'm certainly not trying to justify the SPFL's position.

    I have no particular skin in this game – other than a desire to see the people who are charged with overseeing our game do so fairly and within the existing rules.

    The very last thing we need is the footballing authorities to, once again, ignore their own rules and make something up to get to a predetermined outcome.

    My reading of rule C50 is that it is a catch-all rule – the inclusion of the phrase "for any reason" in the first sentence means that it does not matter why the circumstances have arisen. And the liberal use of "and/or" seeks to make those circumstances as wide as possible.

    There is no causation element to this rule – "for any reason" means just that.

    It only matters if the relevant circumstance(s) exist(s).

    I see this in very simple terms.

    Once it has been agreed/dictated that no further league games will be played, it follows by simple logic that clubs will cease to participate in the competition.

    Ceasing to "participate in" the league triggers rule C50.

    I'd turn this around and ask what loophole you see that would make C50 inoperative?

    I honestly cannot see any valid reason why it should not apply.


  8. martin C says @ 19.04

    Fair point well made.

    As a lifelong CFC fan, I’m desperate for the season to be completed as per 38 games (to eliminate any pathetic calls of ‘tainted’ titles – now there’s an irony for  RFC and its  apologists and propogandists!), but I must face up to the inevitable that this will not happen.

    There is a distinct probability that no European Leagues will be completed.

    I wonder (since cricket has the Duckworth-Lewis method of determining winners in truncated matches) could that lead to a kind of  Alistair Johnston method of  placing an asterisk against national league winners to indicate that, well, they didn’t really win the title.

    In such cases, said asterisk would have to be placed against all the league winners who are entered into the Champions League.

    Please read the above as ever so slightly ‘tongue-in cheek’ – its that time of night!!

  9. D-Day today then will Scottish football shoot itself in the head sure seems like it could.Looks like Hibs are siding with sevco and Hearts so hell mend them all. 


  10. So looks like the top flight is screwed aberdeen a no. If this is really the case then payout no money no loans nothing let everyone live or die by their own means.That includes my club.

  11. Edinburgh news now saying Hibs are voting for the proposal so a u-turn I do hope so would have hated my club going to the wall but if they were voting with sevco then I would have cut them from my life hard as it would be so no more from me on the subject.


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