Land of the One Horse Race

If the last twelve years have told us anything, it is that the football authorities are far less interested in the actual sport, the processes of playing the game and maintaining fair competition, and totally devoted to the acquisition of the spare cash lying around in fans’ pockets.

The lies and contortions which went into attempting to save the dying Rangers Football Club, and the subsequent ridiculous proposition that the dead club had come to life again as the One True Rangers (despite two of them having actually participated in the same vote at the same time), and in fact had never died at all; we were only kidding etc etc. These were all targeted at the fantasist notion that the blue pound was a prerequisite for the success of the game.

But it was never about the turnover of Scottish Football as whole, rather the ringfencing of cash by those in charge of our top half-dozen clubs, whose boardrooms could easily serve secondary purposes as Tory Party committee rooms, populated by those who insist on conflating aspiration with acquisition.

Of course, it is not just Scotland that the malaise has visited. The inequitable distribution of wealth in society, grotesquely in favour of those at the top and in charge of the means of distributing information is mirrored in football all over Europe, where cash-rich clubs routinely pick up titles giving them access to even greater riches in European competition. Apart from England, where there may realistically be four or five challengers for their championship, there is hardly a top league in Europe where you can’t predict who will be on top of the pile come the end of the season. In short, European football is the land of the one, or two-horse race

It is curious therefore that national leagues remain the most important competitions to fans and TV companies, despite UEFA competitions being far and away more competitive.

One odd anomaly is that despite Scotland’s football leagues being the best attended in the world in terms of percentage of population, the TV and streaming cash available to our game is multiples less than the cash available in similar sized countries, for example in Scandinavian, Dutch and Belgian football. One would think that this stat alone would result in P45s being issued at Hampden, but ho-hum …

Leaving the last paragraph aside, the point I am arriving at (slowly, but hopefully steadily) is that the logical progression to the inequitable distribution of the game’s riches is a move away from national leagues to elite European and world competition. This is a move which takes participants in the game away from the roots of the sport itself, and distances the owners, the managements and the players even further from the fans. The relationship between fans and clubs, players in particular, is based on the belief that there is a common cause, a shared goal between them. Further evolution into the kind of sport I see in ten years time will I believe finally break that bond, and the beautiful game we grew up with, the wonderful shared joy (and pain) will be no more.

If they all buggered off and started new clubs with different names, like Glasgow Gorrillas, Edinburgh Hadyertees, Dundee Donkeys, that would be fine, but what they have all taken from us is our clubs’ histories and identities.

They knew that when Rangers died. Having that brand was not enough. They needed the history because they thought that was the effective way to monetise it. My own feeling is that it wasn’t necessary to pretend. The old club was gone anyway. Rangers fans would not have deserted the new Rangers playing in blue at Ibrox.

However the rest of our clubs are still here after a century and a half of serving their communities. Taking those histories, those traditions, and using them just to enrich the few is to mind appalling.

A sizeable section (though absolutely not all) of Rangers fans believe in the continuity myth, but like our government knows, having a compliant media allows the lie to peddled ad nauseam. Football has that compliant media to help grow it into something it was never intended to be.

My own view is that a more equitable formula for sharing gate, sponsorship and media monies is the only way forward if we are to get the game back to what it was intended to be. Not a view popular amongst fans of clubs based in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen – and yet ironically, the real glory days of those clubs all took place when there was a more equitable distribution of cash in the game and where real competition was allowed to grow.

Like our country, now in the grip of neo-fascists who want to stifle freedoms and rights at their whim, football is in the grip of like-minded greed. In both cases, it’s probably too late to do anything positive.

39 thoughts on “Land of the One Horse Race”

  1. Think there is movement behind the scenes to get rid of Bennets regime .
    Was the GASL not pushing for American involvement not too long ago .
    IIRC he blocked certain shareholders from voting funnily I thought some of them were guys he was recently looking to get into bed with to force Bennets hand

  2. A plugin has broken the site for logged in users – unfortunately whilst I was on holiday. Now fixed and ready to resume the banter 🙂

  3. Interesting season ahead. Looks like Celtic slipping back a bit, Hearts & Rangers about the same, Hibs in freefall, Aberdeen looking solid.
    St Mirren and Killie also with a great start.
    As I say, interesting …

  4. I’m afraid the “edit comments” plugin was one of the rogue plugins causing the site to fall over, so that facility is gone for the time being.
    I will be updating the site before Christmas. Give it a leaner, but more colourful look. At that time I will try to add some user-friendly functions.
    Also considering a trial of allowing comments by non-registered members. Worn that t-shirt before of course but who knows 🙂

  5. My apologies folks. Over my extended break I thought I had fixed one problem but neglected another.
    My focus over the next few weeks will be to change the look and functionality of the site. Meanwhile, be kind about the new blog 🙂

  6. I said in my post of 21 August at 00.28 that I would post any reply that I received to my email to AIM Regulation ‘complaining’ about what I believe was the Nominated Adviser’s failure to notice that the ‘Prospectus’ issued by RIFC plc in 2012 was in my opinion misleading and ought to have corrected to show the truth.
    This is the first opportunity I have had to post that reply. (I had said that I would post both the reply and the full text of my letter. On second thoughts, though, my email to AIM Regulation is a bit on the long side, and the general run of readers of the SFM know already know my view point so I won’t post it here.)

    “AIM Regulation
    AIM Regulation
    Fri, 25 Aug at 14:58


    Thank you for your further email…regarding Rangers International Football Club plc (the “Company”) outlining your concerns regarding: (i) information in the Company’s Prospectus dated 7 December 2012, prior to admission of the Company’s securities to AIM; and (ii) information in the Investor Information pages on the Company’s website.
    AIM Regulation considers all enquiries relating to matters within our remit, which is compliance with the AIM Rules for Companies and AIM Rules for Nominated Advisers and takes action where appropriate. In this regard, please note that our remit does not extend to any current information on the Company’s website, noting that admission of the Company’s securities to AIM was cancelled in 2015.
    As indicated, we can assure you that we consider all enquiries and investigate alleged breaches of our rules. However, you will appreciate that confidentiality is essential in maintaining the integrity of our work and, accordingly, please note we are unable to comment on individual enquiries.

    Kind regards

    I can accept that “AIM Regulation” has no brief to look at an application by a Company to have its securities admitted to “AIM” because, of course, until it is admitted it is not a member company of “AIM”.
    And I understand that a member company kicked out of “AIM” ceases to be a member.
    But this leads to the absurd situation in which a Company could issue a misleading Prospectus, capitalising on the good name and market history of an entirely different company for a couple of years, and when it ceases (for reasons unconnected with its Prospectus) to be a member company of “AIM”, “AIM Regulation” can do nothing in respect of investigating whether their Prospectus was misleading!
    I will make that point in my reply to “AIM Regulation” indicating that I will copy my original email and their reply to it, to the FCA, asking how it can be right that the in-house regulatory body can be so limited in its powers of regulation that it cannot investigate a complaint about a Prospectus!

  7. After listening to pundits’ comments on football at the weekend (and before) , it seems that a foul is only committed if the players “claim” for one . When did that become a rule ?

  8. Paddy malarkey
    If that is the case I would point any of those uttering such to the penalty sevco 2012 got in the cup game v morton .

  9. Picking up on your post BP. Couldn’t agree more especially the points about the value of competitive domestic leagues translating into European success and the weakening of the link between clubs and fans.
    There was a fairly wide ranging article with Arsene Wenger in The Independent in his role as (from what I could figure out) global head of football development at FIFA. He talked a lot about transfer fees, rich v poor countries, developing players and tactical developments. But unless I missed it he didn’t once mention the fans.
    Personally I would have a more equitable sharing of revenues (especially European incomes) on basis that European spots are awarded to the country. We could go out on a limb and do this as Scotland on basis that we believe it will strengthen the domestic league, improve all teams and lead to improved European results – this would be my preference.

  10. paddy malarkey
    8th September 2023 at 18:27
    ‘…We’re not to be demonised after all’
    Well, I am no fan of Douglas Ross as being a politician whose politics are very, very different from mine [ note: I do not accept the creeping American bastardisation of our language, where even BBC England now uses ‘different to’, as do some asreholes on BBC Radio Scotland.} Things ‘differ from’ or are ‘similar to’ other things, ffs!]
    But I agree with him on this issue!
    I speak lightheartedly tonight, cheered by our victory in Cyprus.

  11. Woking Celt

    Auldheid is also a champion of equitable distribution of Euro cash. I think we need to be far more radical. The “culture” Scottish football favours the two big Glasgow clubs to such an extent that genuine competition was already difficult to achieve before gate-sharing was abandoned.
    The retention of gate money makes that imbalance even more entrenched imo.
    Of course it’s never gonna happen, but my view (which perhaps betrays my politics) is that money men have taken over our top clubs. They have zero interest in competition, and there is very little in terms of motivation that would incentivise them to look at improving the sport vs their bottom line.

    Ultimately they will destroy the sport: nothing last forever after all, but I really feel that our gaze should be inward, and not jealously eye-ing the riches in European football.

  12. Rather than touring the Ranger’s museum ( should that be Ranger’s 1 and Sevco Ranger’s 2 versions), would Mr. Beale not be better off taking a peek at the England training session on their training ground. According to most reports he may need some asisstance in gaining knowledge in tatics, etc. Showing the past glories of Rangers 1 and Rangers 2 is highly unlikley to spark an uptick in their fortunes on the field.

  13. Well, all I can say is that we were absolutely utter rubbish tonight!
    Well and truly gubbed.
    Gubbed from kick-off.
    Big punts up the field instead of clever close-work passing , always on the back foot in the first half: a small improvement after the substitutions not sustained ..
    Honest to God, Scottish Football must have done something very bad, to be thus punished .
    I wonder what that bad thing might have been?
    Naw, we all know that Scottish Football is living a lie at its very heart
    And hell mend it!

  14. vernallen 09/09 22.49

    Further to your comment regarding Englands use of the facilities at the RTC, i’m sure you will agree that it was a great gesture by Gareth Southgate to put on another session at Hampden and invite 49,000 Scottish fans to attend.
    Bravo Gareth, Bravo.

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