The Stella Dallas of Europe

Leaving aside for the moment the Shadenfreude-laden giggling as first Celtic, and then Rangers departed the Champions League this season, it is worthwhile taking time to think on the reality of Scotland’s latter-day bit-part status in the game.

There are Celtic fans who try to rationalise it by pointing out that for them, the Stein years were a wonderful exception and not the norm. That however does not explain the European status of Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs, Dundee, Dundee United, Kilmarnock and Dunfermline in a period of roughly a quarter of a century from the beginning of European competition.

From the fifties to the eighties, Scottish clubs were feared and respected in Europe. Since then, only Martin O’Neil’s Celtic and Walter Smith’s Rangers have made an impression on the European scene.

So what has happened? Many blame the distraction of new technology, taking potential Johnstones and Baxters away from pursuing the soccer dream. I’m not convinced of that myself. They have game consoles and PCs in England and Italy and Germany as well. They also have them in Scandinavian countries where daylight hours and suitable weather are in even less abundance than in Scotland – and of course clubs from Scandinavian countries were both responsible for Celtic and Rangers fates this season.

Failure then breeds failure. Losing out one year means more (and earlier) qualifiers down the line. In this regard, you have to wonder at the claims of how “brilliantly” Celtic have been run over the last decade, when the club went into Euro qualifiers again and again unprepared in terms of personnel, even to the extent of using makeshift central defenders in several campaigns. Our clubs know its all coming, but year on year, we get caught on the hop by the timing of those early ties. Planning? Don’t make me laugh.

We are also faced with the reality that fans of clubs who are not in contention for a ECL group place, are usually fervently hoping that the quest ends in failure. Not because there is a deep hatred of either or both Celtic and Rangers, but because a Champions League place for a Scottish team gives the successful side an immeasurable financial advantage over the rest. Of course that attitude is understandable when you look at the reality for our clubs if one of their number makes it to the group stages.

Scottish football clubs rely heavily on gate income for survival because their media deals struck with broadcasters are so much poorer than in countries of similar size. ECL money – even if the successful side fails to score a goal or get a point on the board – is like all your Christmasses have come at once.

It is well known that the income gap between Celtic & Rangers and the rest is huge. The income gap between a Scottish Champions League team and the rest is even more massive. Yet if a Dutch, or Portuguese or Danish or Swedish side get a place in the group stages, the impact is not so great. Why? Because they have football administrators who can sell the game effectively, getting value for their product from the media.

This is the one area where our administrators have failed consistently and miserably.

The current football model where home teams keep their own gate money, and in some cases even have their own media contracts, is designed to (with the notable exception of England) create a few bigger fishes in a number of smaller ponds. It ultimately ends with the pantomime (which has not yet gone away) of the European Super League.

I wish I could say I had a solution to all this, but my instinct is to say that in the absence of a solution we should forget about Europe and its riches. Instead, lets return to a sport driven model of the game where there is a more equitable share of revenues. Forget the tuppence ha’penny TV contracts and give football back to the fans, live on a Saturday (Covid permitting). In time, the level of competition would increase, as would the quality of the product. The talk to the TV folk when they want to pay the going rate.

It might help if there was some kind of levy (listening indy supporters?) imposed on subscription service providers like Sky. £25m versus £1.5 billion is a much smaller fraction than that of Scottish subscribers to the Sky platform for example.

There is little we in Scotland can do to prevent the globalisation and Mafia-isation of the game internationally, but those things we CAN control, like turning inward to improve our game instead of, like Stella Dallas in the eponymous classic movie, standing in the rain looking through the window at the banquet elsewhere.

Of course it won’t happen.

527 thoughts on “The Stella Dallas of Europe”

  1. upthehoops 5th October 2021 At 14:34

    ‘Someone on Twitter is claiming Rangers have submitted the 2021 financial year end accounts’
    Nothing on the Companies House website yet.
    Perhaps the return to CH has only just been made, which would suggest that the tweeter is an insider with access?
    The figures cited would probably be near enough the mark to be a real source of anxiety.
    And perhaps HMRC will have RIFC plc flagged for helpful early reminders to be issued?

  2. I would ignore the rumoured losses until they have been verified officially , I asked the individual directly where the figures came from and there was no reply . He also stated they still owed Close when it clearly states on companies house their charge(s) have been satisfied.
    File under wishful thinking until proven otherwise.

  3. I guess we will learn soon enough if TRFC have filed their accounts and what these show. I thought that SGs celebration on the pitch on Sunday was a little OTT and his explanation that the players and fans “will need each other” in the months ahead (BBC website) was a little cryptic. Is he alluding to hard times to come?

  4. @A11 – thank you for making the case for the prosecution. Presumably with such a tape of errors/bias you would agree that the standard of refereeing in Scotland is not fit for purpose? And certainly not aligned with any campaign to market the SFPL as the “best small league in the world”.
    However your comment with regard to foreign referees is not borne out by either common practice nor current ratings. There is a reason why international fixtures have referees from neutral countries appointed. And remind me how many Scottish officials were at the recent Euros?

  5. Quick fact check for those with selective amnesia …

    Any reference to Rangers, in the context of it RETURNING to Scottish football’s top tier, is to a non-existent club.

    TRFC/Sevco could not possibly have rejoined something they had never previously been part of, and therefore, any claim to them ‘returning to the Premier League in 16/17’ is, how do you say it JC (?) – a BIG LIE!

    Daft intit?

  6. Jingso.Jimsie 5th October 2021 At 11:48
    ‘…I’d be interested in finding out what makes Scotland’s referees appear so inept.’
    I idly wonder whether there is in other footballing countries anything like the same level of discontent with the standard of refereeing as there is here in Scotland?

    I also wonder whether the SFA would be prepared to give us some facts and figures about
    a) the number of applicants there are at any given time, in the 12 referee associations ,
    b) the number of school pupils at any given time who apply for the refereeing SQA
    c) what percentage of persons who take the refereeing course fail to complete it,
    d) what percentage of examinees succeed but subsequently drop out?

    I assume that ‘data’ of that type is routinely collected and analysed?

    Perhaps it’s time for a more public sharing of the problems with recruitment, training, retention, and motivation of would-be referees?
    (And I should maybe add that my sweeping assertions about Scottish Football governance and the creation of the Big Lie are not directly related to the refereeing function or referees in general..)

  7. bect67 5th October 2021 At 22:43
    ‘.. how do you say it JC (?) – a BIG LIE!’
    Yes, indeed, bect67.

    And for fun’s sake, I fired off an email today to ‘transfermarket’ asking why they showed ‘Rangers’ as having won 55 league championships, since The Rangers Football Club was admitted into Scottish Professional Football only in 2012 and could not possibly have won 55 titles!
    Ignorant or ill-willed , they need to be told the truth, and the fact that they bought into the myth shows them up as being apt to get things wrong, and perhaps undermines their credibility as any kind of ‘authority’ in matters of football.

    Bad cess to them and may their every venture fail as being propagandists of untruth!

  8. Albertz11 5th October 2021 At 12:13
    ‘..Norman. Lets be honest………You DONT know that Rangers need the CL monies’
    It’s not for me to speak for ‘Norman’, Albertz11.

    But OF COURSE TRFC needs the kind of money that success in Europe can bring!

    Financially they can hardly wash their face and are hanging on desperately.

    They have no meaningful borrowing facilities, except to tap into their directors for loans, or make further share issues to try to raise a few bob.

    And I’ll warrant there is another Craig Green or Charles Whyte out there right now waiting for the opportune moment when Administration strikes and Liquidation follows,

    ..knowing that the new club THEY create will be happily and rejoicefully accepted by Scottish Football governance as being the Rangers of 1872!

  9. While its interesting to see the various comments on Scottish referees and what can be done to improve it, a more interesting research project would be on the woeful record of Scottish clubs in European competitions. If memory serves right this year, like other recent years, has not been a banner year. Rangers losing to 10 men teams twice, Celtic battered by a German team, while Aberdeen, Hibs and others flounder. Time to get back to the grassroots and find solutions, otherwise, Scottish club football will be fodder for the other nations.
    What will Abertz11 have to say when the actual Rangers financials come out. He seems to be the only one who believes things are all roses in the financial garden.

  10. vernallen 6th October 01.26

    What will Abertz11 have to say when the actual Rangers financials come out. He seems to be the only one who believes things are all roses in the financial garden.

    Where have i said that?

    In truth i expect the Rangers financials to reveal massive losses.

    I have previously commented that we are fortunate to have a loyal group of investors who to date have been willing to step up and make up any shortfall.

    This of course is not sustainable in the long term.

  11. JC 6th October 00.02

    Like Norman you don’t know whether Rangers needs CL monies.

    Would they prefer to have access to it- Yes. Is it a necessity?, neither you,i nor norman can state with any accuracy that it is.

  12. ‘Albertz11 5th October 2021 At 17:08

    Regarding the apparent refereeing bias towards Rangers.

    Since returning to the Premier League in 16/17.

    All domestic games.

    Red cards – Rangers 22 Celtic 13.
    Yellow cards – Rangers 356 Celtic 268…’
    I don’t think those statistics prove anything.

    In the matter of red & yellow cards, it’s not the number awarded (& recorded) that raises eyebrows, it’s the number that are apparent ‘stick-ons’ that aren’t given.

    Referees aren’t consistent. They’re loath to book players early in a game, even though their conduct should be sanctioned under the Laws. They’re loath to give a second booking to players late in a game, leading to a red card & suspension. That skews any analysis of numbers awarded.
    On a moderation point: if Albertz11’s posts are being put in purdah, would it be possible to have them posted immediately after the last post when they are released, rather than included in the thread at the time they were submitted? I’m sure most miss some of his postings as they are appearing out of sequence. Thanks.

  13. How long is a “long term” Alby?…..It’s been ten years of historical losses already. For e.g that would be a pretty long jail sentence, but no so long if one was a giant tortoise.
    Does “loyal”, mean until bankrupt, or, Enough left in the bank to retire to a modest French chateau?
    Long term, , is really just a sound-bite, and the only truism that can be taken from it is, it is not eternal, and gets shorter with each passing day.
    I once knew a club that tried to live like that………..Wonder what happened to them.

  14. Albertz,

    Of course I don’t know for certain whether Goldson would have “got-away” with the Porteous tackle. However, 50 years of watching refereeing bias in favour of Rangers, (not by all refs) leads me to believe he would have.

    Especially when the referee concerned coaches the Rangers youth players as part of his day job!!!

  15. RFC 2012 has been awarded £3,404,500 plus interest against the administrators for underselling the business and assets.

    Summary and disposal
    [253] For all of the foregoing reasons, I hold that the noters are entitled, in terms of
    paragraph 75 of Schedule B1, to an order that the respondents contribute the following sum
    to the company’s property by way of compensation for breach of duty:
    Loss of chance of sale of marketable players £977,500
    Loss of chance of sale of Steven Naismith £827,000
    Loss of chance of lease and sale of Ibrox Stadium £750,000
    Loss of chance of sale of Murray Park £850,000
    Total £3,404,500
    [254] I would intend to award interest on this sum at the rate of 4% per annum from
    6 February 2017.
    [255] Before pronouncing an interlocutor I shall put the case out by order in case parties wish to address me on any matters (arithmetic or otherwise) arising from this opinion. I am grateful to all counsel for their very thorough and helpful presentation of their respective cases.

  16. @normanbatesmumfc – being somewhat remote I am both intrigued abs astonished by comment re ref coaching youth player as part of day job. Can you please elaborate? Many thanks.

  17. Lurkio 6th October 2021 At 12:54
    ‘..RFC 2012 has been awarded £3,404,500 plus interest’

    Thanks for posting that link, Lurkio.
    I take this from the judgment, from last line of para 30 and the last three lines of Para 31

    [30] ………………..Sevco Scotland Limited subsequently changed its name to The
    Rangers Football Club Limited.
    [31] After the sale of the business and assets, a number of players declined to transfer to
    Sevco and instead registered with other clubs, in England and elsewhere. Sevco sought to
    argue that it retained the players’ registrations and was entitled to transfer fees. Certain
    clubs made payments to Sevco to avoid litigation, including Southampton (for Steven Davis)
    and Coventry (for John Fleck). No transfer fee for any of the players was payable to the
    company. On 4 July 2012, the SPL member clubs voted to refuse to allow Rangers’ SPL share
    to be transferred to Sevco. The club was accepted instead into the third division of the
    Scottish Football League for the season 2012-13!”

    That is, there was no transfer of an existing right to be in Scottish Football. TRFC was admitted as a new football club, while the old club died , and its sporting history and achievements died with it, as James Traynor so graphically described at the time.

    It really is time for the SFA to confess its lies, and restore truth and sporting reality and integrity in Scottish Football.

    On the actual judgment, I had hoped that BDO would have been awarded a greater sum. But perhaps the low amount awarded will make it not worth their while to appeal?

    Well done BDO!

    A SENIOR judge has ordered administrators of Rangers to pay £3.4m in compensation over “breach of duty” after deciding that Ibrox and Murray Park should have been put up for sale after the club collapsed.

    Lord Tyre has made a judgement after former club administrators Paul Clark and David Whitehouse of Duff and Phelps were accused in court of a seriously flawed strategy in raising money for thousands left out of pocket by the club’s financial implosion in 2012.

  19. Is there any other football club* in the World that is named after the year they were liquidated?
    RFC 2012 (part of the great deception)

  20. Lurkio 6th October 2021 At 12:54

    ‘..RFC 2012 has been awarded £3,404,500 plus interest’


    So that is all the stadium and training ground were undervalued by…LOL!. Good Lord! How much did Charles Green have them valued at as soon as he took over? Not that I am surprised.

    Thank God my club has never cheated the taxpayer in this way while laughing in their face. How can ANY Rangers fan think this is ok…seriously?

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