Celtic and Rangers: Of Squirrels and Stigma

I’m fully aware that in writing this, I’m going to come off as a monumental killjoy to all Scottish football. So I hope it is worth it.

The last couple of days have seen an explosion in interest in the goings on in the Scottish game. Rangers fans are up in arms about perceived injustices of the past. Celtic fans are rejoicing in the chaos and misconceptions. There’s anger, banter, confusion, insults, indignance and all sorts of other emotions blasting through twitter like freeze frames of a running river. This, fitba fans, is what the Scottish game is sold on. It is what hooks the interest of casual bystanders and draws them in on lure of unfathomable anarchy. Pure emotion of a scale and intensity that no reason, rationality or fact based dissection can penetrate.

It is also our great weakness. It is what allows any old published tosh to rake the ashes back into a roaring fire for those with the poker to enjoy the warmth. Its light blinds us to being manipulated for the benefit of others. Nothing that came out in the news this week actually matters. It would never have changed anything. It simply allowed the festering sore of 2012 on all sides to be exploited again.

And that’s both the beauty and the tragedy of Scottish football. We care so much about our own part of it that we lose track of the things that make it so special. For all those looking for answers as to why this stuff, based on information that has been the case since the report of 31 October 2018 (it is all over a year old) is resurfacing now with a new spin – inflaming those passions of hatred, injustice, superiority, lost glory, delusion and redemption is an end in itself.

There’s a Celtic AGM coming up on which the SFA’s role in the events of 2011 could be laid bare. Opening that can of worms would inevitably lead to examination of the top clubs (who instructed the SPL and less directly the SFA) in the 2012 aftermath.

Across to the west, at Rangers there’s a funding deficiency and a need for fresh investment to continue to sustain the footballing operation. The Club has been allowed to become reliant upon future funding which is inherently uncertain, with the club and not the providers bearing all the risk. While new investment is needed, Dave King has barriers thrown up to being involved with such transactions and is due to have his fit and proper status reviewed.

Both bring scrutiny to the lack of oversight, security for our footballing institutions and risk inherent in our game. The easiest way to divert attention for all these vested interests is to stoke up the fires again and draw the light away from our combined best interests. Ensuring those that let our game fall to pieces in 2012 and risk a series of collapses are replaced by more competent bodies that are responsible to the fans – those that really matter in the game.

The legacy of the 2012 collapse of Scottish football’s most decorated club ought to have been recognition of the dangers to our whole game of trading on the back of an intense rivalry – one that can monetise bigotry and depends on the world not changing or recognising that as no longer acceptable. Of protection of our clubs from the dangers of reckless owners and incompetent governing bodies. Instead we got played off against each other and treated to more of the same.

It’s too easy to play the Scottish football fan who can’t rise above tribal rivalries to change the bigger picture. Enjoy it if you can, but don’t expect better while you do. It’s probably better not to care or worry about the bigger picture. It is not as fun.

We’ll continue our analysis of the legacy that 2012 left Scottish football soon. Its all just a laugh anyway.

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