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Tuesday, 08 January 2013 17:30

Remember Sporting Integrity?

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THE shape of things to come, three divisions of 12-12-18, has been agreed in principle.

This abomination will now be pulled and stretched by selected members of the SPL and SFL in a desperate attempt to make it more presentable.

Good luck with that.

It would be easier trying to iron out the lines on the face of the old broad, Madge, in Benidorm.

12-12-18. It’s ridiculous, especially when you remember the two 12s will fragment into three eights.

Yet this time supporters will just have to buy into it. Whatever happened to that new and bold notion that fans were all important?

It isn’t that long ago clubs, particularly those in the top flight, were solemnly insisting that ignoring the views of fans would be akin to financial suicide.

Remember? It was when the game was wrestling with the problem of what to do with Rangers.

All the clubs were squealing that the wishes of fans had to be granted. If you swallowed any of that bilge you probably also believed in sporting integrity.

Of course it was all nonsense. Sporting Integrity was a cloak of convenience, albeit a rather thin, practically transparent one, behind which club leaders huddled together to come up with sanctions.

Rangers had to be punished, they deserved to be punished but it seemed as if additional penalties were being randomly introduced depending on who was in which meeting.

Many Rangers fans like to think the frenzy to cause the club as much additional pain as possible was driven by one club but that wasn’t strictly the case. Many fans of many clubs waded in but this is not to say Celtic fans or their club didn’t attempt to influence the outcome of debates on Rangers and possible sanctions.

Of course they did. And they are still at it on social media sites and on blogs clattered out by individuals who are no better than semi-literate.

The sheer hypocrisy of what is happening within Hampden’s corridors of power right now will be lost on them but let’s not pretend sporting integrity or the wishes of supporters really are important to all those clubs pushing for this change.

If they were listening to fans they wouldn’t be sticking with a top division of 12 , and if there was any integrity there would be no rush to bring in changes for the start of next season.

If, as seems likely, the structure is altered for 2013-14 supporters won’t get what they’ve already paid for, especially those following teams striving for promotion. Actually this entire season will be rendered meaningless.

Sporting integrity won’t merely be compromised, it’ll be crushed but this is what happens when desperation slips in and throttles reason.

This belief won’t sit well with the few who are more or less running the SPL and influencing thinking within that desperate organisation but they can’t complain. After all, they’ve dismissed Rangers’ views  completely.

This club, the biggest one in the country, were not invited to take part in talks which will shape the game’s future.

We are then entitled to conclude that this club are not important, which is strange indeed when so many fans of other clubs continue to be obsessed by Rangers, who are simply getting on with their own affairs asking no favour from anyone.

We do, however, expect commonsense to be applied, along with fair play.

Look, Rangers will return to the top flight, which will of course have to be rebranded. Rangers will take a seat at the head of the table where, despite the latest insult of being shut out of reconstruction talks, we will act with the good of Scottish football in mind.

We’ll work through the divisions and we will return stronger and better than ever before.

This club accepted their sanctions and moved on but too many others have been unable to do the same. They continue their assaults and while the deranged, who are using social media sites as conduits for their twisted agendas, should be ignored there are more than a few in the mainstream still maligning the club at every opportunity.

In a BBC radio debate last Saturday night one pundit, in a matter-of-fact manner, said Charles Green speaks with ‘forked tongue.’ No attempt to explain or justify the statement, just as no explanation was offered when another radio voice claimed there was a dishonesty about Walter Smith when he went public with a late bid for the club.

Word of advice gentlemen. From now on be very careful when talking or writing about this club.

To paraphrase something said about another club, Rangers will not be treated less than others. And although there is no desire to pick fights, be assured that no one will attack Rangers with impunity.

Better, however, to quote Bill Struth: ‘Never fear, inevitably we shall have our years of failure and when they arrive, we must reveal tolerance and sanity. You do that, you will emerge stronger than before.’

Tolerance and sanity. That’s what Rangers will demonstrate and maintain, especially when back at the summit.

After all, someone has to. 12-12-18. Dear God.

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