Billy Dodds writes a regular column for the Sunday Herald. I mentioned one previous article of his which was one of the very few public comments made by a recipient of a Rangers EBT. In the piece, which appeared designed to exonerate Rangers of any wrong-doing, Mr Dodds in fact managed to corroborate the charges against the Club! You can read my thoughts here. He also wrote about the stripping of titles, and I commented on that here.
Today he offers the public his thoughts on how Rangers FC’s arrival in SFL3 will affect Scottish football.
The full piece can be read here, but I have extracted some quotes worthy, I feel, of comment. My thoughts are in bold under those of Mr Dodds.
In a sick sort of way, I am sure Rangers’ demise this season will be great news for the Third Division. They will see attendance figures that they could only have dreamed of and, by all accounts, there will be Third Division players who will get the chance to play in front of the TV cameras every week.
How is this “sick”? SFL3 players will get the chance to play before larger crowds than in every game except cup ties against SPL teams, and SFL3 will get TV coverage.
At East Fife on Friday morning, there was a huge reaction when we nabbed a tie with Rangers in the first round of the League Cup. It will be a massive financial boost for the club and I am sure it will get a massive crowd at Ibrox because there will be plenty of Rangers fans who want to unite and show they are all in it together.
For many teams in the Third Division this will be a time to rub their hands and contemplate just what a couple of home games against Rangers will do for them this season.
Billy Dodds’ East Fife, a team in SFL2, is delighted that it has been drawn against Rangers FC in the League Cup. As he says, it will provide a “massive financial boost” for the club. He sees a large Ibrox crowd, as Rangers FC fans come out to support their team.
It is not realistic to envisage that appeal stretching all the way over three years – at least – as Rangers try to work their way through the leagues and back to the top level. I think that there will be something of a circus wherever Rangers go this season, but I do wonder about the long-term implications of this. What happens when the novelty factor wears off?
Maybe if Rangers FC are mired in the SFL3 for a couple of seasons the “novelty” will wear off. If however it progresses up the divisions as predicted then each season a new lot of teams will have the excitement of a visit from the Ibrox team. Of course there will be a circus, in the same way that the visit of Rangers or Celtic to a small ground in the Cup in previous seasons was a circus. I think Mr Dodds has a low opinuion of football fans outside the SPL if he thinks that the novelty of Rangers FC visiting will wear off soon.
There are reasons why fans of so-called “wee” teams might not come to a Rangers FC game, but they are more to do with perception of the fans’ behaviour rather than with novelty declining.
Next Sunday’s game in the Ramsdens Cup against Brechin City will be a sight to behold I’m sure, but 12 months down the line will there be the same sort of interest? What will be the selling point next season?
The selling point next season is that Rangers FC should be in SFL2. There will be at least eight teams which had not been on the itinerary for the Rangers FC comeback tour.
The clubs in the Third Division who will see a huge swell in their finances because their grounds will be packed out whenever Rangers come calling. There will be a hardcore of Rangers supporters who will continue to go to just about every away game.
So, what is the problem?
I do, though, wonder what crowds there will be at Ibrox. There will be an element of defiance at first from Rangers fans, but I strongly suspect those crowds will tail away. I reckon if there is a steady 20,000 at home games throughout the campaign, then Rangers will be doing well.
Ah. The novelty value of which Mr Dodds writes is that for Rangers FC fans. He does not see them continuing to turn out in numbers. His predictions of 20,000 being a good crowd have enormous implications for the owner of Rangers FC. At that level, how can the club pay its way?
Bill Miller saw a £30 million black hole over three years, even where SPL football seemed to be on the agenda.
Mr Dodds seems to doubt the professions of loyalty from Rangers FC fan groups, namely that they would not “walk away”. For what little it is worth, I suspect that a diet of crushing wins will keep good crowds at Ibrox, but any faltering could see attendances drop to near those of the darkest days of John Greig’s managerial term, when one match saw a crowd of just over four thousand.
The Rangers squad as it stands is strong enough to cope with the demands of the Third Division and it looks as though they will now spend this week scrambling around to add to that. It’ll be a crazy week I’m sure as Ally McCoist attempts to get in as many bodies as he can.
I wonder if Mr McCoist knows that the respected football pundit, Mr Dodds, disagrees with him regarding the squad numbers and quality left at Ibrox? My football knowledge is infinitesimal by comparison with these men, but I find it inconceivable that there would not be enough strength in Rangers FC to carry SFL3 before it. Why, if the squad is strong enough, will Mr McCoist be scrambling to add to his roster? After all, there is a limit in the SFL on the number o0f over-21 players who can be registered. Does Mr McCoist know that? (I am sure he does.)
Mr Dodds then refers to Dundee being elevated to the SPL.
If I hear the words “sporting integrity” again this summer, I think I may swing for someone. We all heard this phrase time and time again when the possibility of keeping Rangers in the top flight arose and it was the argument chairmen up and down the country used to justify their voting decisions. Yet, amidst the debate about sporting integrity, you have Stewart Regan and Neil Doncaster putting Dundee back into the top flight. Can someone please explain to me how that makes sense?
It makes sense because (a) there was a vacancy in the SPL and (b) Dundee finished second in SFL1. That seems straightforward, does it not?
Why does Mr Dodds seem exercised by the Dundee story? After all, the team came back from administration, and a 25 point deduction, to survive in SFL1, and then the next season to win elevation. Especially as many of the high earners were made redundant, and the management team which took over relied on youngsters, in the main. Surely Mr Dodds should celebrate that as an example of financial integrity working?
Wait a minute though…in October 2010 the BBC reported:-
“Dundee have been given a 50% chance of survival by administrator Bryan Jackson after he made nine players redundant. Manager Gordon Chisholm and his assistant Billy Dodds also lost their jobs with the First Division club. Jackson, of PKF, revealed the club’s debt was around £2m, of which £420,000 is owed to the tax authorities.”
This explains it, I think. Mr Dodds lost his job when Dundee went into administration in 2010. Perhaps he feels that Bryan Jackson of PKF should have taken the novel approach of Duff and Phelps in connection with the administration?
Perhaps he still feels aggrieved, and there is no criticism of him if he does, about losing his job. Maybe a “declaration of interest” would help explain what seems, and continues to seem, a rather sour piece.
I have always advocated a return to the top flight for Dundee because I think they can enhance the SPL. But they should have got there under the correct circumstances, be that a restructuring of the league or by promotion – not like this.
What would Mr Dodds have done? Left the SPL with eleven clubs? Or would he have ensured that Rangers FC played in the SPL? Deciding on which team should be elevated based upon the results on the field seems entirely consistent with “sporting integrity”.
Dundee are a club who have been in administration twice in the last nine years and yet they are allowed to go back into the SPL? Does that have anything to do with the fact that having Dundee in the league will mean there are four Dundee derbies that television companies will be interested in this season? So, amid all the posturing about “sporting integrity”, there was a scurry to promote a team who have put people out of work because of their irregular financial affairs, because those at the top can see a chance to salvage a bit of cash.
I detect a smidgeon of bitterness here. Dundee got the empty slot in the SPL because of their playing record, and presumably have been able to satisfy the SPL that its finances are now in order. If the SPL had announced that it would take the richest SFL club to fill the gap, then that would not accord with “sporting integrity” but what they did seems eminently fair and reasonable. If Dundee had finished third, is Mr Dodds suggesting that they would still have been put into the empty space? Hardly. Such a blatant manipulation of the sporting process would leave Scottish football exposed as corrupt, which I am sure it is not.
Dundee – 2 administrations in nine years – last one with £2 million debt.
Rangers – administration and forthcoming liquidation, owing creditors possibly as much as £130 million!
Mr Dodds wants Dundee barred from promotion because its financial errors caused job losses. What about Rangers? Should they be barred from promotion to SFL2 for a season or two as people will lose their jobs over its financial irregularities?
Posted by Paul McConville