Banner Headlines – A Self Inflicted Mess for the SFA?

There was extensive debate recently when the SFA Compliance Officer, Vincent Lunny, referred a case against Celtic for investigation. This related to an allegedly offensive banner displayed at a Celtic game. The banner was presumably intended to be a humorous reference to the demise and revival of Rangers, depicting the reverse of the evolution process leading to a grave, and a zombie rising from the grave being shot by a man with a rifle. The descent to the apes, and the zombie all appeared as representations of Rangers.

Media coverage helpfully confused the matter, suggesting that the marksman was wearing a shamrock, although any pictures I have seen do not show that.

Was the banner an attempt at humour? Yes, it was. Was it actually funny? That depends on the eye of the beholder. Could it offend someone? Yes, it could.

There was a flurry of protest at the issue of a case against Celtic, with some suggesting that this was in some way the SFA showing itself as even-handed between Celtic and Rangers, by pursuing each of them over different issues.

Others argued that it was not for the SFA to be deciding what banners were and were not offensive, and that this was an overreaction to a joke.

The SFA clearly felt it had to clarify matters, issuing a statement on 24 September, as linked to here.

 

http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=1961&newsCategoryID=1&newsID=10629

The statement read as follows:-

When the Compliance Officer receives complaints regarding the display of an offensive banner at a football stadium (with supporting evidence) he will open an investigation.

The first step is to gather further information from the club(s) involved and any other appropriate sources, including match delegates.

This type of investigation does not fall under the Fast Track time-scale.

It is worth noting that the Compliance Office does not determine whether one banner is more offensive than another.

His role is to assess whether there is evidence to suggest that one or more of the rules set out in the Judicial Panel Protocol may have been breached.

In this instance, the rules that clubs are bound by relate to whether “reasonably practicable” steps were taken to prevent a banner being brought into a ground and displayed.

In other words, clubs are obliged to ensure that banners that could cause offence are not brought into a stadium, and if they are, to have them removed.

More information on the relevant rules can be found at the bottom of this page.

If the Compliance Officer, after having examined all of the available evidence, forms an opinion that there is a case to answer by a club that may not have taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent the display of such a banner, he will issue a Notice of Complaint and the club will be asked to formally present its case before an independent Judicial Panel.

The Panel will decide which sanctions, if any, should be applied.

The relevant rules quoted in the notice are found at the foot of this post.

The statement leads to the possibility, I think, that the Compliance Officer (CO) might find his in-tray filled with complaints about banners! There seems to be a cross-over with Part 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2011.

As the statement says, the CO will proceed with an investigation where he receives a report of an offensive banner at a football stadium, with supporting evidence.

Presumably that evidence will be photographic or video evidence of the banner? Does the CO need any evidence that the banner is actually offensive, or is it enough for someone to say that it is?

The rules do not define “offensive” thus giving it a wider meaning than then 2011 Act, where the Offensive Behaviour has to be linked to one of the protected characteristics, such as race, religion, sexual orientation etc. In the Act there is no actual need for anyone to have been offended. Instead it is sufficient that it would have been offensive to people, even if there was nobody there to be offended. So, as an example, an exclusively Celtic or Rangers, or Morton, or Aberdeen or whoever, gathering could be singing an “offensive” song about its rivals. The gathering might be 100% made up of adherents to the “offending” side. It might be heard by someone not offended by it, but if reported to the police, the fact that there was no one there to be offended is not a defence to the criminal charge.

In the same way, the SFA statement seems to jump across the issue of offence. It seems to be the position, from reading the rules and the statement, that offense exists where someone says that they are offended. Ergo, if one person who was not at the match sees the banner on the internet or in the media, and is offended by it, or claims to be, then ergo it is offensive. That conclusion seems corroborated by the statement that it is not for the CO to judge whether one banner is more offensive than another. By implication therefore the CO does not decide at all if a banner is offensive.

The elevation of offence to the level of an offence is a cause for concern amongst those conscious of civil liberties. Is there a legal right not to be offended? There is a difference between incitement to crime against a person or group, and something that is offensive. Mary Whitehouse’s National Viewers and Listeners Association used to carry the torch for the permanently offended, scouring the airwaves for things to be upset by – and this in the days when the Obscene Publications Act, with its test of something being liable to deprave or corrupt, rather than mere offence, was the benchmark.

The cudgels are now carried by such as the Daily Mail, which was responsible for the outcry about the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross phone call to Andrew Sachs a few years ago. You might recall that they left rude voice mail messages for Mr Sachs about his grand-daughter, a burlesque artiste. Oddly Radio 2 broadcast some of the content, and it provoked an immediate reaction – 2 complaints. However the Mail picked up on it, and after whipping Mr Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, around 40,000 complaints were lodged, 99.9% of them from people who had not heard the broadcast. The Mail helpfully obtained and published a full transcript, including matters that were not broadcast. This of course was merely reporting the event, and not in any way compounding the “offence”.

Bizarrely the number of complaints about this issue was exceeded a week or two later by people complaining to Ofcom about the voting off of an X Factor contestant.

The Brand/Ross/Sachs incident, whilst clearly tasteless in the extreme and upsetting to Mr Sachs hardly seemed to be something for the nation to be whipped into a moral frenzy over. But it was.

Now football seems to be going the same way.

The focus of the Act of 2011 was seen by many (including me) as being an unnecessary piece of legislation, being more symbolic of the Government being seen to do something than of practical use, both parts of the legislation creating offences which were already offences!

So the SFA justification for its proceedings in this case is that a complaint of an offensive banner was made. The offence is committed by failing to stop the offensive banner being displayed. There is no requirement for the club to have in any way approved the banner. The mere fact that a banner is displayed is enough.

It seems therefore that the only way the club can ensure it avoids a case being brought against it is to ban banners at all, or to remove them the minute they are unfurled, in case someone takes offence.

Indeed, as the prevalence of coverage both official and unofficial grows, the prospect of fans of teams scouring the coverage of their opponents so as to find something to be offended by increases exponentially.

The net effect is to tar every banner with the same brush, as it is not for the CO to decide grades of offensiveness.

The problem for the SFA is that, should it reject any complaint on the basis that the banner is not offensive, they would have become a judge of levels of offence.

This then leads to the situation where banners which are undoubtedly offensive find themselves lumped in with all of the rest, which detracts from the specific point of the rule.

The Judicial Panel of course ultimately decides these cases, and can decide that a banner is not offensive but potentially they could end up swamped with cases on banners. The SFA statement seems to imply that all these cases will be sent for investigation and a hearing.

One person’s humour is another one’s offence. The SFA hard line on this issue, now that it is published, risks making the policy a farce. The SFA should go the whole way and just ban all banners, and that would head off a problem it seems to be causing by its own actions.

 

Posted by Paul McConville


Relevant rules:

Rule 26: A club shall take all such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure the safety, good conduct and behaviour of its supporters on any ground. A club playing at its own ground or allowing its ground to be used for a match in which it is not participating shall also take all such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure the safety, good conduct and behaviour of all spectators at that ground.

Rule 28: Any misbehaviour by spectators before, during or at the close of a match resulting from the failure of a club or recognised football body to take all reasonably practicable steps to avoid the misbehaviour shall render that club or recognised football body liable to any combination of sanctions provided in this Protocol.

Rule 31: A club playing at its own ground or allowing its ground to be used for a match in which it is not participating must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, (i) good order and security; (ii) that policies and procedures have been adopted and are implemented to prevent instances of Unacceptable Conduct; and (iii) that any instance of Unacceptable Conduct is effectively dealt with, all at its own ground, on the occasion of a match.

Rule 32: Each club must ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that its players, officials, supporters and any person exercising a function for or in connection with the club do not engage in Unacceptable Conduct at any club’s ground on the occasion of a match. Any failure by a club to discharge a requirement to which it is subject by virtue of Article 28.6 and this Article 28.7 shall constitute a breach of these Articles.

 

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111 Comments

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111 responses to “Banner Headlines – A Self Inflicted Mess for the SFA?

  1. Peter

    I hope CO is going to investigate T’Rangers banners relating to paedophilia that have been displayed at several of their 3rd division away games, with as much gusto as he appears to be applying to the Celtic banner.

  2. Fisiani

    Another own goal by the SFA, Celtic have great lawyers and will surely have this complaint kicked into touch

    • cam

      Harper MacLeod??,,,you don’t do irony do you?
      Remember when Mr McBride got Lenny’s sentence reduced by using Scots Law on the SFA,,,guy was a hero.
      Gers lawyer got Carloways judgement over ruled,,,club was lambasted for using law courts.

      ????????

  3. ecojon

    @ Paul

    An interesting and thought-provoking post in so many ways. I am well aware of the civil liberties minefield that could open-up because of the issue.

    However, that can be prevented quite simply by Celtic itself and that does entail more searching and having security staff who are actually licenced to carry out body searches. It also means removing banners which are displayed and which the club deems to be offensive.

    I hear the argument at this time of financial pressures that we can’t affors to alienate some supporters who might stay away. Well, if their support for the club is predicated on having the right to display ‘dodgy’ banners then the sooner they are gone the better.

    We should always be on the moral high-ground on these issues and with a dash of common-sense we won’t be infringing any laws of the land or of football and not only will our fans have the loudest laughs but the last one. Humour often has more of a long-lasting affect that nastiness in my experience and Celtic fans do humour well and this was forged with Rangers 9 in a row and tbh was the only thing that allowed us to keep our sanity.

    It is easy just to laugh at the banner but I personally had issue with it in two main areas: 1) the gunman and 2) The eugenics issues depicted in it.

    There were undertones about the depiction of the gunman I personally didn’t like and don’t believe they have any place in supporting a Scottish football club in this day and age and I am as proud of not only Celtic’s Irish Heritage but also my own.

    As to the eugenics depiction well I take exception to that possibly because of my feelings of contempt towards those who have used the same argument against ‘The Irish’ in many lands down the ages with most of it being based on their poverty and religion.

    As a Celtic fan I was annoyed because only a moron couldn’t see the rich vein of humour that could be tapped from the Zombie theme and I believe a few bitter people with other agendas ‘used’ the banner.

    In the current climate where the Rangers support have circled the wagons and see themself under attack from all sides they are hitting out by complaining about everything under the sun and issuing a fresh boycott with every breath.

    So it was obvious they would create about the banner and I just can’t help but feel that was the purpose behind it and not simply the justifiable provision of a good laugh at the Rangers support.

    Who knows what the SFA will decide on this one and quite simply it doesn’t actually matter because we are the ones who should put our house in order. At the end of the day the Zombies, as is their won’t, look like stumbling on forever and providing huge amusement for Celtic fans. Indeed the jokes and depictions since the banner have been first class humour. Loved the banner btw: ‘Justice for Zombies’ 🙂

    And as to Rangers it’s strange that not only has there been no reaction from any of them about their vile banner that appeared in SFL3 but I can bet my boots that not one of them has reported that one to the SFA and it would appear that their ‘good friends’ in the SFL have decided to keep their mouth shut as well and just take the blue cash.

    • ecojon

      Just in case people think I don’t get it – I do see the double-meaning in ‘Justice for Zombies’ that’s what makes it a great piece of humour 🙂

  4. JimBhoy

    First off i neither agree nor disagree with the actual banner, it could be deemed funny by some and bad taste by others… Celtic’s defence however should be simple, show the governing bodies the bill for policing/stewarding that game. If the people who are generously paid to maintain control and order do not know what would be deemed offensive or not then there is clearly something wrong with the footballing rules and regulations.
    One way to make things clearer and playing devil’s advocate here, ban all banners not issued (or authorised) by the actual home club, limit the size of a flag to a certain size, nothing worse than the 2 wee bhoys in front of you waving flags bigger than themselves for the duration of the game.. Simples… I can imagine I will get some feedback on that suggestion.. 🙂

    Going back to the banner in question it was right across from the police section of the ground was it not…In plain sight, maybe another piece for the defence..

    • John Pollock

      Econ, jimbhoy,I have to say I am slightly taken aback by your take on this issue. I wonder what the youth of the Green Brigade’s ranks would make of your comments. Like it or not they are our clubs future so you better brace yerselfs;).

      • cam

        Wow!,,,if that rabble are Celtics future then you are well and truly ,,,,,

      • ecojon

        @ John Pollok

        When you have reached a certain age you see how the vast majority of the firebrands develop into well balanced citizens which they would never become if they didn’t have passion to begin with.

        I just happen to believe that sometimes older and wiser heads should point out that there are a millio ways to skin a cat and sometimes full-frontal assault is not the best.

        I have made my position clear on the banner and have looked at a lot of contra-opinions not on this site and also debated the issue and there is mixed attitudes towards it and that is actually healthy as it allows debate to take place.

        It is the closed minds syndrome that is the dangerous one where evil influences in the shadows set the agenda and dare I say it wind the Zombies up and point them in a general direction 🙂

        • John Pollock

          I agree with you ecojon about the older and wiser theory. I also think some pretty poor own goals have been scored such as F**K UEFA banners, which add nothing to the game but the cringe factor.That said, if the banner in question is deemed offensive enough to lead to official action, I give up mate.

  5. Robert D Bruce

    Paul,

    It seems bizarre to me that a compliance officer, can after the event, take action against a club because someone, who need not have been at the stadium, takes offence to a banner they have seen displayed in a newspaper or on an internet posting.

    What chance do the club, in who’s ground the banner is displayed, have to address the matter?

    In the case of the “zombie” banner at Celtic Park. Did anyone in the crowd alert a steward or the police that they were offended?

    Were the police in anyway concerned that the banner was in contravention of the law?
    If they were, then they surely are empowered to remove it, in much the same way as they would arrest and / or eject someone using insulting or abusive language.

    The banner has attracted it’s own notoriety now. People in pubs are passing judgement on the banner without having seen it either on the day or on the internet.

    Now it has set the standard by which all banners must be judged in some peoples eyes.

    But the offence is not the banner. The offence the CO has to deal with is the prevention of such a banner entering the stadium or the removal of the banner once it has been unfurled and come to the attention of the stewards.

    One would have to ask how this policy is enforceable.

    Do we have a “banner man” at the stadium entrance to whom you present your banner for inspection and approval before it is allowed in?

    Do we once the banner has been approved allow it to be unfurled and allow all the stewards to inspect it in case either they or anyone in their section of the ground takes offence?

    Maybe we could have the stadium cameras pan around the ground and display each banner on the giant screen and gauge the crowd reaction to the level of offensiveness caused?

    Would one dissenting voice in a crowd of 60,000 be enough to alert the CO that something needs to be investigated if the banner was not taken down?

    What happens when banners appear at lesser stadia where there are no cameras present save for an iphone that captures a photo of an offensive banner. the banner is allowed to be displayed for the duration of the game and no action is taken by the police or the stewards – some of whom find it mildly amusing.
    The photo is posted on the internet as an example of an offensive banner although no formal complaint is made. There is mass hysteria regarding the banner on radio talk in’s and on the internet and people are genuinely disgusted at the banner content (some never having seen it but had had it reported to them). There is anger and people want justice.

    What does the CO do in that instance?

    Answers on a postcard please.

    • Mick

      Projected art bhoys that’s what ultras do like spray paint art what we need is a charter Scottish ultras are the friendlyist in europe we. Should legitimise them via a charter

  6. Steve

    For clarification on the gunman in the banner apparently this was cut and pasted from an gamestation game and has no connection to terrorist organisations as some seem to be assuming in these replies. Also the picture of the banner was doctored to add a shamrock and in some cases the word ‘hun’ was added, these doctored versions were used as supporting evidence in some of the complaints most notably in the one made to our First Minister. One hopes that the SFA are at least using the photos of the actual banner at the game in their investigation.

    • ecojon

      @ Steve

      To me it doesn’t actually matter where the artwork came from – we ain’t daft and introducing a black silhouetted gunman on a banner at a Celtic game doesn’t immediately make you think ‘ gamestation’ – we all know what association is made.

      But as I have said repeatedly the gunman is not my major concern but the sub-human aspect is and I personally happen to think that is distasteful at a minimum. Others might not and it probably falls into the category that there could be a wide variety of opinions on the banner and we are all entitled to our own opinion, within a fairly wide lattitude, and that’s one of the good things about our society.

  7. P Dickson

    How would one go about complaining about the “PEADO FREE DIVISION 3” banner we all know appeared at a recent Sevco5088 game

    • ecojon

      @ P Dickson

      Go to the SFA website and get the email address and send an email detailing your complaint to the chieff exec with a copy to the compliance officer and request they be acknowledged. Possibly copy in Celtic FC as well.

  8. johnfm15

    Hugh Keevins was offended so there you have it.. here is a man who has sat at Ibrox for a number of years whilst the fans of RFC belted out sectarian song after song, followed by the racist anti Irish famine song and was never in the least offended or upset.. but there was a gunman depicted on a banner he never saw and he was so upset that incontinence aids were required. So if a man who can sit through 2 hours of sectarian and racists singalongs gets upset you know there is an urgent need for this matter to be addressed.
    I was at the game never saw the banner, have now saw the original and the photoshopped version (the one keevins described on clyde) and i would say that the gunman was probably OTT .. but i think it was witty… only the furore made me look at the banner longer than 10 secs

    Dont want to get into comparisons on what they do we know the banners they hold up… The problem is Keevins and his ilk use this to grab the stage using the gunman as the focal point . and so the story spins.. from something comical to something sinister…

    its a shame that he (keevins) never found the time or energy to comment on the shocking Jock Stein slur merchandise on sale outside ibrox … Iam glad Celtic FC told him he wasnt welcome and I hope soon the DR and clyde are also personna not grata

    • ecojon

      @ johnfm15

      I’m afraid that Hugh has become a parody of how an objective journo should behave. I’m afraid too many years of being the tame ‘pet’ has destroyed any way back for him.

      As to boycotts against media organisation as opposed to individuals – I tend to be very wary of that and think it best left to Rangers who don’t apparently have the ability to deal with these matters in a professional manner.

      I think it much better that if there is a problem with any media organisation then a meeting should be held between the club and the organisation with the problem area fully explained and discussed. If the problem persists then a media statement should be issued pointing out the club’s position and the previous attempt to deal with it privately with the media organisation and the continuation of the problem.

      In this day and age all media organisations are terrified of falling readership and audience share and I have no doubt that Celtic supporters have enough savvy to carry out their own ‘boycott’ against any media organisation which continually attacks the club for a non-footballing agenda.

      • John Burns

        Hi, always interested in your posts and I note all you say on this occasion – however consider that Keevins went out of his way to justify the Record’s “Who do the Rangers fans hate most – the Taxman or Lennon” – his reasoning was that the atmosphere at “old firm” matches was so toxic anyway, that it could not be further ratcheted-up by the back page of the Record. We must remember that this was during the time that attempted ‘bombing’ of Neil, Paul McBride and Trish Godman, was already in the criminal justice system.

        Keevins, Jackson and Traynor are enemies of Celtic FC – we should treat them as such!!!

        • ecojon

          @ John Burns

          To me Hugh has become a cypher of the journalist he used to be and is hanging on by the finger tips prepared to put his name to any editorial line demanded of him.

  9. ecojon

    I think the best way to deal with this really is common-sense over what the banner is trying to achieve. It would be great to add good taste but that is such a variable I ain’t sure it would be very helpful.

    I would hope that in coming to any conclusion that the banner-brigade would bear in mind the possible consequences for the club. I am sure that even a little thought could turn a possibly ‘dodgy’ banner into a hoot which would have the bhoys ‘bouncing’ in the aisles with laughter.

    No one will willingly declare a dodgy banner far easier to do it on a white sheet and wrap it round you. Unfortunately the only way to stop that is either intrusive body-searching or punitive action against those involved. Even the body searching is in reality a no-no as there are hardly any stewards licenced to do body searching as they have to be paid more.

    And, of course, removing a banner during a game could lead to other problems and I would imagine that Celtic will take the line that the correct action is not to provoke any reaction but if the SFA want to rule on that then on their head be it should there be any consequences. Given the recent spineless conduct of the SFA I doubt they would have the bottle for that.

    I raised on here some weeks ago the question over what was happening at Ibrox with searching and photograph-taking of fans with their season ticket details as proof of ID. These also touch on civil liberties issues. In that post I predicted that there would be a reaction against Celtic just to prove even-handedness and lo so it came to be.

    The solution is in our hands – Let the Banners Fly – but keep them funny and I’m sure that’s what most fans want to see and have a good laugh.

  10. lordmac

    It now looks like there will be no more Banners at sport grounds
    the Banners that Emmeline Pankhurst had at Epsom would have been banned if it was in this era , and all them blokes then that where offended would have loved that, votes for woman, a political statement
    now all the Zombies in the country must be going to celebrate come 31st october halloween

    • ecojon

      @ lordmac

      Well we wouldn’t want to frighten the horses!

      But you make the point that I wholeheartedly agree with and that is that the Zombies are a gift to Celtic and it just keeps giving like by having Zombie days at Parkhead – a lot of our Goth support already have the make-up and some of the gear btw 🙂

  11. Marching on Together

    The sooner we have a First Amendment in this country, so that all speech – whether spoken, written, or visual – is protected from oppressive censorship such as this, the better.

    • ecojon

      @ MoT

      The problem is that Free Speech for some means that others have to put up with extremely sick and offensive statements from others that are dangerous enough to destroy people’s lives. And the ‘others’ I talk about are often not in a position to defend themself and even if they were perhaps they are decent people who would never stoop to the sewer that their tormentors inhabit.

      • Marching on Together

        So who decides what is sick and offensive? Either you let the state decide, which is no different from agreeing that the state gets to control our thoughts and speech, or you give a right of veto to anyone who might be slightly offended. Nothing like giving Rangers fans a veto over what might be sung at Celtic Park, and vice versa, as that is where we are heading.

        I am offended regularly by what I hear and see, but I know that the speech which is most precious is that which I personally find sick and offensive.

        • ecojon

          MoT

          I’m afraid that we will have to agree to disagree on this one. To Me Freedom of Speech is a valuable freedom in a free society and must be protected but so to must the civil rights of others who adhere to the rules of society as laid down legally or in generally accepted moral or conduct codes.

          It would appear that your line of reasoning means that we can make any kind of verbal assault on gays, coloured people, people of different religion and culture, people with different politics or even people exactly the same as us but for some reason something about them triggers an unprovoked violent, vile and abusive verbal attack on them.

          And if the all-out verbal assault is OK when do we move to unprovoked physical violence being OK. People haven’t laid down their lives in millions for the right of free speech to see it used to oppress innocents.

          • Marching on Together

            Having the right to express speech that others might consider a verbal assault does not mean that that is something you then do. Why do the “generally accepted moral or conduct codes” have to be laid down in law? From my own club’s not too distant past, we had a huge problem with racist abuse from the terraces. However, what sorted it out (largely, as with any club there are still a few idiots) was not laws, or police action or national campaigns, but fellow Leeds fans from the terraces deciding that such behaviour was unacceptable, making it clear it was unacceptable, and over a period of time, bringing it to an end.

            As for your various groups who might be subject to abuse, who defines them? From my own experience of other minority groups being abused at football which I have witnessed, why not outlaw abuse of fat people at football (“who ate all the pies”, “you’ll never see your penis”, “I predict a diet”, etc etc), or ginger haired people, or those from the north of England (“you dirty northern bastards”), or Scots, or soap stars (“there’s only one Pat Butcher” at a particularly repulsive male Millwall fan), or anywhere poor (“in your Glasgow/Newcastle/Liverpool slums”) etc etc. Why not pass a law saying that at football no-one is allowed to be nasty to anyone else?

            Why not reintroduce enforcement of blasphemy laws? Some Christians find the speech of atheists shockingly offensive. Many Muslims find any critical discussion or criticism of their prophet to be offensive.

            And no, telling a joke about a disabled kid, or singing songs about Brighton fans being gay, or calling a player on the same field of play a “black bastard” is NOT the same as a physical attack or violence.

            You seems happy to have your speech and thought controlled by the state and to have what you can say or sing at football defined by Rangers fans. I am not.

            • ecojon

              @ MoT

              I just don’t know why you appear to protest too much about this issue. It is right that your fellow supporters tackled racism but that forms part of the accepted moral and conduct codification that I mentioned earlier IMHO. It is society in action and the will of the majority at work.

              But let’s try and look at this from the opposite end of the spectrum and say the ‘good’ support had lost the battle and the racists grew even more bitter in their verbal and almost ineviutable physical attacks. How then would you protect the oppressed minority or would would you just walk-away and think well I tried.

              I just cannot accept the jumps in logic that you make especially when you make assumptions about me and how I would personally react. Let me make it clear that ‘The State’ will never determine what I think or say – what I do may breach a law and I may be punished under that law. In a democracy it is possible to change that law – the answer is not to have a lawless society. I have lived in a couple of lawless societies and it ain’t pretty.

              As to Rangers fans determining what I can sing at Celtic Park – I determine what I sing. My personal moral compass means that I will not sing songs supporting terrorist organisations although I can recognise the tenuous argument that some might make to justify this whilst personally rejecting it. And on the broader perspective I may decide not to sing certain songs because of the damage that it can bring on my club from the footballing authorities. That is my choice and again nothing to do with what Rangers supporters may or may not wish.

              It might assist your understanding of me if I point out that I also don’t accept 90 minute bigots who think they can turn-up and spout vile abuse and be ‘normal’ human beings for the rest of the week. They are like the non-drinkers who get steaming and turn into absolute pests once a year at Xmas or the annual office party.

              Football banter can be very heavy but it’s part of the game and if you can’t handle it as a player or a fan then you should go and take-up crochet. But there is a dividing line which some people in certain supports try to lead other ‘sheep’ over for their own ends which can be various and are usually despicable especially as the organisers dwell in the shadows.

              But on this issue I can see we are way too far apart to reach agreement.

            • Marching on Together

              “It is right that your fellow supporters tackled racism but that forms part of the accepted moral and conduct codification” It is the moral and conduct codification of the majority. Are we to say that no minority views, whether you or I like them or not, are to be expressed at football? Even if that minority view is offensive to many, such as racist abuse. (Although even that is sometimes hard to define – as a Leeds fan, I have seen the bizarre sight of the Leicester City chairman condemning some Leeds fans as racist for singing at Muzzy Izzet “you’re a shit Turkish bastard”, while refusing to accept that some of his own fans singing at Mark Viduka “you’re a shit Aussie bastard” must then be equally racist).

              Where we seem to differ is that you seem more inclined to use the force of the law to codify the morals of the majority, while I would be more inclined to use reason and debate from citizens to show the errors of the ways of the transgressors.

              You also make a huge and erroneous assumption in assuming that vicious verbal abuse always leads to physical violence – that is simply not true. That I am afraid is your jump in logic. I do not condone any such violence, but the price I pay for being able to exercise my right of free speech, is hearing stuff that makes me want to punch somebody.

              As for you deciding what you sing at Celtic Park, good for you. One of the reasons that I no longer go to watch Celtic is that I started listening to some of the stuff being sung or shouted or commented on from people around me on my occasional visits. However, I would defend the right of these people to sing the songs, shout the abuse and make the comments, even if I am offended by them. This is why l find the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act so dangerous. It is a simple step to extend the proscribed speech to other things that the government of the day might wish to see the back of.

              Finally, you did not touch on my point as to who defines who the oppressed groups requiring protection are, and in the absence of any such definition, we are left with the state doing it, and we revert to the failed philosophy of group identity politics, with your membership of a certain group defining who you are, rather than you being treated as an individual.

  12. Ernesider

    Much Ado About Nothing

    A contrived attempt at humour that failed abysmally.

    • ecojon

      @ Ernesider

      Tbh what annoys me about the banner is only the two elements I have previously mentioned. That aside I thought the concept was hilarious with tons of scope for development.

      Even Bears are holding the banner up as proof that the t**gs now accept that the club lives on. I kid you not! The fact that Zombies stumble on is not in any dispute and neither is the fact that the are no longer what they used to be.

      If any proof of that is needed then we only need to look to the weekend Battle of Stirling. There was a Rangers Zombie team on the field but no one will ever persuade me that is the same club that used to play in the SPL before Zombification struck.

    • youtubeyou

      f—y as f–k actually, wake up to yersels.

  13. JimBhoy

    @ecojon good point on the consequences of removing banners, maybe that’s where celtic are as a paltry slap on the wrist or small fine for something slightly risque is better than punters hassling policing staff as they remove what is essentially a vehicle of ‘freedom of speach’…

    I would suggest we have banner police outside grounds paid for by the SFA who would take a photo and upload it to stewart regan real time for a thumbs up or thumbs down from him…This of course would cover games on any day/time 🙂

  14. philip spicer

    Surely this is a Job for Campbell-Bannerman

  15. carl31

    Firstly, football stadia throughout the country are not public parks. The right to freedom of expression apply differently (or end) where the owned property begins. Just the same as the threshold of my home or yours. Guests are not free to express themselves as they wish but are subject to rules. Free speech is no defence. Paying the ticket price into the stadium doesn’t buy the right either – in fact theres likely expressed terms and conditions to that effect. I’m happy to be corrected here.
    The beaks aren’t ruling that the banners, any banners or all banners or such expressions, aren’t allowed at all – the rules are there for the stadia of the clubs which come under the juristiction of Association football in Scotland.

    Second, I suppose its difficult to construct such rules to be worded suitably to enforce the rules as intended by the spirit, but not spill over into being officious, rather than official. Neil Lennon has said in interview/press conference that stuff from the fans of all clubs such as this type of good natured banter is healthy for the game generally and the atmosphere at matches, so long as it is good-natured [my paraphrase]. I think this is the sensible test to apply. IMO the rules try to do this, but the SFA statement does indeed imply that any single instance of complaint must be acted upon, without judgement on ‘good natured banter’, logically leading to the race to the bottom that is the ban of all banners. Cue the numerous posts stating confidently that this is all a result of complaints at the Famine Song.

    • JimBhoy

      @Carl31 I was thinking that as I posted and then thought of the times i have been asked not to take photos of my wee lass at a school sports day unless I asked the permission of all parent there. There are plenty of cameras in use at football matches.. If football stadia were classed as private places and therefore no freedom of speach, there would be no flags never mind banners..
      Going back to my original real point if clubs like Celtic expend so much energy working with police and being billed millions for the privilege each season I would expect those responsible for keeping order to be the ones in discussion with the SFA over what dem rules are.. Unless you ban all flags and banners it will be impossible and if that ever happened it would really detract from the footballing event experience for sure..

      • carl31

        Think of the difference between what is yours to do by right and what is allowed at the discretion of the owners. Allowable cameras at matches are just that – allowable.

    • johnfm15

      I dont know if its resulting in some form of retalitation about complaints made about the famine song and its a far reach to compare the two.. but here in lies the problem…the deconstruction of what started off as an joke… it IMO set out to mock the nonsense coming out of Ibrox and backed by a compliant media. The gunman maybe a step to far … i wait to see if anything will transpire from the banners and singalong at Brechin

  16. DubaiGreenWhite&GoldJocks

    Bunch o Dirty Zombie Bassas…who did I offend there m’Lud ?!
    (Though it does sound applicable to that Rotten(ing) Mob.)

  17. Ernesider

    An idea (Epiphany) just came into my head regarding Ranger’s proposed new Orange strip.

    An Old Firm flag – Green White and Orange – meaning of course peace between the two clubs and cultures.

    Naw, maybe not, just realised that it had been tried before without much success.

    • ecojon

      @ Yes flags are powerful totems to some and I was quite surprised that on chico’s visit to NI he was asked about flying the flags of the Home Nations at Ibrox. Well, not so much surprised about flags being raised but more that no one asked him or Imran Ahmad what the capital raised from the share flotation would be spent on.

      However, back to flags and I must admit that I have absolutely no problem with the Flags of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland being flown at Ibrox as long as the Lord Lyon King at Arms has no objections.

      However, I do wonder what flag will be flown for NI. A clue might have been provided from the flag-bedecked table which was ‘dressed’ by the Ulster Banner.

      This flag used to be the official flag of NI from 1953-72 when it was replaced as official flag by the Union Flag. In view of what I said earlier I should add that I have no personal problem with the Union Flag flying over Ibrox as the official flag of NI.

      However, something deep inside makes me think that the flag which is being envisaged is the Ulster Banner which has become associated with the Loyalist and Orange causes in NI and it may well be that to get permission for this to fly at Ibrox then the Tricolour would need to be flown as well so as not to give offence.

      However on the wiki page, noted below, there are alternatives which may allow harmony to reign at Ibrox.

      Ernesider – you are obviously a man wi some balls (or should I say symbols 🙂 and I think you would enjoy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_flags_issue there are some fascinating flags and explanations there including possibly some alternatives. If you have ever wondered why some of the Bears on here are obsessed with ‘thumbs’ you will find the answer on the page methinks 🙂

      This whole affair just shows what a clusterf*ck chico actually is with his money-raising share mania – he is tinkering with dangerous passions and TBH I don’t actually think he has a clue and the SFA seem incapable of keeping him under control.

  18. ecojon

    @ carl31

    At the end of the day Celtic fans are responsible for their own actions and it really doesn’t matter whether this complaint arose from the justifiable complaints about the Famine Song.

    We shouldn’t become locked-into a sterile and ultimately futile tit-for-tat with the all too easily offended hurting Rangers fans who seem to have lost their love for their new SFL3 friends now it looks as though they might be residing with them well into the future.

    If we keep the moral high ground, have the best humour and the team keeps producing the goods then we can leave Rangers to their own petards and strange devices. One thing’s for sure, there won’t be a lotta laughs coming out of Ibrox.

  19. JimBhoy

    @Ernesider Orange on the front with a sash, with a large union jack on the back, the badge is a picture of the queen and a new sponsor in Britannia, made by a German company in Adidia.. If baron von Greenbacks thinks the masses want he will make sure they get as long as it sells. I hear at the next cup game all paying customers are to get a miniature live unicorn and be served food by monkey butlers (in bowler hats of course). 🙂

    • A financial advisor to former Rangers bidder Bill Miller has warned that the club could face financial meltdown again.

      Jon Pritchett, CEO of Chicago based sports investment firm Club 9 Sports, was involved in American Mr Miller’s attempt to takeover Rangers, which administrators Duff and Phelps previously named as the preferred offer for the Ibrox club.

      In an article for international business magazine Forbes, Mr Pritchett stated he could not see how Rangers could be regarded as a possible “turnaround” opportunity.

      He also believes the Sevco consortium led by Charles Green, which bought the club’s assets in a £5.5m deal before transferring them to a newco, will need to oversee a programme of downsizing and cutbacks to avoid plunging into insolvency again.

      Mr Pritchett wrote: “Without the ability to significantly reduce overhead expenses, a commercially reasonable turnaround of Rangers FC was not feasible. From Bill Miller’s perspective, there appeared no possible return on his considerable investment. I agreed with his assessment.

      “Upon full inspection, Rangers was not a ‘turnaround’ opportunity. It was (and is) an opportunity for someone with great wealth and a love of football and/or Scotland to give away tens and tens of millions of pounds. Unless some major, systemic changes occur within the current configuration of UK and European football leagues, I don’t think the Rangers math works.”

      Mr Miller had submitted the largest bid for Rangers with a deal worth £11.2m, which the administrators stated was the “only deliverable bid on the table” after seeking expressions of interest in the club. The owner of Tennessee tow-truck firm Miller Industries withdrew his bid days later stating that the information provided to his team was “more optimistic than reality”, while he also highlighted a hostile reaction among some of the Rangers support, who unfurled a banner against him during a game at Ibrox.

      ‘£10m loss’

      In the magazine article, Mr Pritchett states that the “fan sentiment” was not the key issue behind the collapse of Mr Miller’s bid, but the “numbers just didn’t add up.” He added: “Revenues were in a free fall. The most important revenue stream to Rangers, season tickets, was projected to be down by 20%. The club expected to lose nearly £10m in 2012/13.

      “Cash-flow from sponsorships was minimal and the administrators had already pulled out the cash from player wages, kit sponsorship and future payments due the club from the sale of several players. Worse, because the administrators had to make a deal to cut player wages to keep the club afloat, the new owner of Rangers would lose a substantial portion of asset value.”

      He stated that as a result of the newco switch allowing players to opt out of transferring their contracts to Sevco Scotland Ltd (now The Rangers Football Club Limited), the purchasers lost out on between £9m to £15m in “player asset value”. He stated: “So, in exchange for a savings of £3m this spring, Rangers lost three to five times that.”

      Mr Pritchett also wrote that 70% of management and executive contracts at the club were protected from “reduction or elimination”. He said Rangers must “cut the fat from every department and rebuild an organisation that values every pound and demands a return on any and all expenses.” In the article published on Tuesday, the sports firm CEO warned that “until bold action is taken, the future for Rangers remains in serious jeopardy”.

      Since the asset sale in June, which consigned oldco Rangers to liquidation, Mr Green’s group was initially the target of a protest from fans outside Ibrox, over concerns about the future of the club.

      However, following meetings with fans groups, as well as criticising the footballing authorities over its handling of the newco’s application to enter the Scottish Premier League, Mr Green’s consortium has seen 36,000 Ibrox season tickets sold for the Third Division club this year.

      In presentations to fans’ groups recently, Mr Green stated that the wage bill for the club was down from £30m last year to £6m, while Sevco has overseen the ending of Rangers’ merchandising contract with JJB Sports, taking the operation back in-house.

      The owners have instructed Capita Registrars to carry out a share issue in the newco, which they expect to take place this month. Mr Green had previously stated in an interview with the club’s official online TV channel that his consortium would make money through a share issue.

      IN DETAIL

      Jon Pritchett’s article for Forbes magazine: What Can We Learn From the Financial Meltdown of Glasgow Rangers FC?
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      • What Can We Learn From the Financial Meltdown of Glasgow Rangers FC?
        Jon Pritchett Jon Pritchett, Contributor
        + Comment now
        Rangers F.C. Reserve and Youth squads

        Rangers F.C. was ranked as one of the world’s most valuable clubs in 2007 by Forbes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        It seems hard to fathom how one of the 25 biggest football clubs in the world (ranked by Forbes in 2007 at #25 with a valuation of $194 million) could come so close to cratering into the abyss. At least it does until you really understand how the club got here. Much like the Greek and the French citizens, Rangers nation refused to take its medicine when it got sick. Years and years of mortgaging the future by stealing tomorrow’s revenues to pay for today’s ambitions were a big part of the problem. When you combine that with an organization that did not tie its expenses to it revenues or even construct any sort of internal metrics to measure the effectiveness of its staff or player wages, you can start to get a picture of how the mighty Rangers arrived at bankruptcy and how 140 years of celebrated footballing history was almost terminated. While there are many contributing factors that will be explored here, the evidence points to hubris as the primary cause. While television revenues in the SPL were becoming increasingly smaller as a percentage of turnover (8% for Rangers in 2011) and season ticket sales were declining every year (down to 37,500 from 44,000 five years ago), Rangers continued to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Clearly, Rangers believed their Titanic was incapable of sinking – simply too big to fail. Failing to acknowledge the global shifts and winds of change, Rangers continued to pay more than they could afford to players, managers and executives (£26MM towards wages on £35MM of revenue). Employee benefits and perks continued to grow – creating an unsustainable set of obligations for a club that was seeing revenues decline. (sounds a lot like the US Government today) Like so many before them, the answer was always to place a bet on winning football as the catapult over the morass.

        The straw that broke the camel’s back emerged in 2011 when it was revealed that the club had been paying players via employee benefit trusts (“EBTs”) which enabled the club to inflate the player’s take home pay, and thus pay their players more and hence attract better quality talent. This aggressive use of EBT’s came crashing down like a house of cards when the UK’s equivalent of the IRS (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) came knocking seeking over £75 million worth of unpaid taxes and penalties.

        Are the Rangers a relic of the old business model or a harbinger of things to come? It is certainly true that Rangers are not the only club to have gotten itself way over the tips of its skis in the world of football. If you kicked a football across most of England and other European countries where the sport is dominant, you’d bounce off more than a few clubs that have struggled and who continue to struggle with huge, immovable debt mountains and obligations. In many ways, Rangers are a microcosm of what ails many parts of the Western World’s economy. The percentage of struggling and over-leveraged clubs has gotten so great that UEFA has passed a sweeping regulation that it plans to enforce beginning in 2013, which essentially requires clubs to operate without losing money. It is understandable how smaller clubs without the benefit of large season ticket bases, grand stadiums or winning histories could struggle to break even, but how does a club with more league championships than any other football club in the world get to this place? How did Rangers take 54 league titles, a 51,000 seat stadium, 40,000 season ticket holders and 5 million global followers to the brink of extinction?

        The answer is by spending most of its time looking backwards into its glorious history rather than forwards into a future that required a major shift in business strategy. Like many formerly great companies, Rangers arrogantly refused to heed the warnings. In 2000, Sir David Murray infamously boasted, “For every five pounds Celtic spend, we will spend ten.” He followed through on that promise and the seeds were sewn. Rangers refused to recognize that in a global environment, new threats emerge rapidly and what you did yesterday doesn’t insulate you from competition tomorrow. When the battlefield changes, the battle plan needs to evolve or soldiers will die.

        Before being sent to the Scottish Third Division this season, Rangers played in the SPL, the top level of football in the country of Scotland. There are 12 clubs in the league, but only two clubs have really mattered in terms of television viewership or attendance in the country. In 2011/12, Celtic and Rangers were responsible for 82% of all gate receipts for league matches and 94% of all television viewership of league matches. In other words, the other ten teams in the SPL were only responsible for 6% of the total viewers when you remove Rangers and Celtic. The average viewership of SPL games was 150,000 but the average viewership for Rangers versus Celtic was 900,000.

        More fans fill Ibrox on a match day than all of the other SPL clubs (not counting Celtic) combined. This is not a league. This is two humongous clubs (now just one) playing with many woefully undersized, undercapitalized and overmatched clubs in a country of 5 million. It is not a fair fight. More importantly for Rangers, the Scottish Football Association and its member leagues are not capable of producing media revenues on the scale of most other countries.

        In the aggregate, the SPL teams produce annual revenues of £125MM while the EPL produces annual revenues of £2.4 billon; the Budeslega £1.6 billion; Spanish League £1.5 billion; Italian Serie A £1.4 billion; The French League £1 billion and the Netherlands £400,000.

        This is part of the problem that Rangers and Celtic face. The EPL has 20 teams – over half of whom have smaller stadiums and season ticket bases than Rangers or Celtic. However, the EPL has a global television deal worth £ 3 billion with SkySports and BT.

        The SPL has a five-year £60 million deal.

        For winning the SPL regular season, a club would receive £3 million in fees (in exchange for their media rights).

  20. smallteaser

    It would be a shame if all banners were banned and something as stunning as the “Four Horsemen” banner never seen the light of day. The shock and awe from both sides at Celtic Park that day was amazing and the sash died in Rangers fans throats.
    Never has a banner had a better reaction.

    • William Murphy

      Four Horsemen was a classic………..Ecojon seems quite a smart guy………….but also seems to be getting bogged down!!

  21. Really dont see the problem ……………the banner, and yes i saw it live and subsequently plastered all over facebook so I know what I am talking about. I take issue with EJ that he felt the “theme” had been hijacked by a few lost souls. I disagree.

    The match was a friendly between 2 teams who have enjoyed each others company and mutual respect for each others fans. It was the first, if I am not mistaken, home game of the new season. Therefore while it was a joke then it was meant as one and nothing else.

    Had it been on display when CFC were playing RFc then maybe you could argue that the theme had an air of sinisterness about it. BUT IT WAS NT.!!

    I used to think that weegies had a fantastic sense of humour and in part still do. Looks to me like everyone concerned is just getting their knickers in a knot about nothing.

    On the serious issue that is raised by Paul s article, I think that the whole of Scotland and in particular SFA needs to take a serious look at its self and consider where and which path they want to go down.

    Flags and banners are now an integral part of football the world over, and I for one welcome it and the atmosphere they bring along with the likes of the GB and BO etc. without them the game would seriously be dead on its feet in Scotland if not the UK, Go to some EPL games specifically old Trafford and you might as well be sitting in the pub because there is no atmosphere.

    If the SFA start banning banners flags etc then they have lost to the mindless idiots and killjoys. They are sealing the death of Scottish football because remove the atmosphere and you remove the fans.

    I sincerely hope that they return a verdict of unfounded/nothing happened here now move on and we can get back to enjoying life again.

    As a seperate issue, it is LONG overdue that SFA/SPL/SFL are turned upside down and shaken out including ALL the articles of association. If businesses and clubs have any chance of progressing then the “rules” and law need to be plainly understood and easy to apply with No exceptional circumstances.

    Lets all learn something from this disaster and create a better inclusive future for ALL. Oh yeh and at the same time find their senses of humour again………………………………………..!!!!!!!

    • ecojon

      @ michaelk1888

      I should add that I based my ‘hijacking’ assertion more on some of the chatter on Celtic fan forums than on the banner itself – it was interesting to see some of the defences advanced which I found shameful with not an iota of relevance to Celtic and football. I was far from being the only dissenting Celtic voice and it’s good to see that opposing views can be aired and discussed which is something I find absent on most Rangers sites.

    • John Pollock

      Take a bow Sir;)

  22. Andy

    Here I am again to give the blue side to the debate over the ‘offensive’ banner.

    First off, I didn’t find it offensive nor did I find it funny, though I can see why Celtic fans would have appreciated the humour.

    And I also have no doubt, that the complaints raised would have been from Rangers fans who were ‘offended’ by the banner, in order to try and get one over Celtic, and have them in the dock. This particularly banner was meant as a joke, and should have been taken that way, hwo anyone could have been genuinely offended I find hard to contemplate.

    Much more offense to be had by last years anti-poppy malark last year IMHO.

    However, since there was a complaint(s), surely the SFA given their rules have a requirement to investigate and implement the rules?

    The rule being, did Celtic take all reasonably practical steps to prevent banner from being displayed, or remove following the display.

    So there are 3 oppurtinitues for the staff that Celtic had paid for to act.

    1st of to all that have been to a game, even where chippedcards are used to gain entrance there are always stewards at the gates…from what I have seen at Ibrox they tend to stop people with large bags or banners to check the contents and I actually witnessed one expressing best wishes to Liam Kellys father not being allowed entry.

    So the staff here have chosen not to either check or deemed the banner appropriate for entry.

    2nd point, most likely a different set of staff have allowed the banner to be brought and initially displayed at the ground.

    3rdly, having been in view of the police they have allowed the banner to be displayed continously despite having clear view of the content

    So on this count, given that its Celtic responsibility to ensure that the 3rd parties they employ are briefed to deal with such a scenarios there IMHO appears to have been a breach of the rules.

    So the arguement on this page appears to be that it’s a bad rule and should be abolished whereas previously it has all been about enforcing the rules in the strictest possible terms??? Funny we should not wish to play by the rules now….

    That said, I actually agree with this, not so much on the theory that every man and his dog will now complain about every banner, but more on the basis that people are far too easily offended these days, and if we cant let others have a joke even at our expense then pehaps its time to give up the ghost, even if someone is offended something like a banner or a song for me is all just a bit silly to complain about.

    Hopefully common sense prevails in the case and no further action need be taken, as I think in anycase given the publicity Celtic will have already taken steps to avoid any sort of repeat of ‘offensive’ banners.

    • well earned thumbs up Andy…:)

    • ecojon

      @ Andy

      You know I would take what you had to say more seriously if you gave your personal opinion and didn’t feel you had to give the ‘Blue’ side.

      I also like how you set-out the three scenarios you have judged to be the case and conclude that Celtic must be in breach and you seem to have totally ignored the ‘reasonable practicable’ qualification in assessing your scenarios.

      The problem is that you don’t have any evidence as to how this banner got into the ground and I would assume that my scenario is at least as likely as any of your three. It is that a female carried-in the banner wrapped around her body with a suitable outer garment covering it.

      There is less chance of a body search for a female who may indeed appear to be pregnant as there won’t be as many female security personnel able to conduct body searches as male ones.

      You twist things and try to imply that all posters here say it’s a bad rule and should be abolished but that we want all rules strictly enforced against Rangers. I see the old paranoia is still there even when you attempt to act ‘reasonably’.

      I’m afraid some banners and some songs are unacceptable to me and I really do wonder if your new relaxed attitude is in-line with the current Darkside debate about bringing back certain sings at Ibrox which seems to be OK in your book if we are allowed to keep our Zombie banner. I have made my objection clear to the banner just as I have with the Famine Song and Hello Hello and many other issues across the divide.

      • Andy

        @ecojon

        You really are a nit-picker, of course it is my opinion, what do you think I am the official speaker for all things Rangers??…..even though I might like the title.

        Did you see the size of the banner….I think it’s fair to say someone would look pretty odd with that wrapped round them and certainly worth asking the question of, no matter the sex…Even if that is the case, what about the next 2 scenarios??….the one probably most pertinent is why it wasnt taken down?

        Not sure where the paranoia remark stems from….Celtic have been charged with breaching rules, and now its the SFA causing a mess for themselves (See headline to this article) but when Rangers breach any rules it is only fair that rules are applied as written? Hypocrisy as opposed to paranoia is the overiding feeling I get from reading the article.

        I am not implying that posters think its a bad rule, only that Paul clearly feels that it is a bad rule.

        If you choose to take offense to songs and banners then I guess it’s people like you that mean the ‘bad rule’ which Paul has implied it is, actualy is relevant. ‘The famine is over, why don’t you go home’ or ‘I hope you die in your sleep nacho novo’……again here you are giving one side of the story, and of course I am here to give the other side. Which is more offensive, weelllllll……its a close one but who cares, its a song…well sorry you care apparently, anyone else?? I can genuinely say I have never taken offense to a song Celtic have sung….the only banner I did find offensive was the poppy banner, but its okay I understand it was political so we move on…

        Should we now stop all recording rappers from singing about shootings, drugs or boybands singing about ‘getting some’…..just in case someone is offended?

        • ecojon

          @ Andy

          I will accept the accolade of ‘nit-picker’ with deep humility 🙂

          You ask: ‘what do you think I am the official speaker for all things Rangers?’ I don’t honestly know what you are Andy other than what you claim and your opening words were: ‘Here I am again to give the blue side to the debate’. I therefore think that self-appointed Rangers spokesman, to paraphrase your phraseology, might be close to the mark.

          However, it is well you have a nit-picker on hand to pick-up the serious error you make by stating: ‘Celtic have been charged with breaching rules’.

          Oh really? I thought the SFA was at the evidence gathering stage only and the rules say that: ‘If the Compliance Officer, after having examined all of the available evidence, forms an opinion that there is a case to answer by a club that may not have taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent the display of such a banner, he will issue a Notice of Complaint and the club will be asked to formally present its case before an independent Judicial Panel. The Panel will decide which sanctions, if any, should be applied’.

          Btw Andy could you remind me what rules that you consider Rangers to have breached. You can restrict this to footballing rules as I don’t think we have the time to deal with everything esle as well.

          I take offence at your accusation that I am only giving one-side of the story and, as previously, really doubt if you read or understand what other posters write. I will repeat what I said which makes it clear my position: ‘I have made my objection clear to the banner just as I have with the Famine Song and Hello Hello and many other issues across the divide’.

          The only position I hold is my position, not the Celtic one, and over the decades I have been many times in opposition to the Celtic line (especially pre-Fergus) and I find very few Rangers supporters who will do that on Rangers sites although some, using a different username, do become more ‘liberal’ on sites such as this. I think we all know what happens to ‘liberal’ Bears on the Darkside that is why they have been declared a protected species.

          I have spelt out the reasons why I personally was offended by the Zombie banner and I also object to it because I think it could harm Celtic for no good reason. But the main aim is to see that the Zombie cult lives on and continues to bring a little happiness into the hearts of the Celtic support and indeed many other Scottish football supporters who see the funny side to it.

          Sometimes you really seem naieve Andy. Why don’t you try wrapping a sheet round yourself and see what it looks like – look upon it as Zombie training and we might even ask you to a Zombie fancy dress ball at ra Barrowland 🙂

          I can also only assume that you have never worked in a shipyard and are therefore not au-fait with how cable was nicked and walked-out the gates.

    • Good points made by Andy and michaelk1888, and thanks Paul for the wider, more serious context. To be honest I found the banner hilarious and only failing in one thing – a weapon should ideally always be aimed at a zombie’s head. Sorry, that’s MY sense of humour for you.

      However, there was another point brought up on a recent fans’ forum: that the banner that was drawn to Mr Loony’s attention may well have been a doctored electronic version that not only had ‘RIP Huns’ on it but also the infamous shamrock on the gunman. This seems to be the one reported as truth by the Daily Wreckord and others – yet another example of lazy ‘churnalism’, and quite a serious one at that.

      So, could the CO have been driven to act by a false ‘complaint’? I would hope that Celtic’s lawyers, apart from highlighting the lack of any report by the onsite constabulary (not to mention the ridiculous time it took for the CO deem the banner ‘offensive’), demand that Mr L’s logging of complaint(s), and any the paperwork and emails relating to the issue, are made public – just as the reporting of the wrong ‘offensive’ banner has been through a biased and unprofessional media.

      Surely we have enough rubbish to deal with in Scottish football these days, and some pretty serious issues to deal with. That a ridiculous issue like this one is raised, only reflects further on how out of touch and ripe for root-and-branch change the football authorities are. If Mr Lunny is really a CO, he must publish exactly how the banner came to his attention, in what form, who complained, and exactly why he thinks anything in the rules applies in this case.

      Most of Scottish football’s recent problems have been the result of secretive views and actions – make sure this one is dealt with as loudly and transparently as possible, if Mr Lunny truly wants to take issue with the banner, with Celtic and their fans. Otherwise, please shut up and enjoy the humour. It’s a game, you numpties.

      • ecojon

        @ Kenny McCaffrey

        Btw if you have any problem with Mr Lunny producing the documentation I could arrange for an assist from John Brown who I’m sure will demand of Mr Lunny: ‘Show us the Deid’. Maybe we’ll find the zombies buried at park circus as well as under the hampden centre circle.

        • Andy

          ecojon

          It really doesnt take much to cause you offense….though I am happy you are happy with the accolade of nit picker.

          I did not intend to cause offense, I only stated the fact that you highlighted one side of the fences ‘offensive’ songs that may or may not offend, whilst choosing to ignore those ‘offensive’ songs from the otherside….and now you imply that all liberal bears such as myself go bad on the darkside…..that my friend is something I could take offense to, but wont as it is coming from your goodself and your prejudicial nature.

          I haven’t actually read your posts today exempt from the one you directed to me, following my comment on the article. And whilst you were branding about accusations of me, I was simply highlighting that within the rules Celtic appear to have IMHO (in my humble opinion) breached those rules.

          Maybe I am completely naive, and perhaps you can wrap someone in a 20 foot banner without anyone noticing, I haven’t worked in a shipyard where this appeared to be common practice…..it still doesnt answer the question, even if this happened, why were no steps taken to remove the banner, given that Celtic should have provided protocol to third parties working at their ground??

          Nonetheless, why people take offense to songs and banners at football grounds is something I will be able to understand as none of it really means much, except for the amusement of the participating fans…Celtic want to hold up banners about rangers current predicament, well it would have been odd to expect anything less, did anyone take actual offense, I cant imagine so and if they did they need help!! If celtic want to sing about rangers players dieing in their sleep then fine, does it matter, does it mean anyone is going to go and find a player and murder them in their sleep, of course not!! if rangers fans sing the famine is over why dont you go home, does it mean they actually think any irish decendant should head back across the shores…of course not!! Its just football fans trying to wind up the opposition….So ultimately I dont care nor do I think celtic deserve to be punished, even if they may have technically appeared to have broken the rules…perhaps some liberal thinking from yourself is what you need and you may see things differently.

          • ecojon

            @ Andy

            What caused me offence in the banner was the use of a gunman for humour and I happen to believe that most people would be irked by that if they sit down and think about it. I’m not saying that the use of a gunman wouldn’t be appropriate in other circumstances but I see no reason why it should be associated with a football club.

            The other issue which I take greater offence at is the way it portrays Rangers supporters going backwards evolutionary-wise to become apemen and from memory possibly apes before ending up in the grave. I personally find that deeply offensive and if you knew me you would know it takes a helluva lot to offend me. Since I first saw the banner I have stated that is my position on it and the mind that can create this type of ‘humour’ is IMHO dangerous. You say you are happy at the banner and how it portrays Rangers supporters – that is up to you. Have you ever stated that on any Rangers website? If so please supply me with url so I can see how fellow bears responded.

            A problem you seem to have is replying to people without actually reading their posts and therefore making assumptions which can prove to be false. If you had read my posts on the matter you would have seen I did previously give a reason as to why the banner might have been left on display.

            The reason why offensive banners are often not removed during any match is in case it causes more offence to those who put it there than offence to anyone else. When that decision is taken it is often in consultation with the police match commander. You have to use a bit of commonsense here Andy. They have high quality video and stills of probably the people putting the banner out and they have the seat numbers as well. If it’s decided that action needs taken it can be after the match. Unless an intervention is required urgently at a match – say where there is violence underway or a serious threat of it – then the decision is often to defer action until later.

            It may also be the case that the police took the decision that the banner wasn’t offensive. One should always be careful about rushing to judgement when you don’t know any of the facts in a case as it can often make you look pretty stoopid and yes I’ve done it as well 🙂

            But if you aren’t offended by the banner and that seems to be your position why do you think that Celtic have broken any rules, technically or otherwise? First the compliance officer has to gather the evidence and if he thinks there is a possible breach then Celtic will go before a hearing and present their case – they are who decides whether there is a breach. No doubt you will be emailing the SFA to tell them you are happy with the banner as a Rangers Supporter.

            Nacho was one of my favourite players and I always wished he’d played for us – I appreciate good footballers no matter who they play for. The song about him was pathetic the one about Michaeld Mols wife even worse. Sadly there can be an element in any football support that is scum pure and simple. I challenge it in the Celtic support when I come across it.

            I love your take on the folksy songs sung by Rangers fans in their Blue Aran knits – it’s almost like a Scottish Government ad asking the exiles to return home. Pull the other one Andy – we can see on the Rangers websites what it’s really all about and no amount of flannel from apologists can disguise the bile of a substantial section of your support.

            I note you didn’t answer the question I asked so I’ll repeat it:
            Btw Andy could you remind me what rules that you consider Rangers to have breached. You can restrict this to footballing rules as I don’t think we have the time to deal with everything esle as well.

            • Andy

              @ecojon

              Im not offended by the banner, but some people appear to have been so that is why vince lunny is investigating, thought that was fairly obvious…..

              Eco, I replied to your post on the comments you felt required to make on my post, why on earth should I be expected to read the rest of your posts, they were, are and for will ever be irrelevant to me…I read the one post you made addressing me.

              You say your not easily offended, but here you are admitting to be offended by a banner at a friendly football match…..would seem contradictory in context to say the least…why does a simple song sung at a football match offend you?….it means nothing.

              I guess, if what you say is correct and the police were avoiding upsetting those holding the ‘offensive’ banner in order to keep the peace, then Celtic wont have a case to answer….Just the rules are now aslong as u can get it in then its all okay then? Your answers are so perplex its just irritating, I have enjoyed decent debate with many a poster on here capable of having reasoned debate with someone clearly with an opposing opinion, but with you if I said something was white, you would say it was black just for the sake of it.

              If the rules state that such banners arent acceptable then Celtic should have removed it or have been better prepared for it not getting in….the fact we have such rules because people like you take offense, is the saddest indictement on us all,

          • cam

            Told you!,,Talking with that loon is not healthy,he loves the sound of his own yap.
            The easily offended mob don’t like it when their dirty war is used against them.Every time we see or hear them “offending” us just give Vinny bhoy a call,,,,its his job to investigate!
            Maybe Strathclydes finest will grow a pair and apply the law regards drinking in the street in the Barras which has been turned into a cesspit of republicanism financed by the DLA.
            I applaud your Rangers way of thinking that its best just to ignore them and their stupidity but with a dirty streetfighter, sometimes a wee rap with a duster puts them in their place.
            Their ammo is running low and when the smoke clears we are gonna be standing,centre ring,chin tucked in, hands high and ready to swing the hammer.
            Bill Struths words for breakfast,lunch and dinner.

    • cam

      Dinnae fraternise wi the enemy Andy and don’t EVER! debate with that saddo, eco.
      The bigots in the GB ultra mob think its funny to portray Gers fans as monkeys,less than human and have silhouettes of gun men of the coward terrorist variety on their state sponsored artwork.
      This blog by the Albion Rovers man is designed to cloud the issue and create an atmosphere whereby CFC escape punishment.Uefa hammered them for less and the SFA will too.The alternative is to be guilty of applying double standards.
      Take the fine,man up and control the rabble at your ground,,,,simple.
      Next!

      • ecojon

        You’re mate Andy seems to think its OK to portray Rangers supporters as neanderthals – you two will really need to get on message and use the same hymn book unless of course you are now in divided factions like a split personality kind of thing.

        He tells me I’m too sensitive when I object to that portrayal of Rangers fans – do you think I should man-up and adopt the Andy position?

        • Andy

          ecojon

          You can portray Rangers fans however you like, the point is does it really matter? Or should fans be able to hold whatever banner and sing whatever song because in actual fact, it doesnt cause that much real offense and is generally just to wind up the opposition or form their own amusement….,at very least if offense is caused it is to the minority.

          I dont remember any stories of society breaking down over the past 50-100 years because of banners displayed or songs sung at football games…..

  23. ecojon

    @ michaelk1888

    I think you make a good point that I don’t think I really thought about too much beforehand. The fact that the banner wasn’t shown against the Zombies who will probably die-out from old age before a zombie team gets back to the SPL.

    But flags, banners and other devices can be very dangerous even in a football context as was evidenced by the recent serious Russia-Poland clashes. Obviously there is a long ‘history’ between the two but that is also the case with Poland-Germany.

    I spoke to a couple of Polish mates about the violence trying to understand why this difference was there as I thought there might be at least as much anger against the Germans. I was quite surprised by the answer which was quite simple and was: ‘If the Germans marched through our streets with swastika flags, singing nazi songs and giving nazi salutes then they would be attacked as well. They don’t do that but the Russians still do and we don’t like it as it’s an insult to every Pole and our nation so we wipe away our shame from when the Russians treated us like slaves’.

    So although the history might be long it looks as though it can be ‘contained’ unless some action or symbolism presses a button such as the half-ton in weight banner displayed by Russia in Warsaw which I’m sure Strahclyde’s finest and the Celtic stewards wouldn’t have allowed into Parkhead although change the colour from red to green and the words to Zombie Killer and who knows 🙂

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/soccer-dirty-tackle/russia-poland-fans-fight-match-resulting-10-injuries-220306635–sow.html

    Now we wait and see whether Poland will make it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

  24. COYBIG

    THE ORIGINAL FORBES ARTICAL WRITTEN BY JON PRITCHETT:

    “It seems hard to fathom how one of the 25 biggest football clubs in the world (ranked by Forbes in 2007 at #25 with a valuation of $194 million) could come so close to cratering into the abyss. At least it does until you really understand how the club got here. Much like the Greek and the French citizens, Rangers nation refused to take its medicine when it got sick. Years and years of mortgaging the future by stealing tomorrow’s revenues to pay for today’s ambitions were a big part of the problem. When you combine that with an organization that did not tie its expenses to it revenues or even construct any sort of internal metrics to measure the effectiveness of its staff or player wages, you can start to get a picture of how the mighty Rangers arrived at bankruptcy and how 140 years of celebrated footballing history was almost terminated. While there are many contributing factors that will be explored here, the evidence points to hubris as the primary cause. While television revenues in the SPL were becoming increasingly smaller as a percentage of turnover (8% for Rangers in 2011) and season ticket sales were declining every year (down to 37,500 from 44,000 five years ago), Rangers continued to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Clearly, Rangers believed their Titanic was incapable of sinking – simply too big to fail. Failing to acknowledge the global shifts and winds of change, Rangers continued to pay more than they could afford to players, managers and executives (£26MM towards wages on £35MM of revenue). Employee benefits and perks continued to grow – creating an unsustainable set of obligations for a club that was seeing revenues decline. (sounds a lot like the US Government today) Like so many before them, the answer was always to place a bet on winning football as the catapult over the morass.

    The straw that broke the camel’s back emerged in 2011 when it was revealed that the club had been paying players via employee benefit trusts (“EBTs”) which enabled the club to inflate the player’s take home pay, and thus pay their players more and hence attract better quality talent. This aggressive use of EBT’s came crashing down like a house of cards when the UK’s equivalent of the IRS (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) came knocking seeking over £75 million worth of unpaid taxes and penalties.

    Are the Rangers a relic of the old business model or a harbinger of things to come? It is certainly true that Rangers are not the only club to have gotten itself way over the tips of its skis in the world of football. If you kicked a football across most of England and other European countries where the sport is dominant, you’d bounce off more than a few clubs that have struggled and who continue to struggle with huge, immovable debt mountains and obligations. In many ways, Rangers are a microcosm of what ails many parts of the Western World’s economy. The percentage of struggling and over-leveraged clubs has gotten so great that UEFA has passed a sweeping regulation that it plans to enforce beginning in 2013, which essentially requires clubs to operate without losing money. It is understandable how smaller clubs without the benefit of large season ticket bases, grand stadiums or winning histories could struggle to break even, but how does a club with more league championships than any other football club in the world get to this place? How did Rangers take 54 league titles, a 51,000 seat stadium, 40,000 season ticket holders and 5 million global followers to the brink of extinction?

    The answer is by spending most of its time looking backwards into its glorious history rather than forwards into a future that required a major shift in business strategy. Like many formerly great companies, Rangers arrogantly refused to heed the warnings. In 2000, Sir David Murray infamously boasted, “For every five pounds Celtic spend, we will spend ten.” He followed through on that promise and the seeds were sewn. Rangers refused to recognize that in a global environment, new threats emerge rapidly and what you did yesterday doesn’t insulate you from competition tomorrow. When the battlefield changes, the battle plan needs to evolve or soldiers will die.

    Before being sent to the Scottish Third Division this season, Rangers played in the SPL, the top level of football in the country of Scotland. There are 12 clubs in the league, but only two clubs have really mattered in terms of television viewership or attendance in the country. In 2011/12, Celtic and Rangers were responsible for 82% of all gate receipts for league matches and 94% of all television viewership of league matches. In other words, the other ten teams in the SPL were only responsible for 6% of the total viewers when you remove Rangers and Celtic. The average viewership of SPL games was 150,000 but the average viewership for Rangers versus Celtic was 900,000.

    More fans fill Ibrox on a match day than all of the other SPL clubs (not counting Celtic) combined. This is not a league. This is two humongous clubs (now just one) playing with many woefully undersized, undercapitalized and overmatched clubs in a country of 5 million. It is not a fair fight. More importantly for Rangers, the Scottish Football Association and its member leagues are not capable of producing media revenues on the scale of most other countries.

    In the aggregate, the SPL teams produce annual revenues of £125MM while the EPL produces annual revenues of £2.4 billon; the Budeslega £1.6 billion; Spanish League £1.5 billion; Italian Serie A £1.4 billion; The French League £1 billion and the Netherlands £400,000.

    This is part of the problem that Rangers and Celtic face. The EPL has 20 teams – over half of whom have smaller stadiums and season ticket bases than Rangers or Celtic. However, the EPL has a global television deal worth £ 3 billion with SkySports and BT.

    The SPL has a five-year £60 million deal.

    For winning the SPL regular season, a club would receive £3 million in fees (in exchange for their media rights).

    For winning the EPL last season, Manchester City received £61 million.

    When Rangers play Celtic each season, the match is one of the greatest spectacles in all of sport. The entire country of Scotland is watching and the environment inside the venue is remarkable. This is why ESPN has ranked “The Old Firm” as one of the top three rivalries in all of football. Yet, despite this truly unique and powerful atmosphere, very view people around the globe can actually watch the derby live. By contrast, there were 460 million potential live viewers of the Manchester Derby (United vs. City) at the end of last season. In a global competition for viewers and buyers of shirts (jerseys), the EPL teams have a huge advantage. And it doesn’t stop there. The EPL clubs are building global brands by setting up business units in Asia, the Middle East and North America. These units will produce player academies &camps, merchandise sales, event tours and sponsor relationships. Over a few decades, this will produce generations of fans around the globe who pledge their support to Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool or Manchester City. While they build their global brands, the clubs are also producing significantly greater revenues and profits. One of the obvious results is a level of player wages that almost no other clubs in the world (other than a handful of the best clubs from around the globe) can match.

    When my friend, Bill Miller came within an eyelash of buying the club back in May, lots of people wanted to know why he decided not to acquire Rangers. Much of the speculation was tied to the intensely negative reaction of fans. In truth, the fan sentiment played a much smaller role in the decision. In the end, the deal came down to the numbers – and the numbers just didn’t add up. Revenues were in a free fall. The most important revenue stream to Rangers, season tickets, was projected to be down by 20%. The club expected to lose nearly £10MM in 2012/13. Cash-flow from sponsorships was minimal and the administrators had already pulled out the cash from player wages, kit sponsorship and future payments due the club from the sale of several players. Worse, because the administrators had to make a deal to cut player wages to keep the club afloat, the new owner of Rangers would lose a substantial portion of asset value. In exchange for agreeing to reduce its wages for a period of three months, many players were able to negotiate an exemption from transfer fees. Kudos to the player reps and union who used the club’s insolvency to their advantage but effectively rendered the club impudent as a result. When HMRC ruled against the CVA exit from administration, which should not have surprised anyone, the die was cast. Forced to acquire the club through a Newco acquisition, the new Rangers owner lost somewhere in the neighborhood of £9MM – £15MM in player asset value. So, in exchange for a savings of £3MM this spring, Rangers lost three to five times that. As if that wasn’t enough, the analysis of management and executive contracts revealed more grim news. Due to the long-standing largess of the club, fully 70% of the fixed salaries and benefits of the employees were insulated from reduction or elimination. Without the ability to significantly reduce overhead expenses, a commercially reasonable turnaround of Rangers FC was not feasible. From Bill Miller’s perspective, there appeared no possible return on his considerable investment. I agreed with his assessment. Upon full inspection, Rangers was not a “turnaround” opportunity. It was (and is) an opportunity for someone with great wealth and a love of football and/or Scotland to give away tens and tens of millions of pounds. Unless some major, systemic changes occur within the current configuration of UK and European football leagues, I don’t think the Rangers math works.

    Any critic can tell us what should have been done. The question now is what can Rangers do? The first step for Rangers is to admit that significant, fundamental shifts have occurred that will force it to make major changes to its business model. Like with any major shift in strategy, the hard part is often admitting that the previous strategy did not work. Having spent several months analyzing Rangers, here are four steps I recommend as the way forward for Rangers:

    1) Culture Change. The football club may have been operated as a lifestyle for some or as a place for passionate fans to find a good job, but those days must end. From the top to the bottom, the organization must embrace a new way of doing business – one that focuses on accountability, productivity and accomplishment. While the previous 140 years were remarkable and worthy of great celebration and pride, they do not ensure financial or playing success in the future. Rangers may dominate Scotland but they no longer compete on the global stage. To get back to being ranked as one of the top 20 clubs in the world, Rangers must become hungry again. Rangers must develop the attitude of a gritty challenger – compelled to prove something rather than simply resting on the foundation built by the ones who came before.

    2) Austerity. It may be unpopular and an affront to the personal sensibilities of some, but Rangers needs to learn to live within its means. It’s time to cut the fat from every department and rebuild an organization that values every pound and demands a return on any and all expenses. The club can’t afford to pay its manager over £1MM and then give every coach and executive premium healthcare, generous pensions, six weeks of vacation, exotic cars, free fuel, appearance fees and other perks. The club can’t afford to provide 45 employees with free cars. The club can’t afford to pay directors annual fees to simply attend matches, socialize and run up a large food and beverage tab. It’s also time to gently manage out that business line from every sporting club that is occupied by expensive past players who hold well paid positions, are protected from downsizing with overly generous notice periods and who do not bring professional skills to the table. Every financial and playing assumption must be challenged. This will not be easy and the new owner of Rangers, Charles Green, must be prepared to say “no” to people and processes that exist today. The right leader will be comfortable being unpopular. Any new owner who is unwilling to stand up to what will be a powerful hue and cry from Rangers fans and supporters is not going to be successful. Rangers, like an undisciplined child, needs tough love. Rangers needs a strong hand now. There will be plenty of time for love and respect when the child grows into a mature and responsible adult.

    3) Money Ball. In the reality of the SPL, Rangers do not have the revenue streams to compete with the best clubs in the world. Building a financial budget around a deep run into Europe is a form of gambling. Paying a first team wage bill of 3-7 times the other teams in the SPL (not including Celtic) is silly. That ship has sailed. Rangers can’t keep up with the Jones’ on wages. What the club needs to do for now is to develop a much more efficient process for identifying, recruiting, signing and developing players. It’s a big world. The goal should not be to sign players that the fans know today. The goal should be to sign players than can contribute within a system that leads to winning football. Using a smart, worldwide scouting system, maximizing the Murray Park Academy, teaching a style of play that is attractive and developing promising players into good and great players is the way forward. This is not done by gut, instinct and long-held beliefs of how the game was played. This can only be done by embracing a methodology that employs metrics, science, training, teaching and coaching. This requires a manager with experience and relationships well beyond Western Europe. Under this system, Rangers can win and operate without loss making because its player costs will be recalibrated to match the new reality of Scottish Football and because there is now a worldwide market for players. If done properly, Rangers should be in the export business – making a tidy profit from its new customer base.

    4) Drive Revenues. Over the course of many years, Rangers has seen a decline in its major revenue streams. Large sponsorship deals are not generating the amounts of cash they should. In some cases, they are not even generating cash at all. Instead of paying with cash, Rangers have some sponsors who actually provide goods and services to the employees of the organization in return for the sponsorship benefits. This is a slippery slope that leads to oblivion. In the worst cases, these sponsors may actually be costing the club cash when the full analysis is done. It is time for a full and complete overhaul on the commercial side of things. The club needs new and better sponsor deals. The club also needs to reevaluate its offerings to the community in the form of tickets, hospitality and premium seating. Additionally, it needs to consider how to drive maximum value for its merchandising programs. Despite being one of the top clubs in the world in terms of shirt sales, the club does not generate nearly as much profit as does Celtic – even though Celtic sells fewer shirts than Rangers. Add to this the commercial areas of catering, digital media, friendlies and Ibrox events and you can see that there is much opportunity for driving new and existing revenues, but it will take a smart plan and a team of equally smart and dedicated employees to get the revenue growing again.

    Rangers is a peculiar club in many ways.

    It reminds me of “Solo George”, the last surviving tortoise of its kind on the Galapagos Islands. Steadily growing older and becoming slower, fatter and lonelier until the inevitable.

    In order to ensure that its fate does not follow that of “Solo George,” Rangers need a business strategy worthy of its status, worthy of its fan base and worthy of its history. It needs a sea change, and fast.

    If Charles Green is not willing to face the fans, explain the economics and risk the torrent of abuse that will follow in the short term, then Rangers will find themselves shortly back in the same place.

    Green must embrace change, cut back and then reshape the business plan, invest on a long term basis by accepting short term failure in order to remain relevant.

    Like any insolvent business, Rangers needs to cut costs, reign in salaries, demand better quality commercial revenues and build a business that is lean, profitable and produces attractive, vibrant, talented players that, over time, will take it back into European football. It needs to spend no more than 50% of all revenues on player salaries (probably much less) and in the meantime it needs to work the “Old Firm” brand hard to fully exploit what that brand can mean on its (and Celtic’s) balance sheet and ensure that sponsorships are actually additive to cash-flow.

    Most importantly, all of Rangers Nation needs to understand that the time has come for change. The soldiers on the battlefield are dying. The glories of the past, while spectacular and worthy of celebration and remembrance, are not going to ensure future success. The future marches on. Rangers should not only be a part of that future, they should be influencing it through their bold actions. However, until bold action is taken, the future for Rangers remains in serious jeopardy.”

    WILL PROBABLY BE REPORTED IN THE DAILY RECORD TOMORROW AS:

    “THE RANGERS FC ARE SO BIG, FORBES MAGAZINE HAS DONE AN ARTICAL ON THEM”

    • John Burns

      Why use one word when you can use THREE THOUSAND will do!!!

      Rangers were not demoted to the Third Division – Sevco Scotland, buyers of the assets of Rangers in Administration, were given special dispensation, although having no previous track-record in Scottish football, to join the SFL, at the lowest level.

    • ecojon

      Tbh I doubt if anything will appear as I’m not sure there are any journo’s left that could read let alone comprehend the article which is by and large excellent in identifying the financial perils facing Scottish football.

    • Antonious F

      Chico and Sally are demanding the name of the Forbes journalist who interviewed Mr P. Only to ensure impartiality of course.

    • martin c

      Pritchett hits it on the head, for Rangers to survive just as a FC within Scotland they need cash, cash and more cash. He implies that the gravy train for the “Rangers Men” has to end- no more free pies- and value for money in every deal that is done in the name of Rangers.

      Interesting that he doesn’t mention a share float to raise cash. Reading between the lines Rangers are in bottom tier of Scottish football and need to live within their means.

  25. John Burns

    Sorry, one other thing – anything portraying a gun must be seen as bad judgement – to say the least – The Four Horsemen – now that WAS good!!!

  26. ecojon

    To be fair a lot of what chico is saying is what has been prescribed by the Forbes Magazine piece.

    The problem is that the very first stage of the magazine piece will take 5-10 years for Rangers to put in place and I honestly don’t believe that chico and his investors are in for lifting that kind of weight. I don’t see anything in chico’s background that points to longer-termism.

    Time really is pressing and I have to reveal that Solo George on Galapagos died in June this year and I can but wonder if this is a portent for the current Zombie Rangers.

    At the end of the day Scottish Football must decide whether it wants to downsize drastically or just go bust and Celtic must be making huge efforts to move to postures new as the future really does look bleak.

    The only money making scheme that Forbes Magazine missed out on is the flotation and the orange strip although perhaps the latter was dealt with by the statement:

    ‘Most importantly, all of Rangers Nation needs to understand that the time has come for change. The soldiers on the battlefield are dying. The glories of the past, while spectacular and worthy of celebration and remembrance, are not going to ensure future success. The future marches on’.

    • martin c

      @ecojohn

      i posted above before reading further but you’ve put it succinctly but it is interesting that there is no mention of a float, the question i ask should a third division team consider a float or get on with raising the cash through more conventional means for a third division club?

      • mcfc

        @martin

        Green is only interested in his personal, short-term gain. So a float is the only show in town. Knuckling down for 5-10 years of hard work is not his style nor that of his mysterious backers.

        I can’t see that Green is following much of Pritchett’s perscription – which seems eminently sensible in any other context. He prefers to play to the mob in the hope they’ll buy his snake oil shares. Otherwise, he’ll be stuck with a 3rd Div team lurching toward administration again – best leave that to soemone else – anyone else.

      • ecojon

        @ martin c

        The key question for any float is: What is the capital raised going to be spent on?

        We have had all sorts of airy suggestions about things that Green is going to be doing but no actual commitments.

        A big consideration for anyone investing in a new company is the worry that existing shareholders might take the opportunity to get their investment back and clear-out.

        The problem is that no one can be sure who the existing investors are so its impossible to make any guesses as to what they might do. All we know is that prior to the flotation they have 22+ million shares issued to them.

        £10 million is a figure that has been bandied about for almost six months in various contexts and we know that the majority of the 22+ million shares probably traded at 50p which gets us around £10 million possible as the original investment. So if the flotation ends up with the company capitalised at £20 million they could end-up with just £10 million with the initial investment used to buy the old Rangers assets and pay running costs and all the other expenses to date.

        So what can you do with £10 million well it will only be £8 million once chico’s commission is deducted. Not a lot of cash to finance the world vision and global brand that Green is painting.

        Of course I don’t understand high finance and if I did maybe I’d be doing what Green does 🙂

        • martin c

          @mcfc

          @ecojohn

          The elephant in the room is, if Green and the original investors do walk away, then what is left?

          • ecojon

            @martin c

            Well the optimist would believe that the assets would still be there in the shape of Ibrox Stadium and Murray Park.

            Another factor would be the lock-in clause that might apply to shareholders especially Green but as yet there is no details on that.

            But it’s impossible to know what the financial position would be as other investors might buy shares although the price might crash so taking control could be quite cheap. But by then future ticket money could have been sold-on or a portion of it.

            And the stadium and Murray Park could be sold off and leased back for use of the club. Of course we still don’t know what the shareholders will actually be investing in. Is it ‘the club’ or an operating company and that begs the question as to the exact relationship between the operating company and a holding company.

            At this stage there are just too many questions and no real answers so we will need to see what is in the share prospectus.

            It might well be that Green wants to see out his declining years in charge at Ibrox – other people have previously found it very addictive. But I don’t think that chico has the level of required personal wealth to take it on and even AIM investors can usually spot when a flotation is being used just to pay for running costs and certainly I would be very wary of buying any shares unless I knew where the money was going.

            I don’t think I would be too enamoured about spending tens of millions in opening football academies in America and the Far East as I perceive that to be a very risky prospect – expensive to set-up and quite a lot of lead-time before the profits arrive if any. I wouldn’t invest in a football club anyway. I have a token Celtic shareholding but that isn’t for financial reasons 🙂

        • Den

          @Ecojon

          Good point on £10m not being a lot to finance the grand plans that Green is pushing, it will be needed to keep the club running for the next year. It certainly won’t build you an hotel or Casino.

          My suspicion is that the money could disappear like the Ticketus balance, the proceeds from the sale of Arsenal shares and other transactions in the last year.

          Not to nit pick but what we are seeing is not “High” Finance. It looks pretty low and shady to me.

  27. ecojon

    @ mcfc

    I’ve just realised that possibly I didn’t make it clear when I mentioned about chico saying what the magazine is prescribing.

    I should have made it clear that I don’t think for a minute the grand plans will actually be put into action they are only being bruited abroad to sell shares in the flotation IMHO and I feel they may well be all ta;l and no action.

    • mcfc

      @eco

      No clarification needed – I read your comments as intended.

      To answer Martin’s question of what will be left. That is what is so fascinating. Post-Green the road to any kind of sustainable future is to follow Pritchett’s model. But many Rangers fans would find that unbearable and after initial protests would desert believing that the essence of Rangers was being destroyed. So then you have a simple, low-budget, 3rd Div club.

      Conversely if they want to maintain the big team thinking they seem doomed to face several cycles of administration and shark owners. See Portsmouth FC.

      Green’s plan ramblings is a load of hogwash that barely deserves analysis. Yet so many want to believe it – because the alternative is too awful to consider.

      Andy and Cam will probably regard this as wishful speculation and scare mongering. But I can’t see a model that combines financial sustainability with maintaining the fans’ perception of the essence of Rangers.

      Anyone else got a plan?

      • cam

        The Pritchett model won’t fly, not so much due to the financial scenarios,more due to the fact that the wee struts that connect the wings to the fuselage are missing,,,no amount of fiddling with cotton buds and wood glue will resolve this.
        Lets all get on board Chico’s Marrakesh Express!

  28. k

    Hi paul. it is the end.

    nd

  29. Thomas

    Paul,
    Thanks for the excellent read, remarkable!
    Where the fech do you find the time?

    Apprieciated,

    Thomas.

  30. COYBIG

    @cam

    “Dinnae fraternise wi the enemy Andy and don’t EVER! debate with that saddo, eco.
    The bigots in the GB ultra mob think its funny to portray Gers fans as monkeys,less than human and have silhouettes of gun men of the coward terrorist variety on their state sponsored artwork.
    This blog by the Albion Rovers man is designed to cloud the issue and create an atmosphere whereby CFC escape punishment.Uefa hammered them for less and the SFA will too.The alternative is to be guilty of applying double standards.
    Take the fine,man up and control the rabble at your ground,,,,simple.
    Next!”

    That’s it cam, you tell them! How dare they portray The Rangers fans as monkeys! You would never stoop so low as to call people names, or describe them in a derogatory manner. Even if you did, you definitely wouldn’t do it in every single one of the posts you write on here. No, because if you did that, then you’d be the epitome of a hypocrite. But you’re not someone who says they have particular moral beliefs, but behaves in way which shows these are not sincere, are you? I mean, you wouldn’t just say something bothers you, just for one-upmanship…..would you? Surely not.

    By the way, the silhouettes you describe as “gun men of the coward terrorist variety”? There was only one of them. One silhouette ‘shooting’ a Zombie. Not a The Rangers fan, a zombie(Unless you’re saying The Rangers fans are zombies?) And did you know that it’s actually the standard issued silhouette of a British soilder?

    So, bearing that in mind, if we were to step into the mind of an ‘offended’ The Rangers fan for a second, would that mean the banner is a British soilder shooting a The Rangers fan, because of all the equipment ect. they deprived him of? You see how ridiculous that sounds cam? Just as ridiculous as thinking of it as “a terrorist shooting a The Rangers fan”.

    I do have a wee question regarding the silhouette tho – Why did a certain newspaper decided to add a shamrock too it, before printing a picture of it in their paper? Does anyone know?

    The banner, in my view, was only a bit of humour aimed at our former rivals. Nothing sinister, just an illustration of what happens in every zombie movie that’s ever been made. And as far as i’m aware, I may be wrong but, nobody died in the making or as a result of viewing the banner. Now, if anyone wants to get on on their high horse, trying deserately to be offended, then please understand – It. Was. Only. A. Joke.

    • COYBIG

      A statement from The Rangers Chairman, Malcolm Murray, in reply to Jon Pritchett’s artical in Forbes Magazine:

      “RANGERS Football Club has today released the following statement.”

      A bit pedantic I know, but Rangers did not make a statment today, they’re dead. The Rangers on the other hand…”

      “Speaking in response to an article by Mr Jon Pritchett (advisor to Bill Miller at the time of his bid for the Club) in Forbes magazine, Malcolm Murray, Chairman of Rangers Football Club, said: “The last time Mr Pritchett had sight of any financial information about Rangers was many months ago and, as a result, his article in Forbes Magazine is ill informed, misleading and scaremongering.

      “For the avoidance of doubt, there is no risk of the Club going into administration and any suggestion otherwise is scandalous and appears written to attract headlines.”

      Again, I know, pedantic, but its The Rangers. So, Mr Pritchett seen the financial information, but his artical is ill-informed? And what would he gain from misleading The Rangers fans?

      And there is no risk of the Club going into administration? Mr Green has been telling us that the Club survived liquidation, well only after the CVA failed anyway, so why worry about another administration?

      ““Projections Mr Pritchett had sight of have not been relevant since May and from the day I became Chairman, I have been committed to ensuring this Club lives within its means and never again comes to the brink of collapse.

      “We have already secured significant investment in the Club from the individuals and organisations who are part of our consortium and the successful IPO later this month will generate many millions in additional revenue.”

      So the overheads on Ibrox and Murray Park have just disapeared then? And if you have already secured significant investment in the Club, why is there any need for an IPO? And I think you ment you hope it will be successful.

      ““It does not take a genius to work out that costs needed to be cut at the Club and this has happened, with the first team wage bill being reduced significantly. However, we also have a plan to maximise commercial revenues and develop many areas of the Club that historically were under utilised.”

      Your right, it doesn’t take a genius, that’s why alot of people, including people ‘in the know’ on these matters, like Mr Pritchett, say that your current buisness plan is wrong. Yes, the wages have been reduced, but so has the income. And by saying you plan to do somthing, that ensues that you are hoping to be able to offset the losses, rather than that being your current position.

      ““It is my understanding that Mr Miller’s plans were based purely on cost cutting and little additional investment in the Club.”

      Mr Miller said that there was a £30M black hole, therefore if he went throught with his bid, he would have made at least £30M of additional investment.

      Also, when Mr Pritchett said in his artical that it would need “someone to give away tens and tens of millions of pounds” and “Unless some major, systemic changes occur within the current configuration of UK and European football leagues, I don’t think the Rangers math works.” He was talking about your Clubs current position.

      ““What is also clear from his article is that Mr Pritchett completely underestimated the loyalty and commitment of the Rangers fans. In addition to the 36,000 season ticket holders so far this season, the attendances at our home matches have surpassed many of the top clubs in England and the rest of Europe.”

      Mr Pritchett projected that there would be a 20% decrease in the 37,500 season tickets sold in 2011/2012. Therefore, he projected that there would be 30,000 season tickets sold this season. And sold at SPL prices, there would be a £10M loss. The Rangers have sold 36,000 season tickets this season, at reduced prices. In other words, Mr Pritchett’s projection is most likely correct. He may have even underestimated the potential loss.

      ““We have a clear plan to rebuild this great Club and believe that with solid business practices and the ongoing tremendous support from the fans, this will be achieved.””

      That’s a nice soundbite to end a statement on. But sorry, saying one thing one day, and the opposite the next, is anything but a clear plan.

      ***PAUL, COULD YOU PLEASE DELETE MY POST UNDERNEATH THIS ONE, AS I MUCKED UP (AGAIN) SORRY & THANKS***

    • cam

      How many offended died when as a joke people sang the famine song?,,,oh hang on thats different,that was racist,sectarian,really truly offensive,ah mean that was out of order,that was anti Irish,,,,,we cant have that,,,ah mean oor stuff is just craic,its banter,kin ye know see that,ah mean we don’t mean nothing when we call you lot Daleks,laugh at Davie Cooper’s death, wave banners of Ibrox burning,wi Huns FC,,,,thats us just having a wee joke.Don’t get on yer high horse.

      Whits that?,,,did you say something aboot totties?,,,right thats it! get Peter Kearney phoned we’re no huvving this,,,ma human rights huv been offended,under paragraph 4 section C of the deeply offended legislation that Declan posted on KDS(nice wan Deccy) thats illegal.
      Get an e-mail sent to the UN,get the priest oan Reporting Scotland,drap the Taiseaoch a line,pit somebodys windae in,mobilise the troops,send pics of the weans greetin tae Channel 4,,,,,,widdae ye mean “will we get eco tae help oot?”,,,,naw stupid! he will talk mince and ruin oor offendednisness.

      That.Wis.Jist.A.Wind.Up

      • COYBIG

        @cam

        If you can’t see the difference between a racist chant and an a atempt at homour, then you’re probably past talking about. To try and even compare the deaths of 1 million people to the desperate game of one-upmanship, played by a bunch of hypocrites, is sad by anyone’s standards.

        As I have said before, people who call the 66 innocent people who died in 1971 Darleks, are sad. As are the people who mock anyone’s death. Both are in the same class of people as the people who think the famine song is just a joke.

        The rest of your post is an absolute crock of shite.

        • COYBIG

          @cam

          In my last post, when I wrote:

          “the desperate game of one-upmanship, played by a bunch of hypocrites”

          I was talking about the fans – on both sides – who seem to go out of their way to be offended by things that are obviously only a bit of banter. Just incase you think i’m getting on my high horse and think it’s only a section of The Rangers fans who complain about trivial things.

          And by trivial what I mean is, for instance, when Artur Boruc blessed himself at Ibrox – as he did at the begining of every half of football he played – and a section of Rangers fans felt the need to complain to the police about it. Apparently, he was doing it in an aggressive way. What?…How the fuck can you aggressively bless yourself?

        • cam

          In the words of Phil 3 names,,,,,it wis jist satirical!,,,,give me time and i’ll do it in Gaelic with a soupcon of Latin.

    • cam

      In an attempt to demonstrate fiscal prudence in these austere times a couple of the more literate members of the Young Zombie Apprentice Boys gave Vinny a call to check if a banner of a “giro bashin,buckie swilling,meth filled house breaker in a green and white scarf being impaled on a flute” would be deemed offensive.
      They are still waiting on a ruling as the call ended abruptly amidst what they thought sounded like a grown man crying.

      • COYBIG

        @cam

        Is that an attempt at humour? Or is it a subliminal post, showing everyone how much of an idiot you are?

        • cam

          Well going by how angry you sound i’ll say it was humour,,,,there,do you feel better,,,breathe,go to your minds happy place,put the sharp object down,relax,,,,,,
          Now as we were saying,its all about the cash flow projection figures,if Chico can go long on the orange tops,sell short on the Div 3 memorabilia,get George A Romero over to discuss media rights and rename the stadium Raccoon City then we should scrape through till next Tuesday.

          • COYBIG

            @cam

            I feel alot of things when I read your posts, anger is not one of them. I’ve laughed at a few, agreed with a few, but I generally find myself feeling sorry. Not for myself, but for you. You keep posting nosensical shit. I don’t know if you’re taking the piss, if you’re trying to be funny, or if you’re wired to the moon when you write it. But it’s played-out. Move on. Grow up.

            • cam

              I tried! but then i showed a few of our posts to a neutral audience at the monkey enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo and they gave mine more bananas!
              Your a Celtic man,your teams guaranteed a treble,their playing Barca next,they are gonna do 127 in a row,win the Nobel prize for community work.Uefa and the SFA have recalculated as far back as records go that Celtic have only ever lost 4 games on a level playing surface,,,the rest was cheating.
              A Bhoy at NASA has uploaded a Trojan into the Curiosity robot on Mars so that any potential micro organisms first contact will be Glen Daly giving it laldy!

              But still the obsession continues!!!!!,,,,played out,move on,grow up ,get a life.

  31. COYBIG

    The Rangers and chairman Malcom Murray, have issued this statement in responce to Jon Pritchett’s artical in Forbes Magazine:

    (To make it easier to read, My replys will start with<>).

    “RANGERS Football Club has today released the following statement.”

    <>

    “Speaking in response to an article by Mr Jon Pritchett (advisor to Bill Miller at the time of his bid for the Club) in Forbes magazine, Malcolm Murray, Chairman of Rangers Football Club, said: “The last time Mr Pritchett had sight of any financial information about Rangers was many months ago and, as a result, his article in Forbes Magazine is ill informed, misleading and scaremongering.

    “For the avoidance of doubt, there is no risk of the Club going into administration and any suggestion otherwise is scandalous and appears written to attract headlines.”

    <>

    ““Projections Mr Pritchett had sight of have not been relevant since May and from the day I became Chairman, I have been committed to ensuring this Club lives within its means and never again comes to the brink of collapse.”

    <>

    ““We have already secured significant investment in the Club from the individuals and organisations who are part of our consortium and the successful IPO later this month will generate many millions in additional revenue.”

    <>

    “It does not take a genius to work out that costs needed to be cut at the Club and this has happened, with the first team wage bill being reduced significantly. However, we also have a plan to maximise commercial revenues and develop many areas of the Club that historically were under utilised.”

    <>

    ““It is my understanding that Mr Miller’s plans were based purely on cost cutting and little additional investment in the Club.”

    <>

    ““What is also clear from his article is that Mr Pritchett completely underestimated the loyalty and commitment of the Rangers fans. In addition to the 36,000 season ticket holders so far this season, the attendances at our home matches have surpassed many of the top clubs in England and the rest of Europe.”

    <>

    <>

    <>

    • cam

      Have a wee feel round the back of your head,,you will hopefully find a wee button…its the reset button,,,press it now as you have lost el plotto!

      • COYBIG

        @cam

        WOW! How do you do it? How are you able to keep comming up with new jokes that nobody has ever hear or read before?

        Sarcasm doesn’t come across well on internet forums, does it?

  32. COYBIG

    @ cam

    “I tried! but then i showed a few of our posts to a neutral audience at the monkey enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo and they gave mine more bananas!”

    Well, at least your honest enough to admit that your posts are somthing that a monkey can relate to.

    “Your a Celtic man,your teams guaranteed a treble,their playing Barca next,they are gonna do 127 in a row,win the Nobel prize for community work.Uefa and the SFA have recalculated as far back as records go that Celtic have only ever lost 4 games on a level playing surface,,,the rest was cheating.”

    Guaranteed the Treble? Look what happend last season. Not quite 127 in a row. But if things work out the way they should then it will probably be another 5 titles added. Nice of you to be honest, again, and admit that Celtic have been cheated against.

    “A Bhoy at NASA has uploaded a Trojan into the Curiosity robot on Mars so that any potential micro organisms first contact will be Glen Daly giving it laldy!”

    Well seeing as you’re clearly a space cadet, I think it will be a close call.

    “But still the obsession continues!!!!!,,,,played out,move on,grow up ,get a life.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr cam – The man who basically repeats back to you, what you just said to him. Get your own patter. 😉

  33. mcfc

    I hear followers will be sings the new Charles Green at their next match – away (oh dear, baffled) at Queens Park (oh dear, top of table)

    Hey mr dreamseller, where have you been,
    tell me have you dreams i can see?
    I came along, just to bring you this song,
    Can you spare one dream for me?

    You won’t have met me, and you’ll soon forget me,
    so don’t mind me tugging at your sleeve.
    I’m asking you, if i can fix a rendezvous.
    For your dreams are all I believe.

    Meet me on the corner when the lights are coming on,
    and i’ll be there, i promise i’ll be there.
    Down the empty streets we’ll disappear until the dawn
    if you have dreams enough to share.

    Lay down your bundles, of rags and reminders,
    and spread your wares on the ground.
    Well I’ve got time, if you deal in rhyme,
    I’m just hanging around.

    Hey mr dreamseller, where have you been,
    tell me have you dreams i can see?
    I came along, just to bring you this song,
    Can you spare one dream for me?

  34. Robert Smith

    Now that the CO has set a precedent in taking no action regarding the IRA sniper/Zombie banner,it will be interesting to see his reaction to the new Rangers fans banner showing a gunman taking aim at the former coach of Penn Sate College team chasing children while wearing a Celtic football strip.

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