I was reminded of a scene in the old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Commando today. The one where Arnie holds a bad guy over a cliff, and says, “Remember Sully, when I promised I’d kill you last?”
“That’s right, Matrix, you did!” responds the baddie.
“I lied,” says Arnie as he drops him to his death.
Why am I reminded of that scene?
Well earlier this week, six SPL clubs bravely told us that sporting integrity trumped financial considerations, and they were rejecting the application of Sevco 5088 to take over the now defunct Rangers FC’s place in the league.
Aberdeen, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Dundee United, Saint Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle have all said they will be voting against Sevco being allowed into the SPL, all citing sporting integrity as their reason for saying no.
Well, remember when the SPL clubs promised us sporting integrity was very important to them?
STV today reports that, following a meeting between the game’s governing bodies, the SPL has presented the SFL with a stark ultimatum – allow Sevco 5088 to join not in Division III, but in Division I, or else…
The document presented to the SFL clubs today is, frankly, an appalling perversion of every principle of sporting competition.
In a shameless attempt at divide and rule, it threatens to cut off promotion to half of the clubs if they do not agree to Sevco 5088 being allowed into Division I next season.
Let’s look more closely at why the SFL clubs are being told they must accept Sevco 5088 in Division I:
•Immediate cash benefit for all 30 clubs!
Money, money, money.
•Gate receipt uplift in Division I
Money, money, money. Is there any reason why the Division 3 clubs should not benefit from gate receipt uplifts from Sevco 5088 in their league?
•Potential hospitality & advertising values increase
And this wouldn’t happen with Sevco 5088 in Division III?
•Sponsors receive added value through additional exposure
And this would not happen with Sevco 5088 in Division III?
•Scottish Government remains committed to our community strategy
And this would not happen with Sevco 5088 in Division III? If not, it certainly implies political interference in football, a big no no for FIFA.
•SFL has more influence at the top table
And this wouldn’t be the case with Sevco 5088 in Division III? Ah, the influence won’t come from having Sevco 5088 in the SFL. The SPL clubs will allow them more influence if they agree to parachute Sevco 5088 into Division I.
•Play-Offs restore the sporting meritocracy and deliver additional value
How exactly does allowing a brand new club to jump ahead of twenty others without playing a match promote sporting meritocracy?
AND BENEFITS TO SCOTTISH FOOTBALL
•A unified plan presented to the Scottish footballing public, which offers real possibilities for the game
It may be unified, but that does not make it justified.
•Keeps all 42 clubs together avoiding a divisive SPL2 split
Er, the clubs are split now – twelve SPL clubs are not, “together,” with the 30 SFL clubs as it stands.
•Deals with the need for sporting integrity with regard to Newco
Oh no it does not! The “Newco,” must start at the bottom of the pile to ensure sporting integrity. Giving them a free hand-up destroys sporting integrity.
•Delivers innovation in the form of a single league, play-offs and a pyramid plan
Innovation is not necessarily a good thing. And this proposal is not a good thing.
•Delivers new value for the game
How exactly? If the opinion of Scottish soccer fans on Sevco 5088's application to join the SPL is any guide, the fans will walk away in droves if they are parachuted into Division I. Where will the value be in the game then?
•Potentially narrows the financial gap between the Scottish Premier League & Scottish League
Will Sevco 5088 in Division I for a single season narrow the financial gap more than Sevco 5088 in the SFL for at least three seasons if they start in Division III?
•Shows leadership for the game in Scotland
Laughable. It shows a lack of backbone.
•Allows fans to engage in the bigger picture
The fans are far more aware of the bigger picture on this one than the clubs are. It’s time they started to listen to their paying customers.
•A positive media outcome
I very much doubt it.
The mainstream media in Scotland will try to polish this turd of a plan, but the demise of Rangers FC has demonstrated that the power of the new media, and anything the old media say to justify it, will be ignored by the only people who matter – the fans.
Let’s be clear on this.
Whoever is responsible for this proposal has destroyed the credibility of Scottish soccer forever.
It does not even matter now whether the plan goes through or not; the fact remains that someone has attempted to gerrymander the game for the benefit of a single club. They are a brand new club, who at this moment in time, are not even a member of the SFA and have never played in a league before.
By even proposing this shambles, SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster and his SFA counterpart Stewart Regan prove themselves unfit to govern Scottish soccer. And let's not forget the ultimate authority figure in the game, SFA President Campbell Ogilvie. A former Director of Rangers FC, and a beneficiary of the now infamous EBT scheme which precipitated its downfall.
Amazingly, he remains in post. Well, it's only amazingly if you are unfamiliar with how things work in Scottish soccer.
This club, Sevco 5088, have been presented as absolutely vital to Scottish soccer. We have been told that Scottish soccer cannot survive in its present form without them.
Soccer has a habit of throwing up contentious refereeing decisions. Should this plan go through, how could anyone, ever, have confidence in the impartiality of referees who give favorable decisions to Sevco 5088?
The game must not only be a fair sporting competition, it must be seen to be a fair sporting competition.
The SPL plan will create not a sporting competition, but a soap opera. A cheap, tawdry sham where every effort has been, and is, made to ensure the success of Sevco 5088.
Sevco 5088 fans can have the stadia to themselves, as they watch the action unfold on the pitch, wandering what bizarre plot twist the SPL scriptwriters have come up with this week to ensure Triple H... sorry Sevco 5088 wins again.
Sevco 5088 fans could have a new chant, familiar to older viewers who remember ITV's Saturday afternoon wrestling in the 1970's.
As the legion of young kids and old ladies who eagerly watched Big Daddy in action would have put it, "Eas-y! Eas-y! Eas-y!"
If this plan goes through, we can say goodbye to Scottish soccer and hello to Soccertainment!
Follow Daniel O'Connell on twitter @DanielOConnel18