GLF79- - A Steelman's Slant

GLF79- - Eddie notices that there's a bit of trouble in Govan.

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A Steelman's Slant      

Is the writing on Derry’s Wall?????????????  

And so it seems, the entire country has been awash with tears over the past few weeks over the (sad?) demise of that national institution based on the south side of my city of birth.  Some have cried crocodile tears, wailing that football in this country will grind to a shuddering halt if we allow Rangers to slip away.  There has definitely been some genuine tears from genuine Rangers fans who’ve done nothing but support their club their way, although it’s not been to our liking!!!!!!!!    And finally there have been tears of laughter and mirth. Fans of most other clubs enjoying and celebrating the torment of their long -standing tormentors.  I can only hazard a guess at what camp most Motherwell fans would be standing in today !!!

Now I’m no boffin, but as I understand it, Rangers have three major problems. The EBT fiasco, which it appears was a way to assist Rangers players playing and earning money in the UK, to avoid  paying UK tax.   The “wee” tax bill, which it seems Rangers were deducting tax from the wages of their employees but not passing them on to the government, and thirdly the insanity that allowed the club to accumulated £18M of debt. I find it incredible that a club the size of Rangers, given the spotlight and media attention that they attract, has never been “scooped” by anybody in the last two decades or so that this dishonesty has been going on.   Of course the cynic in me hints that most news organisations wouldn’t want to fall out with such a powerful player in UK football, and would maybe turn a blind eye, but surely some supporters somewhere must’ve sat up one night, drinking copious amounts of coffee and wondered where all the money was coming from to fund the seemingly endless array of stars that were rolling up Edmiston Drive every season?

The EBT’s appear to be questionable at best, but it does seem that plenty of football clubs have used them in the past on financial advice, so I don’t see them as criminal, probably just  a bad judgement call (if the case does indeed go against Rangers!)  by David Murray, who incidentally appears to yet again get off scot free from any kind of blame. This time leaving Whyte to carry the can.   The Tax bill that sent the Light Blues into administration, to me, is criminal.  Surely it MUST be an offence to pull that trick. Any Rangers official that was party to these actions, including Craig Whyte, must end up in court.  

On the existing debt (£18M) we (Motherwell fans) can’t really take the high moral ground as we’ve been there before, remember.     Of course, there were differences. Motherwell’s main debt was to John Boyle if I recall and not HMRC.   It was HMRC who forced Rangers into administration, although it is argued that Craig Whyte manoeuvred the club to the edge, leaving HMRC no choice but to give the final push, in an attempt to show Rangers fans that HMRC were the bad guys and Whyte was the good ‘un. 

When John Boyle took Motherwell voluntary into administration, which I didn’t agree with then, and I certainly don’t agree with now, he was quite rightly in my view pilloried by all and sundry for taking an easy way out of the mounting debt.   

They were dark days for Motherwell FC, and a period that in my opinion brought nothing but shame to our club and it’s owner.  Sure, John Boyle took a hit, a very big hit, but let’s be honest, it hasn’t left him any worse off.  Not like the other smaller creditors who lost a bigger percentage of their “wealth” through John Boyle’s way of bailing out which, in the bigger picture, is just a football team.           

Motherwell are ten years down the line from Rangers at this moment, and we were fortunate to have a very talented “batch” of youngsters which helped carry the club those first few seasons, before being sold on. We were fortunate Falkirk failed to get permission to pay in Airdrie and we remained an SPL club.  We were fortunate not to be hit with any points deduction or other “playing field” sanctions. Our administration could almost be seen as a start of a mini “golden” era for Motherwell, with Cup Finals and European adventures on our recent CV, Rangers might not be so lucky.        

In the last decade our club has been run in a prudent manner, more prudent it seems with every passing year.  This brings moans and groans from fans about lack of investment etc (even from me at times!!!!) but most of us realise where we are in the world and what is realistic for our club.  It does irk me though that football clubs want more and more fans money to attain a certain level of “success”, and very often incorporate a hint of blackmail in an attempt to make more fans to part with more money to sustain their football club.                                             

We at Motherwell are currently promoting the ‘Well Society to our support.  I sincerely hope it’s a success, but at this moment I’m keeping my opinions on such a move to myself.                                                           

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, if the Wee tax bill is criminal, than Rangers simply have to be thrown out of the SPL. We can’t gnash our teeth in horror at how Scottish football will suffer, because the law of the land has to be bigger than a simple sport. Yes the doom and gloomers may be right, and the fall of Rangers might be the beginning of the end for the sport in Scotland we all love, but we (Scottish football) would just have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and get on with it, making the best we can out of the situation.    

Of course this season, the ten point deduction from Rangers , coupled with our excellent form has given us a right good opportunity to qualify for the Champions League play-offs which would be absolutely mind-blowing even to an auld hand like myself. But it’s there, and we need to burst a gut to attain it, knowing it’ll be most likely a fleeting love affair with Europe’s elite competition, shouldn‘t detract from what would be a wonderful acheivement.

Good times, despite what you might hear and read, to be a football fan in ML1.

Enjoy being a Motherwell fan, and enjoy the fitba, until the next time. 

EDDIE STEELMAN


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