A busted flush, Tom English and the subtle difference between Loans and Advances

Chris Sutton’s little rant on BT Sport last night had much of Scottish football standing up and applauding. Well more than half anyway:

“I’m sick of the whole situation!”

“Rangers, MASSIVE deflection tactics, any old excuse to deflect from what’s happened on the pitch.”

The long drawn out wait for ‘the’ Rangers to produce the alleged evidence they are apparently sitting on, of supposed wrongdoing during the SPFL ballot is become tiresome. Long winded statements and little substance has been the way of things for a now tedious amount of time.

Now it appears Stewart Robertson and the Ibrox board are attempting a touch of backtracking. It reminds me of a stand-up routine from the early 90’s.

Bill Hicks was an American comedian. As severe a social critic and satirist as you are ever likely to come across. Think Denis Leary but actually funny.

Hicks had a cutting and hilarious way of stripping back the propaganda and making you laugh at the idiocy and futility of, well absolutely everything really. Sadly at only 32 Hicks passed away, so we were all denied his acidic take on todays’ western world.

Had Bill been around and a Scottish football supporter, I’m pretty sure he’d have had a field day with the accusations from the ‘Rangers’ board towards the SPFL.

Hick’s routine on the first Iraq invasion under Daddy Bush has always stuck in my mind. At the time the media were feeding the western world with tales of Saddam Hussein’s vicious and powerful armed forces, in particular their highly trained Republican guard:

“Remember how it started? They kept talking about the ‘Elite Republican Guard’ in these hushed tones, remember that? Like they were the boogieman, you know; “Yeah, we’re doing well, but we have yet to face… …the ‘Elite Republican Guard’.” Yeah, like these guys are ten feet tall, desert warriors; “NEVER LOST A BATTLE!” “WE (bleep) BULLETS!”

“Well, after two and a half months of continuous carpet bombing and not ONE reaction at all from these (bleepers), they became simply the ‘Republican Guard’, not merely as ‘Elite’ as we may have led you to believe.

“And after one month of continuous bombing not one reaction AT ALL, they went from the ‘Elite Republican Guard’ to the ‘Republican Guard’ to the ‘Republicans made this (bleep) up about there being guards out there… we hope you enjoyed your firework show.

People said: “Aha Bill, Iraq had the fourth largest army in the world” Yeah, well, maybe, but you know what, after the first three largest armies, there’s a real big (bleeping) drop-off, OK? The Hara Krishna’s are the fifth largest army in the world. And they’ve already got our airports, so… …who is the greater threat?

Hick’s brilliant rant on the propaganda of the American press during the Iraq War reminds me of ‘the’ Rangers assault on the SPFL in the media and the now softening of the accusatory language emanating from Ibrox.

What began with dossiers and evidence aplenty of ‘Threats’ and ‘bullying’ and ‘coercion’ has been relegated to “lack of fair play” according to the BBC yesterday https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/52506778

I’m fully expecting the original emotive language on the subject to reduce further still. I now expect the Ibrox club to produce a rumour of a text message claiming an ‘administrative oversight’ and the whole house of cards will come tumbling down, while BBC Sportsound will devote 3 hours of debate as to why it’s actually a smoking gun.

And will someone please explain the difference between a loan and an advance to Tom English? The first would have been an early payment on money that would have been due and is entirely different from a loan that could later at the club’s discretion be paid off by the prize money. Splitting hairs? Not really, suppose a club after receiving a loan on the terms outlined by the Rangers in their recent proposal, goes into Administration.

Then having had the loan the Administrator would say to the SPFL Board, you are now a creditor, join the long and sorry queue and by the way, you still owe us the prize money.

That is exactly the reason, Mr English, that the SPFL said no and is the subtle difference between a loan and an advance. And when the £300,000 advances were authorised by the SPFL in 2017, this only happened because one club agreed to defer £300,000 of the money due to them.

And that club was CELTIC.

Back to the current drama. It will be anti-climactic of course but if the SPFL keep their cards close to their chest and don’t buckle, it’s very unlikely Rangers board has anything damaging up its sleeve. There will be comedic value when they are forced to show their cards. The Banter Years have a new threat to their top five.

While the American invasion of Iraq was all about controlling oil supplies rather than any perceived threat to Western democracy, so ‘the’ Rangers utterances in the press have been – as Chris Sutton rightly pointed out – a deflection. Though Sutton believes that deflection is to pander to the rank and file and deny Celtic at any cost, it’s also an opportunity hide their inadequacies in a season they’d rather we take a revisionist view of.

The real reason is probably a bit more serious. A desperate attempt at leverage. A game of high stakes poker to ensure any points deduction for entering administration is overlooked by the governing bodies, in exchange for their silence. Yet just as likely is that the Ibrox club are more than fretting over their accounts and the granting of a licence to play in European football next season.

What it’s certainly not about is and altruistic act to ensure a level playing field for Hearts, Partick Thistle and Stranraer. Since when have this club in any of its current or previous formats ever evidenced fair play in their make-up?

It looks like now, when it’s time to show their hand, that much like the Republican guard talked up in the American press at the start of the war in Iraq, the reality will be there is little in ‘the’ Rangers armoury other than a pea shooter and a water pistol.

As the now ostracised journalist Jim Spence wrote on twitter this week, ‘the’ Rangers are yesterday’s man. A busted flush:

“the People who used to be the People are no longer the People….but haven’t realised it yet. ‘We were the people’ doesn’t chime. A combination of historic factors…falling Kirk attendance-less reverential societal cap doffing- blissful arrogance + Celtic ££ has done for them.”

What we’re witnessing is the last desperate attempts of a Rangers board to cling to any money they can get their hands on to compete with Celtic. Denying Celtic a title would have been a nice addition of course. Keeping as it would their main stream of income – the fans – onside and looking in the other direction to the financial ruin the board have left their club in.

Yet for the survival of the club itself money can fend off administration. The granting of the European licence could save the new club. A denial would end them again. Oh the irony in that particular situation.

And as Bill Hicks reduced the Elite Republican Guard of the mighty Iraq army to an airport siege of Hara Krishnas. I wonder where his comparison for ‘the’ Rangers would land. Third Lanark?

As Chris Sutton said last night ‘put up or shut up’. We’d all agree with him. My old Gran would have said ‘Gie’s peace please’. I’d second that.

Niall J

Matt Corr’s debut Celtic book is titled INVINCIBLE and is published by The Celtic Star on 15 May 2020. You can order a signed copy at thecelticstarbookstore.co.uk

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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