Well the first of three international breaks this autumn is over and Celtic players will be returning from far-flung locations some heading straight for the treatment table. Ange Postecoglou was looking forward to the transfer window closing and a chance to drop down a gear or two and maybe get a chance with his family to get out and about and discover for themselves just how beautiful Scotland is. He’ll already know that it can be ugly, he was at Ibrox last week after all.
New players arrived at Lennoxtown as training continued for this not away on international duty and that has allowed the new arrivals ahead of the transfer window closing, the ones not part of the international call-ups, to get to know Lennoxtown and learn something about the way the Australian manager wants his players to play the game.
There will have been casualties caused by the international break, we’ll have to wait until the Celtic medical team assess Kyogo’s knee before we know what the extent of the problem is. And there has also been casualties among the Celtic support with two female Celtic fans being somehow dragged into the war that has started between Daily Record and theRangers official media partners Hand and Heart, which incidentally is named after a song that the Ibrox support sings but has zero to do with football.
You know the story. TheRangers decided to charge the media £25,000 each for full access to their hitherto free media briefings and many of the mainstream media – including Daily Record – refused to pay. Two closely associated members of theRangers fan media, Heart and Hand and Follow Follow did however apparently pay these sums and so were given the additional access to Steven Gerrard and his players that newspapers like Daily Record were thereafter denied.
Now step back a bit to the end of June when all Celtic organised a Celtic fan media press conference with incoming new manager Ange Postecoglou and Dom McKay the club’s new CEO – before the hacks got their chance. That fan media conference was after the broadcast media but ahead of the print media – so the Celtic message to the hacks was clear – they were now at the bottom of the media food chain.
The backlash to warning Ange about the unique pitfalls in Scottish football that faces a Celtic manager – the partial referees, the honest mistakes, the corrupt SFA and the biased media was admittedly not welcomed by all Celtic fans (some memories are shorter than others). And the backlash from the media was intense, nasty and demonstrated that a real sore spot had been touched. It could have served as a warning on what was to come when theRangers made their move. That this message was sent out that day was significant for football reasons, something many missed, while others have since recognised. Apologies accepted.
A few points on theRangers decision to charge the media £25,000. don’t really listen to many of the numerous Celtic podcasts unless there is a specific reason to do so and certainly don’t tune into any of theRangers output. They appear to have a much smaller number of podcasts and fan media sites than Celtic, with the two, now official media partners of theRangers basically dominating that new club’s fan media output.
Before their recent Europa League Qualifier ahead of the Glasgow Derby Gary McAllister was doing the press conference and the questions were being asked on Zoom by the group of official media partners (each paying £25,000) and this of course included the two fan media organisations plus the hacks who had coughed up to put funds into theRangers.
The Times journalist Graham Spiers on Twitter was moaning about the lack of scrutiny and saying that theRangers support was being short changed by this new format that he was excluded from. Indeed his own exclusion from media privileges at Ibrox goes back much further than this current drama.
Curiosity got the better of me so I listened to that pre-match Press Conference with Gary McAllister (Gerrard was left back in Scotland with Covid issues to deal with personally and within his squad). In doing so I was well aware of the irony in Spiers who himself once tasted David Murray’s succulent lamb, going on about a lack of scrutiny at Ibrox. While he personally may have belatedly called out some of the reasons for the death of Rangers FC, a significant factor in that happening was a complete lack of scrutiny from the mainstream media in Scotland, of which he was a member.
And I have to admit that I thought that on listening to the McAllister press conference that their fan media did a decent enough job and handled the questioning in such a way as to give Celtic nothing ahead of that Sunday’s Glasgow Derby. It was therefore hard to understand what was annoying Spiers so much, other than the exclusion of his colleagues in the mainstream media.
My second foray into listening to these guys was earlier this week when I was sent a link to the Hand and Heart podcast from Monday night when David Edgar was being interviewed on his own podcast about the events of the past few days after Daily Record plastered historic social media posts by three of the Hand and Heart team all over their newspaper.
This, as Edgar correctly points out is actually all about the £25,000 media fee that theRangers have charged and the resultant loss of media access for the Record. Did anyone notice that when Celtic were at Ibrox recent a post match Callum McGregor interview appeared in Daily Record but nowhere else? We have already told you about Celtic’s first experience of the new media set-up at Ibrox and how our club refused to participate. That McGregor interview was clearly a tactical move by someone at Celtic, thinking on their feet.
Edgar’s appearance on his own podcast earlier this week was interesting. The two Rangers men talk in a calm and reasonable manner, Edgar mentions that he was happy living a quiet life until the Record’s gutter journalism dragged him into the spotlight. He correctly identifies the motivation in all of this and accurately describes the tabloid policy of public shaming, irrespective of the damage that is done to people like himself and his two podcast colleagues who had no alternative but to resign given the nature of the content that the Record had uncovered thanks apparently to a whistleblower.
Edgar talked about his dramatic fightback, which seems to have galvanised theRangers support and it is hard to see how this is all going to play out to the Daily Record’s longer term strategic advantage. Follow Follow, where Edgar is an Administrator, is leading a boycott campaign against the Record encouraging their support not to buy, read or click on any links posted by the newspaper and the decline in the paper’s circulation – even ahead of this controversy is being discussed.
The Daily Record used to sell 800,000 copies per day, now it sells around 80,000 and with a highly motivated boycott being organised by theRangers support that down trend is set to speed up in the months ahead. This incidentally is a point we have discussed on here before, when looking at the logic of theRangers plans to charge the mainstream media for access.
The world has changed and so has the media and indeed football. Previously the Old Firm clubs would rely on the hand to mouth approach of generating newspaper coverage to increase the gate, with supporters paying at the turnstiles – long before season tickets were common place. Recently we featured a conversation that Frank McGarvey was having on his new podcast with Tommy Sheridan and he told the story of being asked to play straight away by the Celtic chairman as if the support knew that the new signing from Liverpool was starting that would put around 7000 onto the gate. McGarvey played (poorly in his opinion) when he wasn’t fully fit and the crowd did go up, thanks to the pre-match coverage in papers like Daily Record (the Sun wasn’t a contender in those days in Scottish football).
Those days are gone. Then Daily Record was selling, as we’ve already mentioned, in excess of 800,000 every day, today it’s lost 90% of that circulation and football clubs have many more ways to reach their fans – who have already purchased season tickets – than via red-top coverage. TheRangers get this, realised that broadcast partners like Sky Sports and Premier Sports pay, fan media (via the fans pay) but the mainstream media get a free ride despite no review having ever taken place re what they actually bring to the table.
Media is changing all the time. For example Celtic recently made the decision to change the format of the Celtic View from a weekly to a quarterly magazine, with much of the content that could have appeared in the weekly edition now appearing on the club’s official website.
This is entirely sensible and takes into account the rolling 24/7 nature of Celtic media coverage on social media, websites, podcasts and television. The Celtic View is now in a better place and having bought the first edition of its quarterly comeback can say that it is highly recommen
Edgar then talks about the offensive words used in the historic tweets and rather than on the racist and sectarian prefers to talk about the extremely offensive ‘M’ that was used.
He points out that he is registered disabled himself and that this word was used around decade ago citing many well-known comedians at the time who were using that type of word in their outrageous comedy performances at the time. That outrageously offensive style of comedy went out of fashion but the historic tweets from these Rangers podcasters did not go away and years later the real context of ever using the ‘M’ word overlooked, maliciously so by Daily Record. It’s telling that none of the other words used could be defended in any way whatsoever, so they didn’t bother trying.
The standard that the Daily Record set for that podcast resulted in Edgar organising what he describes as an army of Rangers fans to hold the newspapers staff to the exact same standard as they held his podcast to, and that is surely reasonable enough. Edgar tries very hard to come across as being a reasonable man.
They succeeded in digging up all sorts of unpleasant stuff posted by Daily Record employees over the years on social media and this has led to a Reach PLC investigation. Edgar also claims that many Record employees have been in touch with him and are themselves unhappy that the paper ran with this story last week.
They found a photograph of the journalist who ran the story proudly wearing a Celtic strip he’d got for his birthday and they thought that was proof of the hack’s motivation in going after Heart and Hand. The irony in the fact that they see no issue whatsoever with known Rangers supporters like John Beaton, Bobby Madden, Andrew Dallas and many others refereeing games involving theRangers, Celtic or indeed both while being supporters of the Ibrox clubs down through the years is lost on them (referring you all back to that warning given to Ange Postecoglou in June).
That stood out. The stuff posted by Daily Record staff years ago on social media is fair game though as they started the war with theRangers podcast. What though is unacceptable is the decision by the Rangers fan media to widen this and drag Celtic fans into this, and as is often the case it is females who get the worst of it. Indeed one girl from a Celtic podcast has had to resign from his job as a solicitor after theRangers fans dug up historic tweets posted a decade ago mostly using the ‘H’ when she must have been a teenager, probably even a schoolgirl.
Unlike Edgar and his colleagues who were all adults when their series of offensive tweets were posted.
My problem with this is why are they targeting Celtic fans at all? This is a battle started by Daily Record and Edgar fighting fire with fire is fair enough. There was a post on Follow Follow yesterday that stated that this was actually a situation where fan media at both clubs (Celtic and theRangers) had a common interest and should actually be working together. A reply was quickly posted that there was a fat chance of that happening given that they had already taken down a Celtic podcaster earlier in the week. And if you have ever used the ‘H’ word on social media chances are you are going to be facing a ban. And Edgar is currently busy on Follow Follow drumming up industrial scale complaints to the Police about anyone they could find, mostly for using the ‘H’ word.
This is not Celtic fans battle but it is a fight we are being dragged into.