Thursday, June 07, 2018

Time for spine and conscience to collapse King's house of cards

I am not going to start by sympathising with outgoing Scottish Football Association director, Gary Hughes, even though I don't believe that he did anything wrong by calling Rangers fans "the great unwashed" in 2006 - long before he was employed by the SFA.
What he said in that interview, so conveniently uncovered by The Rangers, (the original Rangers having been put into liquidation six years after the quote), was a silly joke. It was no more or less offensive than being called a "soap-dodging Weegie" by a fan one of the Edinburgh clubs but that's beside the point.
Hughes has gone, even though there was nothing illegal or motivated by religious bigotry or any other kind of hate speech.
But I won't weep for him.
Nor do I feel the need to rally to the side of Murdoch McLennan after the most contrived and absurd attacks on him having connections to companies involving Dermot Desmond and Denis O'Brien.
Both men will survive this and are presumably comfortably off. They have also been part of an institution noted for its incompetence on its better days and corruption on its worst.
You might argue that men of their business pedigree are needed to reform the SFA but I disagree. It is beyond redemption and only disbandment and a new organisation would have any hope of seeing the Scottish game being properly governed.
But what we should all be concerned about is the increasingly malign influence over the Scottish game of the convicted criminal, Dave King.
King has a grasp on truth, integrity and basic morality befitting a bona fide psychopath.
It is now so well known that a South African judge described him in court as a "glib and shameless liar" as to seem a tired cliché when repeated.
It is old news that he was a director of Rangers as the club ran a scheme of industrial-scale cheating and tax evasion, despite which he was considered a "fit and proper person" to be a director of a new club for which the SFA broke its own rules as well as the fundamental principles of good governance by allowing it to take a place in the Scottish Football League, for which it did not meet the basic criteria.
He sabotaged his own new club in order to pressure Mike Ashley into dumping it in the ditch, despite Ashley (no angel, by any means) being far better qualified to create a south Glasgow powerhouse.
He spun another intricate web of lies in order to take control of The Rangers acting in concert with two other parties to try to duck below company law.
And, of course, the takeover panel laughed him out of court when he claimed that nobody would sell their shares to him at the price dictated but, nevertheless, he would not make any offer as he lacked the funds to do so but, if so ordered, would buy the shares with the money that he claimed not to have.
As someone reluctant to make light of mental health issues, I would normally hesitate to make crude remarks about the psychological state of someone based purely on evidence prevented in the media but King's behaviour appears to be consistent with a serious personality disorder (which is not typically considered to be a mental health issue in the same way as the afflictions that many people suffer from through no fault of their own).
He self-evidently feels no embarrassment about telling the most absurd lies, which, at times it is difficult to believe that anyone - even the most rabid of the great unwashed - could possibly believe.
And he is not simply self-interested but more than willing to destroy anything that gets in his way, including the club that he is using for his own gain, or the game that sustains it.
Increasingly, he comes across as a man who would dynamite his own house rather than have the bank repossess it, regardless of the risks to the neighbours and any random passersby.
And yet he gets support in the media of the kind that goes beyond footballing bias or cultural affinity.
Over the last week, we have seen this from both ends of the Scottish journalistic spectrum.
At the bottom-feeder level is that international class buffoon, Keith Jackson.
Like King, Jackson apparently experiences neither embarrassment nor shame when shown to be glaringly wrong and, like King, he regularly trades in obvious falsehoods without discomfort.
In his latest piece on the supposed conflict of interest over McLennan, Jackson declares himself a dab hand at writing about company law.
This is from a man who once, despite having the benefit of the Internet, failed to correctly spell the word, "chateaubriand", on three consecutive occasions, as he attempted to boast to Twitter about how he was living the high life.
Graham Spiers is notionally a superior type of writer to Jackson, though he has rarely broken a story.
Spiers is of above average intelligence for a Scottish football writer, which is a compliment of a similar level to saying that Kris Boyd is of above average fitness for a man in his mid-thirties.
But Spiers is not as clever as he would like to think and he shares the same failing as Jackson in that he clearly believes that the public are too stupid to know when he is spinning them a line, even when he knows it very well, himself.
Spiers decided to tire us all by giving credence to King's most risible assertions that there is an appearance of something untoward in the McLennan situation, swatting aside every question about people who were clearly conflicted in their work with the SFA.
In doing so, these two have created a false sense in the media that legitimate questions are being asked, which has given some semblance of media credence to King's latest attempt to slip the noose of the Notice of Complaint raised in relation to Rangers securing a licence to play in European competitions through submitting false information.
The Hughes case is just one that points to ample evidence that the current modus operandi of The Rangers is to set the dogs on anyone with the slightest potential influence over events pertaining to that aberration of a club.
This follows on from a tradition once boasted of by their former PR grime-lord, Jack Irvine, whose emails - exposed by Charlotte Fakes (almost certainly Dave King) boasted of being able to coerce journalists because he knew "all their dirty little secrets".
I would not expect Spiers to have the kind of dark secrets that many Scottish football writers accrue on every second trip abroad, though an uncharacteristic moment of weakness is always possible.
In the case of Jackson, I would expect that his bar is set so low as to be difficult to embarrass by any heterosexual indiscretion.
King may well have dug some dirt on these two as he has clearly had people rooting into the backgrounds of others or he may be offering them different ways to get back into the fold (though despite his Ibrox bans, it's not clear that Jackson was ever really out of it).
But, whether through carrot or stick, King is clearly able to persuade high-profile members of the Scottish football media to write whatever he wants.
In doing so, he is further undermining the already crumbling foundations of a game that is thoroughly rotten.
Far from humouring his destructive bent, the media should be honouring their pledge to report the truth without fear or favour, and exposing King for the cynical charlatan that he is.
We await some decent members of the Scottish media developing both the spine and conscience to do what they surely know they should and bring down the  King house of cards.

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