Today's incorrigible scoundrel has been one of the top men in Scottish football since 2009, meaning that he's been involved in all the shenanigans that the death of Rangers engendered. He was instrumental in trying to get Sevco into the SPL and then tried to bully the SFL into putting them straight into Division 1. You all know already who I'm talking about, It's Neil Doncaster, Chief Executive of the SPFL.
When the SPL clubs voted not to let Sevco walk straight into the top tier, pretend they were Rangers and then carry on as if nothing had happened, it has to be said that Doncaster was not best pleased. His hands were tied, since he is the employee of the collective clubs, but he took on the role of a Jeremiah, preaching Armageddon and the death of Scottish football. The agnivores in the media jumped on this gleefully; they were already upset at the situation, but here was one of the top men in Scottish football on the same page as they were. It was as if the whole of Scottish football had been dependent upon Rangers and it would die a death if there was no Rangers there. As Jabba kept saying, "Scottish football will survive without Rangers, but it won't thrive without Rangers." Doncaster was of the same opinion and was almost in tears when Sevco ended up in Division 3.
Strangely, while he was spouting about apocalyptic scenarios not once did Doncaster consider leaving his job. Anyone with a modicum of integrity would have walked if they honestly believed that everything was crumbling around him; not Doncaster, though. And then, when there was a shake-up and the SPL and SFL amalgamated to become the SPFL, Doncaster was still hanging about. In fact, he was first in line to apply for the post of Chief Executive of this new entity. And yet, he was still banging on about how Scottish football was doomed. If things were that bad then why the hell was he so desperate to take the job?
For two years the Scottish leagues were without a sponsor. The Clydesdale Bank and Irn Bru deals ended in 2013 and nobody else was interested. This was hardly surprising since Doncaster was doing his best to make sure that he was selling an unattractive product. Who wants to sponsor a competition that nobody is going to see? This is what Doncaster was promoting: a league competition that supporters were going to desert in their droves because there was no Rangers. Of course, this was all mother's milk to The Peeppul, who could still strut about in the arrogant delusion that Scottish football couldn't do without them. 'The Blue Pound' they called it and they honestly believed that they were in a position to dictate to Scottish football, since it needed The Peeppul's money to survive. This was all Doncaster's doing.
TV money as well was going to be a problem. You're hardly in a position to bargain when you've been trashing your own product publicly. We were told that no TV company was interested in Scottish football since there were no more Old Firm matches. More than that; TV companies weren't interested unless 'Rangers' was part of the package. And so we had the embarrassment of television coverage coming from grounds that held a couple of hundred if they were lucky and had all the atmosphere of a bus shelter on a rainy day. Still, it was necessary, we were told; BT Sports wouldn't pay for Scottish football unless they could show 'Rangers' matches, we were told. And then the truth emerged.
It turned out that BT Sports, or anyone else for that matter, weren't in the least interested in Sevco. All TV companies are interested in is getting a product for the least outlay possible. And along comes Doncaster, with his sales pitch, "Nobody's going to be interested in Scottish football, since 'Rangers' are in the bottom tier. It's going to be less competitive, and it's something that nobody wants to see. Oh, and by the way, could you show some 'Rangers' games, gonny, eh? Gonny?" With such a pitch any TV company worth its salt is going to offer peanuts and then came the real kick in the guts: if Sevco matches were going to be shown, then the SPFL would actually have to pay money back. This was, ostensibly, to offset the costs of setting up for broadcasting from smaller grounds in the middle of nowhere. In reality, though, the BT Sports money men must have been laughing up their sleeves. They'd never dare approach the English League with such a proposal, but Doncaster had made Scottish football sound so bad that he was lucky to get anything.
So, Doncaster's main contribution since Rangers died has been to peddle the myth that Scottish football depends on an Ibrox team. He was actually prepared to hand money back to BT Sports from the trifling amount they were paying, just to make it look as if TV Companies weren't interested in Scottish football without 'Rangers'. This was the lie he continually peddled, that Scottish football was nothing without 'Rangers'. It's difficult to understand the motives behind this, unless, of course, we're willing to accept that our football authorities are only interested in the wellbeing of one, particular club. But that would just be paranoid, wouldn't it?
And now there's another idea being bandied about to 'improve' Scottish football; a bigger top tier. If such a thing was so wonderful, then why the hell was it changed in the 1970s? The calls have become more urgent now that Warburton has lost his 'magic hat' and Sevco appears to be struggling. Again, as The Peeppul are fond of saying, it's all about the 'Rangers'. One guy in the Herald has even come straight out and said that a bigger tier would be to accommodate Sevco; for the good of the Scottish game as a whole, of course. You can read all about it on The Clumpany's blog, as well as a humorous, but accurate, refutation of the whole, rancid idea.
Our hero, Neil Doncaster, has claimed that league reconstruction is not on the agenda and, at any rate, could not apply until 2017 at the earliest. The clubs don't want it, he says. He is, however, being rather disingenuous. We all know the Premiership clubs won't want it, but what about all the wee diddy teams, like...er...Sevco? Remember, the new set-up means that every club now has an equal say; even those wee minnows swimming about down the bottom. It's one-club, one-vote, now, regardless of how big or small that club is. The wee clubs would jump at the chance of a bigger top tier; the bigger the better as far as they're concerned. What wee club wouldn't want a couple of big pay days when Celtic comes to town, or, rather, village? The whole set-up of our leagues could be changed in a heartbeat; and probably will be if Sevco don't win promotion come May.
It makes you wonder if this was the real purpose behind the SPL and the SFL amalgamating. The SPL clubs would have thrown out such proposals immediately, but now they can easily be overwhelmed by the votes of the diddy teams. It's as if they were getting all the bases covered to make sure Sevco would be in the top tier sooner rather than later. Yes, it would be better if they could get there on merit, but Doncaster has continually touted the notion that Scottish football can't do without Sevco in the top tier, so they'll need to be put there by any means possible. The diddy teams will probably already be lined up to vote for a bigger Premiership, or whatever they'll call it next. Quite what Doncaster gets out of all this is hard to see. What is easy to see, however, is that he's a cheating bastard!
"Pat Anderson's books? Well, they're not that great, really. In fact, they're a load of shite. But please buy one! I'll buy you a Rangers book if you do."