The 33rd President of the United States and his lesson for Scottish Football

2 Apr

Good Evening.

As the debate about the reconstruction of Scottish Football rumbles interminably on, it is tempting to simply curl up in a ball, go to sleep, and hopefully by the time you wake up it will all have gone away.

Fat Chance…… and a fat lot of good it would do us.

Not only that, the obsession with the size of the respective leagues, the distribution of the prize money, the promotion structure, the old co/new co debate– all of that serves to do nothing more than to mask or hide the real need for a radical change in the structure of Scottish Football.

As to the nature of that real need, let me remind you of a story from across the pond.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt surprised more than a few folk when he announced the name of his running mate for the 1944 Presidential election. The Democratic Party had little say in the choice, as FDR more or less told all concerned he would accept one of two men ….. end of discussion.

His choice was a small diminutive man who hailed from Independence Missouri and who was a failed Haberdasher.

Even after his election as Vice President, the former Senator from Missouri was rarely contacted or consulted about anything at all by FDR, and so when FDR died suddenly after only 82 days of his fourth term, most thought that the Vice President would flounder in the big job. After all, FDR was looked on as a giant of US Politics, whereas the small man from Missouri was considered a political mouse.

However, despite being kept very much in the outer wings during those 82 days, it soon became clear to one and all that Harry S Truman would prove to be far from a political mouse– in fact he would prove a very tough nut indeed.

This became abundantly clear to the members of FDR’s chosen cabinet, who Truman kept on to a man. However, having told them they would all stay in their respective jobs, he then said quite simply and firmly that it was their job to advise him, that he would listen to them… and then he .. and he alone would make a decision on all matters. He added that once he had made a decision, it was then their job to support him– end of discussion.

Famously, Truman then adorned the Presidential desk with a small sign  which read simply ” The Buck stops here!”…….. and so it would prove.

I am not about to debate whether or not I agree with all Truman did or did not do as President. What I will say is that he was a tough little man who would stand no bullshit and who called a spade a spade. He once referred to Richard Nixon as nothing other than a ” No Good Lying Bastard” who could lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time.

Further, whilst he recognised that you had to win an election to get into the White House, once you were there the job had little to do with being a popularity contest. Being at the top, you had to make the tough decisions and it was Truman who said ” If you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen!”.

Further, he did not believe in toadying up to anyone or currying favour— ” If you want a friend   ( In Washington ) get a Dog!

And that is the big issue that faces Scottish Football– at whose desk does the buck stop? And who will sit behind that desk and administer football in this country without fear or favour, without  making a cod of it, and without being afraid to ask the tough questions and make the tough statements and decisions when club chairmen and executives get out of line?

At the current time, the Administration of football is leaderless, witless, gutless and clueless.

Between the SFA, The SPL and the SFL, both club officials and fans in the main have to rely on whispers, rumours, bemusing press releases and clarifications (sort of) on Radio phone ins to find anything out.

Who can understand the ins and outs of reconstruction if the chairman of the clubs can’t quite grasp it? Who can understand a proposal which the chairman of the SFL appears to support one week, but criticises the next?

Who can have faith in an organisation where mystery still surrounds the roll and actions of Campbell Ogilivie in relation to his time at Rangers– not to mention his roll and his knowledge over the state of Hearts and the bank that once lay behind them?

Exactly when did the finance bods at the SFA or SPL or the SFL twig that the man who is the longest serving Director at Dunfermline FC  and who is also the club’s landlord, only owns the stadium on the back of the strangest commercial loan in the history of banking?

Remember too that this is the same man whose Stadia group collapsed causing Livingstone FC to go into Administration, and led to the then chairman of that club complaining about shady and illegal deals between HBOS ( where said Director used to be Managing Director ) and those brought in to save his blushes.

Of course, the fact that the same bank funded the majority of the teams in the league may have had something to do with the officials remaining stoically silent on all of that.

Then again, it was the SFA’s own press officer who told us all that the game was in crisis when that same bank said it would pull all its club loans as the bank was overexposed to football– only to watch it massively increase its lending to just one club. Mind you both club and bank have since gone bust and one of the bankers concerned has been banned from banking for life!

Has anyone heard of any of these organisations asking questions of the police about when they deem it suitable to use a “kettling” tactic in relation to the proper policing of football fans before  a game? Surely that is something a football body would want clarified?

What about their licensing procedures? How do they actually work because they don’t appear to have been applied consistently over recent years!

How can an organisation ignore the mention of EBT’s in successive sets of accounts– most of which show huge consecutive losses? Why was this never questioned and clarified?

What do we make of an official who openly claims that if a player has been registered illegally, that illegality isn’t actually an illegality until he declares it to be so– and so the player concerned is eligible to play?

Not only does this contention go against all common sense, but it appears to fly in the face of previous decisions from the court of Arbitration for sport which are meant to be binding?

Thank God the official concerned is only charged with administering football– imagine if he were in charge of Births, deaths and marriages– Bigamy would be de facto legal until such time as Sandy Bryson says otherwise!! And as for being dead– if the doctor made a mistake in declaring you dead, then even though you were alive and walking about for all to see– you would still be dead unless Sandy says otherwise because he would have a certificate that says so!

It is all very well for everyone to look at FFP rules, disclosure rules, accountancy rules and any other kind of rule that affects football directly or indirectly– but if there is no one there worth their salt to implement and oversee the application of those rules then they are as well not being written at all.

Whatsmore, surely a proper administrator and a proper administration could have put a stop to the idiotic and contradictory statements of a Craig Whyte or a Giovanni Di Stefano far quicker than happened under the present regime? Surely someone could at least comment when they hear dubious rubbish when it comes from a deranged director seeking to influence fans and investors– especially when they have the business plans and accounts prepared by the same people?

It strikes me that the clubs of Scottish Football could learn something from the little man from Independence Missouri who found himself behind the White House Desk and who won himself a second term against the firm favourite in the 1948 presidential election. Thomas E Dewey was a liberal republican and may just have been the best President that the United States never got.

Yet he lost because Truman went out on the stump, spoke to as many rallies as he could without notice and at every opportunity. He relied on the people seeing that he listened to them and that he was a no more than a plain speaking ordinary little man who did not suffer bullshit and bullshitters.

Strangely enough — people voted for him.

It is time for plain talking and plain administration. It is time for a cessation to passing the buck, and manipulative backroom deals. It is time to stop phoney contradictory press statements from any quarter and time for proper financial administration, proper account examination and common sense reporting and application of the rules of football. It is time to stop politicians and police forces using ordinary football fans as a political football and a media tool, and for the football authorities to stand up and be counted on behalf of all football fans.

The Current guys don’t cut it… and never will.

As to who would do the job?

I suggest two men acting in tandem, both of whom fit the bill or at least part of the bill. Both have experience in club administration, in dealing in the face of adversity, of making tough decisions and speaking to and for the little man or supporter while keeping an eye on proper fiscal compliance needed to run a club or an organisation properly in the eyes of the law.

Both would have the ear of the football fan.

The First is Turnbull Hutton for obvious reasons and the second is Bryan Jackson of PKF who would keep clubs and directors right when it comes to doing the proper thing when a business model is tight for finance and under pressure.

Or to put it another way one would have a sign on his desk which says “The Buck stops here” and the other would have a sign which reads ” No Bucks? Stop There!”

Scottish Football would be the better for such leadership.

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6 Responses to “The 33rd President of the United States and his lesson for Scottish Football”

  1. Ues April 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    If only!

  2. finloch April 3, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Insightful as ever.
    Our football club owners and their appointed administrations have been progressively caught up in a power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely vacuum.
    It has strangled our game.
    And when the MSM are more interested in the short term utterings of Charlie, or who the new signing targets are for their favorite clubs then they will continue their Lord Nelson method of looking at things.
    I’d add one name to any clean-up-crew.
    Allan Munro was the man who saved Hibs when Mercer almost killed them off and he did a similar job at Scottish Rugby when it was bancrupt morally and financially.
    But I don’t ever see the clubs having the vision to address the real issues and sadly we have more pain to come.

  3. Gerri McLaughlin April 3, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    These barstewrds continue to choke the life out of the corpse that our national game has become, grave robbers is too kind a name for them, Disband the SFA is the only solution and has been for months if not years, a visionless game has no future…

  4. Barry James Sullivan April 3, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    A good article and a good read. Unfortunately, despite the unrivalled incompetence (incompetence beyond comprehension) the same people are in the same positions of power.

    There appears no way to remove them.

    Many eloquent bloggers have written incisive articles …… the fans want to see a change of personnel (my opinion).

    Nothing is happening.

  5. bawsmanBawsman April 3, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    You really do have a talent BRT&H, thank you for sharing that.

    It’s a real pity that we have the press, media and politicians we deserve.

    Why is it do you think, we have no really good press and media people ? Almost everything that is written about the current situation is flawed.
    Surely they cannot believe that people actually believe (for instance) that to pay tax free bungs for almost a generation gains you no sporting advantage?
    How can they print “Rangers were found not guilty” when they were in fact found guilty on every single charge?
    I sometimes think this really is 1984 and doublespeak is the media language.

  6. John Smith April 3, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Excellent as always.

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