After weeks and weeks of it all being Celtic’s fault, of the guests being loaded in favour of the referees and of everyone taking a dig at my club, I went through the BBC Complaints website and fired off my complaint. What also got me annoyed was no journalist (apart from Phil Mac Giolla Bhain) was asking difficult questions; questions I wanted answers to, like “how many referees had reported incidents of being harassed to the SFA, the Police or even their work place HR?” “Why did Willie Collum not chase up the threatening phone call with the Police, surely it would be easy to trace?” And more importantly, “Why have 80% of your members failed a referee’s exam?”
Monday’s Sportsound programme consisted of ex referees Stuart Dougal and Kenny Clark, former Rangers player and ex SFA Chief Gordon Smith, journalist Tom English and host Kenny McIntyre. All rounded on SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan and SPL Chief Neil Doncaster (Clark stating that Doncaster should not be in his post if he didn’t know the views of the referees) and everyone brought up Celtic as the bad guy. Clark summed the strike up perfectly when he stated:
“Maybe an undercurrent of thinking that by doing this (the strike) they (the referees) can perhaps get other clubs who have been sitting back in silence and acquiescence, allowing Celtic to batter into referees at every opportunity, maybe it will make the other clubs, either publicly or privately bring a bit of pressure to bear upon Celtic, to call off the hunting pack, who are currently pursuing referees.”
Having a dig at Celtic, with no reply, no questions asked about the above statement made.
The tipping point for me was Chick Young badgering an Israeli referee as to why he was coming over to break the strike, stating that it wasn’t really a strike “more a plea for help”. Someone tell me how this impartial journalism? Guests then included ex Rangers Director Donald Findaly QC, interviewed as chairman of Cowdenbeath, John Yorkston chairman of Dunfermline and Grade One referee John McKendrick. The first two are not exactly noted for their love of anything Celtic, whilst the latter continued the old pals act with Chick and Kenny McIntyre. No one was grilling McKendrick on the strike the way that Regan and Doncaster had been on Monday. It all seemed too friendly, too one sided and all too easy to paint Celtic as the bad guy in all this. Add in that BBC Radio Scotland thought it was ok to bring on Jeff Winter as a guest a month back, a former referee who proclaims his love of all things Rangers at the drop of a hat and who has on his website, jokes about Celtic and paedophilia and you’ll begin to see that there’s an issue of either poor research (honest mistake) or just plain bias. Again, not surprisingly, Jeff thinks it’s all Celtic’s fault.
You see it’s different if it is a commercial broadcaster because you can turn off and not listen to them and it will affect their ratings, their advertising revenue and their profits. Yet the BBC is the state broadcaster and we all pay for it through the license fee. We are subsidising Gordon Smith with a cushy wee number after all his troubles with the SFA (when he should be looking after his parents). We are paying for the inane drivel being spouted by the embarrassment that is Chick Young, someone who is mocked by his colleagues, who is clearly taking sides in this debate and who everyone knows is not a St Mirren fan. He may have qualified as a journalist but it is a sad indictment that we have gone from the great scholarly Bob Crampsey to this clown. If Chick’s support of the ref’s strike is his ‘opinion’ then where do we have someone stating the opposite ‘opinion’? Where is the balance? You see Chick thinks it’s all Celtic’s fault.
Now I’m not writing this piece in order to tell everyone to bombard the BBC Complaints process. However, if you don’t like something they do, you should tell them and conversely, if you do like what they do, then tell them also. If you went to a restaurant and the lamb wasn’t cooked the way you like it, far from it being the succulent piece of red meat you thought it was, you would tell them. You are after all, paying for it. Thus if you don’t like what you hear or see on the BBC, be it online, television or radio, tell them. Otherwise they will never know and it will just continue along the same lines. It will continue to make you angry and it will still be all Celtic’s fault.
My advice if you do want to contact the BBC to make a complaint is to do so via their Complaints website or if you do not have a computer, then write them a letter. The reason being is that it gives you time to put everything into a thoughtful and measured way instead of being too angry or emotional about what you want to write about. You can have a think about it instead of spending ages hanging on the telephone waiting for an agent to take your call. The chances are you will get irate just hanging there and the agent will only have a limited amount of space and time for your complaint once you get through.
Once making your complaint, try to be polite, to the point, state it is a complaint about x programme, on x day, at x time and provide examples of what it is that is wrong with the content then ask for a reply. After that you can chase it up.
The least that we can do is to hold them to the Editorial Guidelines on Impartiality and fairness;
“Impartiality lies at the heart of public service and is the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences. It applies to all our output and services – television, radio, online, and in our international services and commercial magazines. We must be inclusive, considering the broad perspective and ensuring the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected.” Section 4 BBC Guidelines
Remember you are paying for the content, for their opinions which blame the club we all love for what is going on. You are paying for their guests, Jeff Winter, Donald Findlay, Stuart Dougal, and Kenny Clark to have a pop at Celtic unchallenged. You pay for it whether you listen to it or not.