Yesterday however, John Reid did something that no other Celtic chairman has dared do, he asked for a Scottish referee to be dismissed for cheating, and in the process called into question the probity of the SFA, the very people who run the national game in Scotland. Reid did not imply, he did not insinuate, he did not use sophistry or fine rhetoric, he simply told it as it is. He used his polished political skills to turn in a superb performance which eschewed emotion and hysteria.
Calm, collected and in full command of the facts, he chose every word carefully and calmly and delivered a devastating critique of those who have power in Scottish football. His contemptuous dismissal of the clown that is Hugh Keevins was superb.
In Scottish football there are three central elements; the clubs, the SFA and the media. In this infernal triangle, we cannot ignore the power and influence of those who earn their crust by scribbling their thoughts in our newspapers. It is fair comment to state that the likes of Traynor, King; etc are the mouthpiece of the SFA.
Those in power at SFA headquarters have their minions liberally spread across the tabloids in Scotland, ensuring they are always online and at their beck and call. This morning I awoke, relishing the prospect of seeing banner headlines screaming:
“DR DEATH ACCUSES THE SFA OF BEING CORRUPT!”.
Much to my astonishment, the biggest story in town was not the Celtic chairman calling into questions the basic integrity of the game, but once again it was Rangers.
Just out of curiosity, why did the media decide to run with this story on the very same day of the Celtic AGM, when they must have known in advance that the question of lying and cheating would be raised by ordinary Celtic supporters on the floor? Equally, did they just get wind of the Rangers ‘buyout” on the same day of the Celtic AGM? Very strange indeed.
And what is the ‘big’ story? Rangers being approached by yet another prospective buyer. Just how many prospective buyers have approached Rangers in recent months? When we examined the buyers, we discovered that their financial prospects were even bleaker than those of the club they were allegedly intending to buy. The latest suitor has it seems a very chequered past and the whole story must be treated with a lot of suspicion. But the ‘scoop’ has fulfilled its function, namely it has put the Celtic story into second place…… for the time being that is.
The reality is that the Scottish media, whether it be the written medium or on the airwaves, really don’t want to discuss the cheats who run Scottish football. They are running scared of the story because they are running scared of Celtic and John Reid.
They really don’t know what to make of him, but they know he is a big beast with whom they do not wish to tangle. Reid has dealt with intelligent and skilled interviewers both national and international during his political career, especially when he was a very senior government minister. He is a master of media manipulation, spin and yes the dark arts. All of this might not seem very appetizing for certain Celtic supporters, as in their eyes his character leaves a lot to be desired. However, when contemplating Reid’s role at Celtic, I am reminded of the remark made by former US President L.B. Johnson when referring to a troublesome colleague whom he had controversially promoted to high office when he said;
‘ I would rather have that son of a bitch inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in”. My thoughts exactly, fight fire with fire.
I’ll grant you there are aspects of Reid’s persona that I don’t find personally endearing, but he is the right man in the right job, and at the right time.
He has the measure of the hun media and more importantly, he has the measure of the SFA.
Love him or loathe him, he is a Celtic supporter from the old school. When we are dismissed for being paranoid about ‘plots’ and ‘conspiracies’ from above, he instinctively knows that it isn’t paranoia.
He and Lawwell are determined not to let this latest disgrace sink beneath the horizon without a fight.
It was interesting in recent weeks listening to several radio phone ins to try and get a sense of how journalists in Scotland were dealing with the latest scandal concerning Dallas and his cohorts. They simply don’t want to talk about the subject. Whenever a caller tried to raise the issue, he was ridiculed, belittled or simply cut off in mid sentence. Those who were the most articulate, reasoned and logical were seen as immediate threats and attacked by all the ‘experts’ in the studio.
Reid’s performance was a chilling reminder to them and their SFA masters that he means business, and will take no prisoners. I suspect that after yesterday’s performance, John Reid’s stock has risen among a large section of the Celtic support. Come the hour, come the man.