The Stella Dallas of Europe


Leaving aside for the moment the Shadenfreude-laden giggling as first Celtic, and then Rangers departed the Champions League this season, it is worthwhile taking time to think on the reality of Scotland’s latter-day bit-part status in the game.

There are Celtic fans who try to rationalise it by pointing out that for them, the Stein years were a wonderful exception and not the norm. That however does not explain the European status of Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs, Dundee, Dundee United, Kilmarnock and Dunfermline in a period of roughly a quarter of a century from the beginning of European competition.

From the fifties to the eighties, Scottish clubs were feared and respected in Europe. Since then, only Martin O’Neil’s Celtic and Walter Smith’s Rangers have made an impression on the European scene.

So what has happened? Many blame the distraction of new technology, taking potential Johnstones and Baxters away from pursuing the soccer dream. I’m not convinced of that myself. They have game consoles and PCs in England and Italy and Germany as well. They also have them in Scandinavian countries where daylight hours and suitable weather are in even less abundance than in Scotland – and of course clubs from Scandinavian countries were both responsible for Celtic and Rangers fates this season.

Failure then breeds failure. Losing out one year means more (and earlier) qualifiers down the line. In this regard, you have to wonder at the claims of how “brilliantly” Celtic have been run over the last decade, when the club went into Euro qualifiers again and again unprepared in terms of personnel, even to the extent of using makeshift central defenders in several campaigns. Our clubs know its all coming, but year on year, we get caught on the hop by the timing of those early ties. Planning? Don’t make me laugh.

We are also faced with the reality that fans of clubs who are not in contention for a ECL group place, are usually fervently hoping that the quest ends in failure. Not because there is a deep hatred of either or both Celtic and Rangers, but because a Champions League place for a Scottish team gives the successful side an immeasurable financial advantage over the rest. Of course that attitude is understandable when you look at the reality for our clubs if one of their number makes it to the group stages.

Scottish football clubs rely heavily on gate income for survival because their media deals struck with broadcasters are so much poorer than in countries of similar size. ECL money – even if the successful side fails to score a goal or get a point on the board – is like all your Christmasses have come at once.

It is well known that the income gap between Celtic & Rangers and the rest is huge. The income gap between a Scottish Champions League team and the rest is even more massive. Yet if a Dutch, or Portuguese or Danish or Swedish side get a place in the group stages, the impact is not so great. Why? Because they have football administrators who can sell the game effectively, getting value for their product from the media.

This is the one area where our administrators have failed consistently and miserably.

The current football model where home teams keep their own gate money, and in some cases even have their own media contracts, is designed to (with the notable exception of England) create a few bigger fishes in a number of smaller ponds. It ultimately ends with the pantomime (which has not yet gone away) of the European Super League.

I wish I could say I had a solution to all this, but my instinct is to say that in the absence of a solution we should forget about Europe and its riches. Instead, lets return to a sport driven model of the game where there is a more equitable share of revenues. Forget the tuppence ha’penny TV contracts and give football back to the fans, live on a Saturday (Covid permitting). In time, the level of competition would increase, as would the quality of the product. The talk to the TV folk when they want to pay the going rate.

It might help if there was some kind of levy (listening indy supporters?) imposed on subscription service providers like Sky. £25m versus £1.5 billion is a much smaller fraction than that of Scottish subscribers to the Sky platform for example.

There is little we in Scotland can do to prevent the globalisation and Mafia-isation of the game internationally, but those things we CAN control, like turning inward to improve our game instead of, like Stella Dallas in the eponymous classic movie, standing in the rain looking through the window at the banquet elsewhere.

Of course it won’t happen.


  1. Whether the Porteous tackle was a red card or not, is not the issue for me. What I do know is if the exact same tackle had been made by Goldson on a Hibs player, it would probably not even be a free kick, (he got the ball and Aribo fell over the sliding player). At the very worst it would have been a free kick for Hibs and a yellow card for Goldson.

    Brother Bobby Madden was an absolute disgrace on Sunday. All an Aberdeen player had to do was go to the ground when challenged, (fairly or not) and a free kick would be awarded. Celtic had 2/3rds possession and conceded 29 “fouls” or should that be falls. Aberdeen with 1/3rd possession conceded 10 free kicks.

    The “the” Rangers need the Champions League group stage place for next season, or it’s financial Armageddon again, like the disgraced original club. The fix is in and the “honest mistakes” will continue and in all probability, increase.

    As for Albertz predictable whatabouterry, immediately prior to the Dundee Utd claim for a penalty, there was an even more blatant foul on the Celtic defender. If we want consistency of refereeing, either both were fouls or neither were. What club’s player committed the foul or where the foul was should have no bearing on the decision.

  2. bigboab1916 4th October 2021 @ 22:25hrs –

    The SPFL have no (well, very little) say in the appointment of referees. That’s a function of the SFA. The standards & competence of whistlers is also within the SFA’s remit.


    The Scottish FA is responsible for appointing referees to matches in all senior competitions, Scottish Junior FA football and Scottish Women’s Football.’

    I’d be interested in finding out what makes Scotland’s referees appear so inept.

    Bias, unconscious or otherwise?

    The misplaced desire to satisfy SFA assessors to ensure regular, frequent access to £1k match fees?

    Hierarchical imperatives?

    Something else?
    We’ve just completed Round 8 of the Premiership. Here’s a list of referees who’ve officiated in those 48 matches (you can click through highlighted characters for further info):

    16 referees have handled a Premiership fixture.

    Bobby Madden is top of the list with 5 matches officiated, but only 6 different teams. He’s had Aberdeen x3, HoMFC x2, CFC x2, TRFC x1, StJFC x1 & DFC x1.

    Willie Collum has had 4 matches involving 8 different teams.

    John Beaton has had 4 matches involving 8 different teams.

    Kevin Clancy has had 4 matches involving 7 different teams (CFC x2).

    Don Robertson has had 4 matches involving 5 different teams (DUFC x3, RCFC x2, TRFC x1, CFC x1 & StJFC x1).

    Nick Walsh has had 4 matches involving 7 different teams (HFC x2).

    I’d expect that, this early in the season, no referee should have had multiple matches involving the same team or teams. There’s 30 odd top flight refs listed by the SFA. Some are obviously held in higher regard than others.

    BTW, Andrew Dallas appears not to have had a Premiership game allocated to him.

    You can look at the other match allocations on the link.

  3. CO & Norman.

    I am defending neither Rangers nor the referees CO. Two decisions go in Rangers favour and all hell breaks loose it seems. The fact that both decisions were correct seems inconsequential to certain people.

    Whether foreign referees would improve the standard is debateable as having spoken to fans from many different countries it would appear that their referees also seem to be either incompetent or corrupt depending on who you talk to.

    Norman. Lets be honest.

    You DONT know that had CG committed the tackle he would avoid a Red card
    You DONT know that Rangers need the CL monies.
    Your references to “Brother Madden” are childish and do you no credit. at all.

    Since Rangers return to the PL Bobby Madden has,

    Awarded 6 penalties to Celtic and 1 to Rangers
    Red carded 7 Rangers players and 3 Celtic
    Red carded 7 of Celtics opponents and 4 of Rangers.

    As for Nick Walsh would it surprise you to learn his football allegiances were to a team in Green and not Blue?.

  4. Corrupt official when you say “I’m not sure if you are defending Sevco or the referees Alby”, surely you are aware by now that Albertz11’s sole function on here is to react to anything anti-Rangers/TRFC with a whatabouttery type response. Not just me who knows this, as evidenced by NormanBates’ comment of “As for Albertz predictable whatabouterry…..” at 10.45. A11 is just too obvious.

  5. Someone on Twitter is claiming Rangers have submitted the 2021 financial year end accounts

    *Preliminary £31,682,536 in losses.
    *Short term liability £16,533,348.
    *Long term liability £15,554,544.

    Short term liability includes HMRC.

    We will wait and see, however the case for financial fair play in Scotland has never been clearer in my view.

  6. On the subject of Referees I have absolutely no idea whether any of them act out of deliberate bias. I would certainly hope not.

    However, what I do know is that a couple of years back a Sportsound Presenter put it to a former Grade 1 Referee that many people, at least many Celtic fans, think the vast majority of the Referees support Rangers. To my astonishment the ex-Ref concurred that was indeed the case and always had been during his time, although he himself admitted to being a Celtic fan.

    How anyone, anywhere can think such a situation is healthy is beyond me. Firstly, current diversity and inclusion laws are there to ensure that certain groups are not always favoured to the exclusion of others, yet none of this applies to Refereeing appointments. Secondly, who within the SFA ensures this disparity and why? Do they think people from that background are more reliable and honest? Whatever it is it gives a perception of bias whether or not any actually exists. Other nations demand a declaration of interest from their Referees, then ensure there is no conflict of interest by not giving them games involving their team. Why is it only in Scotland that this is deemed as unnecessary? It has to stop.

  7. CO and nawlite

    With tongue in cheek (??????) …

    When Albertz11 was masquerading (? )as some sort of reasonablechap (who, incidentally, has disappeared I believe, since the aforementioned first posted) I, being fair minded myself, reckoned that he displayed all the characteristics of someone with an adult form of argumentative personality disorder. Different user name – basically the same condition.

    As a reminder, this can be displayed in various behavioural ways but, in the context of SFM blog input , it manifests itself in the entrenched WATP entitlement mentality (users on here need no reminding of the ‘principles’ of this). This is critical to our understanding of what makes him ‘tick’.

    The trigger for his ‘guard old Derry’s walls’ whataboutery is for any poster to dare adversely criticise the Divine Right of Sevco.

    In some cases (e.g. this one), no amount of reasoning, understanding, tolerance, cajoling etc seems to work in the treatment of this ingrained and deep rooted ‘malaise’. Posters on here often try this approach – but it never seems to work.

    The condition may not be terminal (dum spiro spero?) though I doubt it.

    In short, yir stuck wi’ him for the foreseeable …

  8. Regarding the apparent refereeing bias towards Rangers.

    Since returning to the Premier League in 16/17.

    All domestic games.

    Red cards – Rangers 22 Celtic 13.
    Yellow cards – Rangers 356 Celtic 268.
    Penalties for – Rangers 47 Celtic 50.
    Penalties against – Rangers 24 Celtic 22.

  9. upthehoops 5th October 2021 At 14:34

    ‘Someone on Twitter is claiming Rangers have submitted the 2021 financial year end accounts’
    Nothing on the Companies House website yet.
    Perhaps the return to CH has only just been made, which would suggest that the tweeter is an insider with access?
    The figures cited would probably be near enough the mark to be a real source of anxiety.
    And perhaps HMRC will have RIFC plc flagged for helpful early reminders to be issued?

  10. I would ignore the rumoured losses until they have been verified officially , I asked the individual directly where the figures came from and there was no reply . He also stated they still owed Close when it clearly states on companies house their charge(s) have been satisfied.
    File under wishful thinking until proven otherwise.

  11. I guess we will learn soon enough if TRFC have filed their accounts and what these show. I thought that SGs celebration on the pitch on Sunday was a little OTT and his explanation that the players and fans “will need each other” in the months ahead (BBC website) was a little cryptic. Is he alluding to hard times to come?

  12. @A11 – thank you for making the case for the prosecution. Presumably with such a tape of errors/bias you would agree that the standard of refereeing in Scotland is not fit for purpose? And certainly not aligned with any campaign to market the SFPL as the “best small league in the world”.
    However your comment with regard to foreign referees is not borne out by either common practice nor current ratings. There is a reason why international fixtures have referees from neutral countries appointed. And remind me how many Scottish officials were at the recent Euros?

  13. Quick fact check for those with selective amnesia …

    Any reference to Rangers, in the context of it RETURNING to Scottish football’s top tier, is to a non-existent club.

    TRFC/Sevco could not possibly have rejoined something they had never previously been part of, and therefore, any claim to them ‘returning to the Premier League in 16/17’ is, how do you say it JC (?) – a BIG LIE!

    Daft intit?

  14. Jingso.Jimsie 5th October 2021 At 11:48
    ‘…I’d be interested in finding out what makes Scotland’s referees appear so inept.’
    I idly wonder whether there is in other footballing countries anything like the same level of discontent with the standard of refereeing as there is here in Scotland?

    I also wonder whether the SFA would be prepared to give us some facts and figures about
    a) the number of applicants there are at any given time, in the 12 referee associations ,
    b) the number of school pupils at any given time who apply for the refereeing SQA
    c) what percentage of persons who take the refereeing course fail to complete it,
    d) what percentage of examinees succeed but subsequently drop out?

    I assume that ‘data’ of that type is routinely collected and analysed?

    Perhaps it’s time for a more public sharing of the problems with recruitment, training, retention, and motivation of would-be referees?
    (And I should maybe add that my sweeping assertions about Scottish Football governance and the creation of the Big Lie are not directly related to the refereeing function or referees in general..)

  15. bect67 5th October 2021 At 22:43
    ‘.. how do you say it JC (?) – a BIG LIE!’
    Yes, indeed, bect67.

    And for fun’s sake, I fired off an email today to ‘transfermarket’ asking why they showed ‘Rangers’ as having won 55 league championships, since The Rangers Football Club was admitted into Scottish Professional Football only in 2012 and could not possibly have won 55 titles!
    Ignorant or ill-willed , they need to be told the truth, and the fact that they bought into the myth shows them up as being apt to get things wrong, and perhaps undermines their credibility as any kind of ‘authority’ in matters of football.

    Bad cess to them and may their every venture fail as being propagandists of untruth!

  16. Albertz11 5th October 2021 At 12:13
    ‘..Norman. Lets be honest………You DONT know that Rangers need the CL monies’
    It’s not for me to speak for ‘Norman’, Albertz11.

    But OF COURSE TRFC needs the kind of money that success in Europe can bring!

    Financially they can hardly wash their face and are hanging on desperately.

    They have no meaningful borrowing facilities, except to tap into their directors for loans, or make further share issues to try to raise a few bob.

    And I’ll warrant there is another Craig Green or Charles Whyte out there right now waiting for the opportune moment when Administration strikes and Liquidation follows,

    ..knowing that the new club THEY create will be happily and rejoicefully accepted by Scottish Football governance as being the Rangers of 1872!

  17. While its interesting to see the various comments on Scottish referees and what can be done to improve it, a more interesting research project would be on the woeful record of Scottish clubs in European competitions. If memory serves right this year, like other recent years, has not been a banner year. Rangers losing to 10 men teams twice, Celtic battered by a German team, while Aberdeen, Hibs and others flounder. Time to get back to the grassroots and find solutions, otherwise, Scottish club football will be fodder for the other nations.
    What will Abertz11 have to say when the actual Rangers financials come out. He seems to be the only one who believes things are all roses in the financial garden.

  18. vernallen 6th October 01.26

    What will Abertz11 have to say when the actual Rangers financials come out. He seems to be the only one who believes things are all roses in the financial garden.

    Where have i said that?

    In truth i expect the Rangers financials to reveal massive losses.

    I have previously commented that we are fortunate to have a loyal group of investors who to date have been willing to step up and make up any shortfall.

    This of course is not sustainable in the long term.

  19. JC 6th October 00.02

    Like Norman you don’t know whether Rangers needs CL monies.

    Would they prefer to have access to it- Yes. Is it a necessity?, neither you,i nor norman can state with any accuracy that it is.

  20. ‘Albertz11 5th October 2021 At 17:08

    Regarding the apparent refereeing bias towards Rangers.

    Since returning to the Premier League in 16/17.

    All domestic games.

    Red cards – Rangers 22 Celtic 13.
    Yellow cards – Rangers 356 Celtic 268…’
    I don’t think those statistics prove anything.

    In the matter of red & yellow cards, it’s not the number awarded (& recorded) that raises eyebrows, it’s the number that are apparent ‘stick-ons’ that aren’t given.

    Referees aren’t consistent. They’re loath to book players early in a game, even though their conduct should be sanctioned under the Laws. They’re loath to give a second booking to players late in a game, leading to a red card & suspension. That skews any analysis of numbers awarded.
    On a moderation point: if Albertz11’s posts are being put in purdah, would it be possible to have them posted immediately after the last post when they are released, rather than included in the thread at the time they were submitted? I’m sure most miss some of his postings as they are appearing out of sequence. Thanks.

  21. How long is a “long term” Alby?…..It’s been ten years of historical losses already. For e.g that would be a pretty long jail sentence, but no so long if one was a giant tortoise.
    Does “loyal”, mean until bankrupt, or, Enough left in the bank to retire to a modest French chateau?
    Long term, , is really just a sound-bite, and the only truism that can be taken from it is, it is not eternal, and gets shorter with each passing day.
    I once knew a club that tried to live like that………..Wonder what happened to them.

  22. Albertz,

    Of course I don’t know for certain whether Goldson would have “got-away” with the Porteous tackle. However, 50 years of watching refereeing bias in favour of Rangers, (not by all refs) leads me to believe he would have.

    Especially when the referee concerned coaches the Rangers youth players as part of his day job!!!

  23. RFC 2012 has been awarded £3,404,500 plus interest against the administrators for underselling the business and assets.

    Summary and disposal
    [253] For all of the foregoing reasons, I hold that the noters are entitled, in terms of
    paragraph 75 of Schedule B1, to an order that the respondents contribute the following sum
    to the company’s property by way of compensation for breach of duty:
    Loss of chance of sale of marketable players £977,500
    Loss of chance of sale of Steven Naismith £827,000
    Loss of chance of lease and sale of Ibrox Stadium £750,000
    Loss of chance of sale of Murray Park £850,000
    Total £3,404,500
    [254] I would intend to award interest on this sum at the rate of 4% per annum from
    6 February 2017.
    [255] Before pronouncing an interlocutor I shall put the case out by order in case parties wish to address me on any matters (arithmetic or otherwise) arising from this opinion. I am grateful to all counsel for their very thorough and helpful presentation of their respective cases.

  24. @normanbatesmumfc – being somewhat remote I am both intrigued abs astonished by comment re ref coaching youth player as part of day job. Can you please elaborate? Many thanks.

  25. Lurkio 6th October 2021 At 12:54
    ‘..RFC 2012 has been awarded £3,404,500 plus interest’

    Thanks for posting that link, Lurkio.
    I take this from the judgment, from last line of para 30 and the last three lines of Para 31

    [30] ………………..Sevco Scotland Limited subsequently changed its name to The
    Rangers Football Club Limited.
    [31] After the sale of the business and assets, a number of players declined to transfer to
    Sevco and instead registered with other clubs, in England and elsewhere. Sevco sought to
    argue that it retained the players’ registrations and was entitled to transfer fees. Certain
    clubs made payments to Sevco to avoid litigation, including Southampton (for Steven Davis)
    and Coventry (for John Fleck). No transfer fee for any of the players was payable to the
    company. On 4 July 2012, the SPL member clubs voted to refuse to allow Rangers’ SPL share
    to be transferred to Sevco. The club was accepted instead into the third division of the
    Scottish Football League for the season 2012-13!”

    That is, there was no transfer of an existing right to be in Scottish Football. TRFC was admitted as a new football club, while the old club died , and its sporting history and achievements died with it, as James Traynor so graphically described at the time.

    It really is time for the SFA to confess its lies, and restore truth and sporting reality and integrity in Scottish Football.

    On the actual judgment, I had hoped that BDO would have been awarded a greater sum. But perhaps the low amount awarded will make it not worth their while to appeal?

    Well done BDO!

    A SENIOR judge has ordered administrators of Rangers to pay £3.4m in compensation over “breach of duty” after deciding that Ibrox and Murray Park should have been put up for sale after the club collapsed.

    Lord Tyre has made a judgement after former club administrators Paul Clark and David Whitehouse of Duff and Phelps were accused in court of a seriously flawed strategy in raising money for thousands left out of pocket by the club’s financial implosion in 2012.

  27. Is there any other football club* in the World that is named after the year they were liquidated?
    RFC 2012 (part of the great deception)

  28. Lurkio 6th October 2021 At 12:54

    ‘..RFC 2012 has been awarded £3,404,500 plus interest’


    So that is all the stadium and training ground were undervalued by…LOL!. Good Lord! How much did Charles Green have them valued at as soon as he took over? Not that I am surprised.

    Thank God my club has never cheated the taxpayer in this way while laughing in their face. How can ANY Rangers fan think this is ok…seriously?

  29. UTH …

    …because some delusional ‘we are the people’, in perennial ‘righteous’ denial, would, incredibly to the sane mind, see this as a victory for Rangers FC (1872-1912) ?

  30. In my post of 18:05 this evening I didn’t make it clear that it was D&P I was referring to when I said the small amount of damages might make it not worth while for D&P to appeal, not BDO!
    [I can’t see BDO appealing, because so much of the ‘valuation’ is anyone’s guess, and Lord Tyre’s guess is, I suppose, as good as anyone’s! And they made the most important point-the Administration was a bit of a dog’s breakfast by any standard]

    I wonder whether the firm will ‘do’ Clark and Whitehouse ?
    Not they’ll care, multi-millionaires that they are! -thanks to the general farce made of the conspiracy case made against the purchasers of SDM’s ‘Rangers’.

  31. @bect67 – and it wouldn’t surprise me to see comment in the SMM that this victory will boost SGs spending power in the January transfer window! 😂

  32. Albertz11 — 6th October 2021 — 8:21

    I meant to imply that you seem to be of the belief that Rangers can continue to rely on their supporters to stump at funds at any hint of financial woes. That avenue may be closing as the last few share issues have not been a roaring success and it seems SG is growing a little concerned regarding the implications of what is to be expected as another major loss in the upcoming financials. Surely there has to be concerns in Scottish football about the rumors circulating on several blogs about the state of finances and what it could mean. Only the auditors have the real facts and will soon deliver a highly anticipated message.

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