Integrity…? Morality in Sport is Just a Happy Coincidence.

Hardly a day goes by without another reminder of the multitude of corrupt practices underpinning many of our highly esteemed institutions and organisations. Pillars of honesty, trustworthiness and respectability they are not; guardians of fairness, integrity and respect, they have never been.

Increasingly it seems to be the case that you cannot have a fully functioning political, economic or social framework without the existence of deep rooted structural corruption. Reference the utter contempt that politicians, bankers, market traders, corporate executives and various other noble professionals have for the rest of us.

But reference also the various sporting institutions that purport to uphold the very same values. In Scottish football, for instance, we have a diabolical (no, comical) state of affairs; we have an unfolding story of systematic cheating, gross financial mismanagement, institutional bullying and contemptible conduct.

It is a despicable state of affairs, as is the false moral outrage of the individuals responsible for pretending to bring it back into check. They know they have too much to lose themselves if they make the correction process too severe, yet they have to be seen to be responding appropriately. They are upholders of truth and integrity, after all.

To assume that it would be perfectly acceptable to propose that the new Rangers football club – I don’t even know what they are supposed to be called these days – should be given access into the Scottish First Division, to bring about short term redemption without financially crippling the game, is to confirm what every honest football supporter already knew.

The bell tolled for Scottish football many years ago when David Murray introduced a new type of accounting practice and contentious contract management system, and it positively rang out when his slippery accomplice Craig Whyte continued that practice with intent.

Integrity was lost amidst the dubious financial shuffling that enabled the old club to cheat its way to success. But now it is definitely in danger of disappearing completely out of sight, and irretrievably so, with this latest development, just when many people thought that it had been restored…

I wouldn’t be surprised if the SPL Chairmen, who were happy to publicly declare their objection to the club being admitted to their league earlier this week, were somehow in on the act. Regardless how you dress it up, money seems to be the critical factor; morality in sport is just a happy coincidence, when it happens. I was sceptical at the time and I am sceptical now.

But perhaps the most distasteful thing about it is the part the rest of us are expected play in all of this. As the money men engineer the best possible solution for the new club (and every other club in Scottish football, we are led to believe), the honest supporter is asked to pay up and shut up, and maybe then everything will be ok again.

But that’s exactly the point. It won’t be ok again, because the big deal that was made about restoring integrity was, in fact, just a big sham.

It was just a big play for season ticket renewals whilst a deal was being done in the background to open alternative doors, which would lead very quickly back to the set-up the chairmen claimed they wanted to block.

Integrity…who even knows what that means anymore?

Certainly not the decision makers in Scottish football, that’s for sure.

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3 thoughts on “Integrity…? Morality in Sport is Just a Happy Coincidence.

  1. dombhoy67 says:

    If the chairmen of all those SPL clubs were to renege on their promise to vote against Sevco 88 then there would be hell to pay in the forthcoming season for all involved. That really would be the last straw.

  2. Succulent Lahm says:

    I’m not so sure the SPL chairmen who have announced their intentions to vote no can be blamed here – the statements of Romanov and Milne in particular leave no room for any doubt as to their intentions. As for the rest of them – I think they’ve been given the wake-up call they needed (with perhaps the notable exception of Kilmarnock). There will be some pain here – clubs are likely to have to make do with less money for a while. But the stark choice for SPL clubs is to do without travelling support from Rangers once or twice a season, or lose large sections of home support for every game. And once those fans are gone, they won’t be coming back. It’s a no-brainer.

    On a wider issue, I’d argue that ethics and morality are a cultural construction. They aren’t absolute so it comes as no surprise that in a competitive corporate environment they can be cast aside in the interests of the bottom line. In fact, I don’t even have much of a problem with that – I expect that to happen in business. But that leads me on to sport – in this world sport (should) exist outside of the pressures of business, so we can be more demanding that sporting morality be absolute. The football-watching Scottish public are demanding that now, and to ignore will most certainly be the death of the game here.

    As a last note, I still expect Sevco5088 (as much as they want to be, they aren’t Rangers and never will be) to start life in the 3rd Division, if at all. The story that broke on the BBC yesterday is a prime example of the kind of mainstream media/propaganda that we’ve become used to – there wasn’t a single quote or source on the original story and the crude bullet points hinted at a cut-and-paste press release. That this is what a publicly-funded broadcaster serves up is truely lamentable.

  3. Liam Conway says:

    Definitely agree with your point that morality is not absolute. Despite that I would hesitate to agree that the standards and norms we operate with should be cast aside in favour of corporate survival; it is a very difficult call to make though, I accept that. I also agree that there are exceptional cases, Romanov has never faltered in respect of his disdain of everything connected to the west of Scotland football ‘mafia’. My main concern is that at some point a deal will be done to soften the blow and lessen the impact of the new club not being in the SPL, and it would appear that the quickest route back would be the preferred option, but it is also the one that, if it comes to pass, it waters down the idea that integrity has been restored. Fair points though, Paul. Thanks again for your comments.

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