CHARLES Green’s brand of demagoguery gives him the appearance of a real-life Elmer Gantry and often carries about as much credence.
Like the old hellfire-and-brimstone evangelist hero of Sinclair Lewis’s novel, the Rangers chief executive’s bluster, bombast and threats will play better in the confines of a revival tent packed with susceptible wannabe believers than in the wider, harder-nosed world of business and commerce.
A substantial number of correspondents to newspapers and the internet have long since recognised that Green’s occasional headline-grabbers in the media tend almost spookily to coincide with a need to deflect attention from other matters, revealing an admirable grasp of the concept of propaganda.
This is a perfectly legitimate device by which to attempt to persuade the club’s followers of the worthwhile work being done on their behalf, even if the transparency of the flimflam occasionally damages his credibility. Few Ibrox watchers, for example, really expected that Green would quit if the thorn in his side, chairman Malcolm Murray, were not removed. With both men still on the board, nobody has been disappointed.
The issue on which Green has been tub-thumping longest and loudest, however, warrants proper attention, since it carries potentially more serious implications. It is, of course, the business of taking Rangers (and Celtic, for that matter) into English football.
Like the overwhelming majority of politicians, Green has been prosecuting his case by emphasising items on his own wish list, conveniently omitting the mention of possible obstructions. Principal among his arguments is the certainty that pursuing his objectives in court will unquestionably result in success, since his legal advisors have assured him that the prevention of cross-border competition by Fifa, Uefa and/or any other football body will be deemed unlawful.
Even a layman is unlikely to contest that claim, but it is introduced to the debate by Green and his disciples as if it were the only obstacle to his ambition. In fact, it ignores the most formidable hurdle of all: that the Premier League in England, like the SPL in Scotland and every other league in the world, remains a society of clubs with the right of admission.
When Richard Scudamore, the chief executive of the EPL, proclaims emphatically that the big Glasgow clubs will not gain entry, he does so in the certain knowledge that no court on earth has the authority to dictate which football clubs should be granted membership. A legal judgment which legitimises the principle of cross-border trade is not an obligation on established organisations to admit anyone who applies. The most difficult task in the entire process will always be to persuade the potential hosts to accept the evacuees.
But no amount of flaws in Green’s case (there are others apart from the aforementioned) seems to be enough to discourage the easily swayed. One especially limited thinker proposed in print recently that, the courts having opened the gateway, all the SPL clubs should play in England, with Celtic and Rangers in the top division and the others spread among the lower tiers according to strength and status.
The suggestion of mass migration south doubtless appealed to the author of the plan as an original thought, but it seems to have been formed without due consideration of the high probability of harrowing consequences.
The most obvious – and potentially the most harmful – among these is that the formation of what would be undeniably an authentic British League would be the short route to disbandment of the home countries and the termination of separate identities on the football field.
Archibald named Thistle boss on permanent basis
Partick Thistle have confirmed the appointment of Alan Archibald as manager on a permanent basis.
Archibald has been in interim charge of the team since Jackie McNamara and assistant Simon Donnelly left Firhill to take over at Dundee United in late January.
The Thistle defender has helped maintain their promotion push, with the Jags two points behind Irn-Bru First Division leaders Morton with two games in hand.
Chairman David Beattie said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be able to confirm the appointment of Alan Archibald as Partick Thistle manager and Scott Paterson as his assistant.
“I look forward to working closely with them as we continue to work hard at providing a club that we can all take pride in.”
Archibald first signed for Thistle as a player when he was 18 and helped the club move from the Second Division into the Premier League in successive seasons at the turn of the century.
He went on to make more than 200 appearances for the club before moving in 2003 to Dundee United, where he played in the club’s 1-0 defeat by Celtic in the 2005 Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.
The 35-year-old spent four years at Tannadice before returning to Firhill in 2007. He was also selected to play for Scotland’s Under 21 team, gaining five caps in 1998.
How Brown made the most of an average hand
Craig Brown led Scotland to back-to-back major finals in the 1990s
Whoever first observed that you can only play with the cards you’re dealt could have been foretelling the remarkable managerial skills exhibited by Craig Brown during eight years as manager of Scotland.
The challenge of actually managing has rarely been more robustly met than by Brown’s manipulation of a decidedly average squad in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France. Featuring a three-man central defence, none of whom – Colin Calderwood, Colin Hendry and Tom Boyd – would be included in anybody’s all-time top 100 defenders, Brown’s machinations produced a record of three goals conceded in ten qualifiers.
With 15 scored, only one defeat and a total of 23 points, the Scots qualified automatically as best runners-up in the nine European groups, with no need of a play-off. Now, 15 years on, with his imminent retirement, it seems appropriate to make proper use of Joni Mitchell’s line: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.