A Rangers supporters’ group has hit out at Scottish football’s governing bodies over the decision to withdraw the nomination to the Scottish Football Hall of Fame of former Ibrox player Paul Gascoigne.
The former England international’s nomination was withdrawn on Thursday, amid reports that senior Scottish Football Association board members were planning to boycott the official dinner to honour Gascoigne and women’s football legend Julie Fleeting.
A statement issued on Thursday on behalf of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame confirmed the U-turn, saying: “Further to consultation with the Chair and members of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame committee, due to a number of factors including ongoing enquiries, and concerns over the state of Paul’s health, it has been decided to withdraw the nomination of Paul Gascoigne at the time from this year’s nomination process.”
Now Rangers fans’ collective Club 1872 has issued a statement of its own, questioning the decision behind the withdrawal and criticising the Scottish FA and the Hall of Fame committee.
The group claims that the U-turn “once again highlights the incredible hypocrisy of Scottish football’s governing bodies”, and has called on the Association to “publicly clarify which board members objected and if any attempts were made to influence the committee to withdraw the nomination”.
The statement continued: “As far as Club 1872 is aware, moral issues are not the dominion of the Hall of Fame committee however it now appears there is a moral test which some individuals must pass to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“The SFA and the committee should clarify whether they will be assessing the moral fibre of all past and future entries using this test.
“If Hall of Fame positions are to be judged on contribution to the Scottish game then there is no question that Paul Gascoigne should be honoured.
“If not, then many more than him will need to be stripped of this accolade or be deemed ineligible for induction.”
The statement also made reference to the appointment of Malky Mackay as the Scottish FA’s Performance Director.
It said: “[The Scottish FA] also employs an individual in a high profile position who has previously made headlines for overtly racist, sexist and homophobic comments.
“SFA board members indicated no concern whatsoever when this individual took a prominent role in promoting and running their organisation. They should now publicly clarify which SFA board members objected and if any attempts were made to influence the committee to withdraw the nomination.”
Club 1872 also took issue with the references to Gascoigne’s health made in the Hall of Fame statement, adding: “Aside from the hypocrisy of the SFA we are also extremely concerned by the attempt to blame Paul’s health for the reversal of the nomination. On the back of Mental Health Awareness Day, this reference is not only offensive but irresponsible, and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of mental health issues.
“Club 1872 wishes Paul all the best with his health challenges and we hope that the Rangers family and wider football community will be able to provide him with the support that has been so lacking in this troubling and shameful episode.”
Gascoigne’s former Ibrox team mate Ally McCoist today branded the decision “an embarrassment,” adding: “There’s absolutely no doubt that Gascoigne has been one of the players to brighten up Scottish football over the last 30 to 40 years, without no shadow of doubt.
“It was an absolute privilege and a pleasure to play with somebody of that talent. He 100 per cent deserves his place [in the Scotland Hall of Fame].”