AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SUPPORTERS OF HIBERNIAN FOOTBALL CLUB CONCERNING THE UTTERLY ATROCIOUS ALLOCATION OF TICKETS FOR THE SCOTTISH CUP FINAL DECIDED BY THE BOARD OF HIBERNIAN FOOTBALL CLUB
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The popular mass working class supported game of football that I knew as a young lad in the 1960’s and early 1970’s has changed out of all recognition in the past twenty years. Basically the football authorities especially south of the border but also here have made a Faustian Pact with the devil, i.e. the large television companies have flooded the game with colossal obscene indeed sums of money and football has now lost any soul it ever had, its whole ethos as an autonomous social entertainment rooted in the norms, culture and recreational activities of a traditional large mass working class has almost entirely gone. Football has become a large commercial business franchise where as Kenny Daglish complained the other day over the scheduling and timing of football matches,’ the actual football supporter is the very last person that the football authorities concern themselves with! We would only add that this pernicious attitude is replicated more and more now a days in the board rooms of football clubs run predominantly by business men, financial accountants and fronted by so called public relations experts well schooled in the facile chicaneries of corporate double talk.
Indeed from a sociological point of view Hibernian football club is a fascinating case study in that the board of this particular football club has taken this process of business prostitution to levels of crass brutality, heartless financial chicanery and chilling, grotesque inhumanity that it is utterly revolting and frankly astonishing to see! Of course much of this has historical roots in the distinctive nature of it’s saving from collapse by a local <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Leith born businessman Sir Tom Farmer twenty years ago. What was distinctively unique was that this person openly admitted that he knew nothing about football and had no personal interest in football, had no awareness whatsoever of the norms, ethos and working class culture that sustained the football club and then proceeded to put in charge of the football club people from the business, banking, accounting world who were just as ignorant as he was! Furthermore he compounded this ignorance by giving his placeman a job description that was exclusively concerned to the absolute exclusion of everything else that the club is run with the only criteria being commercial!
Well, well, well what is that saying ‘what profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul! Or in our particular case here, ‘what profit the board of a football club, if it lose its own soul and gain the approval of editorials in the Evening News, where on the 21st April after sentimental pie in the sky smokescreen evasions concerning the poor Hibs fans it comes magisterially down on the side of the skinflint bean counters on the Hibs board, by declaring, ‘There is no doubt that the club is making the right commercial decision by seeking to maximise the opportunity represented by the cup final’ indeed, ‘for any commercial organisation chances like these have to be grabbed with both hands.’
Tis psychologically illuminating to see how a £400 extortion racket is represented by official organs of opinion in the august, flunky loving, Scottish capital of Edinburgh! Just to see how entirely warped, deranged and shockingly inhumane these people actually are! Perhaps some moral philosopher can point out the ethical difference between this and the similar sums of money that ticket touts will extort out of desperate fans in the weeks to come! To me they are both examples of brutal callous mercenary opportunists taking sickening advantage of vulnerable and desperate unfortunate individuals being caught between a rock and a hard place! With this significant difference, the first extortion racket is morally even worse since people who farcically claim that they are acting out of the best interests of Hibernian football club implement it!
The best interest of Hibernian football club and this would be realised by people of any intelligence and imaginative foresight, is in treating the very life blood and soul of any football club, namely, its long suffering genuine football supporters with dignity, compassion and considerate intelligent respect and not solely as a ‘commercial opportunity to be grabbed!’
Ah here we come to the entire nub of the matter! The skinflint bean counters on the Hibs board, even if they are personally aware of such qualities, think, or have been trained to think, that such are entirely irrelevant when it comes to making the strategic decisions concerning the running of the club. Indeed, the very nature of their business backgrounds and the specific requirements of the owner of the club unconsciously ban any such considerations! O, if the poor unfortunate tin man in the Wizard of Oz, somehow got lost on his journey to Oz and had the grotesque misfortune to end up in the board of Hibernian football club! Why, the chief skinflint bean counter of twenty years standing, Ron Petrie, would jump up and explain to the thoroughly bemused tin man that, ‘no no no my dear chap the last thing you need is a heart no no no what you need is an accounting machine, here, here, Sir Tom Farmer no less recommends it!!!
Trying to get into the mindset of these maladroit calculating machines is like taking a journey into Dante’s hell! A long very depressing journey until you arrive at a depth of unbelievably crooked dehumanised starving absurdity that leaves you in a state of incredulous perplexed amazement muttering is it true that there is actually people as odd and secretly unhinged as this? Indeed, the common response that this ticket allocation policy has induced in long standing Hibs supporting friends of mine, (who all attended the semi final and many before it also and have been entirely frozen out), has been one of shock, disbelief and amazement that anyone ostensibly in their right mind could devise a scheme so grotesquely inhumanely unjust and frankly so odd it sends shivers up your spine!
Should anything produced by this board though for sheer ridiculous bizarre absurdity be a source of surprise? What other club is their that actually keeps secret basic elementary information crucial for understanding the fundamental health of the club like how many season tickets it has sold? How is one supposed to cope with such odd hardly rational, barely human in any real sense at all, business calculating machines? What other club in the world would devise a ticket allocation scheme for one of the biggest games in the clubs history where supporters who have spend decades supporting the club and have supported the club where it mattered in this season’s cup games and at the cash gates at the league games, are totally denied even the opportunity to queue for tickets?
What other club in the world would treat thousands upon thousands of its own long standing supporters with such utter contempt and disregard as if they are worth absolutely nothing and to be cast aside as so much utterly insignificant dirt? What other club in the world could be run by such atrocious, incompetent laughably inept scoundrels who have managed to drive away thousands of season ticket holders over the last four years such the appalling quality of the football produced thanks to their totally useless inept managing of the club? Such appalling mismanagement culminating in this season, worse than ever, with what one long suffering season ticket holder has accurately described as living through hell! With the quality of football utterly abysmal and one of the worst home records in the club’s long history! Is their no depth of chronic ineptitude that these shocking dismal cretins, these supposed, ‘masters of the universe’ with their noses stuck in their financial flow charts, have not plunged the club into?
Little did we think that it was remotely possible that even worse was still to come! That one of the best days in our sporting lives would be so soon turned into one of our worst! The last time Hibs were in the Scottish cup final in 2001, after prioritising season ticket holders the second prioritisation was given to those who attended the semi final? Why was eminently fair, easy to administer policy not adopted again? Let me stress for all those blockheads out there who have been screaming otherwise! None of us were asking for an automatic right to get a ticket for the final, all of us accepted that season ticket holders should have first priority! All we were asking for was a chance to purchase a ticket through the club at the official price after we had proved our support for the club by attending the semi final? What other club in the world could be so unbelievably warped as to freeze us out from any opportunity to purchase a ticket? Why have the mysterious members of two mysterious organisations entitled Club 11/12 and Hibernians Schemes being given priority ticket allocation? All we were asking was after prioritisation for the season ticket holders the same policy should apply as in our last Scottish cup appearance in 2001 and we who attended the semi final, the other genuine contemporary Hibs supporters, should receive first chance for the many thousands of tickets left after the season ticket holders had got their tickets! Little did we imagine that the skinflint bean counters would stoop so low as to attempt to extort £400 out of season ticket holders at a time when we don’t even know what league we will be in next season!
Note this cunning, vicious stratagem of the board to divide present season ticket holders from the rest of us Hibs supporters? Tis the common divide and rule policy that heartless, exploiting, conniving ruling classes have used throughout history! We protest against the despicable extortion racket that the board have imposed on you! Why attack us and not the mercenary bloodhounds that are viciously manipulating you? This accursed present board for this despicable allocation grotesque monstrosity should go down in the annals of infamy! As remarked, with their bean counting myopia, they have turned for thousands upon thousands of long standing Hibernian supporters what could have been the best day in our sporting lives, before it has even happened, into the worst! Shame on you you utterly despicable base clowns!
What kind of warped deranged world is it you squalid clowns live in? What is the response to the cries of rightful indignation from supporters like William Greenfield who have given their love and support to this club for four decades and travelled to Ayr and travelled to Hampden in this years cup run and for recompense are treated with utter contempt and disregard? What is your response but the grotesquely insulting farcically inadequate palliative of announcing that 200 tickets will be made available to ‘walk up’ supporters! What does this laughably insane gibberish mean? ‘Walk up’ supporters! Are the rest of the supporters flying to the game in their own helicopters?
Has anything more hell sickeningly shameful in the whole social history of football been conceived than what you deranged spiders slithering in your utterly farcical business speak gibberish have concocted? In fact the more you reflect on this ticket allocation policy the more difficult it becomes to get your head round something that just strikes you as so warped and convoluted, so secretive and labyrinthic evasive that it is little wonder that the response of my friends, all very well educated and intelligent by the way, has been one of shock, incredulity and utter paralysing bewilderment, then plunging into despondency and despair! Indeed to me what we are trying to deal with is something so surreptiously malign and disturbingly awful that all you want to do is shudder and walk away bamboozled and utterly baffled defeated! You keep asking yourself what is going on, surely something as revoltingly base as this just cannot be real?
In fact if you look at the on line chatter amongst Hibs fans that are all equally baffled and incredulous! The prevailing consensus appears to be that there is just bound to be a general sale and so everything will work out in the end and reach a level of comprehensive rationality! My friends I would not be so sure! The main problem is that everything essential is shrouded in such a fog of impenetrable secrecy! As if these maladroit absurdities were trying to emulate the secret convocation of Cardinals picking a new Papal eminence in Rome or convening a meeting of the Politburo at the height of the Great Terror in Stalin’s Soviet Union! How many season tickets holders are there? We don’t know! How many members in these two mysterious organisations that appeared seemingly out of thin air and given priority status utterly disgracefully ahead of thousands of the clubs genuine football supporters? We don’t know! How many will fall for the despicable extortion scheme? We don’t know! As of today (the 26th April) the repellent bean counters are boasting of a thousand whom they have psychologically coerce red into joining! Here is a question for Mike Riley, the chairman of the Hibs supporters association, what are you going to do about this? You would have thought that it was your job to stand up for the thousands of Hibs supporters who have regularly paid at the turnstiles to attend the league games, invested (the only word these utterly repulsive bean counters understand!) their hard earned limited money in the club and suffered for their pains one of the most excruciatingly awful seasons in the clubs history! You would have thought it was your job to stand up for the thousands of fans, not season ticket holders, who invested their money in travelling to Cowdenbeath, Ayr at Hampden Park to support their team on this cup round! You would have thought it was your job to stand up for those many many thousands of Hibs fans who have supported Hibs over the years, many season ticket holders for decades who are only asking for a chance to get a ticket for one of the biggest games in the clubs history! I have read your public whining in the Evening News! That is worth nothing unless you are going to challenge this appalling, revolting injustice that has been inflicted on us! Are you going to mobilise the supporter club members for demonstrations if need be, to demand a meeting with the board and demand that this revolting, iniquitous, heinous farce of a ticket allocation system be overturned? If you are so pathetically cowed by these appalling skinflint bean counters, are you prepared to make way for someone in your associations who is prepared to show a bit of backbone and stand up to these for ever accursed wretches who are nothing but an utter disgrace who should be hounded out of that board room and never allowed back within ten miles of Easter Road or any other boardroom for that matter, not even Tynecastle! Now, while we are on the subject of our cup rivals! Is it not frankly incredible that in a season where the shambolic disgraceful actions of their Eastern European potentate have made them an international laughing stock! Is it not remarkably incredible that even a club operating in such a ramshackle notoriously bizarre fashion! Even such a club in comparison to what has come out of the Hibs board have created a cup final ticket allocation system of fairness, concern and consideration for their genuine fans and clear transparency and open accountable rationality! So much so that Hibs fans have called for our skinflint bean counters to emulate this system! O but of course our skinflint bean counters cannot unfortunately do so, it is all so technically difficult you know but they will create one so Hibs fans may get a chance to go to the next final in the great by and by!
Why at Tynecastle they have implemented a clear comprehensible loyalty scheme where you can even see your score on line and my even worse how disgracefully working class! They, how shockingly beyond respectable bean counting belief! Please don’t frighten the old genteel ladies in Morningside! They even have their fans in a good humour actually queuing outside the ground! My, my, my nothing as so shockingly unseemly as that ‘appalling’ working class tradition of queuing will be seen down Easter Road, Leith way! Why all those deplorable working class habits of a sense of equity, solidarity, fair play, open comprehensible, democratic rational decision making!!! No,no,no,no,no all that has of course been banished and this accursed Faustian Pact with the Devil made in one of his favourite guises as Mr Moneybags businessman! Ah what was that other saying magnificently apposite for this grim and wretched situation about, ‘It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle that it is for a rich man to get into the kingdom of Heaven!’
Well Hibs fans what are you going to do? Are you going to sit back like crushed curs and jump through the hoops that Mr Moneybag’s grotesque lackeys have devised for you? Or are you going to take a leaf out of the magnificent stirring words of that trenchant, principled, radical, republican, Atheist English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley? For it should be noted that honour and integrity take many guises, some religious, mainly not! That all nationalities have their men and women of honour and integrity, but unfortunately also many far otherwise inclined! Well here are the magnificent words of Shelley perfectly apposite for this situation where you the excluded, the shunned, the despised, the ignored, the treated as of less consequence than the dirt on the ground are the many thousand and they in that accursed board room are the few and believe me if you truly challenge them! If you show true steadfastness and unbending resolution you will find not only that the Emperor has precious few clothes, but that his snivelling, farcically inadequate, bean counting lackeys, please Sir Tom we have saved the bawbee’s! have even less clothes than him! Here are these words, may you act on them, or rue the consequences if you don’t! Serfdom and slavery and endless crawling and begging and pleading in the face of warped, crooked, skinflint bean counting non-entities is definitely not good for you! Though its not a health warning you will find on any cigarette packet! Its one you can find though in the marvellous illuminating and liberating books of that superb Swiss psychologist, Alice Miller!!!
Any way to the resounding magnificent words to Shelley! Act with the vision and integrity encapsulated in these magnificently courageous words, written at a very doleful time and you will blow away the skinflint bean counters and their moneybags high master in no time at all!!!
‘Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
You are many –they are few.
To translate this never more essential steadfast courage into immediate every day practical tactical terms means I would humbly suggest, taking steps along the following lines, or any others you can think on yourselves!
1 Season ticket holders do not give in and capitulate before their revolting extortion scheme! If you do not, the skinflint bean counters will be forced to sell the tickets at face price! The time to renew a season ticket is at the end of the season when you know what league we will be playing it and you can reflect on the quality or otherwise of what you have watched this season! Furthermore, there is a wise old saying, ‘Do not throw good money after bad!’ Do you think it is wise to give your hard earned money to be managed by a board of directors who have treated you with utter contempt as nothing but lackeys to be financially fleeced! A Board of Directors who have shown over the last few years a farcical lets have a new manager every year crass incompetence which has led the club into precipitous decline, which you have witnessed this season! A bunch of incompetent buffoons, who have showed over many years that basically they in the classic colloquial saying, ‘couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery!’ Don’t you think it would be wise to hold on to your money till these accursed scoundrels are kicked out and the club is run in an entirely new way with genuine fans representatives on the board who are democratically elected and accountable to their fans and liable to recall if they do not act on the fans wishes!
2 Excluded Hibs fans. Organise with your friends on Face book and Twitter. Bombard
the Easter Road office with phone calls, e-mail, faxes of complaint and demand you
be given a chance to get a ticket in a fair, transparent ticket allocation! Do the same
with the local papers especially the Evening News that thinks Hibs fans only function in life is either to be financially fleeced or treated with sovereign contempt!
Bombard the officers of the Hibs supporters associations demanding they take action, or if they will not immediately do something concretely, take action yourself!
3 Mike Riley and the Hibs supporters associations. Not only demand that this present
Ticket allocation policy is overturned. This can be done! There is still plenty time, the bean counters have not even got the tickets yet! Furthermore demand an explanation why Hibs only received 20,000 tickets from the SFA, not at the very least 23.000 or 24,000 that was mentioned in the press before the decision was made! Demand to know why the thoroughly incompetent bean counters got so small an allocation that deprives thousands of Hibs fans of the chance to buy a match ticket at the official price. Demand to know if the bean counters deliberately accepted a low number of tickets since they believed that would make more successful their grotesque extortion scheme? Demand to know where the other 12,000 tickets are going and demand at least five thousand of these are allocated to both the clubs! If you do not do this it is certain that these tickets through ticket touts will find their way to supporters of the club and obscenely inflated prices and the shame will be on you for doing absolutely nothing to protect the interest of the supporters, which is supposed to be your role! Furthermore if you do not do this then a great security risk will arise with potential very serious consequences! The last time Hibs appeared in a cup final great tension and anger was caused when through the allocation of tickets to third parties (this dreaded 12,00) a considerable number of Celtic supporters were discovered in the Hibs end of the ground! Only with luck did serious disturbances not take place! In the context of this game, where demand so overwhelms supply, it is certain that Hearts and Hibs fans absolutely desperate to attend this historical unique game will get a hold of these tickets and many will end up at the wrong end of the ground. Given the nature of this game that will be like lightning a match to a pile of gunpowder. Are you high eminences at the Scottish Football Association listening? I am pretty certain that the Chief Constable of Strathclyde will be very concerned at the potential for very serious disturbances here!
Has this even been thought on? Or are you all so busy looking at financial flow charts and swallowing huge amounts of business PR lying jargon that your minds feel like bowls of dust that are incapable of thinking straight, coherently and intelligently? Please note the easy way to minimise any potential for such a very volatile situation to arise is to give a much bigger share of tickets to the respective clubs! Though please, for I doubt you have a proper awareness of whom you are dealing with here! Announce such a change of policy publicly before you hand over the extra tickets! I fear if you do not the skinflint bean counters at Easter Road, as is their wont, will almost certainly attempt to suppress this information in the immortal words of the Evening News once again to, ‘maximise the opportunity represented by the cup final.’