Rangers: How Sorry is Sorry Enough?

Current Affairs
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Even Jim would struggle to fix this one.

How much of an apology is enough of an apology, and who decides when enough is enough?

The BBC's anguished soul searching over the last couple of weeks, following claims of assault by the late Jimmy Saville and wider claims of a 'groping culture' with that organisation up until very recently (the comedian Sandi Toksvig and presenter Liz Kershaw have claimed it continued until very recently indeed) have led the DG, George Entwhistle, to launch an inquiry ( LINK ).

Ever since the Macpherson report in 2006, bodies such as the Beeb live in terror of accusations of 'institutional' malpractice; racism, sexism, ageism, whatever ism you like. A body that has apologised for being 'hideously white' ( LINK ) would, you'd think, have shaken off any legacies of the past and moved forward. Probably with difficulty and with mistakes, but it's a body made up of people and people make mistakes. Expecting perfection only leads to disappointment.

Not so, it appears. The BBC is gearing up for a major mea culpa moment. Saville will be thrown to the historical dogs; deservedly, one would have to say; the Corporation will no doubt commission Toksvig to come up with an inclusivity plan to prevent the groping of female staff in future.

If anything, the BBC is now institutionally apologetic. Anyone with a grievance can get a 'sorry' from them. At some point in the future it is going to have to draw the line and cease apologising for its historical faults and ensure that such human failings are kept to a minimum in future, lest their apologies end up with as much substance as a Craig Whyte tax return.

'Anyone with a grievance'...not quite anyone, though. There is one constituency whom the BBC are quite happy to give two fingers to. Not just that, but to flip off while critiicising for the very faults the BBC is guilty of itself. Can you guess who is it yet?

My usual Saturday morning car wash was only slightly more than usual spoiled last week by Cosgrove ruining 'Off the Ball'. Outside of his horribly unfunny jokes (he could teach Toksvig a thing or two about humourlessness) there was a throwaway remark in which he reflected sadly on how Charles Green has missed a trick in not breaking Rangers from their sectarian past and ushering in a new era of inclusivity. A statement, mused Stuart, would have go so far in healing the wounds of the past.

I assume, since Stuart is a media type, this would have taken the form of an apology. What form of apology would have been enough, I reflected, as my sadly aging hands sloshed the foam over my sadly aging wheels. We can rule out some kinds of apology. The signing of players of all faiths, colours and nationalities plainly isn't enough, although you may argue that tangible acts such signing Mo Johnston or Lorenzo Amoruso are worth more than all the online words of condemnation or apology written put together.

The elimination of all songs with reference to religion bar one from Ibrox plainly isn't enough, either, though that has been a crie-de-couer of the campaigners since time immemorial. I'm happy enough to see these songs go, although I do miss the sheer masculine rush of The Billy Boys. Times change, however, and I'm not quite daft enough to try to change the world.

Announcement after announcement by the club asking the fans to pack in the religious stuff and just support the team isn't enough. Mere weasel words designed to deflect sanction by governing bodies, no doubt. The sight and sound of a full Ibrox risen in manly appreciation of players such as Jorg Albertz or Salim Kerkar (I liked him, alright?) was, no doubt, also a ploy designed to draw away criticism.

Nope, only a full (read grovelling) apology, probably written by Stuart himself will suffice. But this is where the self-righteous fall on their arses.

You can't work for a company which has used sectarian practices and blast others. I strongly recommend getting hold of Archie MacPherson's superb book 'Action Replays'. You may not like his commentaries but what a writer! Witty, erudite, far ranging...it's brilliant. But BBC Scotland does not emerge well from the picture Archie paints of the last 60s and early 70s. Not one of his colleagues in the sports department was, apparently, of the Catholic faith; even in our darkest moments we have had Catholic players now and again.

While BBC in London may have apologised right left and centre, I haven't heard anything from the former Queen Margaret Drive. Hiding behind the skirts of Mother in London is, if anything, even worse than not apologising at all. Yes, BBC Scotland now operate an inclusive employment policy (and how!), but so do we and an apology is expected from us...why the double standards, Stuart?

The Glasgow Herald also operated on discriminatory lines up until the period mentioned above, and I'm quite sure there were others. No one who claims sectarianism is a dead concept being propped up by fauz-Old Firm outrage denies it once existed, albeit in a professional, black balling type way rather than nasty, bomb laden violence a la Ireland. But if there's only one body in the whole country expected to apologise for the faults of the past - Rangers - it rather suggests that the people looking for an apology are less interested in righting the wrongs of the past than kicking Rangers.

You have to conclude that no form of apology can heal the wounds of the past when those who claim to be wounded insist on ripping the scab off on a daily basis. You can't heal someone who wants to suffer.

In order that there be no doubts, I will take it upon myself to apologise to anyone who was offended by Rangers employment practices of some of the 20th century. Since this policy was blown into extinction in 1987 ,when I was 16, and I'm now 41, I don't feel much responsibility for it or shame at its existence (you might as well ask me to feel sad about the Falklands War...it was there, I didn't approve of it but it certainly wasn't my fault) but I'm happy to make others happy, so , I'm really sorry. I'm glad it has gone, and that I've been able to enjoy players of any and all backgrounds.

Now...any chance of BBC Scotland doing the same? Over to you, Stuart. I look forward to hearing your apology bellowing out across the drive next Saturday, and the issue can be consigned to the soap suds running into the drain. Onwards to the future! must be our call...and I make no apology for that.

If you would like to talk about this article or it's subject matter, please feel free to join the discussion on the Gersnet Forum.