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Sportswriter Hugh Keevins claims intimidation after criticising Rangers FC manager on radio

By Hamish Mackay |

April 30, 2012 | 4 min read

Daily Record and Sunday Mail sportswriter Keevins, has revealed how he has been intimidated after criticising Rangers FC manager, Ally McCoist, on a radio news bulletin.

In a blog post, Keevins wrote: “This is how the intimidation business works.

“You appear on a radio news bulletin on Thursday morning and say Ally McCoist's too late with his statement distancing himself from those who're threatening the members of the SFA Judicial Panel for imposing a transfer ban on Rangers.

“The damage has already been done is the message.

“In the afternoon there comes a civilised call from the Ibrox Press Office in response to complaints made by the fans about the opinion you've offered.

“That night the e-mail arrives beginning with the message: ‘It's time for Keevins’."

Keevins continues to explain that he had written a piece stating that McCoist had been correct to ban the BBC until an apology was recieved, as he had his own image to consider outside of football.

Keevins continues: “It wasn't written to curry favour with the manager and saying he was too late to say he was disgusted with the fans' tactics of intimidation wasn't intended to be inflammatory.

“It's possible to see two sides of a story, unless, of course, you're a fundamentalist.

“It was a statement of fact about Ally because Strathclyde Police had already begun the job of advising the panel members on matters of personal safety before his press release hit news rooms everywhere.

“And the vigilante movement which has sprung up will now continue to have a malevolent affect on the game.

“I know of one man who was asked to be part of the Appeals Panel sitting in judgement of Rangers' year long transfer embargo and has declined the request.

“His answer was to the effect that he had something, anything to do that day, whenever it is, rather than turn himself into a human sacrifice.

“And at this point the game's rule of law breaks down. We've actually succeeded in making professional people involved in the game shy away from offering sound advice on sensitive issues in case their families are targeted for abuse, or worse.

“The refusenik is a high-profile member of the Scottish football community, well versed in current legislation, whose input would have been invaluable in the decision-making process.

“An erudite contribution which, I may say, was likelier to have seen the Ibrox club's sentence reduced than upheld if he'd been willing to run the risk of losing his anonymity.

“But Scottish football has now added gangsterism to sectarianism and racism on our list of things to be ashamed of, so the innocent won't take the risk of becoming victims of irrational behaviour.”

“What else can you call the threats delivered to those who made the original decision to ban Craig Whyte for life and fine Rangers for bringing the game into disrepute, as well as imposing the signing ban designed to last two transfer windows?

“The clamour to name and defame wasn't an appeal for full disclosure. The only reason you want names made public is to cause people discomfort.

“No wonder the Old Firm launched their retro kits on Thursday. The past encourages more positive images than the present or the future."

Keevins then began to look to the future for Rangers, and claimed that the club's fans were 'hell bent' on reprisals for the club's punishments, including boycotting away matches.

“Either way, the game's seriously damaged and it won't recover. We are looking at the beginning of the end for Scottish football, and you can make as many jokes about the Grim Reaper as you like.

Come back and see me when crowds have dropped to an alarming low.

“We've descended to a new low in this country and we haven't reached the bottoming out point yet.

If it isn't people going to prison for attempting to harm Celtic's manager it's others seeing fit to spread alarm because they disagree with a decision democratically arrived at and subject to an appeals process.

“The rest of the UK can look forward to tomorrow [Monday] night's Manchester derby, having first of all thrilled to the two Champions League semi finals in Madrid and Barcelona.

“We bring the world threats, intimidation and police intervention as well as the absolute certainty that today [Sunday] will be a long 24 hours for our emergency services.

“In other words, we're selling a freak show.”

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