“Without Rangers, there is social unrest and a big problem for Scottish society,” claimed Regan. “They have a huge fan base and to contemplate the situation where those fans don’t have a team to support, where those fans are effectively left without a game to follow, I just think that could lead to all sorts of issues, all sorts of problems for the game.”
Let’s not waste time with background and introduction here, instead cracking on with simple empirical evidence of why Stewart Regan shouldn’t run a minoge, never mind a multi-million pound national institution.
“Social unrest” is not a binary occurrence. There are levels, graduations, degrees of unrest. The English riots last year, for example, were not the first, last and only time disorder has swept the streets. Localised bampottery in schemes did not abate for the duration, only to suddenly reappear as soon as the last tellies in Tottenham had been looted. “Social unrest” may increase or decrease, depending on a huge variety of factors. Regan thinks the state of attending/not attending a Rangers game is one of those factors (apparently a very big one), and therefore you would expect “social unrest” to shoot up when Ibrox is half-empty, and fall when it’s a sell-out – after all, the crux of his argument is that those blank Saturday afternoons and midweek nights without a hypothetically dead Rangers will result in the under-footballed Rangers support taking to the streets and creating “social unrest”.
Crime stats tend to be a broad indicator of “social unrest”, at least the kind of “social unrest” Regan was talking about. If he was anywhere near the truth, you’d expect a broad correlation between crime and attendances at Ibrox. Here’s the crime stats for Scotland from 1930 onwards:
Here’s the Rangers’ average attendances since 1930:
You’ll be shocked – shocked! – to notice there’s absolutely no correlation! None whatsoever! Guess what – an individual, or group of individuals, or indeed society’s propensity to attend Rangers games makes bugger all difference to the levels of “social unrest” recorded. In fact, you might as well draw in a chain of fox heads on sticks for all the difference it makes:
Of course, the more cynical amongst us may actually suspect that Regan’s comments were more aimed at instilling apprehension, doubt and uncertainty into those clubs and their fans who have merely campaigned for the footballing authorities’ own rules to be followed, even loosely, and that his remarks were based on nothing other than moonbeams, fairy dust, and a jaw-dropping contempt for the intelligence of Scottish football fans.
But as I say, that would be cynical.