The media, government and the governing bodies don’t really have a problem with offensive or sectarian chanting at football. We know this through their actions over a suitably long period of time and a sizable sample set of evidence from many supports. They don’t even appear to have a particular problem with questionable political messages, metallic missiles and fans encroaching onto the pitch with menace. However, they do have a problem when it's Rangers fans doing the chanting.

Selectarianism was a phrase coined to capture the appalling double-standards applied to the chanting debate. Long story short, an industry appeared (comprising mainly of those of a certain demographic but fortified with other flavours of detractors) who were able to cause Rangers much discomfort and bad press over a good number of years with this. The mud-flinging and intense lobbying paid dividend and Rangers were ultimately sanctioned by UEFA over an airing of the Billy Boys in Europe in 2019. Over time on social media, many of those actively involved in the industry since the early 2000s, have shown their hand and exposed the real reasons behind their meddling, be it journos, MSPs, NBM or FARE.

In preceding weeks merry hell has been ramped up over fairly benign refereeing decisions, with the collective outrage centred largely around unspectacular decisions impacting Celtic players. The collective foaming at the mouth continued into Rangers’ cup game at Hibs. Hibs lost control and the game rightfully went in our favour. You wouldn’t know it but the most contentious and serious incident of the past few weeks was a red-card challenge on Ross McCausland by a Motherwell player that went on to score the winning goal.

This is where the premediated Selectarianism with chanting merges with the disinformation agenda around referees. The best way to fight a war is to have someone else fight it for you – and so Michael Stewart steps up as Celtic's useful idiot in this regard. He went into the cup game with a pre-written script and was going to be argue against anything going for Rangers, no matter how stonewall the incident and no matter how stupid he would look. His plausible neutral Hibs/Hearts playing history belies who pays his bills and writes his thoughts. Significant noise was created but even the press changed tact when they realised pretending Hibs were hard done by officials was a dead horse. And this is where sectarian chanting re-enters the picture.

Hibs issued a statement on supporter conduct. The timing of the release and clickbait mention of sectarianism seemed to be more to appease their support than genuinely address supporter behaviour in Scottish football. This is the same support that threw dangerous objects at Shankland not two weeks ago and laughed off fans physically assaulting Rangers players following a cup win at Hampden years before.

Of course, there’s no show without punch and up pops BBC Scotland's brass neck-in-chief Chris McLaughlin. A man who walks past rampant anti-Semitism, overt pro-terror cheerleading and industrial scale child abuse to get a negative headline about Rangers. Hibs' mention of sectarianism was all he needed to start up the Pacific Quay CSC propaganda machine. As predictable as a disallowed Rangers goal in an Old Firm match, it didn't take long before he had worked strict liability into his narrative.

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There are two things that aren’t a coincidence here. The first being that their beloved Celtic have a fight on their hands and so we have the lashing out, pressurising/threatening officials and looking for anyway to derail or penalise Rangers. The other being that McLaughlin pipes up as the SNP's hate crime laws are coming into effect.

Cast your minds back to May 2021 and a certain Humza Yousaf (ironically then Justice Minister) knowingly posted an obviously fake video to smear Rangers players celebrating their league victory. And guess who done the donkey work in the press to create damaging headlines on the back of this? Using the vehicle of the impartial national broadcaster to peddle his obvious bias. That’s right, McLaughlin again. Worryingly, neither Yousaf nor McLaughlin were held to task or apologised for their involvement in this - indeed the latter's tweet is still there.

After decades of mischief making, McLaughlin is still in place at the BBC and able to target Rangers. Even worse, Yousaf somehow failed upwards, unelected and, as incompetent as ever, into the First Minister role. What a damning indictment of the nation.

The Rangers board need to be very wary and very canny here. These are loose cannons aimed at the club, probably with a plan and with enough clout to make things difficult. The fake video appeared to pass without formal complaint from Rangers. McLaughlin’s part in continuing the narrative of Rangers and others, and not Celtic, being the centre of SFA's historical CSA report passed without complaint from the club. At some stage Bisgrove and Bennett need to be stronger and ready to protect the club.

This doesn’t mean the house of lies isn't built on a foundation of truth. The sporadic re-emergence of the Billy Boys domestically is undeniable; even if it usually fizzes out without any offensive words being used. I’m more than happy for certain chants to fade into history and be replaced by some of the fantastic anthems of recent years. However, against a backdrop of sectarianism and offensive chanting from other clubs in Scotland it was always expected. What is more dangerous is that the Billy Boys has been heard again in Europe. This is stupidity beyond belief when a stadium closure is not just possible but probable. The damage it could do to the fantastic Europa reputation and energy we’ve grown in recent years would be unforgivable. The board and fans groups need to nip this is the bud before it’s a problem.

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