I don't want this to sound like a sob story but I had never heard about EBTs then. That title was won with sweat, blood and guts.
My league winner's medal is up at the house, along with the rest. I have a B&Q Cup medal, a First Division winners medal, two League Cup winners medals, a Scottish Cup winners medal and an SPL medal, which is my most treasured one, because it was my first and only SPL title. I had just gone to Ibrox from Dundee United halfway through the season and I gave everything. I remember we were seven points ahead going into an Old Firm match just before the winter break, and Mark Viduka scored at Parkhead. I equalised to keep it at seven, and we went on to win the title by 21 points. I don't care what the SPL tell me, they can't just decide all that is null and void.
At the end of the day if they want to take it away, they'll take it away, but I will be devastated. There is no guarantee that any titles which are stripped will be awarded to somebody else and the matter may now be referred to an independent commission, after lawyers Harper Macleod decided there was a case to answer over the club's use of EBTs from 1999 onwards. But there has to be a conflict of interest if other SPL clubs are playing a part in the decision.
With Rangers on 54 championships and Celtic on 43, a 10 or 14-title swing would change things dramatically in terms of who has historically been the most successful club in Scotland. Of course the clubs will be looking at overall totals and things like that, but the players won't be.
I don't think players such as Viduka and Lubo Moravcik will be wanting a league winners medal for a season where they were beaten by 21 points. Individually I don't think the players would want it. I am not just saying this but I wouldn't want a winners medal 12 years later by default. I would be saying "forget about it".
Of course, if it is proved that titles were won fraudulently, and the club gained an unfair advantage, then the authorities have to act, but they have to find the right punishment. This is new territory. If the EBT court case is lost, then it should be the club who are punished. It was nothing to do with the individual players. They went there in good faith to do a job of work.
I said in last week's column that this is the time to restructure the Scottish game and I stand by that. The proposed solution whereby the SPL and SFL merge, and Rangers end up in the second tier of the Scottish game, is a mechanism to try to keep everybody happy, because it could be the death knell of Scottish football if a newco Rangers are sent down to the Third Division.
A lot of fans might not like it but at least this way people are trying to protect the integrity of the game by ensuring there is some kind of reasonable punishment while safeguarding Scottish football financially. The only problem is it seems to have taken a club going into crisis mode for people to do what is best for Scottish football.
IT looks like John McGlynn is going to get the nod for the Hearts job and it is good to see Scottish managers getting a chance at bigger clubs. Anybody who watched his Raith Rovers side challenging for prom-otion to the SPL as a part-time club will say he deserves his chance. They struggled last year but sometimes it is hard to sustain success and keep progressing.
When you work in football at that level, you realise just what it takes. I travel from Glasgow to Fife twice a week to work with the boys at East Fife just because I love it. It is great getting on the training ground but it does make you realise how hard a job it must be to try to sustain a challenge with some players part-time.
AS a veteran of the 1-0 second-leg victory on our last visit to Wembley, I welcomed the news last week that Scotland would take on England in August next year. Hopefully they will agree a return fixture.
I will always remember the atmosphere in those games, particularly the match at Hampden where they played God Save the Queen and the Scotland fans completely drowned it out with boos and whistles. Nothing ever came close to that – I just remember what was in my head and how much you had to give. I am really proud of the way we played in both the games in the Euro 2000 play-offs but it will live with me for the rest of my life that we never made it.
You look at England in Euro 2012 and they are very methodical, regimental and workmanlike. I don't think they are in the best shape, even if that approach is what they need right now. The Ukraine "goal" which wasn't given just shows that the fifth official must be removed, because he was five yards away and still couldn't make the right decision.
We are improving and there is no chance of England running over the top of us. Usually you will see five or six players drop out for an August friendly but this one might be different.