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Club 1872 Statement on BBC Scotland

Club 1872 has been in dialogue with Rangers for several weeks regarding Michael Stewart’s offensive and defamatory comments on Sportsound regarding Alfredo Morelos and Jim Traynor. Rangers were in agreement with us that Michael Stewart’s comments were completely unacceptable, and made strong representations to the BBC on that basis.

It was correct that the club engaged directly with BBC Scotland to make their position clear and attempt to resolve this issue. Rangers fans deserve to receive value for the licence fee which funds BBC Scotland’s activities. The decision to reinstate Mr Stewart, and the attempted justification for that reinstatement, makes it clear that under its current leadership BBC Scotland has no intention of ever properly discharging its duty to a significant section of licence fee payers in Scotland.

In an eight minute rant, Mr Stewart did his best to cast doubt on racist abuse of Alfredo Morelos. He then went on to describe the placement of PR stories, an issue he had completely fabricated, as being “more concerning” than racist abuse and “the main story”. This clear and disgraceful attempt to minimise racism should have been condemned by BBC Scotland but instead they have completely ignored it. His defamatory comments about Jim Traynor were not only false and inflammatory but in our opinion were a factor in the physical assault on him just days later. Quite simply, Michael Stewart should have been sacked on the spot. The contrast between how BBC Scotland dealt with this and how the BBC in England have dealt with similar issues is stark.

The assertion by BBC Scotland that they have now adequately resolved this issue by simply explaining Mr Stewart’s responsibilities to him is an insult to the intelligence. Mr Stewart was already well aware of his responsibilities having had several complaints lodged against him for similar behaviour – most notably when he denied that Rangers supporters were placed in a dangerous crushing situation at Rugby Park earlier this season despite clear evidence to the contrary. There is a pattern of behaviour with Michael Stewart on any Rangers related topic and his motivation is abundantly clear to anyone who pays attention.

BBC Scotland’s reputation, already damaged by their refusal to deal properly with their ongoing biased coverage of Rangers, now lies in tatters over this matter. It is decisions like this that have led to more and more questions being asked about the future of the licence fee. Rangers supporters are correct to mistrust BBC Scotland and it is clear that the organisation is deeply flawed at an institutional level. There is no accountability, no integrity and no responsibility – from senior management all the way down to Mr Stewart’s level.

Rangers are correct to withdraw from all dialogue and we believe that those discussions should not resume until the BBC is able to demonstrate with action, not words, that they have regained some control over BBC Sport Scotland.

Issued by Supporters Voice Limited, a Club 1872 company

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