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My conscience is clear- Roger Mitchell on his decisions that ruined Scottish football

Roger Mitchell has been defending his decision to recommend rejection of a broadcast contact with Sky Sports in 2002 in favour of SPL TV, an idea that was at least 10 years ahead of its time.

Speaking to The Herald about his new book the former SPL chief says that his conscience is clear, tellingly he makes no reference to nodding through the token contracts to Tore Andre Flo and Ronald de Boer that led to the administration and liquidation of Rangers in 2012.

By then Mitchell had moved back to Italy, lecturing media types about his brilliance and intellect.

While Celtic matched EPL contracts to bring in Chris Sutton, Neil Lennon and John Hartson Dave Murray was more relaxed in operating within the laws of the land. With Mitchell’s contract heavily dependent of commercial deals he didn’t care how Murray funded his club as long as there was an O** F*** package to flog.

Flo came in from Chelsea with a token contract approved by the SFA and SPL, de Boer left Barcelona for Ibrox to take a big pay cut according to the contract that Mitchell signed off on.

In 2008 the Metropolitan Police sent Sheriff Officers into Ibrox to check out on transfer details, the documents that they uncovered were of interest to HMRC who started the chase for £2.8m owed on ‘the wee tax case’. The unpaid Income Tax and National Insurance plus interest and penalties owed from the Flo and de Boer deals.

Mitchell was well away from the scene by then as another tax investigation uncovered something much much bigger.

Discussing his book with The Herald Mitchell said:

There’s a lot of insight. My story at the Scottish Premier League.

The chapter on SPL Television in the book – there was 12 teams in my league at the time, ten were very behind that idea, which was a risky idea, it was a radical idea, it has been proven to be correct. Celtic and Rangers for their own reasons said no to that.

My conscience is clear. I think a lot of what has happened in sport and the media industry and direct to consumer thinking has all proven to be true.

So I think people will find that an interesting read, to see what happened back in 2002.

And [to] compare it to where they are today with their Netflix or Apple TV and Disney Plus, I think they’ll find it very interesting.

Netflix was launched in the UK in 2012, Mitchell’s vision was inspired but the timing was all wrong which makes it kind of pointless. Other events in 2012 were a direct conseqence of his time as the first CEO of the SPL.

Online streaming and smart-phones were pie in the sky in 2002, having a camera on your phone was considered revolutionary. The first I-phone was launched in 2007.

SPL TV would have required considerable hardware, the opposition from Sky Sports would have been considerable, in the climbdown the SPL was forced to turn to BBC Scotland which provided a large audience but it was a token payment while Sky Sports poured fortunes into the EPL as the gap between Scotland and England escalated towards its current state where winning the SPFL pays around £4m from broadcasting and commercial deals, finishing bottom pays £110 with £90m in parachute payments over three years.

Mitchell’s book will no doubt have plenty of media types nodding through the chapters, his mismanagement of Scottish football is still being felt to this day with Neil Doncaster a worthy successor to his post.

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