Alex Massie

Megrahi Release Explained: He’s a Rangers Fan

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Roddy Forsyth deserves our congratulations for revealing this:

One of the unforeseen consequences of Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi's incarceration in Greenock Prison was that, by his own account, in whiling away the hours by watching live football on the now-defunct Setanta network he became a Rangers supporter.

No surprise that a man convicted of the worst terrorist atrocity in British history would forsake his local team - Morton - to support one of the Gruesome Twosome*. He and Rangers deserve one another.

This, mind you, could run and run. Just as Celtic and Rangers supporters have co-opted other conflicts for their own ends (Huns** Rangers waving Israeli flags; Tims** Celtic sporting PLO banners) so perhaps the "MacAskill was right" debate will ultimately come down to which putrid Glasgow football team you support. Of course, you're more likely, as a pal points out, to see the Saltire flying at Tripoli airport than at Ibrox...

Then again, I did like the contribution of a Rangers-minded friend:

Another telltale clue that he may have been innocent. I mean, a real terrorist would support Celtic.

In Glasgow, it always comes back to fitba in the end. And, as Forsyth suggests, perhaps Rangers, who rather need new investment, can persuade the Gaddafi regime to punt some money into the club. If memory serves, Gaddafi's son is a minority owner at Jventus. So why not Rangers too? Couldn't happen to a more charming club.

When this happens, I think the real reasons for Megrahi's release will become painfully apparent. Just another Hun Bluenose stitch-up.

*My own sympathies lie with bonnie Heart of Midlothian. Consequently I now have six - count 'em! - teams to support in the Champions and Europa leagues.

**Few, if any, of my Rangers-supporting friends take exception to being described as "Huns"; nor do my Celtic-minded friends spend much time being offended by the use of the word "Tim". Others, however, do and so I've changed the post accordingly. I don't, for the record, consider "Hun" a sectarian term since, clearly, it's a word used, in this context, for Rangers supporters, not protestants.

UPDATE: Hello, Rangers fans. Yes, I do know that Ibrox has been decked out in Saltires for some european games. But that's because you're being all droll and highlighting the absence of Saltires flown at Celtic Park, not because the Scottish flag is the usual banner sported by Rangers fans.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleSocietyfootballscotlandterrorism