We all knew the day would come when the club currently playing out of Ibrox, founded in 2012, would win the League. We all hoped it would take a lot longer than it has, but it looks an inevitability now and we could spend days arguing how it was allowed to happen, but there's nothing we can do about it.
Every cloud has a silver lining though, and the silver lining of this cloud is that it will once again bring to front stage the fact of Rangers Football Club's liquidation in 2012. It will come to the fore because we're going to be seeing the number "55" everywhere we look for the next year, but never will it appear without an interjection of "1." Every time they brag about the number of times they've won any competition, they will be corrected with a reminder that they are a new club formed in 2012.
A lot of appeals to authority will be made - "The SFA says were the same club, Timmy," "The SFA says we've been Champions 55 times," etc, but authority for this does not come from the SFA.
Years ago I taught Government & Politics to A Level students, and the very first lesson I taught in that subject has always stuck in my mind, because I learned something from that lesson too that I'd never thought about before.
The first lesson on the syllabus was on the concepts of power and authority. They are often thought of as the same thing, but that first lesson was about the distinctions between them - Power is the ability to act, Authority is the right to act. Another distinction is that Power is top down, while Authority comes from the ruled to the people above them. Governments have their authority from the people they rule, and when they don't have that authority, they lack legitimacy and that's when the system begins to fall apart.
What we have had in Scottish football since the events building up to Rangers' liquidation first became public knowledge, is a situation where the Scottish Football Association is losing its authority, because it is not longer acknowledged as an impartial arbiter by a growing number of Scottish football fans. The problem has subsided over the past few years as Rangers' recedes in the rearview mirror of the memory, but the Five Way Agreement is an indelible stain on the reputation of everyone party to it.
When the SFA tell us that Rangers is the same club, frankly, only Rangers fans believe them, and they only believe them because they desperately want them to. I'd imagine it's an issue that matters little to fans of most other clubs other than Celtic's, but equally, I doubt if you'd find many who would agree that Rangers are the same club. They just find the argument itself tedious.
Well, now that "55" is going to become the Number of the Year, everyone will have to confront it again. Have Rangers been champions 5 times? "Yes!" say the Rangers* fans. "No!" say the Celtic fans. "No, but who cares?" Say the rest.
Whether Rangers* have been Champions 55 times or not is not about the SFA. They have the power to say they have, but they don't have the authority. The first boxer to hold the Heavyweight title belt was John L. Sullivan, who was presented with the belt on 8th August 1887. It was emblazoned with the flags of the USA, Britain and Ireland and inscribed, "Presented to the Champion of Champions, John L. Sullivan, by the Citizens of the United States."
There had been men regarded as the Champion long before John L. Sullivan. It was a process of public acclamation. Going back to the early years of the 19th Century, men like Tom Cribb were regarded as the Champion of England and was challenged by a freed American slave, Tom Molyneux, for his title, which was the de facto world championship.
Since Sullivan, regarded as the first official World Champion, several awarding bodies have emerged, and at any one time there can be four, or five men claiming to be World Champion, with a belt to prove it. But for the public, there is only ever one champion. Sometimes it is the linear champion - the man who beat the man who beat the man all the way back to Sullivan. At other times, the linear champion may be regarded as inferior to one of the other title holders, who will then be recognised by the public as the true champion.
The point of this is that it is not the man the awarding bodies say is champion who is the champion. That status is bestowed on the champion by the public. Authority comes from below, not from above.
So when Rangers* fans claim title number "55," and point to the governing bodies recognising them as the champions 55 times, it will mean nothing. The only authority who can recognise Rangers* as champions 55 times is the public, not the awarding bodies. The public, Rangers* fans apart, will never recognise them as champions 55 times.
We can't do anything about Rangers* being recognised as champions this year. They've won it as fairly and squarely as the old club did in 2010. But never, ever, will Rangers celebrate an uncontested claim to any number of titles conferred pre-2012. Those claims quite simply will never be accepted or recognised by the only authority capable of bestowing them - the public.
Every time they claim 55 titles, they'll have liquidation thrown in their faces and be reminded that their old club is no more. No amount of appeals to the SFA or SPFL websites will change that truth.