FLAT Earthers are an interesting if slightly alarming collection of folk.

Last week I got really into a documentary on the subject which was both eye-popping and jaw-dropping.They are a vocal but small group who believe we have been lied to about our planet being sort of a round shape.

Despite the overwhelming evidence provided by science types and hilarious failed experiments to prove Pythagoras got his maths all wrongway back in 500 BC, they will not be shifted from their deeply-held and seemingly sincere beliefs.

Conspiracy theorists will tell you Starbucks run the world and Scientologists are the real power within The White House. And why? Well, because this secret society keeps the few in power.

I kind of get where they are coming from in some respects, but who benefits from persuading us all that our planet is round instead of flat?

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Anyway, there’s a Flat Earth office in Inverness which, and I jest you not, is offering £1000 in prize money to anyone who can prove the earth is in the shape of a globe. But not “NASA proof”. Obviously.

This gave me an idea. If anyone can conclusively prove any of the 5,000,000 conspiracies surrounding Scottish football, while showing me their working, I’ll write you a cheque for a grand.

There is, however, one theory I’m prepared to give some backing to which is that nobody in charge of our football in this country really wants to do much about the issue of sectarianism and offensive songs.

A few well-meaning people have tackled this problem over the many years of religious bigotry in this country.

It’s 25 years ago this week since Fergus McCann bought Celtic. I was there when he, alongside Tommy Burns, Pat Bonner and Paul McStay, launched "Bhoys Against Bigotry", a scheme aimed primarily at shutting down IRA songs and chants and the promotion of extremist views at football grounds.

“Let’s no longer hear the chants for the IRA and the UDA at matches,” pleaded "The Bunnet". There was a change in the Celtic song-sheet for a while but we're now almost a quarter of a century on and these songs are back to being big favourites.

The IRA is heard about, more or less, at every Celtic away match. As are shouts about orange b*******.

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Rangers supporters are not allowed to sing the Billy Boys but still do. Fenians and loyalist paramilitary groups are name-checked. One for being bad, the other is good. Walter Smith asked them to stop when he was manager. Even he was ignored.

My point is that if the clubs, the SFA, police, politicians and church organisations were really serious about all of this being pushed to the fringes instead of dead centre of the Celtic and Rangers supporting culture for thousands of people, it would have happened long before now.

Health campaigns targetting smoking mean fewer people puff on cigarettes these days. Drink driving has thankfully become a major taboo. Just about everyone wears seatbelts. So many things change - and yet this aspect of Scottish life never seems to for very long.

I have a modest suggestion.

Those in power need to make it clear what can and cannot be said, sung or written inside our grounds in time for the start of next season.

Disobey and the penalties would begin with away-ticket allocations cut, then parts of the home stadiums being shut, to eventually the reduction of points. I won’t hold my breath, but real action, not soundbites a child could write, are required. Guys, it's 2019.

The coin, bottle and seat throwing antics courtesy of the knuckle-draggers are a real concern but are easier to deal with. Find them, ban them, properly punish them but bear in mind that one individual’s actions do not reflect the person they sit beside.

But spare me the well-worn line that it’s only a small minority singing the stuff which is bigoted or sectarian. Those who indulge love the songs, it's part of them, and if one day they do grow out of Sean South and King Billy, the next generation will take their place.

Statements don’t do it. Vague promises to “crack down” are ignored and, anyway, such a threat never comes to fruition. Unless those who indulge in this dreary nonsense are faced with being unable to attend games then we will be talking about all of this next year and the year after and so on.

It is difficult to get away from the feeling that sectarianism is good for business. If not, we would not be going over the same tired old ground. Steve Clarke is right. We are living in the dark ages. And, do you want to know what a common perception was then? That the earth was flat.


IT has become a habit down south to trash talk Scottish football.

Only this week, our Premiership was compared to the Belarusian League, and we were told how lucky Celtic were to get Brendan Rodgers for so long. 

Nobody will ever convince me that Leicester City are bigger than Celtic or Rangers - just richer. Those who say otherwise would also claim that Ajax, Feyenoord, Sporting Lisbon, RB Leipzig and many more European clubs are next to being nobodies because they don't have the good fortune to be English.

This is what I call the talkSPORT culture: it's boorish nonsense. I wish it didn't bother me so much.