Rangers Face Their Fate
18/01/2012 3,349 Comments
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle” – Plato
As dawn breaks over Edinburgh this morning, The Rangers Football Club plc, will see its last sunrise in a world where it can influence its own fate. By this evening, the future of the famous football club shall lie in the hands of three tribunal judges. If this case finally concludes today (as I believe, and hope, it will), the clock will start ticking down to the decision that will see Rangers released victorious to thrive again or suffocated by an unpayable debt.
The waiting time for the outcome shall depend upon how much work the judges have prepared in advance of the final days’ summations. If they have written up their findings of fact in advance of this week, a decision might come within a matter of a few weeks. (Following tribunal process, both sides have presented their versions of the facts of the case in previous sessions). Much more likely, given the volume of evidence presented, is that Rangers’ fate will not be known until late March or early April. In fact, there is no deadline on when a result must be published. A few exceptional decisions have taken over a year to be released.
As the Scottish media and Rangers’ own supporters slowly wake up to the danger, it is worth revisiting the efforts expended to deflect and deny that this story was even true. Following fast on the heels of an April 2010 News of The World (RIP) story that HMRC were planning an attack on “Scottish football clubs”, Darrell King of The Herald and Evening Times published details (delayed to avoid possibly derailing league victory) that Rangers were the specific club being targeted. Despite getting the basic facts correct, King’s newspapers were forced into humiliating retractions. With his wings clipped, he avoiding discussing the subject until very recently.
Rangers’ Chairman at the time, Alastair Johnston, cunningly misled fans and shareholders in media releases and at Rangers’ AGM in 2010. While his statements were not inaccurate in the strictest sense, they were designed to give the impression that the tax issue was a matter for the club’s parent company and that “‘I do not think it should be a material concern for us“.
The subject was then dropped. For Scotland’s famously craven and incompetent sports hacks, it was business as usual. They reprinted PR-firm lies in return for access to transfer trivia. Any attempt to discuss the tax case in public fora was met with either derision or “may I remind you that we are a live broadcast“. If there is a legal barrier to commentary, it seems to apply only in Govan- as the media’s frequent flaying of Hearts’ owner continues to demonstrate. The most important story in the history of Scottish football was ignored and left to die. For the general public, the attitude to the tax case could be summed up as: “If there was any truth in this story, the newspapers would be all over it“.
The inspiration to start this blog was my incredulity at the degree to which the Scottish media had been co-opted. Sitting quietly in possession of the truth about what was happening, I could not believe that this story had not found a single champion inside the reporting establishment. At least fifty people, in seven or eight organisations, knew what I knew. In a city where the faintest whiff of a story involving either Rangers or Celtic is relayed like a shock-wave, that no one was talking seemed remarkable. Then I realised why- no one trusted the hacks.
The people with access to the facts of this story are no mugs. We all understood the tight-knit corrupt ‘clubbyness’ of those within the sports media-Rangers axis. Promises of confidentiality would be breached for a glass of burgundy and a plate of succulent lamb. Gossip traded over too many whiskies could ruin your career. No one in their right mind would talk to an establishment reporter for fear of being burned in return for an “exclusive” on which foreign superstar was being tracked by the Ibrox club. (Darrell King was fed his story in April 2010 by Rangers’ director Dave King who was trying to launch his own bid to buy the club, coincidentally enough, for £18m for the debt + £1 for the shares. So it hardly counts as socking a blow against ‘The Man’).
When any facet of society is able to conduct its business beyond public questioning corruption follows. The sloth of the sporting wing of the journalism profession in Scotland has played a large role in bringing our national game to this point. In the next 12 months, it is more likely than not that two of the three largest clubs in the country will file for insolvency.
As a Celtic supporter, I fall prey to the occasional bout of Schadenfreude over Rangers’ misfortunes. It is the very essence of the rivalry between supporters of these clubs: no quarter asked, none given. One of the best aspects of this blog is the way in which articulate and reasonable fans from both sides (and even a few others) can have an online discussion that does not degenerate into sectarian bile hurling. However, my contempt for what passes for a sports journalist in Scotland today has grown to the point where Rangers are almost a side-issue. Ill-informed, arrogant, and lazy, they have failed to do their jobs. I doubt that any of them dreamt of copying-and-pasting transparent lies for corporate interests when they made their career choice. However, they sold their souls for an easy life. For them, no worrying about cultivating contacts or having to have an original thought. I wonder how they face the mirror in the morning.
We will find out Rangers’ fate soon enough. If, as I expect, the tribunal finds heavily against Rangers, the inquest and recriminations shall begin. It is unlikely that much blame will find its way to the right places. Already the media pack are working hard to narrow down the options for remedy: the only game in town appears to be that a newco-Rangers must be allowed immediate and free entry to the Scottish Premier League. Scotland’s football journalists will brook no discussion about anything that threatens their gravy-train.