I’ve been trying to crystalize my opinion of Charles Green and thought this might stimulate some discussion:
I’m a firm believer in exploring basic human motivation when people’s actions appear illogical or mysterious. So, let us consider the tale of Charles Green.
He boasts no Rangers connections, no Glasgow connections and no Scottish connections. He does boast of much experience in English football finance. And who can dispute the extent of his contacts in football finance e.g. Zeus Capital (Sheffield Utd, Sunderland, Man Utd). A shrewd, hardnosed and successful businessman by all accounts.
But as we all know well, making money running a football club is several time harder than alchemy.
If proof is needed ask Alan Sugar, even after all these years, he can still go from calm to fury in three seconds on the subject. We can also borrow Richard Branson’s quote “the quickest way to become a millionaire is to start as a billionaire and buy an airline (or football club)”.
So what is Charles Green doing in Glasgow?
Well maybe one day someone aiming to sell Rangers Football Club called him and said, “You know a thing or two about football finance, why not take a look at Rangers, it could be right up your street.”
He looked at the books and saw the season ticket sales, the gate receipts, the TV money, the players, the physical assets, the almost guaranteed European competitions and he thought, “Why haven’t all these people with Rangers connections snapped this up. They care about this club, what’s the catch?”
Being a confident and driven sort of chap, maybe he concluded that many of the Rangerati were all mouth and trousers. Big fans with an inflated sense of the history and the glory and the institution, but ultimately, with shallow pockets, little experience and few cajones.
Being an experienced and successful sort of chap, he knew what was needed: facts and figures and spreadsheets and bull-necked lawyers and creative accountants and inscrutable investors, and he knew plenty of them. And of course, all fuelled by the simple imperative of a nice, quick, crisp profit.
Being an entrepreneurial sort of chap, he formulated a bold plan with a bit of pre-pack here, a bit of re-financing there, a pinch of seed investment here, maybe a sprinkle of lease/buyback there, all mixed liberally with bluff and bluster and of course the grand finale of a flotation that would leave everyone involved and happy. What could be easier and more rewarding?
Being an English chap, he thought he knew about Rangers beyond the numbers: the heritage, the silverware, the fans, the stadium and the connections. But, how little he knew of the things the English sellers chose not to tell him, or perhaps did not know themselves – the arrogance, the resentment, the fraud, the duopoly, the byzantine institutions, the cliques, the factions, the whole language of us-and-them, and the rest.
So North he rode to the rescue in innocence, and he was warmly welcomed by the English sellers. Soon though, he found that his plans were thwarted one by one. The grease of gratitude he was led to expect from all around to smooth the wheels was replaced by the sand of suspicion and vested interests. It seemed that many he strove to help were strangely indifferent and then openly hostile to his quest.
And slowly it began to dawn upon him that what he had bought was not so much a valuable football club as a central role in a clannish feud that he could not begin to comprehend. And so, as night followed day, the things he took to be facts slipped away as a vision slips through a wall.
Being a proud and powerful man, he knew the value of strength and courage and defiance. So he lashed out with vigour at those beyond the feud, whilst little by little, without realising, he retreated into himself for fear of betraying his uncertainty and confusion. He mind turned to self-preservation and a face-saving exit, but he found only frustration and threat at every turn. Even his meagre personal investment seemed in jeopardy and he pondered the wrath of his faceless benefactors in unnamed places.
And there he stands to this day, defiant and bullish yet mildly comical and inept – perhaps more to be pitied than scorned – more Johnny English than Thomas Gradgrind.