In the light of the Rangers FC owned by Sevco Scotland Ltd having played its first match yesterday, I will have some comments re the post match views of the Chairman and the CEO.
As a contrast, I thought I would have a look at one of Mr Whyte’s earliest forays into the public arena.
Those balmy early summer days of 2011 seem now so long ago. Do you recall when Craig Whyte appeared on the Scottish football scene, a veritable Ozymandias ( that’s for you mick ).
He gave an interview to the Herald, described as his first as owner. I present some extracts from it below. Some might suggest that this ranks with the most succulent of succulent lamb pieces, but, to be fair, no one, apart from the Rangers Tax Case Blog, some Celtic message boards, Andy Muirhead at Scotzine, some Rangers message boards and the Board of Directors of Rangers Football Club PLC saw anything to doubt in Mr Whyte.
It almost seems astonishing that someone could appear as Mr Whyte did, and carry out a huge, but legal, confidence trick on almost all of Scotland. I suspect that some of the vehement reaction to him now comes from Rangers FC supporters annoyed at being duped by him.
The media however, with a very few honourable exceptions, seem to have got over any embarrassment, indeed trotting out the line that they knew the cut of his jib all along, but it was the lawyers who stopped them telling the world what they knew.
That could be true, but it did not tally with the adulation being conferred on Mr Whyte by the media. I do not mean to pick on Mr Fisher – there are many such articles I could have found – but the uncritical way in which concerns, and serious ones, by the very people who ere running the club he was buying are dismissed, and that dismissal accepted, with a wave of the hand.
Stewart Fisher’s edited piece is as follows, with some observations of mine inserted in bold.
Take it away Messrs Whyte and Fisher!
CRAIG Whyte last night used his first interview as owner of Rangers to dismiss a statement from the club’s independent board questioning his ability to take the club forward as “complete and utter nonsense”.
Suffice to say he was received more warmly by the fans than the body of existing Ibrox directors including chairman Alastair Johnston and chief executive Martin Bain set up to examine any potential new owner — which spoke of “differing views on the future revenue generation and cash requirements of the club” and raised concerns about a “lack of clarity on how future cash requirements would be met, particularly any liability arising from the outstanding HMRC case”.
“Future revenue generation”, “cash requirements of the club” and “lack of clarity”. The Rangers Independent Board Committee got it spot on, didn’t they?
It is true to say there were “differing views” on these issues – Mr Whyte appeared not to care about them!
It is ironic, and astonishing now to look back, but the Big Tax Case is still not resolved and Rangers FC PLC has sunk into administration and imminent liquidation without that playing a part!
“I was surprised and disappointed by the statement,” Whyte said. “I’ve spoken to some of the directors today and they have told me that they were not in favour of that statement going out and we will be removing it from the website as soon as possible. The statement from the board is complete and utter nonsense and actually they know it’s nonsense.”
Mr Whyte was very convincing to many. The press generally seemed taken in by him. The Rangers support viewed him as the new hope, and as such they were disposed to believe. In the same way that audiences at a Doris Stokes’ séance are susceptible to accepting that the medium has contacted their deceased relative, on the basis of a vague “there’s a man in a suit whom I can see….” comment, the “saviour” was assured of a triumphant welcome, and anyone who spoke against him was a Celtic minded troublemaker, well, apart from Messrs Johnston, Bain, McClelland, McIntyre, Murray, King, Greig etc.
This interview gave an early example of Mr Whyte’s cavalier attitude to corporate governance. He stated that he would be removing the IBC statement from the website. He never did, on the basis, I assume, that he was advised that it was a requirement that it stayed there. Indeed it is still there to this day.
Whyte said he will delay all decisions on the future make up of the club’s board until the close season but it already seems likely that it will look very different by August. Donald Muir and Mike McGill have already resigned with immediate effect, Johnston has announced that he will do so on May 16, the day after the SPL season ends, while Paul Murray and Dave King actively participated in a rival bid to take control. Bain and finance director Donald McIntyre may come under threat as highly paid executives, with John McClelland and John Greig the other non-executive directors on the board. Whyte has already appointed his long-term business partner, Phil Betts, as a director on what will be a new, smaller board, while Andrew Ellis is also expected to join.
The more one learns about the ways of the media and PR the easier it is to see the signs. On the face of it, and indeed in the following quote, Mr Whyte says that the construction of the Board is to be addressed later. Did Mr Fisher speculate on the various people he mentioned which, as a well-informed reporter, he would have been well able to do? Or is it more likely that Mr Whyte marked his card for him regarding the various Board members?
We saw soon after that Mr Whyte’s indiscretion with his tongue led to Martin Bain quitting and a hugely embarrassing court action, which can be credited with starting to cause the Ibrox walls to crumble.
“Let’s win the league first and then we’ll think about things like that,” Whyte said. “But certain individuals have different agendas. People enjoy their position in the club and don’t necessarily like change.”
Ha ha ha!
He had a glass of bubbly on Friday night after amicably concluding a deal after some six months which sees him pay off the club’s debt in full, take Murray’s shareholding for the princely sum of £1, and commit to £25m to manager Ally McCoist over the next five years.
Ha ha ha! £25 million committed to Ally McCoist.
“It is a better start than I could ever have hoped for,” he said. “Me and my dad used to come to games years and years ago, we used to sit in the Copland Road stand, so it’s nice to be back and own the club. It was great to be sitting among the fans and getting involved in the atmosphere. But you can’t sing songs in the directors’ box.”
The mind boggles about what songs he might have wanted to sing in the directors’ box!
Such is the state of the club’s playing staff that the £25m may be frontloaded this summer, and Whyte last night gave Ally McCoist his blessing as manager and indicated that he would be sitting down with him to discuss transfer matters in the next few days. The early signs are that “four or five” new players would be coming in this summer.
“Frontloaded £25 million”! “Four or five new players”.
“I just plan to get under the covers of the business this week,” he said. “Ally is a Rangers man, he’s passionate about the club and I’m delighted that he’s manager next season and I’m sure he’ll do a great job. I’ve only had a very brief meeting with Ally and that was a few months ago now so I would expect to sit down with him in the next week or so to talk about the plans for next season.”
I suspect neither gentleman had the remotest inkling that, just over a year later, Mr McCoist would be sending out a team in the Ramsdens Cup, first round, or that Mr Whyte would be long gone, and sunning himself somewhere in Europe, the Caribbean, South or Central America.
Whyte went a little way towards outlining his plans. “We can achieve a lot, we can expand the commercial activities and do a lot with the brand. It all comes back to doing well on the field. Plus I’m a passionate Rangers supporter and that’s a big part of it as well.”
“Expanding commercial activities”. “The brand.” I am sure I have read exactly the same speech from Charles Green. Ah, the Circle of Life…
Whyte last night paid tribute to his predecessor. “What David achieved shouldn’t be underestimated,” he said. “He was involved at a unique period in the early 1990s when it was possible to buy the best players in England and get them up to Scotland. Unfortunately, that’s more difficult to do nowadays.
Funny. When he was last quoted talking about Sir David, it was less complimentary. Although read with hindsight, it does seem a damning with faint praise.
“Aye” says Mr Whyte, “Sir David had it in the early 90’s but that is long ago.”
“As for Walter, he’s a legendary manager and as Ally has said he’s going to be a hard act to follow.”
You cannot disagree with Mr McCoist there, can you!
Posted from the TARDIS by Paul McConville