Death threats by Rangers fans! How dare a newspaper make such vile accusations? Who is responsible for the latest calumny upon the hundreds of thousands of decent supporters of the Ibrox team? We have seen Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News castigated and ridiculed for daring to suggest that threats have come from elements of the Rangers support to journalists, newspapers, football officials and publishers.
Now the Scottish Sun has joined the chorus of anti-Rangers spin by repeating someone else’s no doubt invented accusations against the fans of Rangers.
The Sun reported today as follows:- (My comments are in bold).
IBROX chief Charles Green was warned by cops to be on his guard against deadly mail bombs amid fears he could be targeted by crazed Rangers fans. Worried Green was forced to move between a string of safe-houses after police received credible intelligence that his life was in danger following his takeover of the club. He was ordered to check his car for explosives and Ibrox staff were given special instructions for handling his post.
Oh. Mr Green says that he was threatened. That cannot be right. This must be a re-hash of old stories, taking comments out of context to create a false impression. Surely this is the Sun simply seeking to ambush the share issue as part of its alleged hatred for Rangers?
In his most in-depth interview since taking over at Ibrox, he admitted: “I got death threats. There were lots of threats.
Oh again. This was an interview.
“I have had visits from Strathclyde Police who were treating the threats seriously. They explained how the staff should look for strange packages and how I should make checks myself, including my car.
“I wasn’t necessarily worried about my safety, it was more the staff and those people in the mail room. These were real times for concern. There was specific intelligence.”
As the threats escalated, Green changed his address every week to stay one step ahead of the yobs who were targeting him.
He added: “I was staying maximum seven nights in a hotel. Once it got known where I was staying then we’d move again. I’d stay in the Holiday Inn, airport or this hotel and that hotel. I had to keep moving during the worst of it all.
“The longest I stayed anywhere was at the Menzies Hotel, where I stayed a couple of weeks. But by this time the relationship with the fans was improving.
What a masterpiece of timing. Mr Green wants to float the company, selling shares to Rangers fans and to institutional investors and fund managers. It strikes me as an unusual tactic to state in a newspaper interview that some of your prospective customers, and indeed possible future shareholders, made death threats and that there was “specific intelligence” about bomb threats.
“Now I’ve got a flat in Glasgow’s West End — and I can live a normal life.”
Good for you Mr Green!
Well, actually he has not said that they were Rangers fans. Perhaps they were pretending to be so, in the same way as some commentators sought to attribute the malicious emails to Bill Miller as being from “mischief-making” Celtic fans and not from Rangers fans at all.
Yes, that must be it. He is not criticising his own support at all.
Green also faced abuse on the streets of Glasgow from supporters who wanted him to sell the Ibrox side to other would-be buyers, including Walter Smith.
He said: “I had several episodes when I was out and about Glasgow that were unsettling, to say the least. But I was brought up not to run from anything. It was direct confrontation with people who clearly didn’t think much of me. I was physically intimidated on the streets of Glasgow. It was Rangers fans coming up to me and not mincing their words.
“They would shout, ‘F*** off, we want our club back’, while others would be more sinister, threatening me with harm. There were times it happened when I was alone, but one time I was with Brian Stockbridge, the financial director. Obviously times have moved on and people have got guns and knives now. But I came from one of the roughest mining districts in Britain. Not much can shock me.”
Oh. It was Rangers fans. No qualification – no suggestion that it was people pretending to be Rangers fans. Instead, as well as death threats and bomb threats, he faced physical intimidation by Rangers fans, sinister threats of harm and indeed he mentions guns and knives!
Defiant Green was also flooded with letters and emails from Rangers fans urging him to let someone else take over the struggling club.
He went on: “Sometimes I’d get nice letters that would start off by thanking me for saving the club, but then plead with me to sell up to Walter Smith or John Brown or Brian Kennedy or whoever else was regarded as more appropriate by fans.
“We were always happy to work with any of these groups. But the reality was, people had to commit financially — and no one else was prepared to do it.”
Green added: “The threats weren’t pleasant, but I can honestly say that at no point did they ever make me think twice about being committed to Rangers. But I’m glad to say now that the worst of it is well behind me.”
Maybe this too is corroboration that the abuse which helped persuade Mr Miller to walk away, along with the multi-million pound “black hole” in the accounts, was from Rangers fans.
And the Rangers chief executive told how he is still being confronted in the street by supporters — but now it’s by guilt-ridden fans who say they were wrong to blame him after he took over the club.
Green has claimed that more than £17million has been pledged by ordinary supporters towards a £20million share issue he hopes will be sealed by the end of next month. He said: “It’s amazing at a time of harsh financial times, and with Christmas fast approaching, that the fans have found the money to back the share issue.”
Has he started the share issue already? It is great that he has been paid money already, which is the clear implication of his statement. Well done Mr Green!
On the other hand, perhaps speaking to the Sun might not have been the wisest mover, for, as well as accusing his own fans of the catalogue of threats and abuse above, the Sun is not a newspaper popular with Rangers or its fans.
Clearly Mr Green, or his PR advisers realised that this might not have been the wisest article to contribute to.
“In remarks attributed to me in today’s Scottish Sun I was trying to get across how far we have travelled together since the dark days of the Club being put into administration and subsequent liquidation of the old company.
Cleverly phrased – “remarks attributed to me”. Suggesting that he did not actually say what was reported without stating that is the case. However, the fact is the he does not deny the statements.
Funny too to see him referring to the liquidation of the old company, which has still not happened!
“No words can express the gratitude I feel towards Rangers fans at the way they have stood by the Club in one of its darkest hours. They have risen to the challenge of helping rebuild this great institution and have won widespread admiration across the world for their backing of Rangers.
“Not a day goes by without foreign TV stations or journalists telling me how amazed they are by the response of fans as they continue to back the Club in huge numbers.
“The reality is there were a few occasions in the very early days where I was clearly not the flavour of the month among some sections of the fanbase and I was subject to taunts and abuse.
Funny too how the death threats, physical intimidation and specific intelligence about bomb threats, requiring him to move from place to place are now reduced down to “taunts and abuse”.
“However, that was short-lived and the fans are now behind me and the board and we have all moved on together.
“I just want to make it clear that I believe Rangers fans are the best in the world and that is my heart felt position. I appreciate the article in today’s Sun has upset some supporters and for that I am truly sorry. As I stated, I was merely trying to illustrate how far we have all come together.”
There is no doubt that the views of some of the Rangers fans towards Mr Green have changed. However, even in this effort at salvaging the reputation of his customers, he could not deny what had been said in the interview, nor was there any effort to apologise for speaking to the Sun.
For a man whose PR skills are normally very good, he has dropped the ball, or scored an own goal with this one.
Posted by Paul McConville