Rumours were swirling about for a few days about a debt due by “Rangers” to somebody from “the East”. Details were hard to pin down, but there was frequent mention of a winding-up order, or at least the possibility of one. Phil Mac Giolla Bhain was at the forefront of the story, although, as is often the case, his reportage was dismissed by those who ought to have paid more attention to what he had to say.
Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News took matters further and he heard from Orlit Enterprises that they claimed to be owed £400,000 by Rangers as the balance of its fee for introducing investors to Sevco Scotland Ltd (now Rangers Football Club Ltd). He was told that an application for a winding up order was the last resort, but a step Orlit were on the point of taking.
After Mr Thomson blogged about this, and mentioned that, despite efforts to elicit same, there had been no response from Rangers, there came various additional reports and comments.
What I am interested in, and writing about in this post, is that follow-up reaction.
Rangers did not issue a response till several hours after the report by Mr Thomson. That response was short, although not particularly sweet. I blogged about it last night here.
It was clearly an attempt to stifle the story before it spread, but it was too late. Was this because Mr Green is doing his impression of Phileas Fogg (© David Leggat) and travelling around the world?
Various Rangers-related bloggers manned the barricades to defend their team, even though, if one actually read the piece by Mr Thomson, and my own comments, you would see that the defence being mounted was against charges which were not actually being made!
After the last line of Rangers statement last night saying that the matter was “unworthy of further comment”, the Daily Record covered most of its front page with the story today. Now the story made it very clear, as Rangers had said, that the football club was not under threat. It made clear that it was Rangers position that an agreement had been reached.
The Record said that, in relation to Mr Thomson’s comment that Orlit felt that a winding up order was the only option left to them, there was “no evidence that a winding up order had been served” nor was there any evidence found by the Record of an application having been made at the Court of Session.
But Mr Thomson did not say that such an application had been made. Instead he was reporting the creditor as saying that that was the only option they felt they now had. Whilst it does not take long to prepare and lodge such an application, I am sure Mr Thomson would have made clear if he had been told that the order had already been sought.
So the Record checking to see if there had been such a petition presented to the court, whilst good “belt and braces” journalism, was looking for something which no one had actually said existed!
The Record report, other than that point, seemed to be very straight, making clear Rangers position. That however did not prevent demands for boycotts of the Record from some of the websites supporting Rangers, presumably for having had the temerity to report that there had been a dispute, as indeed Rangers own statement admitted.
The plot thickened today when the BBC reported that, despite what Rangers had said about an agreement, Orlit claimed that there was not one.
BBC Scotland understands no agreement has been reached between Rangers and a Singapore based company, Orlit Enterprises.
That is despite a spokesperson for Rangers saying a deal had been reached subject to paperwork.
It is thought two disputed bills amount to around £400,000.
BBC Scotland understands Orlit Enterprises are investigating the possibility of raising a winding up order against the company which currently runs Rangers within the next seven to 10 days, if the dispute continues.
One of the major criticisms of former ownership groups at Ibrox has been the supposedly lax response to perceived slights from “Rangers haters”. Mr Green had promised that these would be taken on, and this, as have many of his declarations, seemed to please the fan base.
However, on this matter, and as detailed in a blog by Alex Thomson published as I write this piece, the Rangers PR machinery has produced a performance far worse even than that of the Rangers football team at Tannadice at the weekend!
The one area where, at first sight, the counter-blast seemed to be working was amongst the online Rangers supporting presence. Various Rangers fans acted as if in receipt of Commissioner Gordon’s “bat signal” and rushed out a defence as soon as there was official word from Ibrox.
However the message was not a uniform one.
“It is my understanding that the club was indeed hit by a winding up order for a sum in the region of £400k.
“The club, to my understanding, did not agree with the invoice and challenged its value and payment date. After some to’ing and thro’ing Orlit Enterprises issued a winding up petition against the club. (a tactic regularly used in the business world to force anothers hand)”.
All very well, except that the writer’s suggestion that issuing of a winding up order is “normal” is by no means correct, and secondly, his sources were wrong – no such order had been issued (and Mr Thomson had not said that it had!)
Bill McMurdo, who often blogs sensibly regarding Rangers-related matters, managed to honour me with two mentions in two days!
The poisoned pens (or should that be keyboards) of the anti-Rangers bloggers are pouring out more “revelations” about Rangers’ finances, this time the conjectured fall-out between Orlit Enterprises and Rangers Football Club Ltd, resulting in the now notorious “winding-up order” which Toxic Thomson, Phil Multi Names and Paul McConville are salivating over.
It was reported that Mr Arif Naqvi invested £2 million in Rangers last year.
So Rangers owe Orlit money?
Wow – what a story.
To quote the irrepressible McConville on his blog:-
“With no knowledge of the details of the invoices and the apparent dispute, it would be wrong to take this as a sign that Rangers are in financial difficulty.”
You said it, Paul.
Ecojon has already commented here on the apparent discrepancy between Mr McMurdo’s comments on Mr Naqvi, and those of Mr Green, who denied there had been such an investment.
It is also ironic that, in a piece designed to complain about people like me writing about the matter, Mr McMurdo manages to quote me – to agree with me – and still to find time to criticise me for writing about it!
Surely, if I was the “Rangers hater” and “poison pen anti-Rangers blogger” Mr McMurdo suggested I was, then I would have been announcing to the world, based on nothing at all, that they were dooooomed! Rather, I pointed out that the issue was an embarrassment but not a sign of Armageddon.
Today’s edition of the Daily Record is a perfect example of how low the standards of journalism have fallen in this bigoted wee country. The Record’s article on “Rangers in crisis” is a shoddy piece indeed and is clearly both mischief-making and muck-raking designed to damage the reputation of Rangers Football Club.
The article refers to thoroughly discredited journalist Alex “Toxic” Thomson’s blog on which he writes about a “winding-up order” issued to Rangers from Orlit Enterprises, a Singapore-based firm contracted to find Far East investors for the club.
The Rangers-despising triumvirate of Toxic Thomson, Phil Multi Names and Random Ramblings Paul McConville all blogged on the matter in their usual hysterical way, all three desperately hoping this would be the killer blow to Charles Green’s regime. Clearly the Daily Record has picked up on this pants-wetting excitement.
Meanwhile, back in the real universe, the sad news for Rangers-haters is that the club are very relaxed about the bill, which they admit exists but is just part and parcel of routine business dealings at the club.
In fact, I am led to believe that the real bill is half of the amount cited.
That shouldn’t deter the haters from having their moment of glee reading the Record’s appalling attempt at smearing the good name of Rangers with their propaganda.
Never let the facts get in the way seems to be the journalistic philosophy of the Daily Record these days.
Now, maybe Mr McMurdo read a different edition of the Record from the one that I saw. Maybe he saw something in the Record piece to justify mentioning it as proof of this being a “bigoted wee country”. Maybe he read a different blog on my site from the pieces I wrote about the issue, because I did not see myself as being remotely “hysterical”.
Also today the Rangers Standard had a piece referring to Celtic’s “unofficial blogging network”. (Maybes there is one, but I am n ot party to it – my “secret source” is Mr Google!)
So what does all this tell us?
First of all, as is actually agreed in the blog posts today by Alex Thomson, Bill McMurdo and the Rangers Standard (TRS), this issue is a PR disaster/own goal/debacle/dog’s breakfast (choose whichever best describes the matter).
(I suspect that Mr McMurdo and TRS might not appreciate being told that they are in agreement with Mr Thomson!)
Secondly it emphasises that, to sections of the Rangers faithful, anyone, whether a national newspaper, award-winning journalist or long-winded blogger who writes anything about Rangers which is perceived as negative (even if it is not) is a “hater” and in the pockets of Celtic.
I suspect that that section of Rangers supporters will not pay heed to any suggestions I make, but this behaviour contributed, it seems, to the ruinous few years Rangers have had under Sir David Murray and Craig Whyte. People, supporters of Celtic and of other teams and of none, pointed out the problems inherent in the Murray years as the banks squeezed the fiancés to which he had been given access. It was pointed out that the economics of football in Scotland meant that Champions League income was essential to survival unless dramatic changes were made. These suggestions were ignored as being prompted by malice, jealousy or “hatred”.
When Craig Whyte appeared, whilst some Rangers supporters did question his credentials, most did not, and in fact seemed to take him to their bosom on account of the numerous times that writers, bloggers and commentators pointed out that things seemed not quite right on the night with Mr Whyte. The perception seemed to be that, if people were saying anything negative about anyone involved with Rangers, that must be ignored. And so the descent into administration and liquidation accelerated …
In the Orlit story, the Record’s front page made clear that there was “no threat” to Rangers – indeed this was an exact quote from its own release. The Record story could almost have been written by James Traynor in his new role as head of communications at Ibrox. Yet, the mere fact of reporting it proved enough for boycotts of the paper to be called for – for having the temerity to turn the Rangers press statement into an unquestioning front page piece!
And the Rangers statement too did not, on my reading, correct anything that Alex Thomson had written. In fact it is he who has sought to correct Rangers, on the basis that he is being told that, despite what Rangers say, there is no agreement yet!
I can well understand why some Rangers fans want to accept every word that emanates from the listed façade of Ibrox as Gospel truth. However, that unquestioning “obedience” and Pavlovian response cannot be to the club’s advantage, can it?
And finally (and I accept this is a mischievous suggestion) will Mr McMurdo and the writer of the piece in TRS be assailed with criticism for having pointed put exactly the same observation as Alex Thomson – namely that this is a PR disaster?
Posted by Paul McConville
Whilst Mr Leggat has not yet published comment on this issue, I await his pearls of wisdom with interest. He will, no doubt, have some wise words on the mess (although that reminds me about the comment on one unnamed author “his words are fine, but his sentences, paragraphs, pages and chapters are rubbish!”)
Only joking Mr L – pip pip!