The internet columns written by that former practitioner of the “inky trades”, Mr David Leggat, have many uses.
Amongst those uses, a most valuable one is helping those outside the inner circle to gauge the Ibrox “temperature”.
From his many years in the press, he has clearly forged strong links with many powerful “Rangers Men” and often, though not always, his thoughts give an inkling into the mood in the higher echelons of Ibrox.
For example, he was very sceptical about Mr Green upon his arrival, calling him, with monotonous regularity, a “snake oil salesman”.
However, as he, and presumably the “Rangers Men” with whom he is in touch, became convinced of the good faith and sound judgement of Mr Green, he shifted his view – becoming a staunch and loyal supporter of the outspoken Yorkshireman. Mr Green clearly had “the right stuff”.
Now Mr Leggat has seen the light regarding Mr Green (as he sees it) and he is already being consigned to the bin, or the history books.
Mr Leggat refers to him today dismissively as follows, in discussing the “off field turmoil” at Ibrox this season:-
But the worst of that if (sic) over with Charles Green and Imran Ahmad no longer inside Ibrox.
Goodbye Charlie – we barely knew thee!
Why this rambling about Mr Leggat?
The thrust of his piece today, knowing, as we do, of his close contacts in the “Blue Room” is interesting.
He suggests that, as a reward to the loyal fans, and as part of an “early summer sales drive” the season ticket price will be frozen for next season. Thus, according to Mr Leggat, the fans will be enticed to buying up thousands of season tickets to give Rangers a boost for next season.
What is interesting are the reasons given by him for this. I have made some comments in bold interspersed into the piece, and come back more fully at the end.
Rangers hope it will also be good news for manager Alastair McCoist too as he needs cash to attract new players to Ibrox in order to try and provide better football.
True. It takes cash to buy players. But wasn’t the share floatation intended to fund this? Were we not told that Mr McCoist had a £10 million warchest available to him? If, as we are told and therefore we should have no doubts, Rangers still have double figures of millions in the bank, then surely the money is already there for these new players Mr McCoist needs to attract?
… McCoist has been operating under a number of severe restraints throughout the campaign. Chief among them was that he had no more than half a dozen or so signed players just days before the season kicked off, a handicap which led to rushed signings.
Rangers had a lot more than six signed players at the start of the season. They had more signed players than any team with whom they have been competing in SFL3. And at least they were able to sign players. After all, how many other SFL3 managers were able to go on signing sprees, acquiring SPL players just as the season started? The answer is zero.
And then there was the Scottish Football Association’s vindictive and unlawful transfer ban, which Rangers were blackmailed into accepting, despite that Court of Session ruling, in order to get their licence to play from Stewart Regan and Peter Lawwell’s SFA. McCoist is still stuck with that unlawful ban, which means he will only be able to sign Bosmans this summer and they will not be able to play until after the SFA allow them to be registered on September 1st, almost six weeks into the new season.
Rangers agreed to the registration embargo. If they were “blackmailed” and had no choice but to accept the conditions the authorities wanted to impose, then they would have been forced to concede titles. But Mr Green refused and, after tortuous negotiations, agreement was reached. As I have said repeatedly, the Court of Session ruled that, in terms of the case brought against Rangers, it was not within the power of the disciplinary panel to impose a registration embargo. However, on gaining admission to the SFA, the SFA was entitled to impose any conditions it thought fit.
So the “ban” is not “unlawful”. Nor does it preclude signing under 21 players. Nor indeed does it prevent Rangers buying players. If the cash was there, they could buy Lionel Messi from Barcelona. The only restriction is that, as Mr Leggat notes, he could not play for them till September 1st.
If the suggestion is that, in some way, Mr McCoist will be unfairly restricted, as every other SFL2 team will be signing SPL players and established internationalists, when Rangers will not, then that, frankly, is deluded.
Add to all of that the fact that fans delayed buying season tickets last summer right up until the last minute as uncertainty and doubt still hung over Ibrox.
How does that affect this season? After all, is this not the most financially stable football club in the UK?
However, there is no need for a repeat of that problem, for surely this summer Rangers fans will flock to the colours in even greater numbers than the amazing 38,000 loyalists who coughed up for season tickets last year.
“Loyalists”? Hmmm … A Freudian slip?
Rangers will be in the Second Division next time out and going for another championship, hopefully with more panache than this time. That, though, can only be achieved if manager Alastair McCoist is given the resources he needs and the only people who can give him those resources are The People.
But how is it that Mr McCoist’s signing plans depend on season ticket sales? Surely the “warchest” is still there, lying almost untouched? What about the money to be invested in the various ground improvements – the railway station – the new licensed premises?
Mr Leggat may very well be talking nonsense. It is a peril of internet writing and even the best will fall into that trap from time to time.
But unless we assume that Mr Leggat has invented the entire scenario, we have to believe that the freezing of season ticket prices as part of an early summer season ticket sales drive is essential to funding Rangers plans for the summer.
In that case maybe they do intend to sign Messi!
The proceeds of the share issue, earmarked for players, have clearly not yet been spent.
If however the plan is to drive sales based on this being needed to fund new players (which has often been a good strategy at many clubs) some fans might ask what is being done with the share issue cash? If the plan of the Board is not to use that as Mr McCoist’s warchest, then surely they should explain to the fans (let’s ignore shareholders and investors for now) what it will actually be spent on.
The secondary issue from Mr Leggat’s piece is the narrative which now exists and which suggests that poor Rangers have been entirely innocent victims of “blackmail” “illegal bans” and prejudice. Rangers fans might care to mount an argument that the owners of Rangers are not Rangers (although that has been rejected previously by the SFA independent Judicial Panel and in legal terms makes no sense) but, at the end of the day, the demise, even if temporary, of Rangers came about as a consequence of the actions and then latterly the inactions of the good “Rangers Men” with whom Mr Leggat is in close contact. If they do not believe that, and instead are of the view detailed by Mr Leggat, then frankly one can see history repeating itself. Déjà vu – all over again!
Posted by Paul McConville