Saturday evening seems to be a time for interesting news on the official Rangers website.
A couple of weeks ago we had the incredible disappearing post on the Rangers website – after Ally McCoist blamed Charles Green and his “contempt” for the defeat to Forfar, and the prompt removal of all reference to Mr Green shortly afterwards.
Tonight sees an unusual piece appearing (at least for now) and I have some comments on it below. However, you will see that I have summarised and paraphrased the piece, the original of which can be read here, as a result of the appearance of a copyright message on the website. I did not notice one until today – perhaps Rangers have realised the value of its intellectual property?
The copyright clause reads:-
Copyright 2013 Rangers Football Club. Permission to use quotations from this article is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and hyperlink to www.rangers.co.uk
First of all, I do not think that it is a breach of copyright to repeat the terms of a copyright clause! If it is, I will apologise and remove it.
Secondly, what is this “Rangers Football Club” which claims the copyright? As we know “Rangers Football Club” is not a legal entity, being something nebulous made up of assets and business sold by the administrators of Rangers Football Club PLC to Sevco Scotland Ltd, which changed its name, as we will be aware, to The Rangers Football Club Ltd and which is 100% owned by the shareholders of Rangers International Football Club PLC.
So, if someone does breach the copyright, then who enforces it? Is it “Rangers Football Club” which is not a legal entity? Is it The Rangers Football Club Ltd? Is it RIFC PLC?
The small print at the foot of the page provides an answer of sorts. It has a copyright statement in the name of Rangers Football Club and above it there are the words “The Rangers Football Club (SC425159)”. Of course it is incorrect to use that company name with that company number – to do so correctly would require the use of the suffix “Limited”.
We then turn to the message which goes out under the heading “For the Avoidance of Doubt”.
Now, as you will see, I suspect that whoever within the Rangers media outfit who authorised the piece might regret it. Why? Because stamping on untrue or incorrect stories is likely to be a full-time job, and if Rangers start doing so about some, then the failure to deny other suggestions will be taken by some as giving them the ring of authenticity!
The post refers to the football club having awareness of “wildly inaccurate” rumours on the internet. The club tells its supporters that these “flights of fantasy” are being “monitored” by the solicitors for the organisation.
If it remains Biggart Baillie who act for the various Rangers entities, then I am sure that some junior assistant or young associate there is delighted to have the job of reviewing websites for incorrect stories about Rangers! I suspect that could be a full-time job, and by that I mean 24 hours per day, not just 9 to 5! I imagine that the partners of BB will be delighted to watch the meter running on this activity, which will not prove cheap!
I suspect that Rangers would be able to ask its computer-literate fans to keep an eye on stories about the Ibrox outfit and to pass them on to the relevant people for free! That might reduce the legal bill quite considerably!
The post then focuses on what is stated to be a “malicious” article regarding the old chestnut, as memorably summarised by John “Bomber” Brown: – “Show us the deeds!”
The post does not mention where this “malicious” piece is published.
Frankly the issue of “the deeds” has been a red herring from the point it was raised. Why?
Because the Scottish system of Land Registration is a public one and anyone can request a copy of the relevant Land Certificate (for a fee) or can go to Edinburgh to inspect the Land Register. If someone owned Ibrox and Murray Park, and this was not a body connected to Rangers, then that would be very clear, and indeed would be there in black and white.
Now people have speculated, and will continue to do so, about ways in which the land could be used, if needed, to raise funds for the company – that is a long way from saying that someone else already owns the properties!
The piece on the Rangers website then suggests that the fans should treat what it calls “these idiotic and lumbering articles with the contempt they deserve”. In fact, it goes on to suggest that the better course is simply to pay no attention to them at all.
The post then deals with the point I mentioned above, indicating that it is impossible to devote the time to publicly denying every “ridiculous” rumour.
It then goes on to comment on the “dangerous proliferation of anonymous obsessives” to whom Rangers do not want to give any credence. Thankfully they are not referring to me – as I am not anonymous! 🙂
They then have a pop at the Daily Record for an inaccurate headline which, they say, misrepresents what Mr McCoist said at a press conference. That is one of the issues of course of headlines – they are usually not written by the journalist and ever more frequently it seems bear little or no relation to the story under it!
It might be seen as noteworthy that, whilst the post by Rangers complains about the headline, it does NOT complain about the article itself.
And then, in its penultimate paragraph, the fans are advised that only by reading Pravda the official website will they know the truth – thus implying that every media organisation and newspaper is “anti-Rangers”.
And then, in twelve words which I will quote as the message it sends would be diluted by using my own words, the end of a long and mutually fruitful marriage is signalled:-
“Finally, Jack Irvine of Media House does not speak for this Club.”
Jack Irvine and Media House have been “hand in glove” with Rangers over many years – they were closely connected to Sir David Murray in his time as owner (and with his companies outside football). They worked for Craig Whyte and also continued to serve Rangers loyally during the Duff and Phelps reign. Between February and June 2012 Media House did £124,000 of work for Rangers which, by that stage, was being run by administrators. (In addition Rangers (in administration) paid almost £30,000 to Spreckleys for “media consultancy in connection with the administration” – as I commented at the time, the administrators needed PR people separate from those of the football club, but still charged the company in administration for that!)
Media House continued to work for Rangers until only a few days ago. And now that has come to an end.
Knowing Mr Irvine’s extraordinarily successful track record in PR, crisis management and the rest, and on the basis that he is now, apparently, advising the Easdale brothers, one suspects that placing Rangers on the opposite side from Mr Irvine might not be the wisest move they have ever made.
It will be interesting to see how media coverage of Rangers changes, if at all, over the next few weeks – how prominent will the Easdales become? How likely is it that they will seek to speak directly to the fans via the media because, after all, if they are in the Green camp, they will not have use of the official Rangers sources to do so?
So, to conclude, as I am going to have my dinner, exactly who has the copyright on the Rangers site?
How much money will be spent in having the lawyers monitor the internet?
Will the dropping of Mr Irvine in such a blunt way rebound on Rangers?
How soon will a story be given credence simply because Rangers do not deny it promptly?
And, finally, how much will the loyal Rangers fans rally round the flag on the basis that their team is “taking on” the media and the internet?
“No one likes us – we don’t care” has been an unofficial motto of many football teams over the years, and it rarely fails to unite the fans – I suspect that most supporters (or at least those vocal on the internet) will praise this as the club “speaking out”.
Good night all!
Posted by Paul McConville