Back in August I wrote a blog post which referred to a statement from the official Rangers website. You can read my full post here.
It covered the attempt by Rangers to deal with “inaccurate stories” and also referred to Jack Irvine, PR and crisis management guru extraordinaire.
I wrote the following:-
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 …
Will the dropping of Mr Irvine in such a blunt way rebound on Rangers?”
It is not surprising that a man whose business is in communication then read a piece which referred to him. And then came the fateful “mistake” which has been used to denigrate Mr Irvine by those who do not like the people he represents, or is assumed to represent.
On 18th August Mr Irvine tweeted a link to my piece above and added:-
Well worth a read. Very perceptive.
This provoked an immediate reaction from a few folk who wondered how Mr Irvine could possibly refer in positive terms to something written by a “Rangers hater”.
(Now, a quick quiz question – what do the three people in the following pictures have in common?)
Mr Irvine was quick to position himself as someone who was not necessarily a fan of mine with his follow-up tweet.
I read Mein Kampf and Das Kapital. That doesn’t mean I like Hitler or Marx.
Now, if I was an unduly sensitive or even litigious soul, I might have demanded an apology for being compared to Adolf or Karl. How dare Mr Irvine accuse me of being a Nazi or a Communist!
But actually that was not what he was saying (If Mr Irvine does actually place me alongside them then I would be grateful if he could tell me).
What he was saying, in the limited space allowed by Twitter, was that referring to one post as being “well worth a read” and “very perceptive” was a long way from becoming the founder member of the Paul McConville Fan Club, nor had he been engaged by me to provide his excellent PR services.
Rather he had read a piece which he found interesting – that was it.
And there the matter might have rested.
However since August the myth has grown that in some way Mr Irvine is actually a member of the “Rangers-hating” cabal and the evidence for this is (a) his initial tweet – all six words of it and (b) his giving an interview to Andy Muirhead of Scotzine.
“What we won’t be is knocked around by kneejerk politicians and by others across the city. We’re drawing a line in the sand. Sectarianism is a problem but it is not the sole problem of Rangers.”
No one was calling him “Toxic Jack” then and indeed he and Craig Whyte were being praised for speaking out and defending the mighty Rangers.
Two years later things were different.
John DC Gow, blogger and co-founder of the “Rangers Standard” tweeted the following later in August:-
Jack Irvine, who supports some of the views of Paul McConville, now speaks for Craig Mather and the Rangers Board.
On a strict view one could say that suggesting that one post was perceptive and worth a read = supporting some of my views. But in the real world that is clearly not the case. Maybe Mr Gow has been privy to conversations where Mr Irvine has been vocal in praise of me but I don’t think so.
It suited Mr Gow to use the guilt by association approach. If Mr Irvine supports some of my views then manifestly how can it be right that he “speaks for Craig Mather and the Rangers Board”?
It might seem bizarre that, even if that was Mr Irvine’s position, it would not prevent him doing an excellent job for his clients. Some people seem a bit confused about what PR people do!
This was followed by Chris Graham who, in a piece on the Rangers Standard website in August, said the following:-
Irvine, it appears, will do literally anything to spread his message. That extends to the promotion of the work of Paul McConville. McConville is a Celtic blogger (and discredited lawyer) who has spent the last two years attacking the club at every opportunity, but Irvine was happy to promote a recent article of his on Twitter because it suited his own agenda. Principle is left at the door.
Maybe Mr Graham is prevented by his appearances on TV and radio from doing his research. In any event he manages to get wrong my blogging identity – I am not a Celtic blogger. Indeed the assumption is made very clear here that anyone who writes negatively (as they perceive it) about Rangers is by definition a Celtic blogger. People of a Rangers-supporting bent sometimes criticise me for not paying attention to my own team and only writing about Rangers.
He also suggests that I have spent two years “attacking” Rangers. If pointing out, along with others, the modus operandi of Craig Whyte, the bizarre antics of Duff and Phelps and the history of Charles Green and share flotations is “attacking” Rangers then perhaps Mr Graham and his pals might have paid some more attention to what was being said!
And as for “promotion” – one tweet. Just one tweet. Quite how Mr Irvine’s tweet was him leaving his principles at the door, I simply do not understand.
We move on to another example.
The Copland Road Organisation is another “Rangers blog”. Andy McGowan, one of the contributors, had this to say in a post on 3rd September 2013:-
Jack wasted no time in telling us he’s here to represent Rangers and not the board. He certainly has a funny way of defending the club. His cosy relationship with Paul McConville and Scotzine’s Andy Muirhead—two men who have been slandering the club with half-truths and full lies for years now—should set alarm bells ringing for anyone unconvinced about this man’s intentions. There is something very strange about the relationship between these two Rangers haters, Irvine and his PR pawn Bill McMurdo.
Now Mr Irvine’s tweet has turned into a “cosy relationship”!
And apart from Mr McGowan’s defamatory suggestion that I have been slandering Rangers which I am happy to ignore, the only thing that is strange about the “relationship” between me, Andy Muirhead, Jack Irvine and Bill McMurdo is that it does not exist!
Moving to 13th September 2013, we then have William Poole, another Rangers blogger:-
For his part Irvine, who has spent many years allegedly acting for Rangers, but actually working for prospective owners, promoted a blog by arch Rangers hater Paul McConville, then added insult to injury by allowing himself to be interviewed by another Rangers hating Celtic supporter Andy Muirhead for Scotzine.
Remember, it was just one tweet by Mr Irvine that set all of this off.
And finally no campaign of denigration would be complete without the intervention of the master of the inky trades David Leggat. He has been writing in ever more insulting terms about Mr Irvine for some time now and last week reached the stage of indicting him with the charge of being linked with me.
And what do we know of Jack Irvine’s links with McConville and Muirhead? Of McConville, nothing except Irvine’s endorsement on Twitter of one of McConville’s barmy blogs.
Maybe Mr Leggat all you know about the links between me and Mr Irvine – one tweet – is actually all there is!
And even today Mr Leggat continues on his merry way, referring to Mr Irvine:-
Indeed, we may even see him being forced to resort to such Rangers hating on-line outlets as Andy Muirhead’s Scotzine site, where he has already been interviewed and shamed lawyer Paul McConville’s ramblings, already praised by Irvine.
Just as it will be interesting to see how Jack Irvine attempts to earn his solid gold corn – and bonus? – by spinning that. Keep your eye on Merlin. And Paul McConville. And Andy Muirhead. And Philmacgloillabhain (sic). And that renegade bunch.
And all of this dates back to one tweet.
Now, I do not mean to insult Mr Irvine by coming to his defence. He does not need me to do so, being more than capable of looking after himself.
But it is ironic that all of the different people mentioned above have commented on my own inaccuracies (though they generally call them lies) and yet here are peddling a line which has no grounding at all in fact.
From reading Alistair Campbell’s diaries of his time working with Tony Blair, it is very clear that when the spokesman or spin doctor becomes centre stage then their effectiveness is diminished.
What unites Messrs Graham, Gow, McGowan, Poole and Leggat? They are vigorously opposed to the present Board at Ibrox. Mr Irvine’s company works for Rangers. But to the critics he is not working for “Rangers” but for the Board – and those two concepts can be distinguished.
So, all on the basis of one tweet, Mr Irvine is tarred with the brush of being in a “cosy relationship” with an “arch Rangers hater”.
And as is ever clearer every day, especially online, why let the truth get in the way of something said on the internet?
After all, wasn’t it Winston Churchill who said:-
“Ninety five percent of what you read on the World Wide Web is rubbish (except of course for Paul McConville’s excellent blog).”
Posted by Jack Irvine’s close friend, Paul McConville