Honestly, the sun always shines on the Glencoe Car Park Run.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Rangers: A Public Relations Disaster

‘O would some power the giftie gie us tae see oursels as others see us.’

I don’t claim any great allegiance to the work of Robert Burns, but there’s no denying some of his classic lines are as relevant now as they ever were, if not more.

Of course, self-understanding is one of the great mysteries of life, but many either fail to fully grasp it or reject the idea completely, basing the thoughts and opinions of others as weightless.

Yet without self-understanding, as seen through the eyes of others, we can float through life in a cloud of self-deception, fooling ourselves and frustrating others.

In recent months vociferous supporters of Rangers Football Club have continually refused to listen to the opinions of others, claiming everyone was against them and their collapse was part of some dastardly Timmy plot orchestrated by Celtic’s Peter Lawwell.

This kind of outlook smacks of the spoilt child syndrome where everyone is to blame but themselves.

Instead of opening up to outside opinions during their time of need they closed ranks, which history shows, has always been the Rangers way.

In the past all Rangers problems, if and when any occurred, were dealt with in-house, away from prying eyes. If the club made any statement it was always just to confirm the matter was being dealt with, and that was that.

There was a culture of not speaking about or criticizing the club in public.

The club was always right, no matter what.

Anyone who said anything against Rangers, no matter how true, was labeled as anti-Rangers.

That still is the Rangers way.

David Murray managed the Scottish Press with considerable skill during his tenure as Rangers supremo. Few, if any, doubted his spending policy over the years. That same spending policy was to play a significant part in the downfall of Rangers.

Graham Spiers says he was frozen out by Mr. Murray after questioning his financial management of Rangers. Others, like James Traynor, continued to play by Mr. Murray’s rules and were rewarded with countless exclusives over the years.

When BBC Scotland ran a documentary last year exposing the truth behind Rangers’ new owner Craig Whyte, the call to arms went out.

How dare anyone criticize the Rangers?

Fans of the club marched on the BBC Scotland studios claiming not only were they biased against Rangers, but also that they were pro-Celtic and Irish.

Unfortunately, for the at times blindly loyal fans, everything in Mark Daly’s BBC expose turned out to be true.

By the time the majority realised this it was too late. They became the biggest story in town for all the wrong reasons.

In truth, they were years too late. Most of the damage had been done in the preceding decade.

Doubly unfortunately for them was the lack of information management and realisation that the world had changed. New forms of media had replaced traditional sources and many millions could now see, through the investigative Rangers Tax Case blog among others, a different side to what had gone on at the club over many years, not just the Craig Whyte era.

Rangers were being attacked from every corner, apart from the many staunch allies the club still had in the mainstream press. The same staunch allies who, had they not been asleep at the wheel, just might have been able to save the club from further unnecessary troubles had they done, or as some have suggested, were allowed to do, their job right in the first place.

But no-one was speaking on behalf of Rangers. Their owner flew out the country saying it wasn’t his fault.

Any directors left ducked for cover.

In their hour of need Ally McCoist stepped up to the plate and became the voice of Rangers. He spoke in a language supporters could understand. He didn’t claim to be an expert in high finance or boardroom manoeuvres. To him, and to the army of supporters, it was what happened on the field of play that mattered most.

At first he spoke well, capturing both the hearts and minds of supporters, as well as gaining lots of sympathy from neutrals who remembered Ally as being the cheeky chappy from Question of Sport.

His ‘we don’t do walking away’ statement will go down in Rangers folklore, and his place among the Ibrox legends was further ensured.

For many, he was, and still is, Rangers Football Club.

But then, in the eyes of the rest of us, it all went awry.

Rangers were getting a hammering from many sides for the club deliberately avoiding paying tax over the previous year.

The club needed someone with excellent people and communication skills to help guide them through this minefield, but with no money the public relations was left to people like Ally McCoist and Sandy Jardine: two playing legends on the field and previously great ambassadors for the club in the wider world.

Unfortunately, in their haste to protect the club from what they perceived as external threats, they made matters worse.

Rather than build support outside the club, at a time when it became patently obvious the club was going to need allies along the way, they resorted to the Rangers tradition by closing ranks and then, astoundingly, tried to intimidate others.

McCoist’s outburst demanding, not asking politely like the true gent he is supposed to be, the naming of the three man panel who sat, in accordance with agreed SFA rules, anonymously, was one of the most shameful episodes in recent times, especially when it became apparent that Rangers officials already knew their identities.

Once the names were out in the public domain these panel members were subjected to a hate campaign.

McCoist, however, claimed ignorance and was adamant that he can’t be held responsible for the actions of the ‘lunatic fringe’.

This excuse, coming from a manager who’d been briefed by Strathclyde Police about making what could be regarded as inciting remarks on the run up to old firm games, was rather irresponsible and weak to say the least, and downright dangerous and spiteful at worst.

One of the supposedly anonymous panel members, Eric Drysdale, had TV cameras camping outside his home and received death threats from various factions connected to Rangers. These same fans also threatened to burn down Starks Park where his club Raith Rovers plays.

This, at any time, never mind the twenty first century, is not how you win friends and influence people in a positive way.

When the time came for Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs to vote on a proposal which would allow Rangers to parachute into the First Division, at the expense of other clubs sporting ambitions, Raith Rovers Director Turnbull Hutton said the SFL would be doing a deal with the devil if they voted yes.

He also reminded clubs that Sandy Jardine had publicly called for repercussions against those clubs that refused to support Rangers.

Mr. Jardine said, ‘Rangers should be treated differently because of the club’s stature and that the outcome had implications for other clubs, including direct action taken by Rangers supporters groups. Rangers are a special case mainly because of the size of the club within Scottish football and what it delivers. The size of our club and the size of our supporter base, it can be a powerful weapon.’

However, not even the threat of financial Armageddon could persuade Mr. Hutton to ditch his principles.

The positive response he received from supporters of every club apart from Rangers speaks volumes about the mood of fans throughout the country.

This, in effect, is how those outside of Ibrox saw those inside.

The more threats people connected to Rangers dished out the more resilient opposition towards them grew.

Those clubs who had initially expressed sympathy for Rangers changed their minds as each day, and each public relations disaster, passed.

More wood was thrown on the Rangers bonfire as old media stalwarts lined up to cry how the world would come to an end if Rangers weren’t returned to first the SPL and then SFL Division One.

Legend of the lamb James Traynor led the way both in his Daily Record column and on BBC Sportsound. The more hyperbolic his diatribe became the more readers and listeners seen through his thinly disguised agenda of saving Rangers at all costs.

Others, like Chick Young, who tried to make an analogy about Rod Stewart getting special treatment if he wanted a table at a restaurant, made a complete fool of themselves.

Gordon Smith ran from studio to studio and camera to camera looking like a man who had completely lost his way, reminding me of Andy Carroll’s substitute appearance for England against Italy in the recent Euro Championships.

These are but a few who put personal allegiance to Rangers before professional integrity.

They have shown themselves to be out of touch with their readers and listeners and, in the case of Gordon Smith, left most of us scratching our heads as to how this man ever landed the job of SFA Chief Executive.

Then we remember Stewart Regan is the current SFA Chief Executive and we reassure ourselves that being an imbecile isn’t necessarily a barrier when it comes to running our game.

Mr Regan tried everything but cast the votes to get SFL clubs to ‘do the right thing’ and vote Rangers into SFL Division One. When it became clear his strategy was one of creating fear any respect he had among fans or club chairmen withered overnight.

Even Rangers fans were, and still are, disgusted by this man’s efforts to bully the smaller clubs. After all, that appears to be their job.

All in all, the Rangers saga this summer has been an unmitigated public relations disaster, not just for the club and its fans, but also the game’s ruling bodies and those in the mainstream media.

Their propaganda and bullying might have worked in a previous age but, in this age of 24 hour social media where some terrific bloggers and activists produce factual accounts that dispel many of the media-spun myths, their time is up, as falling sales continue to show.

So what have we learned from this?

Most of us have learned how the problems at Rangers ran much deeper than one dodgy owner, no matter what Mr. Jardine may claim.

We have also learned that Mr. McCoist isn’t the cuddly buffoon loved by many a bored housewife who wish he was their Mr Gray.

Rangers learned that when they needed others to help them escape prolonged hardship, those others turned their backs on Rangers.

This is why they feel the burning desire to punish everyone and anyone who didn’t support Rangers at this time.

But what they haven’t asked themselves is why.

Why did everyone turn their backs on their mighty Rangers?

Perhaps, by going back to the words of Burns, they might begin to understand the answers.

‘O would some power the giftie gie us tae see oursels as others see us.’


  1. what a load of garbage. Reverse paranoia! Drivelous and full of juvenile generalities.

    1. What's the reverse of Paranoia? - clear-sightedness, objectivity?

      Come on! Give us the mature, considered rebuttal. Show the errors and misconceptions in what he writes. I am happy to learn.

    2. We are the Rangers!
      The Super Rangers!
      No one likes us but!!
      ....we seem to have misjudged some of the
      long term ramifications of this.......

  2. Never a true word said - old guard - no one likes u's we can do as we want

  3. Alan are you a rangers supporter. maybe not the best written discription of whats going on , but as close as you will get it. Rangers football club brought all this on themselves, it wasnt celtic or anyother club, the moment they realise this then things may start to move forward, untill then the club and its supporters are stuck in the dark ages.

  4. If you are afraid of what you think self awareness will reveal about yourself then you are not going to want to look inside.

  5. For years they were told "You are the people" The problem? They believe it.

  6. Excellent journalism here. You have stated the facts clearly and thoughtfully. No-one with an understanding of the game could disagree - but Rangers fans will close their eyes and yell abuse. This could all have been avoided if truth had been the driving principle and not selfishness. But selfishness has always been the Rangers way.
    Excellent article.

  7. Thanks for the enjoyable read.

    Hits on one of the main points that has largely been ignored. The first step in rehabilitation is acceptance of of responsibility. There has been little acceptance from the Rangers fans that their club has caused this situation. And who can blame them with the misinformation from the media for the past year - who have been proved wrong over and over again.

    Until we have responsibility for their actions and a change in attitude, how can we have confidence that similar misdemeanours will not happen in the future?

  8. I've seen a few refreshing comments from some Rangers fans that admit to being embarrassed by what has gone on at their club. They have stated that justice would be done by being put in the 3rd division and starting over.
    Unfortunately, that has been the minority view (and not in the sense of 'only a minority sing sectarian songs', e.g. 49%). Many have blamed anyone but the Rangers heirarchy for their ills and others have wanted to be put in the 3rd division purely so they can have the satisfaction of watching other clubs suffer financially.
    I fully expect to be regarded as a 'Timothy' ot bitter fenian, or whatever other insult they can come up with, just because I'm not on their side. This despite the fact that I am neither of RC faith or a Celtic supporter

    1. Obviously your 49% is based on some mathematical or scientific calculation and not just plucked from thin air

    2. Fact, debt peaked at £82 million, went down to £32 million when £50 million was effectively transferred to Murray group. This was further reduced to £18 million when chancer whyte took over, this would suggest pennies were getting watched at rangers.
      Reagan promised a more open and transparent sfa so how can you have secret tribunals, ally may halve known there names but it was upto sfa to release them so fans would know who these people.
      Rangers fans are not only fans who threaten and harass officials.
      Also we are not only ones who through our weight about, Celtic fans threatened to boycott other club a if they used rangers ejection from spl to change distribution of money etc.
      The indignation on tax rangers didn't pay, ebt still to be proved to be tax avoidance whilst othertaxwasdue to whyte as in all previous years we paid beggars belief, Scotland has a huge informal economy which doesn't pay tax, this can only exist ordinary joe bloggs like us buying and selling through this informal economy, example trades person doing homers, the tax lost through this dwarves the tax not paid by rangers.i
      If you think other teams have followed the rules of spl and sfa exactly then you are naive. Remember bets were declared in their annual accounts, a public document which was sent to spl and sfa every year, the only other club that used an ebt kept it secret and I am sure should have declared it in their accounts as part pf stock market and accounting regulations.
      If rangers wanted to cheat why did they not keep this information secret, when spl and sfa received accounts did they even look at them.
      A bit of a rant bug as they say 2 sides to every story and people in glass houses etc.

    3. The tax avoidance affair is between rangers and HMRC. The problem is that their was a two-contract system in place, one open, the other concealed. This is contrary to SFA and UEFA regulations.

      A defence that everyone is 'at it' and you just happened to get caught is not really a very strong one.

      I agree very much with your initial point, that the financial situation seemed to be difficult but under control. Had Murray been open I'm sure he could have worked something out over an extended period with HMRC. However, he didn't. He wanted to leave as the hero with his reputation intact. Isn't life full of little ironies?

    4. Keith McNeill, clearly your 49% count is just plucked out of the air. My personal experience of the Ibrox hordes makes that number around 85%, but the ground was not full that day. I note their sister club at Parkhead surprisingly contain a similar percentage of sectarian minority.

  9. Feigned Financial concern. This summed up the Policy across the ex-rfc fan / media base. Ask yourself this , in 120 yrs, or more pointedly during the last 20 years, WHEN DID ANY RFC FAN / MEDIA MOGUL GIVE A FLYING FUDGE ABOUT STRANRAERS, ALBION ROVERS etc EARNINGS. >>>> SELF INTEREST AT THE SAKE OF ALL OTHERS, just like the bigotted anti catholic policy. I hope it hurts like hell, and then I hope you go bust and disappear from the SPORT forever. Ps, you're nearly there ;-)

    1. Here here!!
      "We are the People", yeah right -neurotic, bigoted, sectarian, blameless and of course persecuted. What a bunch! You just couldn’t make this up.
      Hopefully the day this pathetic club finally disappears for good will be the day the majority of Scots can at last say “Scotland’s Shame is no more”!

    2. Why do you hate the Christians so much ?.

  10. When does any other supporter of any team really care about any team but their own.

  11. Keith, agreed, we don't, you can't kid a kidder.

  12. A brilliant piece. Congrats.

  13. Keith, that £50m transferred to MIH, was never repaid. That debt has since been written off by the bank when it took over the running of MIH a couple of years ago. Sadly that bank was HBOS which the tax payer bailed out and will never see again.
    EBTs are indeed legal, but not in the way that oldco rangers used them. This is the defining factor. I should also point out that they HAVE been found guilty and that we are waiting to hear on oldco's appeal, not the initial investigation.
    The other one you cryptically refer to, was a legal one that all tax was paid on and had been carried over from the players previous contract at another club. Entirely different.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Crap - there's nothing new here and how would an ordinary fan be privy to, or have an opinion on, closed door boardroom deals? The author seems to think that Rangers fans were fully briefed on the ongoings at the club in the past 15 years. And he chooses to lambaste them for this. Patent nonsense.

    All I read in this piece is crap regurgitated from tartan army message boards to stick the boot into Rangers. The cock ups of the SPL and SFA are now being pinned to Rangers? Excuse me, but a hastily convened, anonymous judicial panel passing illegal sanctions against an undefended defendant isn't justice in any walk of life.

    A cheap piece of writing bringing nothing new to the table. That's how this other sees your writing.

  16. Keith Gemmell says:

    "Remember bets were declared in their annual accounts, a public document which was sent to spl and sfa every year, the only other club that used an ebt kept it secret and I am sure should have declared it in their accounts as part pf stock market and accounting regulations"

    And I respond:

    Celtic declared their use of an EBT in their annual report for 2004-2005.

    Also, it doesn't matter whether a club declared using EBT's in their annual accounts, the SPL investigation centres around whether the club declared any payments made to individual players which were for footballing activities. This means a lump sum declaration in the annual accounts is meaningless because it doesn't say WHO got the breakdown of that money. Players have extra rules to follow, these rules (the SPL and SFA rules) say the players registration is only valid when accompanied by the players contract and any documentation relating to payments made to the player for playing football.

    The "we declared the EBT's in the accounts" line has been spun by David Murray many a time, it is absolutely meaningless because it doesn't give the necessary details for PLAYERS (remember EBT's were given to other staff as well). PLAYERS are subject to more stringent reporting criteria as a condition of valid registration.

    If a player was receiving sums of money from a club which were for playing football (i.e. not expenses) then those payments had to be declared - for each player individually - alongside (or as a part of) their playing contract otherwise the players registration is not valid. That's the rules as per the SFA and SPL and it's breaking those rules which is going to see Rangers heavily punished. And rightly so.

    The legality of the tax part is separate from that, and is being dealt with by the FTT.

    They played players who should not have been on the pitch because their registrations were not valid because they were in receipt of payments for playing football which had not been declared for each player in turn alongside their contracts when submitting those contracts beside applications for registration certificates to play football.

    (For what it's worth, Celtic may also be in line for punishment for the EBT use during the Juninho season. That is fair. The time period from the first received payment to the last should be the period the player was improperly registered for, and all matches during that period in which an offending player took part should be voided with a 3-0 loss)

  17. Unknown19 July 2012 08:29

    Are you forgetting that every single club in Scotland, all 42 of them, approved the creation and use of the disciplinary tribunal process, including the fact its members were to remain anonymous in particular?

    The entire list of available panel members was of course public, just not which members happened to be sitting at a given time.

    This of course ignores the fact McCoist knew the identities of the members, and has admitted this, but maintains that the Rangers fans should have known, in contravention of the policy Rangers had already agreed to with every other club in Scotland.

    1. Bobo Balti - HBOS wrote of debt in exchange for shares

      Archaic one - my point is in my opinion bonuses were paid to players that were not included in contracts, were the SFA notified. For instance I remember Richard Gough saying that at the start of every season he agreed bonuses with David Murray for getting to cup finals, progress in Europe etc, were these notified to SFA, this kind of agreement seemed to be standard practice for clubs. My other point on EBT is that they have been in public domain for years, the tax case has been ongoing for 2+ years, why now. Do the SFA just receive the accounts and dump them in a drawer without looking through them and asking questions.

      Pedant - I watched the Mark Daly documentary when it brought up the EBT that Celtic used for Juninho, I am sure it did not mention it was in Celtic's accounts, a serious oversight as it gave impression that it was concealed, can't trust anything these programmes tell you.
      Bobo - alos the programme indicated that Celtic paid tax after they were contacted by HMRC.

  18. Thank you everyone for reading and taking the time to leave a comment whether positive or negative. Hearing different points of view and taking them on board is the best way to make more informed decisions about anything. Plus, where would the fun be if we agreed on everything?

    Hope you all have a good day today. Cheers.

  19. We are Rangers lets not forget this is the same ilk of people that brought the Nazis to their knees when in 1940 the Vatican the Irish republic and an assortmet of other to bit punters signed an agreement with Adolph Hitler ie Argentina another blind follower of Rome we led and saved you so many times please shut up and give us peace there is none so blind as those who will not see.

  20. On the social or working for the social say no more .We have an anchor that's strong and Fast.think on lad.