PART 1 – How old media killed Rangers FC
by Mr Custard – a Hitthebyline contributor
A grand title with lofty claims. How can this debutant guest writer live up to such outlandish claims and roll with it? No bother at all. The truth is out there. The internet bampots have had their whiff of power and they like it. The new media do it for the love, do it because it feels right, do it for the banter and incessantly because they want to. The old, tired media have been caught with their pants down. They have had their day in the sun. Technology has caught up. Move over Grandaddy. The people are the new media; more power to them.
David Murray in his pomp had the Scottish media in his back pocket, and in many respects this was to be expected. A brief rattle through the history of time here:
The Murray/Souness era began in 1986, and after 9 barren years, they won the Scottish title at first ask. This was helped in no small part to the free spending of Murray, backed by the riches of his then thriving steel empire and the accidental advantage of being able to offer top English internationalists European football during the post Heysel English ban. It was a mighty roll call and it brought in the honours and fans, leaving in the dust the like of Celtic, Aberdeen and Dundee united who had dominated the last decade of the Scottish game with the latter two successful in Europe also: Butcher, Woods, Steven, Stevens, Francis, Wilkins, Roberts……they crushed everything before them. All bow to David Murray, the chequebook ruled supreme, he had invigorated the Scottish game? Hail to him! Without going over old ground, we have heard all the quotes ad nauseam lately… “deep pockets”, “succulent lamb”, “for every fiver…..”, “there is a massive moonbeam of success waiting for us” etc etc. Rangers and Murray could do no wrong as a sycophantic and compliant media knelt on their very knees to grace the new messiah.
On the other side of the city an old, tired, going nowhere family dynasty was being ousted by fan power, who were sick of being second best to their loud next door neighbours and demanded change. Rallies and organised boycotts appeared within a siege mentality to counter the newspapers who week after week, season after season, put the boot in, mocking the hoops, their biscuit tin mentality, “celts in crisis” endlessly bannering each sports page, staging a hearse photoshoot outside Celtic Park. There was an uprising, people putting their money where their mouths were to force change. With the club finally on the up, Wim Jansen’s Celtic stopped 10 in a row. A sleeping giant had finally woken up, and now had a shiny new stadium boasting the highest capacity football ground in the land.
The height of Rangers big spending was during the Dick Advocaat ‘Oranje boom’. With a bruised ego due to failure to reach ten in a row Murray dealt with the defeat in the only way he knew – by spend, spend, spending. Circa £60m in funding obtained from ENIC and Joe Lewis helped this. 5 out of 6 domestic trophies were won in Dick’s first two seasons and still the big signings kept coming. Nothing could go wrong, or could it?
Indeed, what could go wrong? Just sit back and watch the carnage unfold. After the hit and miss of Jo Venglos’s tenure and the flop of the Dalglish/Barnes partnership Celtic finally struck gold with Martin O’Neill winning the treble in his first season and overturning the points deficit in his first season by 35 points. O’Neill’s first signing was Chris Sutton, a snip at £6m from Chelsea. The team was further galvanised by the signings of Valgaeren, Thompson, Agathe, Douglas and teacher’s pet, Lennon, who joined the existing players of calibre of Lambert, Boyd, Petta, Moravcik, Petrov and Larrson. The first derby meet in August ended 6-2 to the new pretenders with Chris Sutton scoring in almost the first minute. So how did David Murray react to this? True to his word he literally spent a tenner for Celtic’s fiver. He outdid Celtic doubly by paying Chelsea £12m for Tore Andre Flo. A symbol of a last throw of the dice gamble to try and stop the switch of power across the city. An epic fail. In total Advocaat spent over £80m on transfers, meaning an unsustainable £50m net spend. Ouch. And also a debt of £50m too.
So what happened next? With Celtic in rude health and able to meet and exceed Rangers spending power something had to be done. Over the next few seasons Rangers began to try and gain back their spending advantage by playing fast and loose with an EBT scheme, the brainchild of flamboyant pornographer Paul Baxendale-Walker to bypass the traditional PAYE and NI route that football clubs traditionally took, necessitating the use of dual contracts that weren’t lodged with the SFA. So that was a saving made. What about a share issue? Well that didn’t work. How about selling the jerseys and closing the Rangers shops and doing a deal with JJB to gain £18m short term? Who cares about the long term? Murray being such a good salesman would have offloaded the club by then wouldn’t have he? How about selling Barry Ferguson and Jean Alain Boumsong for a tidy total of £15.5m to Blackburn and Newcastle United? Who just happened to be managed by Graeme Souness who for some reason was himself a beneficiary of the EBT scheme a decade after he left the club. Things that make you go hmmm indeed!
And so it carried on, still no alarm bells ringing anywhere. No press questions, even in 2007 when there were simultaneous City of London police dawn raids at Portsmouth, Newcastle United and Rangers FC no press questions were asked. It seems the Boumsong transfer the catalyst for the HMRC investigations. The normal check and tests were not conducted. The media stood idly by. No wait, they did more than that. The media were rampant cheerleaders. Year after year after year of published yearly losses did not result in any probing questions. Hugh Adam’s prophetic words were put down to being the mad ramblings of a disgruntled ex-employee. David Murray had the cheers ringing in his ears and in this vacuum, with no-one there to reign in these stupendous shows of grandeur more liberties were taken and like the boozed up betting addict in the bookies chasing his Friday pay poke doon the swannee the further into trouble he fell, the more dangerous and desperate he got. Criminal are we about to find out?
In 2008 amidst all this debt the redtops circulated stories of £700m super stadiums with floating pitches and Chelsea like villages and super-casinos. Sheer unadulterated propaganda. Anyone with common sense knew this to be a nonsense. People were now awakening to the internet and were reading the source stories on Newsnow and fans forums a full day before the mainstream media put their spin on it. People were now making their own mind up.
So there we are, the “for sale” sign outside Ibrox for year follow year. When the “big tax case” story broke in 2010 we were told there was nothing to worry about. It was being appealed so wasn’t a real bill, and anyway even if it was a bill it would be picked up by MIH. Simples! Murray insisted he would only sell to those who would have the money to progress Rangers forward and along comes Craigy Boy Whyte. The press told us he was a success story, a” billionaire” no less…no scrap that…”off the radar wealth”. So Rangers FC were bought for the princely price of £1 with her Majesty’s head on the back of it. Given that David Murray had priced Rangers FC at anywhere between £150-£200m to the normal guy in the street this seemed a bit strange and still the old media asked no questions. In any vacuum of space something usually comes along to fill this. Rangers Tax Case appeared in this vacuum number 2. Someone had taken to t’internet to raise his concerns on these seeming irregularities. Very quickly there was a groundswell of research and digging which found out by fans of all clubs in Scottish football who knew something was a amiss. With just a few google searches it was quickly apparent that the bold Craigy boy was indeed a shyster. Far from being a success story the t’internet bampots could ascertain he had fled the country leaving a trail of destruction behind of failed companies involving cleaning companies run from portacabins in Bellshill and was heavily involved in Tinkerbell baby clothing shop in Motherwell. Still the media sat on their hands, denied any knowledge of the information now shared in the public domain. They instead printed bogus stories about warchests and the like. The Rangers fans were being openly deceived by the media, if the truth had come out there might be a Rangers still here today, there is not. Rangers FC as we know it were liquidated. A company called Sevco have bought the assets which may yet be reversed by the liquidators and still haven’t secured a place in Scotland’s fourth tier.
The printed lies are being bought less and less, the comedy phone-ins are dropping like flies too. The old media killed Rangers. Goodbye Rangers, goodbye old media. Dressed to kill, and guess who’s dying?
This was the story of how old media killed rangers. Keep your eyes on Hitthebyline.com this week for part two: “How the New Media danced on Rangers’ grave”.
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