Rangers: It Was The Daily Record Wot Won It

By on May 12, 2012 in Finance, Latest, Scottish Football | 7 comments

We have it in England too, of course. If the Daily Express newspaper doesn’t lead with a “news” item on Princess Diana, Madeleine McCann, freak weather or an EU “scandal”, something is seriously wrong. But the Daily Record newspaper’s near-obsession with the ‘Blue Knights’ consortium, which exited stage left for the very last time honest yesterday afternoon, has been a worthy rival in this area of tabloid sensationalism. The Record was a bit quieter yesterday, as the Knights regaled us with their bitter take on events in an afternoon press briefing. An angry Brian Kennedy frothed that “the administrators better have somebody good, some good credible consortium who is fully-funded.” But the expected “or else” failed to materialise. This was wise, of course, as Kennedy was only hours past telling administrators Paul Clark and David Whitehouse that the Knights bid better be accepted by noon on Friday or else they would withdraw from the process. To which the response was “…” – arguably the most honest statement they’d made for some days.

Meanwhile, back at yesterday afternoon’s briefing, nominal bid leader Paul Murray nervously scanned the room for anyone looking ready to ask Kennedy if he had his Scottish Cup Final ticket for the Hibees end. Neither could blame the Record for their bid’s demise. Had it succeeded, the proverbial cheque would have been in the post to particularly supportive hacks such as – to give him his full name – “Exclusive by Keith Jackson.” But as it was, the Knights would probably have struggled to stump up the cash for a stamp. It was particularly instructive to hear the Knights’ bid details, and to note how easily a previously nervous media performer such as Whitehouse was able to reduce the figures to almost nothing – literally almost nothing for unsecured creditors. Worst of all, Kennedy seemed to reveal these skinflint details in the belief that he was showing the world, and Duff & Phelps, in particular, what riches they were turning down. It all resembled naff 1980s quiz show Bullseye with Jim Bowen telling the final couple: “this is what you would have won” after they’d given up a dozen fab prizes for a bloody speedboat – and them living in Wolverhampton.

As someone from Rangers’ administrators Duff & Phelps told BBC sports news reporter Matt Slater yesterday, “money will buy Rangers, not media.” Otherwise Kennedy would probably be too busy running Rangers to even watch the Scottish Cup Final on the telly, chatting merrily away to Walter Smith and Graeme Souness, if the Knights’ swansong statements are to be believed. Pro-Blue Knights rhetoric has peppered the Record’s website throughout Rangers’ administration. The Knights’ “big hitters” were revealed in an “Exclusive by Keith Jackson” on March 12th. They were, Keith exclusively told us “well-established business figures operating at the highest business circles” who “turned over many millions of pounds” or “dealt in billions of pounds of investments” and other eye-catching but unspecific claims of unimaginable (“off the radar”?) riches. Two days later, Paul Murray “laid out his plan to bring punters on board exclusively to Record Sport” – a share issue which perpetuated the class system with its three “entry levels,” £1,000 for plebs, £100,000 to £500,000 at “level two” and over £500,000 for “big money investors.”

The most in-depth analysis of last week’s model Bill Miller came from the Record, on April 6th, almost a month before the Tennessee tow-trucker became preferred bidder and two weeks before he first revealed his “all nonsense” (copyright Rangers Supporters Trust) bid. It was, admittedly, an in-depth attempt at character assassination, which prompted a direct and energetic rebuttal from Miller himself within a day. But it was a well-researched attempt at a character assassination. And it prompted a direct and energetic response from Miller, the like of which we were not to see again, as Miller restricted his communication to American-spelt talk of the “honor and privilege” of owning Rangers, before deciding it was probably not much of either and wishing them “God Speed.” But for all the material gleaned from the website, it wasn’t until I happened upon a copy of the paper itself, this Wednesday just gone, that I felt the full force of the weight the Record threw at Miller and behind the Knights.

The paper devoted the equivalent of an eight-page supplement to the news of Miller’s withdrawal and the how, when, where and why of the Blue Knights’ situation. Other Rangers news was limited to attacking wide midfielder Sone Aluko and defensive SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster. Aluko stood on cliché corner to tell us that if he had “£1 for every time someone asked me what’s going on I could buy the club myself”  (he’d have been able to outbid the Knights after a couple of hours at a moderately-well attended dinner party). Doncaster, meanwhile, told us “we clearly lack clarity.” Well, clearly. But back at the main event, there were two exclusive reports by “Exclusive by Keith Jackson,” neither of which contained especially exclusive information. “The Bill was too big for Bill” ran one headline, which was exclusive information to anyone and everyone who had read Miller’s announcement of his withdrawal. “Paul Murray and Brian Kennedy could yet ride to the rescue,” the story continued, in attention-attracting bold letters.

The other exclusive was headed “Players in crisis talks demands,” which provided some exclusive words from “a source close to the squad” about the far from exclusive news that players had been ill-informed by Duff & Phelps on their employment rights in the event of a transfer to the new Rangers company Miller had proposed as an investment vehicle and SPL shareholder. None of the Knights were shoe-horned into that story. But the balance was restored by half-a-page from Neil Patey, a partner at global “accountancy giants” Ernst & Young, on  what the Blue Knights should do next, based on the contentious and premature assumption that it would BE the Blue Knights doing something next. Jim Traynor chipped in with a series of excruciating transport and shark analogies (Miller the “trucker” and Kennedy the Sale Sharks rugby club owner), which at least had an appropriately cynical tone – one borne out by subsequent events.

Alongside that was a mass of superfluous opinion from former Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston. Johnston undertook extensive research into Singaporean bidder Bill Ng, which filled several column inches in the Scottish Sun last month. And he used “his own contacts in the media and sports business world” to delve into Miller’s background. Unhealthily obsessive, maybe, but enough to put media and administrators alike to shame. His lead opinion was that Duff & Phelps should “stop blocking Paul Murray and Brian Kennedy,” a manoeuvre which only the “clearly riled Johnson” speaking “exclusively to Record Sport from the States” had noticed. Good eyesight, then. But he also found time to berate Clark and Whitehouse for “filling their own trousers,” a misquoted comment on the administrators’ mega-fees rather than their unease under the media spotlight. Presumably. And the front page was covered with Miller’s face and words. These topped a story filed by Mark McGivern, blowing the paper’s foreign affairs budget in Chattanooga, Tennessee, from where the previous day the paper had done a vox pop among some of Miller’s employees – an exercise which was virtually worthless even before it was rendered utterly worthless by Miller’s withdrawal.

The fact that three bidders had emerged was the most newsworthy consequence of Miller’s withdrawal as preferred bidder, not least because Duff & Phelps had portrayed this emergence as a consequence of Miller’s selection as preferred bidder – a piece of nonsense still in need of adequate explanation. The Record reader could read about this astonishing development in the front page story…but only in its THIRTY-THIRD paragraph, by which time the front page story was the “bottom of page three” story. And by paragraph 36, attention was once more focused on Miller as the past, Kennedy as the present and the Knights as the future. Alas for them, as we all now know, BK and the BKs are now as “ex-“ a bidder as Miller. And, as I type, they are fighting an unseemly war of words, e-mails and figures with the administrators, at a time when Duff, Phelps, Clark and Whitehouse need to be focusing on other matters, about which Rangers’ creditors might actually care.

The Record was initially low key about the Knights failures. The website only had a short – if inevitably “exclusive” – piece by Jackson on the Knights press conference. That didn’t last, of course. Kennedy said the administrators could have “blood on their hands” as the Record detailed his brave, brave efforts to save Rangers. And the headline wrote itself. The Record (“Scotland’s Champion”) has already found a different angle to flog. It has linked the media’s new preferred bidder, Charles Green, with “shamed owner Craig Whyte.” And Alastair Johnston has piped up again in its pages to defend Rangers’ old board (including one P. Murray esq) against allegations emanating from the SFA independent panel’s report into club misdemeanours over the last two calendar years. Meanwhile, the self-styled people’s champions, the fan-backed Knights will now have to come to terms with their own failings. On STV’s Scotland Tonight on Tuesday, former Times journalist Graham Spiers summed them up best. “They’ve got next to no money,” he noted, before remembering their “millions of pounds of turnover” and “billions of pounds of investments” and adding the telling, condemnatory: “They’ve got next to no money that they’re willing to put in.” And you don’t have to be a Rangers fan to believe that that isn’t right.

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    7 Comments

  1. What’s the point of this piece? The blaming of the Daily Record for all Scottish football’s ills is becoming a cliche even for Celtic fans now, yet it still get’s trotted out fairly regularly, and it’s not like Celtic fans have any axe to grind with the Record, real or imagined, is it?

    Only the most one-eyed could have failed to understand the main thrust of yesterdays press conference. The point being made was that Duff & Phelps are dragging this on and on despite there being no better deals on offer. The Miller deal wasn’t a better offer, it didn’t stack up, yet D&P still decided to give them preferred bidder status. Why? Now a mystery last minute bidder is looking the favourite, again why?
    Whatever your views of TBK and BK at least their bid is real, at least we know who they are and they have the money they say they have, unlike previous owners and other bidders. THey are entitled to ask why they are being ignored in favour of no one.
    D&P’s reply was disingenuous at best, also,worth seeking the reply to it from the lawyer at Walker Morris which was made public last night.

    I don’t expect you to care, but time is short, for us this is pretty serious now. When the only bidders are continually rejected in favour of imaginary bidders or ones who don’t actually have what they bid then we’ve a right to feel angry.

    How about 200% try and find someone to write about the Rangers situation who isn’t a member of the Green Brigade or Alex Thomson lite?

    AMMS

    May 12, 2012

  2. What gets me with all this copy is a kind of ‘it cant possibly happen’ mentality in the western press. Of course it can – and probably will now – happen. Read it:Glasgow Rangers FC can go bust and disappear.

    Compare the death of the Light Blues with the death of the Dark Blues: Dundee FC. The Dee fans poured money in to save the club. Twice. United bought the stadium to help save their rivals. Everyone in Dundee – particularly The Courier – did everything possible to save Dundee. And save it they did.

    All we have seen from Rangers fans and the press is hot air. Rangers till I die? Rangers till July, more like it.

    John Sutherland

    May 12, 2012

  3. Good piece which was doing o welll in revealing the nakedly complicit and embarassingly unobjective coverage of the Blue Knights by the Record. A cynic might think Exclusive by Keith Jackson (even when it’s ripped from another paper) was on a job offer from Paul Murray or something. But the piece went astray when it started quoting Graham Spiers, a man who is no longer a football journalist.
    yet this hasn’t stopped him tarting himself around every broadcast outlet in Scotland spouting off inspite of rhe fact he speaks to none of the main protagnists. If Spiers sees a cat in the street now he mistakes it for a boom mic and stops to offer an opinion (similar to that alreqdy voiced on Scotland Tonight about 10 mins earlier).
    It’s pathetic that the outlets concerned think Rangers fans would want to hear the same old views from a blatant, naked self publicist who spends most of his week preparing to present a golf show no one listens to while bonin up on Rangers events be reading the work of journalists who actually ARE talking to the main figures. Note to broadcasters : change the record eh?

    AS

    May 12, 2012

  4. the sooner they’re gone the better for scottish football,

    franag dynleavy

    May 12, 2012

  5. In 1994 a section of Scotland couldnt wait for Celtic to die when they had their own troubles, they never got the same coverage as this, they didnt have politicians declaring the world as we know it would die if poor Celtic died. The end is near for Rangers…..it wouldnt be a bad thing, football will go on, the world will go on, the daily record….you guessed it….will go on, the blue knights saga will go on…..But in these last days, if there is blood spilt then i hope to god Brian Kennedy is there to say sorry.

    G.

    May 12, 2012

  6. AMMS,

    The point of the piece was just to commemorate the Blue Knights latest final departure from the bidding race for Rangers. The energy with which the Daily Record has backed the Knights will be nothing like as familiar to English readers as to many in Scotland.

    I didn’t include in-depth analysis on the written contretemps between Kennedy and Hinchcliffe simply because I wrote this piece last night. Sorry.

    I think the points you make on D&P’s conduct are very good ones. If you’ve read some of my previous Rangers stuff, you’ll know that I share your concerns, and more, on D&P’s disingenuousness.

    In fact, you could do worse than write a few pieces yourself about the Rangers situation. Based on the evidence above, they’d be good ones.

    AS,

    Sorry to quote Spiers. But he did accidentally stumble upon a key point – the difference between the money the Knights have and the money they are prepared to put in. They can afford to make it impossible for D&P to ignore them. They should do so.

    Mark Murphy

    May 12, 2012

  7. seems like john sutherland is a bit of a bead rattler.
    Well i hope this situation doesnt become on your team again and if it does i dont suppose you’l wish the same sanctions that you obviously wish on the Gers

    We ARE the People

    Billy Mortimer

    May 12, 2012

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