Charles Green On STV: No “Nonsense”
So, Rangers Chief Executive Charles Green’s proverbial pants are on fire. Who knew? Well, regular readers of my Rangers missives, if there are any, will have known. I have suggested before, probably ad nauseum, that Green’s relationship with the truth is something akin to third cousin, twice removed. And I hardly blazed a trail with this ‘news.’ Green’s admission that he entered into a b***s**t challenge with ex-Rangers owner Craig Whyte as they negotiated Green’s Rangers takeover last May could have far-reaching consequences for that deal and for the individuals involved – Green, Whyte and Paul Clark, David Whitehouse and David Grier from administrators Duff & Phelps.
Whether it will have any far-reaching consequences for the newly-crowned Scottish Third Division champions is less clear. Not unlike certain chapters in the Portsmouth ownership saga that ended so happily and properly this week, the club are merely the venue – in Rangers’ case for Green’s and Whyte’s game of lying bastard top-trumps. And if the right decisions are made regarding the team and its management, Rangers should be capable of reaching Scottish football’s second-tier by the end of next season, even if, as recent team and management decisions suggest, costs need to be cut at Ibrox. Whether Charles Green should be making those decisions is up for debate – even among Rangers fans, after this week of unremittingly unfavourable revelations.
John D Gow, of The Rangers Standard website, eloquently argued on the ESPN website that Green should sling his hook or having it slung for him. And Gow’s views could only have garnered support from Green’s ‘performance’ on STV’s Scotland Tonight programme on Tuesday. STV had obtained the latest drib/drab of audio from Whyte purporting to show that he was involved with the company that bought Rangers’ assets from the administrators last year – with the little snippet they aired also revealing Green’s borderline Tourette’s. “The next step is, we’ve got to f***ing give them some money,” Green told Whyte, as they made arrangements for Whyte to pay money to an unidentified “them” while Green told “them” that “Craig’s gone.” And Green added: “There’ll be no trace to my f***ing bank account,” seemingly confirming the need to keep their collaboration private.
Despite this new tape from Whyte, Motherwell’s answer to Richard Nixon, Green seemed unprepared for the interview which followed. STV’s Peter Smith had interviewed Green last October, when Green was drumming up fan support for Rangers’ share issue. That interview did little more than allow Green to… drum up fan support for Rangers’ share issue. This interview could hardly have been more different. In a few short minutes, Green’s claims that he never received the “money” referenced in the audio, that he had never moved Rangers’ assets between two of his companies last June, that Manchester United wanted Rangers in “the Premiership” and that Rangers had a link-up with Gridiron giants the Dallas Cowboys were systematically dismantled, either by documentary evidence or telephone.
Parts of the interview were hilarious. Smith pressed Green on what were relatively harmless issues, in the context of the week, which were aired on the blogosphere months ago. The mainstream Scottish media had, with a few notable exceptions, failed to address them. Smith was about to atone for that. Reminded that Manchester United denied telling Green that they wanted Rangers in the Premier League, and clearly short of an explanation for the discrepancy, the blunt-talking Yorkshireman went off at an alarming, almost metaphysical, tangent. “Do you think Alex Ferguson would like to see Rangers in this league?” he asked, not specifying which league. And, anyway, “Which Manchester United? You define Manchester United.” Smith’s wide-eyed disbelief at this line of questioning made him look more like The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding than even Fielding does sometimes. But he eschewed contemplating the theory of an alternative Manchester United in favour of the simplest of questions: “Who at Manchester United told you that you were wanted in the Premiership?”
Smith could easily and immediately be forgiven for his outdated Premiership reference, as he got Green to say something he had never said before in his time at Rangers… absolutely nothing whatsoever. If anyone had ever doubted that Green was, ahem, ‘mistaken’ on this issue, his silence, albeit momentary, laid those doubts to rest. When Green regained his composure, all he could muster was that “I’ve had discussions with a number of clubs.” Smith repeated his question. And Green asked him “why do we want to know that?”, as if he’d had his memory of the previous two minutes neuralysed by a passing Will Smith. Better still was the discussion about the “link-up” between Dallas Cowboys and Rangers. Rangers director Imran Ahmad had “told a group of Rangers fans that talks with the Dallas Cowboys were going well.” Green, looking a little affronted at this being called into question, said “Well, they are. I’ve got an e-mail now” and again suggested that Smith could “read it after the interview.”
Once more, Smith made the point that the Cowboys didn’t agree – to the point where they were denying all awareness of any such talks. In response, Green replaced “which Manchester United?” at the top of his “what-did-you-just-say?” chart with “I don’t care what they’ve said.” “I’ve just told you categorically, in front of camera,” Green continued, as if anyone thought that confirmed the veracity of what he was saying, “that when this interview finishes, I will show you the e-mail where we’re invited to go to Dallas Cowboys in…” The sentence finished just before it became too vague for the STV microphones to pick up. But Green managed one last hurrah: “The e-mail came in three days ago.” Yes, that’s right. The link-up of which Ahmad had boasted last October…sparked off by an e-mail that arrived six months later. Time travellers too, it would seem. Smith, shock, was able to reaffirm that even this week the Cowboys “were unaware of any talks with Rangers.” And this time, “no such e-mail has been presented to us.”
Sadly, though, these moments of unintended hilarity beyond parody were surrounded by more serious matters. The “money” referenced in the audio played by STV was a cheque for £25,000 towards unspecified “legal costs.” Green said “Craig Whyte didn’t pay money into my bank account,” but added that “£25,000 was paid into my bank account…and three days later, the cheque bounced,” before offering to show Smith “the bank statement that confirms that.” Green was true to those last words, if next-to-nothing else. Smith confirmed that Green produced “documentation which showed that a cheque for £25,000 was paid into his account on 11th May” – two days before Green announced himself to the world, at what we now know to be trademark great length, as Rangers’ new great helmsman. “However,” Smith added, to camera with what looked suspiciously like documentary evidence in his hand, “STV news has obtained documentary evidence” (thought so) “which appears to show Aidan Earley’s business account at Liberty Capital paid a cheque for £25,000 on 15th May.” And if anyone in the Rangers saga has been shrouded in more murk than either Green or Whyte, it has been Whyte’s ‘business associate’ Aidan Earley, which might have been why Green clean forgot to show Smith that particular bank statement.
These transactions suggested co-operation between Green and Whyte in what the STV graphics department entitled “A tale of two Sevcos.” Rangers’ administrators reported in its CVA proposals to creditors, dated 29th May, that a company called Sevco 5088 “were granted exclusivity to complete a takeover” of Rangers or “purchase” their “business and assets.” If the CVA failed, Smith reported, Sevco “would be compelled to buy the business and assets of Rangers.” “What everyone knows,” Green said, “is that Sevco Scotland acquired Rangers, not 5088.” Smith didn’t appear to be one of the “everyone,” asking Green why he “shifted the assets from Sevco 5088 to Sevco Scotland.” Green, his Manchester United and Dallas Cowboys grilling/roasting still to come, was in supremely self-confident, aitch-dropping mode. “That never ‘appened,” he replied. “The assets were never in 5088. Sevco 5088 never bought anything. Never. End of conversation.” None of that appeared to be true, however – especially the “end of conversation” bit.
Viewers were treated to a glimpse of the CVA proposal, which said that Sevco 5088 were “contractually obliged” to buy Rangers’ business and assets. Doubtless Green didn’t “care what” that report said either, as it was only an official court document. And Smith quoted a Rangers spokesman saying last June that “for the avoidance of doubt” – oh, the irony – “Sevco 5088 bought” Rangers assets “and then transferred them to Sevco Scotland Ltd” so that the assets would be in a “Scottish-registered company.” Maybe Green had just got tired by the end of such a well-researched interview – Richard Keys and Andy Gray this was not. Maybe with one question left he had only one stock answer left. How else to explain his suggestion that his lies to Whyte, his lies about Manchester United and Dallas Cowboys and his use of “inappropriate, or even racist” language “says” (wait for it) “that I’m honest.”
For a finale, Green noted, twice, correctly, that “everything I’ve said’s been contradicted.” I wonder why he thinks that is. “You can contradict anything,” he added. But when it’s the people he’s talking about who are contradicting what he’s talking about… well, you know. “He’s unembarrassable,” said the Scotsman newspaper’s Irish journalist Tom English, possibly the longest-standing (only?) Green cynic in the mainstream Scottish media, in the studio discussion which followed Smith’s work (English subsequently gathered his studio thoughts for a terrific piece in Thursday’s Scotsman). The interview certainly proved that Green was unembarrassable.. And the discussion introduced me, fleetingly, to an entirely new emotion, feeling sympathy for Rangers fan Chris Graham. Graham is STV’s go-to Rangers’ fan spokesman, a capable writer on the Rangers Standard website, but usually a surly, charismatically-challenged TV studio presence and an occasionally unpleasant presence on social media.
Here, though, he was a picture of despair. “This is just getting back to the things we were talking about last summer,” he sighed. Rangers “were starting to focus on youth development and scouting,” he added, implying not unreasonably, that this was where the club’s focus should be – although even they might not be entirely comfortable topics, in the light of recent Ibrox staff departures. The issues Whyte has brought to the fore this past week only hint at the complexities of Green’s Rangers takeover deal, which are for – and would take – another article (you have been warned). But for the first time, Green’s bluff and bluster is drawing criticism from all strands of Scottish football opinion. Green’s relationship with Whyte may have been closer than he’s yet admitted. But the distance of his relationship with the truth could prove his downfall first.
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