30 November 2012

Everything is Just Fine, Honest

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor


The creation of the Scottish Premier League was said to have “heralded a new dawn in the history of Scottish Football with the top clubs taking control of their own destiny to drive the game forward on and off the park and deliver a brighter future”, at least according to its website. And to be fair, the SPL produced some remarkable league championships and witnessed some outstanding talents from across the continent ply their trade in our country. Sadly though, those days are but a distant memory.
In theory, this breakaway from the original Scottish Football League would drive our national game forward, making it richer, more exciting and bringing more quality to supporters and viewers alike. In actual fact, the reverse of such an effect resulted as a promising start gradually faded into the dark and harsh reality that it on show today.

The SPL, quite simply, is a failing product and fans have turned away in their thousands from the top-tier as high quality football from England & Spain has become more readily available to your average household. There has been no response to this in our country. There has been no innovation. There have been no big ideas. We have allowed our game to stagnate and we are now seeing the consequences of such apathy in abundance.

Neil Doncaster though apparently disagrees. Today he was on the record as saying that everything was just fine in the Scottish Premier League, that attendances were up for half of its member clubs and that the banishment of Rangers has had minimal impact on proceedings thus far. He also claimed that “Scottish football is renowned worldwide in a very positive light; renowned for its passion, drama and excitement”. It’s a shame football fans in this country don’t see things the same way, isn’t it, Neil?

Mr Doncaster’s attendance claims are of course aided by the fact that there were two new clubs promoted into the league, which naturally increases the crowds of any club moving up a division. He does however fail to mention the estimated £30M lost to the game in broadcasting revenue alone through the decision to omit the country’s biggest club from the top-flight. What a surprise.

Doncaster also appears to be completely oblivious to the current financial crisis at Heart of Midlothian FC and the various financial losses recorded by clubs in their most recent financial year, when incidentally Rangers were still a member of the league. The accounts for this season should certainly make interesting reading in about twelve month’s time. Bank managers across the country may already be getting rather edgy as it is. I suspect Neil is already preparing his next round of excuses or mistruths for when that time eventually arrives.

There has been a lot made about the competitiveness of the SPL since Rangers’ departure however this seems to have had little or no effect on attendances or viewing figures whatsoever. In fact, the League is reliant upon 15 games involving a certain Third Division club to prop itself up, at least temporarily. What does that tell you?

Even the current SPL Champions can’t be bothered to turn up and watch this newly exciting and competitive league. A conservative estimate would probably account for a drop of twenty-thousand people at Parkhead each and every game in comparison to last season and that in itself tells a hugely concerning story for everyone connected with the top-tier. Even more so when you consider the biggest attendances and largest viewing figures lie with Rangers in the Third Division. And don’t even get me started on “Sell-Out Saturday”.

I’m afraid that Neil Doncaster must surely have joined Peter Lawwell, the master puppeteer, in his parallel universe somewhere far beyond the reality of Scottish football. He cannot be oblivious to the failings that lie in front of his very eyes and he is insulting the intelligence of every supporter in the country with his claims that all is hunky dory in the Premier League.

There is a very good reason that league reconstruction is being pushed to the forefront of discussions at this moment in time. The fact of the matter is that changes have to be made, particularly at the top end of our game, if we wish to revitalise and improve the standards in this country. What is unfortunate however is that incompetent idiots like Regan & Doncaster are involved in such talks and, in all honesty, both should have been shown the door quite some time ago.


A couple of weekend’s ago Rangers hosted Peterhead at Ibrox Stadium in front of a crowd of 48,500 people, the biggest crowd in Scotland that weekend yet again. There were four SPL games played on the same day and the combined attendances narrowly scraped over the 16,000 mark. Rather embarrassing for a supposedly thriving league, wouldn’t you say?
If Neil Doncaster wishes to continue to ignore the facts which are unavoidable for most supporters in this country then he can be my guest. I hold no sympathy for the Scottish Premier League or its member clubs. I hold no sympathy for the fans who urged their chairmen to vote the biggest asset out of the competition.


They have made their bed, now they must lie in it.

29 November 2012

The King in Waiting


by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

David Longmuir had a very busy past weekend. He was already due to attend the Supporters Direct conference at Falkirk when he received a call on Friday afternoon about the Elgin debacle. Too many tickets sold. Game called off. 

Longmuir addressed the Supporters Direct meeting in Falkirk on Sunday as planned. He was presenting his plans for reconstruction to the fans: The end users. The consumers. What a nice change of pace for a Scottish football administrator. 

Notable then that one of the primary themes was a fairer distribution of money around the Scottish game. He pointed out the disparity of getting 10 times the prize money for finishing bottom of the SPL than for winning Division One. 

It’s a redistribution question that Rangers ignored for years, and I hope finally that we work to our fellow member SFL clubs to sort it out. That will of course meet strong resistance from current SPL clubs, but a compromise will have to be struck. After all, it's for the good of supporters up and down the country if all the clubs are present and accounted for financially.

The Elgin call off has provided an unexpected test of leadership for Longmuir, and when called upon how has he reacted? Only five days later we have the decision - Elgin will be fined £25k (peculiarly £5k of which to a charity of Rangers choice, a classy and unexpected touch) and pay Rangers expenses. 

It sounds pretty harsh for a 3
rd Division side, although points could have been deducted as well. Reverberations on Twitter indicated RFC support was overwhelmingly opposed to any such punishment.

There is reason to feel sorry for Elgin: had Rangers not ended up in Division 3 then it wouldn’t have happened. Division 3 infrastructure was never meant to cope with a club the size of Rangers. 

The flip side of that is that our presence in the SFL has started the redistribution of money in Scottish football by default. It presents a great opportunity for the smaller clubs to make good money for once, to clear their books up not for weeks or months but for years to come. 

Elgin made a mess of it, and it’s not clear whether by accident or actions of greed, but make a mess of it they did. And the level of the fine is commensurate to the fact that big TV companies and big TV contracts were involved. I can’t imagine ESPN were exactly pleased. Longmuir doesn’t want a repeat or to diminish the SFL’s ability to deliver big TV contracts in the future.

And it must be remembered that he is a football administrator. And rules are rules, they must be applied (with a little bit of common sense thrown in). Maybe not all football administrators are useless after all.

In contrast, think of the SFA and SPL faffing about re: Rangers and the way they effectively passed the buck to the SFL. Backward thinking, illegal punishments, inaction and paralysis dominate.

Think of the SFA faffing about over letting Levein go, or not actually letting him go, but not letting him be manager anymore whilst still paying him £35k a month for the remainder of his contract. They took an age and still made some shocking decisions.  

I’m not sure of the circumstances around the reconstruction plans taking shape but it’s clear the SFL and SPL weren’t working together on it. Longmuir and the SFL got a jump on the SPL by announcing their plans first, the SPL again made to look sluggish and reactive. 

Of course SPL teams will carry some weight around reconstruction, but they won’t have it all their own way and sorting it out demands quality leadership, something the SPL does not have at the minute. 

Longmuir will reiterate his ideas on reconstruction to the Professional Game Board of the SFA on Wednesday. The SPL will be pitching too. The future of the game is up for grabs. Battle lines will be drawn. What will the SFA do?

I have also been also impressed by his comments on inflated ticket prices for Rangers visits -- it’s what the SPL clubs did to our away fans for years and years, so it's certainly nothing new in our world.

Elgin apparently increased ticket prices on their oversold match, and Queen's Park popping for a maximum £20 a ticket for our game at Hampden on 29 December has raised eyebrows and drawn criticism from Longmuir. A football body standing up for the fans? That’ll do for me. 

Inability to lead and ineptitude from the SFA and SPL has crippled Scottish football, and the Rangers saga has only gone to magnify their failures. The game is suffering a long lingering death, entangled in politics and in-fighting, with further cracks appearing at board level. Who really thought Baldy Thompson being the first to jump ship?

David Longmuir and the SFL appear to be different. We have a king in waiting and the anointment should be at the earliest opportunity. Longmuir to head up a revamped and overhauled two tier SPL as a compromise? Don’t count it out yet. Money talks, and SPL clubs swimming in pools of debt facilitated by Neil Doncaster and Stewie Regan's abdication of leadership should not soon be forgotten.

So arise David Longmuir. You've got our backing. Now don't go bollocksing it up.

28 November 2012

The Minority Rules

by Scott Ferguson | CRO Guest Contributor 

Gasps of horror!



Mouths open in disbelief!


Hooped shirts drenched with cold sweats!


An impossible nightmare became a reality … and I don’t mean Freddy Krueger.


For many the world ended a little earlier than the Mayans had predicted when the long awaited result came in…


… Rangers had won the Big Tax Case!


Suddenly the haters and enablers were thrown into the twilight zone with that familiar music ringing in their ears. Doo Doo Doo Doo!
‘Quick! Someone save us from this!  This can’t be real….nooooooooooo!!!!!’


‘To the RangersTaxCase website!  He will have the answers. He always has the answers!’


‘Holy virtual shredding Vatman!  It’s disappearing in front of my eyes!!!!
Alas, this panic didn’t last too long as the usual instigators came to the rescue.  It appears Rangers only won by 2 to 1…phew!

Apparently this wasn’t a victory. The logic I’m sure you’ll agree is baffling but I’d be lying if I said it surprised me.


It seems the reasoning behind this is that a 2 to 1 decision in ‘these cases’ is highly unusual.


‘These cases?’


If only we had known that there had been so many precedents set for EBT Tribunal battles between HMRC and football clubs. I must have missed them all.


But, wait, wasn’t I told that HM Revenue & Customs were treating this as some sort of ‘test case’ with Rangers Football Club and the Murray Group playing the role of the guinea pig?


Now, the same people who told us we should never question the decisions of esteemed law lords in any manner of tribunal have now decided that that is indeed utter bollocks and have now began doing so, at great length and with great enthusiasm.


Thanks to Dr Heidi Poon, the only member of the panel who incidentally is not a lawyer, the great obsessed are still largely living in denial.


Given the complete ignorance of the majority opinion it does indeed seem that the minority rules.


In the process of ignoring the opinions of the majority many are now instead revelling in the opinion of someone who was paying such close attention to things that she has subsequently awarded Rangers a ‘UEFA Championship’ which, according to her, resulted in six of these sub-trusts being created. Quite remarkable isn’t it?


Thank goodness the entire fate of the Big Tax Case wasn’t decided by her understanding of the offside rule! N.B. The CRO legal team have advised me to state that this comment is not sexist in any way, shape or form...honest.


Alex ‘Tomoblog’ Thomson became the latest to jump on the bandwagon of denial when he released his latest entry whilst sitting sipping coffee at Starbucks after returning from a successful spell in Gaza where his Vodafone network signal seemed to serve him rather well.


Mr Thomson claims that Rangers, who were all but guilty whilst under appeal, can now NOT be considered innocent on the off-chance that there may be another appeal by HMRC. Again, the logic is completely baffling but we should be used to that by now I suppose.


Oh, and now Rangers FC are wholly responsible for a library being closed in Govan apparently. Thanks for that insight, Alex.


I foresee that in the months that will follow the usual suspects will continue to spread this nonsense until the minority belief once again will become the majority opinion. Contrary to the official decision, the majority will again begin to believe that Rangers are still guilty. This will at least continue until the Kangaroo Court under the SPL banner reveals their decision.


If Rangers are deemed innocent I’m sure at this point they will apologise and admit their mistakes, won’t they? Okay, probably not. 


What is more likely is that they will continue to push their agendas until enough people believe in the minority. There would appear to be science behind this, an art of convincing so many that the truth is not what we have been told and not what the facts continue to tell us.


A few years ago at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, a study was conducted by scientists into how a minority opinion becomes a majority one.


“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”


So, once 10% of the population becomes committed to an idea it is highly likely that it could eventually become the opinion of the majority.


The key it would seem is to stay committed to your ‘opinion’. And they undoubtedly will. What other choice do they have - admit they were wrong? Will they say they are sorry and show contrition?


None of the above is likely.


Our only hope is to continue to fight those that appear to want to blacken the name of our club at any cost, regardless of any facts that get in their way.


Every Rangers fan needs to stand up and be counted and ensure that the truth comes to the surface.


A good starting point would be by adding your name to this petition:


http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/42143


Those that have used underhand and potentially illegal tactics to attack Rangers Football Club need to be held accountable.


Only when the majority are on board will the haters and enablers be discredited and finally silenced.



Scott checks in at the CRO and with our friends The Rangers Standard from time-to-time. He can be found on twitter at @st2oh

27 November 2012

Since the rest of the Scottish media will run as far from this as possible, we'll go ahead and post it up, let you make your own decisions instead of trying to fit this under the rug. That fucking thing is PACKED with stuff that's been swept under already.

Just in case you want to read beyond the headline, here's your link.

Underclass indeed. As you were...

26 November 2012

This post has been legally cleared by CRO lawyers

By Shane Nicholson | CRO Executive Editor

There are methods shoddy journalists will use to fill in the gaps in their reporting, or make themselves look a bit more credible than they are. Anonymous sources are always a winner, or playing the travel card -- I couldn't cover it. I was on my way to such-and-such and there is no such thing as mobile internet connections in my universe.

BEWARE: Marks of the perpetually lazy.

One of the all-time greats is trying to make it appear as if your story is so cutting, so mad raging shit-stormingly awesome, that you had to have your outlet's legal department pick through every word with a fine-toothed comb before releasing it:


Nothing this stain on modern journalism reports in regards to Rangers is worthy of this type of clearance, and as for his "tax experts," well, we know who they are. Bravo on working "downfall" into your close for this piece, Alex. What'd you win in RTC bingo this week?

This is A1 in the handbook on how to take a story in which you have no part to play, zero significance that you haven't already created by your own hand, and perpetuating your continued involvement. What I'm saying is so mind-blowingly fucking spectacular I had to have a dozen lawyers read it first.

No, you didn't. And if Channel 4 is making you screen your shit past their legal department first now it's only so you don't get them on David Murray's ever growing litigation hit list, Alex.

You're a con artist, and you can't stop the momentum of your own downfall now, so you figure you might as well ride it out. Your pay plan must have a heavy bonus for web-traffic, a trick learned from the freelance golfist, no doubt.

If I was a betting man, I'd say "legally cleared" in this case roughly translates to "waiting for the intern on the web-side to remove all the soft returns from my story so it isn't a complete fucking mess when it hits the site."

I'm not sure you could climb any further up your own ass at this point, Alex, but it's going to be fun watching you try.

23 November 2012

Phil's bad week

By the time Friday arrived, it was almost as if Swift himself had penned it.

Ol' 3-187names is not having a good past few days, we think. Chin up, Phil. Weekend's coming!

Thanksgiving, or Why we don't have a comments section

There's been a common question throughout the existence of the CRO from fans, enemies, moderately interested souls, passersby, wives, etc. etc. That would be, "Why don't you have a comments section?"

The simple answer is, I don't want one. Moderating such a thing seems a terrible nuisance, and you can imagine the type of people we'd end up with commenting on our site.

Beyond that, you are more than welcome to talk to us individually on Twitter, fire us an email, harass us in the various forums we inhabit, threaten to brutally beat someone you believe to be one of us (it's not) at the pub... whatever floats your boat.

I don't see the value, and I'd recommend any other Rangers blogger who doesn't thrive off the rush of a comments section to resist the urge. It will not only drive you insane, there's every chance it will neuter your work. Here's an example by the brilliant Matthew Inman, otherwise known on the interwebs as The Oatmeal:

You can and should read this whole cartoon. We take absolutely no credit for its level of amazing.
Very funny. Very true. And with what goes on in the little world of Scottish football Andy and I would go mental trying to keep up. That's why we contracted with Do the Bouncy to be our de facto forum, and they are excellent sports because I'm doing a terrible job at getting our stories up there the past couple weeks.

Anyway, moral is, comments can be good. We're never going to have them on the site. Please please please always feel free to send us a note on Twitter or via email. We're all good sports and enjoy the discussion.

So with that, I'd like to extend a big THANK YOU to all of our readers and followers, and I know all the rest of the crew would join me in doing the same. It's been a great bit of fun bringing you guys Rangers news and views since the summer, and we've no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

-Shane

22 November 2012

The Truth

by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor
 
 
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
 
Winston Churchill

 
Lies are quick because they are easily made up. And they are so often made up purely to hide the truth. Eventually however they catch up with the liars and those trying to conceal the truth will do one of two things – repeat the lies in an attempt to get people to accept it as the ‘truth’ or alternatively they will provide a stubborn wall of silence. They will never ask questions, nor will they field them. Questions are troublesome to liars and are therefore ignored or deflected because questions are trying to get at the facts. And the facts would reveal the truth. You can’t make them up. And if you do try and make them up, people see through them, eventually.

This is what we have witnessed throughout the troubles at Rangers. The truth has been and to a large extent still is elusive. The lies, misinformation, manipulation of fact and propaganda have come thick and fast from Rangers-haters over the past year and more. It has been almost relentless.

 This narrative was apparent at last week’s Celtic AGM. Truth-teller Britney tweeted:

 “Punter at Celtic AGM calls Rangers/EBTs scandal ‘the biggest fraud in the history of sport.’ Whooping and clapping greets his remarks. .”

 As it turns out the punter may yet be right, but most definitely not in the way they meant. In any case the propaganda had done its job. Fantasy had become fact. It was never questioned, simply repeated and repeated time and time again.

 For some it was too easy to believe because they desperately wanted it to be true. Eventually many others believed - other clubs’ fans believed, even some journalists believed it or least didn’t question it. We were cheats. We were tax-dodgers. Even some of our own fans began to believe it. We had put together an illegal scheme and owed millions to HM Revenue & Customs.

 The EBTs though were never illegal. Yesterday, at long last, we finally discovered that we never owed millions in tax regarding our use of Employee Benefit Trusts. It was a phantom debt.

 The problem with lies is that they are very difficult to keep going. Those that want the truth will keep asking questions and when they do you’d better remember your story. You need to be consistent in your fantasy and that is very difficult to keep up, particularly in today’s electronic age.

 You can delete a blog, you can delete an article but the electronic footprint lives on much longer than you could imagine. In the end it is easy to tell the truth because it happened and easy to forget the lies because they didn’t.

 It isn’t for me to tell you what the truth is. You can tell the truth from the facts that exist. And in this case there are plenty more facts still to be established.

 Ask yourself: who shouted loudest and cried repeatedly that we were cheats, that EBTs were illegal, that the club was dead and their version of events could never be questioned? And who are still shouting?

Who changed their version of the ‘truth’ as they went along and in particular since the FTT decision went in Rangers favour? Some of the ‘truth’ rather appears to have disappeared., coincidentally I’m sure.

Which journalists were asking the pertinent questions? Who have been afraid or unwilling to seek the truth? Why weren’t the right questions being asked of the right people?

You can draw your own conclusions. I started with Churchill, I shall leave you with George Washington:

 “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light”

 So keep asking questions until you get there. We’ll be asking them too.
 
 
Peter is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @Seasider06 and via email: pewart@thecoplandroad.org

CRO Podcast #1

What it says, friends: Episode number one of the often rumored CRO podcast, featuring Shane and Andy in what could loosely be described as a Rangers show. If you're at work or the kids are around you may want to mind the sound; Shane has a tendency to use a few choice words sometimes.


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Hey, Beeb, don't think we forgot you

By Alan Clark | CRO Contributor

I won’t have to write an introduction for Rangers supporters who watch BBC Scotland, read the news online or listen to BBC Scotland radio about how their agenda on the club has continued to grow over the months since the financial troubles started at Ibrox.

There are endless examples of suspect reporting by those at Pacific Quay in Glasgow but for this article I will purely focus on Tuesday’s reporting of the news that the First Tier Tax Tribunal ruled, in the vast majority of cases, in Rangers’ favour on the ‘Big Tax Case’ related to Employee Benefit Trusts.

Let’s start with the news article on the website of the BBC, reacting to the breaking news of the result in the afternoon. Right away, the headline and introduction in the article says “The former Rangers Football Club…”. Next up, they have written “The club, which is now in liquidation…”.

Now right away (and a common theme when reporting on the Rangers story) the BBC report that Rangers are a new club. According to them, the club is in the process of liquidation and a new club formed by Charles Green’s consortium is playing in the Third Division of the SFL. I don’t need to explain why that is complete tripe to Rangers supporters, but just to repeat it – the old COMPANY that controlled the 140-year-old club is in liquidation, and the new COMPANY is now controlling the same 140-year-old club at the bottom of Scottish football.

A few paragraphs down the piece, the BBC get their knickers in a twist and not for the first time. In match reports of our games this season, a simple “Rangers scored a goal” has been written and there’s been no mention of the absurd notion that they think we are the “New Rangers”, unless it is related to financial matters. I digress.

“Rangers chief executive Charles Green said the verdict…” is the next astonishing set of words. So, let’s get this straight – The ‘former Rangers Football Club’ has just won the big tax case, but Charles Green is the CEO of ‘Rangers’ and not ‘New Rangers’? Very baffling, Beeb.

I could spend all day analysing that one news piece and its contradictions and massive inaccuracies, but I don’t have all day. Let’s move on to the broadcast side of the BBC, and its Newsnight Scotland programme on BBC2.

I had just finished watching Scotland Tonight on STV, a very information debate program that covers many current affairs subjects Monday to Friday. Their 10.30 programme covered the Rangers tax case verdict first and of course I was interested to see this.

Well-known Rangers blogger Chris Graham, who also writes for us here at CRO, was on the show again with finance expert Neil Patey and discredited-“I never said you cheated”-but-he-did-several-times-Graham Spiers. Graham embarrassed Spiers on the show which was fantastic but aside from that, the questions asked by presenter John MacKay were balanced and discussed the important issues at play.

Compare this to the Newsnight programme. The opening montage, with a voice-over from a guy I can picture but cannot bloody name for the life of me, introduced what happened with Rangers. The first mentioned of “old Rangers” took less than a minute to be dropped in. They used footage of our game against Peterhead recently when saying the new club is playing in the Third Division, and then next they astonishingly showed footage of the 1972 Cup Winners’ Cup win to again mention “old Rangers”.

The continued use of “old” next to Rangers in the opening sequence was quite disturbing and this level of repetition is verging on propaganda. Who is it in the BBC Scotland hierarchy that is approving these voice-overs and articles? Or are they setting it down as BBC policy?

That is quite worrying if the latter is true. How easily will the public take this information in, if they are unaware of the ins and outs of the situation? I have no doubt that one of the main reasons that so many Scottish football fans give it the big “new club, no history” crap is because of the way the media - in particular the Beeb - have reported Rangers as a new club.

Before our future was decided by the purchase of the club; its assets, business and honours in June by Green’s group – you could forgive the media for speculating whether or not the history remained and if the club continued. Once the SFA confirmed that the same old full membership of their association had been transferred from the now toxic PLC to the newly-created Limited company, all talk of a new club should have STOPPED.

Some newspapers have at times continued this “new club” patter when reporting the Gers but by far and away the most serial offender has been the BBC Scotland team. Serious questions have to be asked of the publicly-funded organisation.

The whole point of the BBC is to be completely impartial but their policy on Rangers is lop-sided and completely pandering to the green section of Scotland. As the national broadcaster, it is their goddamn right to report the facts to the public and this continued “old Rangers” and “new Rangers” nonsense is completely false.

In my view, Rangers Football Club needs to do something about the BBC’s clear agenda against the club. If I was Charles Green and the Rangers board, I would give them an ultimatum – change the way you report on our club or we will not give out any interviews or information to you on any story.

And not one of your reporters will ever step foot inside Ibrox Stadium ever again.

Alan is a new contributor to the CRO and goes to bed at the same time as your grandmother. He can be found on Twitter at @aldo1872 or via email at: aclark@thecoplandroad.org

21 November 2012

The Finger of Blame


By Andy McGowan | CRO Contributor

The announcement that the ‘Big Tax Case’ had gone in favour of Rangers was a bittersweet moment for fans of the club. For years the story grew with continuous lies, sensationalism and half-truths published as full facts by both the main stream media and the undercurrent of East-end bloggers. As the story gathered momentum the liability grew with it ending in a journey from £25-30 million to £75-100 million. Even the BBC, a beacon of journalistic integrity, reported that Rangers were £130 million in debt with a hypothetical tax bill making up almost all of this.

Wrapped up in all the rumours and whispers was the truth that was unavoidable for Rangers and more importantly for potential investors in the club – Rangers did potentially owe a huge tax bill that no one, not even the club itself truly knew the extent of.  The tax case hung over the club like a dark storm cloud. Walter Smith and Ally McCoist brought us success on the park and the balance sheet continued to look better and better as Rangers recorded profits and slashed millions from the club’s overdraft with Lloyds Bank who had taken control of David Murray’s vast crumbling empire.

But despite the success on and off the park the club simply wasn’t attractive enough to a buyer with the tax bill unresolved. Many flirted with the idea of bidding for the club but no serious offer was tabled, leaving an increasingly frustrated Lloyds TSB willing to consider any offer that would see them get their money back and the club off their books.

This offer came from Craig Whyte who declared interest in the club in December 2010 before going on a charm offensive that had some of Scotland’s most senior journalists falling over themselves for several months. The Daily Record even went as far as to describe Mr. Whyte as a ‘Billionaire Whiz kid.’ 

While the media were increasingly falling in love with Whyte the current board at Ibrox were becoming increasingly alarmed by his now long and drawn out bid for the club, leading both Alastair Johnston and Martin Bain to speak out before the deal was concluded. Paul Murray was also alarmed enough by what he had seen to launch a last minute bid to buy the club himself. 

What became apparent in the days following Whyte’s takeover of the club was that Lloyds TSB had left David Murray and the Rangers’ boardroom between a rock and a hard place – Sell to Whyte, or face our wrath.
Whyte’s ownership of the club went sour, as AJ, Martin Bain and Paul Murray expected it would. Throughout the whole process – as Duff and Phelps were brought in, as bids were welcomed for the club, as CVA proposals were rejected and as Charles Green set about rebuilding - Craig Whyte stood on the side lines telling us this wasn’t his mess, that he may have been driving the train but it was David Murray who had set it on its course. Even in his statement on the 12th February as the club were plunged into administration Craig Whyte told us that a £75 million tax bill was inevitable.

The announcement that Rangers have won the Big Tax Case has left Craig Whyte with nowhere to hide. Make no mistake, every inch of the pain felt by Rangers fans over the last 9 months lies squarely at the door of Craig Whyte. He inherited a healthy football club and in the space of only a few months plunged it into a chaos which we may now never know the full extent of. I also suspect we will never hear from Mr. Whyte again following the outcome of the tax tribunal. A coward only speaks out when he is shielded and now that his defence has been stripped away he will disappear like a thief in the night, never giving the fans the closure or apology they deserve for his reign at Ibrox.

The roles of David Murray, Lloyds Banking Group and the SFA in this matter should not be downplayed however. The events that led to our administration and eventual collapse may have been caused by Craig Whyte but the man he inherited the club from set the conditions for these events to unfold. 

David Murray ran Rangers into debt time and again as his ego continually ruled his head and was quite simply too big for his wallet. His disastrous practises left MIH and Rangers in the hands of a banking group who cared not a jot what happened to the club once they had their money. Lloyds were well aware of what was to come; no one involved at the top table there will have been shocked by the current mess at Ibrox one suspects.

And as the Rangers board lobbied furiously for the sale to be blocked the SFA looked on, in full knowledge of the man who was taking over and did nothing. They stood idly by as a man they had deemed not to be fit and proper took over the biggest club in Scotland and only sought to act when Whyte was long gone. The damage was done and the club was in no position to ask why they hadn’t acted sooner. If Craig Whyte knocked the dominos over, Murray, Lloyds and the SFA had set them up for him.

All of the blame for Rangers liquidation now belongs to the man many of us always blamed but the tax tribunal decision only makes the actions of David Murray, Lloyds and the SFA much harder to take. Questions need to be asked especially at the SFA why they allowed this to happen and Charles Green, with Rangers now on their way back to full strength, is the man who has to ask these questions and get what little justice Rangers can by holding the people in question accountable, morally and financially.

Andy is a regular contributor to the CRO. You can find him rambling on Twitter at @iEmpire_Andy or via email at: amcgowan@thecoplandroad.org

Graham, just stop



And you can take these for the road:







Now run along back and cover the golf, where people are perhaps a little too polite to point out your shortcomings.

Shut Down the Kangaroo Court

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

The Big Tax Case cast an ominous shadow over Rangers just as a dark cloud does before a storm. David Murray’s decision to operate an Employee Benefit Trust scheme may have been beneficial at the time, minimising the Club’s tax bill through the clever utilisation of discretionary loans, but there is no doubt that it was very damaging due to the uncertainty and panic it eventually created. HM Revenue & Customs did of course believe that these payments were taxable and so issued Rangers FC with a liability in excess of £40M, much to the distress of the owner, the supporters and even the bankers. The whole case carried on for far too long and it is a relief to at last have some sort of decision made.

Yesterday’s victory was very much a bittersweet moment for many of us. We have been subject to a ridiculous trial by media and the outcome of the FTT was undoubtedly pre-judged and pre-determined by many journalists, bloggers and fans of other clubs. There was a real willingness and eagerness to find Rangers guilty of illegally paying its staff and there was an outcry at our disgraceful tax-dodging antics which deprived our country of hospitals and our soldiers of equipment. Nevermind jelly and ice-cream, humble pie is on the menu today.

There should however be a realisation that so many painful events of the past few months and even years could have been avoided. Lloyds Banking Group twitched nervously at the thought of Rangers having to pay such a tax liability and sought to recoup their money at the earliest possible opportunity. This was achieved when David Murray shamelessly sold the club to Craig Whyte and, well, the rest is history. If only Murray had accepted responsibility for the mess and stood by Rangers then we would most probably still be in the SPL and quite possibly still be playing in Europe. But alas, the past is the past. We must now look forward.

The Big Tax Case victory does not impact immediately onto Rangers under the operation of Charles Green and his investors but instead is a matter for the previous company and the liquidators to deal with. That is not to say that it is completely irrelevant though and in fact, it should set the Club up for yet another victory in the days and weeks ahead. I am of course referring to the SPL investigation.

Many Rangers’ supporters, including myself, have maintained that the investigation made by or on behalf of the Scottish Premier League has been nothing other than a Kangaroo Court. This has again been heard and decided upon in the tabloids and on the internet and the only fitting sanction (guilt is already assumed) is the stripping of titles won unfairly through the participation of ineligible players and financial doping perpetrated by the Club.

Neil Doncaster and Co may want to look away now though, for hidden within the mass of pages of the FTT document is a statement which confirms:

“the majority view reflects the argument that the controversial monies received by the employees were not paid to them as their absolute entitlement. The legal effect of the trust/loan structure is sufficient to preclude this. Thus the payments are loans, not earnings, and so are recoverable from the employee or his estate”

You will note the words highlighted in bold and I have done so for good reason. The SPL and its case against Rangers hinges on the EBT payments made to players being for their footballing activities. If that is the case then these payments were required to be disclosed alongside signed acknowledgements from the players in question. Now, are the SPL going to claim that these loans were in fact salaries and go against the judgement of the FTT? I certainly don’t think that that would be an advisable route to go down, do you?

The argument above is one which I have previously scribbled about here at CRO and I was baffled by the SPL and its Independent Commission continuing its investigation despite the FTT verdict previously being outstanding. As you can clearly see, the treatment of these payments is absolutely vital to the claims against Rangers and so there must surely now be good cause to drop the investigation and finally allow our Club to move forward.

Our former chairman, Alastair Johnston, clearly supports such a view and in an interview with STV last night he said the following:

“What this decision does is it totally removes any obligation that the club would have had to submit these contracts to the SFA or the SPL because they would not have been considered for participation in football.
Unless there are some very strong vested interests who are harbouring a different agenda, at this point – that goes away.
The tribunal has made a ruling and we stand by that ruling”

His argument is logical, sensible and cannot be reasonably countered given the treatment of the payments in question. Put simply – the SPL must drop their investigation immediately or they could be running the risk of a day in court, something which they are unlikely to favour.


It is now clear that Rangers won their titles and trophies fairly and honourably and that any claims of cheating or financial doping are quite simply unfounded. This whole affair has demonstrated that people will choose to believe whatever suits their agenda but in this case the facts simply cannot be ignored.

Charles Green was forced to apologise for the sins of Messrs Murray and Whyte and even that wasn’t enough for some people. Perhaps it is time that some apologies were sent our way after the latest revelations although I certainly won’t be holding my breath.

Turnbull Hutton has previously called our game “corrupt” and any further action taken against Rangers by the SPL would only succeed in fully justifying his claim.

The titles are ours.

54 and counting…..



Andy is the Deputy Editor of the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @AMCKEL and via email: amckel@thecoplandroad.org

Tell your sons and daughters...

by Bill McMurdo | CRO Contributor


Much has been written already - including by myself in my own blog - about the Big Tax Case verdict and its ramifications for both Rangers and Scottish football.

Regardless of the acts of retribution taken by a partly vindicated David Murray and others whose names have been dragged through the mud, I think one over-riding aspect of the whole episode is a determination within the heart of every Rangers fan that this will never happen again to our club.

From now on, every Ranger must be ever vigilant to stand against those haters and detractors who are the cancer in our game and a shame to our country.

Tell your sons and daughters of these black days in our history. Tell them of the pain and anguish as those who follow our club were subjected to abuse and persecution beyond any degree of acceptability.

Tell them of the poison spread by Rangers-hating journos and pundits - and the lies and propaganda of bloggers who sought to destroy our club.

Tell them of the backstabbing and betrayal by clubs who exist only because of the Rangers pound flowing into their grubby little coffers.

Tell them of the corruption at the heart of our game and the hate-filled drive to crush our club as a competitive force. Tell them of the sneaky thievery that sought to rob us of silverware manfully won.

Tell them of the brave stand shown against such persecution by stalwarts like Jardine and McCoist.

Tell them of these times and make sure it is imprinted on their memory.

Above all, tell them never to trust a Rangers-hater and to be ever vigilant and Aye Ready to take on the enemies of our club. Tell them to grasp the hand of proffered friendship with discretion and wariness.

Tell them what we have learned so that it will never be forgotten - that we must never allow our enemies to bring us low again.

Tell them to tell the enemies of Rangers in their day that no-one touches us with impunity.

Tell them that We are The People.

Then, now and forever.


Bill is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @WilliamMcMurdo and via email:bmcmurdo@thecoplandroad.org

20 November 2012

You, journo, no more from you

by Shane Nicholson | CRO Executive Editor

What a day. As has been said all along, the 140 years of unbroken history and unmatched success that is Rangers Football Club will carry on unscathed, even if those at the helm of the headlines still refuse to take heed.

Today brought the long awaited vindication of thousands of Rangers supporters screaming out for someone with a notebook to listen, those in the journalistic upper class of Scottish society, and those who have injected themselves into it uninvited.

Today their pens carry no weight, as their word has been bought and sold repeatedly by liars and discredited professionals of all walks of life.

For you, the journalists who sold tickets for this kangaroo court via your hateful and uninspired brand of “journalism”, shame on you.

You, Britney, your duplicity knows no bounds. You got on Clyde today and pleaded no contest to charges you had pinned Rangers as guilty on the advice of the one with 3-10 names and the failed lawyer's “award winning” blog. You mocked anyone who dare point out to you that they could in fact be wrong; in fact, there was every chance that they were. You peddle vindictive lies about how our support has become more dangerous as a result of the actions taken against our club. You pretend to be one of us when it suits you. Fuck off.

You, Gravy Boat, today you tried to bury an “apology” in regards to your accusing our glorious away support of singing a tune that’s not found its way into the song book for many years. You spewed forth some of the most venomous bile I’ve ever seen from someone who’s paid to entertain and inform the general public. If you worked in the States you would have lost your job long ago. Fuck off.

You, Tomo, are lucky that you’re spending the day in Gaza or Syria or wherever the fuck it is you claim to be. For if it was the case that you had readily available access to a keyboard and a reliable internet connection there is no doubt you would be stumbling all over the pile of bullshit you have gradually built via your “reporting” over the past months. You sympathize with terrorists, value your sources above human life, and have almost single-handedly rekindled a nasty and unnecessary element of Scottish football. You are dangerous, with no regard for what your dishonest and immoral take on something only loosely resembling classical journalism has done. Fuck off.

You, the dozen or so other journos I’ve had many conversations with via email in the past months, you who ignored and shrugged off when I tried to point out repeatedly that there was a bigger story at play here, that you could make your career meaningful if you were willing to ask basic follow up questions, that you had sitting in your lap the biggest story of your life but instead you chose to continue peddling the lies and misinformation of anonymous bloggers, fuck off.

You all bought into the hype stirred up by social media. You wanted to believe it could be true so bad your ignorance and disregard for fact became comical. Even today, you couldn’t possibly wrap your head around it that your web of lies was crashing down. You spent nine months building up some form of intellectual equity on a subject you knew little about, and relied on people hiding behind avatars for your information and insight into it.

You delighted at the thought of dozens of people at Ibrox losing their jobs. You trolled employees and fans of the club with your “Newco Rangers” headlines. You are complicit in this low-ball attempt at the social engineering of a country. If there were any justice, you would all be fired tomorrow.

Sadly, you all cashed checks on the back of this, as did your editors. Some of you even won awards for regurgitating the lies and innuendo. You are supposed to be objective observers of the world around you, and watch dogs for the public without your access and sources and reliable information. You became puppets of a dangerous underclass in Scottish football and society, all the while decrying good Rangers supporters protecting the integrity and history of their club as being nothing more than common criminals.

You should be out of a job, your bosses, too. You are not journalists; you are con-artists. You work in a world where your word is your livelihood, and you have given that up. And for what? What’s your grand reward at the end of the rainbow? We are still alive, stronger than ever, and we’re not going to stop coming after you until the day comes that you can do no harm to any set of football supporters ever again, not that any single one of you would ever say such things about any supporters but those who back Rangers.

Today we won, like we always have, 140 years and counting. If you’re not used to it by now then you never will be. But if you want one fact to take into your next column or investigative exclusive or hate-filled tweet to a football fan let it be this: Rangers then, Rangers now, Rangers forever.

Now fuck off.

Shane is the big boss man of the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @ofvoid and via email: shane@thecoplandroad.org

McNally Admits He Is A Silly Bhoy

by Bill McMurdo | CRO Contributor

Just tweeted by Brian McNally of The Mirror:

"Happy to point out the song sung by Rangers fans at Clyde was 4 Men Had a Dream which shares the tune of the Famine Song."

Not much of an apology but as we are all sucking lemons tonight at CRO, we'll take it.

We originally pointed out McNally's silliness here.

Now, about that BAFTA Award, Mark...?

Bill is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @WilliamMcMurdo and via email:bmcmurdo@thecoplandroad.org

I Think They’ve Caught Rangersitis!

By William Cahill | CRO Guest Contributor

At the moment, all you seem to see, when regarding Celtic fans, is that all they want to talk about is The Rangers, and is Twitter is the place where you hear them the most.

I don’t know how many of them have blocked me for simply questioning their allegiance to the side they claim to support. Most of the time it’s just the usual insults.

“Zombie.”
“Sevconian.”
“Dirty orange bastard.”

But like I tell people a lot: if it’s not me, it’s some other poor fucker.

Even after a shift at Fir Park, whilst en route back to Glasgow on a coach which my employer lays on for us, my Celtic-supporting work-mates were still talking about us… and they had beat Barcelona just two days before!

I suppose it’s true what they say:
You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Celtic fans whom I consider good friends have even stated to me that there is no excitement in the SPL without Rangers.

At least they're honest about it. Unlike most.

And no-one now realises it more than Neil Doncaster and his SPL’s member clubs. That’s why league reconstruction is a must for those wee clubs.

No Rangers. No Old Firm. No excitement.

Then follows the important part:

No sponsors. No Sky. No value.

Not only do the SPL still owe money to Rangers for finishing second last season, they also stalled on advanced TV payments to their member clubs too.

We know of at least one club whom it affected badly, Romanov’s Hearts.

Not only did they lose their best player to a Third Division club but they couldn’t even pay their staff on time either due to the incompetence of the technically insolvent SPL.

A figure of £1 million has been quoted as the fee paid for David Templeton. Plus, there is £500,000 outstanding for the transfer of Lee Wallace.

I wonder where those pounds and pennies are going? Certainly not into Hearts FC anyway, it would appear.

But I don’t think that many Rangers fans, like myself, will care too much about a club who voted for its own death like a lot of others carelessly did.

But, hey, karma can be a bitch, and as for that Rangersitis, we hear it can be tough to shake.
This is William's first go-round at the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @WilliamRFC_1

19 November 2012

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy In Royal Blue...

By Bill McMurdo | CRO Contributor

I last saw Sandy Jardine at Michelle Henderson's funeral.

He was present as both an ex-teammate of Willie Henderson and in the role he has come to embody - as the official ambassador of Rangers FC.

To younger Gers fans this is how they know Sandy Jardine - the man who has staunchly and capably represented the club in an off-field capacity through its darkest days.

To those who remember Sandy Jardine the player, there are years of great memories to choose from. He had a glittering carer at Ibrox and was pivotal to the club's success during the sixties, seventies and eighties. He was a stalwart in the two trebles under Jock Wallace and played in the 1972 Cup Winners Cup in Barcelona. His goal in the semi-final that year against the mighty Bayern Munich - a left-foot beauty - is one of the most vivid memories of my childhood.

I will never forget watching Sandy warm up underneath the Main Stand at Ibrox before every home game. He was a fitness fanatic and would always seek to get his second wind before the game.

Back when players often had beer bellies, Sandy Jardine was using sprint coaches to improve his pace and fitness. He was a phenomenal player for us and one of my all-time Rangers favourites.

The news that Sandy is battling liver cancer is a great blow to the Rangers family but he can be assured that every bear will be in his corner and giving him their full support.

I am sure the old song heard so often during his time as a player will be heard once more at Rangers games in coming weeks:

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy in Royal Blue
We're half crazy over the love of you...

It's not being sentimental to say it - it is just the absolute truth. Sandy Jardine is easily the best right back to ever play for the Gers in the last fifty years.

Get well soon, Sandy.

Bill is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @WilliamMcMurdo and via email at: bmcmurdo@thecoplandroad.org

All the Best, Sandy.

This weekend the beautiful game of football was once again put into perspective with the saddening news that Rangers’ legend Sandy Jardine is battling cancer. In the dark times that have encompassed our Club in recent months he has stepped forward and played his part in our revival which now sees us firmly on the road to recovery. Alongside Ally McCoist, he fought as hard as anyone to keep Rangers Football Club alive and for that we should be forever grateful.

Sandy Jardine was born in Edinburgh on 31 December 1948 and made his Rangers’ debut when only eighteen years old. He went on to make a tremendous number of appearances for the Club and to win 38 international caps for Scotland. Many of us at the CRO are too young to remember his playing career, but we've seen the footage and we're sure we could do with a few more players of his quality nowadays.

Sandy has since worked for Rangers FC in a public relations capacity, also assisting where necessary in the sales and marketing department. He was of course influential in the Rangers Fans’ Fighting Fund and the protest at Hampden which saw thousands of fellow Bears follow his lead and make a stance against the football authorities and their actions and for that he deserves recognition.

The word 'legend' is too carelessly tossed around nowadays but Sandy epitomises everything that the word should stand for and represent. He dedicated his best years of service to Rangers as a player and continued to serve the club through his behind-the-scenes role in recent years. He rightly sits alongside fellow greats in the Greatest Ever Rangers Team and that too is evidence of his contribution to our great institution.

We're sure you will all join us in wishing him all the best in his fight with cancer. Sandy won nearly every battle in his career. No doubt he can win this one too.

-The Copland Road Organization

Business Is Booming

By Bill McMurdo | CRO Contributor

It is my understanding that institutional investor interest for the Rangers IPO has far exceeded club expectations.


Rangers score again!

In fact, Rangers are anticipating that the share issue will be over-subscribed, a positive thing in today's gloomy economy.

I also understand that SFL executives are calm about Charles Green's comments regarding the possibility of Rangers playing in the EPL, regarding it as over-exuberant sales talk from the Rangers CEO.

Apparently, Rangers are presently having to take action on two fronts - the circulating of fake documents designed to destabilise the club over the impending share issue and a genuine leak from within Ibrox.

Charles Green is determined that nothing will derail the process of moving the club forward and building a warchest of substantial funds for the future.

My information is that he and his consortium are working like Trojans toward this end.

If Rangers Football Club benefit from all this activity, it can only be a good thing for those of a bluenose persuasion.

Bill is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @WilliamMcMurdo and via email at: bmcmurdo@thecoplandroad.org

16 November 2012

Shane was on the We Are The People Podcast for this week, which you can and absolutely should head over and listen to, forgoing all of your other life duties. We'll be here waiting. (Yes, he was Skyped in from a sub sitting on the bottom of the ocean.)

15 November 2012

Taking the Lead

by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

Which one of these is not like the other?
The phony war is over and league reconstruction is very much back on the agenda of Scottish football. First to break cover was the SFL who have proposed a 16-10-16 structure which they discussed on Wednesday in addition to also revamping the League Cup format. 

Less than 24 hours after news of the SFL plans, the SPL appeared with proposals of their own. And just when you thought the Football League proposals look lopsided, the SPL excelled itself with something ridiculously complicated.

I'm not going to discuss the merits of the proposals in full detail here, for there simply isn’t the time, but suffice to say that the promise of all sides working together on reconstruction proposals seems to have fallen by the wayside. There certainly seems to be a bit of a power struggle developing.

What is however very clear to me is that Rangers Football Club has to be at the centre of any reconstruction development. That immediately presents its own challenges and difficulties but those have to be overcome as these changes will be crucial and we need to shape it not simply react to it.

I hope this is clear to Charles Green and the Club but I'm not exactly convinced about that at the minute. Green was apparently not at the SFL meeting at Hampden. He was in London on IPO business with the club secretary representing Rangers at the reconstruction meeting instead. I'd like to know how much input, if any, we had into those proposals announced by SFL. Our voice should certainly be heard.

Of course first and foremost we need to get the Club back functioning properly but it would be foolish not to commit resources to the reconstruction of the Scottish game too. Afterall, these proposals will undoubtedly impact upon Rangers in one way or another.

Kenny McDowall was quoted earlier in the week as saying:
To be honest, after everything we’ve been through we’ve had a lot to take on and we’re still only just accepting where we are.  
"Our main aim at the moment is to win the Third Division and that’s all we can do. Whatever happens after that happens. 
"It’s outwith our control and we’ll obviously take it but there’s no point in us looking any further than where we are at the moment. 
"It’s all talk at present. We’ve been put in the Third Division and we’re expecting to have to work our way back up the leagues. 
"We’re not looking any further than that and we’re not worrying about anything else just now.”
Quite frankly, I couldn’t agree less. I can understand that from the football side that yes McDowall, McCoist and Durrant's focus should be on winning the Division Three and Ally has more than done his bit on the non-football side this year. But the Club should certainly be interested in it.  It could be vital to our future.

It is going to be a delicate negotiating job. Our relationship with the SPL is pretty well documented. It is absolutely dire and their dealings with our club are unlikely to be friendly. In addition, there will certainly be a job in finding allies in the SFL. 

There is a heavy irony in Rangers’ apparent support for reconstruction. It was far from being on the agenda when we were in the SPL and I'm sure that some will not let us forget that. Whatever happens, I do think there should be a fairer distribution of finances within our game. In some respects I suppose that our presence in the SFL has started that process already.

The question though is what is best for Rangers Football Club and I don't think anyone is close to answering that just yet which is exactly why I suggest we need member on the board focussing on almost solely on league reconstruction.
  
Charles Green is not the man for the job given the negotiations involved and he already has a full-time job as Chief Executive and his involvement in the upcoming IPO. Sir Walter though could certainly provide invaluable input in terms of long-term vision for both the Club and for Scottish football. As a non-exec director he is not full-time but can suitably advise someone in a more prominent role.

So let’s appoint a ‘director of structures and development’ (or whatever fancy title you want to give it) and let’s do it with some urgency. We must ensure that whatever is decided for the future for Scottish football suits Rangers as best as possible. It is after all our support and our money that the authorities and clubs will be after. It is time to grasp the nettle. Let’s take the lead on this one.

Peter is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @Seasider06 and via email: pewart@thecoplandroad.org