13 April 2013

For Charles Green, context is king

by Andy McGowan | Contributor

In the world of media context is king. The facts of a story may not change but how they are reported can blur what is already a muddled picture, and pictures don’t come quite as muddled as the one at Ibrox.

A week on from Whyte’s claims in The Sun lets lay out the facts and forget the sensationalism and spin the Scottish media enjoys putting on a Rangers story. On Friday The Sun made us aware of ‘bombshell’ evidence that Whyte was intending to sue Charles Green and Imran Ahmad and revealed that Green and Ahmad held secret meetings with Whyte.

Had Charles Green been lying to us? Keeping us in the dark? Why didn’t we know he’d met with Whyte in the lead up to buying the club? Well, we did. On the 29th of October last year Charles Green tells us about his meetings with Whyte and he also told us of our former owner’s plans to sue the club when speaking to Richard Wilson of the Herald.

“I was introduced to him by Imran Ahmad [Rangers’ commercial director], Craig Whyte did introduce me to Duff & Phelps. We needed to get hold of Craig Whyte's shares, so Duff & Phelps would treat us as credible.

“We didn't need them in the end because it went down newco route. I met him four times in London, Imran Ahmad has had loads of meetings with him. People thought we were working with Craig Whyte, [but] I believe he is now suing us, because he believes he was entitled to something for handing over the shares.”

This was almost seven months ago yet there were no doubts raised over Charles Green at the time. Why? Mr Whyte did go one further though and allow us to hear carefully chosen outtakes of his seemingly endless recordings of meetings that took place. In one of the recordings we hear Whyte being assured that he is Sevco, in reference to Sevco 5088, the initial company setup to buy the club.

The Sun goes one further and tells us that ‘Sevco 5088 Ltd and Green bought Rangers for £5.5million in June, 2012.’ This of course is not true. Sevco 5088 never owned any asset of Rangers Football Club as The Sun told us. The Rangers Football Club Limited – formerly Sevco Scotland Limited – purchased the club and its assets from the Oldco Rangers. Although Sevco 5088 was originally setup to purchase the club it was decided a Scottish company should own a Scottish club ergo Sevco Scotland was born. This is confirmed in Duff and Phelps interim and final reports.

Interim report dated 10 July 2012 stated:

“4.1 The Club continued to trade under the control of the Joint Administrators up to the date of the sale of the business and assets of the Company to Sevco on 14 June 2012.”

“Sevco” is defined in the report as: “Sevco Scotland Limited of Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow G51 2XD (Company number SC425159).”

In their final report dated 27 September 2012, they stated:

“7.1 A detailed outline of the marketing process undertaken by the Joint Administrators which preceded the sale of the business, history and certain assets of the Club to Newco on 14 June 2012, was provided in the previous report to creditors dated 10 July 2012.”

“Newco” is defined in this report as “The Rangers Football Club Limited (Formerly Sevco Scotland Limited) of Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow G51 2XD (Company number SC425159).”

Green and Imran are heard making Whyte a series of promises about his involvement with Sevco 5088 and Rangers. And of course Craig Whyte has insisted that Green is nothing but a paper owner and he is the true owner of the club.

Thanks to our new PR Chief, Green was afforded the right to respond to Whyte’s claims before they were published and as expected we were told that Whyte was simply being kept sweet when the prospect of a CVA was still viable.

Green and Imran weren’t the only ones playing this game with Whyte. In May of last year Brian Kennedy met with Whyte amidst reports of claims from Whyte such as a seat on the board and in the director’s box. And as our own Bill McMurdo can testify to having known Mr Whyte through his father for many years he is a difficult man to deal with and must be treated with kid gloves and sweet talked.

The Sun tells us how Green admits to ‘conning’ Whyte for control of the club. Green said, “We told him what he wanted to hear. Imran told him because we needed to keep him sweet to prise the club away from him. We had deals with him and what Imran was doing for a long period was, if Craig Whyte asked ‘Am I 6ft 4in tall?’ Imran would say ‘I think you are taller than that — actually. I think you are 6ft 6in.’”

The following day, Charles Green responded more robustly to Whyte’s claims answering each point in turn:

On Whyte’s claim he is a front man: “He could not be more wrong. With 8%, I am the major shareholder in Rangers FC and I have no tie in of any kind with Mr Whyte. He was never going to become an associate and never will. He has no right to any claim on Rangers FC, it’s shares or assets.”

On allegations there is a letter which agrees Mr Whyte and Aidan Earley, would have a majority shareholding in Sevco 5088: “If there is it wasn’t signed or endorsed by me. Perhaps Mr Whyte would be good enough to send me a copy.”

On telling Mr Whyte ‘He is Sevco’: “This is correct but at that point I had signed a resignation letter and a stock transfer form because it was decided that a Scottish company should buy a Scottish institution. Sevco 5088 wasn’t required.”

Charles Green challenges Whyte to produce proof of his claims. To this point neither man had produced anything definitive to discredit the other. In the days that followed, this robust response by Charles Green became his own worst enemy with a series of bizarre interviews, informing us of his out of date views on political correctness and his hyperbole over Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys which has now in the circumstances been spun to discredit the man.

His harmless exaggerations used to overstate the points he was making have become tools for discrediting him and add weight to the view that he may indeed not be telling us the truth over Craig Whyte. Charles Green has no one to blame but himself for this. Many of us shifted uncomfortably in our chairs while he waxed lyrical about 500 million viewers, media rights worth £100 million and his insistence that Barcelona would like to play us every week. He has made the job of making himself look a liar rather than an exaggerator incredibly easy at times and it has been exploited to devastating effect.

It also emerged that Green had received a payment of £25,000 from Whyte and Earley which was to be used to pay legal costs for Field Fisher Waterhouse, and that Craig Whyte also handed over £137,000 to Imran Ahmad though for what purpose is unclear. In an interview with STV News, Green stated the cheque bounced and he ended up paying the lawyers himself and also in The Sun that he and Ahmad have tried to return the £137,000, which has never been in a bank account associated with the club or even Sevco 5088, back to him: “But no matter how hard we try to do that he won’t accept receipt of it.” Green also stated that “Imran felt he had to keep him going down the road of giving over his shares so he was told if he had the money he could still deposit it.”

STV produced further evidence from Whyte, obtained by Mike Farrell, proving that he was involved with Sevco 5088, this time a document allegedly signed by Charles Green that shows Whyte as a director of 5088:

The document, dated 9 May 2012, has allegedly only recently been lodged with Companies House despite Sevco 5088 being currently in the process of being wound up. STV’s newscast tell us that this proves Green is a liar as he had claimed Whyte wasn’t involved with Sevco 5088. Let’s look at the quote more closely and in full.

What Green told STV was this: “Neither of them had a role in Sevco 5088. That was a company formed by Field Fisher Waterhouse for the purpose of acquiring Rangers.” Sounds like Mr Green has been lying right? Wrong, and it’s down to our old friend context yet again to explain why. STV seem to use only half the quote on purpose. The full quote reads “Neither of them had a role in Sevco 5088. That was a company formed by Field Fisher Waterhouse for the purpose of acquiring Rangers. Of course, what everyone knows, in the ensuing weeks, as the model unfolded, Sevco Scotland acquired Rangers, not Sevco 5088. The company that was originally formed was not required and was handed back to Craig Whyte.” The quote reads to me that Green simply handed Sevco 5088 – now redundant in the process of acquiring the club – over to an unsuspecting Whyte. This is backed up by Green’s claim that by the time he told Whyte on tape that, “He was Sevco.”

“[That he] had signed a resignation letter and a stock transfer form because it was decided that a Scottish company should buy a Scottish institution. Sevco 5088 wasn’t required.”

However Rangers have gone a step furtherthan explaining this document and claimed it isn’t real. A spokesman for Charles Green said: “Mr Green is appalled by this blatant attempt to discredit him.

“These documents are not correct or valid and he did not sign Craig Whyte or his associate on as directors of Sevco 5088.

“Mr Green was the sole director of Sevco 5088 until he resigned and became the founder director of Sevco Scotland, formed by Scottish solicitors.

“If this documentation was correct then, as Sevco 5088 was formed as the initial bid vehicle, the administrators would have been negotiating a sale of the club to a company which had a director who was clearly forbidden from being involved with it.

“Furthermore, it should strike people as deeply suspicious that these documents are being filed today 11 months after they were supposedly signed and on other documents Mr Green’s home address has been mysteriously changed without his knowledge.

“Furthermore, notice was filed publicly in January this year by Field Fisher Waterhouse and is on record at Companies House seeking to strike off the company, yet four months later directors appointments are now being supposedly filed.

“As stated previously these matters are now in the hands of lawyers who are preparing a file to be sent to Police Scotland and Mr Green cannot comment further on the details of that process.”

After a week of claim and counter claim there is no doubt that Charles Green’s credibility has been damaged and he has been the cause of a great deal of the damage himself simply by keeping his mouth shut when it should have been open and opening it when it should have remained firmly shut. Charles Green in my opinion now has no choice but to lay his cards on the table and come clean on everything that’s gone on. Some of it won’t paint him in a particularly favourable light but let’s not be na├»ve, Charles Green isn’t some squeaky clean business man. Show me a business man who claims to be squeaky clean and I’ll show you a liar. The only way out for Green is now to press on into the darkness and hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel because simply responding each time a new detail is revealed puts himself and the club on the back foot. It may be uncomfortable but the truth will set Green free.

It is an incredibly complex set of accusations and answers and so far it all boils down to one man’s word against another as neither has produced anything concrete to back their claims other than the disputed document linking Whyte to 5088 which of course as we know even if real doesn’t actually entitle him to much given Sevco Scotland purchased the club and not 5088. Craig Whyte must produce a smoking gun to back up his claims, small clips from hours of audio and disputed documentation simply won’t cut it and in my opinion he can’t produce a smoking gun because he simply doesn’t have one. I don’t have to tell you about the several times over the past two years he has threatened to sue anyone who got in his way: The Daily Record, the BBC, Duff and Phelps, Ticketus and now Charles Green and Imran Ahmad, but thus far these have been idle threats. If Craig Whyte really has a claim to the keys to Ibrox why is he talking to the media and not a magistrate? Why is he telling us he’s going to sue instead of doing it?

Equally Charles Green now must prove to his own boardroom and to the SFA, whose intervention I welcome on this occasion, that he is telling the truth. Green can talk till he’s blue in the face but until more credible men from the SFA and inside our own club give him the all clear he must be scrutinized.

As it stands the only question you have to ask yourself having read the facts of the matter without them being tarted up by a red top notorious for skewing facts is this: Who do you believe, Charles Green or Craig Whyte? I know where my trust lies today.