22 May 2013

Journalistic Integrity, Where Art Thou?

by Andy McKellar | Deputy Editor

The relentless chaos and uncertainty at Rangers looks set to rumble on into another turbulent summer as boardroom battles and plays for ownership continue to dominate the headlines. Our Club is currently at war with itself. There is no leadership. There is no direction. It is being permeated by bitching, bickering and shamefully constant back-stabbing. This is what we have become. Our recent history reads more like the script of a badly written pantomime. And in this tale, there doesn’t appear to be a happy ending.

The Rangers board is charged with acting professionally and in a manner befitting the proud institution of which they are the current custodians. Instead we have an internal war being played out in the public domain with continuous leaks and smear campaigns being waged from opposite ends of the divide. The recent headlines have certainly not made for pleasant reading and it is shameful that our directors and employees feel they are able to behave in such a way.

Problems from within the Blue Room were rumoured to have started quite some time ago with Malcolm Murray and Charles Green failing to see eye to eye on many matters. Since then Green was largely the architect of his own downfall, admittedly helped by the Craig Whyte “revelations”, and this was the catalyst which saw the dirty tricks increase in frequency and severity.

Ahmad, the man behind the purchase of the Club, was then exposed, presumably in breach of his contract, as having leaked sensitive boardroom information onto fans’ forums. This was nothing short of disgraceful and thankfully it resulted in his eventual dismissal, seemingly without the large pay-off he was hoping to receive. Unfortunately this has only heightened his willingness to stoop to new levels.

In recent days we have seen Malcolm Murray being embarrassed by a video which was posted online and subsequently leaked to the media in an unedited format. The Rangers chairman is recorded as he staggers out of a restaurant after a few too many drinks and this was supposedly taped to be shown to the remaining directors as a matter of concern. If only it had stayed within the boardroom.

The newspapers’ source would appear to be Imran Ahmad. Murray would certainly not be responsible and the latest headlines almost definitely indicate that Brian Stockbridge was also not the man behind the leak, although it does appear that it was he who filmed it. But the Daily Record rather seem to be twisting the story beyond recognition, perhaps to suit themselves.  

Keith Jackson’s front-page ‘Bluesgate’ headline yesterday certainly captured people’s attention. It is no coincidence that Stockbridge is constantly mentioned and indeed pictured throughout the article which describes the “new low” in the “dirty tricks war”. Jackson however fails to mention just how he came into possession of the tape and indeed from whom. It is very strange that his disdain is not instead reserved for them, but of course why would it? They after all have given him a story.

The Record’s smear campaign against the Club’s financial director continued this morning with a report which claims that “Rangers fans demand video-row director Stockbridge must quit”. Now, most of you who are regular users of social networking sites and fans’ forums will probably be aware that many questioned the lack of a moral compass in filming our drunken chairman. However, I certainly am not of the opinion that any significant number were actively calling for Stockbridge to go.

While the former Zeus Capital man is indeed viewed as one of the “money men” within the Blue Room, Stockbridge does not appear to be held in the same regard as Charles Green and the disgraced Ahmad. Many believe that he has done a good job since coming into the club and perhaps respect the fact that he has not engaged in the war of words that has been ongoing. This certainly seems miles away from the “blistering attack” that the Daily Record claims our fans have launched on the financial director. But then again, publishing a story is no longer about the truth.

The basis of the rather peculiar tale seems to be based around the fact that a supporters’ group representative used the word “untenable”. If that qualifies as a “blistering attack” then I’d hate to see any of these men get into a debate with some of the punters on a match-day. I also believe that many fans will disagree with the opinion that Stockbridge cannot be allowed to continue in his position. At worst he behaved unethically but with the right intentions. It’s hardly a sacking offence.

It would seem that the Daily Record are happy to smear and tarnish the reputations of people involved in the current boardroom battle while protecting those responsible for the leaking of sensitive information. The false disdain they appear to hold against the likes of Stockbridge is an embarrassing case of double standards and sheer hypocrisy. Their inability to properly research the issue also speaks volumes for the lack of integrity and professionalism there. But then again, perhaps we should expect nothing else from certain elements of our media.

The current situation at our Club certainly needs resolved very quickly. It is utterly embarrassing and does nothing but damage our reputation. Imran Ahmad, rather ironically, suggested in a recorded phone call to Malcolm Murray that he should do things “the Rangers way” and “not air our dirty linen in public”. He is of course completely right and that is something we should all be hoping returns. If only he took his own advice.  

Until that happens though newspapers and journalists will happily put across only one side of the story. They will wilfully abandon the search for the truth if it means achieving a dramatic headline. It would certainly appear that the integrity in reporting on our game is as much of a sham as the integrity of those running it. But at the moment our Club is its own worst enemy. We can only hope for a speedy resolution and an end to the chaos which has engulfed us for far too long.