09 May 2013

Oh, What a Lovely Phony War!

by Gordon James | Guest Contributor

And so it goes on. The seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of self destruction that is Rangers gathers momentum and it appears the hand brake has came loose in someone’s hand.

The Rangers committee (I refuse to give it a grown up name like “board”) are a disjointed and fractious bunch with no clear leadership. Whoever said a camel is a horse designed by a committee was bang on about this bunch and again it is the fans that are being given the humping.

We have the chairman of the committee who is determined to hang on to his position like an old bowling club president unwilling to part with the blazer. This despite being told he is no longer wanted, not once but twice and despite agreeing to go and then reneging. 
There also appears to be a growing consensus that the costly inquiry, (rumoured to be in the region of £14,000 per day) has found very little if anything and yet Malcolm Murray doesn’t seem to find solace in that but perversely wants to widen the scope even further. Remarkably, he was even proposing that this includes talking to Aiden Earley! 

You could be forgiven for thinking this extravagant folly was to help Murray retain his position and remove others rather than clear up any issue with Whyte. And don’t forget, if Worthington Group plc, Whyte or Law Financial Ltd decides to take a punt on the legals, Rangers will face another hefty bill fighting a real war instead of this phoney one.

This is way beyond good governance and caring about Rangers, this is ego and intransigence and it is not a good mix. Murray should go as Green and Ahmad have now gone but will we then have a chance of some unity and cohesion on the board?

Walter Smith is the man that most fans appear to trust. I would go along with that although the mention of Martin Bain’s name being linked with the CEO position is a real worry. Craig Mather and Brian Stockbridge must know that despite having little financial interest in the club, Smith’s loss would be a very difficult if not insurmountable one to overcome. They should be working double hard to convince Smith that they are there for the long term and want a successful Rangers on and off the park.

It is worth mentioning that Mather ploughed a million quid in and Stockbridge paid in full for his shares. There are other higher paid employees who did neither at the club or who have been handsomely rewarded if they did. Stockbridge and Mather must sit down with Smith and the other board members and show them all they have been doing and what they intend to do. Smith was furious at the inclusion of Green in recent board matters although it was completely legitimate. He was not furious about asking Murray to go and that should be noted. They have to convince Smith (and indeed the fans) that they have a good plan and have little to do with Zeus, Green or Ahmad and the talk of any return by either of these men is malicious gossip.

There is no evidence that any remaining board members have anything other than good intentions for Rangers and when Green and Ahmad were there, they were probably being courted with hearsay and suggestion and no doubt by Murray as well. It has been an extremely difficult time for them but it can come together if they can perhaps find a good independent chairman. I am not sure what Mathers has done wrong that he is not fancied in some quarters but perhaps he should be given a chance at CEO position. If not then again, a good strong independent person should be found.

Today of course sees the Easdale brothers openly announcing that they intend to purchase Green’s shares and want a seat on the board. This exemplifies the problem at Rangers. The club belongs to the fans but they don’t own it. It would also be crazy to think that the people who represent the funds that invested in Rangers are not now watching the latest committee shambles with anything other than ever increasing dissatisfaction and uneasiness.

Investors do not like never ending power struggles, it’s bad for business. If things are not sorted out in Ibrox and a unity is not found, then how long before the bigger investors decide they have seen enough and force their own changes through. Can they call an EGM? Can they insist on changes through other means? If they can, you then are left with the real possibility of a board being put in place made up from these investors or at least their representatives.

Unfortunately, the support just doesn’t seem to have the appetite, the belief or the money for fan ownership. I don’t blame them. It can’t possibly be organised quickly enough and maybe things will change in the future. However, fans should in my opinion avoid a couple of things. Any nonsense about not renewing season tickets is seriously misplaced. 

The real power we do have is to deal the club a crippling financial blow by doing this. That cannot make any sense in any way shape or form whatever you think of the team or the people in charge. The other is to automatically assume that those who have been around the club in the past are the only future. Too often many of them have let us down. 

We must never return to the way Rangers historically operated when some of these people did nothing to address some gross financial mismanagement.