05 August 2013

Walter's Walk Leaves a Void of Credibility

by Chris Graham | Contributor

‘Last but most certainly not least, I must turn to Rangers supporters. They have suffered agonies and tortures over the last two years but they can be proud of their contribution. They did not waver in their support of their Club and as far as I am concerned they have been absolutely the one outstanding feature of this Club.

'Indeed, they are a reminder to those in the Boardroom that Directors have the massive and ultimate responsibility of serving, protecting and nourishing this Club for the benefit of the fans and not an individual or any associates. Rangers fans are a credit to their Club and they really do deserve so much better.'

-Walter Smith

The news that Walter Smith felt compelled to resign from his position as Chairman of Rangers should be the latest in a number of loud alarm bells ringing in the ears of our support. The statement that followed should leave nobody in any doubt about backing the proposed board changes. Walter is quite simply the only man on that board that the vast majority of fans would have trusted unreservedly to put Rangers before either himself or the money to be made from our club. His departure and subsequent statement leaves the board bereft of credibility and is another hammer blow to the returning Charles Green.

Walter has now served notice that he believes the fans and the directors of the club should back Jim McColl’s resolution to install Paul Murray and Frank Blin on the board. Earlier reports indicate that Walter may well have been gagged from speaking out further on how the return of Charles Green and the way our club is being run prompted him to vacate his position, but he has unequivocally backed the removal of Ahmad and Green’s influence on the club. All the indications point to Green’s return as being the catalyst for his departure, but in the void created by any enforced silence there would have been opportunity for Imran Ahmad’s propagandists to work their magic. We already had seeds of doubt being placed by bloggers suggesting that his departure was linked to doubts over Ally McCoist’s position. This is what the Ahmad camp would love us to believe and we would have seen more of this in the coming days from those who are willing to churn out whatever Ahmad tells them to.

But Walter found a way to speak out, at least to some extent. The fans deserve to know why he was effectively driven out of the club he loves. I understand he was more than prepared to comment specifically on his concerns before the attempt to gag him. This is what things have come to. Those who want to inform the support are now being gagged by those who would rather the truth was kept from us. That he found a way to stand up and do the right thing is a measure of the man.

So where does Walter’s departure leave Rangers? Bereft of anyone credible in the boardroom. Vulnerable to the whims of the group of shareholders who bullied and cajoled to get Charles Green back into position. A board in charge of the club who were too weak to back a Rangers legend in keeping Green and Ahmad at arm’s length.

The fans deserve answers and they are not getting them. Rumours abound about less than impressive commercial deals, money finding its way out of the club to those who are perhaps doing little to earn it, dwindling IPO cash and now the attempted gagging of those who would speak out.

The timing of all this stinks. Perhaps fans would have bought season tickets in their thousands anyway, out of loyalty to the club, but Walter’s presence was a reassuring factor in the incredible support once again demonstrated by our long suffering fans. Green departed the club just before the season tickets went on sale and is returning just as they hit the 35k mark. It’s as transparent as it could be. What has changed in the past two months that makes a man who embarrassed the club and whose behaviour prompted the need for an expensive internal investigation fit to return? The answer is nothing. This is not about Rangers, it is about the need to shore up the share price and try to ensure maximum return for Ahmad’s investors.

Look at the state of our boardroom. Celtic, the second biggest team in the country, can boast a board of seasoned business brains and PLC experience. We have a ragtag bunch, there at the behest of Ahmad and Green, who failed to back up Walter in his efforts to bring some respectability and coherence to their running of our club. The appointment of Green as a consultant, a made up position purely for the benefit of a specific group of investors, was clearly the final straw. That some of these board members treated Walter so poorly on a personal level and caved in to pressure should forever be to their shame.

Supporters are now utterly in the dark. No doubt when Green returns he will attempt his ringmaster routine. Rabble rousing, fights picked with the football authorities and more outlandish promises that are never fulfilled. The bottom line is that he no longer has the credibility of Ally McCoist or Walter Smith to lean on. McCoist’s savaging of him over the weekend has left fans in no doubt as to his feelings and Walter Smith didn’t even want to hang about until Green arrived back in Glasgow. That Walter has now publicly backed those opposing the influence of Green and Ahmad will surely be the final nail in their coffin?

Nonetheless, expect a barrage of claim and counter claim. There are those in our support who still remember the good things Green did and who still have not seen through the fa├žade. I understand that but they are having the wool pulled over their eyes by those who for reasons we can only guess are willing to churn out Ahmad’s propaganda on a daily basis. Perhaps they believe that Ahmad is really the man to take Rangers forward. Perhaps they are just doing it for personal gain. It if is the former then they are deluded, if it is the latter then they should be utterly ashamed. Do they really believe that our fans will fall for Green’s sales patter a second time? Especially after Walter has made his concerns clear?

Dallas Cowboys’ link up, soccer academies in the USA and India, a whole new club media platform funded from the IPO money, £10m for McCoist to spend on players. The list of broken promises goes on and on.

Are Jim McColl’s group perfect? Perhaps not. I’m sure part of us would love the idea that McColl will come in and throw money at the club to get us back to where we belong but we should remember where that got us before. The club needs a strong board that can run the club properly and take tough decisions if need be. They also need to be people with a track record that we can trust.

Frank Blin has an outstanding record in business and huge financial experience. Do we really object to him sitting on the board and examining just what has happened to the IPO money that poured into the club? Jim McColl’s credentials in business in Scotland are perhaps second to none. What is it about Rangers current situation that so concerns these guys? What is it that so concerns the institutional investors who have put their name to requisitioning the EGM? Do we not at least want to know the answer? Do we really believe that Jim McColl is feigning concern as some sort of ruse to get hold the club?

The fans are going to be hit with a wall of misinformation in the coming days. The bottom line is do we want answers or do we want the wool pulled over our eyes again? We have two home games coming up and we have already seen fans gathered outside Ibrox on the news of Walter’s departure. Will we find our voice and make our displeasure clear in a positive way? Ahmad’s group will be relying on Charles Green’s ability to win us over again. I suggest we don’t fall for it. Trust Walter and follow his lead.