15 November 2013

For the Good of Rangers, Irvine Must Go

by Graham Taylor | Guest Contributor

Another Friday and yet another example of how Jack Irvine continues to bring more shame to the good name of Rangers Football Club. His rebuttal to a piece in this morning’s Daily Record concerning Dundee CEO Scot Gardiner’s reasons for turning down a seemingly identical role at Ibrox was tantamount to nothing more than a personal attack on a journalist who has made it quite clear he won’t be peddling the ‘Irvine line’ anymore.  Keith Jackson can speak for himself, and will do so on tomorrow’s edition of Sportsound Extra regarding the veracity of his article, however this episode is just the latest in a long list of shambolic behaviour attributable to the man charged with the task of handling Rangers’ public relations.

Following the requisition to convene a General Meeting in August by 28% of the shareholders represented by Jim McColl and Paul Murray, MediaHouse (and more specifically Irvine) returned to the club after a brief absence with the remit of defending the Board against “the vicious and, at times underhand, attacks” from the requisitioners.

It wasn’t a totally surprising development as the departure of Charles Green had left a gap to be filled by the Easdale brothers, whose personal PR consultant was also a certain Mr Irvine. Almost immediately he became embroiled in controversy as it emerged he had insulted Rangers legend John Greig in an email exchange during the Craig Whyte era. The embattled Craig Mather attempted to appease our vociferous support, who demanded the immediate removal of Irvine, by suggesting that a “mini-report” had been called for and that he would take the appropriate action in due course.

Several weeks later Mather produced a statement from Irvine in a meeting with the representatives of fan groups and read out his apology on the understanding that the statement would be released to the public imminently. Craig Mather left Rangers a few days later. To this date the statement has never been released. Quelle surprise!

There are plenty of well-intentioned individuals that have come to the fore to try and bring stability and structure back to the club, but it appears the remit from the incumbent Board has allowed Jack Irvine to do anything possible to deter these people from becoming involved. Frank Blin, an Executive Chairman of PwC Scotland for the best part of forty years, left the process after feeling disillusioned at the constant switching of positions and the implied threat to investigate his private life, as noted by Paul Murray on Sportsound Extra on Saturday 14th September.

Only a few hours earlier Irvine had launched a late-night tirade against Jim McColl, branding him the “Bullshit Billionaire” on Twitter. For a supposed public relations expert that was nothing short of an utter embarrassment. Irvine however saved his most disgraceful act for the return of the one man that appears to unite the most fractious support in world football – Dave King.

When news emerged of King’s talks with Craig Mather and Brian Stockbridge, the Rangers support voiced their approval. It was practically a unanimous view that the return of King could only be of benefit to Rangers but within days a concerted effort had been made behind the scenes to undermine King by rubbishing his chances of being agreeable to the Nomad, the Stock Exchange and the SFA. To the credit of the media only a handful of journalists ran with the line that King would not be able to participate on the Rangers International Football Club plc board, but it was abundantly clear that King’s re-emergence had not sat comfortably with James and Sandy Easdale.

Why would any true Rangers man deny Dave King a place at the club while we are facing financial difficulties and after King spoke of his willingness to provide substantial investment? Perhaps that is a question for another time but it showed once again that by launching a spurious private campaign against King, Jack Irvine is not employed for the interests of Rangers but for the interests of certain individuals within Rangers.

Today the reports that Rangers had lined up former Manchester City Chief Financial Officer Graham Wallace as the next CEO seemed like a careful and calculated response to the story in the Daily Record about Scot Gardiner, which appeared to have irked Irvine. The Wallace story in The Scottish Sun was particularly bemusing as it stated, from a source, that his credentials “blew away all the competition”. If that is taken at face value then fine, as Wallace does seem to have a CV that stands up to scrutiny, but it flies in the face of the fact that Gardiner had been interviewed and offered the job in the first place, making the supposed source’s comment utterly preposterous.

What is more curious is the admission that Jack Irvine had integrated himself into the discussions with candidates for the Chief Executive role at Ibrox, although perhaps this revelation shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given that his blogger of choice informed everyone a few weeks back that Irvine had accompanied Sandy Easdale and Brian Stockbridge to meetings with investors in The City.

That however begs the question – just exactly what is Jack Irvine, a public relations man or an unofficial director of the club? Rangers used to be a symbol of distinction, the premier club in Scotland and one of the foremost football clubs in all of Europe. So when you looked at the official club website this afternoon and were met with the petulant rantings of an overpaid PR man angry about the placement of a story that reflects negatively on his work, it is indicative of how far this institution has fallen from the standards and class set by our forefathers.

The damage Jack Irvine and MediaHouse have inflicted on Rangers, directly and indirectly, cannot be understated. It should never be forgotten that it was Irvine that cleared the path for Craig Whyte to take control of Rangers without any great degree of scrutiny due to his suppression of negative articles concerning Whyte’s business past. It is therefore simply inconceivable that he is, to this day, still tasked with the remit of representing Rangers’ interests.

This individual can no longer be allowed to constantly drag the club’s reputation into the gutter with his highly-questionable methods while being handsomely rewarded for it with funds invested into the club by you, me and the thousands-upon-thousands of Rangers fans all over the world.

The time has surely come to say that enough is enough. For the good of Rangers, Jack Irvine must go.