BEING suited to hold power and having the means to achieve it are two totally separate things. That’s a simple enough statement, but possibly one which suffices to sum up many aspects of the increasingly shambolic situation at Rangers.
Take Charles Green. The Yorkshireman has now had the means to achieve power at Rangers not once but twice. On the first occasion, he and his associates bought the old company’s assets and set up the newco. On the second, just last week, he was able to persuade the board of directors to bring him back as a “consultant”.
Does that mean he is a suitable person to hold office at Ibrox? Of course it doesn’t. Indeed, the widespread dismay which greeted his return six days ago surely shows that most people in Scottish football believe he did enough during his first spell at the club to morally disqualify himself from office.
Few can now believe that Rangers are in safe hands with Green anywhere close to the reins of power. At a time when the club needs cleansed like never before, his return has merely dripped fresh venom into an already suppurating wound.
At least some, if not all, of the current board are well aware that he is a liability – which is why, according to some at the club, they resisted his attempts to return as a director. So why did they agree he should return? Above all, because it was Green who was able to raise more than £22million from investors. And perhaps because, at the rate money is being spent just now, they need someone like that to help with the next attempt to attract more cash to the club.
If so, you could argue that the current board have a similar credibility problem to Green. They have been able to acquire power, but lack the clout to lead us to conclude that they are up to the job.
So what of the alternative to the present board and to Green? What of Jim McColl, one of the country’s richest men, and Paul Murray, the former Rangers director whom he is backing for a return to the board along with Frank Blin?
This is where the picture becomes more obscure. McColl undoubtedly has the means to acquire power at Ibrox, but appears to have categorically ruled out taking up Green on his offer to sell 28 per cent of the club for £14m. Murray was a leading light in the Blue Knights consortium which failed to take over before Green took charge: so far at least, he lacks the means to acquire power.
There are, however, two things in Murray’s favour. One is the backing from McColl, and the other is the fact that, of all the characters involved in this whole demoralising saga, he has emerged with more personal credibility than almost anyone else. You could argue that’s because he has never had to get his hands dirty. You could say that if and when he ever gets a seat on the board, his weaknesses will soon become apparent.
But for the time being at least, that’s no more than a hypothesis. As things stand, Paul Murray has an intact reputation as a man of good will who wants the best for his club. That is not enough in itself to mean he should be given the chance to run Rangers, but it does mean he compares favourably with many of the other characters who have been seen around the place in the past couple of years.
Nonetheless, we should be wary of reducing this saga to a simple tale of good versus bad. Green, for all his faults, has a few things going for him. That ability to raise all those funds, for one thing; and his assessment of the state of the football team, for another.
The timing of his various statements about Ally McCoist’s side has been dubious at best, and the wording has been contentious – particularly because it comes from someone who is supposed to be working with the manager, not trying to undermine him. But when Green said last week that Rangers really should be winning a cup as well as League One, was that really so unreasonable?
Both last summer and this, they have been able to spend an extraordinary amount to attract players of top-division quality to the club. Even last Saturday, when none of his “trialists” was available to McCoist, there should have been easily enough talent to see off Forfar in the first round of the League Cup.
The manager’s suggestion that the players’ preparation had been disturbed by Green’s outburst in a newspaper that morning was unconvincing. Lee McCulloch, troubled by a few inky words? Don’t think so. Lee Wallace, thrown off his stride by an old bloke in a suit making a few disparaging remarks? Hardly.
Let’s take the character of Green out of it, no matter how big or bad or bullying you might think he is, and simply ask the question. Is it reasonable to expect Rangers to have done better in the Scottish Cup and the League Cup?
Last September they beat Motherwell in the third round of the latter competition and gave every indication that almost all of their former SPL rivals would find them hard to beat. But the following month they lost in the next round to Caley Thistle, and in January they were beaten in the third round of the Scottish Cup by Dundee United. Last week’s defeat by Forfar suggests they are further away than ever from reaching their old standards.
And in that case, we might be right to conclude that McCoist, like others at his club, had the means to gain power – thanks above all to the patronage of Walter Smith – but has failed to give proof of his suitability to hold on to it.