Rangers can’t edit history says chairman as he looks to merit his own Ibrox place
In the coming years we should discover whether Dave King will merit being considered a champion who revived Rangers, or simply one more figure to place in the sizeable rogues’ gallery at the Ibrox club. Whatever category he belongs in, the new Rangers chairman believes his portrait should one day feature in the Blue Room.
He sees that as a right of passage that comes with holding the position; whether incumbents have been the great and the good, or those who have greatly done no good. Into that latter category can be placed Craig Whyte. His image has not been captured on the Blue Room wall. David Murray is the last chairman to be painted there for posterity. Yet King believes Whyte and Murray ought to be together.
“I don’t believe all the chairmen [since David Murray] merit it [a place on the wall] – but I think they belong there,” he said. “When one looks back on the history of Rangers, this will be part of it and I don’t think anyone has the right to self-edit their history. I think it would be wrong. I didn’t know they weren’t there, quite frankly, but if they are there they’re part of what the club is when we look back. History is what it is, good and bad. I think Sandy Jardine once made a suggestion saying he could accept a portrait of Craig Whyte there but we would have to turn it to face the wall.”
The problem for Rangers outsiders is that there isn’t yet as much distance between King and Whyte as would seem desirable. Whyte is clearly a shyster whose business practices have required playing fast and loose with tax regulatory bodies. For King to have received 41 convictions for contraventions of South African tax laws, and to have paid more than £41 million to avoid prison in his settlement with the country’s revenue service not even two years ago, hardly suggests he made a point of lodging exhaustive returns on time.
This leads on to the whole farrago of last week’s ruling by the SFA that King was a ‘fit and proper’ person to sit on the Ibrox board. The new Rangers chairman believes he was subjected to a level of scrutiny way beyond that applied to Whyte. Yet, the fact that both men were waved in demonstrates that the governing body require to do themselves a favour and remove any articles pertaining to ‘fit and proper’ because, patently, they will completely ignore them if they see fit. The judgment is discretionary. That should be the only wording in the articles.
‘I don’t think all the chairmen merit it –but I think they belong there... this will be part of Rangers’ history’
The question of why the SFA chose to park certain guidelines over what constitutes ‘fit and proper’ in King’s case causes a certain disquiet. Before he ousted Mike Ashley’s men from the Rangers boardroom, King stated that his level of investment would be unaffected by whether or not he was on the club’s board. Then, as if seeking to exert pressure on the SFA, in the past month the impression given was that without King being Rangers chairman, the club would not have the same amount of investment from him. It was as if it was being said to the SFA that it was not a case of arriving at judgment on the man, but rather deciding whether Rangers would have the financial muscle to become great income-and-interest generators for Scottish football in the coming years.
When this tawdry episode is tacked on to King’s claims about having a nominated adviser (Nomad) lined up before the takeover, only for the club subsequently to be de-listed because a Nomad failed to be appointed, in recent months there has been a disconnect between King’s initial, bold pronouncements and subsequent developments.
Yet, in person, the emigre Glaswegian proves a plausible, intriguing character, and one who no longer – if indeed he ever did – considers unchecked spending acceptable at the club. In this respect, his take on the breakdown of his relationship with David Murray over the path to oblivion that the owner of two decades sent Rangers on is instructive.
King maintains he was not sore over losing the £20m he invested in Rangers, but over the fact that Murray failed to provide “disclosure” as to how he was then propping up the club.
“David Murray never ever let me know that the money that ‘we’ were putting in was my money and not his money,” King said. “He should have let me know. I never knew at any stage that if something happened to the Murray Group it could come back to Rangers. I regard myself as having lost a substantial portion of money because of non-disclosure.
“It wasn’t a management issue and it wasn’t just about losing the money. I’ve resigned myself to not getting the money back. I really felt there was a level of disclosure. I was David’s senior partner in the funding and he would come to me from time to time. He owed me the obligation to say ‘by the way Dave, I’m asking you to put your money in but this [Murray’s contribution] is not really my money’. I believed that we were both putting in surplus cash that we could afford to lose. The fact he couldn’t afford to lose it cost me losses that I believe were unnecessary. That’s what I was sore about.”
King, like every other Rangers supporter, is sore about the dealings of Whyte – who bought Rangers from David Murray for £1 in 2011 – and his sale of the Rangers assets to Charles Green that followed the club’s liquidation the following year, and the Yorkshireman’s subsequent running of the club.
The takeovers are subject to police investigation, and King is convinced that a measure of both disclosure and accountability – but only a measure – will be forthcoming over Rangers’ travails across the past four years. “I don’t think the full extent [of the misdeeds] will be unravelled but I think we will unravel enough to bring to book a couple of people,” he said. “I believe that will happen.”
All manner of pictures might become clear in time.