Nigel Spackman shared the dismay of Rangers supporters as their club lurched from one calamity to another in the aftermath of insolvency four years ago.
But, if the former Rangers midfielder was horrified by events at Ibrox during Charles Green’s tenure as chief executive, he was far from surprised.
Spackman made a rare return visit to Glasgow yesterday, on promotional business ahead of next week’s Scottish Cup final between his old club and Hibs.
He is delighted to see good times on the pitch and stability in the boardroom returning to Rangers but still rues the involvement of his old nemesis Green, who headed the consortium which purchased the club’s business and assets in 2012, an acquisition still subject to ongoing criminal proceedings.
Spackman fell foul of Green’s methods back in 1998, resigning as manager of Sheffield United in protest at the Yorkshire businessman’s interference in team affairs which included the sale of key players without his knowledge.
“Sadly, I could see what was coming at Rangers,” said Spackman. “I have a couple of really good friends who are season ticket holders, executive club members at Rangers.
“I told them, I tried to warn them. But they initially said he was doing a good job. To be fair, it wasn’t long before they were back on the phone saying ‘you were right big man’.
“I could see what was going to happen and, unfortunately, at a great club like Rangers, what can you do when someone likes that gets into power? I always thought it was going to be a disaster and sadly I was right, it was a disaster.”
Spackman, who made 124 appearances for Rangers from 1989 to 1992, tried to warn his former team-mate Ally McCoist of the difficulties he would face as manager under Green.
“I advised Ally as best I could,” added Spackman. “He sees me now and says, ‘I did listen to you, but I didn’t think it would be that bad’.
“I told him he’d need to be really strong because there would be stories in the paper, players turning up he didn’t know about and you’ve got to deal with that.
“That’s the way things were dealt with when I was at Sheffield United. Things were going really well, we were fourth in the league, we had a chance of promotion and we ended up getting to the semi-final of the FA Cup.
“But then the wheeling and dealing in the background started. Players were being brought in that weren’t of my choosing while others were being sold.
“I remember the day we sold Brian Deane. I’d been down in London looking at a player. I got a call from Willie Donnachie, who was my assistant, and he said Brian and Jan Aage Fjortoft weren’t at training.
“I phoned Charles and he said, ‘yes I need to speak to you about that after training’. I said, ‘no you f*****g don’t’ and I drove straight to the club.
“It was a heated meeting because Brian had been given permission to speak to Benfica and was over in Portugal and Jan had been given permission to speak to Barnsley, who were then in the Premier League.
“We were fourth in the league and we had a real chance of going up. But a few days later I was called to another board meeting and told the club needed to raise another £1.2 million.
“Shortly after, Don Hutchison was sold to Everton. We beat Wolves on the Saturday and I resigned on the Monday. Why? Because I wasn’t being allowed to manage anymore. I wasn’t in control any longer. We had a chance of promotion but other people chose to take the club in another direction.
“I resigned and that really turned the pressure on to Charles. He was forced out not long after because the fans could see through it.
“Once he got in at Rangers, there was no way I was going back to Ibrox and I haven’t been since. But, hopefully, I can visit again soon under the new regime. After all they’ve been through, it’s great to see the club coming back.”
l Nigel Spackman was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.