Rangers investigation: Green on shakier ground

TOWARDS the end of the day a chant went up from the most vociferous section of the Rangers support, a song that cut to the heart of the club’s travails. “Charlie, Charlie, give us the truth,” they sang.

It didn’t last long but it served as an illustration of a mounting cynicism among the home support towards their embattled chief executive who is now subject to an independent commission to get to the bottom of his dealings not just with Craig Whyte but also – and interestingly – his “management of the club.”

Green survives in his post, but clearly the Rangers directors have not accepted at face value his rubbishing of all stories drawing a link between him and Whyte, some seemingly backed up by tape-recorded conversations and documents, all leaked by the vengeful former owner. The chief executive has strenuously denied that Whyte played any part in his takeover and has threatened to sue Whyte for suggesting the opposite, but the Ibrox directors, who met for two and a half hours at Murray Park yesterday, have not taken Green at his word on that. They want independent corroboration. Nobody connected with Rangers will be allowed to sit on the commission to investigate what, precisely, has been going on at Ibrox.

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Speaking after the game, manager Ally McCoist was grateful to the point of being gleeful about the upcoming investigation. Asked if he sensed that the fans were now turning away from Green, he replied: “I don’t sense that they are turning away from anything or anybody but I do sense, rightly, that they’re getting a little bit frustrated that the truth isn’t there for everybody to see. They deserve the truth. They deserve to know what’s happening behind the scenes at the club and I do detect a greater frustration within them. I detect it, I understand it and I’d take it a step further, I agree with it.

“Having said for many weeks that I hoped for clarity and honesty, I’m obviously delighted at the statement. The board have said they are appointing an independent commission to look into matters which is the very least our fans deserve. They have made a statement and I’m delighted with it. I’m really, really encouraged by the statement. It’s important that we get it right and the independent commission are given the time required to come to the correct decisions.”

McCoist wouldn’t comment on the apparent contradiction in yesterday’s announcement. A few weeks back, Rangers suspended Fran Sandaza pending an investigation. Yesterday they announced a new investigation but the subject this time is not suspended. “It would be very unfair for me to comment on a matter that the board have made their comments on,” said the Rangers manager.

What is intriguing about the statement is that it makes it clear that this is not just an investigation into the endless leaks coming from Whyte but also the on-going management of the club by Green and his commercial director, Imran Ahmad. This could be a reference to the outlandish claims made by Whyte that have been exposed as nonsense, such as the supposed tie-up with the Dallas Cowboys, the stated fact that Manchester United were supportive of Rangers joining the Premiership and any number of other pronouncements that not been backed-up and have, as a consequence, cast doubt on the accuracy of some of the things that Green has said as chief executive. Many times Green has made the club look daft.

He got one break yesterday and that came by way of forgiveness of his racist comment in an interview last weekend, followed by his cringe-making attempt to justify calling a colleague his “Paki friend” the day after. Three days had passed before Green finally apologised and he only did after the Scottish Football Association signalled their intention of bringing him up on two charges of using racist and offensive language.

The Rangers board let him off lightly, saying that Green apologised and that he had not acted in a racist manner. “Mr Green told the board that in trying to make a point in the interview that, as chief executive, he would not countenance any form of prejudice towards employees or players at the club, he had exercised poor judgment in the words he chose. He apologised.”

This is a significant rewriting of the actual events. Green had not only used the word “Paki” but had then defended it by saying that anybody who criticised him was guilty of political correctness. When Show Racism The Red Card issued a statement in response to his comments he accused them of a knee-jerk reaction.

“It is unfortunate that Show Racism the Red Card has fallen into the trap of taking something out of context and giving a knee-jerk reaction,” said Green. He went on television last Monday and tried to defend his comment again, stating, bizarrely, that it was somehow OK for him to use the word but that if a player used it he would deem it inappropriate. In accepting his explanation that all he was doing was attempting to say that he “would not countenance any form of prejudice towards employees or players at the club”, the Rangers board went easy on him. For that comment alone, he could have been sacked. There is believed to be considerable disquiet about all of this among some of Rangers’ commercial partners

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The decision to appoint an independent commission was unanimous among Rangers’ executive and non-executive directors. The drums have been beating about the security of Green’s position at Ibrox this past week. The statement only served to ensure that the drum beat continues a while longer. Green would have sought to bring an end to the debate about his links with Whyte in front of his directors yesterday. The fact that he failed to do so is not good news for the chief executive.