Craig Whyte reveals plan to re-write The Billy Boys without the sectarian lyrics

Craig Whyte with then Rangers director of football Gordon Smith at Fir Park in 2011. Picture: SNSCraig Whyte with then Rangers director of football Gordon Smith at Fir Park in 2011. Picture: SNS
Craig Whyte with then Rangers director of football Gordon Smith at Fir Park in 2011. Picture: SNS
It was only ever going to be a matter of time. On 14 February, eight years to the day after Rangers plunged into administration, comes what everyone, including Sir David Murray, must have feared was in the pipeline: Craig Whyte’s memoirs.

The more serious claims and revelations will be pored over ad infinitum. However, it’s the several surreal, ridiculous details that stick with you following a preliminary read.

All the old gang are here; Martin Bain, Paul Baxendale-Walker, Charles Green and, er, Brad Pitt, who Whyte invited to Ibrox when he was in town shooting World War Z. Interest cooled when the owner learned the personal appearance would cost £25,000.

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Few are spared at least some embarrassment, including then First Minister Alex Salmond, who promises to have a word with “the head guy at HMRC” on the proviso Whyte backs his unpopular Offensive Behaviour at Football act.

This is related to another anecdote, which is among the most amusing of the numerous tales delivered in breezy style by Whyte and his ghostwriter Douglas Wight. It involves Gordon Smith, who served as Director of Football – or should that be Conductor of Singing? – for a short spell under Whyte.

Despite being advised by Murray not to get involved with supporters’ groups – “he thought they were a bunch of pricks,” Whyte claims – the new owner resolves to speak to them, and hears fans are keen “for the traditional songs to be brought back”.

Whyte can’t understand it. “Singing these songs had got us banned from Europe,” he notes. But he needs these fans onside since his masterplan hinged on them buying season tickets. Smith has had an idea. Perhaps emboldened by a Top of the Tops appearance while a player at Brighton, he volunteered to re-write some of the more contentious lines in The Billy Boys song to make it palatable to Uefa ears. Smith, Whyte reports, drafted some different lyrics, but “it was never going to work”. Instead of “up to our knees in fenian blood”, Smith substituted “up to our knees in media lies”. Catchy.

Although Whyte reveals he was a season-ticket holder for a spell at Ibrox when a pupil at Kelvinside Academy, he seems very much at odds with the type of Rangers fan who believes tradition must be observed at all costs. As everything was falling down around the club’s ears, he’s surprised at the zeal with which policies such as excluding females from the directors’ room were upheld. John Greig reminded Whyte of the rule after the owner had permitted several guests, some of whom were women, to join him there.

Another revelation is that many Ibrox officials, including Walter Smith, believed Derek McInnes to be a better option than Ally McCoist as manager after Smith stood down. McCoist, however, had been handed such a “ridiculous” contract by out-going chief executive Martin Bain it was too costly to sack him.

Whyte is deliciously indiscreet. He clearly feels he has nothing more to lose. He reveals the location of a dinner with Murray in Juan-les-Pins in late 2010.

He stays with the then Rangers owner at his villa near the town on the French Riviera and notes a strange absence of staff. Later, Murray, his driver, a lawyer from Dundas & Wilson and Andrew Ellis, an early Whyte associate, all eat at Tetou, a fish restaurant often frequented by holidaying Hollywood A-list stars.

I just looked it up. It was demolished two summers ago, having opened in 1920. Little escapes intact from this sorry saga.

Into the Bear Pit by Craig Whyte, Arena Sport, £9.99, published 14 February.