Tom English: Craig Mather U-turn was quite a feat

Does Craig Mather approve of Jack Irvine calling Jim McColl a 'bullshit billionaire'? Picture: SNS
Does Craig Mather approve of Jack Irvine calling Jim McColl a 'bullshit billionaire'? Picture: SNS
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There are many contenders to the mantle of Contradiction King of Ibrox, but Craig Mather continues to lead the way.

In his long statement last Friday night, the Rangers chief executive made it clear that he’s been talking to his bête noire, Jim McColl, behind the scenes but that he “cannot and will not say anything that could damage him”.

In the very same statement, Mather did a sharp U-turn and said the very things that he said he could not say. It was quite a feat. “They [meaning McColl and Paul Murray] were always quick to use the media to spread all kinds of inaccuracies and insults,” said Mather. What about not saying anything that could damage him, Craig?

And there was more. Mather accused McColl’s group of having no plan, no investment and no vision. He accused them of obsession and said that their concerns about the running of the club were not so much about fiscal accountability as their own selfish and egotistical desire “to wear a tie and sit in the directors’ box”.

So, a recap of Mather “not wanting to damage McColl” includes accusations against McColl of lies and self-serving obsession. Quite an act of diplomacy from the Rangers chief executive.

The spirit of the attack dog transferred to social media later in the evening when Rangers’ PR fixer, Jack Irvine, took to Twitter to describe McColl as a “bullshit billionaire”. God knows, Rangers have plumbed the depths over the past few years and this was another moment to make the honest Bear cringe. It was a pretty crass and unwarranted insult and yet here we are, six days later, and the tweet remains on Irvine’s timeline. He hasn’t withdrawn it or apologised. Mather has said nothing. Do we take it then that the man who “cannot and will not say anything that could damage him [McColl]” agrees with Irvine’s sentiment?

Mather has already accused McColl of dishonesty and obsession, so why not throw in the tag of a bullshitter while he’s at it? Not that he wants to say anything that might damage McColl, you understand. Of course not. That’s not his style, apparently. Those are his words, but that’s not his way of doing things. It’s all pretty ­confusing.

Mather has form in this regard. Remember his “We Will Never Forget” speech in June. “There will be times when you [the support] want us to tackle our enemies and it will seem like we’re somehow reluctant to do so or that we don’t care,” he trumpeted. “You might believe we don’t feel hurt to the same extent as you, but we do. Sometimes you have to wait. We’ve chosen, and we will continually choose, the right moment to strike.

“Please, never believe that I or any other directors don’t know the names of the people who have tried to damage this club. We know them all. We know what each one’s tried to do and I can assure you we will never, ever forget about that.”

Those who have tried to damage the club? Like Irvine calling the legendary John Greig “thick”, for example? In Mather’s mind, would calling the club’s greatest player a bit of a dullard be classified as damaging? Or is that okay?

Mather is still looking into that one. He’s been looking for quite a while. Since August, in fact. Still no criticism of his man Jack. Maybe he’s going to do it as a job lot. Wait for Irvine to slag off more people and then issue a catch-all statement. “Sorry about Jack. He’s been a bit daft. We’ve had a word and he says he won’t demean any more Rangers icons and from now on he’ll desist from calling one of Scotland’s most successful businessmen a bullshitter. And that’s the end of it. We intend to carry on paying Jack a small fortune for whatever it is he does for us.”

From a betting scandal and the near blasé handling of it by Ally McCoist to the boorishness of Irvine and the contradictions of the chief executive, life in the Odditorium that is Ibrox ­remains surreal.