IF YOU asked the hardcore Celtic support which they’d prefer, sex or social media, some might say: “What’s the difference?” Without a doubt there was a near orgasmic glee last week when a new Twitter account started posting links to private documents and previously unheard audio featuring a cast of characters in the Rangers story.
Within a few days this account had nearly 9,000 disciples, all of them looking at the paperwork and listening to the tapes and becoming utterly convinced that a “biblical” scandal had taken place at Ibrox – or as one tweet put it, an “atomic bomb” had gone off in Govan.
What is bonkers about this latest Twitter phenomenon is that at least some of it has come from Craig Whyte, a man who Celtic people rightly viewed as a discredited chancer up until such time as he started leaking stuff that was damaging to Rangers. At that point he suddenly metamorphosed into a font of truth, a bloke you could take seriously – all because Celtic folk suddenly liked what he was saying.
Not only liked – loved. Believed. There was a bit of an online orgy when these documents started to emerge and, it would appear, an unquestioning approach to them. We’re getting to a stage now where, when anything is leaked, it is immediately branded explosive no matter what the hell it is. People see what they want to see in all of this. A document full of business technobabble is deemed an “atomic bomb” not because it necessarily is but because some people desperately want it to be.
Some have not learned the lesson of the big tax case. For two years there was certainty that Rangers would be found guilty of industrial-scale cheating, a prejudgment that was proven to be wrong.
There is a prejudgment going on right now as well and it centres around Whyte and Charles Green and the suspicion that they were in cahoots when buying the club. Let’s be clear. There is a lot of evidence that suggests they were. And, if that turns out to be the case, then the sky is going to fall in on Rangers in a way that made last summer’s implosion look like a warm-up act.
In the worst-case scenario, Green is exposed as a shameless liar who got into bed with another liar, Whyte, to buy the club from an administrator, Duff and Phelps, who might have the police knocking on their door for doing a deal that should never have been allowed. If. The doomsday picture shows Rangers having conducted a dodgy share issue as well as obtaining an SFA licence under false pretences. Every rule in every book would have been breached if it is proven that Green and Whyte were definitely and indisputably a team. If.
There is an investigation happening, headed by Deloitte and the legal firm Pinsent Masons and the suggestion is that the findings may be published this week.
The liquidator, BDO, is also going about its work quietly and will report in due course. A penny for its thoughts.
Whyte is fighting for his business life – and possibly his liberty – and has done a fine job in muddying the waters but there won’t be any fooling these investigators. Either he was involved or he wasn’t. Either Rangers will get some relief or they will be plunged into a new pit of despair.
We shouldn’t have to wait much longer to find out, but wait we should. Online documents are all very entertaining but, given that Whyte is involved in the leaking of papers and audio, then you have to be circumspect.
What is beyond any doubt is the power struggle at Rangers and what Alistair Johnston, the former chairman, calls a cancer spreading through the club. It’s a cancer that has been there quite some time, beginning, of course, in the hubristic days of David Murray and, to be precise, with his devotion to the EBT scheme.
When Murray wanted out of Ibrox it was the fear of a howitzer tax bill that kept prospective responsible owners away, a vacuum that was eventually filled by Whyte and later by Green and Imran Ahmad and now possibly the Easdale boys and any number of other mysterious characters who know little of the club but know for sure that there is money to be made from it.
Arrogance put Rangers in this hole in the first place and Whyte just kept on digging. A few weeks ago I spoke to Paul Murray, a former director at Ibrox and one who unquestionably has the best interests of Rangers at heart, a description given to so many but deserved by so few.
Murray felt that there are only two people on the current Rangers board that he trusted – Walter Smith and Malcolm Murray. Soon both might be gone. Perhaps Malcolm Murray’s apparent indiscretions warrant the desperate push to get rid of him as evidenced by the recent vote of no confidence. That’s fine, as long as you’re replacing him with another executive whose reason for being there is to ask what he can do for his club rather than what the club can do for him.
It’s a symbol of horrible neglect that this type of character is a dying breed at Ibrox.
Who needs play-offs in this mad, mad world?
Scottish football doesn’t do run-of-the-mill catastrophes, it does multi-layered head-wreckers involving Lithuanian translators trying to find out and relay the machinations of Hearts’ parent company UBIG’s insolvency to the SPL. It involves Scottish lawyers analysing those machinations and how it all relates to the Tynecastle club, the SPL rulebook and their place in the competition next season. If they have a place, that is.
Tomorrow at Hampden the board of the SPL will meet and on the agenda will be the desperate uncertainty at Tynecastle. The chances are that, when Hearts are up for discussion, the gentlemen in the room will look at each other with bewildered expressions.
Information is coming slowly from Lithuania. Hearts are at the centre of Neil Doncaster’s universe at the moment but the club is merely a dot on the landscape to those administering the financial carnage left behind by Vladimir Romanov, right.
If there’s a decision taken on Hearts tomorrow, it would be a surprise given the lack of clarity from abroad. There is an insolvency event coming at Tynecastle, it would seem but, in the business of a possible points deduction, there is uncertainty. This season? Next season? Hearts to be relegated? Dundee to survive?
Who needs end-of-season play-offs to add excitement when you have, for the second year running, one of the country’s major clubs teetering on the brink? What cage fighting is to boxing, elements of Scottish football are to the beautiful game. Hearts, but most especially Rangers, represent hardcore lunacy. Instead of getting the cameras pitchside, Sky should go live to some of these boardroom meetings. The action around the table is, once again, offering a compelling conclusion to the season with the promise of a summer of madness to come.
Another one, that is.