5 Apr 2012

Rangers: how come nobody saw this coming?

After the markets crashed and RBS imploded, the Queen found herself on a tour of the City of London quite recently.  Surrounded by suits and flunkeys she suddenly paused and asked:

“How come nobody saw this coming?”

She’s not been to Ibrox recently, but the same question hangs heavy. How come nobody saw Sir David Murray’s Rangers empire was crumbling?

How come nobody at the club , the SFA , the SPL questioned whether Craig Whyte really was the man to buy RFC?

Read more: SPL boss says rules applied without fear nor favour

Because – like the bankers – everyone was having too much fun living the dream? Partly yes, but partly a crucial check and balance to all the Ibrox hype had all but gone.

For years too much football ‘journalism’ in Glasgow had been too lazy, sycophantic and incapable of asking awkward questions.

Some notable exceptions of course – but the dismal rule stands out thereby. And it’s not clear things are getting all that much better even when faced with the massive corporate car-crash which is Rangers today.

(Click on the picture above for more reports on the crisis at Rangers)

The culture of taking wild stories at face value and pumping them out appears alive and well in Glasgow – the record will show the MSM in that city have been left standing time and time again by bloggers getting the facts in their spare time often many miles from Glasgow.

Media studies PhD anyone? Tis fertile ground.

But don’t take my word, here’s Graham Spiers, Glasgow football writer for many years and prepared to stand up and tell the world about where it went awry, about succulent lamb and about fine wine:

The ‘wretched saga’ of Rangers Football club

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67 reader comments

  1. The ghost of John Lennon says:

    Murray came bursting in through the Ibrox doors…
    By Mark Hateley on Apr 7, 11 06:33 AM in old firm
    Murray came bursting in through the Ibrox doors like a young John Wayne. I just hope Gers deal is sealed so he is not run out of town like a baddie…

    Sir David Murray is a friend of mine. I am in no way embarrassed to admit that.

    We got on like a house on fire from the night we first met over dinner in Edinburgh, just after I had joined Rangers. Although I can’t remember which one of us was the most drunk, I do recall how he made me feel as if I had found my proper home.

    Twenty years on I’m still here. The problem is, so is he.

    I hope he doesn’t take offence at that. I suspect David won’t because the reason we hit it off was that we both appreciated straight, honest talking.

    Sir David and I are kindred spirits where that is concerned even if there have been occasions when telling it like it is may not always have been the smartest policy.

    After all, this is the guy who said he’d spend a tenner for every fiver that Celtic invested in the transfer market. That quote has been used as a stick with which to batter him about the head almost ever since.

    But that’s David. That’s his style. And that’s why I’ve always had such a healthy respect for him. He’s a good, old-fashioned gunslinger and when he was at the top of his game he made Rangers the most feared outfit in British football. That’s the David I will always remember.

    Burning However – and it pains me to say it – there are fewer and fewer Rangers fans out there who still think of him so fondly. Day by day, the man is being increasingly demonised and it has reached the stage where a great deal of punters cannot wait to see the back of him.

    Short memories or not, that is not the point. What really matters now is that David bows out before this unrest becomes a full-scale revolt.

    It would sicken me to see 50,000 people inside Ibrox turning on this man like a baying mob – but that very scenario grows more likely with each day that comes and goes without his majority shareholding changing hands.

    I dread to think what the reaction would be if Craig Whyte’s proposed takeover collapsed and the would-be owner then pointed a finger of blame at Murray’s Charlotte Square HQ.

    They’d be outside the place in half-an-hour with pitch forks and burning torches. And the man deserves better.

    When David Holmes handed him the reins in 1988, the course of history changed forever. In came a man who had rebuilt his life from nothing after being involved in a horrendous car crash at just 22.

    When Murray came bursting through those doors he was like a young John Wayne. He was indestructible.

    There were supporters back then who must have been wondering what they were getting. By God, they were getting the real deal.

    Murray picked Scottish football up by the socks and gave it the biggest shake-up of all time. He was fearless and changed the landscape forever.

    Nine in a row, 90 minutes from a Champions League Final, Laudrup, Gascoigne and Walter Smith.

    You can thank him for all of that. If he hadn’t walked through that door, none of it would have happened.

    But that was 23 years ago now. And his has been a longer innings than it really should have been. I’m sure David would admit that himself. He has been looking for an exit strategy for years and it would be fair to say his hunger and desire were waning even before he put up the For Sale signs.

    David took his eye off the ball. He lost his youthful edge. That’s not a criticism – that’s just part of life, especially at the top end of sport.

    Unless you’re name is Sir Alex Ferguson, it’s impossible to avoid. But what he does now will determine his place in history.

    If he shakes Whyte by the hand and welcomes the new man in – even if it means he has to lose a few million in the process or perhaps even leave without taking a penny in return for his shares – then David’s legacy as a legend will be secured for all time. Yes, a hardline element will thank him for nothing but the vast majority of supporters will always feel indebted to him for all the good times.

    They will remember him as a great custodian of a great institution. And that’s the way it should be. But the reality could be somewhat different. And I’m sure he knows it. It will hurt him tremendously to know the fans are turning against him.

    And he will know their anger will turn into blind fury if he is seen to be the man who blocks Whyte’s buy-out.

    It is time for David to go. And he knows it. He has always had the best interests of the club at heart and, in Whyte, he believes he has found a younger, hungrier version of himself.

    I hope he’s right. I hope Whyte walks in through those doors like a gunslinger too. I hope he’s even half as successful as his predecessor.

    And I hope that one day David will be welcomed back and afforded the respect and adoration he deserves.

    As told to Keith Jackson

  2. Carntyne says:

    The revelation that her Majesty the Queen hasn’t been to Ibrox recently should have been preceeded by a health warning for Rangers fans.

    Rangers are are often referred to as the ‘Queens Eleven’ by Loyal Teddy Bears, so this will come as a terrible shock to some.

    With regard to Her Royal Majesty’s question, yes ma’am some did see it coming.

    Rangers wasteful spending was commented upon by Celtic owner Fergus McCann back in the mid’90’s.

    With Rangers spending money as if they had a bottomless pit of it, the mainstream media needled Celtic and their owner saying Celtic had a ‘biscuit tin mentality.’

    McCann hit back saying that the profligate spending in Scottish football was unsustainable and one day the chickens would come home to roost.

    Rangers director Hugh Adam said in 2000 that David Murray was running Rangers into the ground. He was dumped from the board.

    The Murray Mint would brook no opposition.

    Finally, in March 2011, The Rangers Tax Case Blog week by week and month by month laid out the spectacular downward spiral of Rangers football club.

    Fergus mcCann was laughed at by the media, Hugh Adam was dismissed as an old guy with a grudge by the media, and Rangers Tax Case was explained away as Celtic supporting internet bampots.

    See the similarity in these three cases Your Royal Majesty Highness?

    1. Marty says:

      Whatever happened back in the 1980s or whenever, Rangers’ debt was at a manageable level before Craig Whyte took over last year. Of course, the big tribunal case was still to be decided – but then it still is….

      1. Auldheid says:

        It was even more manageable in 2006 at £6M before Walter Myth arrived and helped drive it up to £31M. Getting it back to only three times its original instead of five is no acheivment.

      2. Carntyne says:

        A popular myth.

        The debt was growing by £10mill a year during Murray’s tenure and after the financial meltdown in the property market, Minty could no longer afford to pump the £millions into Rangers to make up the shortfall.

        There was also the Big Tax Case hovering over the club, and Murray being no fool saw what was coming.

        That’s why he wanted out.

        His claims that he had many bidders for the club ‘who were not the correct type of person to take the club forward” has proved to be nonsense.

        If Craig Whyte is his idea of a fit and proper person then the others must have been of the Dick Turpin mould.

        And of course Dick wore a mask.

        Whyte was just a bare faced robber.

      3. Marty says:

        Rangers’ debt had been coming down for qute some time. The bank were being paid bank according to an agreed plan. Serious economies had been made – and more could have been made if necessary. I know these facts don’t suit some folk.

      4. Bruce says:

        I’m not sure serious economies were being made. In the last 5 years, Rangers had a transfer deficit of some £13 million. IIRC, every other club had a negligible deficit and or a surplus.

      5. Marty says:

        About £2m a season, Bruce? Not exactly astronomical spending. Plus the wage bill had been massively cut etc.

      6. Bruce says:

        Closer to £2.5 million. And £2.5 million a season more than anyone else, when Rangers had tax bills to pay. Which debunks the myth about poor Walter struggling along with no cash to spend.

      7. Marty says:

        Walter did very well on a low budget. There were no mega-millions spent, or anything like that. Sorry if that hurts you but there it is.

  3. Timabhouy says:

    Mark hately you are a buffoon

  4. M says:

    Interesting Interview….

  5. Ed L says:

    “How come nobody at the club , the SFA , the SPL questioned whether Craig Whyte really was the man to buy RFC?…Because – like the bankers – everyone was having too much fun living the dream?”

    Craig Whyte paid ONE POUND for Rangers. I think it is safe to say that the dream was already a nightmare long before the MBB arrived on the scene.

    And please don’t absolve Graham Spiers. His shtick is becoming increasingly tiresome.

  6. MaxX says:

    Was Spiers in attendance at the San Siro when racist sectarian chanting could clearly be heard coming from the rfc official party during a closed doors game against Inter Milan in 2005?
    I wonder if Mr Spiers could inform us what kind of reply he got from Sir David when he asked what the results were from the ‘full and thorough investigation’ into the matter he promised standing on the steps of ibrox after the shameful episode.
    Listening to Spiers here slagging off THE REST of Murrays poodles is akin to Traynor and Young arguing about who was the biggest Murray toady live on air, and him claiming to have started the ‘succulent lamb’ joke is hilarious. The Celtic support were all over it the second it was published and I can assure Mr Spiers they needed no guidance from him. It’s abit like certain other poodles claiming to have broken the EBT story a year after we had all been reading about it on from the bloggers mentioned.
    Comedy gold.
    You’re fooling no-one Graham!!

  7. Hammer says:

    I have to grudgingly admire Mr Spiers, he has a great knack of knowing which way the winds blowing. It seems to have escaped everyone’s attention that he was happy to play the succulent lamb game in Scotland for years, and didn’t blow the whistle on “Murray’s poodles” till the ink was safely dry on his contract with The Times. Even now you’re likely to get different a answer to your question from Graham if you ask it on Radio Clyde than if you ask it on Radio 4. the boy’s playing a blinder.

  8. patrick h says:

    Alex “some notable exceptions” only in as far as they were worse than the rest.
    The DR was D murray platform to adress the nation
    anyone outside journalist circles was labeled “paraniod” if the questioned him,Anyone IN the jouros circle didn’t question or they were no longer in and able to earn a living ,So did as they were told.
    The two men claiming to have exposed this whole sorry mess(no laughing at the back)were the worst offenders “Succulent lamb” & “billionaire of the radar wealth” Will be what they are remembered for.
    Which if in their youth they dreamed of one day being an investigative journalist like those in “watergate” that exposed the truth and uncovered any kind of corruption in society for the benifit of their readers is in my opinion A TRADGEDY &A WASTE OF A CAREER.But hey ho it takes all kind to make a World.
    Keep shining the light of truth on them Alex THANK YOU.

    1. Marty says:

      Some folk (most of them Celtic fans) seem to to misundertand the phrase “off the radar”. Hint: it does not mean “very big”.

      Tabloid newspapers print hyped-up drivel? Well, shockerooni.

      1. Bruce says:

        Are you really that stupid?

    2. Auldheid says:

      In the season of Honest Mistakes in spring of 2010 Real Radio had a whole week devoted to Celtic paranoia of “The Establishment” even played Twilight Zone music to each call, mocking the callers.

      Well who is paranoid now Mr Ewan Cameron? I must put a call into Roughie and Peter Martin.

      1. gorillaintheroom says:

        Marty, you sir are a clown. With your revisionism and obfuscation I am guessing you are a low paid media house lackey way down the food chain.

        Far from the fallacy of having a limited spend Rangers spent over £13m over the last five years. Celtic broke even.

        Spiers didn’t claim he coined “succulent lamb” he alluded to the fact he was there when it was first uttered. Celtic put lamb on the menu as a nod to this nonsense.

  9. Carntyne says:


    I have just watched a YouTube video of your interview with Graham Spiers where he says he coined the phrase ‘succlent lamb.’

    He did not.

    The man who lays claim to that is one James Traynor of the Daily Record.


    1. Marty says:

      Graham Spiers did use the phrase “succulent lamb” when he wrote about Celtic schmoozing the media – as Celtic have every right to do, of course. Innumerable organisations and individuals seek to manage the media. Some are better at it than others. Former Celtic manager Jock Stein was said to be an expert at it, for example….

      1. Carntyne says:

        No he did not.

        Britney said HE first used the phrase after a dinner for the press given by Sir(IA)David Murray, but this is inaccurate.

        This term was first given an airing by James Traynor in the Daily Record.

        Daily Record – November 19, 1998


        Rangers chairman David Murray opens up on the highs and lows of his decade in charge of Rangers and promises that the best is still to come.

        Exclusive by James Traynor.

        RANGERS owner David Murray doesn’t often allow his true feelings to surface, but currently he is finding it difficult to disguise a pain which has been gnawing away inside since the end of last season.

        After a period of almost total dominance of Scottish football during which Rangers racked up 17 trophies the club met with failure.

        Celtic won the championship and the League Cup and Hearts beat Rangers in the Tennents Scottish Cup final, leaving Murray with nothing to show for a massive investment in time and money.

        Even now he winces when he thinks of that season, but it is the vivid memory, and the pain of defeat with which he now suffers, that combine to drive him on.

        Last night as he looked back on a decade as Rangers’ owner – come this Sunday, the 22nd, it will be 10 years since he paid Lawrence Marlborough £6 million for the club – Murray’s desire to avoid the miseries of another barren season could not be disputed.

        To hear him speak was to listen to a man who believes himself to be charged with some kind of great and mighty mission.

        Murray, who chose to talk only to the Record about his dreams and ambitions for Rangers, said: “No one should doubt that Rangers are the biggest club in the country, but I know that talk is cheap in this business and that we will have to prove just how big we are.

        “That doesn’t really bother me because as long as I am able to influence this club we will be the biggest and we will be the best.

        “I have spent 10 years of my life, and I know that sometimes I gave up too much of myself to Rangers, but I am not about to give up now.

        “Neither am I willing to stand aside and allow another club to overtake Rangers. The failure of last season hurt me a lot and that pain was something I didn’t need nor want.

        “It is also a pain which I never want to suffer again, but by God that sort of thing just makes me even more determined to succeed.

        I am still as driven, still as enthusiastic and I will welcome the challenge of anyone out there.”

        Murray was referring not only to the Kenny Dalglish/Jim Kerr consortium who are stalking Celtic, but also the as yet uncovered groups who are bound to make bids to buy out Fergus McCann.

        If the past 10 years have taught Murray, who is one of Britain’s wealthiest individuals, anything it is how to win and he believes Rangers will continue to grow and prosper.

        “I look upon these last 10 years as a having been a great era, but it is over and Rangers are about to head on into a new era,” he said over a glass of the finest red.

        He was about to take in another mouthful of the most succulent lamb – anyone who knows Murray shouldn’t be surprised to learn he is a full-blooded, unashamed red meat eater – when he put down his knife and fork.

        It was like a statement of intent and looking directly across the table to make sure I hadn’t yet succumbed to the wine, he said:
        “Bring on the next 10 years, there’s more to come for Rangers.

        “Understand that I care passionately about what I’m doing with Rangers and believe that in 10 years time we will still be setting the pace.
        “Too many of us have put too much into this club and we won’t let someone come along and take it all away.

        “What I’m saying here is that no matter who buys Celtic from Fergus, they will need to have the deepest of pockets imaginable.

        “The fresh challenge would be good for the Scottish game and lift the profile, but Celtic’s new owners had better be prepared to spend.
        “In the past, Celtic’s people maybe just haven’t fancied trying to take Rangers on financially, but if I have to go in deeper to keep my club up there then I will.

        I have done it too many times to be frightened now.”
        From anyone else such talk could be dismissed as no more than empty rhetoric, but with Murray you just feel it is more than bluster and besides, he does have a track record as a spender.

        There have been times in his 10 years when he has taken Rangers somewhere between £15m and £20m into debt and he knows that if this season goes belly up like the last one he could be looking at a potential debt of £20m.

        However, having taken the value of Rangers from £6m to approximately £186m in 10 years he knows how far he can gamble in pursuit of success.

        This season alone he has allowed his new manager Dick Advocaat to spend almost £30m, but he refuses to lose any sleep over it.

        He said: “I don’t because I consider spending as much as £5million on someone like Andrei Kanchelskis as a necessity. If a club like ours doesn’t do that then we fall by the wayside.

        “Look, I have many other businesses so I could find many other things to worry about, but I love sport and I want Rangers to be successful. I know this won’t be accepted by some people but this isn’t about making money.

        “£56m has been invested in the stadium and in my time £200m has been turned over and after interest our trading profit is minimal.

        Perhaps as much as £60m has been spent on players and I have even paid in about £1m in hospitality but never taken a salary from the place.

        “I get six complimentary tickets the same as everyone else and if I want extra I have to pay for them the same as everyone else.

        “There are no free lunches for David Murray at Ibrox and I have never taken part or been at the centre of any of the numerous victory celebrations we have had.”

        Murray disappears to celebrate success with a small group of close friends, leaving the roar of the crowd to wash over the players and management.

        “Supporters don’t want chairmen hanging around, even though they look to people like me to provide some kind of direction and the new ways to keep moving the club on,” he said.

        “I hope I can say that in my 10 years so far I’ve been fairly good at that, but the day I run out of ideas is the day I’ll know it’s over.

        I’m sure someone will tell me because I have good people around me, I always have.

        “But I’m not ready yet to step back and I see enough fresh challenges, staying ahead at home and winning a place at the European table, ahead in the next 10 years to keep my own adrenaline flowing.”

        He knows roughly how much it will cost him and he’s heard the rumours that ENIC, who have invested £40m in Rangers, are uneasy at the club’s spending policies but Murray claims these backers have always been supportive of his methods.

        He said: “They could kick up a fuss but they don’t. Besides, I am the owner of the club and so far most people seem to like what I’ve done.”

      2. scarlet says:

        Thank you, Carntyne. There are too many good bits here to quote them all, but let’s highlight a few of the belters, especially considering where they are today.

        ‘This season alone he has allowed his new manager Dick Advocaat to spend almost £30m, but he refuses to lose any sleep over it.’

        ‘However, having taken the value of Rangers from £6m to approximately £186m in 10 years he knows how far he can gamble in pursuit of success.’

        Comedy gold. Well done for reminding us just how much out of control this man’s ego was.

        I watched STV’s The Football Years the other night. The 1986 programme is a classic. Not only was it the last exciting end to a season with no sign of the Rangers, it was also the beginning of the end for them, as they started to spend, spend, spend.

      3. Bruce says:

        Errr….that’s not what GS says in his interview with AT. He makes it perfectly clear it was explicitly about Murray and Rangers. You making stuff up, Marty? Surely not.

      4. Marty says:

        What I said was accurate (make sure you read it properly). Spiers did employ the phrase “succukent lamb” towards Celtic. Here’s the passage (from The Times, 1/11/09:

        “Come into the Celtic boardroom with me, as viewed last Wednesday lunchtime. The large oval table is set decorously for around 15 people and over in the corner a sumptuous buffet awaits. The great, the good, and the rank rotten of the Scottish sports media are here by invitation to break bread and share conversation with John Reid, the Celtic chairman, and Peter Lawwell, the club’s chief executive. And I kid you not — on the menu is succulent lamb.

        This is the modern Celtic: street-wise, savvy, interacting with the media. Over the course of the next two hours the wines were poured as Reid and Lawwell — though mainly Dr Reid — engaged us in debate and discussion about the issues facing Scottish football. The Celtic chairman is no shrinking violet and it is perfectly obvious in his company why he rose to fill three of the great offices of British state: Home Secretary, Defence Secretary, and Northern Ireland Secretary. As was evident again at the Celtic annual general meeting on Friday, Reid waits upon no-one, bashes people aside at will, and is a combatively engaging character.”

        Like I said, Celtic are perfectly entitled to butter up the press. It’s common practice and not the great scandal or crime that some folk seem to think.

      5. Bruce says:

        No. What he said in the interview is that ‘succuLent lamb’ is explicitly a phrase associated with Rangers and Murray. His use of the phrase in the Celtic article is clearly ironic. It appears your grasp of subtlety is, I kid you not, off the radar.

        And you’re correct in that any club is entitled to butter up the press. That’s not what’s being criticised in these blogs. What is being criticised is that Rangers (through Whyte and Murray) did it to hide dodgy dealings. A vigilant press is a good deterrent to people like Murray and Whyte. What they got (cultivated) is a complacent and compliant press. I suspect most of those reporters aren’t stupid. They knew they were selling themselves and their readers short for access. In the end they were happy to roll over and let Fourth Lanark tickle their tums.

        I do hope you managed to read that properly.

      6. Marty says:

        “What is being criticised is that Rangers (through Whyte and Murray) did it to hide dodgy dealings”. No Bruce, that is what is being alleged. Personally, I’m not a big one for conspiracy theories. If you want to believe that Celtic schmoozing the media is fine but Rangers doing the same thing is evil, so be it.

      7. Bruce says:

        ‘No Bruce, that is what is being alleged.’ – You’re kind of right. No one is alleging this. Much of it’s undisputed. When we had people like Tom English putting out puff pieces about Whyte, Rangers were pocketing £15 Million of their employees PAYE and NI. No one disputes that. No one disputes that under Murray Rangers didn’t pay the wee tax bill. And we still have the BTC to come. Unless you don’t consider that kind of behaviour to be dodgy.

        ‘If you want to believe that Celtic schmoozing the media is fine but Rangers doing the same thing is evil, so be it.’

        Care to indicate where anyone else apart from you said that?

      8. Marty says:

        “Care to indicate where anyone else apart from you said that?”

        You’ll notice I used the word “if”. Seems you agree with me so that’s fine.

        Nobody is defending what Whyte did. He was meant to pay the “wee” tax bill as part of his agreement to take over the club. David Murray waived the £6 million Whyte was supposed to pay for the club which was more than enough to pay that bill but Whyte didn’t fork it over, along with various other things.

      9. Bruce says:

        No, again, more pedantry. You didn’t mean to suggest ‘if’, you were implying that was what I said. Otherwise, why mention that at all.

      10. Carntyne says:

        I think you’ll find Traynor used the phrase in the Record ten years earlier.

        Daily Record – November 19, 1998.
        (see post above)

        Spiers claims he coined the phrase.

        He didn’t.

  10. Raymac says:

    Instead of “Media Studies” why not have a course entitled “How Not to be A Journalist”.Send them up to Scotland. Even the so-called “quality” papers such as the Scotsman and Herald were subserviant.The biggest joke was Traynor and Jackson and the rest falling over themselves claiming credit for a story That Rangerstaxcase, Phil McG, and Celtic Quick News had been worrying like a rat for nearly 2 years. There were others as well. It was all out there in the cyberspace information world.Commentators such as Hugh Keevins and a few otheres dismissed all the internet prattle. It’s come home to roost big time now.Just think–a nation that produced writers like Hugh McIlvanny reduced to that mob. Tell you what–when the SFA and SPL are reorganised into something sensible can someone go to Scotland and make them all go back to the School of Journalism?

    1. Auldheid says:

      I listened to Hugh Keevins last night lecture a caller on the moral aspect of unpaid tax (referring to the unpaid Paye etc since May). He mentioned public services being closed but tax not being paid. In fact he used similar words I put to him in a call of last October when I raised the moral aspect and was lectured on saying anything prejudicial.

      I’m not annoyeed, just glad MSM are catching up and here is at tip for any reading journos.

      The next abstract issue will be loss of Trust in the governors/governanace of our game (SFA/SPL) and how to restore it. I think it will take a public enquiry and give it two/three months for it to happen.

  11. john donaldson says:

    as others have posted, we know only too well the incestuous relationship between what passes for sports journalism in Scotland and Rangers FC.

    we know the names of those most complicit in this smoke and mirrors affair, but maybe best left out of this post, for now.

    these lickspittle hacks have serviced the Rangers bandwagon with hyperbole and fantasy for years whilst at the same time rubbishing anything and everything Celtic… this isn’t paranoia, simply, and now evidently, the truth of the matter.

    Neil Lennons continued vilification by these press people serves to warn us that it is more than just sport that they are doing a disservice. Through their drip by drip campaign of anti Lennon pieces (inc a narrow catalogue of ‘angry neil’ pictures)they have encouraged an unsympathetic public view of Neil Lennon which is at times caustic and vitriolic.

    Thus the man who has been physically assaulted in the street, assaulted at a football ground, had death threats daubed on his parents house walls and faced repeated malicious post attacks is somehow the villain – the ‘Lennon asks for it’ mentality is now the truth in the eyes of many.
    This is a scandal – imagine if Ferguson or Wenger were going thru what Neil Lennon has had to endure, imagine the public outcry… not in Scotland, not for Lennon.
    Only in Scotland where the world is turned upside down, where black becomes white can this sort of thing prevail.

    Many thanks Alex, for bringing a light to the murky, fetid world of Scots journalism and the nasty consequences of a supine, venal Scottish football press… with a few honorable exceptions.

  12. scarlet says:

    Fair play to Graham for spilling the beans on what it was like inside the succulent lamb eating tent. It will be interesting to see how far he goes with is revelations and how he is treated by his ex-colleagues.

    When Nick Davies published Flat Earth News he was ridiculed by many from the press for exaggerating about the extent churnalism had taken over as costs were cut and revenue dropped. Now he will be remembered for being the award winning investigative journalist who exposed the phone-hacking scandal.

    From where is our hero going to emerge? Is there a mainstream journalist out there willing to step up to the plate? Can the cult of the lamb be broken forever? At the moment it looks like our heroes are going to be the so-called internet bampots. The ones who have done some real investigating rather than doing a quick edit on a press release. These are the guys who have pushed this story. They are the Nick Davies of this story. I talk of course about rangerstaxcase and Paul McConville. RTC is up for The Orwell Prize. Best of luck to him. I hope that is only the beginning.

    Alex, you are doing a fine job. It is good to see ourselves as others see us. I hope you stick with this to the bitter end. And it will be bitter.

    Graham, you have an opportunity, as one of the insiders, to make a name for yourself as the one who broke ranks and fought for the freedom of the press. How far will you go?

    1. Carntyne says:

      I don’t think Britney deserves all that much credit.

      Although he admitted being being one of the suculent lamb brigade, his confession was self-serving as it was a matter of record.

      Ah! the magic of the internet.

  13. CWH says:

    “”For years too much football ‘journalism’ in Glasgow had been too lazy, sycophantic and incapable of asking awkward questions.””

    It is not just the sports ‘journalists’ who are lazy and incapable of asking awkward questions. The way they report Labour Party Press releases as ‘news’ and ‘exclusives’ without any critical analysis is beyond a joke.

  14. JFK says:

    I have been reading the papers, the blogs, and through all this I am very interested to know why no one has gotten the scoop from the players about the EBT’s. Which players have benefitted? Does anyone know? Has anyone asked any of the players, or their agents? Who on the field benefitted from the EBT’s?

  15. Goosy says:

    There are only 2 Scottish journos worth speaking to if you want an honest answer

    The other one is Jim Spence

  16. timtim says:

    Don’t wait for Graeme Speirs to give an honest account of the current fiasco….he thinks Scottish referees are not biased against Celtic although he does agree that they were 30 years ago……what will he say about the Rangers debt debacle and today’s “honest refs” in another 30 years ? These people are so deeply in denial they can’t or won’t see or state the truth.

  17. Auldheid says:

    I take Graham Speir’s point about EBTs being used properly but when Celtic pulled out of the Juhino ebt in 2005 did that not set alarm bells ringing?

    Celtic had decided in 2004 to reduce their debt, a decsion for which the custodians received a lot of flak from the Celtic support, so EBTs if OK would surely have been attractive to Celtic?

    Did not one journalist back then not think to ask Celtic why they would not entertain them?Afraid of the answer and putting it to SDM?

    Sorry Graham your defense does not quite stand up.

  18. Bee says:

    While I can understand the positive spin of a club to improve a paper’s circulation, what I can’t understand is the negative spin that is put out on other clubs. All this has done is alienate readers and circulation of paper’s has plummeted.
    why not put a positive spin on all clubs and improve paper sales all round?

    I have my own opinion on an answer to this but would like to know what other’s think.

    1. Marty says:

      You’ve almost answered your own quandary there, Bee. Of course newspaper editors don’t set out to alienate fans of any club (particularly one of the two biggest clubs in the country). As for the drop in newspaper circulation, that is a general phenomenon and is due to such factors as the rise of the internet and free papers such as the Metro.

      1. Bee says:

        I accept that free papers and the internet have hit paper sales, but papers do alienate readers by being so obviously biased towards one or two clubs and so negative towards others.
        My question is;
        Why do the papers not promote all football clubs positively in an attempt to raise circulation?

      2. Sam says:

        The record tried a free paper in Aberdeen which no one even bothered to pick up. They also tried to sponsor AFC ( who asked their season ticket holders). Neither was a success as the paper is dispised because of it’s pro ranger’s stance! Kinda sums it up to me.

      3. Marty says:

        Bee, the papers print what they think will sell. They’re businesses (businesses run from outside Scotland in most cases). There’s obviously an emphasis on the two biggest clubs as that’s where they see the biggest audiences. There are not that many folk desperate for news about East Stirlingshire, sad though you may find that.

      4. jack says:

        Indeed, the papers write what will sell. Remember also the non-football stories these same newspapers write about. In particular I’m referring the tabloids and their trash. For whatever reason, these kind of stories – usually quite right wing, topics like immigration etc. – appeal largely to people who support Rangers. Therefore, the sport articles end up being Rangers oriented.

        (I’m not saying all Rangers fans are like this, just that the tabloids appeal to a certain type and they usually happen to support Rangers).

  19. dodemac says:

    Have a look at this story in todays Record.


    Then read the comments.

    Seems like we were all wrong and the Lambtastic Scottish media did infact keep us all in the picture.

  20. Auldheid says:

    Whilst I accept Speirs argument about SDM using access to the best stories for leverage back then, it does not explain the continuing reluctance to make him the most culpable of all the actors in the Rangers drama.

    What mysterious hold does SDM still have?

  21. john clarke says:

    in moderation for 24 hours + ! What’s the story?

  22. patrick h says:


  23. StandAndDeliver says:

    The 3 seasons before this one were a sham. The shocking number of honest mistakes were simply a way of stealing the prize money and obviously money gained for European games.
    I was absolutely disgusted at the time because of how blatant it all was. In hindsight it’s easy to see what was going on and why it was so openly obvious and desperate.
    Those 3 seasons are the reason I do not want Rangers to be given any leniency. People paying to watch crooked games and investing so much passion and emotion into a fixed game.

  24. StandAndDeliver says:

    MARTY: It was Jim Traynor who 1st mentioned succulent lamb. And astonishingly he used the term seriously! Now we have Spiers making himself look silly by claiming it as his own.
    The truth is, it was Celtic supporters who plucked the phrase from Traynor’s article. Unwittingly, Traynor had summed up himself and his cronies perfectly.
    The fact he was happy to write like that also gives an insight into the pathetic situation within the media.

  25. Bruce says:

    And congratulations to Celtic on a thoroughly deserved league title.

  26. FF69 says:

    Hi Alex. I am glad people are investigating the joke that is Scottish football at the moment, but can you confirm that you don’t intend to just regurgitate information available from blogs etc and you will actually uncover something new, where you do not need to precede a sentence with ‘may have’ or ‘could have’ or even ‘possibly have’? Hard facts will see you taken more seriously and avoid it looking like you have jumped on the propaganda bandwagon.

    Also, do you intend to begin investigations into other SPL teams, their management and issues that have been swept under the carpet over the years?

    Finally, what kind of reporter would not divulge the name of someone within media circles that has threatened them to remain silent? Surely a major story in itself, if it is true?


    1. Bruce says:

      You’ve not really grasped the point of what Alex Thomson’s doing, have you.

      Clue – its not ‘whatabootery’

      1. ff69 says:

        What new details has he uncovered that has not previously been published?

    2. bear necessity says:

      Why would he want to begin investigations into every other team? It is only Rangers who are in administration. How simple can it be to get that they’re the news story?

      1. ff69 says:

        Relatively simple, even for me. But the focus hasn’t been on administration, it has been on EBTs, hence the reason he interviewed a vulnerable old man on tv. What rangers did was wrong, if not legally (time will tell), then morally. But they won’t be the only club with skeletons in the cupboard. I bet other morally wrong-doings have gone on elsewhere and I’d like to see the whole lot investigated.

      2. Bruce says:

        Well, lets get Rangers dealt with first then we’ll worry about the others if there’s any actual evidence that they’ve done anything untoward, eh?

      3. ff69 says:

        OK Bruce, seeing as you asked. Are you related to Alex? Seem to be very protective about him. When this is all done, what club would you suggest he goes after next? Once you have decided can you let Alex know?

  27. Jimbonpaddy says:

    Who cares who coined ,or used the phrase ‘succulent lamb’ first?
    All these journalists have proved to be ineffective in this story.
    Keep your eye on the real ball.
    The point still remains millions of unpaid taxes during the Whyte era. Debts to everyone who has done business with them since Mr Whyte came in. No wonder his ‘wealth is off the radar'( Copyright Keith Jackson in the DR I think)
    Who told the office staff not to pay up to HMRC as they would normally have done?
    The big tax case from the Murray era.
    Who authorised the alleged payments from EBT’s and where is the record of them?
    Should Rangers fans not be asking these questions ?

  28. tambo says:

    Alex, its the SFA and the SPL`s denial of being responsible for not highlighting Rangers` “cheating years” that intrigues me.
    Year after year after year Rangers were at it under their noses and yet they say they didn`t know and it wasn`t their jobs to find out anyway.

    How pathetically irresponsible is that ?

    Please dig further Alex and keep your hard hat handy : )

  29. thomthethim says:

    To date you are doing a great job.You have gone where every other media outlet has refused to go.

    More power to you.

    However, would a probe into the possible connection between the SFA, MSM, RFC, HBOS and the Scottish government…and Freemasonry be a step too far for Channel 4?

    In my opinion, not to go there will result in an unfinished story and render your previous efforts as practically pointless; as normal service will quickly resume in Scottish society.

  30. Richie says:

    Newspapers will always have an agenda-its altered little over the last hundred years or so. TV and its instant relaying of news-even if many reports are filed from hotels nearby changed the importance of all that, which is why Murdoch now has Sky as well.

    In Scotland, and its sports journalism, the establishment holds sway only because they refuse to recognise the new media, and when someone , say a recognised and creditable journalist, from outwith the country who recognises and reflects the power of the new media, comes along, the reaction is sadly both predictable and evident.

    Bring em down , alex. They are a disgrace to their profession and an insult to any thinking man anywhere in the educated world.

    Actually, no, they’re just self serving inter bred arseholes.

  31. Androcles says:

    It would be salutary for the whole of Scottish football if Rangers come back with a discontinued history and new profile. in that way, they could continue to contribute their considerable presence to the SPL.

    They would then be without their history of discrimatory employment policy which was in place for a large proportion of their history.

    They would also divest themselves of their history of crowd trouble and rebukes and fines from EUFA for discrimatory chants and misbehaviour from fans.

    The rivalry between Celtic and Rangers would continue but would be stripped of much of it’s bile and sectarian hate which have tainted it throughout it’s history.

    It could, afterall, be a blessing in disguise both for Rangers and for Scottish football in general.

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