17 Sep 2012

Rangers: Why I endorsed Downfall book

One or two Rangers supporters have been asking in recent weeks why I decided to write the foreword for Phil Mac Giolla Bhain’s book on Rangers, Downfall.

There’s been rather a lot of noise about this so let me stick to some clear facts which illustrate why I endorse the book and why it is telling that – as far as the publisher is aware – not one MSM newspaper in Scotland has reviewed the book as yet.

Which is odd, since it is currently into a third print-run. It is billed as Scottish Book of the Month in WHSmith and has been high in the Amazon bestseller lists.

It is also (small detail lost in ear-spitting hysteria) the truth about Rangers.

I’ve had the usual endearing tsunami of abuse from a small number of Rangers fans for endorsing a book most claim not to have read (yes, I know…) But not one single communication taking issue with the facts, substance and truth of Downfall.

The book is the truth – and no Rangers fan reading it will disagree with that. This is why I endorsed it.

I have never met Mr Mac Giolla Bhain.

He was not the source for any of the major stories about Rangers Channel 4 News broke this year.

He wishes to see Rangers FC obliterated as far as I can discern.

I wish to see Rangers in the Champions League again.

Mr Mac Giolla Bhain supports Celtic. I (let me say this just one more time) don’t.

He writes about Rangers’ downfall with undisguised glee and mirth. I write, saddened for their legions of loyal fans so badly sold out by the suits.

But as a journalist and an outsider to this cauldron I simply want the facts of Rangers’ implosion in the public domain and those responsible held to account.

That is why I made this clear in my foreword. And made it clear I do not, could not, share the Celtic-driven motivation of Mr Mac Giolla Bhain and other notable bloggers.

However, though the author and I may be in very different places, we want the truth about what happened.

So all those interested should have one simple question in mind – is the book the truth of the Rangers fiasco? That, ultimately, is all that matters.

I believe it is.

I also believe the bizarre adventures of Downfall en route from the printers to the bookshelves prove an important dimension of the book and of my investigations into Rangers.

Namely, the way in which the MSM in Glasgow have been outflanked by the bloggers and their distaste for handling the truth the bloggers have consistently delivered.

Time and again the bloggers got the story first, and they mostly got it right. With some notable exceptions, Glasgow’s MSM were left playing catch-up and even now, handed the story on a plate, bizarre things happen.

The Scottish Sun’s u-turn and refusal to serialise, having done a double-page spread promoting the author and the coming serialisation-that-never-was will long remain a baffling and scarcely explained episode.

Apparently it was not worries about a boycott. Apparently it was not the result of intimidation.

But didn’t The Sun publish two pages on the author being threatened by Rangers fans in their own pre-serialisation splash?

Didn’t The Sun approach the publisher asking for serialisation rights and not the other way round?

Curiouser and curiouser…

So a man comes along plainly telling the truth about Rangers. Nobody disputes that. The Sun un-serialises and starts apologising. No other paper publishes so much as a review.

And a review of a book which charts many things and one is – guess what?

Yup – the strange, historic reluctance of the MSM in Glasgow to handle the truth of what happened at Ibrox.

Many thought that culture was something of the past, gone with Sir David and Craig, history. Many thought that things are different now in Glasgow. The bizarre conduct of the MSM over Downfall suggests to some that the fear, the deference, is alive and well.

Others will say Scotland’s newspapers completely ignoring the inside story of the nation’s biggest-ever sporting business catastrophe and near ruination of a gigantic footballing culture, was, well, just coincidence.

Nothing to see here. No story. Move along please.

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