The Final Ibrox Disaster.

Today The Pensive Quill features guest writer Larry Hughes, sharing his thoughts on the decline, or demise, of Glasgow Rangers.

As another season of SPL ‘football’ comes to a close it has been remarkable for just about everything except, once again, the football. Bullets and bombs in the post combined with death threats and physical assault by opposing fans seemed to be keeping the Celtic manager in his job. For his part Neil Lennon seemed determined to project the image cultivated by ‘Punch’ of the stereotypical Celt, knuckle dragging, scruffy, uncouth and unable to look an interviewer directly in the eye as he answered questions through his teeth. Roll out Ally McCoist of Rangers next in his Saville Row suit and clean cut and direct demeanor and presto, ‘Punch’ had it right all along.

So, it would appear to be business as usual in the world of Scottish football? Well not quite. Whilst Celtic were collecting a lesser treble last night (than the one they unbelievably squandered on the pitch) at the Scottish football awards, where players Mulgrew and Forrest along with manager Lennon swept the boards, a ‘bomb’ exploded at Ibrox which blew open a hole that could prove bigger than the one in the side of the Titanic and just as difficult to fill.  The hole in Rangers FC finances may lead to a very dark and bottomless interior and the Strathclyde police are now peering into it.

Just when it finally seemed that the Rangers administration saga had finally had a lid put on it, with Duff and Phelps administrators announcing they had identified a preferred buyer for the sinking Glasgow club, the preferred bidder withdrew his offer. An offer that had lasted exactly five days, seven hours and thirteen minutes and was swiftly withdrawn once the potential buyer got a brief look into the void that is Rangers FC finances. Tennessee businessman Bill Miller ran a mile in Olympic gold medal time as soon as a minimum of light was shone upon the ‘books’ at Rangers. Rumour has it he is now in talks with team GB to see if he has any WASP ancestry.

When submitting his offer, Miller announced he wanted to bring:  'An end to the culture of financial mismanagement that brought one of Britain’s biggest clubs to the brink of closure.'  He continued, 'what Rangers, which includes supporters, players, staff and anyone with the club at heart, have been put through, particularly in recent months, is a travesty, from what I can see they have been badly let down by a number of individuals.' 

A number of individuals?  Therein lays the juicy detail that the more savvy observers of this pantomime are waiting to be uncovered. As Miller retreated south of the Mason Dixon line, Ibrox fans held up a banner telling him in no uncertain terms to stay there and sent him hundreds of ‘shocking’ emails to make sure he got the point. Something they have become adept at. Lennon, the SFA and now a prospective buyer of Rangers have all received similar ‘correspondence’.

In the meantime, Rangers and their fans can expect roughly zero empathy from those in Paradise. In the early 1990’s when Celtic was at the threshold of bankruptcy the Daily Record had a front page article with a hearse outside Parkhead. Memories are long and sharp in Glasgow. As one pundit commented recently, during the racism saga in the EPL, ‘We don’t do racism in Glasgow, we do sectarianism, and we do it well’.

After watching their team throwing away a gimmie of a treble, Celtic supporters can now settle into a relaxing summer of fun and frolics thanks to King Billy Miller’s record 100 meters dash after a mere five days of contemplation over Rangers. Neither does it auger well for the highly paid administrators Duff and Phelps who seem to be at least earning their Glasgow title of ‘Nuff ‘n’ Helps’. Whilst it may be a summer of old testament style wailing and grinding of teeth for God’s people from Govan, Celtic supporters will be watching events with pure glee. The comments online and in the pub and press will be side-splitting in the harsh Glasgow humour that has no comparison.

It is worth reflecting where this all began and to where it may all very well return: Sir David Murray. Google the name and he is described as a Scottish entrepreneur who had his own company, Murray Metals Limited at 23 years of age. He quickly branched out into steel production, mining and property development. He bought Rangers for £6 million in 1988 and the team won 15 titles and 26 cups during his reign. He was made a Knight of the British Empire in 2007. In 2008 his estimated wealth was £720 million but due to the recession in 2009 he was said to have ‘lost’ 78% of his wealth. In 2011 Murray sold his shares in Rangers to Craig White in a deal that cleared Rangers debt to Lloyds Banking Group. Former Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston opposed the White takeover on the grounds White had no transparent assets with which to financially run the club.

It has since been revealed White raised the money to buy Rangers by selling four seasons’ tickets at Ibrox in advance to the Ticketus group. Since White took over moneys outstanding from Rangers to HMRC, in a Tax default, of up to £75 million has been exacerbated by the ‘disappearance’ of a further £9 million. This comes on top of revelations that the nine league titles Rangers won to equal Celtics record achievement was done with the assistance of high quality, high earning, top drawer players from the EPL and the Continent who were paid illegally through a trust fund set up to avoid tax payments on the enormous wages these players demanded. Basically, Rangers cheated. With all the intrigues and things being ‘lost’ at Rangers, Murray’s financial antics and swift financial demise must rank right up there with the pyramids as one of the great wonders of the world.

The question many observers are asking is who Craig White is and where did Sir. David Murray ‘find’ him? As Alastair Johnston pointed out recently, somewhat astutely, 'My concern would be that the administrators are acting in the same way as David Murray and Lloyds did – looking at things with one eye shut.' Johnston went on to say somewhat prophetically in relation to the Miller takeover.

The devil will be in the detail, the problem with Craig White was how he was going to be able to provide working capital and there’s been nothing from Bill Miller as to how he will underwrite or invest in the club. 

As it stands, Craig White, courtesy of Sir David Murray owns 85% of Rangers. There is £9million tax missing since he took over on top of the £75 million already outstanding. Rangers have a transfer embargo in place, they cannot buy players over 18 yrs old. Duff and Phelps insist there are still three remaining bidders for Rangers in spite of Millers withdrawal. As one pundit jibed yesterday, ‘you had Bill … the other three must be Ben and the flower pot men’. It looks like the liquidizer is getting plugged in.  Anyone fancy a smoothie? The futures bright, it’s green and white. In the meantime Celtic will probably wrack up ten in a row whilst Strathclyde police attempt to delve to the bottom of ‘Knight of the Realm’ Murray’s bottomless cess-pit.

Breaking news, Neil Lennon has invested in a suit, and he looks just dandy.


  1. Liverpoool, third worst prem record in 2012 should be playing in the Scottish league ! I wouldn't mind seeing Celtic & Rangers playing in the English prem along with teams from Belfast & Dublin . Make sense ? Irish soccer is bust. KD to be sacked in 10 days .

  2. Great piece Larry
    I have never bought into the Scottish ole Firm thing at all , it always appeared extremely sectarian so the appeal was never there, All the big clubs seem to set themselves on a course of self destruction at some stage in their existence , just look at the great Italian teams of the past and of course Liverpool, its very sad for the average football supporter to witness such demise , I would definitely make fun of Liverpool but am sad to see them go into decline because the Premier needs them same as all the top clubs .
    Solution perhaps the running of the club should be based on total revenue taken in that way the club‘s finances should be better able to be kept in check.
    Maybe it’s time to go back to days of when “if you can’t afford something you can’t buy it “

  3. Just seen the breaking news re the Rep Of Ireland squad for Euro finals because of the on going problems with defence Trapattoni has decided to add 2 off Irelands best defenders Sean Brady and Gerry Adams, Trap like the rest of know that these 2 will defend at all costs for the team

  4. very astute ate facilitating those two...not so sure about the 'defending'.

  5. Larry,

    very good piece. Enjoyed reading it. Great tyo have it on TPQ. Wonder if these guys have been handling Liverpool's affairs behind our backs!

  6. Boyne Rover

    ‘Maybe it's time to go back to days of when “if you can't afford something you can't buy it'

    That sounds like an austerity measure!

  7. Couldnt make this up! Rangers last two owners could have been Green and Whyte,their last signing was Celik,and they will be put out of business by the queen