Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In A Rich Man's World

Such has been the forensic focus on Ranger’s perilous finances over the last couple of days that following Scottish football has been like studying for an accountancy degree. Not so much fans with typewriters as fans with calculators.

To save everybody the hassle of crawling into every nook and cranny of the internet in the search for news about the country’s most bombastic football club collapsing into poverty I thought I’d do it for you.

First up is the man who, along with Walter Smith, broke the story of the bank’s increasing involvement. The game’s most fearless interrogator, the Paxman of Paisley, has his say on the BBC website.

Chick Young is not slow to mention that it was his exclusive “that launched a thousand headlines and a million theories.” Other than that he has little new to add and even spends a bit of time hitting out at his critics. This is an increasing theme with Chick this year. You’d think that if you go out of the door every morning as “Chick Young” you would have a pretty thick skin but he’s getting increasingly riled by the brickbats that fly his way and can’t seem to come to terms with the idea that the fans can now voice their opinions easily and instantly.

Still we shouldn’t get on Chick’s back too much as his mind is, understandably, elsewhere as he waits to see if a buyer can be found for his beloved football club.

Apparently there are already a couple of offers in for St Mirren as well.

Two “quality” daily newspapers and two sides to every story. The bank is running Rangers say The Herald - which also profiles the man who predicted exactly this kind of unsavoury Rangers crisis.

No, the bank is not running Rangers says The Scotsman. The Edinburgh paper goes on to speculate about Martin Bain who is, apparently, hanging his designer threads on a very shoogly peg indeed at the moment. Ah well, Martin maybe you can go back to the modeling.

The Herald says Rangers’ woes will not necessarily affect Celtic and might even precipitate a decisive parting of the ways between the two chums. Rangers are agitating to get out of Scotland while Celtic are prepared to wait for a perfect deal because they are already financially secure. An interesting thought but the appeal of either club is going to be massively diluted if they can’t guarantee they come as a couple. Where Rangers play in the future will certainly be a consideration of any potential buyer and, as The Times notes, right now the club are not an easy sell.

Dave King, a Castlemilk lad who made his fortune in post apartheid South Africa, seems the man most likely to take over from David Murray. He’s rich and he’s a Rangers fan which will be seen as all that’s needed in a saviour. On the other hand he’s also the subject of some controversy due to his creative, offshore accounting. The South African authorities were understandably miffed to find out that King, who claimed to be below the tax threshold, was in fact the country’s richest man. He says he’s innocent and, if the cash is there, few questions will be asked of him.

Although, as the Wall Street Journal points out, Rangers already have a new owner in the shape of Downing Street’s most famous Raith fan.

Showing all the optimism of denial the Rangers pages on Vital Football are already naming likely candidates to replace Smith when King takes over. Billy Davies is hotly tipped at the moment. That would seem to make sense. Having been at Nottingham Forest for a matter of months now Davies will be looking for a way out and everything about his managerial career suggests he is the man to bring the stability that Ibrox craves.

In the record Jim Traynor advises Walter Smith to get out now with his reputation intact and before the sale of half the team forces him to steer a sinking ship. The speed with which King, or AN Other, can assume control will have a major part to play in Walter’s future although as I pointed out yesterday he must now be reaching the end of his tether.

Martin Samuel ignores catastrophic cash shortages to go straight for the jugular of the Old Firm going down south question. We don’t need them and we don’t need there barbaric bigotry harrumphs the big man. Apparently Rangers and Celtic going down south would run the risk of turning 15 year olds from Bristol into vile sectarian monsters due to their sudden exposure to Old Firm internet forum. This seems a specious argument based on the premise that teenage Bristolians are already easily led twats and ignoring the many years and generations of hatred that it takes to become truly vile.

It’s also to turn a blind eye to the less than stunning behaviour of some English fans. Are sectarian chants worse than chants about Munich or Hillsborough? Or is it all just proof that wherever large crowds gather a minority will be unable to resist the urge to act like total plonkers?

So there it is. Not quite the millions of theories Chick promised but quite enough to be getting on with. Interesting times, indeed.