On the weekend that David Murray’s companies are finally liquidated, we thought we’d commemorate the occasion with a rerun of one of our favourite hackwatching pieces: hold your sides and enjoy The Succulent Lamb Sketch.
In the years before they went into liquidation the financial difficulties facing Rangers FC were widely, if not accurately, publicised. The average Scottish football fan could have been forgiven for assuming that the problems emerging in the media were a recent phenomenon. In reality, Rangers had been facing a monolothic debt problem for the best part of a decade. However, the Scottish media played its part to the full in pandering to their Ibrox masters by obfuscating, spinning and covering up the debt issue whilst at the same time indulging each and every utterance from David Murray as the herald of a new dawn of moonbeams.
The irony here is that Rangers’ predicament was one that only the Establishment Club could be faced with.
One only needs to look back to the period 1993-94 to realise that no other Scottish club would be indulged to such a degree in the face of such financial mismanagement.
Back in 1993, the cracked Celtic club crest was a daily feature of almost every newspaper, one particular tabloid taking great delight in hiring a hearse for a photo opportunity outside Celtic Park.
Debt figures were the source of frenzied speculation in newspapers who were also quick to deride the Celtic board’s proposal for a new stadium development in Cambuslang.
Reporters managed to track down the office of the London-based private equity firm who the board claim were financing the project – Gefinor – and gleefully reported their denial of involvement in any such project.
In the end, this worked in Celtic’s favour as it helped mobilise the Celtic support in the face of such stark realities.
Fast forward to 2011, and we had Moira Gordon of the Scotsman telling us that the media were too busy (presumably condemning Neil Lennon) to investigate either the HMRC case or Craig Whyte’s background of which, virtually nothing was revealed in the press.
The Laptop Loyal can console themselves with the knowledge that their role as PR arm of the club and mouthpiece for whatever Sir Minty Moonbeam passed off as his latest cunning plan succeeded in cocooning the Rangers support from impending disaster until oblivion was finally reached.
For this I thank them.
Don’t buy it?
Well cast your eyes over some of the finest lickspittlery to be found across the globe. Fox News, Pravda and Goebbels could only marvel at such feats of propaganda.
Jim Traynor featured prominently.
James Traynor, Daily Record, 2 November 1996
£80m TO SPEND
Kenny Dalglish will be given a roving role to go out and recommend – and try to attract – the best. ”We’re not talking about young or middle of the road players – we’re talking the VERY best. Dalglish will be given an open chequebook to make sure the big names are made an offer they can’t refuse.”
Murray knows the name of King Kenny will not only help capture top stars, but will increase interest from potential investors.
That Dream Team in Full
Ajax attackers PATRICK KLUIVERT and MARC OVERMARS would immediately create a £15 million hole in the Ibrox funds – but would no longer be an impossible prospect.
Paris St Germain’s brilliant Brazilian RAI would also come into the equation and players like JURGEN KLINSMANN and PAOLO MALDINI would become targets.
Dalglish’s brilliant record in England could prompt moves for ERIC CANTONA and ROBBIE FOWLER.
Top agents like Edinburgh’s Jake Duncan reckons even Barcelona’s RONALDO would not be out of Dalglish’s reach.
If Rangers are making millions then the sky is the limit.
That’s funny – when Kenny Dalglish returned to Celtic in June 1999 I don’t remember the Laptop Loyal creaming themselves about Celtic signing the likes of Denis Bergkamp and Michael Owen.
James Traynor, Daily Record 19 November 1998
SECRET FEAR THAT DRIVES ME TO WIN
10 IN A ROW:
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: James Traynor
(Aka – the Succulent Lamb Sketch)
To hear him speak was to listen to a man who believes himself to be charged with some kind of great and mighty mission.
Like Jim Jones, perhaps, without the shades.
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.”
Do let us know how you get on with that, won’t you Dave?
“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.”
Anyone else picturing the Black Knight’s “flesh wound” speech?
“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.
Never a truer word spoken by the great man. One too many of the finest red for Traynor, though, I think.
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.”
Was there ever a great leader who could communicate so much through his cutlery? If Murray had belched or broken wind you can’t help but get the impression that Traynor would have taken it as a portent of deepest significance.
“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.
No, Jabbs, empty rhetoric and bluster is all it was. Any reasonably intelligent person able to withstand the patter of a used car salesman could have told you if you hadn’t been so far up Murray’s rectum to be rendered deaf.
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.
Read and behold how the forensic mind of a great journalist analyses and disects the financial information with all the rigour of an Early Learning Centre toy cash register.
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.”
I shudder to think what might have happened had they adopted a more prudent strategy then.
“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.
At least that part of it was a success then.
£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.”
Some very carefully chosen words there. Jabba must have been too busy corking another bottle of the finest red to notice.
“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.”
He could get a lot more than six a couple of years later. Chuckles was giving away handfuls of them.
“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.”
How’s the old adrenaline flowing these days Dave?
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.”
And that concluding paragraph was Jabba’s analysis.
James Traynor, The Daily Record 21 June 2003
We’re not as broke as some folk say
Rangers’ honorary chairman decided to suspend his self-imposed silence to talk exclusively to Sports Record so that Rangers fans could deal with the “truth” rather than rumour and conjecture.
He also went out of his way to stress his commmitment to his club remains strong even though he is no longer chairman and it was clear the rumours about his lack of concern had cut deeply.
Murray can be cold and brash, but he believes that if he is guilty of anything then it is over ambition for Rangers. “If that’s a crime then it isn’t such a bad one is it?” he asked before letting fly in all directions spitting out words like bullets.
First, he spoke about the level of debt and said: “People talk about our debt being as high as £70million or £80 million, but that just isn’t the case.
“It’s nonsense, although we do have a high level of debt, but we can manage and it will peak at £60m to £65m for everything, players, training facilities, shops, the lot.
Ah yes, the shops. What happened to them?
We will work to reduce our debt and we have a four-year plan in place to take us forward. Of course there is a level of debt which we will not go above, but I’ve made a commitment to have the Murray business help out if and when the club needs assistance. For instance, if at some point in the new season Alex McLeish needs a player or players in a hurry then he will be given the money.
“He already has Capucho signed up, Michael Mols has agreed a new one- year deal, and Zurab Khizanishvili has been offered a contract with the Georgian having to decide over the weekend and by Monday at the latest.”
Although he refused to divulge the amount his busines empire will plough in to help Rangers my belief is there will be a credit line which could rise to £20m as Murray tries to make sure his club and manager don’t have to go empty handed despite the severe financial restrictions which currently afflict the game.
Wonder where Jabba’s ‘belief’ came from?
On yerself the lapdogs!!