How I Nearly Stopped Them Dying… But Didn’t

And so we come to the shameless revisionism bit, where hacks had to write something about the tenth anniversary of Rangers entering administration but make it look as if they weren’t partly responsible for Craig Whyte being carried shoulder high along the Copland Road and up the marble staircase.

Keith Jacksie was at the forefront with a shameless piece on how Paul Murray nearly thwarted the evil Craig Whyte’s plan.

First, a bit of history. Here’s how Keith Jacksie described Whyte in the Daily Record on the 18th November 2010:

“Craig Whyte started playing the stock market at the age of 15. By the time he left school he had more than £20,000 in his bank account.

Today, aged just 39, this financial whizzkid from Motherwell stands on the brink of pulling off the biggest deal of his life – and finally bringing the curtain down on one of the longest-running sagas in Scottish football.

Record Sport understands self-made billionaire Whyte has entered into the final

stages of negotiations to buy control of the club he loves from Sir David Murray.

And he’s still one year younger than captain Davie Weir.

A deal worth around £30million is now believed to have reached such an advanced stage that sources say Whyte, a high-roller who splits his time between a home in London and the idyllic Castle Grant in Grantown-on-Spey, could even have the keys to Ibrox in time to fund a major refurbishment of Walter Smith’s top-team squad in January.

The news will delight Rangers supporters who have been fretting over the future of their club ever since Murray first slapped a For Sale sign on the front door of Edmiston Drive around three years ago.

By the age of 26, Whyte was already Scotland’s youngest self-made millionaire. Now, 13 years on, and in charge of a vast business empire, his wealth is off the radar.
Whyte is a venture capitalist who has made his millions from playing the markets – a skill he secretly began honing in his third year at Glasgow’s Kelvinside Academy. In one of his few interviews he revealed how he immediately regretted going to the private school – because he despised playing rugby.

He said: “I hated the discipline of it. It was a rugby-only school, which I didn’t play as I was interested in football.’’ Whyte worked weekends for his dad’s plant hire firm. And he saved up his wages to fund his habit of gambling on Stock Exchange.

It is said that, by the time he left school, he had more cash in his bank than many of his teachers.

At 19, he was in charge of his own hire plant.

Now he owns his own castle – one of the most historic buildings in Scotland. And very soon he could be adding Rangers to his portfolio. It remains to be seen if Whyte’s move to capture the club will flush any other parties out of the woodwork…”

Poor Keith. He later claimed that he had been duped by the silver tongued shyster when it became clear that the only curtain being brought down was on his beloved Kinning Park giants.

Ten years on and Jacksie has changed his tune a bit. These days he is only too willing to give publicity to the good guys, the Chicken Littles of the brethren who tried to warn everybody that the sky was falling in and who could have been the messiah but who were spurned amidst all the euphoria.

Step forward Paul Murray.

Take it away Keith…

“It’s a great deal for David Murray, a great deal for the bank and a great deal for Craig Whyte, but it’s a catastrophic deal for Glasgow Rangers.”

That was Paul Murray’s warning, one full year in advance.

Shame. If only Keith had listened none of the subsequent catastrophe might have happened. Few were as astute as Paul Murray.

From the first moment he clapped eyes on the man who would run his football club into the ground, Murray knew exactly what he was looking at. A wolf in cheap clothing.

What was the sign? Was it a lack of Rangers cufflinks perhaps?

When Craigy eventually got round to buying Rangers it was for slightly less that the £30 million Keith had reported, as Murray recounts:

“We were playing Hearts at Ibrox. He and his advisers had walked down Edmiston Drive like something out of Reservoir Dogs. You know, Mr Orange and Mr White.

Mr Orange indeed. No Mr Green? Mr Green, Mr White, Mr Orange?

“He came into the boardroom and I remember looking at him in disbelief. The pointy, plastic shoes. The ill-fitting suit. This should have been the biggest day of his life.

No brown brogues – a dead giveaway. Always check their shoes. That’s what John Lobb told me when we invented a replacement for the plain Oxford back in the early 1900s.

“Had it been me and I had just bought Glasgow Rangers I would have made sure I looked immaculate. This guy looked like he’d been dressed off the peg at M&S. And he was trying to make the world believe he was a billionaire who was here to save the club? Nothing about it made any kind of sense. I felt I simply had to do something.”

Maybe Murray should have sent Craigy round to Slaters to smarten him up a bit.

Maybe not. A quick check of the creditors list reveals that Slaters were owed nearly 700 quid when Rangers 1872 passed away. (curiously, the Daily Record also appears on the list of creditors to the tune of £312).

As for being a billionaire… who would be taken in by that pile of pants?

Keith? Keith, you still there?

The deal went through on May 6, 2011. Whyte sealed it by digging into his trouser pocket and casually tossing a pound coin across Murray’s desk in his office in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square.

The indignity of it all. A pound coin. Mind you, that pound coin would probably buy you quite a few shares in the new lot these days.

The following day Whyte and his entourage marched triumphantly through the front doors of Ibrox, cheered over the threshold by thousands of adoring fans.

And Keith. Where was Keith that day?

And in case you didn’t know, Paul Murray nearly saved the club… er company… er old parent company.

“Eventually, by the end of March 2011, we had a meeting with Whyte at the Murray Group’s lawyers’ office in Glasgow.

“He sat on one side of the table with all the directors on the other. Alastair, John McLelland, John Grieg, Martin Bain and myself.

“To be fair to Whyte this must have been quite daunting. He was being asked questions from all angles.

Trigonometry question. They’re always quite difficult. It’s interesting as well how the ire of the Peepul is focussed on one side of the table and not the other.

What of Paul Murray’s desperate attempts to save his club… er old parent company?

“I sent him (David Murray) an email with my outline proposal and then I went to his office to speak to him in person about three weeks before the club was eventually sold.

“He said, ‘Look Paul, you’re just too late. I’ve got to do this deal with Craig Whyte,’. Obviously the bank had him in an arm lock and there was no other way out.

There it is. One email and then ‘Look Paul, you’re just too late.’

(Big sigh) Ah well…

“I was disappointed in David. I Just think there were better options than the one he went with. I can’t remember the exact words I used. My head was spinning at the time.

“But I told him he’d just sealed the club’s fate – that there was no way back from this.”

The fate that dare not speak its name was, of course, administration (it’s apparently ok to mention that in an article) and then liquidation (it’s definitely not ok to mention the L word in an article).

And that was that. Done in by Mr Orange in the Charlotte Square office with a pound coin. I win Cluedo.

As for poor Paul:

“And here I was, trying to block it all from happening. I was seen as the guy who didn’t want change. Who only wanted to keep hold of a blazer.

As long as the blazer’s not from Slaters. They’re still owed money.

Hackwatcher

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