The First Casualty in War is the Truth


There is a war being waged within Scotland. The War against reporting the truth. The Greek dramatist Aeschylus was right when he stated, ‘In war, truth is the first casualty’. Sadly I don’t think he was referring to Scottish newspapers being banned from reporting newsworthy stories within Scottish Football.

Yesterday afternoon, news broke that Rangers had banned The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times over reporting of the club’s legal bill case.

As we reported yesterday Rangers were taken to court after they failed to pay a £35,000 debt to law firm Levy & McRae for services rendered when advising the club as they tackled UEFA over sectarian singing in the two games against PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League.

However Rangers took exception to The Herald’s reporting of the case yesterday morning, with the article entitled Rangers fail to pay £35k law firm bill, promptly banning the Herald Group’s journalists from yesterday’s press conference.

It is not the first time this season that Rangers have taken the media to task. They banned Keith Jackson of the Daily Record temporarily after the journalist wrote an article, which the Ibrox side took exception too. The Record swiftly deleted the article and after much perceived kowtowing in the Rangers board room, Jackson was back within the corridors of Ibrox with Whyte’s eye keenly watching him, just in case he steps out of line again.

Spin followed churnalism followed by further spin as several high-profile journalists within the Record published articles saying how much money Whyte was giving to McCoist for his transfer kitty. Jim Traynor wrote a piece with the headline mentioning £15 million was being readied by Whyte to hand to McCoist to strengthen the Rangers side, which I rubbished in an article entitled The Whyte Elephant And Those El Dorado Millions.

On top of that the BBC were banned for allegedly editing a press conference that McCoist was taking in a way that showed the Rangers manager in a bad light, when talking about sectarianism and bigotry in the stands. An apology was quickly made and the BBC were allowed back through the double doors at Ibrox.

It is common knowledge amongst many fans that those within certain circles do not step out of line, fearful of losing their exclusives which are at times hand fed to them like a Bird feeding her chicks. Some are more blatant than others, but sometimes we see the truth being the first victim, as spin and press releases become the order of the day.

The Herald article reported the facts of the case, did not put any spin on it whatsoever, reported it justly and without malice. Sadly in the eyes of those in power at Rangers they stepped out of line and had to be punished. It is not known yet, how long such a punishment will last for, however The Herald is certainly not the last to report on the legal case bill.

The Scotsman have published an article this morning called: Rangers ‘at risk’ of financial collapse, court told.

The Telegraph reports: Financial worries for Scottish champions Rangers continue to stalk corridors of Ibrox.

And STV News reported: ‘Insolvency fear’ as Rangers pay £35,000 owed to law firm.

While The Times Sportswriter Graham Speirs tweeted: “Rangers FC go back to the Soviet age and ban The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times over reporting of the club’s troubles..”

The next question must be posed – Will Rangers now take action against those above for their reporting of the legal case bill, and publishing the insolvency comments by the Levy & McRae Counsel? Will Rangers tackle Mr Speirs head on with his comment that Rangers are acting like a Soviet state?

I have had my own experience of Mr Whyte and Rangers trying to silence me after I did some significant research into his background. Our November 2010 an article we wrote looked into the business history of Mr Whyte which raised some serious questions, four months later an email was received from his litigation lawyers Carter-Ruck demanding the immediate removal of said article due to their client categorically denying the claims within it.

We bowed to the threat of legal action, merely because our hosting company did not wish to enter court proceedings after legal threats were made to them also – I was given a stark choice either delete the article or we delete the site. I chose the former, but in May a reworked version of the article was published on the site entitled ‘Craig Not so Whyte’. Which not only had our previous information, quotes and facts listed but also new information that came to light thereafter.

Again the question must be asked – why is Whyte or specifically Rangers Football Club banning or trying to censor newspapers and journalists from reporting the truth? What has the club and specifically Mr Whyte got to gain from preventing the truth to be published?

Is it the case that Mr Whyte and Rangers now know that they can treat the media anyway they like and control what they say or print, unless there is a significant backing behind said individuals or newspapers? Would Rangers ban Sky Sports from Press Conferences or talking to the manager if they reported something that Rangers took offence too? Of course they wouldn’t because Sky Sports are the cash cow of Scottish Football, and if Rangers pulled the plug Sky Sports could quite easily say – ah well your loss toodle-pip – taking their millions with them and leaving Scottish Football for good.

Mr Whyte stated early on into his tenure, that he was new to the football business game, that he had a lot to learn and has already learned a lot after the failed attempts to sign some of their top summer transfer targets. But one thing he really needs to consider is the continued fragrant banning of media elements just because he or individuals at Rangers did not like an article. Do you really think banning journalists and newspapers will prevent the majority of them reporting the truth in the future? It might give you power over some journalists who churn out press releases and call them exclusives, but for those of significant standing – and I hold the journalists within The Herald Group amongst the top in their field in Scotland at least – being treated like petulant citizens by a Stalinist oppressor will not endear them to the journalists, those who do not need to rely on the hand fed scraps emanating from the board room.

The freedom of the press is a must. Reporting the facts is a must. The fans knowing what is happening at their club is a must. Does the official club website tell the fans everything that is happening at the club – good, bad or ugly? Or is it a modern-day version of Pravda?

Rangers already have some seriously bad press on the go at the minute due to the arrestment of funds by HMRC, their former Chief Executive Martin Bain suing them and this latest legal case with Levy & McRae. Are they trying to increase the bad publicity that surrounds the club at the minute with more? Certainly it is not great PR to attack those who report the news, but it does wonders for Whyte’s standing amongst the majority of supporters who hail Whyte as an all-conquering Caesar after he subjugated the Gauls. All that is happening is the fans attentions are being shifted from the financial mess that is surrounding the World’s Most Successful Club and reigning SPL champions, to a bit of PR spin that has been done to give the supporters a wee boost of morale as the bills keep flowing in.

If Rangers continue to try to rule the Scottish football media with an iron fist, it won’t be long before those being targeted rise up break down the barricades and storm the palace. And usually when there is a revolution against tyranny the first to go are the tyrannical dictator and his propaganda minister.


About Author


Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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