During the Dallas email story last November I met up with Matt McGlone. These days he’s the editor/proprietor of the highly successful “Alternative View”, but back in the days before “The Bunnet” landed in Scotland Matt was a streetwise revolutionary.
As we chatted in the foyer of a Glasgow hotel with my laptop hooked to the Wi-Fi it seemed another age, another world to those nights at the City Halls and the “Celts for change” rallies.
One thing that struck me when recalling those times was that how well-informed the Celtic supporters were about the perilous financial situation of the club. No matter how much the old board tried to put a brave face on the situation the media would reveal the truth. That’s the media’s job of course. The old Celtic board tried to say that the club would move to a new stadium in Cambuslang and everything would be wonderful.
The mainstream media gutted that story, explaining why the figures didn’t add up and the site itself was a toxic disaster area that would take millions to clean up even if the authorities were to allow it to be excavated. Before any group of people mobilise for a common purpose they must have information.
That is why a free, unimpeded press is a central pillar of any functioning democratic society. Celtic supporters in the 1990s were well-informed by the traditional media.
Today in 2011 Rangers supporters are not well-informed.
Since I started writing on Rangers problems with HMRC back in April 2010 the main response from Rangers supporters has been one of disbelief. This CAN’T be true.
Well it is.
Rangers are currently in the Tribunal process for an assessment that, if it crystallises (i.e. Rangers lose) then it would become a bill for some £60 million and change…
The most recent issue (the “wee tax bill”) over a £2.8 million tax bill has seen Sheriff Officers visit Ibrox and, last week, have the RFC bank account legally impeded to secure those funds.
I arranged for a freelance snapper to be there to capture the moment and I tipped off another colleague who is a regular FL with the Sun.
Even if these pics on my site the day before the Record and the Sun Rangers fans were on their message boards saying things like: “Two bemused men who had just left Ibrox after trying to book a function room!”
When one has that level of denial then it is easy to spin to them that everything is ok. They WANT to believe the spin.
It is now the opinion of several key insiders that Rangers FC will go into negative cash flow without a credit line to tide them over.
Martin Bain sought to arrest Rangers bank account this summer. His application for “a warrant for the diligence of the dependence” was refused. His legal team expressed their client’s fear that the company would not exist.
This is the club’s ex-Chief Executive. What does he know that Rangers fans don’t?
When the Bunnet landed in Glasgow I didn’t have long to wait to know everything I had to know, good and not so well, about Fergus McCann’s business history.
What do Rangers supporters know about Craig Whyte’s financial status?
I would contend that they know every little indeed.
In the internet age is it really plausible that someone taking over such a high-profile company could escape scrutiny from the mainstream media?
It is, sadly, too late for “Gers for change”. In the age of social media it would have been so much easier to organise and mobile the club’s huge fan base.
Imagine the 2008 crowd at Manchester marching as one.
The time for that has gone.
Rangers supporters are now helpless spectators just as they are when they filing into Ibrox and things aren’t going well on the park. They can shout and boo, but they cannot, of course, score a goal.
The own goal from the Rangers support was to believe the spin being put out by the old regime and now the new. They have been let down badly by sports journalists in Scotland.
In time to come they might ask: “Why didn’t we know this at the time?”
The thing is from the News of the World last summer through social media they WERE being told.
Partly, perhaps, that the main source of this information was a journalist called Phil Mac Giolla Bhain in Donegal. They chose not to believe this bad news because of the ethnicity of the journalist and his location.
Now that is truly a tragedy that people can be so limited because of the toxic belief system into which they have been socialised.
It isn’t their fault.
Scotland’s biggest club stands at the door marked “Administration” and my trade did next to nothing to highlight the danger.
It is too late and if people of the light blue persuasion don’t believe this man in Donegal then they should go and ask Martin Bain, because they shouldn’t expect a Scottish sports journalist to do it for them.
The time for their Matt McGlone to step forward has passed. Like most things in life it’s all about timing. All Rangers supporters can do now is watch and wait. The time for action has gone.
Written by Phil Mac Giolla Bhain
Phil Mac Giolla Bhain is an author, blogger, journalist and writer based in Donegal, Ireland. He has broken some of the most high-profile stories in recent times regarding Scottish Football. From the Hugh Dallas email scandal to the Rangers tax issue, the Neil Lennon letter bomb attacks not to mention tackling the racist Famine Song. Phil has written for the likes of the, Caledonian Mercury, Celtic View, Guardian, Magill, Irish Independent and the Irish Post. Phil is an active member of the NUJ sitting on the Irish Executive Council and the New Media Industrial Council.