Traynor unveiled as Rangers’ Head of Communications but history cannot be rewritten


As we exclusively brought to you on the 4th December, Rangers have appointed former Daily Record and BBC Scotland journalist James Traynor, as their new Head of Communications.

A statement on the official Rangers website read: “The Rangers Football Club has announced today the appointment of James Traynor as the Club’s Director of Communications. His appointment will take effect from early next year.

“James will be head of media and oversee the development of all media platforms including Rangers TV, digital, online and print publications.

“He joins Rangers following a distinguished journalistic career with the Herald, Express and Daily Record newspapers as well as being a presenter with the BBC.

“In his role at Ibrox, James will be supported by the Rangers Media editorial team, the Press Office and external media advisers, Media House.”

I was listening, with interest, to BBC Radio Scotland’s programme Sportsound on my way back from work tonight and listened to Tom English commenting on his former bed fellow of Your Call.

The Scotsman columnist stated that Traynor’s move to Rangers would place a massive restriction upon the man, a man who is so used to battling the Scottish FA to say what he means in articles. I fully agree with this, in over three decades Traynor has worked in the newspaper industry, but never experienced life within a club. Journalists have to work within the confines of the editorial code of conduct and others. At club level, the likes of Traynor and his new charges have to abide by a host of laws and regulations on top of the usual codes of conduct afforded to journalists – these included Scottish FA rules and regulations as well as Scottish Football League rules and regulations. As the new Head of Communications, despite being ‘supported’ by others, Traynor will have to get up to speed very quickly when he starts in the new year.

What does the role of Head of Communications entail?

As the official statement read, ‘James will be head of media and oversee the development of all media platforms including Rangers TV, digital, online and print publications’. But this is somewhat generalised in his remit.

Take for example the job vacancy for Eurosport’s Head of Communications.

Eurosport looked for a ‘talented Head of Communication….to direct the promotion of its media platform in the UK. As an experienced communications professional you will work closely with production departments at the channel’s UK studios to showcase the broad range of sports broadcast by the channel throughout the year’.

Their vacancy added: “The successful candidate will be tasked with driving the awareness and understanding of the Eurosport channel and its associated products, in the UK market to consumers and respective sport and media industry organisations. You will be responsible for enhancing the reach and ratings of Eurosport on TV, online and on mobile, whilst effectively managing the UK Communications department.

“They wanted ‘an experienced strategic communications professional ideally with experience from the UK media industry and a broad knowledge of the sports that Eurosport broadcast. Strong editorial instincts and experience of working with the media to promote consumer and commercial opportunities coupled with good initiative and budget management.

“The successful candidate will have management experience in a media, sporting, commercial or public relations environment and be able to demonstrate an ability to develop and deliver strategic plans to generate audiences and brand awareness. You will have previous experience of team management and the ability to develop internal and external partnerships.”

Now link that up with Rangers and James Traynor.

Is James Traynor an experienced communications professional? Yes. Over three decades worth of experience in fact working in the Scottish mainstream media. No one can deny him that.

Does Traynor have the awareness and understanding of the Rangers Football Club brand? Again working for over three decades in Scottish football does give you an understanding and an awareness. But from the outside looking in. As an outsider can he enhance the Rangers brand not only within Scotland, but Europe and the World? Does he have that experience or skillset? Not really, he is not a PR guru but with the likes of Media House and the in-house PR team working under him then maybe just maybe he can keep his head above water on this matter – just.

Does he have strong editorial instincts and experience of working with the media to promote consumer and commercial opportunities? He does have strong editorial instinct, earning his editorial spurs at Daily Record and has bags of experience working with the media. He certainly doesn’t have the experience of promoting consumer and commercial opportunities – but again this is where his team come into play taking up the slack once again.

Can he develop and deliver strategic plans to generate audiences? As the Daily Record Sports editor, he oversaw the continued decline of the newspaper with significant criticism coming their way from fans and clubs alike for their articles. So unfortunately, Traynor cannot have this badge on his sash. He will once again have to rely on his team to try to generate audiences across all platforms – something which has limitations of its very own – especially with the club in the Third Division and not in Europe.

And given that Rangers Football Club have to utilise every aspect of media from print to television to radio and to new media – can the technophobe and anti-new media crusader evolve or will he forever be a journalistic dinosaur?

So how could an inexperienced Head of Communications, but an experienced journalist and former editor, secure the role of Head of Communications at Rangers Football Club? Could the answer simply be his articles of late, which Tom English stated on Sportsound today, which were of a pro-Rangers stance?

There is no denying Charles Green is the man who allegedly rules the roost at Ibrox, however he does not. He rules the roost in a way that panders to what the Rangers fans want. Why? So as to be liked, to be welcomed into the fold, to sell the share issue. Can James Traynor work under such a man, working alongside him on a day-to-day basis and having to promote Green’s statements to the world – or at least his former colleagues – and do so with a straight face?

Traynor has already shot himself in the foot!

Traynor already faced criticism from Rangers fans over his comments some time ago about some Rangers fans deservedly being battered by Spanish police in Pamplona. Not a great reminder for both Traynor and the Rangers fans. But that can easily be forgotten can’t it?

However could his comments in a Daily Record article in June 2012 be forgotten? It seems he has already. It was deemed an auspicious day for Rangers and their supporters today as they celebrated the 140th year anniversary of the Ibrox club, quite fitting that they unveiled Traynor officially today also or maybe they wanted to brush it under the carpet?

Given his comments back in June, then they picked a great day to do it.

In his 13th June 2012 article entitled: SPL will not be able to prosper without Rangers; Traynor opened his article by stating: “No more than a good John Greig clearance away from Hampden one of the world’s oldest clubs lies dying.”

He added: Rangers FC as we know them are dead. It’s all over. They are about to shut down for ever but not a single person among the game’s hierarchy was open for comment. And that just about sums it up for Rangers, the club the rest of the Scottish game came to detest.”

And a comment that will surely in grain himself with his new club’s supporters, ‘Rangers have a seriously bad lot but the majority of the people who support the club are decent’.

Then comes the killer comments, that make a mockery of the announcement on what is the day the Ibrox side celebrated their 140 year history.

Traynor declared: “….the CVA proposal put forward on behalf of Charles Green by administrators Duff and Phelps was rejected by HMRC. They didn’t even wait until tomorrow’s creditors’ meeting, although that will still go ahead.

“But Rangers FC won’t. They’ll slip into liquidation within the next couple of weeks with a new company emerging but 140 years of history, triumph and tears, will have ended. No matter how Charles Green attempts to dress it up, a newco equals a new club. When the CVA was thrown out Rangers as we know them died.

“They were closed and a newco must start from scratch although their fans will insist the history will be boxed up with the strips and balls and carried into the future with the new club.

“Technically that history belongs to something else, some other company but even though the governing bodies appear consumed by technicalities and protocol supporters have other priorities. They strive for continuity and Rangers fans will never be separated from or denied their past.

“The name might change slightly, there will be a new owner, new players and a new beginning. But somehow nothing will have changed for many of the people who buy the tickets.

“They’ll never forget and they’ll remember yesterday, too. Even though they and everyone else knew the decision to accept or reject Green’s CVA was 50-50 this was such a momentous day in the history of Scottish football.

Of course Rangers are guilty of shaming the game and they accept they have to be punished.”

Damning words from Rangers’ new Head of Communications. Charles Green may claim that titles and history can be tupe’d over but James Traynor cannot get away from his own articles, his own words and own opinions.

He is not even in Day One of the job and that Rangers club tie – that he will have to wear – is decidedly getting tighter and tighter already.

Will he last longer than Paul Le Guen? Seul le temps dira.


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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