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BBC Rangers FC

Rangers FC supremo turns up the heat on BBC Scotland in a series of blistering newspaper interviews

By Hamish Mackay

October 25, 2011 | 5 min read

The antagonism of Rangers FC owner and chairman, Craig Whyte, towards BBC Scotland has intensified following a series of newspapers interviews.

The Scotsman, for example, reported that Whyte warned that any member of the club who speaks to the BBC, even on an off-the-record basis ...”will never work for Rangers again”.

A potential incendiary situation, which has been smouldering at Ibrox for some considerable time, burst into flames on Friday following a documentary on BBC1 Scotland the previous evening into Whyte’s business dealings.

An incensed Whyte promptly instructed London libel specialists, Carter Ruck, to lodge papers over “unfounded and defamatory remarks”, and trigger proceedings to sue BBC Scotland for defamation.

BBC Scotland, however, resolutely stood by its stance in the documentary.

The Herald reported Whyte as saying: “I find the conduct of the BBC throughout this to be disgusting. To have linked me to some kind of criminality, well that’s just an outrage, an absolute outrage.

“There is no evidence at all behind what they were saying. The very fact that the so-called files they had on me have been destroyed, what does that tell you? There is no evidence, it’s just not true.

“They [the BBC] have claimed they followed editorial guidelines throughout the making of the programme, but they didn’t.

“They refused to give us access to things we asked for when we were being asked for responses to allegations. We were also not told who else was contributing to the programme, when that should have been part of the guidelines.

“There is a clear anti-Rangers bias at the BBC, and there has been for some time. There are a lot of people working there who just do not like Rangers.

“I think there has been plenty of evidence of that down through the years, and that’s maybe behind their decisions to run what they did.

“Look at what happened with Ally McCoist. They edited footage when he was asked to comment on sectarianism and made it look as if he was dismissive and didn’t care. We banned them for that. Did that happen by accident, the editing?

“They are an absolute disgrace. Any time it’s anything to do with sectarianism, its Rangers fans getting the blame or being shown. Any negatives it’s Rangers.

“All I want is a level playing field with the coverage every other club gets. But with the current politics at the BBC, it’s nothing more than an agenda against Rangers, and now me.”

The Scotsman’s highly-respected sports columnist, Glenn Gibbons, also entered the fray on Saturday.

Gibbons pointed out that Whyte’s response to the BBC documentary “would not be received in any quarter as a shock, since the programme had alleged that Whyte could have gone to prison as a consequence of behaviour in his business career that amounted to a criminal offence.

“Even so, the haste with which he counter-attacked seemed to be merely the latest example of a tendency towards impulsive, potentially ill-considered hostility.

“Whyte, it will be remembered, had already withdrawn ‘all co-operations’ with the BBC even before the programme had been aired, citing “repeated difficulties" over the latter’s coverage, and accusing the station of bias against Rangers.

“To anyone with even a superficial knowledge of how the communications media operate, that charge would appear absurd, almost infantile in its naiveté.

“Whyte’s own well-documented protectiveness of his privacy, with its undertone of secretiveness, would be enough to make him an irresistible subject for any story-hungry editorial team.

“Bur more worryingly for those looking for signs of dynamic and astute management at Ibrox, the banning order clearly took no account of the probability that it would breach the BBC’s contract with the Scottish Premier League as a rights holder, with entitlement to full access to all media activities at the club.

“If and when the television people invoke that right and the prohibition is, inevitably, repealed it will result in an embarrassment for Whyte and his board that should have been obvious and avoidable.

“The episode suggests that, whatever befits or otherwise the Whyte administration may have to offer Rangers, they are a long way from efficiency in the matter of managing publicity.”

Gibbons goes on to draw comparisons with Whyte’s predecessor David Murray as Ibrox chairman.

“With regard to media manipulation, Whyte could take lessons from his predecessor, David Murray, whose control of most of the personnel in the mass-circulation red tops was so complete that he did not even have to conceal the economic devastation his policies were inflicting on Rangers.

“Evidence of the damage was obvious enough to make the detached observer’s eyes water, but Murray was assured that his every claim – however contradictory it may have appeared when set aside the club’s annual returns – would be accepted by his media poodles without question or demur.”

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