Veteran Scottish sportswriter hits out at Ally McCoist and sections of the Scottish media
One of Scotland leading sportswriters, Glenn Gibbons, has made a swingeing attack on Rangers FC manager, Ally McCoist, and hit out at sections of the media for its coverage of the crisis which has engulfed the Ibrox club.
In his weekly column in The Scotsman yesterday, veteran scribe Gibbons declares: “For someone who is possibly the oldest rookie manager in the history of the game, Ally McCoist this week gave a flawless impersonation of an impulsive, vengeful and nasty-minded adolescent.
“Notoriety attached itself to the former striker with the suddenness and potential devastation of a pernicious virus the moment he demanded the release of the names of the three-man independent review panel which imposed sanctions on Rangers in accordance with the seriousness of the Ibrox club’s breaches of football’s regulations.
“The suspicion that his disturbingly sinister outburst – ‘I want to know who these people are, Rangers supporters want to know who these people are’ – was a prime example of premeditated mischief-making did not take long to harden into certainty.
“It came with the revelation of an SFA spokesperson that the supposedly bemused manager would undoubtedly already have known the identities of the judges, since Rangers had a representative attend the entire judicial proceedings.”
Gibbons goes on: “At a stroke, McCoist’s long-established image as an ebullient and irrepressible charmer was transformed into a hideous representation of spiteful retribution.
“Nor did the damage inflicted on his own reputation come anywhere near to being undone by his declaration the following day that he was ‘disgusted’ by the thought of any Rangers fan visiting abuse on the panel members and issuing threats against them and their families so distressing that the police began investigations with a view to criminal charges.”
Gibbons quotes McCoist as saying: “I would not for one moment want anyone to interpret my remarks as a signal to engage in any form of threatening behaviour.”
Comments Gibbons: “The picture of a stable door being bolted while, in the background, a horse at the gallop disappears over the horizon springs to mind.
“It was noticeable, too, that McCoist’s attempt at a ‘rescue’ did not even hint at the possibility of culpability on his part, far less an apology to the panellists and their distraught families.
“He may be relatively inexperienced in his present post, but he has been in professional football for 33 years, all but a handful of them in association with Rangers.
“In the circumstances, he would, unquestionably, be perfectly aware of the potential for appalling behaviour among certain followers of the club.
“If nothing else, he ought surely to have been familiar with the regularly-documented and legally-pursued instances of assaults, abuses, threats and attempts on the life of his rival at Celtic, Neil Lennon.
“But McCoist’s injudiciousness simply chimes with the general transformation of Rangers over the past two decades from a trophy-gathering phenomenon into a magnet for bad management.
“The series of saboteurs ranges from David Murray, whose ego-driven excesses should be recognised as the single most significant factor in Rangers’ present predicament, through the questionable motives and actions of his successor, Craig Whyte, to the representatives of Duff & Phelps, now widely regarded as the most incompetent administrators ever to be charged with righting a listing football club.
“Astoundingly, Murray seems still to command the loyalty of a reliable band of apologists, among whom his former manager, Walter Smith, may be understandably – and even forgivably – numbered.
“But the attempts in certain quarters of the media to present a revisionist view of history – one in which Murray is totally exculpated in the matter of Rangers’ potentially fatal wounding – have been utterly shameless.
“It is as though the former owner/chairman, who is officially dead where football is concerned, continues to exert an influence on his former lapdogs from beyond the grave.
“Smith’s recent exercise in condemning Whyte was such an example of unadulterated propaganda, complete with see-through inaccuracies, that it was easy to wonder if we were playing the old time machine game, returning to the Murray heyday.”
Initially, a number of daily newspapers refrained from naming the three members of the SFA tribunal.
However, the Daily Record did name them – one of whom is former freelance journalist, Alistair Murning, who worked with BBC Scotland in the past.
The Media Scotland tabloid quoted Murning as saying: “Being a former journalist, I know how these things work and I knew we were involved in making a major decision.
But I never envisaged that, as a result of agreeing to take part in this judicial process, I would end up being briefed by the police over security measures they deem necessary for the safety of me and my family.
“It’s a shocking situation for us all.”