Channel 4 News’s Alex Thomson accuses Rangers FC of operating by ‘press diktat'

By Hamish Mackay |

May 7, 2012 | 5 min read

Channel 4 News chief correspondent, Alex Thomson, who has been investigating in-depth the financial crisis at Rangers Football Club, has hit out at the Ibrox club on its current media policy.

Writing in his blog, Thomson described Ibrox as being 'a deeply bizarre place' when it called a press conference to announce American tycoon Bill Miller as the administrators preffered bidder to take ownership of the club.

“Over the phone Rangers tried to make out their ‘press conference’ was for ‘sports reporters only’. Even over the phone they quickly realised from my incredulity, this was a non-starter.

“So we got a ‘press diktat’ instead. It’s a press conference where they read at you from a prepared statement and you are not allowed questions. A press conference without the conference, if you like.

“The charming Ba’athist thugs in Baghdad used to do this in the 90s, I recall. Bosnian Serb commanders likewise. Congolese child-soldier commanders do it. Duff & Phelps did themselves no favours. Of course, they’re neither criminals nor mass murderers."

Thomson also revealed that the press officer at Rangers explaination for a ban on questions was to avoid the event from becoming 'a circus'.

“So why do Rangers FC and Duff & Phelps think the normal rules of a press conference are a ‘circus’? I suggest because of all the difficult questions they cannot answer," he continued.

“They cannot explain how the Old Rangers company will somehow be ‘cleaned up’ when it is left, toxic, mired in debt and – according to three insolvency experts I’ve now spoken to – inevitably heading for liquidation by the back door.

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“They cannot explain how a club banned from European football for three years, and with a one-year player-buying ban, is supposed to retain its key players who can – and very likely will – move elsewhere in the summer."

Thomson added that no mention of a new TV deal with BSkyB or ESPN was mentioned, depite it being up for negotiation next season.

“So how does the shiny new, non-toxic Rangers team fulfil that next season? They’d have to stay up there with Celtic in the top half of the league with their squad of well-motivated 17-year-olds and has-beens.

“So what will Sky/ESPN want? Equally, why should anyone in Scottish football listen or let them dictate the game?

“Answer? Money. And if anything represents Oscar Wilde’s definition of the cynic as a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing right now, it’s Scottish football with its Glasgow media cheerleaders.

Thomson also highlighted the mindset of other clubs in the SPL, such as Kilmarnock, who have their own heavy debts to settle, and the likelyhood that they could use the Ranger's scenario to secure their own futures and offload the debt also.

“…So here, with apologies to Jonathan Swift, is A Modest Proposal. Crazy, I know, but I’m going to imagine a world where Scottish football is about sport, sporting values – integrity, morality, justice – all the kinds of things people care so much about in Scotland but see so little debated in their media.

“The Scottish media, many clubs and all kinds of powerful voices seem to want Rangers kept in the Premier League at all costs. Life itself appears untenable without this. To any outsider, looking beyond money, this is ludicrous. Why?

“If Rangers lost the (currently unmentioned) Big Tax Case, what’s the point of staying, without European football, with a wrecked squad in the SPL?

“Why not (assuming by some miracle the Miller idea even works) opt to start with the new Rangers (Newco) at the bottom of the Scottish football league and work your way back?

“Thus Rangers would be morally unimpeachable. They’d send a memorable message that Scottish football has, after all, got integrity. Newco and Oldco “cleaned up” at a stroke. Uefa proud, delighted and trumpeting the Rangers stance to Fifa and beyond.

“Moreover, if my Scottish football-watchers are right, they’d be back at or near SPL status around the expiry of the Uefa ban. They’d attract new, affordable young talent whose agents would sniff European competition just around the corner.

“So what if the TV deal goes into the ground? Either Scottish football runs Scottish football or the toxic hand of Rupert Murdoch does? Time to decide.

“The choice for Rangers, football governance, sport and – yes – politics in Scotland is obvious. If Rangers really is “part of the fabric of Scottish life” as First Minister Alex Salmond says, let that fabric be about values supremely, not money.

“Sport celebrates competition – business seeks to eliminate it. This is the time for leadership, from Scottish football’s governing bodies, from the chairmen of the SPL clubs – but above all from Rangers Football Club.

“As yet, I see little sign of leadership emerging, of men who see values, not just figures," concluded Thomson.

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