‘Rangers could close’ by Jim Traynor


That was a Kennedy moment, 8.20am on BBC Radio Scotland he uttered the words: “Rangers could close”


Was I hearing rightly, of course because he almost said it again before quickly remembering the script of ‘and there’s no reason why Rangers would be immune, or Celtic or any other club’.

Troubled times indeed. Pre-internet we had our own upheaval and it took almost five years from the first signs of dissent against ‘The Board’ to seeing the White’s and Kelly’s departing to be replaced by Fergus McCann, a McCann with a plan if ever there was a man.

McCann managed to see off rivals for the ownership of Celtic including Gerard Weisfeld, Michael McDonald, Willie Haughey, Brian Dempsey and others to save the club as the Bank of Scotland prepared for the final whistle.

McCann took control, gave seats on the board to Weisfeld, McDonald, Haughey and others including a lot of Keane’s in the form of Dominic, John and Eddie who had all played various parts in helping McCann to power and were willing to invest their own money to save and revive Celtic.

At the time Celtic had little going for it, a good support that was disillusioned, a fantastic history and Paul McStay. Not much else and there was never a hint of selling McStay to balance the books, Paul had suffered with the rest of us and wanted to be part of the revival.

Compare that picture to today and Rangers.

Every day has brought fresh drama and twists, after hearing Traynor say those memorable words another radio station mentioned Newcastle having bids in for two French based players… oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. That will be the team that’s been linked with Barry Ferguson, Allan McGregor, Madjid Bougherra, Pedro Mendes and almost anyone at Rangers except Kris Boyd.

The firm hand and text-book media management of David Murray is falling to pieces when the licence draining BBC have had Chick Young mentioning administration and Jim Traynor talk that Rangers could close.

Strange, strange times indeed and still over a fortnight to go in this fantastic month before the transfer window slowly and creakily closes down.

Murray’s mistakes are surfacing by the day, he is being shown up as a deal-maker and gambler rather than the shrewd businessman that his cheerleaders have portrayed him as for the last 20 years.

Mistakes down the years have been brushed aside as the latest glitzy star has been signed for Rangers, usually snatched from under the noses of Real Madrid/Manchester United/AC Milan, alongside the ominous warning to the rest of Scotland that there will be more to follow.

The mistakes have been mounting up, times have been tighter at Ibrox in the last five or six years, Celtic have presented a consistent challenge and it’s no longer such fun being chairman of Rangers.

Some Rangers fans have had misgivings but some calming words from Murray, stick together, we’re all part of the family (nudge nudge) soon knocked the wind from any malcontents as the 9-in-a-row era was recalled and the rest of Murray’s glory.

2009 however is a very different story, the moonbeams have been lost in space, their destination unknown, some of us don’t even know if a moonbeam is good or bad news but we’ve all heard the phrase.

Rangers and Murray are on their knees and it has very little to do with the credit crunch that has closed Woolworths and saw HM Government take major stakes in Scotland’s banks.

Murray’s desire to spend a tenner for every fiver spent by Celtic is hitting home and hitting hard. He has never been able to savour Rangers successes without bringing Celtic into the equation.

He gloried in our troubles through the early nineties offering free advise on how to successfully run a football club/business. When he banned Celtic fans from attending a derby match at Ibrox he sneered that Celtic couldn’t do the same because we were incapable of filling the stadium with Celtic fans.

For a decade now Celtic have had a bigger stadium and more season-ticket holders.

As the latest Admiral/Adidas/Nike/Umbro kit deal was unveiled as another stunning piece of business he questioned the unique Celtic strip wondering if such a design would ever be commercially attractive.

As Celtic opened up to offer supporters shares Murray triumphed that by bringing in Joe Lewis of ENIC with plans of hotels and intergalactic domination.

Today Murray and Rangers are in deep financial troubles with no life boats around to rescue them other than the players that won’t be sold.

Last week as Kris Boyd was expected to sign for Birmingham City, managed by former Rangers boss Alex McLeish, Murray told his newspaper favourites that one player had to be sold and the move was to balance the books on his terms not at the request of the banks.

With those interviews about to hit the press the Boyd deal collapsed and suddenly the whole of football knew that Rangers had to sell a player, they had to bring in £4m (at least) or what?????

As Murray spoke he was breathing a sigh of relief, crisis over, maybe another player will be sold if a decent offer comes in but that’s £2m plus received after Kilmarnock and Boyd have had their cut.

Now with Boyd still at the club a week later the question is being asked, ‘what if they don’t sell a player?’

We can all guess and speculate. Traynor appears to have put his foot in it, he’s answered the question and it’s not a popular answer or the answer expected.

With favoured agent Willie Mackay bombed out selling options are limited, there is no stampede for the untouchables while half a dozen recent signings hang around collecting their wages with no inclination to move on to help Rangers out.

The Rangers support appear divided, a campaign for change has been launched with almost as quickly a campaign to sort of change but not really, well maybe, but do it the dignified Rangers way counter launched.

Strangely protesting seems not to be the Rangers way, car park protests are for Celtic supporters, it’s not the Rangers way. Strangely in the early 80s there would be regular crowds gathering outside Ibrox shouting for the removal of John Greig as manager before Celtic fans started similar protests against the club’s owners.

In those days communication was difficult, there was no internet or mobile phones, the only way to gain publicity was on the Radio Clyde phone-in, organising and publicity wasn’t as easy as it is today.

As bigger companies and even banks have found out recently speculation can be costly, whispering campaigns can gain momentum and the full extent of Murray and Rangers difficulties are unknown.

However being heavily involved in property at this time can’t be reassuring, bankers aren’t likely to be impressed with a property portfolio placed against increasing debts and borrowing.

Things change quickly these days, information seeps out and it’s looking very concerning for Rangers as fresh developments come to light on a daily basis.

Succulent lamb was once on the menu, tomorrow it could be spam fritters all round.

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