Keith Jackson has delivered a brutal attack on David Graham- the Ibrox PR chief that reigned in the club’s message for fans to stay at home on Saturday.
With Steven Gerrard mainly on mute or sending out half-hearted messages the consequences were splattered across Social Media throughout Saturday night.
That led Nicola Sturgeon into the issue as she slammed the fans and the club for failing to deal with the anti-Catholic prejudice of many followers. On the basis of one video that emerged last night it seems that those prejudices are rife in the home dressing room.
Graham took charge of PR and media related issues at Ibrox last March and has asserted control even stronger than James Traynor.
From time to time news has surfaced on Social Media of reporters or publications being denied Ibrox access but such is the level of control that no publication or broadcaster has admitted to those restrictions.
Back in March, ahead of the Glasgow Derby, both clubs sent out clear messaging from high profile players and management that fans had to stay away from the match venue. That order came from the Scottish Government, last week the message was heavily diluted with inevitable consequences.
After detailing in the Daily Record what could have been done to prevent the city centre carnage Jackson goes into detail with:
Instead? The man in charge of the club’s communications strategy actually personally prevented Gerrard from addressing the situation.
The manager was invited to appeal for common sense to prevail during a press conference at the start of last week, ahead of Wednesday night’s scene setting victory in Livingston.
It was pointed out to Gerrard that Police Scotland had, earlier that same day, released a statement expressing obvious concern over a plan for fans to gather outside Ibrox on trophy day before marching into George Square.
Gerrard was asked by one reporter if he had a message for those fans.
Before he had time to answer he was shut down by the club’s novice PR man David Graham, who can be heard replying: “The club’s message will come out later this week. We’re fully focused on Livingston and that’s not an appropriate question.”
Not an appropriate question? That’s the kind of line you’d expect to hear trotted out in North Korea, never mind inside a football club on Glasgow’s south side.
Now the toe-curling consequences of this blatant lack of preventative action have become a cause for serious reflection, perhaps someone inside Ibrox should be holding Graham’s feet to the flames. At the very least he should be told to explain himself and asked why he failed to utilise and exploit the connection between Gerrard and the club’s supporters.
If anyone could have persuaded them to abide by the rules it would have been this immaculate manager and leader of men.
But rather than put Gerrard’s face to the public messaging – or asking others like McGregor and Davis to front it up – two days after Graham’s clumsy, classless intervention, the club issued a statement.
After going through the statement Jackson concluded with:
The resulting scenes should not just shame the man responsible for sending out that woefully inadequate message. His role in all of this must be examined and it would be too if everyone else inside Ibrox shared the manager’s sense of professionalism.