That piece was originally about Charles Green, but one paragraph in the story caught the eye of some in Celtic cyberspace, and was the subject of a couple of excellent blogs from The Clumpany, where he mocked The Record mercilessly for it.
The offending paragraph read “The club went into administration and subsequent forced liquidation by HMRC over a “phantom” £80million tax bill. The club were later cleared of having ever owed the taxman.”
I’m sure you’ll agree reading it that this is pure and simple garbage, without even the remotest connection at all with reality, but then I credit most of this sites readers as being of above average intelligence anyway, which rules out buying The Record in the first place.
We weren’t the intended audience for this piece of fantasy fluff, of course. That was the Sevco support, and the section of it which subscribes to the Victim Myth.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the Victim Myth. Indeed, it was the focus of my last piece here, where I laid out the consequences to the club if all the principals now standing trial in connection to the twin takeovers are found guilty of those offences.
The club itself will not benefit one iota from those verdicts; indeed, the best thing that could happen to all the current shareholders is for Whyte, Green and others to be cleared on all counts.
Yet where the Victim Myth most commonly manifests itself – and the media is even guiltier of this than the Sevco support – lies in the distorted version of reality involving the administration and liquidation of the OldCo, with some, even now, unable to grasp the facts.
Everyone involved in this has been blamed for what happened except those actually responsible; Rangers’ board of directors (including Dave King and Paul Murray) and the supporters. HMRC are convenient scapegoats, as are the banks, Ticketus and others, with Craig Whyte the ultimate bogeyman. But Rangers crashed due to the setup of the club itself.
Recently I’ve gotten into the excellent TV show Deadliest Catch, which is about the fishermen who go hunting for crab in the Bering Sea off the Alaskan coast. As reality shows go there are few better; their job is appallingly dangerous, averaging about a half dozen deaths annually and a slew of injuries almost beyond counting, and the physical and psychological toll that it takes on the fishermen is enormous.
The sea itself is unpredictable, and no matter how well crews prepare there are things that can’t be legislated for, but in Season 1 a boat goes down and we watch the mostly futile rescue attempts.
We later discover, due to changes in legislation governing the fishing season, that one of the reasons it sunk was that it left port “top heavy”, overloaded with more crab pots than advised, and thus unable to manoeuvre in rough seas.
No-one was to blame; other ships frequently leave harbour “top heavy” and we see others do it during the show. It’s the way things happen in the industry, much as clubs running up debt happens in football.
Everyone thinks it can’t happen to them … until it does.
Rangers Football Club was “top heavy” for a long, long time and no-one involved in running it had focussed overmuch on efforts to limit the problems. Indeed, as long as they had HBOS standing behind them, pumping money into them via MIH, they might have continued along, running up debts and then rescaling, until the cows came home.
But in 2008 a storm front hit, HBOS was engulfed and Lloyds, a far more conservative company, found itself holding the balance sheet.
From that moment on, the club was under pressure to live within its means … but it continued playing the odds, hauling more weight than it could reasonably cope with in event of disaster, and in August 2011 that’s exactly what came along, when they were knocked out of the Champions League and then what was the UEFA Cup.
This is still difficult for their fans to grasp, but simple arithmetic is all it requires.
Those defeats left a hole in the balance sheet of some £10 million plus.
The banks had already been chased by then, so they did nothing wrong. They saw the writing on the wall and were not prepared to lend the club a single red cent. No bank is willing to do so today.
HMRC only got involved in administration proceedings when the club stopped paying PAYE. What else were they supposed to do? Ignore that? They were legally obliged to go after it and their own charter expressly says that they refuse all efforts at a CVA when deliberate with-holding of tax revenues is alleged. There was no grand conspiracy.
Whyte could have paid the PAYE, but the hammer would still have fallen, because that £10 million plus hole had to be plugged .
Whyte inherited a bankrupt business. The clue was in the sale price; how else do you pick up a company with tens of millions in assets for £1? The only circumstances in which it has ever happened have been in an asset sale when a company hits the skids or in those where liabilities are so enormous that those involved in the selling know it’s only a matter of time.
Only a matter of time, okay?
I understand why they have difficulty swallowing this; it’s reality and it’s hard to take, and it’s scary because it not only explains how the past happened but points to the likely future.
Without external funding their new club, which is running at a loss, will sooner or later no longer have the cash to keep the lights on and pay its bills as they come due.
That’s a fact of financial life. It’s how things work. It’s the ruthless equation every business in the land, from crab boats to internet blogs, deals with every day of the week.
There’s no such thing as “too big to fail.” Global financial giants have been swallowed in black holes of debt. Even countries – nation states, okay? – like Greece know this by experience.
The talismanic word “Rangers” has no magical properties when it comes to dealing with economic reality; the Victim Myth is predicated on a lie, just as the Survival Myth is.
What’s simply inexcusable is when those lies are regurgitated by national newspapers, by journalists who know better and simply choose to distort facts.
Today The Daily Record has offered a half-hearted apology for “misleading its readers.”
It has fewer and fewer of them every year, because whether it’s in headlines comparing Fergus to Saddam, calling Celtic players “thugs and thieves”, giving Rangers fans wet dreams about the “Motherwell born billionaire”, stirring up hate against Neil Lennon, lauding the genius of Charles Green or going to bat for a convicted tax cheat like Dave King, people now know that “misleading the readers” is this newspaper’s stock in trade and have acted accordingly.
Today’s apology is, therefore, a little bit like being on a crab boat in the middle of the Bering Sea, shouting out at the distant horizon, where only the plankton are listening.
Nevertheless, it’s humiliating for them to have to write the truth for once.
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