Anyone out there who’s ever read a detective novel, or watched a legal thriller, or one of a hundred TV shows where there’s a puzzle of some sort to uncover will understand that a simple story can be sold a lot more easily than a complicated one.
There is a theory, known as Occam’s Razor, which, stripped of all the jargon, amounts to this; when faced with competing theories as to how something came about, the simplest theory is most often correct.
In this article, I’m going to apply that to the Rangers situation. I’m going to argue that the simple theory suggests that the mountain is on the move, that the avalanche is coming, that disaster is about to pile onto disaster.
The evidence is all out there. It’s all pointing to one thing. Yet the media has chosen to ignore it, Rangers fans have chosen to deny it and Charles Green has chosen to contradict it, and himself, at every turn.
Yet their refusal to face it will not make it go away. Their blind ignorance did not prevent administration and liquidation last time. It will not save them here.
Yet none of that is the accepted wisdom. The accepted wisdom is so convoluted, complex and deep that if you were assigning a mathematical probability to it you might well wind up with lottery winners odds. The story the world is being asked to believe is ridiculous, yet at present it’s accepted as fact. Apply logic to it and it all falls apart. Once again, I find myself on my hands and knees, bowing before the greatness of the Scottish hack-pack. When it comes to getting it wrong, wrong, wrong these guys really do have no equal, anywhere.
This is the accepted wisdom. Fasten your seatbelts.
In 2012, Rangers Football Club was on the verge of death. Numerous attempted takeovers were examined, found wanting, and rejected by the creditors because they weren’t up to snuff. People like Bill Ng and Bill Millar came in, spent time on due diligence and for one reason or another walked away. These multiple failures looked set to destroy the club until a man called Charles Green emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, at the eleventh hour. He attempted to rescue the club via a CVA, said at one point he’d reached an agreement in principle with HMRC and was confident everything would work out alright.
The administrators worked hard to keep the club alive long enough to sell it to Green’s consortium, who were un-named throughout and remain un-named today, and delivered the whole thing, history, club colours, intellectual property and all, just before the roof fell in. The end came when HMRC went back on their “word” and rejected the CVA proposal.
This was followed by a cabal of vicious and bigoted football chairmen, motivated by hate so blinding they put it before the health and wellbeing of their own clubs, acting to vote the club out of the top league, and the SFA denying them a straightforward transfer of share. Rangers then, willingly, applied for a place in the lowest tier of the game, out of respect for sporting integrity, and are happy to work their way up the leagues in a dignified manner.
Yet, there then followed vindictive investigations over EBT’s, which the club won resoundingly. This came after the SFA enforced upon them an illegal transfer registration ban. They are surrounded on all sides by enemies, determined to do the club great harm even at the expense of the whole Scottish game.
One man is fighting their corner hard. Charles Green. He has fallen in love with Rangers and is now committed to restoring them to greatness.
He is doing well, because in spite of it all, the club has prospered in the lower leagues and was floated on the stock exchange late last year, made £20,000,000 and now has a healthy balance sheet. It is moving forward at pace, having been cleared of a number of charges facing them. They are poised for a return to the top division in 2015 or thereabouts, perhaps sooner.
That is the public face they’re putting on it. The media is broadly in agreement, save for one or two hold-outs, who see much of the above as ludicrous. Indeed, the above is ludicrous, almost uniformly ludicrous, when broken down into its constituent parts and examined properly. It’s filled to the rafters with nonsense, everything from their club winning the EBT case (where they were found guilty) to Green’s love affair with the club.
Scottish football has become a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. That’s another accepted wisdom. Our fans are evidently bored with the product on the pitch, and have taken to conjuring up wild claims and counter claims, in an effort to amuse themselves. This is one theory.
Another is that the level of hate is so high it’s caused everyone to lose perspective.
Yet the greatest conspiracy theory of them all, the Celtic/SPL/SFA/HMRC axis of evil – also known as the Unseen Fenian Hand – is the one which has gained greatest traction. The media, fully aware of the sinister connotations of this conspiracy theory, are reluctant to call it what it is. Some of the press believes in it, and they promote it in subtle ways. They insinuate that Celtic have become the all-powerful force behind the governance of the game. They talk about the power wielded by Peter Lawwell, and of how it’s “Celtic’s lawyers” going around slapping legal claims in against Rangers.
They are content to go along with the claim that sheer hate is the only reason Rangers are not playing in the top tier. This is a conspiracy theory on a grand scale, yet none of them ever call it that, nor do they tag those who believe in it “paranoid.”
The paranoid ones are the ones who try to apply some logic to the situation. That is what’s most galling, most worrying, most revealing here. Because the “accepted wisdom” is so full of holes, so absent of logic, so without it, that to look at these matters, even for a second, in a rational way would reveal it for what it is. A sham.
Let’s take the takeover. If we examine the statements of Bill Ng, Bill Millar, Brian Kennedy, Paul Murray and others we see that all these men believed they had the means to take over the club. Ng pulled out citing the obstructionist behaviour of the administrators, the very people who were supposed to be actively looking for a buyer.
He said they continually put roadblocks up against him, that they appeared to be delaying and deflecting. He said he found their attitude “troubling” and he talked about how he’d had talks with major shareholders and found them to be equally unwilling to let a deal be done.
Millar walked away for similar reasons, and for another stated one. He claims to have looked at the books and been appalled by what he found.
Kennedy and Murray claimed they were led down the garden path by administrators claiming to be taking their bid seriously … only for them to reject it at the eleventh hour in favour of Green.
Right from the start, this was the strangest administration many people have ever seen. When it was completed the club was still running at a multi-million pound loss, having sacked virtually no staff. It lasted months, and there were hardly any pay-offs. Contrast this with what just happened at Dunfermline.
Deadlines were set, extended, ignored. An exclusivity payment was demanded before a preferred bidder could be named, and it was to be non-refundable. Duff and Phelps behaved, at times, as if they were pursuing a secretive agenda of their own.
Their conduct has been questioned by people inside and outside the “Ibrox Loop”, with former Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston claiming the only time he saw Craig Whyte concerned was on the morning HMRC moved to have their own administrator appointed.
Whyte, remember, chose Duff and Phelps himself. They are alleged to have been involved in his original takeover of the club, something they’ve denied despite documentary, photographical and audio evidence to the contrary. Here, for the first time, let’s apply Occam’s Razor.
The accepted wisdom says they acted at all times with probity.
Allegations that they were behind the original Craig Whyte takeover, that they steered other interested buyers in the wrong direction, that they did nothing to cut costs and seemed determined to increase the overall debt so the club was certain to go to the wall, that they accepted Charles Green’s bid with almost indecent haste and that they handed it all over to him at a discount rate which took no notice of the breakup value of the assets, is dismissed as paranoia. But is it?
Is there an explanation, a simple explanation, that would make sense out of what appears to be a senseless situation? Is there one over-arching theory which explains it all? One the layperson can easily grasp and understand?
Yes, of course there is. And it requires no leaps of logic. It is straightforward.
The simple theory is that Duff & Phelps were, from the start, doing the bidding of the man who appointed them. They were steering the process in the direction he wanted it to go, to a place where he could hand over the whole club, intact, to the people he had chosen to be the front men for a takeover following liquidation.
Those individuals included Charles Green. At the end of the process, they were supposed to inherit a debt free football club, playing in the SPL, cleared of its obligations to the taxman and other creditors, and with the entire structure still standing. Duff & Phelps would then get a pay-off and on life would go.
Today Craig Whyte is claiming it happened just so. The scenario that explains every twisted step of the administration and the takeover is laid out neatly and tidily by Whyte’s assertions. Indeed, there is a mountain of evidence which lends weight to his claims, like the links between Green’s backroom team and Whyte’s previous businesses. Looking at those it seem clear that these people all know each other, and have been in business together many times.
Green’s business background, littered as it is with companies which were open for a brief time and then liquidated shortly thereafter, is starkly similar to that of Whyte. Both claim only to have met once, but there are back channel ways of working, and intermediaries galore who could keep these two men at arm’s length whilst the deals were being done.
Whyte’s version is this. He and Green were partners, but Green, at some point, decided to screw him out of what he was owed and due, and acted to do so. Green denies this, but in the most bizarre way imaginable. He denies it by admitting the basic premise of what Whyte has said happened … but then claims it’s something other than what it appears to be. He led Whyte on because that’s the only way he could have gotten the shares. He made Whyte believe he was a partner in the enterprise, but in reality it was just a ploy.
He admits that they met, that they discussed the takeover, that Green led Whyte to believe he would be the man behind the scenes and that he did, indeed, con Whyte at the last.
In short, Green has accepted Whyte’s premise … that Whyte was, indeed, behind the takeover of the club from the administrators Duff & Phelps.
He has admitted to the truth of almost all of what Whyte is claiming. Where their views differ is in whether or not what he did was a violation of the law.
For the moment, we’ll leave that aside. The broader implications of what’s gone on here are staggering enough without considering whether the last 12 months at Rangers have been built on the back of a criminal act. Strip it of legality and illegality. It’s explosive enough without them.
Green has consistently denied that Craig Whyte has any involvement in the takeover. Today he appears to be admitting that this is not entirely accurate. He appears to be confirming that Whyte was involved in setting up Sevco, and this only changed after the liquidation of the assets. In short, he lied in all his previous denials.
Now, it doesn’t matter whether his intent was to screw Whyte from the first, as he claims, or whether the screwing only came later. He lied to the Rangers fans in the first place, and to the football authorities and to the press.
At best, he is a serial liar, a completely untrustworthy individual, willing to say and do anything to get what he wants … and at worst he is a con man, someone who’s committed at least one act of fraud against Whyte and others and in doing so has doomed the club to a period of darkness the most rabid Celtic fan could never have imagined.
One way or another, there was a period of time, perhaps months, when Rangers really was Green and Whyte, when these men were acting in tandem, when the saviour of the club was taking his orders from the man who destroyed it.
Rangers fans now need to re-examine every single word Charles Green has said to them. This website has already questioned much of it, Scotzine has already cast a good deal of it into serious doubt, and certain members of the media have questioned individual statements. Taken as a whole, Charles Green appears to be exactly what this site has called him; a fly-by-night chancer, posing as a saviour, when the intent is to strip the carcass of everything on it.
It’s no wonder Green and his hired mouthpiece have urged the Rangers fans to believe only what comes out of the club. Too many people are out there digging right now. Too many are investigating the goings on. Too many are asking pertinent questions.
Let’s ask a pertinent question. Charles Green says he met Craig Whyte in London, and told him what he needed to know in order to get his hands on Rangers. Let’s take both men at their word, because the difference between their stories is pure semantics.
The pertinent question is this; why did they ever have to meet in the first place, if the administration was being run in an above board fashion? What was the need for the meeting?
Neither Green, nor Whyte, should have been in any position to propose a deal, far less to make one. If the administrators were running the club, independent of interference – a requirement as they were appointed by the court – Green should have been dealing with them and not Whyte. If Green wanted to buy Rangers clean, there was no need at all for him to meet the majority shareholder.
The club was on its knees and seeking a buyer. All Green had to do was approach the administrators with the best overall bid, and the deal would have been done. Why did he have to meet Whyte at all? He didn’t need Whyte’s approval for the deal and his blessing would have been toxic. There was no need for these two men to meet.
Apply Occam’s Razor. What’s the simplest explanation? That Whyte and Green were working together, in conjunction with Duff & Phelps. That they were partners in this enterprise, at least up until that point. If we exclude the notion that the meeting was necessary before Green could buy the assets, what else does it leave us?
They met because they had a common interest in the outcome. They met because they were deciding the outcome.
That is not a conspiracy theory. That is a conspiracy. Pure and simple.
Let’s ask another pertinent question. Is Craig Whyte one of Charles Green’s financial backers? Again, there is much evidence to suggest that he is.
Green has denied this by saying “the SFA would never have allowed it.” Well, yes, correct, but only if they had known about it, and one wouldn’t expect that it was the kind of thing either man would have wanted to declare. Yet, from the start, lying to the football authorities had to have been part of the plan. Apply Occam’s Razor again.
From the day Craig Whyte took over at Rangers, myself and any number of others stated our belief that the intent was to drive the club into administration, and then liquidation, as soon as possible, and to emerge on the other side as a phoenix club, free of debt. Nothing that happened in the time he was there contradicted that view in any way.
Everything was proceeding down that road, from the off. Yet, that road had only one destination. Even the most basic glance at the SFA constitution revealed the clause that said persons involved in an administration event were to be banned from holding office at a football club for a long period thereafter.
Yes, in the end the SFA investigated Whyte’s conduct during his ownership, and called him an “unfit person” to hold office at a club … but this overlooks (or hides) a more obvious truth. Whyte would have been banned anyway, automatically.
Craig Whyte’s intention, from the first, was to find someone to run the club on his behalf following a liquidation and asset sale. Green’s assertion that the SFA would never have accepted Whyte as an owner because of the fit and proper person test is disingenuous. It’s an attempt to use the truth to hide a greater truth.
Whyte was never going to be allowed back in the boardroom regardless, and he knew it. It was factored in. It was part of the plan, from the start. The entire scheme (or scam) depended on the club being taken over by another group … with someone acting as the front man, and Whyte pulling the strings behind the scenes.
As we have no idea how Charles Green found the financing, or who supplied it, we can’t say for sure whether Whyte wrote the cheques, or whether backers close to Whyte did. We can only act on what is in the public domain.
We can look at the myriad links between the companies and friends of Craig Whyte and the companies and friends of Green. We can look at the public statements of both men, as contradictory and bizarre as some of them appear to be. Green will claim it’s all a coincidence, that these are all events of random chance, that they are a microcosm of a more complicated picture, that they are not proof of anything. Green is mistaking absence of proof with proof of absence. Consider the following analogy:
A group of soldiers wants to enter a jungle, but they have intelligence that says the enemy is in there. They have two pieces of kit at their disposal. One is a set of binoculars. They find some high ground and they use the binoculars to check the forest. They cannot see any evidence of enemy soldiers in the woods. There are no people moving around, and no outward sign of activity. You would call this absence of proof.
The other piece of kit is a thermal imager. They take this to the high ground, and they scan the same woods. The thermal imager finds nothing at all. No heat sources, indicating human life. No fires burning. No body heat readouts. This is proof of absence, and on that basis the commanding officer can feel justified in letting his troops go into the woods.
We cannot show with any finality that Whyte or his people gave Green the money. We do have an absence of proof. Yet Green could demonstrate clearly, for the record, the proof of absence by spelling out, clearly, in a manner he has yet to do, exactly who did give him the money and who owns the club at the present time. It would not be difficult to do.
Of course, we’re not strictly looking for proof here either. Occam’s Razor deals in probability, not certainty. It asks that you apply common sense to things, to take the simplest explanation, rather than the most complex.
So apply logic. Is it more or less likely to be true that all these coincidences are actually indicators? Is it probable that these patterns reveal a direct link between Craig Whyte and Charles Green? Does it seem reasonable to suggest that at least some of the funding came from the previous owner of the club?
Remember; despite Green’s obfuscation, he is not actually denying most of this. He is asking you to operate solely on conjecture. His argument boils down to “look who’s telling this story. Do you really trust Craig Thomas Whyte?”
This website has already spelled out the reasons you cannot trust Charles Green, so when you are confronted by the words of two baseless liars, whom then do you believe? Is one of them telling the truth, for once?
Or is the real truth a bizarre hybrid of both their tall tales?
Does that really matter?
If it were Celtic, would any of us be comfortable with Green at the helm?
Here’s another pertinent question. What does it mean to Rangers fans if Craig Whyte happens to be telling the truth here? What if he really is the man behind the curtain?
It means a number of things. It means, for one, that Green lied to the SFA when he told them who his backers were. The SFA are obliged to investigate these claims as a matter of course, and this site would recommend they do so with the greatest urgency. It means that the fans themselves were lied to when they purchased season tickets last year. It means that some of their money was going to flow into Craig Whyte’s pocket. It means that the transfer of shares between one Sevco company and the other may be illegal. It means that, at best, the club faces years of uncertainty over its legal status and at worst, it means the recent share flotation was an enormous act of fraud, and that the shareholders are holding worthless paper in their hands.
In short, it’s a clusterfeck of thermonuclear proportions. It puts the club’s future in doubt, it opens the door to litigation from shareholders, investors, debtors, financial institutions, it means a police investigation and it implicates dozens of people in Scottish football, including Neil Doncaster, Stewart Regan, Campbell Ogilvie and others.
It calls into question men like Walter Smith, like Ally McCoist, like Jim Traynor and others, and asks of them what they knew, when they knew it, and why they chose to endorse Green’s running of the club regardless. It asks that if they were innocent, unknown, patsies, what they intend to do about it now as the truth begins to emerge?
Rangers is already in a state of uncivil war, behind the scenes, with at least some of the stories drip-drip-dripping their way into the mainstream press. We know of boardroom battles, and efforts to displace the chairman. We know of a rash of sackings in the backroom team, one amidst tales of an internal investigation.
We know Sandaza has been cut loose, ostensibly over a discipline matter … but less coverage has been given to the paying off of two other players, Francesco Stella and Kevin Kyle. Cuts are happening right across the club, with people dropping like flies, including the physio (something that leaves the club in breach of UEFA and SFA licensing criteria, but the less said about that in the media the better).
We know of unpaid bills beginning to mount up, in a very Craig Whyte fashion, with one Asian company already threatening a winding up order. We know a rash of legal defeats has seen the club served bills in the past week of £600,000 or more.
We know they posted first half year losses of £7 million … a staggering sum considering the driving down of running costs and a vastly reduced wage bill. On top of that, Sandaza will certainly sue and Craig Whyte’s impending legal action, which could tie the club up in the courts for the next few years.
This is a football club in the deepest trouble imaginable. Their one saving grace is an alleged surplus, as a result of the share flotation which, today, is the subject of fraud claims. If all the shares have not yet been paid for, if all that money is not yet in the bank, what’s to stop worried investors from with-holding the cash, pending clarification on the legal status of their shares? What’s to stop them from launching their own legal actions, in an effort to get answers? Were they mislead?
Was the prospectus itself a fraudulent document? This will all need investigating, and it will only take one Rangers shareholder to walk into a police station with a copy of today’s Sun to demand a criminal investigation into the conduct of Charles Green and the board.
Where does that leave Rangers? If the club runs out of money, which bank will lend it to them? Which investor will sink in more cash? Will the fans?
That’s the real pertinent question here, friends. What now for the Rangers supporters?
This website and others have been shouting this from the rooftops since Green got his hands on the keys. Something about the takeover just isn’t right. The allegations of Whyte’s involvement are too numerous, and too compelling, to ignore.
Today’s revelations confirm much of what we’ve said, and it is lent weight by Green’s own refusal to deny the stories.
This is a shambles. This is an epochal disaster from which the club will struggle to recover. The only thing keeping it going is the goodwill of the support … and they are being taken for absolute mugs by Whyte, Green and God knows who else.
This site has said it before; you cannot trust Charles Green. Nothing in his business or personal history inspires confidence. Indeed, much of it is the raw material of nightmares. His last foray into football, the so-called “successful” share issue at Sheffield United, heralded in a calamitous period the club is yet to recover from.
In the last article I wrote here, I demonstrated the suicidal nature of Green’s threats to move the club to England. They are the posturing of a man who does not care about the greater good of the Scottish game or, indeed, the welfare of his own club. They are motivated by money, and ignorant of the existential risks they pose to Rangers and to football as a whole. He has no loyalty to either.
Over the next few weeks, aside from attempting to derail league reconstruction, Green is going to be sending out the season ticket renewal forms.
He will promise the Earth, in signings, in growth for the club, in a bright future free of strife, where the “enemies of Rangers” have been routed.
Anyone who believes in it is indulging in wishful thinking.
Apply Occam’s Razor. With his history of obfuscation and dishonesty, with his penchant for stretching the truth, with his apparent inability to connect reality to his grandiose visions, are you convinced?
We cannot put it more bluntly than this; if you are a Rangers fan, worried about the future of your club, you are wasting your time looking at threats from outside. The real enemy is inside your walls. The real threat is far closer to home, with a hand in your wallet. It is not a cabal of silent assassins, wrapped in the green and white.
It’s in your face. It’s Green. And it’s Whyte.
You have been warned. Again.
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