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Keith Jackson


Keith Jackson: One phrase clings to the ever dwindling bunch of Rangers directors.. not fit for purpose

KEITH looks back on the figures who have come and gone at Ibrox over the last 10 months and calls for some honesty from the last men standing.


17 Oct 2013 08:25

Craig Mather


IT was labelled, in a parting shot from former chairman Walter Smith, as already dysfunctional.


But other words spring readily to mind when trying to describe the car crash that resides at the top of the marble staircase inside Ibrox Stadium.


Disgraced. Shamed. Incompetent. Scandalised.


All of the above have at one time or other been applicable to the broken board of Rangers

Football Club in the last 10 months.


Most of all, though, one phrase has clung to this increasingly dwindling bunch of executive and non-executive directors. Not fit for purpose.


And never more so than yesterday morning when it was announced to the stock exchange that chief executive Craig Mather – a man shoe-horned into the position in the first place in a typically ill-thought out emergency measure – had become the latest victim of the civil war that continues to rage inside this club.


Another day, another announcement to the stock exchange. They might have set some kind of record by now. Was it really only last week Ian Hart started this latest boardroom exodus, which is starting to look like the directorial desertion of a sinking ship?


This time they wrote to confirm Mather has now left the building along with Bryan Smart, who has been – albeit in a less high profile manner – another major contributor to the governmental distress inside the Bluehouse.


Smart has come and gone from it all without hardly being noticed. He can leave it all behind but his part in the chaos will be remembered by those he let down most.


Men like Smith who could hardly win a vote in his own boardroom because of the pacts and deals being hatched around the table. Alliances that sickened him to such an extent he could no longer remain part of a club he has lived and breathed most of his life.


Mather, on the other hand, had no problem whatsoever in striding into the thick of this toxic mess and, indeed, claiming centre stage. It did not seem to bother him at all that there was nothing on his CV that seemed even remotely to suggest he was worthy of the position or capable of holding it down.


In fact, unlike Smith, who could take no more, Mather appeared to believe his role was some sort of entitlement.


It may have escaped your notice (after all he only mentioned it in just about every single one of his rambling official statements) but Mather ploughed £1million of his own cash into this debacle. And for that, he would not walk away without his pound of flesh.


Rangers did not reveal yesterday if Mather had been paid to fall on his sword, although the words “by mutual consent” are often a bit of a give-away in such situations. In fact, he walked away with a year’s full pay and that amounts to a cool £300,000. It would be unwise to refer to Mather as any sort of victim until the full facts are made public about his exit. It could be he has recouped almost all the money he invested in the club, without having to cash in any of his shares.


The writing had been on the wall for him since Monday afternoon when former director Paul Murray humiliated the board in the Court of Session.


Murray’s team proved the board had illegally attempted to block a move by rebel shareholders to nominate their own candidates for directorial roles. In doing so, they denied Rangers’ fans and financial backers a democratic right to vote on the make-up of the men in charge.


QC Richard Keen stated each member of the board had committed an offence by refusing to add the names of Paul and Malcolm Murray, Alex Wilson and Scott Murdoch to the business at the upcoming agm (it’s coming at some point, right?).


From that moment, Mather was toast. Only the speed of his demise was in question but it came more quickly than could have been predicted.


Are you keeping count? That’s two CEO’s. Two chairmen too. A commercial director. Three non-execs, including Phil Cartmell who was Smith’s rock. And three NOMADS appointed in less than a year?


So now, or at least as of last night (these things do tend to change quickly), the current regime is made up of just two men, financial director Brian Stockbridge and bus brother, James Easdale.


Stockbridge, in case anyone needs reminding, is the money man with a flair for capturing video recordings, especially if they involve embarrassing a colleague at the end of a boozy dinner.


It was incredible Stockbridge was not sacked on the spot for gross misconduct after the Daily Record exposed his part in that tawdry little episode.


Or it would have been incredible, had this been any other director of any other board, in any other business.


Only in a place as toxic as the Ibrox boardroom could such behaviour be excused or ignored.


Stockbridge, an old ally of Charles Green and Imran Ahmad, also just might possess the worst head for figures in the history of financial directing.


This is the man who predicted Rangers would turn a loss of around £7m when they posted their first set of accounts. In fact, six months later the deficit was in excess of £14m. So just the £7m out?


Gross misconduct, gross incompetence? You do the maths. The cash Mather walked away with yesterday will have been signed off by Stockbridge as the club’s only remaining executive.


He is also the man who handed Green a small fortune as a pay-off when the Ibrox board had a stonewall case to dismiss the Yorkshireman for free. He left with £1m in his big Yorkshire hands.


Incredible? That doesn’t quite cover some of what has gone on as this club has burned through £22m of IPO (share issue) cash since January.


In fact, it doesn’t come close to explaining how Rangers have been ripped apart by the intruders who have presided in the top office since Craig Whyte’s takeover in May 2011. Now Stockbridge is left on the inside manning the barricades.


There is little choice for him as, should Rangers lose one of their two remaining directors, then under stock exchange rules the club will be suspended from trading on the AIM market.


In other words, Stockbridge must stay, even though eventually he must go if this club’s credibility is to be fixed.


What happens in the short term is now the more pressing question.


Would-be saviour Dave King – who had been courted by Mather in a rather shameless and self-preserving way – may have already had his own concerns about being used as a tool to validate the current regime. He would be off his head to even consider returning as chairman now or at any time before the dust settles after what will be an explosive agm.


Meanwhile, Jim McColl and Paul Murray will press ahead with their proposals for an open, democratic vote when shareholders get their showdown.


In the interests of openness and transparency, however, they may first wish to take this board to task one last time and demand to be given details of those who may still be of a mind to re-elect Stockbridge and Easdale, despite the mountain of evidence which damns their tainted leadership.


Murray has expressed his desire to know exactly whose cash is behind the mysterious investor groups Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita Holdings, who got in on the ground floor with Green and who hold around 15 per cent of the club’s shares.


This board might be down to its last two directors, broken, dysfunctional and disgraced.


But it would be a belated act of decency if, now the game is almost up, it finally discloses its last big secret. After all the damage that has been done to this club and all the dishonesty which has besmirched it, this seems like the least that should be done.

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Embarrassing doesn't begin to describe it.


We are an absolute laughing stock, ALL the recent directors (with the possible exception of Walter Smith, though he is not entirely blameless) should be ashamed of themselves.


We need a complete new Board made up of men of integrity whose modus operandi is to operate in utmost good faith for the sole benefit of Rangers FC; but goodness only knows where they are coming from.

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Maybe Keith Jackson, maybe the Daily Record, maybe a bit overly pro-PM but it certainly sums up the desperation of a situation that has brought nothing but embarrassment to our great club.


It seemed a very gleeful piece. Just because you're enemies are correct about the mess you know you're in, doesn't mean you need to respect them for enthusiastically shouting from the rooftops about it. The veracity of a roast doesn't give cause for endorsement.

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It seemed a very gleeful piece. Just because you're enemies are correct about the mess you know you're in, doesn't mean you need to respect them for enthusiastically shouting from the rooftops about it. The veracity of a roast doesn't give cause for endorsement.


I'm not respecting anyone - least of all Jackson or the Record. However, I agree with the thrust of the piece so am happy to say that with the obvious qualifications.

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What are the obvious qualifications it is either of substance or it isn't, a story dumped without any thought to consequence or effect of any further action by the SFA if they are shown to have been mislead.


Shameful by aj to start a subject and carried with glee by jackson and Nuremberg doesn't even begin to cover it.

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What worries me is that I don't see anything in Jackson's article that isn't accurate


As alluded to in my previous post, when you genuinely make a fool of yourself, your enemies can be as accurate as they like in their disparaging commentary. It doesn't make what they do any more welcome or useful. In fact, the danger is, by our negative actions allowing them to be accurate for a change, is that they receive credibility for their subsequent and previous lies or twisted propaganda.


It's easy for them to be accurate when the facts are very negative, when they are not so negative is when they twist things and when it's positive is when they lie.

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