The book, “The Smartest Guys in the Room” opens with one-time high-flying Enron Executive Cliff Baxter, point a .357 Magnum at his head and pull the trigger. As the architect of one of the USA’s largest Corporate scandals, it may have simply been guilt that drove him to extreme action, or fear of the backlash and humiliation. Enron of course was a game changer, a tale of Corporate vandalism, greed and arrogance, with dramatic consequences for the stock market, people’s life’s/jobs/careers.
What’s this got to do with Scottish football?
Football is not immune to scandals, no sport is. Italy in recent years has had its fair share. Look no further than the world governing body FIFA; scandal and corruption are synonymous with the organisation.
Early in 2012, we witnessed the dramatic financial implosion of Rangers FC at the hands of David Murray. Craig Whyte may have been at the helm, but he was not skipper of the ship. David Murray bought Rangers in 1988, and rumours of side contracts for players were around way before the invention of EBTs. Hugh Adam, a former Director of the Club ditched his shares in 2002, due to the way Murray was running the Club. Liquidation was predicted by Adam and others, long before it finally caught up with the Club/Company/Entity.
Murray was cheating way before internet bampots were invented and Social Media opened the Pandora’s Box. Gavin Masterton, Murray’s man at the Bank of Scotland merely fueled the ego, with endless supplies of the Bank’s money, and the ego eventually brought down his own Murray International Metals (MIM) as well as the Govan Club in spectacular fashion.
Corporate vandalism, you bet.
Scottish Football has been damaged massively by David Murray’s rein. Governance has gone out of the window, and rules seem to apply to only the smaller clubs. Stuart Regan sits atop the SFA as the CEO but is the latest in a long line of conflicted individuals turning a blind eye to years of corruption and cheating. Sepp Blatter was brought down by years of tenacious work by a Scottish investigative journalist, Andrew Jennings, and the eventual intervention by the FBI. Sadly, for Scottish Football fans who seek the truth and a level playing field we have neither an FBI nor a free and tenacious press.
Fans of all clubs in Scotland are rightly alarmed at the lack of not only governance but anyone willing to question the so called governing body. If I were a fan of RIFC I would be alarmed at the lack of governance in our game that has let corporate raiders and at least one convicted criminal fleece the club and spend millions with nothing to show for it. The Charles Green IPO raised £22m, yet the club are in a worse situation than they were pre-IPO. Given the current incumbent in the Chairman’s office (club/holding company?) things can only get worse if the Takeover Panel has its way.
Can we ever move on from this situation; is a Judicial Review the way to go? After all, if the JR is difficult to achieve and costly, is it the right path for fans to finally get closure on this period of carnage in our game? If the Terms of Reference, and objectives of the JR are not clear, then what’s to stop Regan pulling down the lid on his bunker, sticking two pencils up his nose, fingers in ears and shouting “wibble”. The SFA are in a period of major deflection, and apply rules only when suits, and only to smaller clubs. Maybe we don’t need a JR, maybe we just need an independent and respected journalist not tainted by West of Scotland prejudices to pick up the baton. Maybe we just need an Andrew Jennings, a Thomo or a Mark Daly.
And finally, I’m not suggesting David Murray points a loaded Magnum at his temple, but he should at least be recognised as the architect of a dark period in Scottish football. Many trophies were won and celebrated in the Murray years, but most will forever be tainted by the accusations of financial doping. There is deep mistrust in the game today and we need someone to hold the SFA to account or things will only get worse before they get better.