Two Men, Two Football Clubs, Two Different Concepts.
A man on a mission in contrast to a man with a vision. St Patricks Day 1956 from Celtic Quick News reflects on two men and their influence on Scottish Football…
THE MAN ON A MISSION
David Murray who ‘bought’ Rangers for £6 million in 1988, was the man on a mission.
The historic event on the 25th May, 1967 stuck in his throat, the day the seeds of destruction originated. Emulating winning one European Cup was not enough, he wanted more and he craved ten in a row.
The Edinburgh Establishment of Murray and his cohorts at the Bank of Scotland gave Rangers finance that drove him on in his reckless and desperate ploy to kill off Celtic Football Club. Before he acquired Rangers he was nowhere near being part of the Edinburgh Establishment, so his decision to take control at Ibrox – after being rejected by Ayr United – certainly opened doors for Murray.
Contrary to Lord Nimmo- Smith’s deliberation on 28th February 2013, Murray’s was an era of unfair sporting advantage.
The extent of this was not transparent for a long time, and it is still hard to believe, but when Celtic were hours away from getting closed down by the bank in 1994 they were in fact performing better financially than their rivals at Ibrox!
Rangers were getting loans that no other club, especially Celtic were afforded. They were buying using this borrowed money, leagues and cups with money they never had and would not repay. For example in a 15 year period between 1996 and 2011 Rangers spent £168 million more than they earned.
David Murray claimed he had invested £100 million of his own money, but it was money he never had and he went on to run up mind boggling debts of over One Billion Pounds.
It could have been avoided, perhaps if he had heeded Rangers director Hugh Adam, who in 2002 sold off his 59,000 shares as he forecast that they would end up worthless, thanks to the unsatisfactory business methods of David Murray.
In 2007 David Murray received a knighthood for services to business in Scotland at a time when his EBT scheme was being run and implemented by people who went on to hold high office at the the SFA. It is somewhat unbelievable that Campbell Ogilvie is still President of the SFA to this day.
The financial advantage was not enough though, the SFA and their referees were ever present, and never more so than during the 2009 / 2010 season of the unprecedented ‘Honest Mistakes’ while the mainstream media, or ‘Laptop Loyal’, backed Murray and Rangers all the way.
In 2010 Rangers could have sold players, downsized and started to pay their debts, but they spent more loan money to win another league title.
Who else were in the know about the financial advantage that Rangers had over everybody else? Did for instance, the First Minister of Scotland have any idea ? Surely not, otherwise Alex Salmond would not have sent a letter dated 20th May 2011 to offer his warmest congratulations to Walter Smith for leading Rangers to a third successive league title, and reminding him that taking an under –resourced side to a UEFA Cup Final in 2008 was one of the finest examples of management he had ever seen, a true test of ability. You couldn’t make this up.
On 3rd July 2012 Raith Rovers director Mr Turnbull Hutton stood outside Hampden and upset those in denial by telling it like it really was, “ The SFA and Scottish Football are corrupt”.
“Rangers, the biggest scandal in the History of Sport and the rest” was a headline in March 2012 on CQN, and only on CQN because only in Scotland, a story that should have been dripping red meat for the tabloid wolves, was swept under the carpet. Same as it ever was.
Reflecting back to 1993, Celtic Football Club had reached an all time low. Nothing happening on the field that was a success, a board that was not good enough to manage the club, in fact they were running it into the ground, and I detested them.
We had a dilapidated stadium, a substantial debt, and no money available for new players. This was soul destroying for me. At that time, there was no internet bampots to guide us, but thanks to Matt McGlone and others at Celts For Change we were able to unite for the greater good of the club we loved. The Board regarded us as the malcontents, showing no respect to the people who were the lifeblood of the club, and they under estimated what could be achieved, we wanted to back the team, and sack the board. The Board thought they were above it all, but on 4th March 1994 when Brian Dempsey announced “ The battle is over the Rebels have won” it was a significant moment in Celtic’s history.
THE MAN WITH A VISION
Mr Fergus McCann. The man with a vision, the man with a business plan. a man with honesty and integrity.
I was one of over 10,000 to buy into the idea of his share issue, he had a positive vision to take us into a successful future, joining Celts For Change gave me the chance to be part of it. Personally, in a traumatic period in my life, and with the usual outlet, my release valve, that supporting Celtic gave me, it was now gone. I sent my season ticket back and told them I would return when the board stood down, but I was told that will never happen. I also gave up the Celtic Pools agency that I ran.
The sad thing for me was that in my correspondence with the club, they were more concerned about the £3000 odds they were losing a year from my pools agency than they were about me not supporting the team, something that I had never contemplated before, and it was hard to boycott, but something had to be done.
The boycotts were necessary to put pressure on the board. At the time, there was an article in The Sunday Mail showing a hearse outside Celtic Park, and this infuriated the Celtic support, myself included, but unknown to us the guy responsible was in fact a Celtic fan, the editor of the paper was Mr Jim Cassidy, and he was trying to show the consequences if the board did not take action, in fact this may have been the defining moment that the board allowed Fergus in the door.
It could be said that Jim Cassidy was not a favourite of David Murray, as he was not one of the compliant ‘Laptop Loyal’. So snubbing the Edinburgh Establishment was not on the agenda for a Scottish newspaper editor and not surprisingly, Jim Cassidy was sacked. If you don’t comply, you are out.
Can you ever imagine any of the current hacks trying to enlighten the Ibrox faithful with the truth?
Rather than banging the drum – no pun intended – about the corruption, lies, and deception? No, they printed the headlines dictated by Murray, bowing down to his every whim as they enjoyed the vintage red wine and succulent lamb that was so irresistible.
Eventually they had no option, but then it was too late, no matter how they spin it, the undeniable truth always comes out. The endemic bias by the MSM against Celtic Football Club and how they demonized Fergus McCann for his entire tenure was shocking.
A shameless majority of the MSM in Scotland are not fit for purpose, they are frankly, a disgrace to sports journalism. They praised Murray to the highest and ridiculed McCann at every opportunity they could. We all know who they are. I would like them look back and read the history, read it and weep.
Fergus was by no means, perfect, but who is ? He made mistakes like everyone does at some point, but overall he did us proud. He was criticised for the profit he made, but everyone who bought shares could have cashed in when they were five times their value at one point. He said he would rebuild the stadium, get the club back on its feet, and win the league and be judged in five years.
He didn’t let us down. He surpassed our expectations. He proved his critics wrong.
Fergus had the most successful share issue in football at the time, he revitalised the charitable traditions of the club, he started the “ Bhoys Against Bigotry “ campaign and donated £1.5 million towards the planning of the youth academy. He took the SFA to the cleaners, taking them on and defeating them in the Jorge Cadete case. This led to the resignation of Chief Executive Jim Farry, much to the annoyance of the MSM, again.
His biggest achievement was the rebuilding of the stadium, a 60,000 seated stadium, that he was ridiculed for even thinking about, he was mocked that it would never be full. He filled it with the help of 53,000 season ticket holders, a figure that was one of the highest in the UK and Europe. A stadium that rose like a phoenix from the ashes to create the most vibrant and wonderful atmosphere in world football, fuelled by the passion of Celtic supporters.
That is what Fergus achieved.
On the other hand, we had David Murray through his jealousy of a rival football club, self destructed , and was the man who helped to financially dope Scottish Football. His reckless mission resulted in liquidation and killed Rangers FC 1872 – 2012, ending 140 years of history and he let down, let down badly, the Rangers support.
No Celtic fan in their wildest dreams would have thought of this ever happening, but Rangers fans now have to endure this living nightmare. What becomes of Sevco / TRIFC / ??? who knows, but at time of writing, they have no line of credit and are living on a prayer. I don’t think that David Murray has ever been duped by anyone in his life, but he has perhaps been played off the park by a wee guy in a bunnet, although he did once boast that “for every fiver Celtic spend, we will spend a tenner” and I can only imagine Fergus thinking, “ On you go, ya clown”.
In 2004 David Murray did concede that “ Fergus is the only man I have ever known who has made money out of football”. I would not normally associate Murray with anything green, but I do think he was full of envy, and it is true that “ you reap what you sow “ and for others, there is Karma, and it is also true, Karma can be a wonderful thing.
In 1993 few people were aware of the Edinburgh Establishment and the control they had or the part they would play in the eventual downfall of Rangers.
Few people were aware that a wee guy in a bunnet was about to make an impact that would change the direction and history of Celtic Football Club.
As a Celtic supporter, I could only dream and hope for someone to do this.
Fergus McCann was that man.
A poem I wrote just after Fergus left describes how bad I felt about the board, how bleak the future looked, then how Fergus arrived and changed everything. The title of the poem is not just how we conquered rangers, but how it lifted my depression and gave us all hope.
Fergus Slayed The Blues.
I am festering away, angry and frustrated.
I know they don’t care
how we feel, about our team, sacrosanct
to the extreme,
well, they think that.
Let them eat cake, they may say,
the malcontents won’t have their way, Nepotism
gave them the privilege
but they abuse it,
and use it, voraciously
for their own needs.
Their contempt to Jock Stein
a great man,
the best that’s ever been,
So what chance had we, the fans.
The lifeblood of the club,
as Jock called us.
I know they don’t care
how we feel.
My Lord and my God,
I make an appeal.
And it happened, it was for real.
Our saviour, for all to see,
but, for this wee guy in a bunnet
where would we be.
Ridiculed by media and even so called
but Fergus McCann was the wan
ahead of his time, as a businessman.
Prudent, but prominent in our history
without the recognition he deserved.
He answered our prayers and did what he said
he would do, and more.
Grants, Whites, and Kellys and their puppets
shown the door,
and no before,
So let us rejoice, let us rejoice
and be glad in it, to give thanks,
Fergus McCann is The Man,
for me, and many others,
Fergus Slayed The Blues.
St Patricks Day 1956