This is the question that must be going through a lot of Rangers supporter’s minds. Apart from his role in the attempted assassination of Rangers Football Club (thankfully the injuries that Rangers have suffered have not yet proved as fatal as on that fateful November day in Dallas) several questions need to be asked about Craig Thomas Whyte.
Just like Oswald, who was described as a loner at the time, it later emerged that he was married with a kid. False stories fly around and we all believe them: Craig Whyte the Rangers supporter, millionaire. Where is the evidence? Let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story, he was telling us what we wanted to hear, what we wanted to believe, nothing about the seven year ban. The terms I have heard to describe Craig Thomas Whyte (I use his middle name, as is done with all notable assassins - John Wilkes Booth, James Earl Ray and Mark David Chapman) are, apart from the obvious expletives, terms like crook and swindler, but the strangest one I hear him called is a patsy, and we all know that the most famous patsy of them all was Lee Harvey Oswald. Urban dictionary describes a patsy as the guy that always takes the fall: A loser, the nice guy that finishes last every time. Does this sound like the millionaire, venture capitalist Craig Whyte or indeed the image that he would like to project? Urban dictionary also terms a patsy as a scapegoat, red herring: a person accused of something as a cover for a bigger, more elaborate crime. If this second option is how Rangers fans are looking at CTW, then what is this based on?
It’s always been clear that Rangers have their enemies, though perhaps we never realised just how many, and how much hatred, anger and pent up frustration was boiling under the surface. Has the story of Rangers entering administration and possibly the history books alongside other Scottish football clubs such as Third Lanark and Airdrie become one big whodunit? If so, who did try to kill Rangers? And who if anyone, was CTW working for?
Who profits from Rangers downfall? As in the old mafia statement, if you want to know who did it, find out who is still alive. On the surface, Rangers dying would seem to benefit no one; this has clearly been seen in the plight of teams such as Dunfermline and Hearts amongst others who by Rangers being unable to pay their bills are now facing a future that even before administration was a battle for survival. Rangers going into administration or possibly liquidation would be bad for Scottish football, this is the logical thinking, but as we all know this is Glasgow, the west of Scotland where football, religion and politics all make a volatile mix and rational thinking gets left behind in the taxi.
What was Whyte’s motivation? Just like in that Dallas police station, someone didn’t want Oswald to talk. We have to keep Craig Whyte alive, after all he knows where the bodies are buried or where the missing millions are, whichever comes first. The last thing that is needed is some shady figure, with links to the cult, to leap out from the crowd and silence the man that everyone wants to talk to. Who profits more from the death of Rangers? Craig Whyte possibly, but is any amount of money worth the price he will have to pay, the public scrutiny, verbal abuse, the threat of personal harm? At this present time Rangers fans are asking themselves the question, who’s more hated at Ibrox, the tax man or CTW?
The notion that someone has put CTW up to this is one that seems to be in the minds of many of the Rangers supporters that I speak to: David Murray being the prime suspect, many fans believing that Murray put CTW into the position so that he would take the hit, rather than Murray. This at best seems crude and certainly doesn’t appear plausible; surely no Rangers fan can now believe that David Murray didn’t play a major part in the fall of Rangers. Murray has shown in the past that he is a coward who refused to defend the Rangers support during his tenure when the sectarian card was being played against the support and he fell silent: not very dignified, and neither was his decision to drop Donald Finlay like a hot potato over similar accusations. Perhaps it was this lack of a spine that made David Murray look away rather than give due diligence to Rangers when Craig Thomas Whyte took aim with his sniper’s rifle and squeezed the trigger. And again it would have to be asked, what is in this for CTW?
Could Celtic in some way be involved? We all know that they have contacts that stretch right to the very heart of the former government, and we know that a lot of those ministers and cabinet ministers have no love for Rangers. Could they have put pressure on HMRC to purse Rangers with an almost homicidal vengeance? We have all seen the recent hatred that has been smouldering away burst into flames in the hearts of the Celtic-minded; all you have to do is look into some of their eyes to see the rabid frenzy that has awoken. Remember this is a club that is run something akin to a cult, supporters groups within supporters groups, that are clearly more organised and politically aware, shady links to Irish Republican terrorist cells and left wing extremists. Is it too much to think that one of these groups has final snapped and taken a shot at Rangers? A manager that hates the Rangers so much that he could not find any decency in himself to be on the park to commemorate the sixty six lives lost in the Ibrox disaster.
Then we have their calls for Rangers to be stripped of titles. Believe me, the hate runs deep. Rangers and Celtic are a marriage no matter what anyone tells you, it may be an unhappy marriage but they have a history. Like a lot of mixed marriages in the west of Scotland, once hatred and jealousy appear then domestic violence is never very far away and the thought of going it alone was always on one of the clubs’ mind. The attraction, sometimes fatal, is still there. No one can deny this. Perhaps something inside our partner in football just snapped. Hate turns to obsession and we all know how obsessed they are about the Rangers. The thought of Rangers just breathing, let alone claiming four in a row, was certainly for some from the green side of this relationship too much to bear.
Why would Lloyds put so much pressure on a customer that was paying back its debt, and had in fact proved itself to be able to manage a debt from £80 million now down to £18 million, while demonstrating that it can still compete on the pitch, a European final, three league titles in a row and silverware to boot? Is this really the dead weight that brought Rangers to financial ruin? What bank wants to put its customers out of business? A business, which had a Lloyds’ insider as a board member. Did Lloyds have the final say on the deal that set the wheels in motion?
The tax man could be another suspect in this crime, the weight of the big tax case has been hanging over Rangers for years, but surely no government body would try to liquidate a business, especially one that was bringing in an income. Also the tax man has clearly stated that they never wanted Rangers to go into administration. The fall out only came when CTW took over the chairmanship at Rangers and stopped paying tax on the PAYE - this is what brought Rangers to the brink not the big tax case. This again brings us to the sixty four thousand dollar question. What was Craig Thomas Whyte’s motivation? Why buy a business and then run it into the ground, when all the time stating on television and radio that what you were doing was in the best interests of the club? Questions also need to be asked inside HMRC as to why the big tax bill was allowed to reach levels that were clearly seen as unmanageable. If a club in Scotland can be allowed to run up such high debts – potentially somewhere between £50 to £75 million - what must the tax man be owed from down south in the premiership? Clearly someone at HMRC hasn’t been doing their job. Are Rangers being offered up as the sacrificial lamb? As one famous Russian said: kill one, intimidate one thousand.
We also have an ongoing SFA investigation, Scottish football’s version of the Warren commission. The SFA, who as most Rangers supporters feel is now run by our greatest critic - Peter’s puppets you could say. I think we all know who is pulling the strings at the SFA. Funny that there were no inquiries when other Scottish clubs hit the skids, no real Romanov rummage for roubles or truth witch-hunt there. I wonder if Peter has two contracts, one with Celtic and one with the SFA. And I wonder if the puppeteer put a contract out on Rangers.
Although most Rangers supporters, still numb over the attempted assassination, watch crest fallen as Rangers lie in intensive care, others and we know who they are reckon that whoever took a pop at Rangers had done the nation a favour by sparing Scotland from bigotry, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and all the other ails that lie heavy on the west of Scotland. It will be nice to walk the streets at night now that there are no Rangers fans to corrupt and assault every law abiding citizen.
We are already hearing things like is Craig Thomas Whyte a sociopath; that there must be some form of mental health issue; that he is like the character from the Leonardo DiCaprio's crime comedy 'Catch Me If You Can', based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr who used his charm, confidence, and several different personas, to make millions. If this is the case, then the joke albeit not very funny is definitely on us. Though couldn’t it possibly just be greed pure and simple that motivated Craig Thomas Whyte?
Certainly there are those who knew that Rangers were vulnerable, the tax bills weakened the foundations but would they have caused Rangers to be toppled? What is clear that those involved must be made to answer. It may be proved that Rangers wounds were self-inflicted and the cause of death may well be suicide. I go back to my earlier definitions of a patsy - it is up to Craig Thomas Whyte to decide which one he wants to be, that’s if he decides to tell his story.
I hope that this doesn’t turn out like it did for Oswald and some closure - no pun intended - can be found to this story, that those involved explain their actions to the Rangers support and that the story of Rangers going into administration doesn’t end with a funeral and a life snuffed out after 140 years. But alas we are all mortal and the future is unwritten. Just as at the grave of JFK the eternal flame burns, will there be a light that burns eternal for Rangers? Let’s hope so, and in the words of a famous American, do not ask what your football club can do for you, but what you can do for your football club.