Keeping a lid on hysteria - looking at the Rangers options
1/ SDM wants out but can't find a buyer. It's obvious he would love to go.
2/ When he injected £50 a few years ago the funds raised from other shareholders was less than a quarter of a million. That tells you that most current shareholders had no confidence in his financial plans and that no-one with a titter of wit will invest on any sort of reasonable scale until he leaves.
3/ Martin Bain and the management team he leads, and John McClelland led before him, have not had the ability to raise the club above the mediocre in terms of finance, PR or football. Bain is there because he does Murray's bidding - and his primary concern is to have the club ticking over and not costing him too much financial or PR grief.
4/ From talking to one set of potential investors the main problem is that even at a knockdown price Rangers have no hidden value in the balance sheet apart from the training complex. Anything that can be sold off or leased or sub-contracted has gone. The club would literally have to be given away for it to be a viable commercial proposition.
5/ Around £120million more than we brought in was spent during the 4/5 years of the Advocaat Era. It is that spending which now cripples us. Had that money been spent with more sense and reinvested in the stadium, applied to the recruitment of better players, etc, then we would be far healthier. That was a catastrophic series of events for which we will pay for the next 5 to 10 years. It has effectively crippled the club.
All the foregoing being reasonable suppositions it's no surprise that when the club is tight against it's overdraft the directors would try to flog off whatever scraps of family silver we have left.
On the positive side...
Not a huge amount. I did say at the time that Walter was not an ideal choice other than to steady the ship for a season and a half but at the same time you would have to be daft not to recognise that he wasn't giving up the Scotland job, Ally wasn't giving up his outside interests, and Kenny McDowall wasn't giving up a post at Celtic where he was widely respected for the quality of his work for an 18 month holiday at Ibrox.
I've noticed last year and this a tinge of hysteria in all Old Firm messageboards - the reaction on Celtic sites to their draw with United made it appear as if it was the end of the world! Likewise on Rangers sites the scramble to get back on top of the pile means that one poor performance from a player leads to an internet beheading.
Although there have been crazy tactical decisions and poor performances and a Celtic squad which I believed at the start of the season to be stronger than ours I still believe there is a chance to snatch the championship this season. A slim one, a tough one, but I believe it is still there.
The crux of the selling of Kris Boyd is simple - if the books need to be balanced then what sellable assets do we have? In a multiple choice between Bougherra, Ferguson and Boyd going on present form I'd flog Barry. But I think too many in the club, including Walter, are still bewitched with the style with which he used to play.
You can witter about higher levels and one goal against Celtic but Kris Boyd does what it says on the tin - he scores goals. And for the near £30million spent on the squad he's been a bargain that worked.
The future? More of the same until SDM goes.
On the football pitch one or two stylish signings but most will be anonymous - pitched at the level they think they can get away with while paying off the debt and paying themselves well over the odds. Martin Bain got £1.6million in wages over the last three seasons...
Off the field. From time to time you may get a brief "gonnae no dae" that rattling of the sabre in response to the continuing assaults on the club and our reputation and heroes. But they have no fight for that battle. Continuing to fund Nil By Mouth; funding stewards to spy and then jail our own fans for the Famine chant; banning the Dublin Loyal banner. It's an undeniable pattern of surrender.
THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM
Us. The Rangers support.
I would say somewhere around 20% of the support would now seriously question the club's operations. That would be far higher if we were in pre-season ticket times before club finances were as high and healthy in income terms as they are now. The cracks are easier to hide. We can talk about media bias but often you get the press you deserve - and if people ignored the warning signs over the last 20 years what do you expect.
The major roadblock to change as far as I see it is a lack of genuine discussion. Even last night on Radio Scotland text messages questioning Smith and Murray were immediately stamped upon by two of the studio guests. For too long we have been content to be consumers rather than agitators. Too easily did we, for instance, surrender Real Radio's tentative steps not to sign up to the Timmy agenda wholesale - at the first sign of a problem many fled the battlefield giving it up as a lost cause while pretending that doing so was a matter of principle. It was simply a lack of effort.
To effect real change we have to influence more Bluenoses - we have to get the sorts of topics which are common currency on FF into the mainstream. Don't blame John Reid or Cardinal O'Brien for that - blame yourself. Too many expect Davie Edgar or Stevie Smith to do it all for us.
Change will not come quickly - you can clutch to miracles cures all you want but I believe it is only by the slow, unspectacular, build-up of pressure from below permeating the mass media and raising the issues that you create the climate where Murray and Bain will go and a credible new regime will want to come in.