Charles Green Quarry Bar Q&A
- 17 January 2013
As a journalist for a regional paper, there is always a degree of excitement when someone who could be described as a 'celebrity' is in town, especially as hobnobbing with the rich and famous isn't exactly the staple of our working diet.
But I'll admit to some added excitement when I heard Charles Green was going to be in Rutherglen conducting a Q&A session at the Quarry Bar.
I actually missed the chance to meet Mr Green earlier in the season, much to my frustration, so I was determined this opportunity would not pass by. The truth is I could have spent hours quizzing him on what his plans were for the club, as well as my own misgivings surrounding how he came to own Rangers. While much of my early horror at the prospect of his consortium taking over at Ibrox has gone, it is always advisable to retain a healthy dose of scepticism. But time constraints meant I had to make do with a few questions about meeting the fans before he took to the hastily cleared space that was standing in for a stage.
The truth is, Mr Green didn't say anything ground-breaking, but it was certainly different to have the CEO of the club willing to push his way through a crowd of 130 Bears into what was, by the time he arrived, a sweat box. This is clearly a CEO who wants to be seen and who enjoys the adulation he knows he receives from the support. It was also notable that the crowd remained more or less silent throughout. There was no shouting or interrupting. Rangers fans are, like no other time I can remember, are actively interested in events away from the football pitch.
Love him or loathe him, Mr Green's approach to meeting fans is to be commended. He happily answered the questions pulled from the bag and posed for pictures afterwards despite the heat making the venue uncomfortable. He even managed quite a few laughs with some well aimed quips, but perhaps it is best to keep them under wraps.
On league reconstruction he was open in his disgust that Rangers have essentially been left on the outside looking in while talks take place. He told the crowd: 'We are in a situation just now where we are talking about restructuring Scottish football and the biggest club isn't involved. Maybe we can't vote for four years but I know if Sky or Tennent's [I suspect he picked a random sponsor] wanted to be involved they would be.'
He described Rangers as 'the cash generator,' and poured scorn on the authorities, saying: 'They don't understand business.'
He also took the opportunity to set out his vision for the club. We can't compete with Real Madrid or Manchester United, but Ajax and Porto are realistic ambitions. Mr Green assured us that the manager shares his vision of developing youth players or bringing in promising youths from other clubs and (hopefully) selling them on at a profit. The example he used was of a Barcelona reserve that has little chance of breaking through at the Camp Nou, but will be a revelation in Scotland.
He revealed he had already spoken to Claudia Reyna about the prospect of an academy in the US. He is also set to jet out to Australia this week to meet fans but also to scope the possibility of an academy down under.
He ridiculed the way the club had been run in the past. He - like many fans - chose Tore Andre Flo as an example, stating: 'I was a better striker than him.' Unfair perhaps on the Norwegian, whose scoring record was never actually too bad.
Interestingly, he claimed he had no intention of taking any money out of Rangers. Instead, he would leave Rangers with shares for his kids and grandkids. When he was confirmed as the new CEO, he told the investors to find out how much Martin Bain had been paid for the same role and to half it ('the lowest I've ever worked for,' apparently).
And so to the questions section. Mr Green assured us the stadium capacity would be increased if there was a need for it. He also said there was 'no reason' we couldn't be playing in the Champions League last 16 every year.
There was an interesting moment where he said if we played in the EPL, Rangers would be the biggest club in the UK out with Manchester United. When one supporter suggested we could be bigger than them, Mr Green was at pains to stress that wouldn't happen. He proclaimed: 'Manchester United are untouchable, they are the biggest club in the world. To be second to them would be no disgrace.' Perhaps not what some of us want to hear, but a point that is impossible to dispute. He did, however, say that few clubs could match us in facilities. Most clubs, he said, had the stadium or the training ground, but not both (Matt Ryan's agent and manager were apparently sold on the facilities available).
As for where Rangers would be in five years time, he admitted he thought we could be playing outside Scotland, but like the league reconstruction proposals, hard information on this seems hard to come by.
Rangers TV was discussed and, thankfully, he said it wouldn't follow the formula of Manchester United or Liverpool. He assures us debate will not be discouraged. In fact, he seems eager for the fans to engage. Nor would the presenters be lapdogs, they would be invited to grill the men that matter. Hopefully the days of the most hard-hitting stuff on a Rangers media forum being 'My dog Rover in a Rangers scarf' are behind us. It was this type of lazy obedience that allowed our last two owners to wreak such havoc.
On footballing matters, we found out Andy Little had been playing with hairline fracture. The squad, he told us, is under 'massive, massive pressure' but that will always be the case at a club like Rangers.
He assured us our story has caught the imagination of people across the globe. Apparently there are invitations to play in six countries while we've been asked to open a new stadium in Singapore in 2014. Friendlies in different venues with Newcastle will be (unsurprisingly) explored.
One point that caught the imagination was when he said two of the best Premiership players ever ('one blue and one red') have asked us to appear in their testimonials. While probably the least important issue raised, it certainly caught the imagination.
And that was it. Finally, for anyone wanting him to do a similar event, he assured me he's never said 'no' to anyone.
* A final word to say well done to the Quarry Bar for hosting such a successful event. £800 was raised for the Rangers Charity Foundation. On a personal note, my thanks go to Mary Clark for inviting me and Jim Hannah for helping arrange my meeting when Mr Green.
Douglas Dickie has been a reporter for the Rutherglen Reformer newspaper for the past eight years. He is a season ticket holder at Ibrox and travels to away games with the Toryglen True Blues RSC.