Toxic Mediahouse and Rangers' Toxic Board
- 26 August 2013
Once again the Rangers fans have been treated with contempt by a Rangers board which continues to show it is totally out of touch of with the fans and often reality. The re-appointment of Jack Irvine as a PR adviser to the club, just weeks after his organisation, Mediahouse, were correctly removed from their position, smacks of the same type of weakness which saw Charles Green return as a consultant.
Mediahouse have had a long and troubled association with Rangers. Their meddling in the club’s affairs did not stop when they were recently removed from their position as the club’s media advisers. When Jim Traynor said recently that “Jack Irvine does not speak for this club” he was correct, and he is still correct despite their reappointment by Craig Mather. Jack Irvine and Mediahouse have never represented Rangers Football Club. They have represented a number of regimes, including the toxic Craig Whyte, which have failed to put the club and the fans first. It is clear from the nature of this appointment that Irvine will be representing the wishes of a board of directors who are desperate to cling to power and not the interests of the club we all love.
Let us not forget the record of Mediahouse during their time at our club. They presided over a complete capitulation to UEFA, and the authorities in general, over the behaviour of our fans. Yes, at times that behaviour was indefensible but Mediahouse allowed every single negative headline, and at times baseless accusations, to go unchallenged. The term “dignified silence” has often been used to describe Rangers’ inability to challenge our critics even when we had the opportunity. That was a policy which continued during the years Mediahouse called the shots. Only recently have we seen any attempt to fight back. It is no coincidence that the fight back stepped up in pace after the removal of Mediahouse.
Documents leaked on the internet suggest that Jack Irvine actively assisted Craig Whyte in gaining control of Rangers by suppressing negative media stories which may have brought his past to light ahead of his takeover. This was done whilst Mediahouse were supposed to be working for Rangers.
Mediahouse set up the recent interviews which saw Charles Green make a mockery of the club and its board. The board know this. They themselves condemned Green’s actions in front of the fans at a recent meeting, but have now seen fit to hire the company who put that strategy in place. I know of nobody who can name a single benefit that Mediahouse have brought to our club, although I am sure Craig Whyte was delighted with Irvine’s assistance.
However, it is worth noting that none of this is Mediahouse or Jack Irvine’s fault. They do what they are paid to do. If someone like Whyte wants to ensure their interests are put before those of the club, and they are willing to pay, then Mediahouse will accommodate them. It is not up to Mediahouse to do anything other than what they are paid for. The issue is that once again the club are paying for them to put the interests of individuals ahead of those of the club.
It was recently announced that Jim McColl was willing to forgo a GM in order to roll the institutional investor proposals for the club’s board into the AGM. This was seen as a sensible approach to save the club up to £80k because it would allow just one meeting of shareholders to take place rather than two. The board have taken that money (and probably considerably more of the club’s money) and handed it to Mediahouse. They have hired expensive media consultants to defend their own jobs and positions at the club. It is reprehensible behaviour but entirely in keeping with the actions of a board which thought that bringing back Charles Green was a good idea and then had to perform an embarassing U-turn.
It is incredible to think that, in a week which saw Craig Mather’s ham fisted attempt to take credit for the decision to combine the GM and AGM, we see the club squander money on yet another unnecessary expense. Does Mather not appreciate how this looks? He cannot stop the GM without the consent of McColl’s group of shareholders, yet tries to take credit and then goes out and spends the money that could have been saved.
We already have a Director of Communications in Jim Traynor. Someone who has not only been taking the fight to our detractors with the BBC Scotland ban and legal letters to the Daily Record, but who has also been improving our club media platforms immeasurably. The club also already pay media consultants Keith Bishop Associates, brought in by Charles Green as part of the Sports Direct deal but who do no obvious work for the club, £140k a year. So what will Mediahouse be doing for Rangers Football Club? The answer is nothing - they will be working for the individuals on the board. The club will simply be paying for it.
Perhaps Brian Stockbridge could have used some of his £200k bonus for the team winning the league last year to pay for the defence of his untenable position at the club? Perhaps Craig Mather could have used some of his £300k salary to pay for this attempt to keep him in position? Instead, the money will come from the dwindling reserves of season ticket money that our loyal fans have poured into the club. Mather’s actions are particularly disappointing. He had an opportunity to show he was the right man for the CEO position, and that he could whip this hapless board into shape, but he capitulated over the return of Green. He has now done the same with the return of Mediahouse.
It is also now clear that this board are willing to stoop to any level to cling to power. Jack Irvine’s first move was to issue a veiled threat to the representatives of concerned shareholders. It was disgraceful. Is this what Rangers Football Club has been lowered to? Can this board not win the day based on their own record, their plans and their reputations? Exactly what type of “media scrutiny” is it that Jack Irvine would like to subject people to? Has he answered to the board for the allegations, via leaked emails, that he ensured a smooth path to power for Craig Whyte by supressing negative media stories about him? Did they even ask Irvine to explain this before they rehired him to defend their own interests? Are the board comfortable with Irvine’s approach? I wonder how comfortable they would be with their own actions being subjected to “media scrutiny”?
Irvine, it appears, will do literally anything to spread his message. That extends to the promotion of the work of Paul McConville. McConville is a Celtic blogger (and discredited lawyer) who has spent the last two years attacking the club at every opportunity, but Irvine was happy to promote a recent article of his on Twitter because it suited his own agenda. Principle is left at the door.
Furthermore this move raises questions of exactly who is running the club. It is clear that the board did not consult Jim Traynor before reappointing Mediahouse - this despite Mather, Hart and Stockbridge all nodding their approval for allowing Traynor to direct media strategy at the recent fan meeting. Traynor appealed for the directors to allow him to do his job and they have failed to do what they committed to. This is becoming a regular occurrence for them. Say one thing and do another. Who would blame Traynor if he decides to follow Walter Smith and walk away from this toxic board?
Jack Irvine is the Easdale family spokesman. Do the Easdales now run Rangers Football Club? Did his work for them, despite its eccentricity, lead to them being appointed again at Rangers? Rumours abound that Sandy Easdale is now taking an active part in the decision making of the club’s directors despite not having a place on the board so it seems an obvious conclusion that Mediahouse are back at their behest.
The RST, Assembly and RSA have continued their unified approach and expressed their contempt for this decision and the toxicity of Mediahouse is an issue which seems to unite even the most fractured elements of our support. Is it always going to be up to the fans to explain to this dysfunctional board what is acceptable and what isn’t? What next? Should we expect to see them bring Charles Green back a third time? Nothing this board now do would surprise me. It’s clear that anything goes in their desperation to cling to the power that they regularly abuse. They are beyond contempt and beyond parody. They are also unfit to represent our great football club and I sincerely hope the attempts to remove them are successful. If they are not then our club faces an uncertain future.