Charles Green Under Pressure

The last two weeks have not been good ones for Charles Green. He has become embroiled in three controversies - Craig Whyte’s re-emergence, the use of racist language in a Sun interview and an STV interview in which he was skewered by Peter Smith over some of the outlandish claims he has made in the press. Green cannot complain. He has brought much of this on himself although there is no question that some have used his slipups to full advantage. So, what now for Green and more importantly the club?

It now seems clear that Green was misleading fans with regard to his level of involvement with Craig Whyte. He has gone from claiming to have met him only once, to meeting him twice then to meeting him several times and stringing him along during the early part of his takeover of Rangers. Much of this has been covered elsewhere and I don’t want to dwell on it too much, as the real story is still far from clear, but the taped recordings of Green and Imran Ahmad have undoubtedly damaged them in the eyes of many in the Rangers support and perhaps more crucially in the boardroom. I suspect very few Rangers fans have any issue with Whyte being on the receiving end of this approach but it raises legitimate questions about whether Green would be prepared to do this to others.  The very fact that he was not upfront about his dealings with Whyte, whatever the reason for it, suggests that it is not only Whyte with whom he is prepared to be economical with the truth.

The second issue is perhaps less serious but has added to the pressure. Green was caught out in an interview with STV on some of his claims regarding the future of Rangers. He was unconvincing in his explanation of why Manchester United claimed not to be supportive of a Rangers move to England. He was even more unconvincing in addressing the claim that a tie up with the Dallas Cowboys was in the pipeline. These accusations are, in my opinion, less serious because I’m not sure how seriously anyone took his claims in the first place. Green is prone to bluster and his sales patter always needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. He would also not be the first CEO of a Scottish club to make inaccurate claims about possible commercial ventures – tour to Japan anyone?

Finally and possibly most seriously for his future at Rangers, is Green’s use of racist language. I don’t know Charles Green well enough to know if he is a racist. I suspect however that he isn’t, given his close friendship with the man he was discussing. However, whether he is or not is irrelevant. Nobody associated with Rangers should be using that type of language.  Green has made a big play, quite correctly, of wanting to see Rangers back up among Europe’s elite at the end of this rebuilding process. If a director of one of Europe’s elite clubs had made such a comment it is my firm belief they would have been sacked or forced to resign. Should Rangers be any different?

We have now learned that Tennents have complained over the remark and it may be this type of commercial intervention that will break the back of this issue. That said, the SFA decision to charge him over the comment, whilst understandable and probably correct, does seem once again to be inconsistent. I’m not aware, for example, of East Stirling player, Brett Molloy, being charged over the sectarian comments made on his Facebook page. It once again seems to be a case of them only acting when there is certain level of publicity.

The upshot is that Green’s PR disasters have opened the door to rumour and speculation once again. Ahead of a summer where we should be discussing new appointments to strengthen the first team squad, coaching, youth development and scouting, we are again talking about boardroom friction, financial uncertainty and conflict with governing bodies. This is where Green has a problem because I sense very little appetite from the fans for another round of this nonsense and, unless Green can unequivocally address every single concern that is being raised, it will be very difficult for him to win back confidence that is being eroded on a daily basis. Although the press may be making the most of this situation, it would be unwise to dismiss it as idle speculation. There are issues within Ibrox.

Rumours that Walter Smith is considering his position may be just that, but Green would be well advised to consider the implication of Smith leaving the board. He is a figurehead for the Rangers support and someone who we trust implicitly. Green pulled a masterstroke by persuading him to join the board and his departure would be a disaster. Likewise, whilst some have rightly questioned our development on the pitch this season, Green’s apparent conflict with Ally McCoist is a real problem for the CEO. McCoist is another who the fans trust implicitly and he was a colossus through the summer of 2012. It seems vital that Smith and McCoist both receive the answers they require from Green if he is to continue.

As usual, the Rangers’ support is having to consider a number of factors as it digest all this. Many of the rumours doing the rounds are hysterical and without basis as the usual suspects amongst the online Celtic support do their best to cause panic. There is every reason to be concerned at the recent turn of events but I would be very wary of reacting to every single rumour of press conferences, imminent announcements and the like. However, these rumours are a direct result of the uncertainty caused by Green’s failure to deal properly with Whyte re-emerging.

Likewise, elements of the press are doing their best to muddy the waters. This morning, Ewing Grahame, a journalist not renowned for accuracy or integrity, ran a story about a further charge from the SFA regarding Green’s “No Surrender” comment on Radio Clyde. This turned out to be nonsense but it brings lessons for many. First of all, Green would do well to consider why he was talking to a radio station like Clyde in the first place. Secondly fans would do well to pay attention to those writing the articles they read. Grahame is consistently bitter and lacking in accuracy when it comes to reporting on Rangers.

Once again the fans are the ones being left in the dark. We endured months of Craig Whyte’s lies followed by months of uncertainty during administration. Finally when it seems like we are coming to the end of it all, and can look to the future and rebuilding the club, we are presented with this. We now have the spectre financial impropriety being suggested by Keith Jackson in the Daily Record, which would be easier to dismiss if the rest of his article did not contain a reasonably accurate summation of the current issues in the boardroom.

Jackson is right about one thing at least. It is time for Malcolm Murray, and anyone else on the board who feels there is a problem with Green, to step up and do something about it. If they can show any kind of impropriety or current link to Whyte then they should act, not through the press but through proper corporate channels. If they feel that the use of racist language is enough on its own to remove Green then they should do so. That is what the board is there for. Constant leaks to the press from the boardroom are doing nothing but causing Rangers’ fans unnecessary anguish. The makeup of the board should make it easy to remove Green if that is what is necessary and if for any reason that cannot be done then clear and unreserved statements should be made about their concerns.

If this is simply about seeing that Green is weakened and therefore making a power play, then anyone involved should be ashamed of themselves for using the supporters’ emotions in their games. If it is not, and there is a clear feeling that Green needs to go either because of his use of racist language or for some other impropriety, then take the decision and get it done.

As for Green, if he does remain in position after all this plays out then he needs to learn from it. The refreshing no nonsense approach which he showed during the summer should be retained but he has to start to also consider the traditions and values of the club. Being the CEO of Rangers is an honour and it is one that nobody in that position should take for granted. It should be entirely possible to not only defend the fans and the club when necessary but to also ensure it is done in a way that befits the proud traditions of Rangers.

Green is paying for excellent advice on how to deal with the media and then discounting it. There are people at the club, like Jim Traynor, who, if Green will show some sense, can ensure a much better image of the club is portrayed to the media whilst also making sure we are no longer whipping boys.

One thing is certain, ahead of season ticket renewals, fans want to hear about how the process of rebuilding our club is going to progress. Ally McCoist has made it clear he has a plan, so let’s hear it and let’s start to implement it rather than once again stunting the growth of the club with infighting. If there are more serious issues with Whyte then these need to be laid bare but hopefully he will soon be feeling the long arm of the law on his shoulder and we will not need to hear his name again. We need stability and trust in those running Rangers. Green has caused many of his own problems but this must now be brought to a conclusion, one way or another, for the good of the club. 

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