Football in our times

Submitted by Matthew on 17 October, 2012 - 8:43

This book tells the story of the incremental implosion of Rangers Football Club and raises issues of greed, abuse of power, press complicity but also what campaigning using digital media can achieve.

Rangers FC Chairman Sir David Murray, motivated by both year-on-year league success and the lucrative potential of the later stages of the European Champions League, borrowed heavily from banks at a time when banks were only too happy to lend to a big brand name like Rangers. Heavy borrowing combined with the illegal use of a tax avoidance scheme to play player’s wages and bonuses eventually led to the club’s bankruptcy earlier this year.

The sports journalists who ought to have been shining a light on Rangers growing financial problems were kept compliant with regular Murray “exclusives” and junkets such as all-inclusive holidays.

It was left to bloggers like Phil Mac Giolla Bhain and the anonymous “Rangers Tax Case” to expose and report what was going on at Rangers Inc. (The honourable exception, as the author notes was Graham Speirs — sports journalist with The Herald — who was quickly “frozen out” of the Murray circle).

The book is set out in four main sections — Finance, Media, Fans and the Scottish Football Association — each following a straightforward chronological path through blog postings relevant to the topic. Each page, each section is annotated with footnotes leading you back to the internet links and postings on this story.

The book is based on prescient blogs that followed the unfolding events in a story that says much about the period from Thatcher to the present day.

Unlimited credit borrowed to build a club on sand, compliant and biased journalism, a tax avoidance scheme used to attract the best international players and line the pockets of the Rangers Board of Directors and the inevitable denouement as journalists with some integrity utilised the new digital media to pressurise the Inland Revenue and banks into investigating.

As Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News notes in his promotional foreword, this is not just a book for football fans.

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