In the franticly-paced story of Rangers FC’s slide into administration, stories can often become rapidly devalued as further developments emerge. However, there is one constant in this sorry saga, the duplicitousness of Craig Whyte.
Whyte swaggered down Edminston Drive in May of 2011 to much fanfare as Rangers marched on towards their 54th championship. ‘The Whyte Knight’ had arrived and with him a degree of expectation amongst the Rangers support that their mystery ‘saviour’ would help re-establish the club’s battered financial prestige after the previous decade’s decline under Sir David Murray.
Now in February of 2012, Whyte has abandoned Rangers, reportedly with some 24 million pounds in his back pocket, which, to all intents and purposes, was stolen from Rangers. Not a bad return for a company he bought for £1.
The nine months of Whyte’s reign were dogged from the very beginning by a fug of creeping insecurity about the man, his millions and his intentions for the club; first came Rangers shocking summer transfer window, which alerted me that Whyte wasn’t all he was cracked up to be.
Secondly was his absolute refusal to explain how he had made his money. His exposure in mid-October by the BBC for being banned as a director for seven years was confirmation that Whyte was well, forgive me, not whiter than white.
Then came, finally, the news that Whyte had all but financed his takeover by selling off the rights to Rangers season tickets for three seasons in advance. Upon unravelling his plan, it seems as though he planned to asset strip the club and make a profit for himself.
Why he thought he would get away with it, given the exposure bestowed on anyone involved with Rangers, beggars belief. Whyte has shown some clearly psychopathic tendencies in these proceedings; his complete detachment from the ramifications of his actions and the impact they would have on so many people is frankly bewildering.
The Rangers support turned on the BBC remarkably after their expose on Whyte’s colourful past, and while the corporation could be much more balanced in their coverage of the sectarianism debate, this was not bias against Rangers. This was to alert the world that the club was in the hands of a conman on a par with Walter Mitty.
In a statement delivered on the 21st of this month, Whyte claimed that “I don’t do walking away”, to misquote the Ally McCoist slogan which has become the battle standard of the Copland Road cognoscenti.
Whyte will be apprehended for his fraudulence, of that I am sure. The Financial Services Authority, the Scottish Football Association, Strathclyde Police, the Scottish media and the Rangers support at large are investigating every aspect of this takeover, and ensuring that Whyte will be stopped in his tracks. Whether he is in Monaco or Costa Rica, he must be tracked down and brought to account for his pillaging of Rangers for his own good.
When all is said and done, I doubt very much if Craig Whyte will be able to show his face in the West of Scotland, such is the level of vitriol being aimed at him. If there is any justice in the world, a spell at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for being a crook, lie and a cheat would suffice.
There is, however, a lesson in this for the Rangers support; not everyone is out to get you. The chat in Rangers fanzines and online forums was very much anti-BBC for their Whyte expose. Take off the blinkers, the red, white and blue tinted glasses and realise that Mark Daly’s seminal programme was a warning.
Out of this, hopefully the custodianship of the Scottish football institution is eventually in the hands of honest people who care.