J’accuse Part 2!
Yesterday dealt with my thoughts on when the current debacle had its roots,which is obviously traceable to the problems Rangers had from their failed £50m share issue. At that stage,no-one could have been blind to the problems that Rangers faced-even if we didn’t necessarily know the full extent of their tax frauds and various other debts at the time.
However,it was clear from that club’s own accounts back then that there were problems stacking up for them-not the least of which was caused by their reduced match day income,itself caused by Murray’s decisions to hive off those sources for a quick one-time buck. A classic case of selling the family silver,even if it was often to members of his own family. Though even he drew the line at selling the St Etienne bike or the Arsenal shares. What was also clear was that they simply could not match our income,and that there was little that they could do about it.
They still had the opportunity to qualify for the Champions League though,as Scotland had two spots,one direct and the other through qualification,at that time. And they still had the backing of Bank of Scotland,who had allowed Murray to use their lending facilities like his own tap all the way through his career.
Although wage and fee expenditure had been reduced at Celtic since the Martin O’Neill era,it was still significant during Gordon Strachan’s time,with many big name players signing for us-none bigger than Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink! But also such as Tommy Gravesen,Jarosik,Naka,Hinkel,etc. But too many times,we were playing free transfers from Hibs and even worse,loan players. But still good enough to keep the huns at bay.
This policy had its support with certain sections of the support,but it also had its critics,they type who want to see the best players,to speculate to accumulate. Those who believed in it also bought into the philosophy of the man who was given Carte Blanche to implement it. Peter Lawwell arrived on the scene no longer in his previous relatively insignificant financial role but as the new Great Panjandram. Its initial “success” drew grandiose comments and compliments from his supporters even if not from his critics. So what changed,what caused even the occasional big signing to be a thing of the past?
It came to an end with The Financial Crash of 2008,which ushered in a new way of thinking. That it was not simply enough to stay ahead of Rangers. Their problems were so severe that in order for them to even stay in business-albeit one haemorrhaging cash-they needed guaranteed Champions League money. Celtic,still with Lawwell pulling the strings that controlled all the levers at the club played along,but they still couldn’t help but fall to bits.
Now,in a situation like that,you say that you’ve tried,shrug your shoulders and move on. Even doctors have to do that. Not our Peter,though. Ever the smartest man in the room,there was another option available. Even though Rangers were dead and officially set for liquidation-with further outstanding tax liabilities unresolved-and in the face of all the football regulations,laws of the land,you name it prohibiting such a thing,there was a way. That,of course,was The Five Way Agreement.
Delving back into literature and cinema,he thought of Dr Frankenstein. He should have thought of The Godfather which taught us all of the dangers of going near oranges! And he should have read the book properly too. The good doctor didn’t fair too well…
Or was it Lawwell’s idea? I might be doing him a disservice,it might have been someone else’s idea. That excuse never worked at school when you told the teacher that Jimmy had told you to do it,did it? And no excuse since has been offered to the fans for various events relating to the creation by Dr Frankenstein,whoever he was. The Nimmo Smith enquiry,improper registrations,player signings despite embargos. Blatantly spending more than their income against rules enforced by every other football jurisdiction. Etc,etc,etc…
Perhaps his worst was still to come when he was presented with a shareholder resolution at the 2013 AGM,which related to the improper award of a European licence to Rangers in 2011,a resolution aimed squarely at the SFA. This was the organisation primarily responsible for the implementation of the infamous Five Way Agreement,even if no-one has admitted to being the brains behind such illegality. In fact,Lawwell has denied ever seeing the thing,and he is an honourable man so we must believe him. As the four gentlemen who presented him with the details of wrongdoing that they had accrued believed him when he told them-
“Bring me the silver bullet,and I will fire the gun”
They spent a small fortune and considerable time,things that all four would rather have spent elsewhere,doing just that. The problem is,that the more they dug into things,the more they found out,the more they discovered that Celtic hadn’t been hard done by-they were complicit in,or even architects,of the entire chicanery!
Lawwell didn’t have any intention of firing anything. Unless his second name was Rodgers,and he was still working on that.
Which brings us back to how he ran the club itself during the nine in a row years. With no Rangers around,we had the chance to reinforce our name in European football again. Time to invest wisely. He cut to the bone,and then cut again,and by the time we were facing a challenge from Newco he had got so into the habit that he couldn’t kick it. Maybe he didn’t like not being the club’s highest earner,he certainly wasn’t keen on paying anyone on the football side the going rate. And now we see where we are,and we have to ask how much of it happened because Celtic’s feet were held to the fire,how much of was down to incompetence,how much of it was caused by intent to keep Rangers/Newco alive.
I used to give Lawwell the benefit of the doubt over the 5WA,that he had been outsmarted and lied to. But only because I couldn’t countenance the alternative-in the same way that I sometimes put other decisions down to incompetence,even from the smartest guy in the room. Such as the trip to Dubai!
But overall? No. Overall I believe that we have been lied to by someone who said he only had Celtic’s best interests at heart. Time and again,to the extent that if he told us that the sun was shining-which he always did!-I’d buy an umbrella.
And the hard rain we are suffering now is the fault of Peter Lawwell.
Above article by BMCUWP