“If the charge against Green is proved the business and assets [of Rangers*] would be the proceeds of crime” – Jonathan Brown QC, Court of Session, 12 November 2015.
Those words, tweeted from the Court of Session by @JamesDoleman on Thursday are mind-boggling. If the described scenario were to come to pass it is potentially apocalyptic for the ‘club’ which Charles Green set up in 2012. The liquidators of Rangers could have a claim on pretty much all of their assets (many of which His Big Mikeness currently holds security over…) on behalf of the stiffed creditors. And who knows what else might then follow once Pandora’s Box has been opened…
Given how often we hear that Scottish football needs a strong Rangers-themed entity, and given all the endlessly recycled drivel about it being an ‘institution’ etc, you might think that the mainstream media would earnestly report Mr Brown’s comments.
Or perhaps mention them in passing.
Or maybe even hint at them a little bit.
If you were to think that, you would be sorely mistaken. Because they didn’t get a mention in any of the reports from mainstream outlets. And this curious situation seems to reflect a wider media reticence to go into the issues covered by the hearing.
Clearly there are reporting restrictions in place. But as James Doleman and @STVGrant demonstrated in their live tweeting, they are no barrier to actually reporting some really interesting matters.
As I wrote on Thursday evening, the Charles Green v RIFC hearing at the Court of Session was absolutely fascinating: partly for the sheer theatre, partly because of the potential implications of the final judgement, and partly because it gave an airing to so many issues of concern to fans of Scottish football. Issues that are usually ignored or swept aside by much of the mainstream media.
I said that I wasn’t going to over the detail of the proceedings as Clumpaneers would be able to read the various reports later…
Well, James Doleman’s wrote this piece on the Bella Caledonia website:
And that was pretty much it!
The Scotsman (like others) had previously trailed the case with this piece, but it has not reported on the hearing at all! And I couldn’t find any account of the proceedings on the BBC or STV websites, either.
Some some media outlets did mention the case, but with mixed results. The Evening Shark-Jump and Herald offered a pretty perfunctory account:
Mr Wolffe QC was reported as saying that “it would be unfair to expect his clients [RIFC] to meet Mr Green’s costs”.
Furthermore, “the lawyer said that the alleged criminal conduct carried out by Mr Green started before he became the chief executive of Rangers. This meant the club shouldn’t have to pay Mr Green’s legal bills as he wasn’t acting for Rangers.”
While Mr Brown QC was reported as having argued that Green’s severance was
“a commercially negotiated trade off in a basket of rights and obligations. It was negotiated to allow a painless exit for Mr Green.”
And that was it!
Meanwhile, the Daily Record’s piece (which also had a headline reflecting the RIFC perspective) covered much the same ground:
It did however dwell on the revelation that Green’s severance deal “was drawn up by the same lawyers who drafted a similar agreement for shamed Tory spin doctor Andy Coulson”, and also quoted his QC as saying that the package “made commercial sense as it was in Rangers’ ‘clearest imaginable interest’ to protect its own assets”.
But none of the MSM reports covered a key part of Green’s argument: the nature of what he had bought in 2012, which his QC explained was a basket of assets rather than a football club.
You’d think that this matter might be of interest to readers who have been discussing it for three years and believe it to be at the heart of so many issues affecting the troubled Ibrox club and governance of our game.
But no. Aside from the Record’s guide to the various court cases making a passing remark that “Brown turned the hearing into a new club/old club debate and insisted it’s Sevco that should pay Green’s legal costs”, there was nothing.
I dare say it made the papers an easier read for fans of the ethereal ‘club’. And let’s face it, systematic deconstruction of the ‘same club’ myth isn’t part of the Orwellian Narrative that passes for informed analysis in parts of our media, is it?
But the rest of us would have been left pretty high and dry had it not been for the existence of social and independent media, which allowed access to many of the details of what was actually said in court.
And then allowed us to form a view about how it was subsequently reported by the traditional media…
It will be fascinating to see how the other Sevco-related court cases are covered in the coming months. I dare say I will report back to you…
Postscript: It couldn’t possibly be the case that several media outlets sent a lawyer along to the hearing to try and challenge reporting restrictions, could it? And having gone to that trouble and expense, and with their man being content with the restrictions, didn’t then bother covering the story at all?
No, that would be truly bizarre. And a waste of money in austere times.