The financial implosion of Rangers football club is a body blow to Scottish football—and to Glasgowby Sam Knight / July 18, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
The collapse of Rangers football club could bring Scottish football to its knees
When you start getting forensic, rather interesting lectures from large, ordinarily intimidating football supporters about the difference between a liability and a contingent liability; the merits of a CVA versus a Newco in insolvency proceedings; and the kinks in the UK’s TUPE regulations (2006), then you have reached a pretty unnerving place.
This is Glasgow in the summer of 2012. Like everywhere else in Britain, it is pouring with rain. Like everywhere else, people’s minds are heavy with sport. But sport here has nothing to do with the endless, ultra slow-motion montage of the European football championships, Wimbledon, and the Olympics that has unspooled since June—the bread and circuses stupefying the rest of us. In Glasgow, there is just one sporting story and one question that matters: the bankruptcy of Rangers Football Club—one of the city’s primary institutions—and what it means for Scottish professional football. A formerly splendid enterprise, well over a century old, is in danger of ruin, and no one can take their eyes off the unfolding disaster. Each day brings another revelation, and some other aspect of company law to look up on the internet. People walk past the five Olympic rings erected in the city’s George Square as if they are not there. “It’s the only show in town at the moment,” a long-serving Aberdeen fan told me, just in case I was thinking of asking him about anything else.
One of my first Glaswegian insolvency lectures was from a 25-year-old man called James Donaldson. He is the news editor of Rangers Media, a partisan website of Rangers-related news and online forums, where 27,000 members come and vent their anger and disbelief at the disasters that have befallen their club. Like other great social ructions in recent years, Scottish football’s summer of reckoning has been catalysed in large part by the internet. “Rangers Tax Case,” an investigative blog devoted to the club’s tax liabilities (contingent and otherwise), won a category of the prestigious Orwell Prize this year and scoops, gossip and, crucially, fan sentiment have all consistently gestated online before breaking out—fully formed—to catch the game’s traditional observers and administrators by surprise.