Scottish Daily Mail
THE DOOR OPENS AT LAST FOR PAUL MURRAY
After four years in the wilderness, Murray vows to rebuild his beloved Rangers brick by brick
PAUL MURRAY is blunt in his assessment. Rangers are broken and, after four years of finding himself rebuffed and rejected, the chance to perform first aid is long overdue. Appointed interim chairman while Dave King seeks to satisfy the SFA and Stock Exchange of his fit-and-proper credentials, Murray’s persistence has been a feature of the Rangers saga.
He tried twice to intervene. Firstly, in 2012 as a Blue Knight and then in December 2013, in tandem with Scottish businessman Jim McColl.
Friends and family — including his new boardroom colleague John Gilligan — urged him to step back.
Repeatedly accused of lacking the financial clout to deliver real, meaningful change, Murray was urged to leave the chancers and opportunists to get on with it.
‘Some people have called me obsessed,’ he said yesterday grinning. ‘John (Gilligan) has actually been one of my biggest supporters and also one of my biggest critics, which has been good as well. He challenges you and that is healthy.
‘The way I look at things is that just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If it is right, you have to try to do it. In my view, from May 6, 2011, it has been all wrong here.
‘The minute the club was sold to Craig Whyte, it was the wrong decision. I said that at the time and, unfortunately, I was proven to be right. I don’t take any credit for that. I don’t feel good about that. But that is what happened.
‘It has just been a succession of issues since then. You have to do what is right.
‘I have made mistakes but, hopefully, people will recognise that I tried to do the right thing every time. I have certainly put Rangers’ i nterests ahead of my own interests.’
Like King, Murray may yet have fit-and-proper obstacles to navigate under article 10 of the SFA rules.
Directors of a club in the five years preceding an insolvency event are disbarred from returning.
However, having been removed from the Rangers board by Whyte in 2011 after raising his concerns over the way the club was being run, Murray will return to the Blue Room with a clear conscience and a philosophical attitude towards the last four years of carnage.
‘Dave (King) was saying to me at dinner l ast night that Sandy Jardine had said they should take all these chairmen from the last four years off the boardroom wall and expunge them from the history of the club. Dave made the point: “Actually, the history is about good times and bad times”.
‘We have had the Ibrox Disaster, a few of them actually, we have had this, we have had great times, bad times. That is what makes you — the last 143 years good and bad. You have to stick with the good and bad.
‘One thing we shouldn’t do is forget what has happened over the last four years and never let it ever happen again. As long as I am on the board, I consider myself a custodian of this institution.
‘It might sound a bit cheesy, but we are custodians of this institution and we are going to hand it on to the next generation, hopefully in a better shape than we got it today.’
To make such predictions is a dangerous game where Rangers are concerned. When the thrill and euphoria of victory abates, there will be testing, difficult days.
The to-do list for the new Rangers board is extensive and expensive.
Management, team, stadium and infrastructure have been earmarked for an overhaul and there is no quick, sharp fix for the damage inflicted and decay suffered during a dysfunctional period.
‘ The club i s broken and, as directors, we have to repair and rebuild it brick by brick,’ added Murray. ‘We must do what we think is right for all the stakeholders at the club. I’ve read the newspapers in the last couple of days and the list of things to do is long. But we will do things the right way — not make snap decisions — and build for the long term.’
Murray and Gilligan, appointed to the board with Douglas Park, have agreed to serve as executive directors in the short term.
King will return to South Africa following Tuesday night’s home game with Queen of the South and his boardroom colleagues will be l ef t to s t udy t he contracts and commercial deals signed, sometimes in haste, sometimes in self-interest.
‘John and I have gi ven a commitment to our partners to spend a good deal of time here in the short term because there’s obviously a lot to do and it will take time to rebuild the board and to put the plan in place,’ said Murray.
There are also outstanding personnel issues to deal with.
Ally McCoist, the manager on gardening leave since December, was accorded a rousing ovation when he slipped into yesterday’s General Meeting.
Yet the long-term position of the club icon remains unresolved. Caretaker boss Kenny McDowall is also serving notice, but looks likely to remain in situ while the new board take their time over finding the right replacement.
‘There have been only 13 men in the history of the club to have held that position,’ explained Murray.
‘It is a really important position. We see this as laying the foundations for a long- term project here. Appointing the first-team manager is a critical and f undamental decision.
‘We won’t rush into that. People have been approaching us, but we had no mandate to talk to anyone before getting this out of the way. We will also have to have a conversation with Ally and Kenny.’
There will also be discussions — of a more awkward kind — with Sandy Easdale, chairman of the football board.
The Greenock bus tycoon, for so long an opponent of King, held control over 20 per cent of the shares yesterday but abstained.
If, as many suspect, that was an olive branch to enhance his chances of retaining some position at the club, it seems destined to fail.
‘We need to sit down and speak to him (Easdale),’ said Murray. ‘I think the result from the shareholders is very clear.’
The removal of the deadwood will, like everything else, take time.
‘We must put in proper foundations — and we will get some things wrong,’ admitted Murray, ‘but we ask for patience.’
“I’ve certainly put Rangers’ interests before my own”