Fergus McCann v David Murray


How Celtic Turned the Tables on their Glasgow Rivals by Stephen O Donnell:
A Review by Auldheid.

Stephen’s previous publication, Tangled Up In Blue provided a detailed history of the rise and fall of Glasgow Rangers FC PLC from 1872 until their demise in 2012. Clearly a lot of research had been done to cover the period in such detail and his follow up publication Fergus McCann v David Murray etc carries on with that tradition. It is a smorgasbord of a book with many different issues succulently served up in its 350 pages.

It tells of events under David Murray’s tenure at Ibrox which began in November 1988 and ended in May 2011 when he left Craig Whyte holding the rope that became a noose just under a year later in April 2012 when Whyte was found guilty of bringing Scottish football into disrepute whilst Murray claimed he was duped.

Readers of the book will come to the conclusion that if anyone did the duping it was David Murray and it wasn’t just Craig Whyte he duped but Scotland’s national game. If ever Murray were to be tried for crimes against Scottish football then this book would be cited as evidence.

It was against the background of David Murray’s tenure at Rangers that Fergus McCann first arrived on the scene in April 1989 with proposals to inject £17M of New Capital into Celtic that the Celtic Board rejected as per minutes:

Proposals put forward by Fergus McCann to provide finance for various capital expenditures were unanimously rejected by the Directors’; and then again in August of the same year: ‘Mr McCann’s latest proposals were discussed and it was hoped that this was a final discussion on the subject. Latest proposals were rejected by Directors.
Fergus later returned to the fray and the chapter on how he was successful in ousting the Board in 1994 is an informative read, particularly if in that period single parenting cares took precedence over caring for Celtic.

I was amused reading the tale of discontent aimed at the old Board after a Ne’erday 4-2 defeat to Rangers in January 1994 when a bemused Walter Smith was watching the hostility aimed at the Celtic Directors box, one fan in the main stand screamed at him, ‘What are you looking at, it’s got fuck all to do with you.”

For me anyway there were a few “not a lot of people know that” moments like that in the book.
The contrast between Fergus McCann’s and David Murray’s style was immediately evident, but the impact of Fergus’s shorter tenure from 1994 to 1999 became more than evident after McCann left and the author does not miss the role servile journalists played and hit the wall for turning Celtic supporters against McCann during his tenure, whilst they dined on Murray’s succulent lamb. A role that in the end helped bring about Rangers end, but not the culture of servility when covering the activity of Rangers FC PLC successor club from 2012.

Sky TV get it in the neck too and if David Murray played the part of Colonel Mustard in killing Scottish football through his financial recklessness and duplicity, Sky are the lead pipe whose toxicity still dictates the nature of the current state of play.( I said it was a Smorgasbord)

Fergus kind of did what it said on the tin. In his case a tin of nippy sweeties, but it was interesting to read about his early years when even then he was described as “a cheeky upstart” but his “idiosyncrasies” and appearance under a bunnet, disguised a sharp if impatient business mind where for him getting straight to the point was akin to procrastination.

So too has Murray’s early years been covered including his rejected attempt to buy Ayr Utd, a rejection by Ayr Directors, who considered Murray was too hot headed and most volatile, that infuriated him.

Their conclusion that he was trying to get Ayr United on the cheap with only £125k of his own money involved was an indicator of his strategy of using other people’s money to invest and not his own. Other people including unsuspecting taxpayers to a tune of £50 million or so.

As you follow the narrative of both Fergus McCann and David Murray and the events that surrounded them, you end up wondering how so many could have been fooled for so long by one guy, but when you have the Scottish media in your pocket it was difficult to separate fact from fiction during the tenure of both. You also wonder how Murray remains a Knight of the Realm since.

Luckily for Celtic Fergus knew business fact from PR fiction and avoided the illusion in which Celtic’s main rivals continue to struggle to this day.

The great pity is that few, if any of the Scottish main stream media will even give this book a mention, because if you don’t write about it, it never happened, except it did and this book is proof.

I therefore recommend anyone interested in the future of our game buys it and asks, is it not now time to revisit the purpose of Scottish football?



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  1. As a matter of minor irritation to me, I note that the following cases are still subject to reporting restrictions:

    Charles Green v Rangers International Football Club Plc, Court of Session, Edinburgh, 12 November 2015

    HMA v Craig Thomas Whyte, Gary Martyn Withey, David Henry Grier, David John Whitehouse, Paul John Clark , Charles Alexander Green and Sheik Imran Ahmad known as Imran Ahmad, High Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh, 16 October 2015

    HMA for restraint order re Craig Whyte, Court of Session, Edinburgh, 11 September 2015

    The Rangers FC Group Ltd re Adjudication of Claim, Court of Session, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016

    Of these, I attended hearings related to two of them.

    In particular, I attended the first day of the Indictment hearing in the case of the 'conspiracy' charges involving Whitehouse and Clark, in the High Court in Edinburgh ( before it was transferred to Glasgow).( I think that eJ was also present, but wouldn't swear to that.)

    This evening, while looking for something else, I came across the wee notebook in which I took notes of that hearing before the restriction was imposed. 

    I can scarcely believe that the 5th anniversary of that indictment hearing is coming up soon! 

    My notes contain nothing startling or revelatory: but I think I can say that it was then that the feeling grew in me that the prosecution was not going to be handled well. 

    (Frankly, it was, in my humble, layman's opinion, fkuced-up right from the off, as I think I have previously opined.)

    And I don't think I am in breach of restrictions if I mention that the question of whether there ought [ given the extensive use even in 2015 of social media communications] to be 'restrictions on reporting' in  cases which any member of the public might at will wander into Court to hear.

    Quite unconnectedly, and for anyone interested in the matter of police standards and police discipline, I found this judgment , published on 16 September, of great interest:

    SECOND DIVISION, INNER HOUSE, COURT OF SESSION [2020] CSIH 61 P105/18 Lord Justice Clerk Lord Menzies Lord Malcolm OPINION OF LADY DORRIAN,

    In particular, I liked Lord Malcolm's view  wee analogy ( in his concurrence with Lady Dorrian's decision)

    ( I am a fan of Lord Malcolm's style, as I may have mentioned before. Utterly genial, tolerant, unfussy, unruffled, but  can slide in the wee killer put-down as he smiles.)

    Not altogether off topic on SFM, perhaps.

  2. "Andy Halliday in surprise Rangers red card verdict as Michael Stewart silenced on Sportscene

    Gabriel McKay  2 hrs ago"


    What would you make of that as 'journalism'?

    There is 'truth:' of a sort: Stewart did not get to speak, but that was because of time restrictions ( and possibly stage-managed-we know what the BBC is like)

    But the deliberate, evil (in my opinion) use of the word 'silenced' with the connotations that that word has, shows to my mind a malevolent hope of stirring up controversy, by a newspaper dying on its feet. (May it die a quick death)

    The angelically named 'journalist' might more fitly have been named after a quite different angel-Lucifer!

    And we know what he was like!

    Honest to  God! What we have to put up with with the likes of the DR!


  3. Anent my post  at 22.58, I've looked on 'Scotlandspeople', and the only birth registrations of persons named 'Gabriel McKay'  are three in number:

    one in 1954 (charles gabriel) (who will now, I hope, be happily living as a young 66/67 year old)

    one in 1989 (fergus gabriel) (now aged 30/31)

    and one in 2018 (Rafe Gabriel)!( who I hope is a happy wee 2-year old boy)

    [Of course the Gabriel McKay of the DR might have been born in any part of the world]

    Is Fergus Gabriel the guy who used the word 'silenced'?

    Shame on him, if so.



  4. The SMSM today has returned to the 'story' that Lille are interested in Morelos – this time with an alleged £18M bid.

    As per: no quotes from Lille or French sources.

    The quote is from a Colombian individual on a website I've never heard about.

    Any prospective sale – to any club for whatever amount – is presumably too late now to appear as a Post Balance Sheet Event Note to the Accounts, due out next month.

    So, I'm guessing Morelos – and his agent – have now come to some agreement with TRFC?

    He looks fitter, seems to be training better – and back in the starting line up, and scoring goals.

    …another payrise?

    Shirley, the bears are also laughing at the SMSM coverage of the 'Morelos transfer rumours' ?

  5. StevieBC 21st September 2020 at 12:41

    '..As per: no quotes from Lille or French sources.'


    And what about this crap?


    from Joel Sked in today's 'The Scotsman'

    "Rangers have received a new €20million offer for Alfredo Morelos from Lille.

    The Colombian was on the score sheet for the Ibrox side in their 2-2 draw with Hibs at Easter Road on Sunday, following a double against Lincoln Red Imps on Thursday in the Europa League

    It appeared interest from the French side had waned after they had recruited Jonathan David from Gent for a reported €30million.

    Yet, according to reports in Colombia, the Ligue 1 side have reignited their interest in Morelos"

    -an absolute statement of fact ,followed by 'according to reports  in Colombia'.

    Journalism of that kind is Trumpian in its intention to deceive, and  the people who practice it are doing a great disservice.

    May they soon be unemployed.












    There have been reports of a new Alfredo Morelos bid. Picture: SNS



    Lille are not the only side keen in the 24-year-old with West Brom and Serie A’s Fiorentina monitoring the situation.

  6. And to crown everything here is a quote from English:  on Sportsound a few minutes ago:

    "as a journalist I crave honesty"

    Has he ever mentioned the fact that RFC of 1872are in Liquidation and that TRFC cannor possibly be that club.

    I thought not.

  7. Mike Ashley has been a person of interest on the SFM blog because of his connection with TRFC as being a shareholder of RIFC plc until June 2017:  and, of course, as the owner of SDI.

    It's a quiet night, so I was trawling through BAILLII for fun


     and came across a case , totally unconnected with football, in which Ashley was involved. 

    I give you this;

    "The trial of the action is due to begin in a week's time on 3 July 2017. The claim brought by Mr Blue is based on an oral agreement allegedly made between himself and Mr Ashley on 24 January 2013 in relation to the share price of Sports Direct International Plc ("SDI"), a company in which Mr Ashley owns and controls the majority of the shares.

    The agreement allegedly made was that, if Mr Blue deployed his experience, skill and contacts in corporate finance to get SDI's share price above £8 per share before 24 January 2016, Mr Ashley would pay Mr Blue £15 million.

    Mr Blue contends that the condition was fulfilled and the money is therefore payable.

    Mr Ashley denies that any agreement was made. He also says that it was necessarily implicit in any oral agreement of the type alleged that the share price of SDI would need to rise to £8 by reason of Mr Blue's actions in order for the contractual sum to become payable and that Mr Blue cannot show that his actions were the effective cause of the rise in the share price'

    So I look up 'Mr Blue' (Jeffrey Ross Blue) on Companies House.

    And, God forgive me, and not in any way making any equation with Mr Blue, I was put in mind of the pin-striped-suited Del Boy type who got a couple of grand from CW to help with his rent.

    Being of labouring class origins, I was, and still largely am, ignorant of the world of finance.

    Worse than that, I tended to believe that these guys up there in the 'financial' market, speaking glibly about 'investment' were honest and knowledgeable .

    I cannot now believe my own naivety and gullibility!

    Think back. The MBMB? The bottomless pockets of SDM? The multimillion pound players happy to accept wages hardly commensurate with their value?

    What an utterly deceitful world that Scottish Football is.

    With the SMSM a large part of that deceit.




  8. John Clark 21st September 2020 at 18:35

    And to crown everything here is a quote from English: on Sportsound a few minutes ago:

    "as a journalist I crave honesty" …


    English certainly has a high/delusional opinion of himself!

    "as an ex-BBC licence payer I expected honesty"

    Hence, I no longer pay the TV tax: I had gradually stopped watching BBC and BBC News years ago, due to its declining content quality and questionable news coverage.

    And regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Assange and his Wikileaks motivations: his extradition hearing to the USA is currently in its 3rd week. 

    For – obvious – public interest reasons, the hearing should be widely reported across ALL the BBC News platforms – but it is not.

  9. Being, erm, pessimistically optimistic, indecision

    it might not be all bad if the extended covid restrictions takes a heavy toll on Scottish Senior football?

    Hampden has a bl00dy cheek seeking a taxpayers' bailout.

    I don't want another penny of OUR money to go to Hampden – or to the 42 clubs.

    Mibbees this is the external pressure which forces change – and improvement – to the game and its governance?

    IMO, there will always be a demand in Scotland for professional football.

    Breaking up the game and starting again might be extremely painful in the short-term but significantly beneficial in the long run?

    If it also means that – for a period of time – we don't have club representation in Europe or even have a national team, then so what? 

    An opportunity to finally address the domestic game: the corruption, incompetence, lack of transparency, lack of accountability, lack of trust, lack of fans' involvement, etc. in OUR game. 

    An opportunity to redress the influence of TV companies?

    'Creative destruction' might be the solution to the festering problems since 2012 and before?

  10. John Clark 22nd September 2020 at 00:02
    “The trial of the action is due to begin in a week’s time on 3 July 2017.
    By a strange coincidence JC i was reading about that myself.
    The reason being Ashley was in the News less than 2 weeks after king had renegotiated a retail deal with Ashley that cost the club £3mill that no one knew about until a later date.
    Also smack bang in the middle of the ibrox club under the management of pedro getting knocked out of europe by part timer Progres Niederkorn from Luxembourg. remember Pedro in the hedge?
    Looking back the other day it was all the negative headlines about Ashley that caught my eye. Good way of distracting from a retail deal with very little detail and the club being knocked out of europe.
    A deal done in a pub.

  11. Aurellio Zen 25th September 2020 at 14:54

    '..Que passa?'


    Seemingly, not a lot.

    And no change in the SMSM, which continues to help foster and  spread aa huge sporting fiction!

    Returning this morning from a 3-day break up north we pulled into Blair Atholl to have a bit of lunch. I bought a copy of today's 'Herald.'

    I read with interest  the report (on page 9) of the death of Harold Evans, one-time editor of 'The Sunday Times'. 

    The report includes observations such as " He was renowned for his promotion of investigative journalism:"

    I wonder what he would have made of 'journalists'

    like  like Graeme McGarry who, on the back page of the Sport supplement of the same newspaper, has this:

    " Rangers fans will point out that when their own club was in dire financial straits, thee wasn't exactly a queue of willing saviours ready to bail them out, or even circumvent the rule-book to allow them back [my emphasis] into the top division following their liquidation…."

    What kind of person writes such nonsense, which flies in the face of actual sporting and commercial truth?

    McGarry clearly does not know the meaning of 'liquidation' and appears not to have heard that the club at present claiming to be Rangers of 1872 did not exist prior to 2012 and is to be ranked as a 'sporting' cheat in claiming as its own the sporting merits of a now defunct sports club.

    Harold Evans will be contemptuously turning in his grave.

    And it's doubtful if McGarry's obituary however far in the future it may be will include tributes to his 'investigative journalism' whatever it may say about his skills as a propagandist.

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