Who Messed Up The Ibrox Armband Story? Was It The Media, Or The Club Itself?

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Yesterday we had one of those bizarre shambles which no-one does better than our sports media. It was highlighted well this morning on the site Celtic365, but it’s worth looking at from a slightly different angle.

Celtic365 – and some of the Ibrox fan sites – are blaming The Record for screwing it up, and there’s an element of that in there for sure.

But I wonder if other people aren’t more to blame.

The story, initially anyway, was about Tavernier, and how he has been stripped of the captaincy, and the armband handed to Jack Butland.

I found it an unusual story from the start, but Celtic365 claim it is crazier than it sounds; their article talks about deleted tweets, the story changing form several times and of The Record in rapid retreat.

The initial report claimed that it was done, and it was filled with stuff about how impressive Butland has been as a dressing room leader. Then the report changed to suggest it wasn’t a done deal, and then there was a third story saying it would happen, but only if Tavernier was sold during the window. In short, this story has morphed from one thing into another over the course of a few hours, and in a manner which does sound pretty shambolic.

But that’s a story that has been steered, and you can tell that from the swift manner of the re-writes and the deleted tweets and the backtracking. This is The Record being used to push an agenda, by someone senior inside Ibrox, and someone, by the way, who isn’t terribly good at the job.

How can we tell that? How is that made obvious?

The only way a story changes like that, and so quickly, is if someone picked up the phone to the journalist who wrote it and said “Why did you write that?” And who would do that but the source of the story itself?

Remember, this isn’t a denial. This is a clarification.

This is someone saying “this has all gone wrong, we had better fix it.”

This wasn’t a mess made in the newsroom.

Our hacks are thick, but the one thing they know how to do is take instruction and write the stories that they are being spoon fed. The hacks can only work with the material they are given, and that means that the communication problem is on the part of the club. As tempting as it is to blame The Record for screwing this up, I think the real issue here was whoever was trying to send the message via the media.

I remember reading the initial version and being actually shocked that they had made the decision to change the captain quite so public when the obvious inference would be that he was finished at the club.

There is a reason clubs don’t change captains with regularity, and there is a reason that it makes headlines when they do. At most big clubs, the captaincy is taken seriously, and treated as something significant, and that goes to people who hold the utmost respect and authority in the dressing room and around the club itself.

Tavernier might not be our idea of a leader, and his network of allies has certainly been carpet bombed by the departures of a number of them … but you don’t just do this on a whim and hope that it doesn’t cause problems.

Or at least, you don’t at most clubs. But the one that plays out of Ibrox is not “most clubs” of course, and that’s where the problems come from. It is entirely possible that someone inside the club floated this to the press before it was official, and that it provoked an eruption. It is also possible that the same person spoke to The Record and told them it was a done deal based on the presumption that Tavernier would be going … but without making that clear to the hack.

And of course, The Record doesn’t employ people who are capable of nuance or reading between the lines unless it is manufacturing stories out of innocuous quotes from Celtic managers and players, and so it’s more than possible that McDermott just took that at face value and wrote it that way.

A mess, yes, but not entirely of his making.

So, which was it? Was this a simple miscommunication of an easy-to-understand message, or did someone at Ibrox make a mess of something much bigger? I suspect it was the latter, and I’ll tell you why.

When you look at the latest version, where is the news story here?

Tavernier set to be stripped of the armband if he leaves isn’t a story, is it?

A player who is no longer at the club can’t be captain, that’s just common sense, so that’s not news.

Neither is Butland getting the armband if Tavernier goes, because until he’s gone that’s just a hypothetical.

Don’t forget that it was Butland they were hoping to sell in this window; that hasn’t happened, and it isn’t going to happen for the fee they wanted.

Reports a few months ago suggested that he was agitating for a way out of the club.

Those stories proliferated on fan media and in the mainstream press; someone inside the club trying to pave the way for a sale, perhaps, by telling the fans he wanted to go anyway. Now they’re talking about offering him a leadership position?

Those stories are now an embarrassment to them, which is one of the reasons I enjoy highlighting them so much. The other reason is that these stories cast a light on what is happening right now with this Tavernier piece. It’s how this club likes to operate.

It seems obvious they were ready to ditch Tavernier as the captain, but I suspect they put this into the public domain before the matter was signed and sealed. It makes no sense to “leak” a story that they would replace him if he was sold. Of course they would.

So, the initial story sounds like the closer to what’s actually happening here.

But then they changed it.

I reckon that’s because Tavernier and his allies at the club raised 99 kinds of Hell over that, and how it was done through the media rather than to his face.

I mean, it’s obvious that the intent to do it was there and that it now won’t happen … so it’s the club, not the paper, that’s been forced into a hilarious and avoidable piece of backtracking.

But there’s clearly an intent to piss off Tavernier implied in this as well.

It’s a Hell of a thing to leak that to the media whatever the story behind it is, and it can only lead him to conclude that senior members of the coaching staff would rather he was gone. He knows that this wasn’t some media misunderstanding, and the message to him is quite clear.

So, what’s the underlying objective? Well, there’s no bid from Saudi yet, is there?

And I wonder if perhaps this isn’t an attempt to get him to drop his wage demands so that a move to somewhere else becomes a possibility. The aim might be to sicken him of life at Ibrox and to try and push him towards accepting less money somewhere else.

Let’s not forget; this guy is amongst the most highly paid players in Scotland and it’s only natural that they would prefer to shift him from the wage bill and net themselves a couple of million into the bargain, although I still think it’s sheer fantasy that any club will pay that for a 32-year-old full back who can’t defend to save his life. (He is 33 in October.)

But all of it has exploded in their faces. Tavernier has won himself an assurance that the armband stays his as long as he is at Ibrox, and so whatever this was has backfired massively. Not only is he more secure in his role than ever but he’s now aware that people within the club would love for him to move on, and will resort to undermining his position.

The chances are that he’ll dig in his heels and stay, unless the offer from Saudi comes along and they put a ludicrous contract in front of him. If it doesn’t, there’s no way he won’t be at Ibrox for what is left of his current ludicrous contract, which has two more years to run.

The Record has unwittingly shone a light into the dark heart of Ibrox here, I think, and they aren’t the only ones scrambling to contain whatever damage that has done. That club is a mess from top to bottom at the moment.

If this was us, the media would be hammering that message home every chance they got.

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  • scousebhoy says:

    could be a distraction from their biggest problem which is not getting one line of publicity from the gutless mob.the fixtures are due to be published tomorrow so surely questions will be asked but then again.

  • Bob (original) says:

    And on top of all that – a goalkeeper as captain ?

    Butland is not in anyway like a leader and winner like a Buffon or Casillas.

    Before joining sevco, Butland had won nothing,

    and he couldn’t get a game for Crystal Palace…

    Oh wait.

    Yes, Butland would make a great sevco captain! 🙂

  • John Copeland says:

    I think MC Dermott is still in that freebie Germany gig for scoops and pals ,frame of mind . Lager’s for breakfast ,noon and night with the odd doughnut for sustenance ? For him to make a complete bollox of the story being as loyal and staunch as they come , doesn’t make sense ?

  • Sid says:

    James, if you fancy some inside info from Ibrox, let me know, you can email me, cheers. Just nice to compare the real reality to the moonbeams.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Oh dear. How sad. Never mind.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    They deserve each other do The Sevco Huns and The Daily Record which looks like the worst of The Scummy Scottish Football Media from what’s reported back on here…

    They deserve each other every second of every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year, of every decade…

    Bloody Hell, I’d better stop right there as The Rancid Rag won’t see the decade out for sure…

    Hopefully they’ll not see the year out then they can rot in hell with their beloved ‘Rangers’ –

    I wonder what name the bastard child of The Rancid Record will be called !

  • Jim Duffy says:

    James outwith Tavpen being stripped of the captaincy I’ve always thought he was a decent enough guy unlike some of the englander thugs rangers and sevco have signed,I know he does the bit about yes we’re disappointed and we’ll do better next year ,unlike some English Huns sevco have signed this guy seems pretty decent,the proof being the Hun fans are giving him fuck.but I remember when cuntwell took the water bottle of Hatate it was Tavpen who stepped in and gave our player a drink out of a water bottle.

  • Johnny Green says:

    I hope he sees out his contract and stays for 56, while begrudgingly admitting that Celtic fully deserve it.

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