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Has Jackson’s Started To Backtrack From His Incendiary Bisgrove Allegations?

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Earlier today, I posted my article on the stunning news – not that it was news to regular readers here and of the other Celtic sites which were predicting it – that Ibrox will almost certainly not be ready to stage games until October at the earliest. It confirmed everything we’ve been saying on this subject for weeks. The embarrassment over there must be off the charts.

But people kept referring in their messages to me about Jackson’s wider comments, and I didn’t even realise, until someone sent them to me, that he had written an opinion piece on this as well as breaking the story on the “new delays.”

And it’s only when I read that story, the opinion piece story, that I realised I was going to have to tackle a Keith Jackson piece in detail today after all, having not done that with this morning’s story because actually covering the news element of it was more important.

But Jackson’s editorial is interesting in and of itself. Because when you read it you are prompted to wonder if it’s Jackson himself or his editors at the paper who have realised that making wild allegations about James Bisgrove on the say-so of God alone knows who is legally perilous and not the sort of thing you would take on without producing evidence.

This morning, I wrote about some of the holes in their narrative; reading Jackson’s column it’s clear that he and those who publish him are more than just dimly aware of those holes. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’s clearly still willing to play the Useful Idiot, but as we will see, he’s not sticking his neck out all the way any longer to serve up the story on behalf of people who would abandon him on the battlefield in an instant if Bisgrove and his people decided to sue.

The headline is still legally dicey if you ask me.

James Bisgrove dumping (Ibrox) stadium shambles in John Bennett’s lap is a breathtaking act of betrayal – Keith Jackson

I mean, that’s not suggesting that he did, that’s flat out saying that he did. But the sub-headline is a lot more careful in how it chooses to word this.

Keith questions just how much the former Ibrox CEO knew before slinking off to Saudi Arabia with Gers facing stadium lockout

That’s a massive bit of backtracking. He’s no longer making an open allegation here. He’s now “questioning what he knew.” That’s a big difference, and certainly from a legal standpoint. Which I find more than a little bit interesting. Let’s do the rest.

The embarrassment factor will be off the charts. For (the Ibrox) chairman John Bennett and his board, this debacle over the state of the Big Hoose will have come as an utterly mortifying experience.

It’s a motorway pile up in a clown-car. Forget the Big Hoose. The Big Top must stay open. That place over there is an absolute circus.

But there will also be a whole load of shock and anger among the men left to clean up the mess at Ibrox which was dumped on them from a huge height by a chief executive who couldn’t get out of town quickly enough. There will also be questions that need to be answered about how they’ve been left in such an almighty mess and perhaps even if there is a legal mechanism by which some kind of accountability can be apportioned.

That’s almost an allegation, but it skirts the edges. Did he dump this on them? The implication is that he was either responsible for it or he knew about it. But as I’ve said, the CEO doesn’t deal directly with a project such as this. If he believed the people who were working under him and they said it was all under control then what can he do?

Not just for the strategic botch-up that’s left them without a functioning, fit for purpose home stadium for who knows how long. But more specifically, for the breathtaking act of betrayal that lies behind it.

What betrayal? The guy was offered a better job, for God’s sake. Jackson here sounds like a gushing fan-boy in pain because his idol left the band. I wrote much the same about Brendan Rodgers when he sodded off, but he did it halfway through a season and took the club’s entire backroom team with him. That was more like an act of deliberate sabotage than anything. Bisgrove left at the end of May with a whole summer for them to get their house in order.

He wouldn’t be doing his job right if Bennett had not already launched a top-level probe into the circumstances that have caused this chaos to unfold and land on his desk without so much as an early warning. As part of that investigation, he’ll want to nail down exactly who knew what. And when.

The first obvious attempt at shielding the people many Ibrox fans believe to be the true culprits here; the board of directors of which Bennett is the head.

See, rather than blaming the CEO for leaving maybe it would be a good idea to ask if the chairman’s decision not to immediately replace him and instead taking on a rash of new responsibilities for himself, some of which he was not even remotely qualified to handle, is the reason things got missed and this crisis erupted. Regardless, the suggestion that this fell on them out of a clear sky is manifestly untrue; they knew about it for a few weeks at least before they admitted it. The rumours were rife. The story was out there.

And if, for example, it emerges CEO James Bisgrove knew more than he was prepared to share with the rest of the club’s hierarchy then it might also be reasonable to conclude that blood will have been boiling over in the boardroom ever since he disappeared in a trail of dust to a desert in Saudi Arabia.

If he knew. Might also be reasonable to conclude. Careful choice of words there. The words that essentially admit “I have no idea if a word of this is true or not, but I’ve been told what the line is and I’ll follow it as closely as I can without imperilling this newspaper.”

Worse still, what if it becomes clear that, during all of this, the Englishman was also effectively working his own ticket – travelling to places such as Bahrain to grease his way into a barrel load of oil money? Well, that would constitute a monumental act of bad faith. One that would be very likely to elicit a thermonuclear response.

An extremely serious allegation, which is why he frames it as a “What if?” question rather than openly making it.

It’s actually grossly irresponsible to slander the guy in this fashion, which is exactly what this article does. Jackson has no evidence whatsoever to support any of this and he clearly hasn’t been furnished with any from Ibrox, who he’s suggesting might hold an internal inquiry at some future date to establish the facts … so if they have no facts to support this and he has no facts to support it, what the Hell is he doing here? Why even bother to hold the inquiry? Just trash the guy before any of this is actually proved. It’s ridiculous and its lunatic stuff. If Bisgrove sues the Record won’t have a legal leg to stand on here.

All of this can be dealt with when the dust has settled, of course. In the here and the now, however, Bennett and his board have no choice but to lumber on with the hand they’ve been dealt after Bisgrove bailed out to cash in his chips at Al Qadsiah. It would certainly have helped matters if they’d been given an early heads-up on what they were about to discover before Bisgrove bolted to the Middle East.

Pure bitchery. “Aww he left us …” this happens in football all the time.

This is Ibrox playing the lowest card in the deck. Feel sorry for us. We are, after all, the victims here.

There is reason to suspect this exit planning extends as far back as to the turn of the year when his girlfriend began asking for advice on social media about how to take a family pet to the Kingdom. Of course, had they known then what they do now then Bisgrove might not have survived for as long as he did. If (the club) had full sight of what was hurtling towards them down the pipeline, it’s difficult to see any other outcome.

Shocking to see the guy’s girlfriend, who has no part in any of this, dragged into the story just to prop up a shaky, even libellous, narrative. Even in organised crime they have rules about dragging the “civilians”, the family members, the innocent bystanders, into their vendettas. Jackson and his paper clearly have no such scruples.

The second half of the paragraph is just ridiculous. I wrote this morning about how effusive they were in their statements wishing him well.

Instead, any chance the board might have had of pressing the button on a contingency plan some months ago, when it might have been more manageable, was effectively boobytrapped It exploded in their faces only once Bisgrove’s jet had touched down more than 4000 miles away in Riyadh.

Absolute bollocks. But look, just for one minute, let’s assume that there is a core of truth in this. That Bisgrove should have been minding the shop better. What about the rest of the board? If Bisgrove’s job is to keep an eye on the project manager, then it’s the job of the rest of the board to keep an eye on him. If Bisgrove was so obviously, and brazenly, shopping himself around what were they doing whilst this was going on?

Whose responsibility was it to mark his homework? There is supposed to be scrutiny of his job performance like everyone else’s, so this sob story about a blindsided board and the pity party Jackson wants to have for them is grotesque.

That’s why Bennett has spent the last two weeks scrambling around and holding hastily arranged discussions with the top brass at Murrayfield and Hampden as well as with those in charge of the football authorities. Those crisis talks will continue and pick up further pace over the course of the coming week as (the Ibrox club) close in on finalising a deal for a temporary home, with the national stadium the preferred choice.

An Ibrox fan media site heard the stadium work was not going to be finished on time a couple of weeks before the story broke. They asked the club straight. The club denied it. They have been scrambling around for longer than two weeks. These people are incompetent to a degree that is almost stunning. If the SFA says no, there will be Hell to pay here.

But the toe-curling embarrassment of being left in a position of such neediness will be impossible for Bennett and his board to shake off for some time to come. They’ll also face a hard sell convincing their own supporters that, whenever the building work has been completed, it was worth all of the hassle and expense for the sake of adding 600 seats to the Ibrox capacity.

An act of lunacy in and of itself, and handled with about as much finesse as a speech by Suella Braverman. They could have hired Liz Truss to plan the strategy for this and not have made such an almighty mess of it.

The embarrassment will outlive every one of them, and if the Ibrox fan sites don’t immortalise it we certainly will.

This is up there with launching a “Save The Club” website and accidently putting the URL for a company which rents out clowns on it. (That will never get old. I will be re-telling that story until the day they bury me, and if I’ve got advance warning of my demise, I’m going to put it in the funeral notes too.)

It really is an extraordinary set of circumstances and there will be a reluctance to make it worse by airing the club’s dirty laundry in full public view. It’s probably for that reason alone (that the club) have not already come out with all guns blazing but the time for dignified silence is likely to come to an end if and when Bennett’s internal review comes to a conclusion.

They don’t need to come out “all guns blazing” when they have a Useful Idiot willing to do it for them, do they?

And here’s a bet; the results, if there are any, of that “internal review”, if there even is one, will never see the light of day.

That “dignified silence” is a pure smokescreen.

The last thing they are going to do is push this nonsense themselves.

I remember the aftermath of Charlie Whelan’s “five tests to join the Euro” screwup, which punted the idea into the long grass and essentially made government policy on a critical issue subject to a late night phone call from outside a pub.

The pro-Euro media, and members of the government, went nuts and Blair tried to dampen down the anger by declaring that there would be a series of “Join The Euro” roadshows where he and other senior ministers would promote the idea.

One of the backbench MP’s told Andrew Rawnsley that when, weeks later, he asked a member of the Blair inner circle for clarity about where and when the first of these would take place “he looked at me as if I’d gone mad.”

Focus everyone on “sorting the mess out”, give them something to distract them in the meantime and hope nobody really digs in to who was responsible for making the mess in the first place. These aren’t new tricks.

Some of us have been watching this stuff for years.

For now, this is a board still reeling from the scale of the catastrophe they’ve just been blindsided by. Rightly or wrongly, they were relying on Bisgrove to oversee the whole process even though the nuts and bolts of actually putting this refurb together were outsourced to a company in England, a fairly standard practice.

At last! Something closer to the truth!

Not completely the truth, but closer to it.

As I said in the piece earlier today, the CEO does not negotiate the purchasing of steel and other stuff like it, that’s not his job.

So from being the guy responsible he’s suddenly the guy “overseeing” it.

That’s a major backtrack on its own right there.

And I ask again; if you suppose any of this is true and they were blindsided they have no right to be using Jackson to do the mudslinging on their behalf, because they should have been keeping their own eyes on the project and on Bisgrove himself and so ultimately the buck stops at the chairman’s desk regardless.

But one that requires the man ultimately in charge to pay minute attention to detail. The delay in ordering in materials, such as steel from the Far East, is a cock-up of unfathomable proportions, especially given the global shipping industry is grappling with unprecedented challenges from port congestion and labour shortages to wars in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Yeah … if in fact the issue is with the steel and not something else.

And I agree that those issues exist.

But they’ve existed since COVID and really, a company that gets caught out like this deserves everything it gets in light of those issues.

The time window for doing this job was so short that you were virtually inviting disaster, no matter who was in charge of it.

Major construction, as this is, has been subject to delays and time and cost over-runs since time immemorial. No wonder several firms turned down the job down flat because of concerns over that very thing.

How that one slipped through the net is almost impossible to comprehend. It all adds up to a perfect storm and it means, now the order has been belatedly rushed through, the goods are unlikely to actually arrive in Glasgow until sometime next month.

They cannot get their story straight for even a minute, can they?

The order has been “belatedly rushed through?”

What happened to the “the shipment is already on the way and it’ll be here in July”?

These people must think their own fans are absolute muppets.

This story has gone through more changes than the script for Apocalypse Now.

And that’s with a fair wind and in the absence of the Houthis throwing a spanner in the works somewhere in the Red Sea. All these imponderables – and the uncertainty they create – leave Bennett trying to spin plates in search of a solution but without knowing when his own stadium will be open again.

The Houthis! I suppose it’s better than blaming The Grand Conspiracy Of The Unseen Fenian Hand for this, although I reckon that before long Vanguard Bollocks will be making “the Palestinian connection” and adding those boys from Yemen to the core group at the centre of the global nexus that winds “like a main circuit cable” out of Celtic Park.

He may also be pulling a blade out from between his shoulders and wondering if his trust and faith have been badly misplaced.

No more than yours in swallowing what he’s shoving down your throat, Keith.

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  • Captain Swing says:

    I commented on Joe’s article on VC that Jacksoff might well be “hearing from solicitors” for going to print with his claims against the CEO, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he has. This isn’t slagging off players (especially Sellick players) for alleged diving or other trivial, tedious drivel he’s come out with this time, this is Keef blundering into the grown-up’s business and there might be hell to pay for it.

  • John Copeland says:

    It wouldn’t be the first time Inaction Jackson has backtracked from a tale of woe from Ibroxland …is it ?

  • SFATHENADIROFCHIFTINESS says:

    There’s a reason the Daily Arsewipe is punting less than 50,000 print copies a day :

    ‘M’Lud I give you Keef Jakshun.’

    Prosecution rests”……

    Swirling faster and ever faster towards their own Event Horizon, ‘Glu,glug, G L U G.

  • James McAllister says:

    Brilliant Jamsey ???

  • scousebhoy says:

    in any other country aye but not in this great wee cesspit. bisgrove was at jbrox long enough to know they are untouchable . two games at murrayfield and the rest at hampden where they will dictate to doncaster the terms.

  • Magdalena’s Chestnut Gelding says:

    Towards the end of that hatchet job was the first time anyone in the mainstream media has mentioned the contractor!

    The CEO or Operations and Facilities Director/Manager puts the job out to tender. I’ve seen the online rumours of several companies turning them down when the timescales were discussed. A company then submits tender and that is normally discussed at board level or at the very least, Chairman, CEO and finance director. From there on in it is the contractors baby from start to finish unless unforeseen issues crop up and/or extenuating circumstances that require additional costs and may cause delays.

    If the contractor was to only report to the CEO then fair enough, but as soon as the CEO tendered his notice then the contractor should have been told to whom they now had to report.

    The picture being painted is that Sevco were managing this project in house and they had called on a squad of specialists to complete the work for them! The A Team of the building industry! A total nonsense.

    People leave posts all the time and when doing so a professional handover takes place at managerial level and board level when it is such a senior position.

    This is, yet again, a complete smokescreen from them to perhaps hide something much more serious that has not yet been confirmed publicly.

  • Lemon says:

    I would have thought that a journalist somewhere would be asking Mr Bisgrove for his take on what is going on

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      They would be asking in England, Wales or Ireland – Anywhere else in Europe, The World, The Universe Lemon…

      But hey-ho, This is NOT so Bonnie Scotland where football ‘journalists’ simply do not exist…

      They might be paid a weekly wage, but they still simply don’t follow their profession…

      Not for too much longer though – Thankfully !

  • JohnMc Guire. says:

    he is only bucking for the gig , the klan has never replayed james tratior ,sorry trainer so for keef this would be a job in a life time ,c,mon think about it .

  • Joe says:

    Great piece. Reminiscent of journalism, anyone remember that?

  • Sophie Johnstone says:

    How did Jackson earn from his peers the accolade Journalist of the year.from billionaire with wealth off the radar to this character assassination

    • watsamatabooboo says:

      To be fair Sophie, can an award given as recognition for being better than Bill Leckie and Chris Jack really be considered an accolade?! haha

      I remember seeing the pictures of Jackson posing with that award and it reminded me of something. but I couldn’t think what…then it suddenly struck me, it was the kid in my Under 8’s boys team posing with his ‘Most Improved Player’ trophy!

  • John M says:

    Surely the CEO would be on a notice period. Or Sevco would either ask for compensation or sue the CEO, especially if he has left them with this issue

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