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Keith Jackson Has Allowed Himself To Play The Role Of Ibrox’s Willing Fool Again.

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What a moron Keith Jackson is. Honestly. Does that man never learn? How many times does he have to be subjected to an Ibrox using before he stops allowing them to treat him like the toilet brush they shove into the drain to unblock their bullshit?

His article of earlier today is an absolute masterpiece of PR spin on behalf of people who recognise that he’s happy to play the role of Useful Idiot.

The thing with that is that he’s understood the useful part without recognising that it’s because he’s the second part that he qualifies for the first. If you were trying to bury a scandal this is what you would want most in the world; someone in the media who was stupid enough to swallow anything and fully prepared to broadcast your nonsense to a wide audience.

That club and him are a perfect fit.

Obviously, I am going to subject this guy to the full treatment here. There is no way that I’m not doing that. He deserves it. He has earned it. So without further preamble I am going to just jump right into it, so that I might get on with the rest of my day.

This is the headline.

“(Ibrox club) set to strike Hampden deal to solve stadium crisis as SFA chiefs to green-light emergency plan”

The SFA executive sees a chance to bleed these suckers for money. I am all for it. But I have to repeat what I’ve said before; the rest of the clubs are fully entitled to see the full details of whatever agreement is reached here, so we might know that best value was obtained. As we’ll see in the article, the SRU is still in the mix … but I suspect they are charging more.

Here’s the sub-heading. And I find this interesting …

“The Light Blues are going to be homeless for at least the first month of the season – and Mount Florida could be on the cards.”

For at least the first month of the season. The first tacit admission that this is a much bigger issue than has previously been admitted to.

When you consider that much of this article is clearly based on a briefing from the Ibrox inner sanctum, you would do well to conclude that they are now in the early stages of getting the word out that their fans should expect the worst. This looks in some ways like a typical softening up exercise. What Jackson writes in just a moment virtually removes all doubt.

“(The club from Ibrox) are on the brink of tying up a deal with a new temporary home for the start of the season – with Hampden Park now believed to be the frontrunner.”

A big statement. And one that is not exactly justified by the facts as laid out in this piece. Still, we’ll get to that in due course. Because there’s a bigger fish to fry first.

“The Ibrox club was plunged into a crisis last month when it emerged that blundering former CEO James Bisgrove had botched the planning of a summer renovation job on the Copland Road stand – before hastily jumping ship to a new job in Saudi Arabia. Bisgrove’s betrayal has left chairman John Bennett facing a race against the clock to find an alternative venue to house the club’s home games until such times as their own stadium can be reopened to the public.”

There you have it. It’s been hinted at by Jackson and others for the past two weeks; now we can say with utter surety that the strategy of the club going forward will be to “blame the last guy.” I don’t know how many of you have seen the brilliant Steven Soderberg film Traffic, a series of interlocking stories about the drug business, but in one key scene Michael Douglas, the US’s new drug tzar, meets his predecessor for a chat, and the guy tells him a story.

The upshot of it is that he had a similar meeting with his own predecessor who told him that the key to it all lies in two letters the guy left behind for him, to be opened in the event of a crisis. So the crisis comes, the guy opens the first letter and it says “blame everything on me.” He does that, and the public furore abates and life goes back to normal. But it’s not long before the second crisis sweeps in and so he opens the second letter.

And all it says is “sit down, and write two letters.”

So this is it for the Ibrox board. Faced with this momentous crisis they are resorting to that old standby of blaming someone no longer in the building for causing the problem. That’s their one-time Get Out Of Jail Free card. They cannot use that again.

In truth, they should never be allowed to get away with such a transparent nonsense in the first place. This is, by my counting, the third different excuse they’ve offered for this. Their initial statement blamed the crisis on shipping delays. Then they got another of their media pets, Chris Jack, to publicise the sacking of the project manager. Now they are blaming Bisgrove. I hope the project manager is taking notes for his industrial tribunal.

Note the use of the word “betrayal”; that’s a message alright. That’s Jackson telling the Ibrox fans to direct their scorn to the man now working on the other side of the world, and not in any way to direct any of their anger at those working inside the club right now. Honestly, are you even in the slightest doubt reading that paragraph that this problem is much, much more serious than they are letting on and that they are now desperately trying to deflect the blame onto someone else?

Jackson is going along with this as if this was in any way credible. If Bisgrove was to blame for this that would have leaked right at the start. They’d have made sure of it. Blaming him now is sheer desperation and only a mug would help them try to sell this.

And do not ignore those words “until such times”.

They either have some clear indications that this isn’t going to be ready by the end of August or they already know it for a fact. Not only do they want that to start drip-drip-dripping into the public consciousness but they want the narrative set up that when they have to admit it that the blame has already been heaped onto someone else’s shoulders.

“Bennett has held talks with rugby bosses over the possibility of renting Murrayfield and it’s understood those discussions remain ongoing with the 67,000 capacity ground still considered as a viable option. But Record Sport has learned that an alternative solution to relocate Philippe Clement’s side to the home of Scottish football on Glasgow’s south side has picked up serious pace over the course of the last two weeks. And, although the conversations are described as ‘extremely complicated’ sources at Hampden are reasonably confident that an agreement could be signed off as early as next week.”

Extremely complicated. As we’re about to see. Why do I have the feeling that the “discussions” with the SRU are proceeding along the lines of “How much will this cost? Jesus … can we go lower? No? Christ …” As I said in a previous piece, it might just be that the SFA itself is playing a role here and putting their interest out there to help Ibrox get a better price from the Murrayfield team … but I hope the rugby guys stick to their guns. Hampden’s “complications” might be difficult to get around.

“It’s understood SFA president Mike Mulraney and chief executive Ian Maxwell are keen to facilitate the emergency plan despite original concerns that a new relayed pitch might not be ready for the start of the domestic campaign. The playing surface is being relayed after pop star Pink hired the national stadium to put on back-to-back sell out concerts last week. And the situation has been further complicated by Queen’s Park who were scheduled to return to their spiritual home in September, following Scotland’s Nations League clash with Poland at the start of that month.”

There are obviously numerous obstacles here, and although this report is trying to hand-waive them they are big obstacles.

“But Mulraney and Maxwell have come up with a contingency plan which could yet clear the way for (the Ibrox club) to use the stadium for as long as required, with no date yet confirmed for Ibrox being declared fit for purpose. (The Ibrox club) could even expedite a return to their own ground by opening up three stands to accommodate their own fans before the current work is fully completed.”

The “contingency plan” will be interesting, if we ever get to hear it. And as I’ve written in previous articles, we are well entitled to hear it since Hampden is Scottish football’s stadium and we should be told whether or not the SFA has gotten best value for it. There will also be Hell to pay if they rush the pitch job and it winds us a mess. There is a lot that can go wrong here. I have a feeling this story will run and run and run.

Still, that paragraph is more interesting than a surface reading. The talk is of using the ground “for as long as required” but also of them possibly using Ibrox with a stand shut … in short, Jackson has basically undercut the point of his own article in a way. So, what exactly is this article about? It’s not about using Hampden, because when you read it there’s really no story to tell. There’s a lot still up in the air, there are now three options on the table … but more and more there are hints that the club is looking beyond August. It’s all there when you want to see it.

“But our source said: “There are still a number of live options on the table because it’s all extremely complicated at this stage. There’s a feeling the (Ibrox) board have been horribly misled. But the club wants to cause as little inconvenience as possible to (their) support during this period which is one major reason why Hampden is seen as the best alternative, rather than asking them to travel across the country for home matches.”

The final paragraph and the final insult to the readers.

“The board have been horribly misled.” As opposed to having simply made a raging mess of this on their own.

This article isn’t really about Hampden at all, it’s about the board getting out its message and Jackson has stepped up to be the willing carrier of it.

They were “misled” but they care about the fans and want to make this as painless as possible for them. They are in no way to blame for any of this, and if it turns out that they have to spend longer away from Ibrox, well look how hard they are working to minimise disruption?

Just don’t hold them responsible for any of this … and whatever else you do, don’t suggest that in fact all they’ve done is “mislead” their own supporters, and are now using their pet hacks to do the same. It is so obvious what this article really is.

Jackson, these people think you are a mug, and they think your readers are mugs. Your readers would be to believe a word of that, except for the suggestions that the club might be away from Ibrox for a lot longer than they are willing to admit.

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  • Joe says:

    I don’t really think he’s being used. He sees it as providing a service to the club. The Record are only too happy too. Keeps them open to advertising revenue. It’s hand in glove. He’s no journo and he knows that himself, he’s just a PR man and he’s done the same for Pedro in the past.

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