Is There a Media Bias Against Rangers in Scotland?

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If administration confirmed one
inalienable truth above all others, it was the clear agenda football
authorities in Scotland
have against Rangers. Once the club ended up in the hands of Duff & Phelps,
it gave the likes of the SPL and SFA carte blanche to carry out a witchhunt on
the Ibrox men, handing out punishment after punishment. The SFA even went so
far as to ignore a court ruling in order to inflict ‘justice’ on Rangers, while
Doncaster’s men monitored the situation malevolently threatening to strip the
Govan club of a significant number of league titles.
To ensure fairness within this
blog, while the above has nevertheless taken place, recently the SFA did not
take action over Rangers’ intended boycott at Tannadice – quite what action
they could have taken is something of a mystery, given the boycott breaks no
rules, but nevertheless for an organisation priding itself on unfairness and
vindictive punishment, their lack of action here came as a breath of fresh air.
However, one small moment of
leeway does not quite compensate for around 10 months of ridiculous sanctions
and threats, so it seems pretty clear to most neutral observers that the club
has been the subject of an unfair level of treatment from the authorities in
the game.
Going further back in time, though,
and Rangers supporters have always felt a bias against their club from
elsewhere; specifically the media. For the purposes of this entry, only the
broadcast media will be focused on. The printed press is a law unto itself and
would require more resources than I have at my disposal. But the broadcast
media has been especially pertinent in its relationship with Rangers this past
14 months or so, beginning of course with the BBC’s exposé of Craig Whyte. In
the interests of fairness, Pacific Quay and Mark Daly called this one correct.
He was indeed a crook, a charlatan, and a liar. His intentions were not
benevolent, and Whyte near-killed the club.
Daly then produced a follow-up
targeting Whyte again, this time making accusations relating to a supposed
incident in court involving Whyte. Daly was possibly correct again, but sadly based his ‘factual’ documentary
on pure conjecture, with the main fulcrum of his programme being that Whyte
‘may have lied in court’. May. Not did. But ‘may’. A rather tabloid approach
which was nothing more than a character assassination of the man. Possibly accurate,
yes. Broadcast journalism? Absolutely not.
But Daly then took his
increasingly scurrilous approach further and produced the famous ‘The Men Who
Sold the Jerseys’. This was a piece based on,
quite simply, lies. Daly’s head had become too big after the success of his
previous work and now he wanted to ‘prove’ (without doing so) that Rangers’ use
of EBT schemes had been illegal. With the club having won the big tax case, the
proof was there now that nothing untoward had taken place. Daly won a Scottish
BAFTA for this nonsense and is yet to return it.
So, as I hinted at, is there a
media bias against Rangers in the Scottish sector? An industry insider told me
the following:
            “By the BBC I do,
especially their online stuff. That’s probably due to the high number of Aberdeen and Celtic fans
working there. STV? No. Sky? No.”
The BBC, and especially Pacific
Quay, quite feasibly due to the orientation of the allegiances of their
employees, quite clearly have an anti-Rangers bias. Their repeated lies and
constant references to a ‘new club’ when referring to Rangers is a blatant
indictment of their true colours. It does not matter how outsiders try to dress
the situation up to suit their own motives, while there is indisputably a new
company running the club, the club itself remains the same one. Other
clubs have had new companies take over the running of them, but they remain the
same club. Same stadium, mostly the same employees – same fans. And yet, the
BBC quite simply ignore these facts.
What about other broadcasters? As
my source suggested, there is no anti-Rangers agenda at either Sky or STV.
Issues supporters have with Sky
mainly focus on the appalling Charlie Nicholas and the ever-‘popular’ Andy
Walker. Charles Paterson and David Tanner are not wholly favoured either.
However, the number of Rangers-oriented employees at Sky is numerous and often
forgotten. Ray Wilkins, Trevor Francis, Neil McCann, Graeme Souness, and (until
recently) Andy Gray. Davie Provan, while a former Celt, is an incredibly fair
pundit and has garnered praise from all angles for his very objective and
accurate commentary. And when one focuses on the pro-Rangers employees there,
if anything there is a fair balance between Celtic and Rangers-oriented pundits
and commentators.
What about STV? Well, Raman
Bharwaj’s allegiances have been a talking point for years. Regarded by many as
a Rangers fan, his conduct on Twitter where he made an appalling generalisation
about his ‘fellow’ supporters in relation to John Terry certainly sullied his
reputation. His colleagues’ allegiances are even less clear; Keith Downie,
Caroline Henderson and others do not appear to have any major leanings one way
or the other and the sport as presented on this channel lacks any major obvious
bias one way or the other.
My source also referred to the
Press Association and Radio Clyde:
            “I think PA have a few issues too and
that’s possibly due to the leanings of their head man. It doesn’t pay for
papers to be biased as it cuts their circulation in two. Radio Clyde’s Jim Delahunt is questionable.”
Making a very valid point about
printed press, why would the printed media have a bias when, in Scotland,
that would alienate half their circulation? However, they do raise the subject
of Radio Clyde, a station with a quite awful reputation. I have never had the
displeasure of listening to the drivel on this channel, but my understanding is
indeed that the likes of Delahunt and Keevins are anything but fair and
impartial. SuperScoreBoard’s phone-in is legendary for being full of Celtic
supporters, the joke being they do little but discuss Rangers. Evening Times
and Herald journalist Darrell King is known to be partial to the blue, red and
white of the city, and he also appears on this station, so there is a hint of
evening up the balance there.
Lastly there is ESPN – presented
by Ray Stubbs who has no bias one way or the other, with Hateley and Burley as
pundits, ESPN, while not always the flavour of the month, generally appears reasonably neutral. The likes of Derek
Rae (Scotland) and Jon
Champion (England)
do a very decent job of reporting what happens on the pitch without too many
personal values getting in the way. Far from perfect, particularly with
Burley’s rather arrogant commentary, ESPN have done a fairly good job of
broadcasting in the UK
without any major obvious leanings in any particular direction.
So, let us get back to the nub of
the situation; is there a bias in Scotland regarding the media?
Regarding the BBC, quite simply,
yes. There is no debate here. Sky? Unlikely – a reasonable array of pundits and
presenters (let us not forget Jim White is widely regarded as a Rangers
supporter too)  from different clubs evens
the balance. STV? Probably not. Clyde? Quite
possibly. ESPN. Unlikely.
Obviously this is far from
scientific but it does use evidence alongside the conjecture to arrive at the
conclusion that while one organisation hoists its colours high up to the mast,
and another may have distinct leanings against Rangers, at least 3 or more
clearly have little bias against the club.
Rangers’ problems lie with the
football authorities in Scotland,
far less the broadcast media. Sadly, the BBC are a hugely prominent organisation.
Thankfully they do not make the
rules.