Rangers Football Club is having a terrible time of it. It used to have a really easy time in the mainstream Scottish media but of late has been more and more under fire between a tax case and scrutiny of the new owner, Craig Whyte. And there’s crisis social media and PR lessons here for any businesses.
Whyte has issued a statement that hasn’t done anyone any favours and we’ll explain why in a moment. But let’s look at the statement (as seen on ScotZine):
“In the most lurid terms, the Record accuses the Club’s management and, specifically me, of using supporters’ money to help fund the buy-out of Rangers. Not true. The Club is accused of not paying £5million in VAT. Not true.
“I can categorically assure supporters that when I launched a takeover bid for the Club it was funded entirely from one of my companies and that was demonstrated clearly to the satisfaction of the previous owner, Lloyds Banking Group and professional advisers.
If the club has paid the £5million bill then show a piece of proof – a JPG of some kind with any sensitive details blacked out.
He should also have stated which company of his funded the purchase.
A statement from Lloyds would have been good too.
It goes on…
“What is true is that Rangers, like many other clubs, has a financing arrangement in place with a company called Ticketus which enables the Club to receive revenue from a portion of season ticket sales in advance.
He should have named the other clubs that do this. Would have given the scheme more credibility. After all, if Man Utd, Liverpool and others do it, it must be OK mustn’t it? Ticketus should also have been backing Rangers up with a statement of support.
“This is a perfectly straightforward way of raising working capital for the Club. Money from season ticket sales goes directly to the Club and is used for the Club’s operations and that remains the case. In effect, all this financing arrangement does is release the revenue to the Club earlier.”
He should explain exactly what the deal is. There’s no need to but he’s currently on the defensive. Giving all the detail gets him back on a better footing, it shows there is nothing to hide (and I’m not saying there is)but the more open he can be, the better.
Some – including those close to Whyte – may be wondering why he has to give so much information. Why can’t they just put out a normal statement and leave it at that. Quite a few reasons:
He’s being accused of various things. By being transparent and offering factual information he’s showing that he’s completely above board and being open. Being open builds trust.
Providing everything you can will also build allies and experts can look at the material provided and go “he’s completely above board, this is all legit, the Daily Record is full of nonsense.” There are Rangers fans who are lawyers, accountants, heads of big businesses who would analyse this stuff and endorse it, giving Whyte even more credibility. What businesses must never forget is that in a 2.0 age, there are people out there cleverer than you and they can make you or break you in their analysis of what you put out.
Putting out more information also heads off the second set of questions – naming the businesses and sums involved.
It would also give him a platform from which to go on the offensive. Every time someone tweeted or blogged a negative comment, his team could fire back with “See what we said in this link. We answered your point.”
He should also have put this out as a video statement and audio. And then followed up every few hours with more video and audio updated.
That’s only the start. Giving all the information in one place – in this case the news site of Rangers FC – is just the start. There should be people out there hitting every tweet, every blog post, every Facebook update going “here are the facts” and setting the record straight.