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Murray should be hailed as visionary

Chick Young | 13:22 UK time, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Ask yourself honestly - if your ship came in would you push the boat out and buy a football club?

It's lunacy. Madness. Financial self-flagellation. Why not just put your £100 notes in a shredder and save a bit of time?

Of course, given the lottery win, I would probably be certified insane in that department just like the rest of the fruitcakes through history who have bled themselves dry over the love affair of the local footballing institution.

We should all be locked up in another kind of institution actually.

It's twenty years since David Murray bought himself a piece of the action. Two decades since his pal Graeme Souness tipped him off that Rangers were up for grabs and that just £6 million would clinch the deal.

It was a shrewd piece of business to persuade Lawrence Marlborough to walk away. You certainly don't get much for £6 million these days.

Of course the running costs can be a little excessive. Murray freely admits to pumping in a further £100m just to keep the club ticking over.

Rangers chairman David Murray

Murray - now Sir David of course - has picked up more than a knighthood along the way. He is an international businessman and Rangers are just a piece of his global jigsaw.

Or "ten per cent of my business, 90 per cent of my grief" as he likes to put it.

I like the man - a heinous crime in the eyes of some observers who see me and various colleagues as his lap dogs. Apparently the canine parallel for interviewers should be Rottweilers.

Over the years he has been accused of much nonsense, including asset stripping - a difficult, never mind illegal, concept given that he actually owns 90 per cent of the club.

At various times he has been lambasted for not spending enough on players or spending too much, highlighted of course by his bête noir when the sorcerer Dick Advocaat wooed him into believing Tore Andre Flo was worth £12 million.

To paraphrase Bill Shankly, ten million wouldn't buy him and I'm one of them.

But then again Murray massaged a deal for Alain Boumsong, a transfer which was to cough profit the likes of which usually only comes with six numbers and a bonus ball.

I cannot, for the life of me, fathom the reluctance of a percentage of the Rangers support to embrace his stewardship of the club.

No chairman has served longer, no other has witnessed such a sustained period of success.

Only in the wake of the Ibrox disaster did the stadium undergo more surgery, but after a century and more he became the first chairman to actually do something about the alarming absence of a training facility worthy of the name.

From the day of my first by-line I preached and recorded the lunacy of both Rangers and Celtic's determination not to have a training ground and youth academy and continue to work their players in various car parks, public pitches and glorified allotments where dog mess was as big a threat to their well being as a straight legged tackle.

Men of vision? In the sixties and seventies there were directors at Ibrox and Parkhead who couldn't have seen their own reflection in the boardroom table.

And think on this: Murray Park cost twice his initial investment in the club.

He blew away a century of signing policy which should have been banished with the slave trade and dragged swathes of the club's support screaming and kicking into the real world.

We still have bigots supporting Rangers, but the club doesn't privately condone them anymore. And for all the Famine Song nonsense, progress has been made in those twenty years.

I came out of the front door at Ibrox when Mo Johnston signed and watched so-called supporters rip up season tickets and burn red, white and blue scarves.

In the days that followed there may even have been Old Firm games with more Catholics in the Rangers team than in Celtic's. Possibly, possibly not, but the point is that few would even bother to work it out.

It doesn't matter...and that is breathtaking progress.

Murray should enjoy his anniversary celebrations. Twenty years is a long time in the job and for sure he won't repeat the shift.

They will miss him when he's gone. Just see if they don't.


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