THINGS are rarely black and white in the world of Scottish football and when it comes to Murdoch MacLennan it isn’t a case of blue and green.
When Ibrox chairman Dave King called for Gary Hughes, the then non-executive director of the Scottish FA, to be suspended, supporters of other sides could have been forgiven for shrugging their shoulders.
The comments that Hughes made in a magazine interview in 2006 – in which he labelled Rangers fans ‘the great unwashed’ – angered the Light Blue legions and King.
Weeks later, Hughes did not seek re-election to the Hampden board as he left his position after three years.
That didn’t completely placate Rangers, however, and in a statement they called for a review of the SFA’s procedures and a probe into whether Hughes was party to any discussions regarding the Notice of Complaint in relation to their 2011/12 UEFA licence.
That battle is very much between Ibrox and Hampden but the latest fight that King has taken up has consequences across the country and leagues.
It is one that he has fought alone in public so far, however. Where Rangers have led, no others have followed as shots have been launched back and forth with no sign of being intercepted by friendly fire, or otherwise, from elsewhere.
King has now shifted his crosshairs along the Sixth Floor at the National Stadium and MacLennan, the chairman of the SPFL, is firmly in his sights over his appointment to the board of Independent News and Media, a Dublin-based firm where Dermot Desmond and Denis O’Brien are influential shareholders.
The SPFL have refused Rangers’ request for an independent investigation into MacLennan’s links with INM and the Ibrox board have now called for him to be removed from office at Hampden.
In response, a spokesperson for the SPFL said: “We note the contents of Rangers’ latest press release. The board has already made its strong and overwhelming support for the chairman very clear and we consider the matter closed.”
That won’t be how Rangers see it, though, especially when Stewart Robertson, the Ibrox Managing Director, and MacLennan, weren’t involved in the board discussion.
The potential for a conflict of interest here is clear, well to most observers at least. It comes down to who told what to who. Or not, in this case.
If MacLennan informed Neil Doncaster, the SPFL chief executive, of his role with INM and highlighted the links with Desmond and O’Brien then his conscience is clear.
If Doncaster was told, as he should have been, then those details had to be passed onto to the SPFL Board, of which Robertson is a member.
If both of those processes had been followed completely to the letter, it is unfathomable to see how we could have reached this point and how Rangers could have become so irked.
Whether there is a conflict of interest or not, and there is no suggestion whatsoever that MacLennan has acted improperly in his dealings, that is only one issue.
The details of a Private Eye article on MacLennan have yet to be addressed by the man who was appointed in July but has rarely been seen in public.
Perceptions cannot be altered but the SPFL had a chance to properly address Rangers’ concerns and didn’t take it. For some, their actions speak louder than their words.
That could also be said about other clubs that have watched on as the statement war has unfolded and have chosen to stay in their bunkers rather than put their heads above the parapet in public.
When the position of the SPFL chairman has been called into question, that issue becomes bigger than Rangers v Celtic or King v Doncaster. If clubs don’t show their colours, only grey areas will remain.