Jim Traynor questions Peter Lawwell's integrity. -

Integrity is name of our game
By Jim Traynor on Mar 5, 12 07:30 AM in

The main currency, in fact the only currency any of us in the newspaper game should have in our moral banks must be integrity.

Without it we, as journalists, are of no use to anyone. We have no value. None at all.

Without integrity we fail our readers, our papers and our employers. But just as importantly we fail ourselves.

Integrity, honesty and the desire to call it out no matter the consequences is what defines us. Thankfully it's also what sets us apart, especially from all those 'brave' keyboard thumpers out there in the world of social networking sites and football forums.

They aren't governed by the laws which must be observed by newspapers like this one and are allowed to bash out the most insane, insulting, illogical and confused messages.

I shouldn't complain, though, because it all demonstrates their lack of intellect and common decency.

Which might explain why they prefer to hide behind anonymity or childish pseudonyms.

But sadly there are some high-profile football people using this gift as conduits for their own propaganda and if you've looked at some of these sites you'll know just how easy it is to influence and stir unrest.

There is certainly a lack of integrity in cyberspace but it's honesty that persuades the editors at the Daily Record and Sunday Mail to employ their journalists in the first place. It's why they trust us to make best use of the platforms given to us.

And it's because of that integrity we stand by our story which revealed Celtic did not fulfil a ticket agreement with Rangers.

Last week (Tuesday, February 28) while working on Rangers' financial meltdown, information was received that Celtic had decided not to pay in advance for their ticket allocation for the Old Firm match at Ibrox on March 25. Rangers believed there was a verbal agreement in place for Celtic to do so.

I along with Keith Jackson ran the story on our back page and that morning Celtic reacted strongly, insisting no such assurance had been given.

Then they said there was an agreement but later added it was dependent on Rangers not being in administration. Which, of course, they are today.

But at no time in my conversation with Celtic on the day the story appeared was it stated the agreement was dependent on Rangers' remaining solvent. That caveat was never mentioned.

However, it was admitted there was some agreement and that confirmed what was written in our paper. Not that we required further proof.

The agreement which Rangers insist was in place and which Celtic continue to protest didn't exist was the result of the Parkhead club demanding payment up front from Rangers for their allocation of tickets for the Old Firm game at Celtic Park on December 28.

It should be stressed most of us agreed that it was wise for Celtic to have asked to see the money first because of the fragile state of Rangers' finances.

But our information says that both clubs agreed Celtic would also pay in advance for this month's match.

Indeed, on January 21 Rangers requested payment ahead of the tickets being issued in a message which stated it had been agreed. About 50 minutes later Celtic responded by thanking Rangers for their invoice and added it would be passed on to finance for payment to be made as soon as.

Perhaps it would also help jog memories if it is pointed out that five days earlier Ali Russell, who was Rangers' chief operations manager at the time, told his ticket office staff that Celtic had agreed they would pay in advance.

Celtic didn't pay and no matter how much they jump up and down in protest that is the way it is. Rangers paid up front, Celtic didn't.

Incidentally, it's easy to understand why Celtic would have been reluctant to pay in advance. Any business would be extremely worried about handing over money to Rangers at this time but the Ibrox club have no doubt they had a deal.

So, too, do Rangers' administrators Duff and Phelps who said through a spokesman: 'It is regrettable that an apparent initial agreement was unfulfilled.' Celtic might have been concerned also that they were being blamed for costing jobs at Ibrox and Murray Park but no one here suggested that. Let's be absolutely clear on this, Rangers and Rangers alone are to blame for their decline into administration and any job losses.

None of this is the fault of Celtic or anyone at that club.

But our evidence and the content of conversations with Rangers and Celtic made it clear an agreement was in place.

Celtic, though, want to underline that if it hadn't been made obvious the agreement was dependent on Rangers avoiding administration then it should have been.

Rangers say they are unaware of any condition attached to the arrangement but it changes nothing.

Let's just say, for the sake of argument you understand, that the deal was conditional on Rangers remaining out of the administrators' hands. Even if it was, the agreement must still have been broken because Rangers were not in administration when Celtic were asked to pay up.

The request for the cash was made 24 days before Rangers were tipped over. Of course we'd all been expecting Rangers to go under but the fact is they were still running under their own steam when they asked for the ticket money in advance.

Therefore, even allowing for the caveat that Celtic insist would have been part of the deal, they chose not to proceed with the arrangement.

That is all we ever said. And that is the truth of the matter.


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