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Martin Bain - A Rangers Perspective

On the appointment of Martin Bain many Sunderland fans have been wondering about his past gigs in Football. The most intriguing, of course, is his time at Rangers so we asked Gersnet writer Bluedell to give us a perspective.

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Sunderland fans may be interested in what Rangers’ fans think of Martin Bain. Generally he is severely disliked by most Gers’ fans but I will try and put a more objective view of him.

Firstly some background.

Martin Bain joined Rangers in 1996 as Commercial Manager. This was at a time when everything was positive and we were approaching the target of nine-in-a-row. Rangers were owned and controlled by David Murray and he had the complete say on everything that happened.

Bain must have been doing something correct as was promoted to Commercial Director in 2001, and then Director of Football Business before being appointed as CEO in 2005.

Firstly the downsides:

He did not have a good relationship with the support.

  • He was never supportive when the fans were criticised and always appeared to take the other side.
  • There was an attitude of turning the other cheek when the club was unfairly criticised
  • He said he would not employ Rangers fans and there was a period where this policy appeared to be in in place, although after a while it seemed to disappear, probably due to the absurdity of it sinking in.
  • He did not appear to be in favour of supporter representation. The Rangers Supporters Trust had meetings with him and the Chairman on several occasions but he would always seem to come up with some way for any movement to be scuppered.
  • There were other examples such as not allowing a "Dublin Loyal – Behind Enemy Lines" banner in the stadium.
  • He was seen as a yes man for the owner, David Murray. Was this true? For most of his time with the club this would be the case, and that’s why he survived so long, but then again, he was employed to do what he was told and if he hadn’t followed Murray’s instructions then he would have been out the door like so many previous Rangers CEO's. Any autonomy he did have would appear to be within the strict guidelines set for him.
  • The fans often criticised his negotiating skills, claiming we overpaid transfer fees, and didn’t recoup enough. It’s difficult to assess this with any degree of objectivity though.

Now the positives:

  • He was given credit for negotiating a great retail deal with JJB Sports (although he got a massive bonus for it).
  • Latterly, Murray moved away from the club when it started to have severe financial problems and the bank got more involved. It seems that the board was split in two with half, including Bain, wanting what was best for the club and the other half acting on behalf of the bank.
  • During this time, the finances were being brought under control with the debt being reduced from £31m to £18m and it has to be assumed that Bain had some involvement in this. His performance as CEO during this period also seemed to improve and he became more vocal so it could be that he was previously being held back by Murray to an extent, although I don’t think that excuses all the criticisms of him.
  • He always appeared to have good relationships with the managers, so that augurs well for him and Big Sam.
  • Murray sold Rangers to Craig Whyte in 2011, and it was Whyte’s actions that led to Rangers being moved to the 4th level of Scottish football. I can’t say too much about Whyte given ongoing legal cases against him, but I would say that Bain was part of a committee set up to look at Whyte and he recommended that the club should not be sold to him, putting his own position at risk, and soon after led to him being removed. Credit has to go to him for that.

In summary, I’d say Sunderland are getting a mixed bag, but if he is given a degree of autonomy he may well end up doing a good job, and while I personally never liked Bain I wish him and Sunderland all the best for next season.


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