• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Hugh Adam

Football director and businessman;

Born: September 1925; Died: December 29, 2012.

HUGH Adam, who has died at the age of 87, ran the highly-successful Rangers Pools and its successor, Rangers Lotteries, for more than 30 years, and was a former director of the football club.

Rugby union was his first love and throughout his life the oval ball game remained his main sporting interest whilst in football his loyalties lay with Hamilton Academical.

The Rangers Pools had been founded in 1964 – run by David Hope – and from its inception was an outstanding success, raising funds for the Rangers Development Fund, responsible for the redevelopment and upkeep of Ibrox Stadium. Mr Adam was appointed to run the pools in 1971. which over the next 30 years raised in the region of £18m – a substantial contribution to the redevelopment of Ibrox Stadium into the ultra-modern arena of today.

Whilst undoubtedly a shrewd operator, it was perhaps an indication of his lack of football knoweldge that at a time when Jock Wallace was leading Rangers to two trebles in three years he expressed a desire to see reserve team coach Joe Mason appointed as manager.

Mr Adam was co-opted on to the board of directors of Rangers Football Club in 1986 in recognition of his work with the Development Fund following the Lawrence Construction acquisition of the club the previous year.

The David Murray takeover in November 1988 would change the club forever, but the Edinburgh-based businessman, who had experience in sport with the Murray International Metals' basketball sponsorship, did not have control of the Rangers Pools or Development Fund, both of which were independent companies run by a separate board of directors of which Mr Adam was chairman.

It was an indication of the measure of Hugh Adam's shrewd business acumen that he was effectively untouchable in his post with a cast-iron contract that at any time allowed him a 12-month notice of termination, that was in any case extremely unlikely provided he retained the confidence of his own board.

Under Sir David Murray – who was knighted in 2007 – Mr Adam continued to serve on the football club board, but his relationship with Sir David was strained to say the least, the Ibrox chairman deeply resentful of his inability to acquire control of the Development Fund.

Changes in the law and the introduction of the National Lottery resulted in Rangers Pools no longer enjoying the turnover it once had, although Rangers Lotteries continues to this day.

The undercurrent of ill-feeling between the two men came to a head in June 1992 when Mr Adam refused Sir David's request to resign from the Rangers Board. A bitterly-contested Extraordinary General Meeting was called at which Sir David forced through Mr Adam's removal despite the opposition of many shareholders.

To general surprise Mr Adam returned to the Ibrox board 18 months later following a rapprochement with Sir David and would remain in charge of the Development Fund until retiring at the age of 70 in April 1996, although he remained on the football club board until September 2000.

He remained a critic of Sir David. The two men had never got on – and by 2002 the former Development Fund boss had sold his shares in the club and publicly denounced the Rangers owner, criticising his tenure of the club as reckless and a dictatorship, allegations he substantially repeated some seven years later. It had become clear that the relationship between the two men had become untenable. Many with some justification accused Mr Adam of having his own agenda. There was no doubt that the club's level of liabilities was at times at an uncomfortable level – but it was the collapse of the banking world, something wholly outwith Sir David Murray's control, and the merger firstly between the Bank of Scotland and the Halifax Building Society and later between HBOS and Lloyds Banking Group that created the real problems for Sir David and Rangers.

By the time of the slide into administration in February 2012 Sir David had sold the club – disastrously – to Craig Whyte. Mr Adam later gace a newspaper interview in which he accused Sir David of operating a dual contracts system in regard to employee benefit trust (EBT) payments to players and other employees.

Mr Adam offered no proof over his accusations – his opening comment to his interviewers of "my memory's not what it used to be" perhaps saying it all.

Mr Adam is survived by his wife Jean, to whom he was married for 60 years, and daughter Elizabeth.

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

133844