A skiing holiday with his family was no sanctuary for Paul Murray.
News of Rangers being formally placed into administration was always liable to reach him while he was abroad, but the turn of events had long since lost any shock value. Murray had been monitoring the club's financial circumstances, out of concern as a supporter but more closely out of anticipation, for several months. The Blue Knights consortium he pulled together had been collaborating long before February 14, 2012, but that was the day when they could finally begin to put their plans into action.
As a former Ibrox director, Murray had a minor profile in Glasgow and beyond, but that would soon come to feel like a quaint amount of recognition. As the central influence in the Knights, he became a public figure. That was not altogether helpful, even if Murray hoped to use the publicity to keep the Rangers fans informed about the situation at their club.
The intention of the owner, Craig Whyte, was to quickly bring Rangers back out of administration, having shed all of the debts that had built up, including the taxes he failed to pay during his nine months in charge. That plan was scuppered, either by the complexity of Rangers' financial liabilities, or by the true carnage of Whyte's reign being revealed. The immediate consequence was that a takeover battle ensued, since several parties emerged with an interest in buying the club. The Blue Knights were, in many ways, at the front of the queue. Yet Whyte grew hostile towards Murray, whose relationship with the administrators, Duff & Phelps, also suffered.
"I got thrust into the limelight that week," Murray said. "The four months following that were pretty frantic, because we were trying to conduct a business transaction in the full glare of the public. I took the decision and was criticised, particularly by Duff & Phelps – to be in the press, but I felt the Rangers supporters, the stakeholders, after the secrecy behind the Whyte regime, wanted to know what was going on."
Working with several Rangers-supporting businessmen, including Paul Mackenzie, Douglas Park and Scott Murdoch, Murray put together a bid for Rangers which was based upon trying to reach an agreement with the creditors for a Company Voluntary Arrangement. Throughout the three-month process, the Knights remained adamant that a CVA was possible. Other bidders, in particular the American trucking tycoon, Bill Miller, were prepared to consider buying the business and assets from Rangers Football Club plc and setting up a new company to run the club.
In the months since the Blue Knights lost out, Murray has revised every detail. There is little point regretting the publicity, since the interest in the story was relentless, with Brian Kennedy, Miller and Bill Ng unable to stay out of the limelight. Only Charles Green's consortium kept their interest out of the public eye, until the deal was done with Duff & Phelps at the end of May. By then, the Knights had teamed up with Kennedy, and they held a press conference that was as much cathartic as procedural, since they were admitting defeat. Murray remains irked, though, by Duff & Phelps' actions.
"I was amazed they were allowed to accept the assignment since there was clearly a conflict of interest given the relationship that David Grier [a partner at Duff & Phelps] had with Craig Whyte [prior to his purchase of the club from Sir David Murray]," he said. "Every insolvency practitioner I have spoken to has said they would not have been allowed to accept the assignment. In terms of my relationship with them, from the first minute they clearly seemed to have a problem with me. My opinion is that the relationship was influenced by Craig Whyte."
Murray continues to question the decisions by Duff & Phelps to grant the players short-term wage cuts in return for release clauses vastly beneath their transfer market value, and their failure to negotiate with Whyte to release his shares to any of the interested parties. Murray considered approaching Whyte, who needed to agree to pass his shareholding over to new owners if they were to achieve a CVA. But he believed even that gesture would be futile.
Latterly, Kennedy did speak to Whyte on behalf of the Knights, and reached an agreement, only to later fly into Glasgow expecting to sign the deal with Duff & Phelps and discovering instead that the club had been sold to Green's consortium. Murray believes that had Ticketus not pulled out of an agreement to work with the Knights early on, the outcome might have been different. But he is also satisfied that the club's future has been stabilised, following a successful launch on the Alternative Investment Market last December.
"In some ways, Charles Green has done what we would have done," he said. "We would have launched a share issue and tried to get the fans involved. It's been a great achievement to raise £22m, frankly, in this environment. If I was Charles Green, I'd now be trying to provide leadership for Scottish football, a blueprint for the way forward."
Murray was nervous before he attended his first match of this season, not entirely certain of how he would be received by fans. The reaction has been positive, though, and his life has returned to a form of normality. Even so, there remains the question of whether or not he would like to be involved in the club again.
"That's for others to judge," he answered. "My record as part of the board is there for all to see. Debt reduction coincided with quite a bit of success on the pitch. I have something to add to Rangers and I'd like to think people would recognise that. If I was asked to do something, I would be delighted."