Rangers chairman Dave King – who has been criticised by fans on social media for his non-attendance at the consecutive defeats by Celtic - was, in fact, in Glasgow between the two Old Firm derbies, the Telegraph can reveal.
King, who is Rangers’ biggest single shareholder, is based in South Africa and rarely attends matches, but some supporters feel that the man in charge should be present at the most important fixture in the club’s calendar and the Ibrox directors box was barracked at the end of Saturday’s thrashing by Celtic, whose five goals set a club record for scoring on their arch-foes’ ground.
Six days previously, Celtic’s unbeaten domestic record was extended with a 2-0 victory over Rangers in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park, which was attended by Dermot Desmond, the biggest single shareholder at Parkhead. The announcement on Wednesday that King would attend the North American Rangers Supporters’ Association convention at the Planet Hollywood Hotel in Las Vegas next month, triggered further adverse comment on social media.
He was in the USA earlier in the month to watch the Masters tournament in Augusta and took an extended break but was obliged to return for a board meeting in South Africa at the end of last week.
As it happens, King should have been a participant at another high-profile drama which is engrossing Rangers fans. He was cited as a witness in the trial at the High Court in Glasgow of Craig Whyte, who is alleged to have gained ownership of the club by fraudulent means in May 2011.
His participation was kept quiet in order to avoid what would likely have been intense media and public interest. However, having flown to Scotland the day after Rangers’ defeat by Celtic in the Scottish Cup, King was then informed that his presence in court was no longer required.
He flew back to South Africa on Wednesday but it is understood that he met Stewart Regan, the SFA chief executive, for an informal discussion on general topics, before heading back.
Meanwhile, Stuart Armstrong, the Celtic midfielder - who is one of four nominees for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award – disclosed that scoring the final goal in Celtic’s 5-1 victory over Rangers in the first Old Firm league derby at Parkhead last September was the kickstart for the revival of his fortunes under Brendan Rodgers.
“It was my first goal of the season and to get it in a big game like that was a bonus, but once I got my opportunity to play centrally in training and in games that is what I was working towards,” Armstrong said. “It was a fresh start when the new manager came in and a fresh chance to impress.
“Last season we had the whole playing out on the left wing thing and I was being judged on being a left winger. That was slightly frustrating for me because I knew it was not my best position. I am a lot better in the middle and then I got my chance and I’m glad I took it.”
Armstrong expressed surprise that his club captain, Scott Brown, was not on the PFA Scotland shortlist.
“Since I’ve been at Celtic he has been terrific but this season he has been exceptional, an ever-present force for us in the middle of the park,” he said.
“Sometimes his is the work that gets overlooked but he is so vital to our squad that his importance to us cannot be understated. When I joined Celtic, I noticed straight away that he trains the way he plays. It was something that I aspired to as well.”