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Rangers fans need someone to "follow follow"

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Jim Spence | 23:49 UK time, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Rangers fans deserve better treatment than they are getting at the moment, and I'm not talking about on the field of play. There, at least, things are fine.

The Ibrox legions need a figurehead, a former well-respected player, to put his head above the parapet.

Gary Mackay did it at Hearts, when he voiced fans' concerns over the running of the Tynecastle outfit.

Now Rangers supporters need their very own hero to ask what on earth is going on at the Govan club on their behalf.

Rangers fans protest about the running of their clubThe Rangers plight should concern every supporter of every club, because it's Rangers today but it could be your club tomorrow.

Fans are regularly patronised with the old story that they are the lifeblood of the game, but in truth Rangers fans are having their loyalty bled dry.

The lack of information and mixed messages coming out of Edmiston Drive as Rangers wallow in debt, with no apparent buyer on the horizon could backfire when it comes to selling new season tickets.

Times are hard for Rangers, and they're also tough for a lot of their fans, who are not nearly as well heeled as those in the boardroom.

Unless the club's hierarchy give them some straight answers, fans may decide to vote with their feet.

In the current economic climate that is the last thing Rangers need, so it's about time they told the fans exactly what is going on.

David Murray appears to have taken a vow of silence. The bank's man on the board, Donald Muir, is incommunicado, and the current chairman Alastair Johnston based in the USA, is talking...but saying very little of substance.

Manager Walter Smith, who sounds close to the end of his tether, has adopted the instruction found on fireworks, "Light Blue touch paper then retire" in a couple of revealing interviews with Chick Young.

The manager at least has had the decency to shed some light on things for the supporters, who now know that the bank has a major role in running the club.

But the men above the manager could have been trained by MI5, such has been the secrecy surrounding what is actually happening at the top of the famous marble staircase.

This shows a complete lack of respect for the thousands of loyal fans who turn up week in, week out.

What those fans need now is a popular figure to rally round to show their mounting concern for their club.

There have been some great leaders on the field for Rangers in the past. Now the fans could do with one of them to lead them off the field, someone they can "follow follow".


  • Comment number 1.

    But which former player can they look to Jim?

    It is very unlikely to be any player that wore their shirt during and after the "Souness Revolution"; because it is the mis-management of that era that made them very rich men.

    The heroes of the post-Smith era were not Scottish, let alone brought up wearing the shirt.

    The pre-Souness era saw few standout players that could actually meet the requirements of such a figurehead; and the best players of the 60s-70s are either employed by the club (Greig, Jardine) or can't be taken seriously (Johnstone)

    Really the fans needed McCoist for this role, but he too is a club employee at present.
    Apart from him, possibly John Brown would fit the bill, but as a former coaching employee who probably has ambitions to return in future, he too is compromised.

    Nope, as far as I can see the fans have one hope of sucha figure and that is Walter Smith himself, who so far, has done a reasonable job of being honest with the Rangers fanbase without giving the club's heirarchy the bullet with which too shoot him down.
    Should Smith walk away in the Summer, then I think he will speak out, most likely in a single one-off interview in which he spells out exactly what Rangers face as a club in need of restructure and the real pressure on them from Lloyd's to settle the debt outright in a very short timescale.

    And after that I expect "Murray Park" will be furnished with a new title and Sir David may need avoid the south side of Glasgow for his own safety.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    I disagree Jim! I dont believe that 'tomorrow it could be your club'

    One thing that continues to amaze me about the siuation at Rangers is the complete lack of criticism from the media (certain colleagues of your especially Jim!) regarding Sir David Murray's running of the club.

    Sure, there was a lot of success at Ibrox during his reign, but it has to be remembered that Rangers were the only club in Scotland with any sort of spending power for much of his tenure. He then proceeded to run the club down a path that could surely have had only one outcome.

    A large amount of Rangers fans recognise what Sir David did when he took over the club, but they also recognise that he has left them at the brink of an uncertain future.

    A lot of clubs in Scotland are well run, and live within their means! Rangers are now being effectively run by a bank due to one man's business plan, or lack thereof!

  • Comment number 4.

    Jim- not at all convinced that the solution the current Ibrox financial crisis is the lack of a 'player' figurehead to mediate with the fans. What exactly would such a person do? Don't their fans have a Supporters Trust and other fan bodies that may be better placed to do this?

    Agree with some of Kingmonkeys comments as well. For years SDM was lauded, applauded and fawned at by much of the Scottish footie media. And even when things started to go wrong there was a lack of any criticism of his role and tenure from some journalists and fans. Will SDM now voluntarily liquidate the cost of his shares to help 'his' club? There's no hint of that and yet Lloyd's get the flak for the Gers owing them £30m. Not sure why some Gers fans expect a bank to accept lower offers for their club and somehow wipe off their debt.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think what Rangers Fans and all Scottish fans must now accept is our standing both in football terms and monetary terms in world football.

    I hope as a Celtic fan Rangers get this problem solved a strong old firm is beneficial for my club and our game in general.

    The old firm clubs are our standing globally in many worldwide football fans eyes

  • Comment number 6.

    Jim you mentioned Gary McKay - the same guy who championed Romanov to take over.

    I am sorry Jim but an ex player shouting their mouth off about off the field business issues that they don't understand a la McKay is really the least of Rangers worries at the moment!

  • Comment number 7.

    kingmonkey, I agree that a lot of clubs have been and are well run, but there are others with heavy debts, without the size of support that Rangers have, which makes them relative to Rangers perhaps an even bigger risk. My main point in saying that it could be your club next was a more general one though, and it maybe helps answer Rob04 who asked whether the supporters trust might not better suited than a former player to mediate with the fans.

    Fans generally are poorly treated by their clubs,with some notable exceptions, and I think it's fair to say that the Ranger Trust falls into that category. They have in my dealings with them seemed intelligent, articulate and sensible, yet have been denied any real influence by the powerbrokers at Ibrox who still appear to hold firm to an outdated concept of power in Scottish society.

    So a figurehead former player might be just the job for fans to use as a rallying point. That is something I think the Rangers Trust might be in favour of themselves.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Rangers fan I think it is time to ship out the big earners unless we can find a buyer. The likes of Bougherra will just have to be sold. Maybe sell Mcgregor too, I think that initially those players would be missed but someone will step up to fill the gaps and financially theyll be better off. It does look promising that there are some good youth players coming through. Maybe Walter has realised that is where the future lies for Rangers until they get it sorted.

    As for the owners, Someone has got to stand up and tell the fans what on earth is going on. Its not fair that you go and buy your rangers top for £40 quid, you pay your tickets prices or season ticket, you go every week to support your team and they are saying nothing when the going get tough. The Fans appreciate honesty and want to know whats gonna happen.

    All that aside it looks like Rangers will win the league again if they can hold off Celtic which means Champs League money which we can take comfort from.

  • Comment number 9.

    Jim, I just don't really care about this blog or any trouble Rangers may be in. Rangers and the rest of the SPL are what is keeping Scottish Football from changing. Maybe a better blog would be to start putting pressure on the various bodies for change, Jocky Scott was correct this week when he said that the SPL needs to be bigger. Rangers only care about Rangers. They don't give a crap about anyone else so maybe everyone else couldn't give a crap about them.

  • Comment number 10.

    Bruce - you're right and Rangers may only care about Rangers but you still need internationally recognised clubs in Scottish football, even if they are Rangers and Celtic. The OF keep the profile of our game significantly higher than it would be otherwise. Can't imagine there are many - no disrespect intended - Hearts, Hibs or Aberdeen supporters clubs in places like the USA, Canada and Australia. Or that there is much of a UK or North American TV audience for Motherwell vs Falkirk. And if one of the OF went up the swannee what would be the scenario in Scottish Football then: an endless succession of trebles, or doubles or championships for the other one. Its bad enough as it is just now!

    The SPL probably does need to be bigger but not if it means more meaningless games. And can you see the chairmen of the other SPL clubs voting for one or two less games against the OF in such financially tough times? 'Tail wags dog' as they say.

  • Comment number 11.

    Bruce, that kind of parochial approach is dangerous. You don't need to care about Rangers to see that their plight could be that of others.

    I broke the story years back that Dundee were going into administration. Do you recall what caused that? And do you recall one of the saving graces for the club in the months afterwards? Dee4Life's fantastic work to rally the troops and save the day.

    That's the point I'm making about Rangers. Many of their fans are prepared to take up the fight to help, but they could do with a figurehead to help them.

    And I agree with Jocky, a bigger league is desperately required. The SPL is a busted flush in its current format. But if club owners won't change it then the fans willhave to find avoice.

  • Comment number 12.

    Bruce, whether you like it or not a Scottish league without the Old Firm would be on par with Leauge of Ireland status.
    So although you dont care about Rangers they do play a vital role in yhe profile of Scottish football worldwide.
    Sky only buy scottish football because of the old firm.
    ESPN are the same.

    A weak old firm affects our European standing our national team and financial investment in our game.

    Whether a larger league is the answer is unknown until tried but some of the lower league teams would have to get their grounds in order.

  • Comment number 13.

    Jim a larger format may seem appealling in that new venues and fixtures are always popular with supporters.

    But my point is some of these clubs have to improve their facilities, if only on saftey grounds.

    As for the plight of Rangers something has to be done. As a Celtic fan we almost went to the wall and it was frightning, it would have weakened drasticlly the Scottish game.

  • Comment number 14.

    As a rangers fan I loved the start of the Murray years. We had a great team that played great football. I guess Murray was a businessman and he got where he was taking gambles, most of which paid off. He tried to establish rangers as a top European side, and I am sure that involved trying to win the CL. If he had achieved that and continued to be successful in Europe year after year then things might stand differently. However, that wasn't to be. I also guess that as a one time wonder businessman most supporters just trusted what he was doing.

    Now things are belly up the blame game is rampant. Murray, the board, the media. If truth be told most people enjoyed the the great years when players like Ladrup, Gascoine, and Deboer pulled on the jersey.

    Personally i don't things are as bad as they are being painted. The club announced an increase in profits this week and the team could end up with a treble in Scotland this year meaning CL group matches next season. Sell McGregor, (Arsenal could have done with him on Wednesday) and maybe Boyd and Boogie and the finances aren't that bad.AS far as not telling the fans whats happening. Could it be that nothing is happening so that there is nothing to tell?

    As far as rangers only caring about themselves. Since when did any team in Scotland care about anyone but themselves. Thats part of the Scottish leagues problem. Every decision is taken for the individual clubs benefit and forget whats best for the game. Why else no winter shut down, or starting the season earlier, or not turning on your underground heating system.


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