Considering The Mistakes Made At Ibrox: Past, Present And Future
A is for… “Arrogance”
Many of you will recognise this article as a follow up to the original “A-Z Of Why They’re Dead” (available here). At this stage, I feel there is only one word which can begin this new piece in a fitting manner, and that word is, “arrogance”. In the next few days, Rangers Football Club 1872 will draw it’s last breath. Damned to liquidation months ago, Duff & Phelps will handover control to BDO on Friday. Since the original “A-Z” was published back in early June, a new club masquerading as the same entity as the RFC of old has began it’s life in Division Three (SFL3).
Have a look at any RFC (now 2012) supporters website or Twitter feed, speak to supporters you work with, or listen to discussions on the radio or in the pub, and you will hear the same things repeated several times. “We’ve been punished enough”, “we never did anything wrong, the EBT’s (Employee Benefit Trusts) were in the accounts”, and “everyone’s out to get us”. These are the views of a majority of Ibrox supporters (this is, of course, without entering the realms of lunacy in which some fans believe that Celtic and a conspiracy of some sort are behind their demise).
Whilst you will hear many of these phrases and much of the previous terminology, you will rarely or never hear “we’re sorry” or “you know, we’re actually lucky they let us into Division Three”. And yet, both Rangers 2012 and their supporters should, in fact, consider themselves very, very fortunate that they were allowed to take the empty place in the Third Division.
In 2008, Gretna went bust, and, once again, there was a space in the higher echelons of Scottish Football up for grabs. At this stage, I should highlight (for anyone who does not know) that currently, no one can be promoted into, or relegated from Division Three in Scotland. This means that (unless a member club suffers financial collapse) the same forty two teams occupy the four top divisions in Scotland every year. However, in 2008, it is important to remember that clubs in the lower leagues were allowed to put themselves forward in an attempt to win the open place in Division Three. Four clubs did so (Annan Athletic, Cove Rangers, Edinburgh City, and Spartans), before the remaining twenty nine Scottish Football League teams voted on who they would like to join them in the SFL. Annan, for all their troubles, were the victors.
One of the requirements facing any new club applying for a SFA (Scottish Football Association) licence is the possession of three years worth of independently audited accounts. Annan had these, whilst, obviously, Rangers 2012 did not. So, without any process whereby other clubs could apply for the empty place on this occasion, the new Ibrox club were allowed to take the spot with the first temporary licence in the history of Scottish Football.
The Oxford English Dictionary describes someone who is “arrogant” as “having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities”.
With that in mind, many of their fans, as well as many pundits (e.g. Hugh Keevins) wholeheartedly believed that the club would go unbeaten in Division Three over the course of this season, as they hugely underestimated the other teams in the league. We all know how that ended last weekend at Stirling Albion.
And so, despite all of this, the vast majority of the Ibrox support still feel that they are the victims, whilst they should, in fact, be counting themselves lucky that they have a place in the elite forty two at all.
B is for… “Bigotry”
With the demise of Rangers Football Club 1872, came an opportunity for both the owners and the supporters of any new club. The reputation of the old club had been poisoned over many decades by examples of bigotry which should have been eradicated years and years ago. Had the owners of any new club, or indeed those at the head of supporters organisations, come out and publicly denounced the sins of the old club with regards to sectarianism, they would have taken a huge step forward with regards to their future whilst gaining some much needed respect from both the supporters of other clubs and Scottish society in general. However, this has not happened, and all of the old songs, slogans and slurs have returned once more. Whilst the smaller grounds in SFL3 may not hold as many supporters as SPL grounds, the away supporters who fill sections of them still spout the same bilious repertoire as they did before. Fundamentally, much of the world and Scottish Society has progressed and modernised over the years, whilst large sections of the Ibrox support have stayed stuck in a rut of narrow mindedness. As ever, this hardly makes “the brand” of a new club any more marketable to those around the world who are not already fans of the club. Another opportunity missed, it seems, but maybe that isn’t a surprise.
C is for… “Charles Green”
Yes, you’ve guessed it. While some of you will be pondering what I will refer to for tricky letters such as X or Z, I’m sure many of you will have worked out that that Mr Charles Green would feature somewhere on this list.
In May 2012, Mr Green and his consortium secured the preferred bidder status with regards to the old club. This had previously been awarded to the American trucking tycoon Bill Miller, before he was scared off both by the club’s finances and it’s supporters (who were oddly opposed to an American owning Rangers).
However, Charles Green is a Yorkshireman; a Yorkshireman who is still despised by the supporters of Sheffield United. Mr Green was the Blades’ Chief Executive between 1996 and 1998, and is now known by many United supporters as “The Hatchet Man”. When Green took control of the club, Sheffield United were a club on the up, and yet, within only a couple of years, he left them in dire straits. In 1997, United finished fifth in Division One, narrowly losing the in the final of the play-off’s. However, only three years later, once Green had left his mark on the club, the Blades finished sixteenth in the table.
Interestingly, Charles Green helped Sheffield United to become only the sixth English Club to join the stock market (ringing any bells?). Soon after this, a group of United supporters called for this stock flotation to be investigated by the Department of Trade and Industry, whose findings concluded that “documents sent to United’s shareholders at the time of the float were inaccurate and misled some shareholders as to the value of their shares”.
Before his final departure, Charles Green would go on to allow the sale of two of United’s best players, on a day known to Blades fans as “Black Thursday”. Eventually, tensions ran so high within the fan base that, on his resignation from the board, Green had to be escorted away from the stadium for the final time by police.
Now, if I was a fan of the new Rangers, all of this would worry me with an upcoming stock market flotation, led by a man with a track record such as this, and a stream of unknown, unnamed, financial backers…but hey, maybe that’s just me?
D is for… “Delusions of Grandeur”
This may sound fairly obvious, but it is, in fact, a rather important factor with regards to the future of Rangers 2012. Fundamentally, the new Rangers is a third division club. Yes, it has a lot of supporters, and yes, it has (relatively speaking) a lot of resources when compared to the other members of the Third Division. However, whilst the old Rangers may have been one of Scotland’s “big two” clubs, the new club is not. Instead of clinging onto a mentality which considers RFC to be a “big club”, the fans and the club itself would almost certainly be better off if supporters accepted where they were, and revelled in the challenge to rise through the ranks of the Scottish game.
E is for… “European Football’s Governing Body”
In 2010, UEFA, European Football’s governing body, handed out punishments to both FC Baku (of Azerbaijan) and FC Atyrau (of Kazakhstan) for fielding ineligible players in their respective Europa League ties. Each result became a 3-0 defeat. More recently, we have seen FC Sion ejected from the same competition for the same offence, with Celtic progressing in their place. Once more, the results of these matches became 3-0 defeats. Now, these were, of course, European matches, and hence directly under the jurisdiction of UEFA.
Domestic matches, and domestic situations, are left to each country’s respective governing body to deal with. However, if UEFA are given reason to believe that a domestic association have not dealt with an issue sufficiently (for whatever reason), they have the ability to step in and address it themselves.
Now, fairly recently, it has been shown that Rangers Football Club were fielding ineligible players for many years. Some have speculated that these offences may affect at least five hundred matches, with some estimates venturing towards the seven or eight hundred mark. It is worthy of note that fielding only one ineligible player is enough to have a match’s result declared void, and replaced with a 3-0 defeat.
However, UEFA also have the ability to punish any member association and potentially even the clubs it watches over if it is forced into action when, in reality, the domestic body should have dealt with the matter. These sanctions can include banning the country’s teams from European competitions for a time, although this is unlikely as no functioning clubs have been found guilty of any wrongdoing in Scotland. Regardless, if the Scottish Football Association do not rewrite the history books, UEFA may well take it on themselves to right the wrongs of the past.
F is for… “Fair Play”
One of the cornerstones of the sport we all love is fairness. From children kicking balls around in the favelas of Brazil or the estates of Glasgow, to the grandest stages of them all, the Champions League and World Cup Finals, the ideal of fair play has been critical to the success of football globally in the past, and it remains an integral part of the game’s future. We all rant and rave with some regularity when we see a player feign injury or dive in an attempt to illegally win a penalty kick, but on the whole, the fairness of the game around the world is something which should bind us all together.
The romance of football circles around the belief that, on their day, any team can, theoretically at least, defeat any other. The tactical set ups devised by the managerial staff, the atmospheres generated by supporters, and the pitch sizes and grass lengths created by groundsman are all factors which can contribute to the likelihood of any particular outcome, but the idea itself is the very soul of the beautiful game. Without the ideals of fair play and the romance of possibility football becomes predictable, and thus, pointless.
No football fan would enjoy watching matches where they know the result is certain. If it was set in stone that team B were utterly, totally, 100% incapable of defeating in team A, what would be the point? In the same vein, if team B were incapable of beating team A because, in whatever form, team A were cheating, then once again we find ourselves asking the same question.
How does this relate to Rangers 2012 you ask? Well, it is fairly simple. The Rangers of old were widely known to be Scotland’s “establishment team”. Rumours have been rife for decades around the possibility of the Ibrox club cheating, and yet, now that some of these allegations have been proven to be true, the spectre of suspicion will forever linger around both the old and new clubs and their achievements. This damage is permanent, and it will never go away.
Well, they do say that cheats never prosper.
G is for… “Graeme Souness”
Ah yes, the moustached maverick himself. Mr Souness was the player manager of Rangers Football Club 1872 between 1986 and 1991. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this. However, investigations by several sources, including the BBC, have shown that he was the recipient of at least one payment of £30,000 into Rangers’ EBT scheme. Now, the EBT scheme at Ibrox only began it’s existence at the beginning of the last decade (2000). This means that Mr Souness was given money by Rangers while he was not an employee. Now, I am speculating here, and I am certainly not making any allegations. However, in 2004, Jean-Alain Boumsong was a free agent, before being signed by Rangers. The Ibrox club faced no significant opposition in their quest to attain the player’s signature, and there was certainly no interest from Newcastle United. However, around six months later, the Magpies, managed by one Graeme Souness, bid £8 million for Boumsong and signed him on a five year contract. This drew attention from the Stevens Inquiry, which was investigating potential incidences of corruption inside English Football. This highlights the fact that it was not just me that found this to be, well, odd.
I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions.
H is for… “Home”
Ask any fan of the new Rangers where they feel the beating heart of the club is and they will, understandably, answer “Ibrox”. To many, they consider it a second home. In the same manner, supporters of Celtic consider Celtic Park home, supporters of Aberdeen consider Pittodrie home, and so on.
However, over recent years, rumours have circulated with regards to the poor state of the famous Ibrox stadium. When I last visited earlier this year, the Broomloan stand, where away fans were located, was noticeably tatty, both internally and externally. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a ground looking a bit tired now and again. Earlier this year, I criticised Hampden, Scotland’s national stadium, for the same thing. It is especially understandable to notice this sort of thing when a club is struggling financially (like the old Rangers were), as jobs such as stadium upkeep become fairly low priorities with regards to spending.
The rumours regarding asbestos and/or structural concerns would worry me if I was a supporter of the new club. Whether or not these rumours are true or false is up for debate. However, one thing that is undeniable is that stadiums require maintenance (and therefore money) in order to remain up to an operational standard. Of course, the larger the stadium, the larger this fee is likely to be. If attendances fall at Ibrox, there may come a day where the club only start opening particular stands to the public, and this could well be the beginning of a downward spiral.
I is for… “Insolvency?”
“But Rangers are already insolvent?”. Well, yes, they are, and as has been mentioned previously they will soon by officially liquidated by BDO. However, I am not referring to the old club. There has been talk over the past few months regarding a potential for yet another insolvency event at Ibrox Stadium. Of course, Mr Green and co are talking a big game, backed up by a largely compliant media, but who does that remind you of? Mr Whyte (no, this isn’t a reference to Resevoir Dogs) spouted very similar rhetoric during his early days at the club, and look what happened there. Rangers were “going to be stronger than ever before”, remember?
I’m not going to sit here and say, for certain, that Rangers 2012 will suffer an insolvency event in the future. It was more clear cut with regards to the old club, as the accounts of previous years, as well as claims by creditors, made it easy to see that the club was in financial peril. Lastly, although I will discuss this in more detail later in this article, with a list of unknown financial backers, a man at the helm who has an “interesting” record to say the least when it comes to running football clubs, and wages far, far higher than any other SFL3 club, it remains an intriguing possibility to ponder.
J is for… “Jingoism”
Increasingly, over the past few years, several individuals within the Ibrox Club and it’s fan base have succeeded in ramping up the jingoistic feelings within the support. This “everyone’s against us mentality” is a tactic which is widely used whenever times are tough, whether it is in the worlds of politics, sports, or anywhere else. Craig Whyte made great use of jingoism with regards to the BBC’s documentaries discussing himself and his Football Club, loudly threatening legal action and court battles before, well, going very quiet on the matter. Mr McCoist was guilty of this too when he called for the SFA’s anonymous judicial panel to be named (despite the fact he already knew who the individuals involved when saying this). This foolish action resulted in several threats being made against people and property.
And now, as is mentioned above, Charles Green is indulging in exactly the same sort of behaviour. In an attempt to buy time and support for both himself and his consortium, he is adding fuel to the proverbial fire by trying to appeal to the extremists within the Ibrox support. Those who are sensible and can see that things at the club are far from perfect are having their opinions drowned out by these individuals, who genuinely seem to believe Mr Green when he says things like “five hundred million people globally could watch Rangers” and “I believe we can generate £100 million per year in media rights” (both of which he said to the Vanguard Bears at a recent meeting).
Who was the last person that met with this group and whom they decided to support? Ah yes, Craig Whyte.
In all seriousness though, Mr Green, like others before him, is saying exactly what people want to hear, not what is truly the case. This will help for a while, but eventually, it is likely these false promises will come back to haunt the Yorkshireman, and Rangers 2012. In all sincerity, if any fan of the Ibrox club is reading this, I’d urge you to take a step back and look at the man running your new club, and examine what he is saying. Less than five hundred million people watched the Champions League final this year! Think about it.
K is for… “Kleptomania”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines kleptomania as “a recurrent urge to steal, typically without regard for need or profit”. In the case of the old Rangers Football Club, those at the top, whether it was Sir David Murray or Craig Whyte, they were clearly kleptomaniacs. Sir David Murray both intentionally and knowingly cheated Scottish Football and the taxpayer by creating and implementing a EBT system with which to pay some of those at the club. This saved the club money that would have otherwise been spent on tax, and thus gave them an advantage financially over their competitors. I’m sure supporters of the new Rangers will hope that another kleptomaniac hasn’t recently gained control of their new club.
L is for… “Lethargy”
“A lack of energy and enthusiasm” – In the 1990’s, Celtic Football Club faced the possibility of financial Armageddon. They found themselves on the brink of the abyss and, thanks to Fergus McCann, the Club was pulled back from the brink and was saved. In the years leading up to this final rescue, efforts within the Celtic support to protest against the then Celtic board grew in both size and stature. These boycotts and protests, as well as the “Celts for Change” movement are something that the whole support should be proud of. When, proverbially, our backs were against the wall, the Celtic support stood up and made sure they were counted.
However, almost two decades later, the supporters of the old Rangers left it far, far too late to attempt to save their Football Club. One march to an empty building and a fairly unsuccessful attempt at a “fighting fund” aside, the support did nothing. Of course, this relates to the much discussed “we are the people” mentality, but nevertheless, it is a point which must be highlighted. The fact that more people protested outside Ibrox when the old Rangers signed a Catholic than when the club entered administration is a sad reflection on the fan base. Make no mistake about it, the inaction and lethargy displayed by the vast majority of the support have certainly not helped matters at Ibrox.
And yet, as a new club progresses through it’s first season in existence, this lethargy continues. Charles Green, as mentioned above, is not the type of man you want to run your Football Club, regardless of which Club that may be. The Sheffield United support did not warn the fans of the Ibrox club out of any love for the old Rangers, they do so because they simply did not want to see another club suffer at the hands of Mr Green.
Sloth (another term referring to laziness) is one of the fabled seven deadly sins, and undoubtedly, the lethargic attitude displayed by the Rangers supporters (old and new) has damaged their football clubs.
M is for… “McCoist”
Undoubtedly, Ally McCoist ranks amongst one of the old Rangers greatest goalscorers, with two hundred and fifty one goals in four hundred and eighteen appearances for the club. In more recent times, he worked as an assistant under Walter Smith, before taking up the role of manager in 2011. With the old club, McCoist’s record as a manager left much to be desired. He led his Rangers side to second place in the Scottish Premier League, but fell ten points short of rivals Celtic (twenty when you include the club’s points deduction for entering administration). Early in his tenure, the club suffered defeats to mammoths Malmo and Maribor, and Rangers would later be knocked out of the domestic trophies by Falkirk and Dundee United.
Of course, with all of the uncertainty surrounding the old club last season, this sort of managerial performance could be forgiven by the supporters. However, he is now the manager of a new club, with resources far, far in excess of any other team in Division Three. Whilst some of the other players in the league are paid a hundred pounds a week if they’re lucky, his players are paid thousands. Many other players in the league are part time footballers, working long hours in other jobs before training on certain nights and playing matches at the weekend. McCoist’s players though, are all full time footballers, some of whom have (oddly) dropped their level of football by as many as four divisions to play with the new club.
And yet, with all of these advantages, Ally McCoist’s record in Division Three stands at three wins from seven matches thus far. Before the start of the season, some likened his job for the next few years to playing Football Manager with cheat codes, but still his team struggle. Whether it is complacency, a dislike for physicality on show in Division Three, or a difficulty adjusting to trips to smaller venues, Rangers have not won a single match away from home so far this season, and it is almost midway through October.
Ultimately, performances and records like this tend to fall on the head of the manager, and already, the new Rangers support is split. A 1-0 defeat to bottom side Stirling Albion at the weekend only strengthened the calls for him to be replaced, and regardless of his success as a player at the old football club, the pressure is growing on Ally McCoist, and Charles Green. The question is simple, “Stick with him in the hope things improve, whilst risking the “unthinkable” (i.e. no promotion at the end of the season), or take action now in the hope that there is enough time left to turn things around?” Tricky.
N is for… “Nightmare Scenario”
So, you used to support a club with one hundred and forty years of history, boasting more silverware than most clubs could dream of, and yet now, you support a club which is only a few months old, and is currently playing in the fourth tier of Scottish Football (and at times struggling at that). So, you may ask, how could it possibly get any worse? Surely the worst is over? Well, perhaps, perhaps not.
With the imminent arrival of BDO comes many possibilities. As both myself and many others have discussed at some length, Duff & Phelps, those appointed to oversee the administration of Rangers Football Club 1872, acted oddly to say the least. When I say they acted oddly, I mean they really didn’t, well, administrate. Attaining the maximum return for creditors seemed far, far down the list of priorities for D&P, and BDO may well have something to say about that.
So what is the “nightmare scenario”? Well, I suppose it depends on your viewpoint. Another insolvency event, as discussed above, would make the new club even more of a laughing stock than it is already, and it would bring yet another level to embarrassment to Edmiston Drive. When you consider the fact that titles will almost inevitably be stripped from the history of the old club, things get even worse.
However, the worst possible outcome for the fans of the Ibrox club (other than the total disappearance of any entity to support – which is unlikely) would be to lose something so simple, and yet something so highly valued by the supporters; the name, “Rangers”. By this I don’t mean the club being forced to refer to itself as “The Rangers” or “Rangers 2012″, I refer to the possibility (albeit small) of the new club being told they simply cannot use the word, “Rangers”. What would the call themselves? Seriously, think about it for a minute. Govan United? The Ibrox Blues (although I accept that sounds more like a band singing about the current feelings of the support)?
This would be an absolute nightmare for any Rangers 2012 supporter, as they have already loudly voiced their opposition to people referring to them as “Sevco”, or “The Zombies”. How likely or unlikely is this outcome? I don’t know, as I am not an expert when it comes to matters regarding new companies liabilities, but one thing should be for certain. They should have to stop this bizarre pretence that they are the same club as before. The name should change to some degree, the badge should change, the strips should change and the brand itself should change. This will likely be a significant part of BDO’s role, and that doesn’t even begin to take into account the potential for a partial or total asset recall.
O is for… “Ogilvie”
Ogilvie. Campbell Ogilvie to be precise – long term director at Ibrox and current President of the Scottish Football Association. He is, as I have written about at some length, a man with a list of conflicts of interest as long as his arm. Mr Ogilvie was a director at Ibrox in the last years of the “no Catholics” signing policy, as well as the years where the EBT scheme was introduced at the old club. In fact, as many know, he had £90,000 paid into his EBT fund whilst at Ibrox. During the entirety of his time at Hampden, he has never voluntarily raised the issue of these trusts, or the dual contracts held by many players at Ibrox during his time there. He has, essentially, turned a blind eye to the wrongdoing at Ibrox for several years.
In later years, whilst rising through the ranks at the SFA, Campbell left Rangers for Heart of Midlothian. However, in the last year, it has been revealed that he breached a critical rule by holding shares in Rangers whilst holding a position of directorship at another club. In my opinion, and in the minds of many others, Mr Ogilvie’s position has been untenable for a sustained period of time. Once again, I will take this as an opportunity to call for him to do the right thing and resign, although I highly doubt it will make any difference.
P is for… “Paranoia”
Below, you can see a spider diagram produced by some members of the new club’s supporters. In fact, perhaps I shouldn’t call it a spider diagram? After all, Queen’s Park, nicknamed the Spiders, are currently one of the new club’s biggest rivals. In fact, let’s call it an insanity chart, because that’s what it is. Now, I know the writing is too small to read here, but a larger version can be viewed simply by clicking the picture itself.
This chart blames, amongst others, Peter Lawwell, Nil by Mouth, the Scottish Police, Opus Dei, several Scottish Universities, Coors Light, H.M.P. Barlinnie, Trophy Centre (yes, the place near Hampden Park), Woking Town F.C., Liverpool F.C., the Scottish Football governing bodies, the Scottish media, and, who can forget the man they hate so much that he features on the chart three times, Neil Lennon.
Wow. How could we not have seen this before? Rangers Football Club didn’t do anything wrong! We’ve all been duped, it’s so obvious! The EBT’s were legal, they were declared, the dual contracts were plants, and this whole storm has been carefully instigated by half of the world, in an incredibly intricate web stretching from Football Clubs, to Prisons, to Universities and finally to Trophy Centre. It all makes sense now. It was Opus Dei!
Now, in all seriousness, this is utterly farcical. I genuinely despair for people who are sensible and support the Ibrox club when I see items like this. Anyone who believes this sort of thing is living in fantasy land. This is the sort of ridiculous paranoia which stops the majority of their support from waking up and seeing what has happened, and still is, happening to them.
It wasn’t Opus Dei, Peter Lawwell, or Woking Town; it was those you allowed to run your club for so, so long, free from criticism or question. It was the journalists who looked the other way without investigating situations as their job dictates, and the supporters groups who were naive enough to accept blatantly empty promises from anyone spouting them. It was a fan base who believed nothing bad could ever happen to their club because they were “different” from all the rest; untouchable if you will. This is what helped to kill Rangers Football Club 1872, not some ridiculous conspiracy. And they say we’re paranoid.
Q is for… “Queen of the South”
On the 18th September, 2012, only two months into the season, Rangers 2012 suffered their first defeat on the football field, as they lost on penalties in the Ramsden’s Cup to Queen of the South. Not only did Queen of the South become the first team to knock the new club out of a competition, they stopped RFC from winning what should have been one of the “easier” tournaments they found themselves in this season, and what’s more, they did it at Ibrox. Not only did this show the Ibrox club were vulnerable, it hammered home the fact to their supporters that this wasn’t (whether they admit it or not) the Rangers of old. They now found themselves watching a new, significantly weakened club who will take a long, long time to ever reach the heights of it’s predecessor.
R is for… “Results”
And so, carrying on in a similar vein to that of the letter above, we come to R, and “results”. In the past, Rangers fans were not known as the most faithful of supporters. When times were tough in the early 1980’s, attendances were almost unimaginably low when compared to those of more recent, and more successful times. Of course, to a degree, fickleness is a trait exhibited by most fan bases, as attendances rise and fall with performances. However, the RFC of old have a particularly notable reputation in this regard. With their backs against the wall at the present moment, “the bears” have, to their credit, been turning out to support their new club. This is admirable, but the question has to be asked, “how long will it last?” If their team continue to struggle and performances continue to be poor, will forty thousand people still travel to Ibrox in the winter months in the cold and the wet? If, albeit unlikely, the club do not attain promotion from Division Three this season, will the supporters continue to flock to Ibrox next season? Or will we see a return to times gone by, with plummeting attendances, and therefore decreased income, at the new club?
S is for… “Salaries”
As mentioned briefly previously, the salaries currently being paid at Ibrox vastly outweigh those at other Third Division clubs. Charles Green has said that these are not an issue and that, in fact, the club could afford to pay out many thousands pounds more per week without any problems. Of course, this may well be the case, but until the new club produces some independently audited accounts this will remain uncertain. In truth, there is no need for the Ibrox club to pay players amounts such as £5000+ per week at this stage in the club’s existence. Had they been clever, they would have brought in the best of, for example, the players in the First and Second Division’s, knowing that the combination of these individuals, along with those left over from the old club, should have been more than capable of gaining promotion this season. In doing this, they would have kept the wage bill as low as possible at the fledgling club. However, this is clearly not the case, and with such high expenditure, as well as a seemingly low income, rumours abound that the debts could, once again, be rising around Ibrox way. This is, in one sense, totally unbelievable whilst, in another, totally unsurprising.
T is for… “Ticketus”
Ah yes, Ticketus, the faceless entity who Craig Whyte borrowed money from in order to purchase Rangers Football Club 1872. When the old club collapsed, Ticketus were left around twenty six million pounds out of pocket and, as an unsecured creditor, look to have lost most, if not all of their original investment. At least, that’s the official line on things, but questions remain about whether or not there is more to this than meets the eye. Connections between Charles Green and/or Craig Whyte and Ticketus are rumoured, and speculation that the company may be extracting money via season tickets, rent on the stadium, or even that Green is simply just a front for the organisation is found in many places across the world wide web. As I have said, I am no expert on such matters, but don’t rule Ticketus, Mr Whyte, and the fabled Zeus Capital out of this whole story just yet.
U is for… “Unpunished”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “unpunished” as: “(of an offence or offender) not receiving any punishment or penalty”.
Now, Rangers Football Club 1872 have suffered badly, particularly in the past year, as the final liquidation of the club approaches. However, all of the factors which have affected the club have been the consequences of their own actions. For example, Rangers 1872 were deducted ten points for entering administration. However, this was not a punishment; this was simply the result of the financial mismanagement of the Football Club resulting in an insolvency event.
The Club was not, as many would try to have you believe, demoted to the Third Division. In fact, the old club simply forfeited it’s place in the Scottish Premier League, whilst the new club took the empty space once it had filtered all the way down to the bottom of the pile. Once again, this was not a punishment, only a consequence of the pending liquidation of the Rangers of old. The transfer embargo was not really a punishment either, it was just another consequence of the actions of the old club leading to the start the new club has had in life. Fundamentally, Rangers 2012 had the option of accepting the embargo (which remarkably allowed them to sign players before it began as it’s start was delayed) or the option of not playing football this year, which wasn’t much of a choice for the club.
The only significant punishment awaiting Rangers Football Club is the stripping of titles and trophies, and the rewriting of the record books. Hundreds and hundreds of matches will become 3-0 defeats, and the history of the old Rangers (and Scottish Football) will be rewritten to some extent. In fact, the greatest punishment to the new Rangers may well be the memories of the actions of the old club. Rangers 1872 were shown to have been cheats…nothing other than rotten cheats. This stigma will continue to linger as long as Rangers 2012 attempt to persuade people that they are the same club (despite the fact they are not). Until this changes, football fans and taxpayers alike will always wonder, “they’ve cheated at least once, I wonder if they ever did it previously or will do so again?”
As for the potential punishments facing those individuals who were in charge of decision making at the old club, well, once again I will leave that one for you to ponder.
V is for… “Vanity”
It is undeniable that the supporters of the old Rangers Football Club were vain. To be fair, perhaps most football supporters are to one degree or another. We all look at our team’s achievements through slightly tinted spectacles, remembering great victories and, conveniently, often managing to forget some of the painful defeats. However, the much used tag of “the most successful club in the world” highlighted the fact that the old Rangers support were living in their “own wee world”. Yes, the club won fifty four league titles (although this figure may drop in the the not too distant future) and one European Cup Winners’ Cup, but to say this is more successful record than that of, for example, Real Madrid, nine times winners of the European Cup, three times winners than the Intercontinental Cup (the old version of the World Club Cup), twice winners of the UEFA Cup and thirty two times winners of La Liga is a display of nothing other than vanity.
With regards to the new Ibrox club, the support must shake off some of this vain streak if they wish to prosper and gain the respect of their counterparts. For example, some advocates of the “it’s the same club” view will, if the new club win the Third Division this season, start to talk about how they have won fifty five league titles and they’re still the “most successful club in the world”. Of course, in reality, both from both legal and sporting points of view, the club they all support will have actually just won it’s first league title and, let’s face it, being Champions of the Scottish Third Division will not make any major clubs around the world take any notice.
This does not mean the support should not be happy with the achievement if they do win the league though, of course they should. However, this will not make them any more successful than, for example, Alloa Athletic, winners of the Third Division last season. If the supporters continue to expect their Third Division club to feature the same sort of players who would feature in a European side, they risk putting the financial future of the club in jeopardy; and all through nothing other than sheer vanity.
All in all, the sooner the supporters of the new Ibrox club stop living in the past, the better, for both themselves, and their new club.
W is for… “Wee”
“Wee” – the opposite of “big”. This definition is not found in the Oxford English Dictionary, but I’m sure it is one no one will argue with. As I have discussed at some length above, the new Rangers are simply not the Rangers of old. Whilst one club regularly made forays into Europe, the other hasn’t made it any further than Peterhead or Forres. Whilst big attendances will help the new Rangers financially, it does not help them to be a big club in the eyes of the footballing world. After all, it was only after an outcry from supporters that the new club features in FIFA 13 in the “Rest of the World” category. In the same manner, it was only after another outcry that some television stations decided to broadcast Third Division games for the first time in their history. However, you won’t see Berwick Rangers take on Queen’s Park live on Sky, or many (if any) games from the second or third tiers of Scottish Football.
The days of teams being afraid of facing a trip to Ibrox are gone. All teams, whether they are big or small, now know that they can travel to Glasgow, or welcome the club to their home grounds, without fear or fervour. Yes, the new Rangers are still the bookies’ favourites to win most of their matches (thanks partly to their tremendous resources, at least compared to their opponents), but their performances thus far this year has shown they are vulnerable to dropping points.
There is now no doubt as to who the biggest club in Scotland is, and it is most certainly not the new Rangers.
X is for… “X Factor”
No, not the television programme, but the nature of sport and life itself. The world around us is tremendously chaotic, even though it may appear to be serene and stable at times. This unpredictability affects us all, and therefore, it affects football clubs, both on and off of the field. Whether it is in the form of injuries, suspensions or even just a run of poor form, some things are bound to affect clubs from time to time. However, when you add rumoured financial issues into the equation, this has the potential to form a rather explosive mixture of possibilities.
The unpredictability with regards to the future of the new club should be what concerns it’s supporters, not whether or not they can have a “tangerine” away strip again some time soon. They have been spun lies and propaganda before, and they must be wary of letting it happen again. Vigilance is critical for them, and yet still many of the stories are still going unquestioned by the Ibrox masses.
Y is for… “Years”
Being realistic it will take a long, long time for the new club to ever reach the heights scaled by the old Rangers Football Club. Whilst, in theory, the new club could be the Champions of Europe within five seasons, the chances are slim. Of course, potential restructuring in Scottish Football with the aim of accelerating the new clubs rise up the leagues is possible, but I doubt this would happen without sizeable protests from several other clubs and their supporters. Regardless, even if the new club gain promotion with every season and win the Scottish Premier League upon their return, it will still takes years and years to achieve. This is a totally different situation from simply having a “bad season”, where no silverware is added to the trophy cabinet, but you can start afresh in a matter of months. In all likelihood, it will take around a decade, and potentially even longer, for the new club to be able to truthfully call itself a “big club”. In saying all of this, there are more pressing issues at Ibrox, as we all know.
Z is for… “Zealotry”
And finally, we come to zealotry; the fanatical and uncompromising pursuit of ideals, whether they are political, religious, social, or something entirely different. There is nothing wrong with fanatically following a football team. After all, most clubs have fanatical supporters, and Celtic are no different in this regard. However, as I have discussed, there is a point at which fanaticism becomes nothing other than pure extremism. To progress and prosper in the future, the sensible supporters of Rangers 2012 must aim to stand up and have their voices heard. Otherwise, the lunatics will end up controlling the proverbial asylum once more, and the new club may risk going the same way as it’s predecessor, into the chaos and turmoil of insolvency.
Fundamentally, if Rangers 2012 are to survive, everyone, from the directors in the boardroom to the supporters passing through the turnstiles must learn from the mistakes of the past. However, if the warnings being voiced by man are not heeded, the worst may be yet to come.
We shall see.