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Am I one of the lunatic fringe? – A personal view of the Rangers saga…

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Over a year ago I wrote a piece for Scotzine on why, those of us supporting clubs in the SFL didn’t like the Old Firm. At that point I got a lot of stick – from a Celtic supporting Tony as well as many other Celtic fans who objected at being lumped in with the proletariat that was Glasgow Rangers. I argued that each was as bad as the other. I used a lot of rhetoric and I think sense but Ally, you lot have gone and made nonsense of it all.

When that cheeky chappy, Mr McCoist, said in his wee press conference that he wanted to know who these guys were who had sent in the sanctions; the ones who were guilty of killing his club I cringed.  To find out that his club had been represented at the hearing and were in the same company as the condemned men was only a vicar (Presbyterian of course)in a cupboard short of a farce. The guys charged with calling in the sanctions were indeed condemned. By email and message boards, vile campaigns and the types of vilification usually preserved for Neil Lennon. Oh Cock Robin, I tipped the table and looked for a dummy to toss.

Blaming the lunatic fringe Ally McCoist asked us to refuse to give into them. Lunatic fringe? Is this news to you Ally? Are the lunatic fringe a minority as opposed to the majority of people who support THE Rangers – or whatever they are called. So making a claim that people should be called to account for their decision-making is sweet music to that “Fringe.” The clarion call was answered. Just as it was in Manchester – missed out in their review of the high spots of Rangers supporter’s memories. And never missed out in the memories of Mancunian sweepers and people terrified by the visit from the team of the Union.

If people wish to see the consequences of appealing to that lunatic fringe, have a wee deck outside of Neil Lennon’s home –  testimony to the consequences of loose lips. Any of the Police men and women who are on 24 hour guard duty for Lennon could give testimony to what a lunatic fringe looks like. I believe that  being dignified and even-tempered is not giving in to them. It is demonstrating how they ought to behave and avoiding looking like them. Denial and shirking responsibility though has been the cornerstone of the response to being caught out.

The death of Glasgow Rangers, and it is deid, is due to years of mismanagement. Not people in a smoke-filled room with an agenda to follow. At least not ones who have forgotten where their compasses and aprons have been hidden… The death of Rangers FC is not down to the people charged with the responsibility of carrying out the rules of the organisation of which we claim we are members. It is also not down to the tens of thousands of loyal (And I mean that in a non sectarian and non regal manner) supporters who have suffered due to the saga. I mean the ones who cheered the new dawns and believed. The ones who paid their monies and sat in wonder and then wondered where it all went wrong. I mean the supporters who understood the stain of sectarian chanting and went to away games to support and not disgrace their club. They truly do exist. I have met many and have spoken to many more. For all of us who are genuine supporters our hearts truly bleed. It must be awful. Beyond comprehension. You see they have a different lunatic fringe to blame. the ones who are lawless, reckless and arrogant enough to believe we will swallow demands for understanding. Thing is we all understand too well.

At that point, in that press conference, Ally McCoist became a villain. He could only ever be a panto one in our eyes perhaps but c’mon!  Neutrals, like me, needed to be gathered in support of the club. They did. Because we have an opinion and  that opinion has not grown into a good one.

Can we also just get one thing sorted – the blame for not informing Mr McCoist as to who was responsible for not telling him who had made that decision was within Ibrox. The blame for the financial crisis into which they have fallen is within Ibrox. The reason why people are being laid off and sold off is because of mismanagement … within Ibrox. The unfairness felt by other football supporters is down to the behaviour of people … within … you get my point …

Ally isn’t the only villain. What was this new attempt to buy the club all about? Walter rides up on a charger and gets rebuffed. Why? Because someone does not have the history to understand why the traditions mean nothing is now in charge. The emotive campaign is finished… Some of us wish it had never begun…

And as for UEFA. Upset because Duff and Phelps went to the Courts? Dear Mr Wills, football is NOT above the law. The panel got that bit wrong. Legally… Jings ye’d think he wisnae a lawyer…

That was 3 months ago. I have brooded and mused and more importantly watched. The people at Rangers Football Club cheated. Apparently they have been punished. Enough. Have they been punished for everything? I know that an independent panel sat and made a decision that a punishment should be handed down. As far as I am aware they are still guilty of other things and they are under investigation for some other bits and pieces… or at least they would have been had they still been with us…

The only thing more absurd than the behaviour of people who think you can shoe horn an asset off a man who has paid £5.5 Million for it on the basis he doesn’t know what he has (Memo to whatever consortium that is – anyone who pays that amount of cash for anything knows what it is actually worth and what they are doing. It is only when guys pay a quid for something you have to worry. Oops) is the idea that people who have been forced to watch this saga are stupid enough to buy into the nonsense people who are responsible for it starting are spouting to remain in business and in the top league. I could have believed it was right for the newco to go into the SPL. It comes from being a father.

I have children. When one of them transgresses (Does something wrong) I expect contrition (An apology). Where is Rangers’ apology? Actually where is the apology from the SPL? You see the Old Firm set up the SPL in such a way as they had the lion’s share of the TV cash and also had the voting rigged so they were unassailable. Now before people get all upset. It’s a fact. When 10 clubs get upset and call a meeting without Rangers or Celtic they are rebels and absurdly ignoring the two most important institutions in Scottish football. Apparently. When Rangers and Celtic meet without the rest of the SPL they are safeguarding the future of our game and ensuring an even and fair distribution of opportunity for Scottish Football. Allegedly.

I am afraid that the other side of the Old Firm have that guilt to repair. And that is all. Their operation in a cartel with Rangers has really upset the rest of Scottish Football. Do not, please, mistake the current undercurrent that is seeking to lose Rangers as an opportunity to duck responsibility for corporate colluding in keeping all the sweeties for themselves. Redistribution of wealth is a fairly left-wing thang…

This story has tentacles everywhere. I am an Ayr fan and our message boards have lit up with debate over whether the secret seven board members who refused to sell the club in 1988 to David Murray were right. I had never heard of them as the secret seven before… there were at least seven of them – I could name them then and I can name them now. I have no idea if we would have been safe or in danger had Murray bought the club. It makes little or no sense to speculate. There’s enough in debate already without adding us into the mix! But you know how much people like to debate… tighter than a family budget.

Money is tight in every house in the land. In the Board Rooms of every Football Club it is supposed to be tighter. The difference is that for many of us we don’t have a local businessman with more money than sense to bail us out when the electric comes in. Our lines of credit are not underpinned by the value of property we don’t own but hold in trust for our community. Our banks won’t let us run up ridiculous debt on the back of a promise that we might have a wee run of luck in the cup. The Bank of Ladbrokes is not open for those of us with poor credit.

So what is the worst that will happen when The Rangers are demoted and kicked out of the SPL.

Firstly the TV deal falls apart. The money from the TV deal keeps Rangers and Celtic going at the level they were. Remove that and the playing field starts to become more level. More clubs die? Possibly and there are a few that have been mentioned like Kilmarnock. Losing them would be a travesty – seriously – I was delighted they won the Cup and we need their rivalry. They too, however, have been guilty of living well outwith their means. There needs to be an end to it and some restitution.

There would be less money for the rest. Aye now there’s the rub! The head of the Aberdeen Supporter’s Trust reckons it would be about £200,000 per annum lost. On top of the £500,000 the loss of the TV deal would bring would mean this would be a severe loss to be shouldered for most in the SPL. The loss alone of the revenue from two visits from Rangers would mean they would need another 300 or so new season ticket holders. Let’s say that is repeated for the 10 other non Old Firm clubs. 3,000 fans out of the 40,000 that would no longer trot along to Govan fortnightly – is that too much to ask? In a league that is more competitive surely, for the love of God, the clubs can capture these guys? To give it some focus – it is the same as being relegated from the SPL. Talk to Inverness, Hamilton, Falkirk…. Clubs still in existence.

The quality of players to be viewed would suffer. It has been suggested that we might end up like Ireland. The Republic of Ireland; a country with a league that is half the size of the SFL First Division in terms of attendance and yet has a team appearing at Euro 2012. Get this idea – it’s NOT all about the league! It is about the development of young talent for our national game. This would happen with SPL teams playing their young player rather than farming them out to the SFL.

Games would be played on Saturdays at 3pm. Actually this might not happen and the Friday night experiment was great – I was at Partick Thistle v Greenock Morton – and it was a huge success. The starting times of games have become some form of weird and stupid lottery and the sooner we have some form of sense the better. BUT if the SPL TV idea that Rod Petrie has done some work on could manage to replace the Sky deal we would need product NOT on a Saturday at 3pm – otherwise we would be in danger of affecting attendances at live games – that is real live games – you know the ones you go to in the open air…

I love football. I love my club but I know that football has my heart. I know that because one Friday night I sat watching – and enjoying – Wycombe Wanderers v Crewe Alexandria. If my club was to go out of existence, and last season I interviewed people about Third Lanark, Clydebank and Airdrieonians, I would be devastated. Would I watch Kilmarnock? Maybe not. We have Troon, Auchinleck Talbot, Cumnock, Irvine Vics and many more. I would survive. We don’t have a divine right to the remote on a Saturday night for match of the day and we don’t have a divine right to have a local football club. What we do have is the need to see some kind of sense prevail in our game.

So what should happen? I don’t know what should happen. It appears now that the SPL have found a backbone. The SFA will use the McLeish report as a cloak to bring in change – not a bad thing – and we may end up with one governing body. Bets that body sticks The Rangers in somewhere that sweetens a TV deal somewhere and we end up with almost genuine change. I hope that i am wrong. Because I love my football. Thing is – how many of that lunatic fringe do too?

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About Author

A lifelong supporter, since seeing Alex Ferguson play for them, of Ayr United he now contributes here, at KickTalk and Ringside Reports for things sporty. He is also a theatrical type and an educationalist. As an Ayr fan he clearly can explain the inexplicable, place fanatical faith in the most fantastic of dreams and deal with dark periods of depression and disappointment. Perfect as a teacher..

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