At least I thought in Edinburgh you would find the greatest show on earth and then along comes yet another circus; yet again driven by the greatest media the world has ever ignored. Rangers’ first game of their new era was always going to be a grand affair. People had tuned in to the “teuchter” channel with the sound down to drown out the Gaelic and awaited the opportunity of observing a mauling of Roman proportions. What they got on the pitch was not enough to wet the appetite. What people got off the pitch has made us fairly ravenous.
I once described the situation at Rangers FC as the gift that just keeps giving. I thought that I had got it all wrong and things had finally died down but then here comes Mr Charles Green and Mr Ally McCoist. They decided that the Fringe should come early and go north to Brechin.
In a pre show aperitif, Ally blasted what he has seen as a distinct lack of leadership in Scottish football. Stewart Reagan has already bitten back. I have to reluctantly agree with Regan there has been distinct leadership from all three bodies. They have just been wrong. What looks like no leadership – the delays and the time lag – have been their muddled attempt to force the Scottish game to accept tripe. I have a degree of sympathy for McCoist. This has not been Scottish Football’s finest hour, day week or season. If anyone has had to endure the greatest frustration it is probably McCoist. His mentor couldn’t fix it, his big Bomber pal couldn’t fix it, he called for the end of it all in the 3rd whilst his employer was scheming to get into the 1st and now when things were supposed to be settled he was given the opportunity to pontificate and he did. Like Jim Jeffries before him he has had to prepare for a season not knowing what division he would be preparing for and has ended up in a lower one that he believes he deserves. To give him credit, he has managed to keep a squad together and has attracted some decent new faces that should help them trundle up to the SPL with some style. The SFL should benefit greatly. For THAT I am grateful. Please note though, you will get gratitude NOT servitude this time round.
Next we get Mr Charles Green. Now I had begun to warm to the man. At least warm to anyone who had been honest enough to say to the supporters that he was not here for the long haul. He wanted to come in, make some form of rescue based quick buck and then leave with the company in a better position than when he came to it. He had hit the front page of the Glasgow evening press saying he had been in hiding because of those people once described as a lunatic fringe making threats. It seemed like he was getting a taste of what the lunatic fringe are capable.
Then he goes and spoils it all and the words that never got said were I love you.
I can understand a number of things being highly frustrating for a man who has come from a business background to work within another business background. Maybe it would have helped had he experience in running a football club. Like he has. But now he has described us all as bigots. According to this bluff no nonsense straight talking Yorkshire man, bigotry has driven Rangers from their place in the SPL to the Third Division. But what is bigotry? When asked what he meant he couldn’t quite manage to illuminate. He has promised in time to so do but just as a help, maybe a hint here it is.
According to the Collins English Dictionary it is – “the attitudes, behaviour, or way of thinking of a bigot; prejudice; intolerance”. If I am guessing right, Charles Green believes that supporters of other clubs, principally in the SPL put pressure on their Chairmen to vote out Rangers because they had an intolerant attitude against that club due to a prejudiced view based, I would assume, on years of rivalry and sporting hatred.
You see Mr Green, the use of a word can be extremely powerful. Bigotry drove you into hiding; it is smeared on the walls outside of Neil Lennon’s house; it was displayed outside of a Belfast Catholic Church in an Orange Order Walk on the 12th July 2012; it is written on banners decrying the troops of the United Kingdom in response to the troubles in Ireland; and it is nothing to do with business. Bigotry had nothing to do with the attitude of supporters throughout the land who were fed up being told they couldn’t survive in their wee clubs without the Gers. Or indeed without the ‘Tic. Witness the outrageous piece by former Celtic player, Craig Burley, in the Daily Record. Supporters have had their fill of being told they are dead without the “Auld Firm”. At least the Celtic fan base – at least the majority of them – are trying to distance themselves from the antics of the Fringe rather than encourage their Chairman to clap along to songs that start innocuous enough but end up with Directors belting out bigotry at social events.
What is highly interesting is the £16 Million drop we were to suffer is finally being closed by shuttle diplomacy in London through negotiations with broadcasters. I said there WAS leadership. There was. It forgot that, in business, the most important element is the customer. As my dear old dad used to say, the customer is not always right but they always are the customer. The customers spoke. What they said is unpalatable to one club. It is not because they are one club, though the fact that they are one half of a duopoly that has run the game for decades is not insignificant. We have been at the tender mercy of these clubs and their whims and whimsies whilst feeding off scraps for years. It is not the reason why people wanted Rangers in the Third. It is not the reason why people have not finished with what Rangers did BUT it is a contributory factor.
The major reason, I think, that there was such a virulent response to the issues surrounding the newco/oldco is this. IF you behaved badly then – what would make us believe you will behave any differently now? I thought we had seen things settled. I thought that the only things left to be resolved are the problems of illegality, double contracts, EBTs and therefore the difference between keeping the titles and accepting responsibility for how you got them. On this occasion with no prompting, Messrs McCoist and Green took a big spoon, stuffed it into the mix and gave it a huge stir. How much of a stir their latest blasts will make shall come after the SPL investigation; a possible legal investigation; a season or three of making waves in the SFL; and chapters I am sure still to be written or lived.
The investigation I think ought to be held is an internal one. It should be to look closely at the media team at Rangers FC and ask who is advising the Chairman over what he can and cannot say. Having people around the Chairman who are unquestioning, loyal, devoted and unswervingly supportive – how did that work out for you the last time then?