MANAGER Mark Warburton addressed the Rangers AGM this morning. Here is what he had to say to the shareholders…
Ladies & Gentlemen good morning.
I stood before you a year ago and stated very sincerely that it was a pleasure and a privilege to be addressing you as the Manager of Rangers Football Club. As I stand here today that privilege is if anything even greater, with every day that passes allowing me to gain a deeper appreciation of the history and tradition associated with this true football institution.
As has been more than well-documented, this club is still on its way back from having been burdened and then punished for the actions of others.
The task of rebuilding is one that requires commitment, diligence and clarity of vision, but significant progress is being made. We are on a journey, a long-term project, one that is designed to return this club to the very top of Scottish football and back to the top table of European competition.
The rebuilding work required on the pitch is no different from that taking place off it, both absolutely demand time and patience. We must rebuild on strong foundations and these cannot be laid down too quickly.
The history and tradition to which I refer has seen you our supporters, reared on a consistent diet of European victories and domestic triumphs. Such a rich history quite understandably leads to a huge weight of expectation, after all this is a club synonymous with success.
However, the market has changed beyond all recognition and the financial disparity in football terms between North and South has never been greater. The days of top class Internationals, players at the very height of their careers, coming to Glasgow are not going to return any time soon.
Therefore this weight of expectation falls on less experienced shoulders. The pride and privilege that comes with pulling on the ‘blue jersey’ carries with it a heavy responsibility and this too must be borne by younger players.
Younger players especially, need time to come to terms with the significant demands that come with signing for Rangers.
Recruitment wise, the 1st team squad has had a complete revamp over the last 18 months, with 20 new players joining the long serving Lee Wallace, Kenny Miller and Barrie McKay.
The priceless commodity that such a new young squad needs is time, but time is the one commodity that high expectation does not often allow.
We need to allow the squad to evolve and grow as a team. We need to allow them to learn from their mistakes. We need to allow the younger players to watch the likes of Kenny Miller and Lee Wallace, Clint Hill and Niko Kranjcar and understand what it takes to be a top class professional at such a club. We need to be patient and allow them time.
I keep being told that the weight of expectation is overbearing. I am constantly told that Rangers supporters have no patience. I keep being reminded that this has always been the way. I keep being told that Rangers fans will never change.
However, you the supporters have had to endure your club being dragged to the bottom tier of Scottish football. You have had to endure the derision and ridicule that accompanied such a fall.
You also had to demonstrate the patience and understanding demanded whilst your club worked its way back to the Premiership.
It is this bitter experience, it is these painful memories that must never be forgotten and will undoubtedly be used to strengthen our resolve.
Outside sources will criticise this club, choose to forget the recent level of turmoil and refuse to adopt a realistic perspective. Rangers are fighting back from the very lowest level of the Scottish professional game and having returned to the Premiership we must first consolidate and prove our competitiveness. Have no doubts, we will keep driving forward and by doing so, Europe and then challenging for the title will follow.
What has been so encouraging, so very encouraging, is the number of fans who recognise what is required at this time.
There will always be difficulties and setbacks, but we will keep making progress. Inevitably mistakes will be made but these will be few and far between. With every day that passes our unity and togetherness will grow stronger.
This remains the biggest football club in the country and for us to return Rangers back to where we all know it belongs, unity will indeed be key.
The Chairman and the Board, the players and the staff and every Rangers supporter around the world can unite behind the same common goal of restoring our club to former glories. It is then and only then, that we can all take satisfaction from a job well done and look forward to working even harder to achieve new triumphs in the years ahead.
Finally, I would like to highlight a key point I consistently make in my programme notes.
The backing we receive, the numbers of supporters that follow the team home and away, is something that must never and will never be taken for granted.
I would like to again thank each and every supporter for the outstanding efforts and sacrifices that they make in following the club. Indeed, this is the responsibility that I referred to earlier in my speech.
The responsibility we have as players and staff members is to you, the supporters and it is one that we absolutely recognise every single day.
Thank you for your time. I hope very much that the sincerity of this message has been evident and once again, it has been my privilege to address you here today as the Manager of Rangers.