RANGERS director Alastair Johnston has been accused of “playing to the galleries” after his astonishing attack on Celtic fans.
Michael Stewart, the former Hearts and Hibs midfielder who is now a media pundit with BT Sport and BBC Scotland, reacted to the comments from the former Ibrox chairman.
Johnston mocked punters who claim Rangers are a new club. They are often on the receiving end of remarks from their city rivals’ supporters and those of other teams about the Govan outfit’s plunge into administration and subsequent liquidation in 2012.
Johnston is adamant the club not only survived, but are now thriving under Steven Gerrard.
His tenure at Ibrox ended in 2011 as Craig Whyte’s ill-fated reign got under way. He has since returned as a director and, having watched the teams toil through the divisions, insists the club’s struggles are now over.
Johnston, in a report in the Daily Record, said: “I left after we won the title for the third time in a row in 2011 and I wasn’t believing my ears about what was going on at the club and where it was going.
“You were hearing all the words like the Rangers have disappeared, they have died, it was a new club and all the stuff which self-interested people tried to maintain.
“I always wondered about the mentality of certain Celtic supporters, not by any means most of them, who basically said our club died in February, 2012.
“You know what? If that was the end of Rangers and Celtic and if that was the end of the big game that started in 1888 all the way to 2012 – we won that game.
“The way you determine it by the number of times (54) we won the top division.
“We were ahead in February, 2012 and in head-to-head victories, we were ahead of Celtic in 2012.
“So if you wanted to say the old Rangers of 1872 died – we beat you 2-0 and when the game started again in 2012, it will be 120 years or so before you can tie with us.
“So you were dealing with that sort of mentality, with Rangers fans being defensive.
“But the reality is Rangers survived and not only did they survive, they started to thrive again.
“What we are seeing is much more of a thriving Rangers than a surviving Rangers.
“We have left survival behind us and it is now all about thriving and seeing how far we can go.”
Stewart, though, was far from impressed by Johnston’s comments and replied on Twitter: “Can you imagine if another Scottish Club chairman came out said the opposite about Gers fans!
“Rangers as a club play up to the galleries far too often.
“On the pitch I have huge respect for what the manager and his team are doing but off it this sort of stuff doesn’t help anyone”