Honestly, the sun always shines on the Glencoe Car Park Run.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Hijacking of Rangers Football Club

When the Rangers Empire collapsed under a mountain of debt earlier this year an opportunity arose for a reborn Rangers to rise from the rubble and re-emerge with a fresh philosophy on what the club actually stood for, especially since their name had become mud in many circles through sectarianism, tax-dodging and not paying creditors.

A summer of discontent followed as vultures circled the corpse of the once great club, and in the end all the club’s assets, including, some would say, their history, were purchased for the paltry sum of £5.5million. Still, it was a lot more than the £1 Craig Whyte paid for it the year before.

Throughout all the uncertainty of who would eventually become the new Rangers owner one thing became abundantly clear: Rangers fans wanted ownership of the club.

Unfortunately, they weren’t suitably organised to raise enough funds to put in a formal bid alongside the likes of Bill Miller, Bill Ng or Charles Green, but they knew they held a powerful hand when it came to providing the cash flow any potential owner would need to survive.

This was put to practice when a Walter Smith consortium attempted to hijack Charles Green’s takeover. When news of that move broke fans rallied behind Walter the legend and made it clear in no uncertain terms that the outsider Green should leave town on the first bus, or to put it another way, he should walk away.

However, Green has been around the block more than a few times and was never going to budge once his foot was in the Ibrox door. He knew he’d won a watch for him and his investors. All he had to do to start milking his new cash cow was convince the fans he was the best man for the job. A tough task considering the huge shadow of Walter Smith loomed over him like the grim reaper.

But Green isn’t a man to shirk a challenge. Challenges spur him on. He rolled up his sleeves and got down to the business of making money.

With Walter’s consortium consigned to history there was only one show left in town, and the Charlie Green bandwagon rolled in like a travelling circus.

We’ll dismiss the ranting of John Brown. His star shone brightly for an extremely brief period but turned out to be nothing more than an embarrassing sideshow.

But between the actions of Walter and Bomber, and Craig Whyte’s short tenure, enough seeds of doubt had been sown for the fans to have a healthy distrust of Green and his unknown investors.

Remarkably, especially when one considers those shaky beginnings, over the last few months he’s become something of a Rangers legend. His repeated statements on how everyone outside Govan has an agenda against Rangers has galvanised the at-times fractious support who are now throwing themselves into the new era with renewed vigour and more than a modicum of optimism.

Critics say he’s played to the galleries in order to sell season tickets.

Is there really anything so wrong with that?

He’s a businessman, here for the short-term, hoping to make a profit. This is no secret. To make a profit he has to sell things, whether they are tickets, players or fixed assets.

There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? It’s the way of the business world.

Of course, we could argue about the differing business philosophies regarding short-term and long-term goals, but that’s a lengthy topic for another day.

And this is where everyone agrees Green started to play a blinder, although most non-Rangers people also agree his tactics were somewhat dangerous.

He started out by saying all the things hurting Rangers fans wanted to hear.

There was a bigoted agenda against the club.

Decisions were made out of hate rather than commercial considerations.

He attacked the football authorities and hinted at conspiracies.

Rangers fans sat up and started to listen to the man they had wanted out of town on the first bus only a few weeks before. Some remained dubious but accepted he was the only one to put his, or to be more precise, others money where his mouth was.

Green then faced fans at a Rangers Fans Fighting Fund meeting and promised a share issue that would give the fans a voice in the club.

At the same meeting Ally McCoist was asked about renewing season tickets. He said he couldn’t ask the fans to renew ST’s as he didn’t know which players would be there or where Rangers would be playing and he wouldn’t want it on his conscience that fans hard-earned cash was being spent on something he couldn’t guarantee. Also, he didn’t have full trust in the current board for two reasons; he hadn’t known them long enough yet and because of the actions of the previous incumbents.

He was then asked if he were at the supporters’ side of the table if would he buy a ST. Ally responded, “In a heartbeat.”

That three word reply was enough to convince fans to back the new club by purchasing season tickets. If anything, it was the turning point for Green’s Rangers.

For outsiders reading the minutes of that meeting, meticulously taken by the Vanguard Bears, perhaps one of the most sinister points raised was this -

A representative from Denny informed the panel that he had four reasons why Rangers should go into Division 3. First he believed it would test Charles Green’s resolve; secondly he believed it would show the benefit of Auchenhowie and allow the management team to gain experience. Third, it would galvanise and unite the Rangers support, and lastly it would allow fans to move on and concentrate on defeating the SNP's fight for independence.

‘Concentrate on defeating the SNP’s fight for independence?’

Are Rangers fans a political group?

Combine that statement with that of the Orange Order of Scotland who openly threatened violence should Scotland ever become independent.

And this is what Orange Grand Chaplain the Rev Mervyn Gibson told the crowds in Belfast on the 12th July this year.

“It is important that we assist our Scottish brethren and sisters in any way we can to resist the break-up of the United Kingdom. Brethren and sisters let us know what you need and we will not be found wanting.”

What’s wrong with the Orange Order of Belfast promising to help their Scottish brethren? Surely there’s nothing sinister about brethren sticking together. It’s not as if they’re terrorist organisations.

But what about those brethren in Belfast? Do they have proven terrorist links?

Only last month Shankill UVF leaders were given pride of place on Clifton Street’s Orange lodge which is also the sectarian Anti Catholic orders HQ Balcony, to watch and film their police force being attacked by their fellow sectarian thugs.

So, here we have that missing link. There can be no doubt that the Orange Order and UVF sing from the same hymn sheet, so to speak.

I know that comes as no surprise to many.

Let’s go back to the minutes of the RFFF meeting.

‘…would allow fans to move on and concentrate on defeating the SNP's fight for independence.’

Why on earth would anyone mention this at a meeting about Rangers Football Club?

More to the point is why did the Vanguard Bears feel it necessary to include this statement in the minutes of said meeting?

Surely common sense and logic dictates this has nothing to with football?

Or does it?

It would appear to the casual observer that there can only be one reason for doing so. The Vanguard Bears are sending out a message to those not present at the meeting that the battle against Scottish independence is high on their agenda. They are taking the unionist fight to the stands of Ibrox.

These are the people who are dictating Charles Green’s agenda.

These are the people who Charles Green is pandering to in order to sell season tickets and soon shares.

It would come as no great surprise to discover these same people are the ones who have been writing Charles Green’s latest statements.
Another group tried to encourage fan ownership but they have been cold-shouldered by backroom maneuverings. Why is that? In what was deemed their suicide note, one of the points they raised was this:

Rangers Unite believe there is a private agenda, which is not in the best interests of Rangers supporters.

This was included on releasing a lengthy statement last month. Here we have an organized group of fans who were invited to a meeting along with the Rangers Supporters Trust regarding the future direction and ownership of Rangers. It is quite staggering to read that they believe there is a private agenda.

I wondered why they hadn't expanded on that? Had they been silenced? Where is Rangers Unite now? Their website is now closed down.

However, on the 23rd September 2012 Rangers Unite re-emerged in the public eye and issued the following statement via Rangers Media Forum:

It has been deemed that RST are pursuing a ‘convenient’ plan for buying ‘stock’ in Rangers FC. They are pursuing this avenue with the assistance of Supporters Direct.
Do they believe Dingwall's RST are hijacking Rangers Football Club?

Many suspect the club is being hijacked by Unionists who believe it is their club. They believe it is a club like no other. It is a Protestant and Unionist club. A British club more than a Scottish club. An ideological club more than a football club.

On the subject of the RST's plans Rangers Unite continue:

In our opinion, the RST, at the present time, lack the credibility to be leading a fan’s takeover of the Club. The main problem with their ‘proposal’ is the caveat that, to buy Shares in the Club, ‘all’ Fans would ‘need’ to become members of the RST. We consider this to be both unwanted and unnecessary. We also feel that this ‘plan’ has elements of self interest attached to it. We, therefore, cannot endorse it.

Certain RST Board members are also perceived as divisive within the Rangers Support– most notably, Mr.Dingwall.

From the outside looking in it looks like a battle for the hearts and minds of Rangers fans around the world is under way. What path will they choose?
I had hope, mistakenly perhaps, that The Rangers Standard would be a shining beacon of hope for moderate and intelligent Rangers fans to gather, learn and converse about their club.

Unfortunately, that too has been hijacked. It now spends most of its time obsessing about Phil Mac, Alex Thomson and other perceived and imaginary enemies of Rangers. On the face of it this seems a waste of some very talented writers.

They are looking in the wrong place.

The biggest enemies of Rangers might just be the enemies within.

Do the fans want a modern football club devoid of hate and bigotry?

Or would they rather cling to tainted traditions that have no place in modern Scotland, or modern United Kingdom?

As always those that speak the loudest are those that are heard. Is there a silent majority shuffling on the sidelines waiting on someone, anyone other than themselves, to make a move to save their club from heading down the wrong path?

Is it really just a vocal minority that clings to the past?

Not knowing the answer to those questions I turned to The Rangers Standard to see if they could help.

Alastair McKillop writes:

How many Rangers fans have stopped attending games at Ibrox for reasons entirely unconnected to football? This speaks of a monolithic culture that is exclusionary and restricts what it means to be a Rangers fan, one that is not conducive to debate and dissent. It risks creating a hierarchy of fans with only those who fully subscribe to certain political, religious and cultural associations being ‘true Rangers fans’.

It is perhaps refreshing to know there are intelligent fans willing to question certain elements of the club’s support and the direction they wish to go, but how loud is their voice? Have words such as those generated a healthy level of open debate?

No, I’m afraid not. There wasn’t a single comment under that piece.

Perhaps instead of wasting time belittling a book that, by their own estimation, will be yesterday’s news before too long, Rangers fans should be questioning the future direction of their club.

Or instead of obsessing about a TV News Reporter who writes the occasional blog they could be more inquisitive as to what Charles Green is really up to.

Of course, there’s still the Lawwell Conspiracies to keep them busy.

Their latest fad is calling everyone and anyone sectarian if they don’t like Rangers and speak derogatively of the club or its fans.

Apparently, the word Hun is now sectarian. Has anyone informed the BBC? Stuart Cosgrove uses the word freely on his radio show Off The Ball. Would the BBC allow such free usage of Hun if it was actually sectarian? I don’t believe they would.

The word has been used for many years by supporters of every club in the country to describe Rangers and their fans. Are all these other clubs and their fans sectarian bigots? I don’t believe so.

Technically, Rangers fans may correctly point out that sectarianism doesn’t necessarily have to about religion. And they would be correct.

But it does have to be a sub-division within a group.   

I’d be keen to hear what particular group they think we all belong to that makes our differences sectarian.

By their new reckoning we’re all sectarian bigots if we use what’s deemed by the receiver to be a derogatory term to describe a football club and/or its supporters?

Surely then, playing by those rules, most football fans in the UK must be sectarian bigots. Most fans have probably at some point in their football-watching life shouted or sung something about an opposition team at least once.

And what about those sensitive Rangers fans who have suddenly become offended by the word Hun? Have they never called anyone anything? Did they do so knowing that by doing so they were being sectarian bigots? Did they consider themselves sectarian when calling Aberdeen sheep-shaggers?

I don’t think so.

They are newly-enlightened to this way of thinking. This is the road they want to take.

Any fans calling other fans any names will now be classed as sectarian bigots?

Can’t see that working, can you?

According to Rangers fans English cities like Liverpool, Manchester and London have been hotbeds of sectarianism all these years and no-one’s noticed.

While hurting over their club being seemingly attacked from all sides Rangers fans are lashing out at everyone and anyone. They are trying to drag others down to their level and want others tarred with the same sectarian brush they’ve been tarred with for decades.

Don’t be surprised if they next have the audacity to want the word Hun to be on a par with nigger in terms of offensiveness; as they try comparing their football team’s recent history with hundreds of years of slavery and persecution.

This is the rebirth of The Rangers Empire. It’s going to look much like the last one except for the quality of football on the park. Gone are the days of marquee signings from Europe’s elite. Replaced by a mix-n-match assortment of journeymen who or may not grow into the Rangers jersey.

But one thing will look exactly the same in the new empire: the hard-core fans. These proven sectarian bigots will be the driving force behind the public image of Rangers Football Club for years to come. And still they wonder why no-one in their right mind came in to save the old club from liquidation. Unless the moderate thinkers, of which there are many among the Rangers support, come to the fore, the club’s future is definitely not bright if it’s too orange.


  1. You're absolutely on the money there, Old Pesky.
    The only viewpoints where I would part company with you are
    1) I don't think Green has "played a blinder" - what he is doing is only difficult for people who have a conscience and care about harmful consequences of their actions. But it's a piece of cake for an unprincipled, irresponsible, rabble-rousing hoodlum to pander to the a shower of mindless, hate-filled bigots. We all know how to do it; most of us would be ashamed to even consider descending to that level.
    2) I think it's less a case of The Rangers FC being hi-jacked by extreme Unionist uber-Protestant ideologues and more a case of it reverting to type. The hard core of its supporters are delighted to shed any remaining pretence that they have the slightest interest in dragging themselves up to the minimum standards of civilisation in a modern democracy. RFC was the epitome of a discredited, outmoded supremacist attitude from before I was born until the day it died in abject disgrace. The tribute act which is now operating in its place is pandering to precisely the same anti-social elements for as long as it takes to prise a few million pounds out of anyone stupid enough to fall for the upcoming share issue. Green has no other card he can play.

    Those minor quibbles apart, I think you've summed up the state of play superbly.

  2. Interesting article from Alex Thomson on the debacle.