24 December 2012

2012: The Fall and Rise of The Rangers

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

As we enter the final stages of a turbulent year, now seemed as good a time as any to reflect on the troublesome months that have passed and to take stock of just where Rangers Football Club finds itself today.
The early stages of 2012 witnessed the continuation of a decline in form that left us trailing in the race for the SPL championship. Complete and utter domination had given way to a baffling uncertainty and severe lack of confidence. Winning the title at that point always looked a difficult task but it soon became impossible when, on 14th February, Craig Whyte took the decision to place the company into administration.
The days and weeks that followed were certainly the darkest I can remember as a Rangers supporter and are surpassed in our entire history perhaps only by the tragedies of the Ibrox disasters. The very existence of our proud institution was put at risk by the negligence of two now former owners as an ominous cloud loomed menacingly over our stadium.
The Rangers support of course rallied and a passionate and highly emotional game against Kilmarnock played host to a venting of anger, frustration, defiance, loyalty and sheer love for the Club which may have been playing its final games. The atmosphere was electric; the result not so much. But the players, the staff and the management knew that the Rangers Family were right behind them, ready to stand shoulder to shoulder in our fight for survival.
At this point I would like to take the opportunity to pay immense tribute to Alistair Murdoch McCoist MBE, the man who did more than any other in the fight to keep Rangers alive. Super Ally has served this Club as well as anyone in our history and, as the banner stated at the end of last season, his loyalty and sacrifice will never be forgotten. I can only apologise for the failure to adequately do justice to the contribution the manager has made over the course of the last year. Where would be without him?

After much uncertainty the clouds began to clear as Charles Green and his consortium emerged as the proud new owners of Rangers Football Club. This was only the beginning of the hard work that had to be completed however as Green set about winning over the supporters and putting in place the foundations required to restore our Club back to its former glory.
The early stages of this process were however marred by a somewhat distasteful and bitter side to Scottish football as the relentless bile and hatred shown towards Rangers in our darkest hour continued. We were banished from the SPL and subsequently entered into the fourth-tier of Scottish football, but not before the authorities of course attempted to blackmail and bully the SFL into unprecedentedly parachuting our Club into Division One for their own benefit.
Rangers and its supporters however accepted our fate and season tickets began to sell in their thousands as fans queued for hours to secure their seat for the season that lay ahead. From there on in I’m glad to report that the story has been nothing but positive as we took the first tentative steps on the long and winding road to recovery.
On the park things have been going rather well for Rangers, despite some shaky away performance in the league, and we now find ourselves with a healthy lead at the top of the Third Division and with some emerging talents leading the way in our quest for the title and the first promotion in our illustrious history.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this season and have been pleasantly surprised by our opponents in the fourth-tier who have no doubt relished the opportunity to pit their wits against the biggest Club in Scotland in front of nearly fifty-thousand supporters at Ibrox Stadium. Some of the football has been a joy to behold and recent games against Montrose and Elgin have typified the positives so far this campaign.
Off the park and into the boardroom things are also looking extremely bright for Rangers Football Club as Charles Green has set about implementing a structure which will drive the business forward while also earning his investors a healthy return. None of us should really have any issues with that.
Speaking of investors it would be negligent to ignore the hugely successful Initial Public Offering where Rangers raised a mightily impressive £22M from institutional investors and loyal supporters. Given our league status and limited revenue streams, that is a remarkable achievement and huge credit should go to our Chief Executive and fellow board members who made it happen. My cap is doffed.

In the stands the supporters are also more united than at any time in recent memory and it has been hugely heartening to witness such togetherness as recent tribulations have served only to galvanise our fans.
At this point I must confess that, before the season started, I pictured our stadium being little more than half-full and with attendances dwindling as the cold, harsh winter weather came into play. I’ve never been more delighted to be proved wrong and the story of Rangers and our fans has reached far and wide as foreign journalists have descended upon Ibrox for their opportunity to cover our truly remarkable tale.
The immortal Bill Struth once warned us of days of anxiety but also stated that the glory of the Rangers lies not in never failing but in returning stronger than ever before. Throughout our history we have overcame difficulties and risen back to the top of Scottish football and now we must do so again, albeit in completely unique circumstances.

We may still be in the early stages of our rebuilding process but the signs are certainly positive. Thankfully we look set to end the year on a high, despite 2012 being more likely to be remembered for many lows, and long may it continue.

Finally, I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the Rangers family and to everyone who has visited The Copland Road Organization in 2012. It has been hugely encouraging to receive so much positive feedback throughout the year.

As for Rangers Football Club, its path is very clear: Onwards and Upwards.

18 December 2012

BF1 information, as we get it (newest info at the top)

-via email: "I'm a ST holder in BF1, not affiliated with either group, and I thought I would give my account on the actions of the police tonight.

"The first I knew there was trouble was when I seen around 20-30 UB members running up the back of the section only to be followed by around 15 police who had a look of aggression in their eyes as if they wanted something to happen.

"As it transpired the UB started making their way back down the front of the section only to be met by a wall of police on the stairs pushing, shoving and manhandling people as they walked down the steps. This resulted in people falling over into the rows, causing a crush of people which could have potentially caused a major accident.

"I was one of the members who followed the UB lead out of the ground as I backed their stance, I'm in row J so I was further behind the initial trouble in the concourse so can't comment on what happened there. However when I eventually made my way into the concourse I was met by around 30 police making a barricade around the food outlet and within their guard was an older UB member who was being cuffed by the police. Not 1 or 2 police but around 7 or 8. It was totally over the top and not needed at all.

"I made my way round the back of the police trying to get to the toilet however I was met by over-zealous police who were pushing me about, I'm 6ft2 so I stood my ground to a certain extent and eventually managed to push through to get to the toilet. Whilst in the toilet I heard the noise increase and there were songs directed at the police being aired. I quickly made my way back into the concourse.

"As I walked out I was subjected to more police brutality, both directed at myself and UB members. The UB lad I earlier mentioned was being held on the floor by 5 policemen with a further 2 standing over him. Totally unnecessary. He wasn't fighting back before I went into the toilet and so I see no need for the brutality he faced. At this point I also seen another UB member in cuffs, the boy in question looked no older than 16-17 so having 3 policemen restraining him was totally over the top. A farce. Disgusting to see.

"There were around 200 people there protesting at the treatment these fans were facing however the police didn't take to kindly to being videoed and started waving their truncheons at anyone in sight. I seen children much younger than myself, 12-15, being struck by the police and being pushed about by the police. As I was walking out calmly a policeman pushed me on my blind side and I moved slightly, I turned to ask him why and try to explain I wanted no trouble and I would make my way out quickly. I was then pushed into a wall and struck with a truncheon lightly to get me to hurry up. I felt this was way over the top. I'm lucky I was big enough, and heavy enough, not to be harmed too much from this brutality from the police however there was younger teenagers not as developed as myself who faced the same brutality. A 6ft5 policeman pushing a teenager to the ground as I was out the ground being one incident I remember. To make matters worse, as I was walking away the police charged fans on horses which prevented fans from walking on the pavement."


-Plenty of reports from the BF1 and surrounding area of batons coming out.

-Reach out to the CRO and let us know what you saw: info@thecoplandroad.org or via twitter: @Coplandroadorg

via twitter
-via twitter: "sit in bf3 went to loo,in foyer policeman was cracking his stick towards fans.cop looked well seething n up for lashing out"

-via twitter: "I saw a wee guy get hooked from a police officer just as the melee broke out at the pie stall, I was with my 7 year old"

-Still a lot of half-info and whatnot trickling in. We're going to try to keep it slow until we can verify some of this and get it square for you guys.

-via twitter: "I counted 7 police vehicles and umpteen Stasi on horseback and on foot when leaving BF1 tonight."

-via twitter: "Fucking shambles. Canny justify the scenes in our section tonight. Police brutality at its best. Trampling over fans and throwing punches."

-You can send info, pictures or video to info@thecoplandroad.org or via twitter: @Coplandroadorg

-A lot of mixed info coming in from all over the place. Trying to pin down what's what.

-via email: "ST In BF1 and UB member.  Police grabbed a guy and tried to arrest him, few boys went to investigate and ask why, they suddenly stormed us all and that was when we decided to all walk out and they just started lashing out at anyone who was within range.  A video floating around of police tackling a young boy to the ground and few others getting hits in on him."

17 December 2012

Angela Haggerty, at the bat

By Chris Graham | CRO Contributor 

Whilst chuckling at the latest installment of propaganda from a relatively new heroine of the Celtic online ‘family’, I thought it would be worth finding a proper description of the malady that is currently afflicting a rather large and vocal group of football fans in Scotland. I found the following:

The study of collective delusions most commonly falls within the domain of sociologists working in the sub-field of collective behaviour, and psychologists specializing in social psychology. Collective delusions are typified as the spontaneous, rapid spread of false or exaggerated beliefs within a population at large, temporarily affecting a particular region, culture, or country. Mass hysteria is most commonly studied by psychiatrists and physicians. Episodes typically affect small, tightly knit groups in enclosed settings such as schools, factories, convents and orphanages (Calmeil 1845; Hirsch 1883; Sirois 1974).

I am no sociologist or psychologist but I’d imagine these types of issues manifest themselves in a complete refusal to accept any evidence that refutes the delusion that you are currently experiencing. So, for example, if you desperately want Rangers to have ceased to exist, and have been told by several of your high profile chums that they have indeed “died”, then you will obviously not want to hear from the football authorities that you got it so wrong. 

In these circumstances it would appear to be best to ignore what you know to be true and just continue with the same old tired propaganda you’ve been trotting out for months. It must be particularly hard if you have taken the first faltering steps of your career based on these delusions and now find that you’ve made something of an idiot of yourself.

Up steps Angela Haggerty. 

Angela, as some of you will know, has several remarkable skills. Firstly she can apparently read books upside down, if her appearance on Channel 4 news is anything to go by. Angela is also the editor of a fiction book loosely connected with Scottish football and written by the ‘author’, ‘journalist’, blogger and bigot, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. This work of fiction was recently reviewed in the Scotsman newspaper:

“The sirens started to sound at the first of several references to Rangers supporters as 'the Ibrox klan'. The author makes no attempt to disguise his hatred for Rangers, stating at one stage 'please let this football club die'. And yet he yearns to be taken seriously as a journalist, repeatedly complaining that no-one from the mainstream media ever calls him. As the tale unravels, Mac Giolla Bhain starts to disappear up his own rear, declaring: 'I am aware of my own contribution and I rather like the guy I see in the shaving mirror every morning.' These are two classic mistakes: believing you are the story, and wanting a story to be true. When it’s not.”

So there we have it, a work of fiction. One might be forgiven for wondering if perhaps Angela edited the book upside down as well as reading it that way. Perhaps she was just trying to get it to make sense? Either way, the review is not exactly a ringing endorsement of her work but it seems Angela has not learned from her mistakes. “Wanting a story to be true, when it’s not” is very much the basis for Angela’s work.

Angela’s most recent foray into writing is entitled “Why the word Sevco matters”. Snappy. The first line will give you an idea of where we are going here: “Yes, Sevco. Yes, a different club. Yes, it matters.” We then go on to find out that, “Yes, the new team plays at Ibrox. Yes, the new team plays in blue. Yes, the same supporters go to see them and yes, that is probably satisfactory enough for those supporters to believe it is the same club.”

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes? Well, no. Actually Angela, that isn’t satisfactory. Here are a few things that are satisfactory though.

The SFA has already confirmed the club’s continuance by transferring the license, albeit by blackmailing the club into accepting several sanctions and propping up the Sky deal. Angela is confused about this, she thinks “Sevco is a new club and rules were created on-the-go by the SFA to accommodate it.” She doesn’t enlighten us as to what these rules are or where we can read them. That is because they only exist in her head and the heads of those also afflicted by this mass delusion. The licence was transferred; there is no new club, Angela.

Then we have the European Club Association (ECA) which is the only body recognised by FIFA and UEFA as representing clubs at European level. Their stance on this is again quite clear. Rangers are the same club they have always been. They have been relegated and are therefore not able to hold the same level of membership of the ECA as before but “it was concluded that Rangers FC was entitled to associated membership of ECA as considered to be a founding member.” 

This is somewhat problematic for Angela and her fellow deluded as it is not clear how “Sevco”, being a “new club”, could also be a founding member of an organisation that began in 2008.

Then we have UEFA. Now, Angela thinks UEFA don’t recognise Rangers as the same club because they will not grant the club a license. This won’t come as a surprise but again Angela is confused. This is a Financial Fair Play rule and effectively exists for precisely the type of scenario that the club finds itself in. We are effectively banned from Europe for 3 years for going into administration and emerging with a new company in charge.

UEFA have just published their coefficients for European competition for 2012/13. Rangers are ranked 88th. Our history in Europe for the past 5 years is acknowledged, as normal, as part of those coefficient tables. So Angela would have us believe that a new club, formed at the start of this season, has somehow managed to gain a European ranking above the likes of Newcastle, Auxerre, Rosenborg and others - quite an achievement. 

So the SFA, ECA, SFL and UEFA all recognise Rangers, the club that has existed since 1872 and does so today. Up against that we have Angela Haggerty, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, Paul McConville, Brian McNally, BBC Scotland and various assorted waifs and strays from the online fan bases of several Scottish clubs who can’t bring themselves to accept that we survived. This is a mass delusion that will continue to be fed daily by the zealots who inhabit the green and grey corners of cyberspace.

So let me change that paragraph in your most recent ramblings for you Angela - for the sake of accuracy which I know you will value being a journalist

“Yes, the new team plays at Ibrox. Yes, the new team plays in blue. Yes, the same supporters go to see them. Yes, the team is called Rangers. Yes, UEFA recognise them as the same club. Yes, the ECA recognise them as the same club. Yes, the SFA recognise them as the same club, Yes, the SFL recognise them as the same club and yes, that is probably satisfactory enough for those supporters to believe it is the same club.” 

There we go, much better. Most satisfactory! Now, you were saying?

11 December 2012

The IPO – is it a fair share? Are the questions answered?

By Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

A while ago I put some questions out there regarding the upcoming share issue. Now, with the prospectus issued, I'll try to lend a few answers.

And please note, this isn’t financial advice, or advice of any sort. It’s some thoughts on what jumped out of the prospectus for me. You can download the prospectus and application details at www.rangersshareoffer.com.

So what is on offer?

Shares are available in a new company created on 19 November 2012, Rangers International Football Club plc. Up to 72m shares will be listed on AIM.

There are Offer shares, which are open to us fans; Placing shares which are being placed with institutional investors (investment funds and the like); and Acquisition Shares which will be issued to existing shareholders in Rangers Football Club Limited (Green, Ahmed, Blue Pitch etc) in exchange for the shares they hold at the minute. RFCL will be a 100% subsidiary of Rangers International Football Club plc.

If all placing and offer shares are sold (at 70 pence each) the split of ownership would look like this:

Offer shares – 19.9%
Placing shares – 33.7%
Acquisition shares – 46.4%

What financial state is the club currently in?

Income statement

The prospectus sets out trading information for the three months to 31 August 2012. This is about all they could do, but is not very representative of where we are now. At that time we'd only had the East Stirlingshire SFL3 league game, and the East Fife and Falkirk League Cup games at home. There was a £3.8m operating loss in that period, but a write back of £17m associated with goodwill that was obtained for nothing when Green & Co bought the club turns into a near £13m profit. That is a one-off and therefore won’t be repeated.

In short, it’s difficult to unpick all that is going on in those three months and only three home games in that time. The important bit will be to ensure we run at an operating profit over the course of a full year, given current wages and conditions, and we won’t know that until we see it. The Prospectus includes a statement that the Directors expect the club to be profitable and a self-sustaining organisation, which is hardly a surprise.

Balance sheet

This lists the assets and liabilities of the company at 31 August 2012. In total it shows a net book value (total assets less total liabilities) of £47.8m. That is rather different to the £5.5m Green & Co paid for the club’s assets. Why?

There are two major reasons: First, Ibrox and Murray Park are now valued at £43.5m rather than the £1.5m in the purchase agreement. This is on a discounted cashflow basis as agreed by the directors using a 12.25% discount rate. The £80m valuation, quoted in the press, is the depreciated replacement cost. This is separate and is not a balance sheet item.

And net £16m of goodwill (the brand) is now being recognised on the balance sheet. Add in a few other smaller assets and liabilities and the net position is £47.8m.

What has been done or will be done with the season-ticket money which should be used to cover the running costs? What is the current cash balance held by the club?

There was a cash balance of £4.1m at 31 August 2012. Some cash will have gone to running costs and not all season ticket cash would have been collected by the end of August due to the Direct Debit scheme. Elsewhere in the document it tells us over 35k season tickets were sold by 31 August at an average of £219 bringing in around £7.78m in season ticket sales. In addition to this a further £5.575m has been invested by new shareholders after 31 August.

How much has Green’s consortium put into the club? Looks to be £9.5m plus £5.575m after the 31 August 2012 from new shareholders (prior to the IPO).

How much of the £5.5m paid for the club has been turned into a shareholder debt repayable by the club? None.

Has any more capital been injected into the club in the form of loans? No

We can't spend it on buying/registering senior players prior to 1 January 2014, so why a share issue to fans now? Or, to put it another way: If you handed Charles Green £500+ to spend for the club what would you want him to do with it?

If the IPO is fully taken up should raise a net £24.5m for the Club. A summary is laid out for how it is intended to be spent:

£5.5m for Ibrox upgrades.
£4.5m to purchase land assets adjacent to Ibrox.
£3m for other projects that would bring additional revenue streams and working capital (no figure given).

If enough is raised a further £3.5m would be spent on Ibrox and £2m on other projects. So that would account for £18.5m of £24.5m.

There isn’t a lot of detail on the projects but it would appear the moving the shop to Edmiston House would take place, with the ticket office moving to the existing Megastore. Upgrades to catering and bar facilities within the ground would be among the projects identified.

What are the consequences if the IPO does not attract sufficient interest? Is it being underwritten?

The IPO is not being underwritten. It is stated that Cenkos Securities have signed up £17m in placing shares from institutions, but this has not yet been received although it is likely to be. Names like Artemis, Legal & General, Insight Investment, Hargreave Hale and Cazenove are included in the prospectus as purchasing Placing Shares.

As regards the Offer shares if we don’t buy the shares, again it is not underwritten. It would mean the additional upgrades to Ibrox and other additional projects would be unlikely to go ahead.

Valuation

To put it in Dragons’ Den terms, the fans are being asked for £10m for just under 20% of the company, which values the club at just over £50m. A long way from the £5.5m paid for the assets. Of course the future of the club is a little clearer now than it was then. Still, it’s quite a hefty amount for where we are currently.

On the other hand, there are household names from the investment industry that are taking shares at the same price, so they must see an attraction. Once the shares actually start trading they could of course move up or down in price. If there are more sellers than buyers, the price goes down and you get more shares for your money than through the IPO (a prize for stating the obvious) and vice-versa.

The prospectus identifies ‘Locked-in Shareholders’ i.e. Directors and key staff who wont be able to sell for 12 months and some institutions have agreed not to sell for six months and to contact Cenkos so that orderly trading can be achieved. But don’t necessarily expect other investors to be around for long if there is a gain to be had. Once the shares are trading, there is no available mechanism to ensure that no shareholder owns no more than 10 or 15%. Shares could be bought on the open market and at certain levels, the City Code (regarding takeovers) would kick in.

Other points

  • Green already owns 15% of shares in the company (likely to be diluted down to around 7-8%) and he paid £50k for them.
  • Super already owns 2.99%!
  • Two new non-executive directors have been appointed.
  • Lots of risks/uncertainties highlighted re: future prospects.
  • Prospectus makes mention of trying to get back to the SPL by season 2015-16 although reconstruction may accelerate this.
  • Football performance/success has obvious link to parts of the value of the shares.

Statement re: the liquidators and creditors of RFC 2012 plc (OldCo): Although it acted in good faith, RFCL ‘cannot be certain that a liquidator or a creditor of RFC 2012 plc would not seek to try to establish grounds under the provisions of the Insolvency Act 1986 to challenge the acts of the administrators of RFC 2012 plc, the Directors consider that all necessary steps have been taken to ensure historic liabilities of RFC 2012 plc remain with RFC 2012 plc and that the APA is valid, binding and enforceable.’

Purchase agreement bought lease to Albion Car Park which RCFL is now trying to buy out for £1.5m. RFCL own 51% of the Retail JV with Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct. The Sport Direct group has agreed a £1.5m borrowing facility with the JV that if taken up would see debentures secured in Sports Direct's favour against the (presumably new) Megastore.

So in conclusion it’s difficult to assess the financial position right now at December 2012 from only three months figures to August, but we know broadly where the IPO money would be spent – on the ground and surrounding Ibrox and on projects that would (we hope) open additional revenue streams. The valuation is pretty steep, in fact it’s my biggest hang-up with all of this. Are we worth £50m here and now? Strikes me that the fans are being asked to pay a premium AND take the risks with it. Particularly given the price of the shares could be volatile.

The choice is yours: £500 minimum as an individual or as an alternative you might consider £125 via the RST. Some fans like the idea, some don’t; have a look at www.buyrangers.org and see for yourself. Or sit it out and wait for the shares to start trading to see what happens to the price.

I’ve tried to answer a few of the questions a few weeks ago. And I know for some the financial ins and outs of it won’t really matter - it’s a chance to buy a piece of Rangers. But I don’t see it as a cheap price. Ultimately do you trust Charles Green and the Board to do the right thing?

There isn’t a great deal else to go on. To me, this is what you would class as a punt.

10 December 2012

Here's to the Next 140 Years

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor


Four men had a dream
To start a football team
They had no money, no kit, not even a ball
But they carried on
The Rangers were born
54 titles, we’re still going strong


 


 Saturday was quite an occasion, wasn’t it?

Rangers Football Club and its loyal supporters this weekend celebrated 140 years of our proud institution and commemorated the numerous achievements, successes and victories throughout our illustrious history. It was always going to be an emotional day, heightened certainly by the recent tribulations we have overcome, and so it proved to be.

Stirling Albion were the visitors for league duty in the Third Division however, in truth, Saturday was about much more than the football on the park. The Rangers supporters filtered into Ibrox before kick-off and were treated to a very moving montage on the big screens, chronologically passing through the most noteworthy moments throughout the years.
The crowd revisited our humble beginnings, were taken through the domination of the Struth era and of course shown that famous night in Barcelona. There was also a poignant reminder of the tragedies that have shaped our Club, particularly the Ibrox disaster of 1971, and we should never forget those who came to watch their team and sadly never returned home.

Then of course there was 9-in-a-row which, quite frankly, speaks for itself. We marvelled at the talents of Laudrup and Gascoigne and then were quickly fast-forwarded into the days of De Boer, Van Bronckhorst and Mols. We remembered that Lovenkrands’ header in the last minute of the Scottish Cup final. We remembered Helicopter Sunday.

Thereafter came the darker days of the McLeish / Le Guen years before Walter Smith returned when duty called. He brought us that famous night in Florence, when Nacho Novo sent Rangers to Manchester and the three titles that followed, despite crippling financial difficulties. And then came McCoist. What comes next in our story is really up to him.  

The match itself started in fine fashion with Rangers creating numerous chances to open the scoring. Sadly our finishing left a lot to be desired and Stirling Albion weathered the storm, settled down and eventually restricted our chances. The huge crowd of 49,913 though weren’t put off by the lack of goals and the BF1 ‘mad squad’ in particular were doing a fine job in creating an atmosphere.

The half-time whistle sounded and the players made their way down the tunnel. Then came the main attraction. Andy Gray emerged from the tunnel, microphone in hand, and began to speak of our history and of the various successes achieved by Rangers Football Club.

After a quick recap of our numerous titles and trophies, it was time to welcome some of the great men who were crucial in the creation of such a fine history. From Bobby Brown, the final barricade of the famous Iron Curtain defence, right through to Lorenzo Amoruso and Michael Mols, we were treated again to the presence of some fantastic footballers.

There was of course one man sadly missing from the celebrations, someone who has been a great Ranger both as a player and as an ambassador of the Club. This man fought as hard as anybody to keep our club alive following our entry into administration and for that he deserves great recognition. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing him well in his recovery. All the best, Sandy.

The half-time proceedings were very emotional and it was great to witness the legends of our Club receiving such a rapturous welcome by the supporters in the stadium. There have been many proud moments in my life as a Rangers supporter but Saturday was right up there with the very best of them. I must admit it was very difficult not to shed a tear.

While Saturday was about acknowledging and appreciating our past, it was also about building for the future as the current team secured another home win to remain at the top of the table. Ally McCoist’s rebuilding job continues as we seek to get back to where we belong – the top of Scottish football.

The rest of the Rangers’ story remains unwritten, blank pages waiting to be filled. So much potential, so much hope. Here’s to the next 140 years.

Rangers: Then, Now, Forever.

 


30 November 2012

Everything is Just Fine, Honest

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor


The creation of the Scottish Premier League was said to have “heralded a new dawn in the history of Scottish Football with the top clubs taking control of their own destiny to drive the game forward on and off the park and deliver a brighter future”, at least according to its website. And to be fair, the SPL produced some remarkable league championships and witnessed some outstanding talents from across the continent ply their trade in our country. Sadly though, those days are but a distant memory.
In theory, this breakaway from the original Scottish Football League would drive our national game forward, making it richer, more exciting and bringing more quality to supporters and viewers alike. In actual fact, the reverse of such an effect resulted as a promising start gradually faded into the dark and harsh reality that it on show today.

The SPL, quite simply, is a failing product and fans have turned away in their thousands from the top-tier as high quality football from England & Spain has become more readily available to your average household. There has been no response to this in our country. There has been no innovation. There have been no big ideas. We have allowed our game to stagnate and we are now seeing the consequences of such apathy in abundance.

Neil Doncaster though apparently disagrees. Today he was on the record as saying that everything was just fine in the Scottish Premier League, that attendances were up for half of its member clubs and that the banishment of Rangers has had minimal impact on proceedings thus far. He also claimed that “Scottish football is renowned worldwide in a very positive light; renowned for its passion, drama and excitement”. It’s a shame football fans in this country don’t see things the same way, isn’t it, Neil?

Mr Doncaster’s attendance claims are of course aided by the fact that there were two new clubs promoted into the league, which naturally increases the crowds of any club moving up a division. He does however fail to mention the estimated £30M lost to the game in broadcasting revenue alone through the decision to omit the country’s biggest club from the top-flight. What a surprise.

Doncaster also appears to be completely oblivious to the current financial crisis at Heart of Midlothian FC and the various financial losses recorded by clubs in their most recent financial year, when incidentally Rangers were still a member of the league. The accounts for this season should certainly make interesting reading in about twelve month’s time. Bank managers across the country may already be getting rather edgy as it is. I suspect Neil is already preparing his next round of excuses or mistruths for when that time eventually arrives.

There has been a lot made about the competitiveness of the SPL since Rangers’ departure however this seems to have had little or no effect on attendances or viewing figures whatsoever. In fact, the League is reliant upon 15 games involving a certain Third Division club to prop itself up, at least temporarily. What does that tell you?

Even the current SPL Champions can’t be bothered to turn up and watch this newly exciting and competitive league. A conservative estimate would probably account for a drop of twenty-thousand people at Parkhead each and every game in comparison to last season and that in itself tells a hugely concerning story for everyone connected with the top-tier. Even more so when you consider the biggest attendances and largest viewing figures lie with Rangers in the Third Division. And don’t even get me started on “Sell-Out Saturday”.

I’m afraid that Neil Doncaster must surely have joined Peter Lawwell, the master puppeteer, in his parallel universe somewhere far beyond the reality of Scottish football. He cannot be oblivious to the failings that lie in front of his very eyes and he is insulting the intelligence of every supporter in the country with his claims that all is hunky dory in the Premier League.

There is a very good reason that league reconstruction is being pushed to the forefront of discussions at this moment in time. The fact of the matter is that changes have to be made, particularly at the top end of our game, if we wish to revitalise and improve the standards in this country. What is unfortunate however is that incompetent idiots like Regan & Doncaster are involved in such talks and, in all honesty, both should have been shown the door quite some time ago.


A couple of weekend’s ago Rangers hosted Peterhead at Ibrox Stadium in front of a crowd of 48,500 people, the biggest crowd in Scotland that weekend yet again. There were four SPL games played on the same day and the combined attendances narrowly scraped over the 16,000 mark. Rather embarrassing for a supposedly thriving league, wouldn’t you say?
If Neil Doncaster wishes to continue to ignore the facts which are unavoidable for most supporters in this country then he can be my guest. I hold no sympathy for the Scottish Premier League or its member clubs. I hold no sympathy for the fans who urged their chairmen to vote the biggest asset out of the competition.


They have made their bed, now they must lie in it.

29 November 2012

The King in Waiting


by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

David Longmuir had a very busy past weekend. He was already due to attend the Supporters Direct conference at Falkirk when he received a call on Friday afternoon about the Elgin debacle. Too many tickets sold. Game called off. 

Longmuir addressed the Supporters Direct meeting in Falkirk on Sunday as planned. He was presenting his plans for reconstruction to the fans: The end users. The consumers. What a nice change of pace for a Scottish football administrator. 

Notable then that one of the primary themes was a fairer distribution of money around the Scottish game. He pointed out the disparity of getting 10 times the prize money for finishing bottom of the SPL than for winning Division One. 

It’s a redistribution question that Rangers ignored for years, and I hope finally that we work to our fellow member SFL clubs to sort it out. That will of course meet strong resistance from current SPL clubs, but a compromise will have to be struck. After all, it's for the good of supporters up and down the country if all the clubs are present and accounted for financially.

The Elgin call off has provided an unexpected test of leadership for Longmuir, and when called upon how has he reacted? Only five days later we have the decision - Elgin will be fined £25k (peculiarly £5k of which to a charity of Rangers choice, a classy and unexpected touch) and pay Rangers expenses. 

It sounds pretty harsh for a 3
rd Division side, although points could have been deducted as well. Reverberations on Twitter indicated RFC support was overwhelmingly opposed to any such punishment.

There is reason to feel sorry for Elgin: had Rangers not ended up in Division 3 then it wouldn’t have happened. Division 3 infrastructure was never meant to cope with a club the size of Rangers. 

The flip side of that is that our presence in the SFL has started the redistribution of money in Scottish football by default. It presents a great opportunity for the smaller clubs to make good money for once, to clear their books up not for weeks or months but for years to come. 

Elgin made a mess of it, and it’s not clear whether by accident or actions of greed, but make a mess of it they did. And the level of the fine is commensurate to the fact that big TV companies and big TV contracts were involved. I can’t imagine ESPN were exactly pleased. Longmuir doesn’t want a repeat or to diminish the SFL’s ability to deliver big TV contracts in the future.

And it must be remembered that he is a football administrator. And rules are rules, they must be applied (with a little bit of common sense thrown in). Maybe not all football administrators are useless after all.

In contrast, think of the SFA and SPL faffing about re: Rangers and the way they effectively passed the buck to the SFL. Backward thinking, illegal punishments, inaction and paralysis dominate.

Think of the SFA faffing about over letting Levein go, or not actually letting him go, but not letting him be manager anymore whilst still paying him £35k a month for the remainder of his contract. They took an age and still made some shocking decisions.  

I’m not sure of the circumstances around the reconstruction plans taking shape but it’s clear the SFL and SPL weren’t working together on it. Longmuir and the SFL got a jump on the SPL by announcing their plans first, the SPL again made to look sluggish and reactive. 

Of course SPL teams will carry some weight around reconstruction, but they won’t have it all their own way and sorting it out demands quality leadership, something the SPL does not have at the minute. 

Longmuir will reiterate his ideas on reconstruction to the Professional Game Board of the SFA on Wednesday. The SPL will be pitching too. The future of the game is up for grabs. Battle lines will be drawn. What will the SFA do?

I have also been also impressed by his comments on inflated ticket prices for Rangers visits -- it’s what the SPL clubs did to our away fans for years and years, so it's certainly nothing new in our world.

Elgin apparently increased ticket prices on their oversold match, and Queen's Park popping for a maximum £20 a ticket for our game at Hampden on 29 December has raised eyebrows and drawn criticism from Longmuir. A football body standing up for the fans? That’ll do for me. 

Inability to lead and ineptitude from the SFA and SPL has crippled Scottish football, and the Rangers saga has only gone to magnify their failures. The game is suffering a long lingering death, entangled in politics and in-fighting, with further cracks appearing at board level. Who really thought Baldy Thompson being the first to jump ship?

David Longmuir and the SFL appear to be different. We have a king in waiting and the anointment should be at the earliest opportunity. Longmuir to head up a revamped and overhauled two tier SPL as a compromise? Don’t count it out yet. Money talks, and SPL clubs swimming in pools of debt facilitated by Neil Doncaster and Stewie Regan's abdication of leadership should not soon be forgotten.

So arise David Longmuir. You've got our backing. Now don't go bollocksing it up.

28 November 2012

The Minority Rules

by Scott Ferguson | CRO Guest Contributor 

Gasps of horror!



Mouths open in disbelief!


Hooped shirts drenched with cold sweats!


An impossible nightmare became a reality … and I don’t mean Freddy Krueger.


For many the world ended a little earlier than the Mayans had predicted when the long awaited result came in…


… Rangers had won the Big Tax Case!


Suddenly the haters and enablers were thrown into the twilight zone with that familiar music ringing in their ears. Doo Doo Doo Doo!
‘Quick! Someone save us from this!  This can’t be real….nooooooooooo!!!!!’


‘To the RangersTaxCase website!  He will have the answers. He always has the answers!’


‘Holy virtual shredding Vatman!  It’s disappearing in front of my eyes!!!!
Alas, this panic didn’t last too long as the usual instigators came to the rescue.  It appears Rangers only won by 2 to 1…phew!

Apparently this wasn’t a victory. The logic I’m sure you’ll agree is baffling but I’d be lying if I said it surprised me.


It seems the reasoning behind this is that a 2 to 1 decision in ‘these cases’ is highly unusual.


‘These cases?’


If only we had known that there had been so many precedents set for EBT Tribunal battles between HMRC and football clubs. I must have missed them all.


But, wait, wasn’t I told that HM Revenue & Customs were treating this as some sort of ‘test case’ with Rangers Football Club and the Murray Group playing the role of the guinea pig?


Now, the same people who told us we should never question the decisions of esteemed law lords in any manner of tribunal have now decided that that is indeed utter bollocks and have now began doing so, at great length and with great enthusiasm.


Thanks to Dr Heidi Poon, the only member of the panel who incidentally is not a lawyer, the great obsessed are still largely living in denial.


Given the complete ignorance of the majority opinion it does indeed seem that the minority rules.


In the process of ignoring the opinions of the majority many are now instead revelling in the opinion of someone who was paying such close attention to things that she has subsequently awarded Rangers a ‘UEFA Championship’ which, according to her, resulted in six of these sub-trusts being created. Quite remarkable isn’t it?


Thank goodness the entire fate of the Big Tax Case wasn’t decided by her understanding of the offside rule! N.B. The CRO legal team have advised me to state that this comment is not sexist in any way, shape or form...honest.


Alex ‘Tomoblog’ Thomson became the latest to jump on the bandwagon of denial when he released his latest entry whilst sitting sipping coffee at Starbucks after returning from a successful spell in Gaza where his Vodafone network signal seemed to serve him rather well.


Mr Thomson claims that Rangers, who were all but guilty whilst under appeal, can now NOT be considered innocent on the off-chance that there may be another appeal by HMRC. Again, the logic is completely baffling but we should be used to that by now I suppose.


Oh, and now Rangers FC are wholly responsible for a library being closed in Govan apparently. Thanks for that insight, Alex.


I foresee that in the months that will follow the usual suspects will continue to spread this nonsense until the minority belief once again will become the majority opinion. Contrary to the official decision, the majority will again begin to believe that Rangers are still guilty. This will at least continue until the Kangaroo Court under the SPL banner reveals their decision.


If Rangers are deemed innocent I’m sure at this point they will apologise and admit their mistakes, won’t they? Okay, probably not. 


What is more likely is that they will continue to push their agendas until enough people believe in the minority. There would appear to be science behind this, an art of convincing so many that the truth is not what we have been told and not what the facts continue to tell us.


A few years ago at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, a study was conducted by scientists into how a minority opinion becomes a majority one.


“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”


So, once 10% of the population becomes committed to an idea it is highly likely that it could eventually become the opinion of the majority.


The key it would seem is to stay committed to your ‘opinion’. And they undoubtedly will. What other choice do they have - admit they were wrong? Will they say they are sorry and show contrition?


None of the above is likely.


Our only hope is to continue to fight those that appear to want to blacken the name of our club at any cost, regardless of any facts that get in their way.


Every Rangers fan needs to stand up and be counted and ensure that the truth comes to the surface.


A good starting point would be by adding your name to this petition:


http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/42143


Those that have used underhand and potentially illegal tactics to attack Rangers Football Club need to be held accountable.


Only when the majority are on board will the haters and enablers be discredited and finally silenced.



Scott checks in at the CRO and with our friends The Rangers Standard from time-to-time. He can be found on twitter at @st2oh

27 November 2012

Since the rest of the Scottish media will run as far from this as possible, we'll go ahead and post it up, let you make your own decisions instead of trying to fit this under the rug. That fucking thing is PACKED with stuff that's been swept under already.

Just in case you want to read beyond the headline, here's your link.

Underclass indeed. As you were...

26 November 2012

This post has been legally cleared by CRO lawyers

By Shane Nicholson | CRO Executive Editor

There are methods shoddy journalists will use to fill in the gaps in their reporting, or make themselves look a bit more credible than they are. Anonymous sources are always a winner, or playing the travel card -- I couldn't cover it. I was on my way to such-and-such and there is no such thing as mobile internet connections in my universe.

BEWARE: Marks of the perpetually lazy.

One of the all-time greats is trying to make it appear as if your story is so cutting, so mad raging shit-stormingly awesome, that you had to have your outlet's legal department pick through every word with a fine-toothed comb before releasing it:


Nothing this stain on modern journalism reports in regards to Rangers is worthy of this type of clearance, and as for his "tax experts," well, we know who they are. Bravo on working "downfall" into your close for this piece, Alex. What'd you win in RTC bingo this week?

This is A1 in the handbook on how to take a story in which you have no part to play, zero significance that you haven't already created by your own hand, and perpetuating your continued involvement. What I'm saying is so mind-blowingly fucking spectacular I had to have a dozen lawyers read it first.

No, you didn't. And if Channel 4 is making you screen your shit past their legal department first now it's only so you don't get them on David Murray's ever growing litigation hit list, Alex.

You're a con artist, and you can't stop the momentum of your own downfall now, so you figure you might as well ride it out. Your pay plan must have a heavy bonus for web-traffic, a trick learned from the freelance golfist, no doubt.

If I was a betting man, I'd say "legally cleared" in this case roughly translates to "waiting for the intern on the web-side to remove all the soft returns from my story so it isn't a complete fucking mess when it hits the site."

I'm not sure you could climb any further up your own ass at this point, Alex, but it's going to be fun watching you try.

23 November 2012

Phil's bad week

By the time Friday arrived, it was almost as if Swift himself had penned it.

Ol' 3-187names is not having a good past few days, we think. Chin up, Phil. Weekend's coming!

Thanksgiving, or Why we don't have a comments section

There's been a common question throughout the existence of the CRO from fans, enemies, moderately interested souls, passersby, wives, etc. etc. That would be, "Why don't you have a comments section?"

The simple answer is, I don't want one. Moderating such a thing seems a terrible nuisance, and you can imagine the type of people we'd end up with commenting on our site.

Beyond that, you are more than welcome to talk to us individually on Twitter, fire us an email, harass us in the various forums we inhabit, threaten to brutally beat someone you believe to be one of us (it's not) at the pub... whatever floats your boat.

I don't see the value, and I'd recommend any other Rangers blogger who doesn't thrive off the rush of a comments section to resist the urge. It will not only drive you insane, there's every chance it will neuter your work. Here's an example by the brilliant Matthew Inman, otherwise known on the interwebs as The Oatmeal:

You can and should read this whole cartoon. We take absolutely no credit for its level of amazing.
Very funny. Very true. And with what goes on in the little world of Scottish football Andy and I would go mental trying to keep up. That's why we contracted with Do the Bouncy to be our de facto forum, and they are excellent sports because I'm doing a terrible job at getting our stories up there the past couple weeks.

Anyway, moral is, comments can be good. We're never going to have them on the site. Please please please always feel free to send us a note on Twitter or via email. We're all good sports and enjoy the discussion.

So with that, I'd like to extend a big THANK YOU to all of our readers and followers, and I know all the rest of the crew would join me in doing the same. It's been a great bit of fun bringing you guys Rangers news and views since the summer, and we've no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

-Shane

22 November 2012

The Truth

by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor
 
 
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
 
Winston Churchill

 
Lies are quick because they are easily made up. And they are so often made up purely to hide the truth. Eventually however they catch up with the liars and those trying to conceal the truth will do one of two things – repeat the lies in an attempt to get people to accept it as the ‘truth’ or alternatively they will provide a stubborn wall of silence. They will never ask questions, nor will they field them. Questions are troublesome to liars and are therefore ignored or deflected because questions are trying to get at the facts. And the facts would reveal the truth. You can’t make them up. And if you do try and make them up, people see through them, eventually.

This is what we have witnessed throughout the troubles at Rangers. The truth has been and to a large extent still is elusive. The lies, misinformation, manipulation of fact and propaganda have come thick and fast from Rangers-haters over the past year and more. It has been almost relentless.

 This narrative was apparent at last week’s Celtic AGM. Truth-teller Britney tweeted:

 “Punter at Celtic AGM calls Rangers/EBTs scandal ‘the biggest fraud in the history of sport.’ Whooping and clapping greets his remarks. .”

 As it turns out the punter may yet be right, but most definitely not in the way they meant. In any case the propaganda had done its job. Fantasy had become fact. It was never questioned, simply repeated and repeated time and time again.

 For some it was too easy to believe because they desperately wanted it to be true. Eventually many others believed - other clubs’ fans believed, even some journalists believed it or least didn’t question it. We were cheats. We were tax-dodgers. Even some of our own fans began to believe it. We had put together an illegal scheme and owed millions to HM Revenue & Customs.

 The EBTs though were never illegal. Yesterday, at long last, we finally discovered that we never owed millions in tax regarding our use of Employee Benefit Trusts. It was a phantom debt.

 The problem with lies is that they are very difficult to keep going. Those that want the truth will keep asking questions and when they do you’d better remember your story. You need to be consistent in your fantasy and that is very difficult to keep up, particularly in today’s electronic age.

 You can delete a blog, you can delete an article but the electronic footprint lives on much longer than you could imagine. In the end it is easy to tell the truth because it happened and easy to forget the lies because they didn’t.

 It isn’t for me to tell you what the truth is. You can tell the truth from the facts that exist. And in this case there are plenty more facts still to be established.

 Ask yourself: who shouted loudest and cried repeatedly that we were cheats, that EBTs were illegal, that the club was dead and their version of events could never be questioned? And who are still shouting?

Who changed their version of the ‘truth’ as they went along and in particular since the FTT decision went in Rangers favour? Some of the ‘truth’ rather appears to have disappeared., coincidentally I’m sure.

Which journalists were asking the pertinent questions? Who have been afraid or unwilling to seek the truth? Why weren’t the right questions being asked of the right people?

You can draw your own conclusions. I started with Churchill, I shall leave you with George Washington:

 “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light”

 So keep asking questions until you get there. We’ll be asking them too.
 
 
Peter is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @Seasider06 and via email: pewart@thecoplandroad.org