05 September 2012

Empty Seats and Empty Rhetoric


by Peter Ewart | CRO contributor | @Seasider06 | with Shane Nicholson | CRO editor |

As part of our continued look into Sporting Integrity (which is what the CRO is all about) we took a gander at the prospects of a boycott in cup ties. Here's our SHOCKING RESULTS in a dozen paragraphs or so.

Motherwell fans may not want to read.

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So we drew an SPL side Monday in the League Cup. No shocks there as the draw was seeded (Sporting Integrity?) so the play was in the cards.

A quick aside – why is the League Cup draw seeded in the earlier rounds? (It was last year, too.) Was this part of the SKY deal? Peter? Neil? Stewie?

Any of the possible match ups would have had a bit of needle to them. Celtic, Aberdeen and Dundee Utd need no explanation. With Hearts it’s the ex-players. For ICT, St Mirren,  Johnstone it’s been daft comments from their chairmen.

And to Motherwell, the team so fortunate as to land the cash cow who resides at Ibrox, it is their supporters trust and its on-going differences with their truth telling board.

Get one thing straight, they were all desperate to draw Rangers. And now that we’ve drawn an SPL club there has been further murmurs of boycott from some of our fans.

The idea of an away boycott seemed to be the most popular one. There is rightly a lot of anger as to how we've been treated by other SPL clubs and football institutions. But this isn't a league game, it's a cup game and the rules are different, so any away tie would have seen Rangers get 42.5% of the gate, fair value for our presence at most grounds.

But, of course, this isn’t an away game as we’ve drawn Motherwell at home, who now stand to make a lot of money from the gate -- somewhere around £300k - £350k if Ibrox is full.

The percentages are reversed -- as the home club we would get 57.5% whilst providing more than 90% of the gate money. Admittedly that is a bitter pill to swallow.

But are you really going to boycott Ibrox? CRO doesn’t recommend it. This whole six months and all the hate that has been thrown our way has just made us more resolute. We don't do walking away and we should not let an SPL club be the start of any sort of home boycott.

Motherwell’s bravado prior to our dismissal from the top-flight cannot be forgotten. Despite the leaked documents which detailed exactly the cost to their club of a Rangers-less SPL, they voted against our inclusion.

And despite their ventures in Europe to less than capacity crowds (even their half-closed stand on the night doesn’t account for every empty seat) this is still a club that lost nearly £500k last season on just £4.4m in revenues. This was the board that KNEW there was a further £900k shortfall on the books without Rangers around and still voted with their ‘heart’ instead of their minds. One supposes their vote is somewhat validated by the benefit of a chance cup draw.

CRO says we let them come and see what a packed house looks like, and not their “Sellout Saturday” efforts of laughable proportions. After all, it was a Well director who told us “we must challenge our fans to step up, which they will.”

Really? That is stepping up, as you say?

The sense behind that statement must have also driven the comment that we as Rangers’ supporters must somehow find "redemption" for our past owners’ errors, both provided to us by the former MSP Mr Andrew Wilson.

Perhaps Motherwell supporters should seek redemption for your failures as a director, Mr Wilson. As a former MSP you are surely aware of Section 172 of the Companies Act, yes? ‘Duty to promote the success of the company’ and all that...

But back to our affairs. There was chat of fans not going to the Falkirk game at Ibrox because they stood to split the gate receipts. But Ibrox is our backyard, and whoever we draw at home in the cup should be left in no doubt that we remain the biggest club in Scotland: 140 years and counting, still going strong.

Plans for very low ticket prices to scupper the away clubs share won't work either as there is minimum pricing in the rules and both clubs have to agree the ticket price. As much fun as it would be it’s simply not a reasonable option.

So there you have it: an away boycott makes no sense and whereas a home boycott would hurt the away SPL club financially, boycotting Ibrox, our home, is lunacy. Plus, it would deny Rangers 57.5% of a full house.

So get yourself a ticket, get bouncing, and let's take an SPL scalp.

The first of many.