30 October 2012

Time to Fight Back

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor


Charles Green openly admitted that he was far from being flavour of the month with Rangers supporters during the dark days of administration and his secretive bid to purchase the Club. Many fans rallied behind the Blue Knights and Brian Kennedy, who seemed to talk a good game, and other bidders were almost viewed as enemies who stood in their way.

Green and his consortium were however the only party to put their money where their mouths were and eventually became the proud new owners of a Scottish institution. Since then the Yorkshireman has been on a relentless charm offensive and has very much succeeded in winning over the same fans who were openly critical about and even opposed to his involvement.

He has been the journalists’ dream with soundbites galore and I can’t even begin to imagine just how many column inches have been filled with coverage, discussion and reaction to comments made by Green. The Rangers’ fans have taken to his straight-talking style but of course opposition supporters have accused him of simply playing to the galleries. Whatever you may think, the guy certainly is entertaining.

Charles Green continued on his PR mission with interviews with both TalkSport and Sky Sports News yesterday where he discussed a number of topics ranging from the upcoming IPO to the desire to have Walter Smith involved in some capacity at Ibrox. He seems to have the answers to whatever questions are thrown his way and I think we will all be hoping that he also has the capability of backing them up with his actions.

Yesterday Green even went as far to say that he would defend our Club with his life and, while this was obviously not intended as a literal statement, it shows the passion and desire to stand up for Rangers that we have badly missed in recent years. I hope Martin Bain is keeping a watchful eye on the goings on at Ibrox just now and realising just how badly he failed during his time as CEO.

While nobody would argue with Green’s willingness to defend Rangers FC there is a growing call for him to be more vocal in defending the supporters themselves. David Murray only really seemed to speak out when he was personally under attack or being criticised and he badly neglected the ‘customers’ who helped pay him for his ultimately disastrous tenure as owner and chairman of our Club. Green must not fall into the same trap.

The latest blatant, agenda-driven attack on our supporters came from Brian McNally, the Sunday Mirror sports writer, when he claimed that The Famine Song was sung at Broadwood Stadium when Clyde hosted Rangers. Now, either McNally is completely ignorant and unaware of ‘Four Men Had A Dream’, which follows a similar tune, or he is deliberately setting out to portray to the Rangers supporters the worst possible light with no ground or justification for his claim. I’ll let you decide which is the more likely.


McNally’s lie of course follows on from the latest Alex Thomson ‘exclusive’ where he covered Rangers’ “criminal underclass” and the threats made apparently to all and sundry in weeks and months gone by. Interestingly, despite his claims of 32 journalists being threatened by our supporters, nobody has been willing to step forward. In fact, most journalists on Twitter and such likes have openly denied that they are one of the thirty-two or even that they know of anybody who has reported threats from any fans. Surely Thomson wouldn’t be making stuff up again?

The examples in the paragraphs above are simply no more than shameless propaganda and I can’t help but wonder why their employers have not examined the claims and comments made by such ‘journalists’. Thomson has already been found telling lies on more than one occasion and proceeded to mock the Ibrox disaster despite knowing all too well what the statue at Ibrox represented. He was later forced to apologise and his actions certainly could not have reflected well on Channel 4 at all.

Charles Green must surely be aware of such slanderous remarks and I know a number of the Rangers’ media team have had the issues brought to their attention. While it is perhaps impractical to challenge every negative comment made about the Club or the supporters we should certainly be doing more to prevent such journalists, whose views can reach many people, from spreading lies. Now, I have no problem with people doing their jobs and giving their views and it would be wrong to deny them of that ability. When that however crosses into deceitful tales and fictional stories then I think that Rangers and Charles Green would be well within their rights to challenge them at every turn.

The Rangers’ Chief Executive has done a remarkable job in securing the Club’s immediate future and providing some much needed stability following the turbulent years that have went before. He has succeeded in galvanising the support and our attendances and ticket sales have been testament to that. While the fans are right to remain cautious over the running of our Club and ask questions along the way, Green has at least bought himself some leeway and earned some trust which certainly wasn’t easy to come by.

As McCoist sets about securing the Division Three title on the pitch, Green must continue his admirable efforts off it. If he is looking for his next PR stunt, which many accuse him of doing, then I know he would certainly gain a positive reaction should he decide to challenge the likes of Thomson and McNally and any other journalist who is intent on tarring the name of Rangers Football Club and its loyal fans.


During the interview with TalkSport Richard Keys, when talking about the shifting balance of power in Scottish football, asked if the boot was now on the other foot. In typical Charles Green fashion he responded by saying – ‘the boot has always been on the foot. The difference is, I’m not scared to use it’.



Well, Charles, I think it is about time you introduced certain journalists to your leather soles. And no, Mr Thomson, that is not a threat.


Andy is the Deputy Editor of our half-decent blog. You can find him on Twitter at @AMCKEL or via email: amckel@thecoplandroad.org

29 October 2012

Tomo Tuesday: A new approach


by Andy McGowan | CRO Contriubutor

Award winning journalist Alex Thomson – he doesn’t like Rangers much. Over the months on his blog he has lurched from one moronic moment to another: Whether it be wasting police time or mocking the Ibrox disaster, what you are guaranteed with a Tomo blog is that he will do his very best to bait Rangers fans with the sensationalism of half-truths, and tall tales from discredited social workers.

His latest assault on Rangers fans came when somehow Phil Alex convinced Channel 4 to take a break from filming Hollyoaks and shine the light on the ‘secret ring of intimidation’ by the ‘Rangers underclass,' or in layman's terms, “Here’s some things bad men said to my new pals on twitter.”

Channel 4 is known for its ground breaking documentaries such as The Undateables - in which people with severe mental and physical disabilities try to fuck each other - and fine programming such as Embarrassing Bodies, where people with no concept of the NHS get their mangled cocks out on camera in front of Doctor Christian, who suffers from a rare disease which means his shirt is always 4 sizes too small for him.

So of course Channel 4 jumped at the chance to allow Alex and friends to turn their wee molehill into a mountain.

Any reasonable human being watching would say, “What disgraceful behaviour from these internet bampots, but why has an award winning journalist like Alex Thomson, he who braves war zones to report the news to me, wasted his time on this? Every football club has these idiots and they do much worse than make threats online.”

Sadly Channel 4’s demographic isn’t reasonable human beings; it’s for people who want to watch disabled people trying to fuck each others brains out and watch morbidly obese women getting their misshapen tits up for the good Doctor C.

Oh, and people who think Alex Thomson is still a serious journalist.

Sadly football in the United Kingdom has an undercurrent of idiots who use the internet as their weapon and football clubs as their banners to abuse and threaten people. Every club has these idiots and they do not represent the views of any particular set of fans in this country, the vast-majority of whom are decent, educated, well-mannered fans of a game.

Thankfully we don’t have anything like the problems that South American, Russia, and Eastern European countries such as Poland and Serbia have, where assault, racism and murder go hand in hand with supporting a football club. I know this, you my educated well informed reader know this, and even award winning journalist Alex Thomson knows this.

Many have tried to raise similar issues with Tomo but they are wasting their time. There is nothing more dangerous than a man whose convictions are borne from his own delusions. Having a reasonable debate with Alex Thomson about football and in particular Rangers is akin to convincing a creationist that evolution is fact. (Although SPL fans evolving into empty plastic seats before our very eyes will surely be enough to end that debate.)
Not going anywhere

Listen, and understand: Alex Thomson is out there. He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, remorse or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever. Alex Thomson is simply bullet proof, as are all delusional morons. Any reasoned argument put to this man, any insult or jibe will deflect off him. He’s an award winning journalist, he knows best!

My suggestion friends is that you do exactly the opposite of what this man wants. Alex and his cohorts want nothing more than to provoke you into insulting and threatening him. He needs you to do this to make his ridiculous views credible. He wants every fair minded Rangers fan to take to twitter to threaten him with violence. He has built his house on quick sand and while he shacks up with Phil Three Names inside he wants you to make the foundation solid for him. Do not take the bait.

Instead I propose this – On Tuesday, every Rangers fan will go on twitter, on Facebook, on forums and phone-ins, and praise Alex Thomson on his fantastic award winning journalism. Be nothing but polite and almost sycophantic to this man. Be the bigger men and in doing so make him sick to his stomach.

No threat or insult will infuriate this man as much as the knowledge that he hasn’t got to you; let's spread the word about Tomo Tuesday. Trolls like Alex Thomson feed on your annoyance; stop feeding him.

In his next exclusive Alex is exposing the truth behind Wigan supporting African terrorism by signing Kony. Be sure to praise him for it and make sure he reports it to the police. Surely they have to believe him.

He’s an award winning journalist after all. Did I mention that?

Andy is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @iEmpire_Andy and via email: amcgowan@thecoplandroad.org

Clyde 0 - 2 Rangers : Job Done

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

It wasn't vintage stuff. There was no champagne football. But Rangers emerged from Broadwood with three points and their first away league win of the season.
 
Our problems on the road have been well documented and the unexpected nature of our struggles has heightened the scrutiny and criticism of our results. The fact that we are now almost into November and only just recording our first victory away from Ibrox speaks volumes and it will have certainly caused McCoist more than a few concerns in recent weeks.
 
Ally decided to make a couple of changes to the team who managed to grind out a result against Queen's Park last weekend. Out went Aird and Faure, neither of whom had a particularly good game at Ibrox, and in came Little and Hegarty. Certainly the return of the attacker is most welcome given his goal scoring exploits prior to his unfortunate injury and he made a considerable impact from the bench last Saturday.
 
The game began in an all too similar fashion to what has gone before this season. We were slow out of the blocks and were lacking the tempo required to pin back our Third Division opponents. Our lethargic starts to matches is something which Ally should really look to address but I suppose that may be easier said than done. The players themselves have to take some responsibility.
 
The line-up didn't exactly fill me with much confidence either with McCulloch looking isolated up front as Shiels and Little stayed on the wings. This resulted in far too many long, hopefully balls being played forward and inevitably we surrendered possession on an uncomfortably regular basis. Surely we should be capable of passing the ball a bit better than we did? Apparently not.
 
Somewhat ironically the goal did come from one of our lengthy passes when big Lee knocked the ball down to Shiels with his header. The Northern Irish international then worked half a yard for himself before curling a majestic shot beyond the despairing dive of Barclay in the Clyde goal. It was a piece of magic and perhaps we were always going to need something like that to open the scoring as our play yielded few clear-cut chances.

We should really have kicked on from there however we continued to give the ball away needlessly and were sloppy in some of our defending. Truth be told, Clyde would have been disappointed not to take one of their chances before half-time and perhaps deserved to be level.
 
There didn't seem to be much of a reaction from the Rangers players after the break and in fact we had Neil Alexander to thank for denying Clyde an equaliser just moments after the restart. The game became somewhat bogged down in midfield and Ian Black in particular seemed to be a target for some rough treatment throughout the match. It’s frustrating that most referees have been willing to ignore such tactics for the majority of the campaign so far.
 
Clyde were eventually to pay for their indiscipline as Neill became needlessly involved in a tussle with Shiels which resulted in his second yellow card of the day. With the extra man Rangers managed to retain possession better than they had done previously but were still made to wait until late in the match before putting the game beyond doubt.
 
Ian Black somehow found himself bursting into the box and unselfishly squared the ball to Lee McCulloch to tap in from close range. This was his 14th goal of the season and equalled his highest goals tally in a single campaign. Not bad considering we're just going into November!


While the football wasn’t inspiring we can look back on a clean sheet, three points and our status as league leaders and find some positives in there. Undoubtedly there are issues which still need some attention but hopefully our first away win should remove the mental barrier that seems to have been a problem on our travels.

This midweek we welcome Inverness CT to Ibrox in the League Cup and I’m sure we are all hoping for a replication of the performance and result that we were given against Motherwell in the previous round. The game is certainly going to be difficult and the visitors have a pretty decent record against Rangers, even at Ibrox, and that of course was with the higher quality of players who have since walked out on the Club.

Hopefully I’ll be reporting on another enjoyable night at Ibrox later in the week.


Andy is the Deputy Editor of our half-decent blog. You can find him on Twitter at @AMCKEL or via email: amckel@thecoplandroad.org

26 October 2012

Levels of Expectation


by Scott Ferguson | CRO Guest Contributor

Last Saturday as many of you were heading off to Ibrox to take in the return of the Original Glasgow Derby – or at least keeping up with the happenings via other means (cough) - I was unhappily making my way to work.

I took solace however in the knowledge that upon my return home and on the stroke of midnight thanks to my Rangers TV subscription I would be able to watch the entire match in full ‘as live’ presented by the fantastic Tom Miller.

By the by, for £5ish a month this is a terrific service and I thoroughly recommend anyone who has not already subscribed to do so!

Anyway, I digress.

Whenever possible if I am unable go to the match or to watch/listen to it as it happens I try to avoid the result at all costs. This usually means a complete boycott of Facebook, Twitter, TV, Radio and, most of all, Celtic fans.

However, this past Saturday (with about 30 mins left til midnight) I skimmed through my unread emails believing them to be safe from any spoilers… I was only half right.

After reading one email from someone who shall remain nameless (You know who you are!) I was unfortunately presented with an opinion of the game.

Without actually revealing the result he described the team’s performance as “dispiriting.”

Forever the pessimist I took this as meaning that at best Rangers had perhaps only managed a draw, or worse still had actually lost the game.

No longer looking forward to watching the game I almost did a quick Google search for the result, but thankfully I managed to resist and at the stroke of midnight (and with a feeling of dread) I tuned into Rangers TV to watch the game.

When Rangers scored their first goal I barely celebrated as the feeling of impending doom still lingered.

With Big Jig giving us the lead I had at least decided that the result would be a draw and I sat slouched waiting for the equalizer.

Rangers were certainly not playing well and in the final quarter of the game we were indeed poor and were ‘under the cosh’ for long periods.

With every Queen’s Park attack, cross or corner the voice inside my head repeated, This must be it – and then something else happened.

We scored again.

For a second I was completely stunned.

Then the final whistle came and I was downright confused. But, I was also bloody elated! I couldn’t help but feel that there was some sort of lesson to be learned from this: Do levels of expectation ruin a game of football?

We as Rangers fans have historically been spoilt with success to the point that we simply demand it. Even after everything it is clear that our high levels of expectation have not changed.

If we were to look at the situation objectively just what level should our expectations be?

It is difficult as after all there is no real precedent for our situation.

So here is the question:

A football club has been thrown down four leagues, it loses 20-30 players, it has had three owners in just over the space of a year (two of whom both nearly kill it entirely).

The manager has had to rebuild the squad not once but twice in little over a year (on limited funds) – on the second occasion he has only a four week period to do so – and not only did he have to prepare a squad for the coming season but somehow without knowing what league they will be playing in the following year (pending possible league reconstruction) and after having to accept an illegal transfer ban he knows the team he puts together has to see him through the next two seasons.

Oh, and also he has no preseason to prepare this team.

How long should it take before his team are playing fantastic free flowing football and are sweeping aside every team put in front of him, regardless of the level?

Would the answer be 13?

If it is then ignore me and Ally should pack up his desk and head off home.

We aren’t finding consistency at the moment and we aren’t playing free flowing football.

But…

Within these 13 games we destroyed the (at the time) side at the top of the SPL, and we also defeated a team two divisions above twice in the space of a week, and we sit at the top of our current division.

Should we not be satisfied?

Should our levels of expectation really exceed this?

Are we really that spoiled?

I can’t help but think that by simply having our high levels of expectation that even we can be guilty of forgetting the background of our situation. Perhaps the players are guilty of this too, subconsciously they expect that simply by turning up the 3 points are theirs

Levels of expectation: Perhaps we all need to lower them just a little.

At least until the players on the park give us the right the raise them again.

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  

Phenomenal


by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

I'm sure that the main sponsors of the SFL won't mind if I borrow their tagline to describe our support so far this season. It is, quite simply, phenomenal. (If they are looking in, complimentary Irn-Bru gratefully received, c/o of CRO)

In terms of punters through the turnstiles we have been making and breaking all kinds of records this season. Away tickets are like gold dust and Ibrox is packed to the rafters for every league game. It is a fair bet that our home crowds for SFL3 match ups will be in the 42-43k+ range until the destination of the title is decided. It's an unbelievable show of loyalty and one we can be very proud of.

The Queen's Park game last Saturday brought another world record for a league game in fourth tier football as close on 49,500 watched the Glasgow derby. This seems to have gone down very well with many of our new ‘supporters’ who were absolutely delighted with this world record, and got in touch to say that they were all off to Santa Cruz to celebrate or something.

It’s heartwarming that they take such interest in how we are doing. Some were so jealous that they were desperate for their old team to get a world record. Three days later and that wish was granted in Barcelona with a phenomenal 10% possession in the game. In the race to recapture the headlines from us, well done to our neighbours.

But make no mistake that the driving force behind these record breaking crowds is loyalty. Loyalty of supporters to their club and the habit of seeing their team. Fans pay the money and come along to see Rangers. It doesn't matter who the opposition is; it is all about the teddy bears.

Have a reduction in ticket prices helped crowds? It certainly hasn’t hurt. Have some fans who had resorted to their armchairs come back to the club in its hour of need? Certainly. Have some fans been more interested in SFL3 than the stale and failed SPL? Most definitely. Have fans been buying tickets as an act of defiance? Well, no. If defiance sold tickets then the NO to newco and Sporting Integrity FC lot would be packing out SPL grounds around the country every week.

They aren’t, and you can hear the clock ticking for the SPL.

It’s not to say there isn’t defiance or anger or frustration in the air at Ibrox; there most certainly is. But it is part of the mood of our support, not simply the explanation for it.

It's all about loyalty, and some are finding that very difficult to comprehend. It wasn’t in the script.

And we are now more galvanised, organised and mobilised than at any time in our long history. Our support is phenomenal, but sure you knew that already. We are more than a club. Or as our neighbours may have picked up in their free time in Catalonia, mes que un club.

Peter is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @Seasider06 and via email: pewart@thecoplandroad.org

24 October 2012

Just Another Day at Hampden


Stewie: So did you figure out that whole Hearts thing yet?

Forrest: You bet. We nailed'em with a 60-day transfer embargo.

Stewie: Perfect. And you made sure it looked good, yeah? We can't really have any more bad publicity around here.


Forrest: Oh yeah! In fact, we started it right away!


Forrest: Isn't that great?!?!


Craigy4-6-0: RRRRAAARRRRRR!!!! Guess what I'm going as for Halloween?


Stewie: I should've never listened to Peter...

23 October 2012

A Plea for Common Sense, and A Way Forward


by Shane Nicholson | CRO Executive Editor

I was following along with a Twitter dialogue earlier today (a lot of you probably saw it too) between a club employee and a couple people affiliated with a fairly new-to-the-scene and certainly popular RFC fans' site. Names left out as they're not important to the story I'm about to tell.

What struck me was the fact that the club still views illegal streaming of games as a revenue sapper, and obviously employs people who, in some part of their duties, tries to get such streams shut down. Couple things here:

1) This RFC fans' site, which is driving conversation and raising the profile of the club (and by the way, like the CRO, based in the States), does not host these streams. They're already out there at numerous sites you can find in five seconds with Google. You've probably got quite a few of them bookmarked like I do.

2) The club is chasing a business model that simply does not exist. Period.

You have a product that you sell for a set price. People do not see value in said product at that price. So now people procure said product for a discounted price or free - even though the free version is typically a far inferior product - rather than paying for the version you provide. On top of that, you pay someone (multiple someones?) to chase down people (usually the wrong people) providing the free version of your product which your customers are choosing not to pay for. 

So who's costing whom money again?

There's a disconnect here, and we see it in all forms of media. When Napster exploded onto the scene over a decade ago now the music industry's immediate reaction was to sue the fuck out of anyone it caught pirating music, and then go after the website facilitating such pirating. Over a decade later and it's still at the core of their practices. Only recently have the larger companies (your Sonys, your BMGs, etc) figured out that this was a serviceable model to provide their product for customers, but only if the value could meet a customer's want to pay for it.

Of course in the mean time the artists woke up to the fact that, Hey, I could just sell my album for $5 on my website and make about $4.67 more than if I let these numpties do it. The old model has slowly died while the companies preserving it were pissing away valuable resources suing college students for millions of dollars.

This is where we are with football today. Lots and lots of “illegal stream" sites under all different names in every corner of the globe providing to a massive market that is crying out for a service. And the worst part is that watching matches on these sites sucks. It is shit awful most of the time. You've got a million pop ups to cut through, then the ads that scream in right as Dean Shiels is feeding a ball through to Lee McCul-THE FORD FALL SAVINGS EVENT. It is absolute crap.

And yet we'd rather deal with this inconvenience, potentially miss important moments in the match, than shell out for something we don't feel is value for money. And I'm not blaming Rangers solely here. I think RTV has been a good boost in many ways. But customers vote with their feet, and our club is trying to cling to a fee-based model in a world where there are simply too many options that offer better value for the service provided. Yeah, the pop up ads suck, but it's free.

Let's look at Netflix: I pay $7 a month to have access to thousands or programs and films that I used to pay my cable company $70 a month for and then I would still have to wait for them to come on so I could watch. The old model is essentially what Rangers via RTV is providing me for $28.50 a month, and they're wasting time and resources defending it, and it makes zero sense.

There are so many ways as a club and fan base we should be thankful for where we are right now, because it will offer us a chance to rip up the old rules and lay down some new ones. But if Rangers continues to have a go at fans for willfully consuming their product at what they perceive is a fair-market-value (in this case free) they're not only insulting our intelligence but selling their own product short.

The club has advertising partners, big ones. Would Coke/Powerade not pay a premium if the club could show that 500,000 additional customers could be reached directly every weekend? And with zero competitors knocking at the door? Of course they would.

Rangers has two very clear paths forward here, and two paths that would reap massive rewards for the business: 

They can either provide a massively superior broadcast product to the one we get now, and at a price that is irresistible to the consumer. Do I want to pay $18 for this CD? No. Will I pay $1 for this one track? Absolutely.Or they give it away, and sell their product to advertisers willing to part with their money instead of to the fans who are the reason those advertisers are there in the first place, and who already pile money hand-over-fist into their business.

Yeah, there are broadcast rights and league rules and SFA rules and all of that other bullshit. Get stuck in, stop paying people to chase down Johnny Fan with a stream on his site and start paying them to rewrite the rules. It's likely that Johnny Fan is not even streaming the game himself anyway; just linking to a stream that already exists that someone else is making money from.

And it should be clear to anyone that Johnny Fan is not “costing the club money;” the club is costing itself money by steadfastly adhering to a dying business model. You think The First Row and VIP Sports and all of them would do what they do if there wasn't money to be made in it? You don't think the club itself could command far more from its advertisers for producing a superior product targeted at a five-million-strong worldwide fan base?

Listen, Charles, Malcolm, Imran, Brian: I know it's going to be tough. There's going to be some hard moments, some delicate conversations, but it'll be worth it. Charlie, you talked recently about the Rangers brand reaching some 500 million fans. I think that's insane and you had to be taking the piss a bit (the World Cup Final gets one-billion viewers, after all).

But if you want to expand beyond the five-million we're touting now you're going to have to start hunting outside the box. We have that many fans in a broadcast model that's existed for generations now. Simply charging people to watch the same product online is not going to open new doors, and it's not going to cut it. It's the same fee-based broadcast model we've always had and we're sick of it.

So sit down there, take a deep breath, realize that change is not always comfortable, the sun will still come up, on and on. Then stop taking part in fighting a losing war. It'll be better for all of us, I promise.

Shane is the founder and Executive Editor of the CRO. You can find him on Twitter at @ofvoid and via email: shane@thecoplandroad.org

22 October 2012

David Murray: The Real Culprit

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

To some it may appear that I am going over old ground with the article below but given the emergence of Craig Whyte last week and the discussion that resulted from Bill McMurdo’s interview with him here at CRO, I thought the topic was very much one that still deserved to be covered. So here goes.... 

Since his interview with BBC Scotland’s Chris McLaughlin I think it is fair to say that Craig Whyte has regained some of the limelight that he once held as owner of Rangers Football Club. Our supporters had all but moved on and almost completely forgotten about the woes of administration and liquidation and so I suppose his re-appearance was a most unwelcome one in that regard and probably many others.
You will probably have come across Bill McMurdo’s interview with Rangers’ former owner here at CRO earlier today and in fact you may be one of the many readers who have expressed outrage at the ramblings of Whyte. There is however a bigger picture which I rather feel is being wrongly ignored. That of course is the role of ‘Sir’ David Murray.

Murray oversaw a great period of success following his purchase of the Club in 1988 and I’m sure we can all recall several glorious moments of joy and sheer elation throughout his tenure as chairman and custodian of Rangers. Unfortunately it became abundantly clear that we were being woefully mismanaged and even a £50M capital injection wasn’t enough to steady a ship which was increasingly becoming engulfed by the murky waters that surrounded it.

The economic recession was biting hard into David Murray’s personal wealth and his other businesses were placed under increased scrutiny by Lloyds Banking Group. Unfortunately their critical gaze did not bypass Rangers and with the ominous ‘big tax case’ lurking menacingly in the background they were eager to recoup as much of the money owed to them as quickly as possible.

Walter Smith was forced to fight for SPL championships with both hands tied behind his back and Murray certainly owes The Gaffer for the miraculous success of the team during a period of cost-cutting and debt-reduction. The money owed to Lloyds was gradually being repaid but time was fast running out when the FTT was expected to sit and deliver a verdict on the implementation and operation of the Employee Benefit Trust scheme at Ibrox.

It would be naive to ignore the possibility that pressure was potentially applied to Murray by his bankers and certainly the role of Manus Fullerton is something that has previously been questioned here at CRO. Minty had to find somebody who would purchase the Club from him and clear the cash owed to Lloyds in the process. When you consider the money being requested and the potential liability that was involved with the tax case then it is little wonder that he was hardly being inundated with bids. He did however only require one person to step up and pay. Enter Craig Whyte.

Whyte’s arrival was greeted with terrific optimism and positivity and he was certainly guilty of hiding the precarious financial situation of the Club from its loyal supporters, not to mention his method of purchasing it. As it turns out, this was to be only one of many examples where he succeeded in misleading, deceiving and successfully concealing the truth. It is little wonder that fans reacted to his recent emergence from the shadows with disbelief and took his comments with more than a little pinch of salt.

Among many questionable statements there were however some accurate assessments of his time as owner of Rangers. Whyte rightly highlighted that there was a reason the Club was sold for a mere £1 in May 2011 and it would be foolish to ignore the threat of the big tax case in any discussions about the financial collapse that was eventually to result. Who in their right mind would take on a business where a liability could arise that would be twice as much as its turnover? In the cold, harsh reality of business outwith the unique world of football, it made no sense whatsoever.

As much as I cannot stress enough the impact of the big tax case, it is also important to look at the unsustainable cost structure which Whyte inherited as the new owner of Rangers. Our Club ran up debts by budgeting on European football and despite some cost-cutting, we still relied on continental participation to balance the books. This was to prove crucial in our demise last season.

Craig Whyte should have taken action by either reducing the wage bill considerably or by selling a player or two to help secure the immediate future of Rangers. Neither would have been particularly popular with the Ibrox faithful but it sure beats the hell out of the excruciating agony that we suffered in the months that followed. This is only one of the many faults that can be attributed to the Motherwell-born businessman during his ultimately disastrous chairmanship.

Of course Rangers’ failure to qualify for neither the Champions League nor the Europa League left the Club with a cash-flow problem and all of the required payments could not be met as they fell due. Mr Whyte took the decision not to pay the sums due to the tax authorities, rather than not paying wages for example, and his decision to continue trading while insolvent may land him in trouble when BDO get to work. It certainly meant trouble for Rangers at the time.

I’m almost certain that Whyte would have expected a decision from the FTT which would have shifted the blame onto Murray’s EBT era and allowed him to set about resurrecting Rangers Football Club as a debt-free entity in whatever format that Duff & Phelps and the creditors deemed appropriate. If you read McMurdo’s interview from earlier then you will be aware that Whyte felt let down by the administrators, although that is not to say that he should be afforded any sympathy.

During his BBC interview Whyte came out with the line that he may have been at the wheel when the train crashed but that it was not him who set it on its path. While that does suggest a certain helplessness on his part, which isn’t entirely accurate by any stretch of the imagination, it does correctly allude to the fact that David Murray was certainly the cause of our recent problems. Whyte most certainly contributed to the meltdown, perhaps even fraudulently, although that is for BDO and the police to decide, but it was Minty’s mismanagement that deserves the brunt of the criticism in my opinion.

David Murray was often keen to remind all and sundry that he would never sell Rangers to anyone who did not have the best interests of the Club at heart. Unfortunately Murray was placed in a position where he almost had to sell, both for financial reasons and for the sake of his inflated ego. Somebody like Craig Whyte should never have had the opportunity to buy Rangers but Minty was utterly desperate and put self-interest very much in front of the promise he made to the Rangers’ support.

This article should not in any way be treated as a defence of Craig Whyte and his time at Rangers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The imminent investigations may fully justify the anger and hatred reserved for the man who was in charge during one of our darkest hours. I certainly wouldn’t bet against it.

This article does however look at who I believe is the real culprit in the unfortunate tale of woe that we have been part of in the months that went by earlier this year. Whyte will perhaps be remembered as the villain who threatened to destroy a Scottish institution but the actions of David Murray should never be forgotten by Rangers Football Club and its supporters. I know that I will certainly never forgive him.



Andy is the Deputy Editor of our half-decent blog. You can find him on Twitter at @AMCKEL or via email: amckel@thecoplandroad.org

21 October 2012

Rangers 2-0 Queen's Park: Papering Over the Cracks?

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

When it was confirmed that Rangers would be opening an exciting new chapter in its proud history by rebuilding from the Third Division I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was thoroughly looking forward to the adventure that lay ahead. I must confess to perhaps naively believing that we would stroll things in the fourth-tier of Scottish football but it certainly didn’t take me long to realise just how wrong such an assessment was. 

Our problems so far this season have been well documented and emphasised by the pressure placed on Ally McCoist in recent weeks both by the media and the Rangers’ support. While many fans could have accepted a slow start while our new players familiarised themselves with their new surroundings, I firmly believe that the time for that excuse has long since passed.

On Saturday Ibrox Stadium played host to the original Glasgow derby fixture as Queen’s Park entered the game as league leaders. There was considerable interest in the match in the build up as tickets began to sell very quickly during the week. Quite astonishingly Ibrox was a complete sell-out and the world record we had set earlier this season was broken by the extra few hundred who were in attendance. Utterly remarkable.

Unfortunately the passion in the stands was not matched on the pitch as Rangers laboured through a depressingly dull first 45 minutes, creating very few chances in the process. Thankfully an inspirational piece of play from Dean Shiels set up Lee McCulloch for the opening goal just when it looked like we were running out of ideas. We really should have went for the kill there and then but instead were forced to wait until the final few minutes to seal the three points. It was job done...just.

Some may argue that it was good to see the team earn three points when they hadn’t played particularly well and I suppose this is something I would have said in the past. I however can’t help but feel that we are currently papering over the cracks and temporarily masking problems that still need to be addressed.

The team selection itself was reasonable enough despite Faure being favoured at right-back ahead of Argyriou in his natural position. To make matters worse there was some confusion over just what formation we were playing. Our midfield was all over the place and we somehow proceeded to play the vast majority of the first-half without anyone on the right-wing at all. The worrying question has to be: did our management team even notice this? The issue wasn’t addressed until Andy Little made his comeback from injury at the beginning of the second half and, if nothing else, it gave a much needed balance to the team. It really should have been done much sooner though.

Certainly I have my doubts over Ally McCoist as a tactician and I surely cannot be only one who holds such views. Many even questioned Walter Smith, accusing him of being negative and slating his decision to quite often play with only one striker. One thing that can be said of every Walter Smith team though is that the players always gave 100%. Yes, inevitably there were times when champagne football was nothing but a distant memory but the effort and application was always there.

If McCoist cannot use his tactical nous to his advantage then he must find a way to get the very best out of his players in terms of effort and energy. Man management is still a hugely important part of football and I’m sure you can name a number of managers who succeed almost purely because of their ability to motivate. Ally must find his own way of building a strong bond between his players and creating the legendary team spirit that has served us so well over the years. I suppose the fact that raised voices were apparently heard in the home dressing room at half-time shows that at least there isn’t an acceptance of such sub-standard performances.

In his programme notes our manager stated that our opponents have been fired up for our games and that their endeavour has been a defining factor in some of our disappointing results. He also stated that if we match their effort levels then we would win far more games than we would drop points in but for whatever reason, when the team steps out onto that pitch, we simply haven’t done that.

It does feel rather unusual to sit down after a 2-0 victory, which incidentally sent us to the top of the league, and feel so negative about the weekend’s performance. I spoke to a few fellow Bears today and many of them shared the general view that the game itself was simply awful and so I suppose it was a relief to know that I perhaps wasn’t being too overly critical in my assessment.

I sincerely hope that Saturday’s victory was not simply papering over cracks and that it was more the clichéd sign of champions that saw us earn three points while not being at our best. Only time will tell I suppose and McCoist and his team can hopefully kick on if we can earn three points at both Clyde and at home to Peterhead in the coming weeks.

It was great to see Andy Little back in action at the weekend and I’m sure he will add some positivity, directness and goals to our play throughout the upcoming fixtures. If you consider that we will also have David Templeton to come back into the team eventually then I’m sure we should find a bit of form as we head into the typically busy winter months. At least, I hope that is the case.

Our players must step up and make themselves counted and prove that we have undoubtedly the best team in the division. There has to be a strong winning mentality and a refusal to accept anything less than three points each and every week. We do have a new team and it can take time to adjust to the pressure and demand of playing for Rangers. Hopefully they will come to terms with those issues sooner rather than later.

Oh and Coisty, get the suit back on!

Andy is the Deputy Editor of our half-decent blog. You can find him on Twitter at @AMCKEL or via email: amckel@thecoplandroad.org

Ally wears a tracksuit; Nothing else matters


by Andy McGowan | CRO Contributor

Yesterday Rangers managed a scrappy win over Queens Park. The 2-0 win against the Queens 14 (You have to include the ref and his linesmen who were apparently too busy on talkceltic.com to see our players being kicked off the park for 90 minutes) sent Rangers top of the SFL3.

There were several talking points from yesterday – Ian Black is awful; one upfront doesn’t work; McCoist changed it early and got the reward; Andy Little is back; Lee McCulloch is the Jelavic of division 3; the men in black are colour blind when it comes to fouls on Rangers players; Rangers finally go top.

But the issue most fans want to talk about is that McCoist wasn’t wearing a suit. I am lucky enough to be seated next to a cool old man at Ibrox who gets really mad really often and early, and about 5 minutes into the game he turns and asks me if Ally has a tracky on. I reply “I think so” and return to watching the game. Little did I know 24 hours later it would still be a talking point.

Apparently people of the internet are outraged at Ally not wearing a suit, so say the always fashionable Ibrox crowd. (Me and the old man were wearing matching red jackets. We looked fantastic!) Walter Smith wore a tracksuit many times and it was never an issue (FACT according to Dicko), maybe because he looked like Paulie from the Sopranos and people were worried about sleeping with the fishes.

Anyway, I’d be happy if Ally wore a dress and we won the match. Maybe we could talk Durranty into that one? Andy's a regular contributor to the CRO and the kind of boy your parents would be pleasantly surprised if you brought home after that last junkie you were with (listen up, ladies). He can be found on Twitter at @iEmpire_Andy and via email: amcgowan@thecoplandroad.org

19 October 2012

(Not your typical) SFL3 Preview: Queen's Park, Hampden, and the SFA


by Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

It's normally about this time that I put out a preview for the upcoming SFL3 club we are playing. And this time it's Queen's Park. It won't be taking the usual of format though because as a Rangers fan you'll definitely know where Hampden is and if you can't get a ticket for Queen's Park away frankly you’re doing something drastically wrong.

Instead I'm going to look at the obvious question: How can Queen's Park supposedly own Hampden but appear to have little financial clout and limited success on the park? Having had a dig around it seems there is quite a history to it.

The Club

Even if they did have Hampden riches (and they don’t – see below) one rule that has been a present since their creation in 1876 has meant any success on the park has been very limited – their amateur status. They don’t and have not paid a wage to any of their players in their long history and are proud to retain the title of the only amateur club in the Scottish Football League. 

Their website explains that there has been a few tweaks along the way – they can sign ex-pros or take professional or semi-professional players on loan and pay players expenses - but Queen’s Park players are not on a wage. That’s simply remarkable in today's game.

And there's that little bit about the oldest club in Scotland. Rangers v Queen's Park: It truly is The Original Glasgow Derby.

Hampden

Queen’s Park FC own Hampden and the 33 acres of land round about it, and have done for a very long time. But then Scotland Internationals and Cup Finals have been played at Hampden for a very long time and it seems the SFA has the whip hand in the relationship.

The current arrangements for Hampden can be traced back to the arduous and over-budget revamp of the stadium before it re-opened in 1999. You won’t want bored with the detail (I’ve barely been able to scratch the surface) but a Queen’s Park subsidiary (The National Stadium plc) was responsible for the development despite not funding it. Funding came from various sources including the Scottish Executive, Sport Scotland, BT Scotland sponsorship, the Millennium Commission and the National Lottery Sports Fund, Glasgow City Council and the Glasgow Development Agency.

The project suffered cost overruns of around £8m. The Queen’s Park subsidiary took the brunt of the criticism and a rescue package with all parties was eventually reached, after Queen’s Park were in voluntary administration. It left the club heavily indebted, which they are still paying off.

Was it really just Queen's Park to blame? I know that football administrators wear Teflon blazers, but were the SFA not heavily involved the Hampden revamp which was after all primarily for their benefit? And if not why not? And what about the politicians?

As part of the lease deal between Queen’s Park and the SFA, the future running of the stadium was handed over to the SFA under a subsidiary – the Hampden Park Ltd. More on that another time.

The SFA currently lease Hampden from Queen's Park on a 20 year lease (from 2000) with an option to extend another 20 years. Queen’s Park received over £580k from the SFA in 2011, but they still have that debt to pay down. There was over £1.4m of bank debt remaining at 2011.

So Queen’s Park may be legal, even beneficial owners of Hampden, but it looks like an asset they will never realise. Unfortunately the details are difficult to pin down as the lease is not as publicly available as RFC’s tax affairs, but I cannot imagine that QPFC could sell Hampden from under the SFA, so they are just left with the debt. It’s a stadium the owners can’t afford, and the tenants can’t afford them to sell and can’t afford to buy from them. Messy.

What does all this mean? Well it means that the SFA have been in charge for all the piss poor attendances at Hampden over the past decade. But most importantly it means that Queen's Park, as owners, will benefit from two Rangers visits in SFL3. All the gate receipts from those games will go to QPFC. Definitely. I have confirmation from the club that is the case. And it could stand to be a pretty decent income for them – there could be 50,000+ tickets sold over the two games.

Getting back to the football on Saturday: They’re top; we’re not. Let’s make it a sell out and get that fixed.

Peter is a regular contributor to the CRO. He can be reached on Twitter at @Seasider06 or via email: pewart@thecoplandroad.org

18 October 2012

When Does Journalism Become Propaganda?



by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

The process to purchase Rangers Football Club was one which was painfully lengthy and uncertain. We had the fans’ favourites such as The Blue Knights and Brian Kennedy but they faced stiff competition from the likes of Bill Miller, Bill Ng and of course Charles Green. In a final twist we also saw Walter Smith enter the bidding, backed by Jim McColl amongst others, but the man from Yorkshire and his consortium of investors eventually sealed the deal and became the proud new owners of our Scottish institution.

Since then Green has had to overcome a number of obstacles and challenges, particularly from the football authorities, while attempting to win over the Rangers support and convince them that he is indeed the right man for the job. He has been the media’s dream with quotes galore, never being short of an opinion, and his PR work at Ibrox has far exceeded anything we have witnessed in recent memory. He hasn’t been slow to challenge our detractors and has been quick to talk up anything that is good about our Club and supporters. Some will claim there are dark and sinister motives behind this apparent façade however these have been groundless and without foundation, at least thus far.

While Charles Green tries to convey a positive image of Rangers FC, and who could blame him, there are others who seem intent on tarnishing our good name with deliberate and misleading propaganda. I recently blogged on Alex Thomson, one of the journalists who is certainly guilty of having an agenda in my opinion, and of course we all know of his connections with the prominent Rangers-hater from Donegal or “the man tarred with a sickening sectarian brush” as he now seems to be more commonly known.

Yesterday however saw a rather strange turn of events when BBC Scotland decided to give disgraced former-owner Craig Whyte a platform to defend himself and stutter and babble his way through some more ‘revelations’. This of course is the same man that the broadcaster had went to great lengths to discredit and confirm as a liar and even yesterday Chris McLaughlin, who conducted the interview, continued to question the truth, or lack thereof, in a number of statements made by Whyte.


This follows on from the recent furore that surrounded the BBC’s coverage and comments on Rangers Football Club and its manager, Ally McCoist, and it is certainly not the first time that their reporting has been called into question by many at Ibrox. A large number of Rangers fans are of the firm belief that there is a not-so-subtle agenda again their Club from the taxpayer-funded organisation and there is certainly more than enough evidence to give some credibility to such claims.

BBC Scotland also seem to have a rather strange and unusual habit of referring to a ‘new Rangers’ that was apparently formed by Charles Green. They are also of the belief that the ‘old Rangers’, of 1872, is to be liquidated when BDO eventually move in and carry out that process. Now, most of us are only too well aware of the diminishing standards in journalism in this country but such coverage is not negligent or ill-informed, it is very much deliberate and very well thought out.

The Court of Session previously identified both the Club and the company which operates it as two separate entities. This was again confirmed by Lord Nimmo Smith in his recent report on behalf of the Independent Commission which was instructed by the SPL to investigate Rangers’ alleged breach of rules. Forgive me if I choose to believe the legal verdicts of such individuals rather than the scribblings of a BBC Scotland reporter.

Lord Nimmo Smith described how a Club is capable of being transferred to a new operating company and continuing in its existence without any break to its timeline or without any new club being recognised. An example of this is Leeds United who hit financial difficulties previously. The Club was sold to a new operating company and allowed to participate in the league and stand as the same Leeds United who were formed in 1919. But hey, why let the facts get in the way?

The BBC were also curiously reluctant to add any balance to their interview with Craig Whyte, somewhat glossing over or completely ignoring replies from Charles Green and Duff & Phelps. To disregard the replies to allegations or comments made by Whyte, a man who has a history of telling tales and deceiving people, somewhat confirms either the appalling standards at the BBC or the blatant intent to tell whatever side of the story that suits them rather than the truth.

It is unfortunately to see an organisation such as BBC Scotland behave in a manner so unbefitting of their role in so much of their coverage of Rangers FC. An isolated incident could have been passed off as a mere mistake or simply poor journalism but the constant and relentless propaganda spewed by so many of its reporters reflects very badly on the rest of the company and does nothing but damage its reputation.

In my mind, Charles Green should address this issue as soon as possible and inform them that their reporting on our Club has not been acceptable or even accurate. Until such time as we see an improvement in their coverage and receive a full and unreserved apology then all possible cooperation should be withdrawn and the BBC should again be banned from Ibrox, if Green hasn’t already done this of course.

So much of modern football and the business of modern football is played out in the media spotlight. The intensity of the coverage has never been so focussed and we constantly see clubs and their officials using the press coverage to their advantage. It would be foolish to ignore an outlet which continues to peddle lies and portray our Club in a certain way, epitomised by the obvious lack of balance in their approach.

I would certainly be no worse off if the BBC were to stop receiving interviews or information from Rangers and its staff. I can only imagine that many fans would feel similarly.

It is really quite tragic to witness the current standards and behaviour of certain elements of BBC Scotland and sadly their credibility is fast plummeting to the same level of the bumbling buffoon that sat across from their senior football reporter yesterday.

Whyte described the Rangers’ financial disaster as a train that had crashed. The BBC had better hope that they have not set themselves on a collision course with Scotland’s biggest club and largest support. I can only see one winner.



Andy is the newly minted Deputy Editor of the CRO. He can be found on Twitter at @AMCKEL or via email: amckel@thecoplandroad.org

17 October 2012

Sporting Integrity: Where's the journos?


by Chris Graham | CRO Contributor

Everybody knows what a spectacular omnishambles the SPL is, so when it was announced yesterday that they had secretly imposed a transfer ban on Hearts last month for not paying their players on time, without announcing it and during a period when the transfer window was shut, the reaction was a shrug of the shoulders and a few blasts of “Doncaster Must Go”.

The issue runs a bit deeper though. It’s about the lack of questions being asked of both this shambolic body and the SFA who oversee the whole game in Scotland.

What the Hearts story highlights is how journalists in Scotland are just not asking the right questions of the governing bodies and if they are then they are not demanding proper answers. I wrote recently on TRS about the SFA stonewalling enquiries about why Turnbull Hutton was never charged for his “corruption” outburst. Then when they finally answered one journalist, she declared the explanation “off the record” and didn’t even report the general reasoning. They only got away with it because no pressure was put on them to give a proper answer.

So with that in mind I thought I would put out a few questions that perhaps, if they are a bit embarrassed at the Hearts transfer embargo slipping under the radar, the press and TV guys could ask of the SPL board. I would say they should ask Neil Doncaster but, despite his obvious incompetence, he is not running the SPL – he acts at the behest of the more powerful clubs still in the league.

In March there was much talk of a fairer distribution of income in the SPL.  It was one of the reasons cited by the so called “Gang of Ten” for possibly not allowing Rangers back into the SPL or at least demanding a change to the voting rules if they were allowed back in.

So what happened to that then? Celtic should now be isolated and it should be easy for the other 11 clubs to push through the fairer distribution that they all said they wanted.

So, why no vote? Why no proposal for a change even? There isn’t even a need to change the voting rules anymore – all they need to do is propose to distribute the TV and sponsorship income more evenly and let the 11-1 vote pass the change.

Is it possible that Rod Petrie and Steven Thompson have disappeared so far up Peter Lawwell’s arse that they can’t be located for a vote to take place?

Whatever happened to that pesky TV deal? You know – the one that was off because Rangers might be out the SPL and then back on even though they were out the SPL, but only if their SFL games were included. That was reportedly cut by 50% but which reliable ginger Jim Spence then told us was only down by 10%.

Usually these deals are trumpeted from the ramparts of Hampden as a huge success despite almost always being a pittance, so why no announcement? Why no details of the value or the term of the contract?

Let me give some additional guidance to anyone who wants to ask. How long is the contract? 5 years you say? Are you sure Mr Doncaster? Is it not just a year? Ok, if you insist, let’s say its 5 years…. Is there a review due? Is there a review this summer to be more specific? Can Sky and ESPN walk away for nothing in the summer depending on the status of league reconstruction? So it is effectively a one year deal? You don’t know Neil? We should ask Peter? Tut, tut.

Why was this transfer embargo for Hearts kept a secret then? Would it have been embarrassing for you to admit you had to take action against a skint member club whilst in the same breath declaring that things were all fine and dandy in the thriving football Mecca that is the SPL? Yes I can see that.  

Tell me, what is the point in a transfer embargo when the transfer window is shut? Do you feel that is an effective or appropriate punishment? Should you not have fined them? Sure they were skint, but so were Rangers when you fined them – they were in administration weren’t they?  How many times is that now that Hearts haven’t paid their players or haven’t paid tax? Is there going to be an escalation in their punishment as repeat offenders? Is the one month transfer embargo just going to be applied each time? If they get to the point where the transfer window is actually open will the embargo be implemented?

I’m being slightly flippant obviously but you get the idea. This story about Hearts is as much a failure of the journalists as it is of the SPL. They take too much that they are told, by both the SPL and SFA, at face value. They don’t rock the boat.

So what we get is a situation where an SFA Chief Executive can preside over the biggest clusterfuck that Scottish football has ever seen and not come under any sustained pressure due to the highly advanced media strategy of refusing to answer questions or take interviews. Whatever happened to opinion pieces?

Regan saw referees go on strike. He introduced a flawed disciplinary process which has been successfully challenged several times and which is wholly down to the whim of his pet compliance officer, Vincent Lunny. Regan has bullied and lied to SFL clubs during the Rangers affair. He has stood by a disastrous national manager; our national team has plummeted down the rankings and yet again failed to even get close to qualifying for a major tournament.

The SPL has been a disaster. League reconstruction is still being blocked by self-interest despite the best attempts of David Longmuir and the SFL. Revenues are down, crowds are down, interest is down and TV viewing figures have disappeared through the floor.

All this and Regan and Doncaster would have been lucky to see two consecutive days of negative headlines in the press. It has been left to bloggers and fans groups to apply the pressure.

I’m not going to start banging on like some demented Tim about the “Mainstream Media” and their flaws. Lots of journalists work hard and do their best, but they are being too easily fobbed off by both of these organisations and it is time for them to grow a set and start demanding answers.

Chris isn't exactly new to you or to the CRO, but this is the first time he gets to be called a "contributor" so make sure to congratulate him. He can be reached on Twitter at @ChrisGraham76 or via email: cgraham@thecoplandroad.org

14 October 2012

The IPO: Great Potential


by Robbie Devine | CRO Contributor

Charles Green and Ally McCoist have spent a couple of days down in the ‘big smoke’ doing their best impressions of Lord Sugar’s Apprentice candidates as they attempted to sell the potential and value of Rangers Football Club to prospective investors.

The fans’ reaction to their performance has generally been positive and even the response from those who tend to subscribe to the Financial Times as opposed to World Soccer has been favourable.

For the vast majority of Bears the inner workings of the London Stock Exchange are an alien concept and so the hope has to be that Green, Brian Stockbridge and Imran Ahmad have done their homework and arithmetic correctly and that the financial health of Rangers stands to be radically improved in the coming weeks and months.

The injection of around £20million of capital is apparently required despite the fact that the fans have shown tremendous loyalty in standing by the club throughout the challenging economic reality of playing in the bottom division of the Scottish game. If you counter that with the fact the manager will eventually need to add some fresh blood into the squad in the future however then I therefore think that any move to raise funds must be welcomed.

We have also seen some of the major sponsors of the club terminate their contracts but during these harsh financial times no one can really complain about Phoenix Honda walking away as it is perhaps unwelcome to see our players driving flash cars whilst you and me are fretting about how to make ends meet to pay our mortgages and utility bills.

People are also uncomfortable at the fact the club is still pushing the boat out in terms of splashing the cash on providing players with the luxury of spending nights prior to matches in five star hotels. This has to be stopped as soon as possible in my opinion.

Certainly all the indications thus far are that Green & Co are listening to the supporters concerns over cost-cutting measures and that plans to give the stadium a face lift are not being put aside but instead prioritised.

In the meantime the campaign to install a museum detailing the incredible 140 years of our history has already started to gain momentum and so it has to be hoped that it too is something which is explored or at least considered by the Club’s directors.

It has been encouraging to see Green travel across the Atlantic and over the water to Northern Ireland to speak with the fans and listen to their views whilst allowing them to question the motives of our new owners, something the disgraced Craig Whyte would never have considered.

The potential of Rangers FC is massive. There are not many teams in world football that can match the incredible interest in the ongoing fortunes of the Club and that should continue to be explored. We’ve had media coverage from all corners of the globe as journalists struggle to understand our recent collapse and also how such tremendous crowds can still be found at fourth-tier matches.

We have however heard some grand plans before such as the links up with Northern Spirit and Shenzhen Jianlibao for example but, despite the fact the team are currently toiling somewhat in the Third Division, it is important all avenues are explored in maximizing revenue and when Charles Green speaks of European Leagues he is presumably speaking with the knowledge that such moves may be afoot and not simply to send out a good soundbite and placate the support.

Certainly it appears that off-the-park structures are being put in place to rebuild our great club and, in the meantime, we must start to see a massive improvement of our performances on it, starting with the revival of the oldest derby in Glasgow when the amateurs of Queens Park arrive at Ibrox next Saturday.

The coming months could be greatly positive for Rangers FC, its fans and both its current and potential investors and I can only hope that we are discussing such success back here on CRO in the not-too-distant future. There is great potential here at Ibrox. I can only hope that we fulfill it.

Robbie is a new signing at the CRO, having written for all sorts of publications we generally delight in ripping the pish out of. He can be reached via email at rdevine@thecoplandroad.org