29 January 2013

Alex, mate, seriously?

by Shane Nicholson | CRO Executive Editor

"This would clearly involve a massive and unprecedented re-writing of club history, re-engraving of a lot of silverware, and Rangers would be saddled with the reputation of being the biggest cheats in football history – in sporting history."

I probably shouldn't, but I can't help it.

For one thing, the "biggest cheats" not just in the history of our sport, but all of sport? The hyperbole, even for you, Alex, is laughable. You do know we were bought out of the first Champions League Final, yes? Or that little bit to do with Juve? You are familiar with this man Lance Armstrong from the little known state of Texas? Ben Johnson? The Black Sox? We could go on...

I had an interesting conversation with an old friend the other day who pointed out a very simple truth in this case: any footballing agent — any — could torpedo this entire kangaroo court in a matter of minutes. But of course career suicide is not often best practice.

Because you see, Alex — friend, buddy, pal — we've moved on from Rangers being "guilty" or "not guilty." We're now talking about administrative errors, or portions of contracts left un-notarized, something done with every single football club around the world, sometimes on purpose, sometimes not, but certainly universal.

Setting aside that the independent and impartial overseer in our case is neither independent or impartial, the simple truth is that a wee look through the contracts of the 12 clubs of the SPL would uncover some dark little secrets. Administrative errors that would make your head spin. Pages and clauses left un-initialed. Think of the state of it!

Biggest cheats ever? Please, Alex, for your sake, stop with the rhetoric. It's not doing you or the facts of this case any good.

26 January 2013

Rangers Not So Super But Ally Still The Man

By Bill McMurdo | CRO Editor-at-large

Rangers fan forums are buzzing after another poor display and very disappointing scoreline against Montrose at Ibrox.

Many fans are now openly calling for Ally McCoist and the management team to be cleared out. Arguably this is a bit harsh, given that Rangers have a massive lead at the top of the Third Division.

The reality is that many Rangers fans believe that the standard of play is unacceptable. The general consensus seems to be that Rangers have the players who could hold their own in the SPL but are making heavy weather of beating the teams in SFL 3.

It certainly doesn't help things when those who criticise the team or those who demand a higher standard of effort and performance from those who don the famous jersey are labelled as "Ally-bashers."

A lot of harsh words are being bandied back and forth between those who are frustrated by the team's level of performance and those who want to give Ally more time.

At the extreme edges of both factions are those who will never rate Coisty as a manager and those who would stick by him if Rangers lost every game for ten years under his leadership.

It's all a bit sad and a disappointing that the team should be under-performing when many other things are going well for The Rangers. It would be a whole lot worse, however, if the prospect of promotion was in peril because we were lagging behind in the title race.

The uncertainty surrounding reconstruction doesn't help. Rangers will win SFL 3 by a considerable distance but SPL proposals, if accepted, could render the title win a hollow victory as Rangers would still be playing the same teams in the bottom tier next season.

This time spent in the lower leagues is an ideal time for Super and his team to build a great team that will surge through the leagues back to our rightful place at the top of Scottish football. Sadly, the football style is puerile and any philosophy that is present is either hiding well or massively wanting.

There are few watching Rangers with even a modicum of football knowledge who see in this team the makings of a potent footballing force. The individual skill is there but the team is just not gelling. I am sure that McCoist, McDowall and Durrant see this as we all see it.

The great mystery is why they are not taking radical action to do something about it.

Before even the Ally faithful begin to lose heart, it is hoped I am sure by the vast majority of bluenoses that Coisty and his coaching colleagues solve this mystery to everyone's satisfaction.

Bill can be found on Twitter at @WilliamMcMurdo and via email: bmcmurdo@thecoplandroad.org

25 January 2013

'Bigger is better'? Maybe not

by Andy McGowan | CRO Contributor
No matter what anyone thinks of the man it is difficult to deny that Charles Green provides great material for our mainstream media and, more often than not, causes some pretty large and polarizing debates among the Rangers faithful. It’s certainly been no different since a meeting was held at Ibrox on Wednesday night where Mr Green met with supporters clubs’ representatives for a Q&A session.
The majority of answers given were nothing new to anyone who enjoys a regular gaze into the curious world of Charles Green. We heard more about naming rights, league reconstruction and kit deals and sponsors. One of the major taking points following the meeting however was the prospect of increasing the capacity of Ibrox with Green stating, “nine-thousand Rangers fans didn't renew and if they try to come back next season we will have to build an extension.” It is, on the surface at least, another throw-away comment and we all know Charles is prone to hyperbole and hypothetical statements, but it does give a real insight into what is being discussed for potential increases to our revenue streams.
It is my understanding that almost all of the major fan groups aren’t keen on the idea of expanding Ibrox and feel that our current capacity is adequate for our needs, although the Rangers Supporters Trust have told us that if there was a viable business case put forward for it they would support expansion plans. The idea would presumably be to remove the screens at either side of the Govan Stand and replace them with more seats while maintaining prices to maximise attendances and potentially bring our capacity in line with, or beyond, that of Parkhead. 
The question is when does this potential avenue become viable for the club? At the moment the club is being backed tremendously by the fans. Our season-ticket sales in Division Three is a remarkable achievement, something that will live long in the mind of more than just Rangers supporters, but will this same backing still be present in the Second Division?
For the moment we have to presume that Rangers will be playing in SFL Division 2 next season until such a time as reconstruction plans become official and we are informed exactly when such changes are to be introduced. Now, if we are playing in Division Two next season with increased ticket prices are we going to hold the level of current season ticket holders? Possibly. Are we likely to see an increased demand for season tickets? Unlikely. Even an optimist would have to acknowledge that the reality is probably not. Even eventual promotion to the First Division would not be enough to raise enough demand to increase the capacity of our stadium.  
That only leaves us with the eventual possibility of staring back at our old friend in the Scottish Premier League. Many people in favour of an expanded Ibrox suggest implementing the plan when we are back in the top-tier and back competing in Europe. Currently they have a team in the SPL with a 60,000 capacity stadium enjoying a run in Europe and, to put it frankly, their attendances are dire. Only managing to fill their stadium on big European nights leaves them with nineteen poor league attendances and even poorer cup attendances. In fact, this was so problematic that they resorted to actually giving tickets away for a few games, with little success.
The product at the top of the game in Scotland simply no longer attracts the demand for 60,000+ capacity stadiums and it is likely that on Rangers’ return to the top flight the product will be shoddier and more expensive than ever before. There is quite simply no need, at least without monumental changes in both the landscape Scottish football and the economy in the UK at large, to increase the capacity of Ibrox.
It often leaves you with similar attendances as prior to expansion and a much poorer atmosphere into the bargain. One look at the Serie A in Italy would tell you that Juventus – arguably the biggest team in Italian football and certainly one of the best supported - struggled to sell-out most league fixtures in years gone by. In fact in certain games it resembled more of a ghost town than a vibrant football stadium home to such an illustrious team.
This prompted Juventus to move to the much smaller Juventus Stadium in 2011 which has a capacity of only 41,000 and, quite vitally, was more accessible than the Stadio Delle Alpi. Last May the club posted their highest attendance at their new home ground at 40,944, a far larger crowd than normally achieved at their former home boasting a capacity of 69,000.
Bigger isn’t always better. Simply increasing the capacity because we have the money in the bank to do so could be pointless, dangerous and detrimental to an amazing atmosphere at Ibrox. We don’t know what the future holds for Rangers, for Scottish football or indeed for Ibrox, but at the moment it’s my hope that Charles Green and Rangers Football Club look to improve the stadium for those who currently attend rather than looking to make room for those who don’t. 

Quality over quantity please, Charles. Right now we have both. Why change a winning formula?

The CRO Rangers TV poll

Please hop on over to our Facebook page and respond to our poll about how you watch Rangers if/when you're not at the ground. We've given you five pretty simple options:
  1. A UK-based subscriber who never uses "illegal streams" to watch RFC matches.
  2. An international RTV subscriber.
  3. UK-based again, but you do use "illegal streams" or a proxy switch to watch matches you can't see live.
  4. An international subscriber part of a RSC pool plan, eg- NARSA clubs.
  5. You stream all matches via a 3rd party site such as vipbox or others.
Just click on the corresponding answer in the list that best describes how you catch RFC matches when you're not at Ibrox. You can click right here in case you missed it the first three times!

Thanks for your response and for your continued support of the CRO.

21 January 2013

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

By Peter Ewart | CRO Contributor

Saturday, 2nd February 2013, 12.40pm. Kick-off approaches and the Sky television cameras pan in on a group of a couple of dozen supposed Rangers supporters in a very, very barren portion of Tannandice. Is it you? Why on earth..?

Now, there is no guarantee that those who bought tickets have any affiliation with Rangers Football Club. Anybody can of course currently buy tickets from the Dundee United club website for the game. All you need is a name and an address; no Rangers number, nothing to say you are a Rangers fan. Given the over-policing of football in Scotland today, that is quite staggering.

For me, it actually says more about how desperate United are for money that they are willing to take £15 from any Tom, Declan or Harry. But given that it’s Thompson, perhaps it’s not such a surprise. About 100 tickets have apparently been sold and we have to assume some will be Rangers fans.

Why would any self-respecting Rangers supporter ignore the wishes of all fans groups - a particularly remarkable and unfortunately rare show of unity from RFC supporters groups - and indeed the decision taken by the Club and Charles Green himself to not accept a ticket allocation? 

What possible reasons could you have for doing it? Well...

  • ‘It’s a local game for me’: No reason to be going to the game, but tell you what: Put your Rangers top on, go down to Tannadice and tell the Sky cameras outside the ground exactly why you aren’t going into the ground. Then go and watch it in the pub. Next… 
  • ‘Away tickets have been hard to get this season’: Hard, but not that hard. Plus you could have gone to Hampden. Next… 
  • ‘The team needs our support’: You won’t get any argument anywhere on that front. It represents a difficult cup tie for us. Would we have a better chance if we had 5,000+ fans at Tannadice? Probably. But unfortunately this past year hasn’t really been about football. Our fans are taking a stand. You should be taking that opportunity too. Besides, some of the players have spoken out in support of the boycott.
  • ‘I’m a Superfan and I’ve been to every game for the last 5/10/20/30 years’: Firstly, I have a hard time believing such claims. Secondly, the away diehards I know are unanimous in their support of the boycott. They can let this one go. So should you. 
  • ‘Nae cunt tells me what to do.’: Now we’re getting somewhere. Everybody loves a maverick don’t they? Well, most of the time, but not on this occasion I’m afraid. If your ego is making you go for fuck sake get over yourself and realise just how strong a united RFC support is. 

Our club has taken an absolute battering in recent times when certain elements of Scottish football tried to finish us off. They didn’t succeed. They’ll never succeed. Remember what it felt like when there was day after day, month after month of bad news for Rangers? Our detractors were in full flow, sanctions coming from all angles, ‘sporting integrity’ and the intent to punish us ahead of any trial. Remember when it was at its bleakest? After all that and you want to put your colours on and go to the ground of one of the clubs who put the boot in the most?

And it’s not just about the money. To really hurt SPL clubs financially we’d boycott a cup game at Ibrox which of course isn’t going to happen. This is about Bears voting with their feet. This is a vote on how we were treated in the summer. This is a vote on the SFA. This is a vote on how we’ve been treated since we clambered back to our feet. This is a vote on reconstruction. 

It’s time to make a stand. I simply cannot see any reason for being there. 

Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame. I hope it is worth it. 

If you think differently drop us an email info@thecoplandroad.org, or, better still, if you are going to Tannadice get in touch and put your case. We may not agree with it but we’ll publish it.

Media Monday with the Gruesome Twosome

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

The students at Edinburgh Napier University were treated to the delightful news that two top quality journalists were set to visit their campus to discuss journalism and in particular the reporting of the Rangers’ story that has filled so many column inches in the past year. Unfortunately for those in attendance though, Alex Thomson and Mark Daly turned up instead.

These two “reporters” should be no strangers to most readers of this article, firstly because of their impeccably ridiculous coverage of our club and secondly because we’ve ripped them both a new one here at CRO previously. Apparently however that is the best that the media world could offer to the poor undergraduates at Napier University but, nevertheless, Media Monday continued.

Channel 4’s Alex Thomson began the proceedings in typically pompous fashion, rambling on about the apparent failings in the Scottish sports media all the while trying to appear as some form of brave journo who tackled the story in a fearless, favourless fashion. He highlighted the fact that the media did not do their job in questioning David Murray or Craig Whyte and of course couldn’t resist hinting that Charles Green could be yet another shameless shyster lurking in the shadows of the Ibrox corridors.

Talking of not doing a job properly, it is quite fitting that he was accompanied by Mark Daly from the BBC. Mark of course was the terrific investigative journalist who was hailed by all and sundry for uncovering the Rangers’ scandal as he told the story of our illegal remuneration scheme and how we defrauded the tax authorities of millions of pounds in the process. How his heart must have sank when his propaganda programme was blown right out of the water when news broke that Rangers had won the First Tier Tribunal against HM Revenue & Customs. I’m sure his reaction is something that we all would have loved to have witnessed.

Facts never seem to be something which either of these two journalists prioritise when researching or indeed reporting on Rangers and this was again apparent in Thomson’s ignorance when stating that the SPL bent over backwards to keep Rangers in the league. Next he’ll be telling us all that Stewart Regan is doing a marvellous job at the SFA or that the SPL is in fact “booming” without us. Then again, Alex is prone to the odd lie or two, isn’t he?

The event is something which I would have perhaps considered attending due to the obvious interest in the reporting of Rangers in recent months but of course, as a member of the thriving Rangers’ underclass, I would have been immediately blacklisted, denied entry and most probably arrested. Well, that and I quite frankly couldn’t contemplate listening to any more of the inane ramblings of these two bumbling idiots who have made a mockery of their profession and embarrassed themselves in the process. Rumours even have it both were sporting some quite fetching and rather dapper brass necks to the event, although I’m still awaiting confirmation.

Media Monday though was not a complete and total waste of time and energy for the hopefully hard-working students at Edinburgh Napier University. Today would have allowed them to witness at first hand just how little effort and quality is required to make it in the world of journalism and that all the best practice that they have been lectured on is in fact irrelevant once you get a job in the real world. Seeing Thomson and Daly in front of them will have given each and every one of them hope that, despite the current financial difficulties in the economy, there may well be a job for them out there somewhere, most probably at Channel 4 or within BBC Scotland. And for that they should be thankful to the Gruesome Twosome who turned up today.

It is a sad indictment of the Scottish media that these guys are widely regarded as the individuals who took the lead in the reporting of the Rangers’ story and that they are allowed to claim credit for work that is nothing but substandard propaganda. Believe it or not we actually have some decent journalists out there but unfortunately it seems to be that it is those who shout the loudest that rise to the top. And my goodness it is hard to shut some of these guys up.

The media in this country certainly didn’t cover themselves in glory throughout the months when the apparent scandal was unfolding. In fact it could be said that many journalists were responsible at one level or another for stoking the fires of hate which have been all too apparent since our great institution fell to its knees. I can only hope that aspiring journalists such as those currently studying at the Napier University are capable enough of learning from the countless mistakes from individuals such as those lecturing them today. If so then perhaps the careers of Thomson and Daly have unintentionally served some purpose. We can only hope.

Oh by the way, Mark, you can hand that tainted award of yours back now too.

20 January 2013

The SPL: Oxymorons and Tainted Titles

by Dr Jeffrey Stephen | CRO Guest Writer

2012 was a momentous year for Glasgow Rangers Football Club. Administration and liquidation followed by resurrection. The club found itself playing in Division Three of the SFL, the fourth tier of Scottish football. The club and fans have embraced the division; they have embraced the ‘journey’ the club will take from the bottom tier to the top over the forthcoming seasons. Indeed, during the troubled summer months when the club was engulfed in a maelstrom of malevolence and uncertainty, many Rangers fans were actively promoting the idea that the club should go to the bottom and work its way back. 

However, the Third Division was not the destination of choice for the club and its new owners. Charles Green was clear, Rangers belonged in the SPL and following liquidation an application for membership was duly made as per the rules, and promptly rejected. Club chairmen, with the exception of Michael Johnston of Kilmarnock, hid behind the protective barricade of fan power. The more loquacious among observers even likened Scottish footballing fans finally finding their voice, to the Arab Spring! Club chairmen, fans groups, fans forums, bloggers, pundits and journalists of a distinctive affiliation were united in opposition to, ‘Newco’ Rangers as it was termed, being admitted to the SPL. If the club should go anywhere, it should be banished to the third division, which is what happened, despite the worst efforts of the Regan led cabal that included the SPL, to parachute the club into Division One. 

The golden thread that bound these disparate groups together was the term ‘sporting integrity’. Hibernian Chairman Rod Petrie insisted that sporting integrity was ‘beyond purchase.’ The Prophet Petrie’s pronouncements came to be regarded by many in the game as the footballing equivalent of the Sermon on the Mount. During the summer the phrase was repeated ad nauseum, like a religious mantra and it became Scottish football’s zeitgeist. 

The post First Tier Tribunal revisionists notwithstanding, we all know what they meant back in the summer by sporting integrity. It was never about Craig Whyte’s brief and all too destructive tenure at the club. Whyte placed the club in administration to pre-empt a similar move by HMRC because of his failure to pay the tax and national insurance contributions of his Ibrox employees. Both Whyte and the club were subsequently charged and punished by the SFA. However, while not wishing to diminish the seriousness of Whyte’s failure to pay HMRC, his misdemeanour was a sideshow, a not insignificant sideshow but a sideshow nonetheless when compared to the main event, which was commonly known as ‘The Big Tax Case’. This case centred on a perfectly legal Employee Benefit Trust scheme run by former owner David Murray but against which HMRC was demanding an estimated £49 million pounds in unpaid tax, interest and penalties. The First Tier Tribunal had just begun considering the evidence presented by Rangers in its appeal when the club went into administration.

Rather, sporting integrity came to be regarded as the antithesis of all things Rangers and it is important to emphasise at this point that with few exceptions those involved in Scottish football, from the highest level to the lowest, worked on the premise that Rangers were guilty and they continued to do so with increasing certainty and conviction right up until the FTT announced its decision in favour of the club. When it did, the flabbergasted pundits, who had never been short of an opinion on Rangers tax issues were lost for words. Let’s face it, from their perspective, how could Rangers not be guilty? Everything they had seen, heard and read had pointed irrefutably to Rangers’ guilt. Had not the BBC conclusively proved it in their award winning documentary? When it came BBC Scotland’s reporting on the Rangers story, the footballing masses in the country were unable or unwilling to differentiate between fact and fiction. Each report and breaking story was regarded as something akin to an ex cathedra pronouncement. However, as the outcome of the FTT demonstrated, it was clearly a case of the blind leading the blind. 

Likewise, had not those well known bloggers on all things Rangers and Revenue demonstrated the club’s guilt through the judicious use of leaked confidential documents? How could Rangers not be guilty when their own administrators released a final total of debt that was well in excess of £100 million of which over £70 million was claimed by HMRC? The fact that the club failed to emerge from administration but was liquidated when HMRC rejected the CVA merely confirmed the guilt. HMRC’s decision was not based solely upon issues relating to Whyte’s tenure but encompassed that of David Murray and their own assumption that the club had abused the EBT scheme. On the day the decision was announced, one texter to the BBC expressed the views of the majority of fans not affiliated to Rangers, that the club had been guilty of a ‘decade of cheating’. Even Craig Whyte was convinced the club was guilty. He did not pay tax because, well, what the hell, the club was going under anyway when the FTT finally got round to its inevitable guilty verdict.

It was this assumption of guilt that gave birth to the phrase sporting integrity, at least in its then Scottish incarnation. It was confidently asserted that Rangers were guilty of tax evasion on a grand, even industrial scale. This evasion had given the club an unfair, unsporting advantage over its competitors by allowing it to pay for quality players that it could not otherwise afford. Terms like financial doping and match fixing were used. Rangers had effectively cheated its way to a series of titles and cups and the clamour for the club to be stripped of those grew. The assumption of guilt was nowhere better illustrated than when the SPL and SFA wanted Rangers to accept the stripping of titles and Scottish cups in return for being parachuted into division one. The consensus was that Rangers’ predicament was self inflicted; years of living beyond its means, years of cheating that is, had brought it to its knees and for that it had to pay. Regardless of the financial cost to the game in Scotland and to their clubs, SPL chairmen piously lined up one after the other to let the world and his dog know that sporting integrity had to take precedence over financial gain. It was more important than money; it was ‘beyond purchase’. Ah!! The Corinthian spirit is alive and well in the SPL!! 

Yet the reactions and actions of Scotland’s football authorities, its literati, cognoscente and the baying mobs that inhabit its coliseums, pre-empted the actual judgment of the FTT. If only they had waited; but they would not wait, they could not wait, they rushed to judgement like an angry lynch mob, trampling underfoot that fundamental principle of Scottish, of British justice that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Those who accused, judged and condemned Rangers, who vilified Rangers and voted to reject the club’s application to the SPL, lacked the very principle they claimed was sacred and beyond purchase, a principle they claimed they were acting to uphold – Integrity. 

Let us return to Mr Petrie’s interview with the BBC. He was quoted as saying, ‘It is important to us that the integrity of the competition we take part [in] is maintained to the highest standards.’ The competition he referred to was the SPL but paradoxically Mr Petrie and his followers have in fact destroyed what they sought to protect and maintain. The essence of sport is competition. The OED defines sport as, ‘competitive activity’. Some would have us believe that even without Rangers competition is alive and kicking in the current SPL campaign. Reacting to claims made in the summer that the game faced Armageddon without the club in the top tier, the early months of the season have been replete with claims that crowds were up, excitement was up, goals were up and that the SPL was as competitive as ever. The teams were all bunched together, could beat each other and little separated top from bottom. For some dewy eyed Dundonians it was the footballing equivalent of Equality, Egalite and Fraternity.

Now, I am not going to claim that there is no excitement in the SPL, of course there are exciting games but the SPL is not unique. You can get exciting games watching your local junior side, goals too. But the SPL also provides more than its fair share of howlers, instantly forgettable games; ‘it wasn’t pretty’, is the common footballing euphemism for, awful. Nor would I claim that the current SPL campaign entirely lacks competition. Every time two teams take to the field there is competition of sorts. Even champions elect Celtic have faced stiff competition in individual games but if they and all the rest were honest, Celtic’s only real competitor is complacency. There is always competition for league places, after all you get a little bit more prize money if you finish eighth than you do if you are ninth or 10th. There is usually competition between some clubs to make it into the top six, pre-split and often there is competition for European places and to avoid the drop. That kind of competition takes place every year (maybe not this year as far as relegation goes); in that sense this season is not unique. However, something important is missing this year and in this the SPL is unique indeed. There is no competition for the title. 

Let’s look at the statistics. Since its inception, the SPL has been won by just two clubs, Rangers and Celtic. Apart from the old firm, no other club has won a title since the mid 80s. In the SPL Heart of Midlothian are the only club to have split the Old Firm, and only once. Every other year, the also-rans finished the points equivalent of, miles behind. This season’s title race was a dead rubber from the start. In fact since the start of the season, the emphasis has really been upon who will come second to Celtic. Is there any other European country in which its premier football league has no competition for the title from the start of the season to the end and where the destination of the title is a 100%, cast iron, foregone conclusion? In every league there is competition between at least two or three of the major clubs, except in Scotland. Can there be any more damning indictment of the SPL? If the SPL is not embarrassed, it should be. For a sporting organisation to have any integrity there must be competition for its major prize. The current SPL lacks integrity because it has no competition on the issue that is of the first importance; the competition for the title. The SPL is a competition that lacks title competition. A famous Vulcan might have put it thus, it’s sport Jim, but not as we know it. 

Now, there will be some out there who would argue that there is no competition in the third division either. I would agree; despite a sticky start Rangers are romping it. However, there is a significant difference. Rangers are in the third division as a consequence of the unfortunate and premature decisions of other clubs, not by choice. The club was manoeuvred into the third division against its will.

The absence of competition for the SPL title is the consequence of a deliberate and conscious choice of 10 of its current members. Imagine for a moment the reaction of the monopolies and mergers commission if, in any other form of commercial business one of the leading players successfully excluded its only competitive rival for the top spot from the commercial sector in question. Where is the sporting integrity in effectively fixing the destination of the title for the next three years?  Let’s face it, if Celtic were really interested in the integrity of the competition they would at least have made a case for keeping their only rival in the SPL, yet they did not. Celtic voted along with all the others to reject Rangers’ application to join the SPL upon a false premise of guilt, and in doing so voted to exclude its only, and I repeat, only rival for the title in the full knowledge that with Rangers out of the SPL there would be only one winner. 

The vote ensured a sporting monopoly; a rival free zone that guaranteed Celtic at least three more titles. Rangers were subject to the footballing equivalent of a constructive dismissal by various vested interests in the SPL and of those vested interests, Celtic had the most to gain. Sporting integrity was the Trojan horse used to bring down as low as possible a Scottish institution; sporting integrity was never beyond purchase: its purveyors sold it for 30 pieces of silver.

18 January 2013

The Fan's Voice: ‘What do you want done with IPO funds for Ibrox and the surrounding area?’

General upgrades of Ibrox came second in polling results
in our survey conducted across three fan forums.
by Alan Clark | CRO Contributor

One of the promises that Charles Green made when his consortium saved the club was to launch a share issue by the end of 2012, and in December the company was floated on the AIM market in London.

The purposes of this Initial Public Offering were to enable supporters to buy shares in the club that they had lost through the old company entering liquidation and to collect funds for various planned improvements to the stadium, the surrounding area, Ally McCoist’s transfer budget and for working capital.

According to the share prospectus, £5.5m of the IPO will be set aside for Ibrox Stadium upgrades, £4.5m to purchase land assets adjacent to Ibrox and £3m for other projects that would bring additional revenue streams and working capital (no figure given).

I set up polls on three fans forums – Follow Follow, Rangers Media and the CRO’s de-facto forum DoTheBouncy. The polling question was, ‘What do the fans want done with IPO funds for Ibrox/surrounding area?’ with eight ideas as well as an ‘Other’ option. I left out the idea of making Edmiston House a club store with an attached bar, as Green has mentioned this as a possibility already.

The polls received a total of 161 votes, with users allowed to select multiple options. Here are the five most popular, in order:

Club Museum

With 81 votes, a dedicated club museum celebrating Rangers’ past and present achievements of the last 141 years was the most popular idea. Many large clubs have museums, and the fans clearly feel it was about time that Rangers had one. With all the success that the great club has had, there wouldn’t be a shortage in filling the museum. Our friends at The Rangers Standard created a petition for the club to consider a museum and have garnered nearly 2,000 signatures so far.

General Condition

Improving the general condition of the stadium in relation to concourses and toilets was the second most popular, with 65 of the votes. Any regular visitor to Ibrox will know that not all of the concourses around the ground are what you would class as “top-notch.” Some irregularities between certain stands and how they are kept day-to-day are clearly an issue for many of the supporters.

Broomloan and Copland stands

An issue that many fans would like to see cleared up is the exterior state of the Broomloan Road and Copland Road stands. A general cleaning of the stands from the outside, or perhaps a modernisation of the outside façade are options the club could look at. The glorious Main Stand exterior needs no work but certainly the two stands behind each goal could do with some improvement works.

Catering booths

The standard of the food and drink on offer at Ibrox has never been significantly high and revamping the standard of the product on offer and a re-design of the booths were a popular idea in the polls. A wider selection of the products is also wanted. Some even suggested a Rangers-owned McDonald’s franchise, either to replace the booths currently there or to build one outside the ground.

Casino/hotel complex

The last proposed idea to make it into the cut is the much talked about casino/hotel complex. An idea of former owner David Murray that never took off, a casino in the surrounding area of the stadium could potentially be a banker for the club. With the idea of a hotel joined on also, some have questioned if the funding needed to construct the complex would be worthwhile for the money taken in once it was up and running.

An honourable mention goes to the idea of safe standing at Ibrox, which personally I think is a superb idea and one I’d be eager to see get up and running. However, ripping up the seats in the Copland Front to introduce terracing again is probably not high on the club’s agenda for spending IPO funds – but perhaps it is one that can be set aside for a time in the future where the landscape of football could be a lot different to how it is today in 2013.

15 January 2013

Ibrox: Then, Now, Forever?

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

The contentious and somewhat thorny issue of stadium renaming is once again very much back on the agenda as Rangers fans debate the pros and cons of such a move and attempt to arrive at a conclusion as to whether this is a step in the right direction or unwanted commercial exploitation of our club. Rumours have spread this week that Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has purchased the right to have its company brand recognised in the name of our ground and such news has certainly resulted in a very mixed reaction.
There are those who have been vocally and visually against the very notion of our stadium being called anything other than Ibrox. We have heard the chants at our recent home matches and we have seen the signs held aloft in opposition to any move that would see our stadium being officially recognised by another name. Words such as history, heritage and tradition have been banded about and I must confess that, no more than a year ago, I would have been singing from the exact same hymn sheet.

There was one day however that completely changed my mind: 14th February 2012. This is a day that will forever be remembered as one of the darkest in our proud history and one which I'm sure will prove difficult to forget for a considerable number of years. I can still remember that horrible, sickening feeling when the news broke that we had entered administration and the days of anxiety that inevitably followed. It was a torrid time to be a bluenose.

When considering the proposal to rename our stadium I would urge all supporters to spare a moment’s thought to reflect on the events of the past year. I would urge them to remember the troubles and tribulations that darkened our days and to reflect on the harsh reality that the very existence of our beloved club was at risk.

The reckless financial mismanagement of our previous owners should serve as a lesson to everyone at Rangers Football Club, from the fans in the stand to the men in the boardroom. Financial prudence should now be at the forefront of our thoughts and the days of needless and unnecessary spending should be put well and truly behind us. We must now function as self-sustaining business and I'm sure many supporters are realistic enough to acknowledge that fact.

There are two ways in which Charles Green can set about protecting the long-term future of our club: reducing costs and maximising revenue. We have of course benefitted hugely from a significant drop in wages since our Third Division status was confirmed and a strict salary-cap looks set to be implemented. This alone though is perhaps not enough.

We have recently reaped the rewards of a very successful Initial Public Offering which has provided some much needed capital into the company for numerous projects. It speaks volumes that Rangers were able to attract in excess of £22M despite playing in the fourth-tier of Scottish football. This however is not a long-term solution. As a result Green has looked towards renaming Ibrox Stadium and while it would perhaps be something we would like to avoid in an ideal world, I think that it is something which we should all now embrace.

Football is no longer just a sport, it is a business. While it is nice to allow nostalgia and romance to wander into our thoughts, the bottom line is that Charles Green has a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the shareholders. A football club without its fans is of course largely worthless and so our CEO must find a balance which will satisfy the needs and demands of both. He’s certainly made a good job of doing that thus far.

As a football club and as a business we are still very much in the early stages of our rebuilding process. Our exit from the Scottish Premier League has limited our revenue streams and of course denied us any entitlement to participate in European football for a number of years. Therefore, right now, every penny should be a prisoner.

The rumoured £2.5M might not seem like a lot to a number of supporters. Certainly some fans might have optimistically hoped for more. That sum could however pay the wages of certain players for a few years or possibly be used to pay for new signings once the ludicrous transfer embargo has been lifted. It certainly isn’t a sum of money that we should stubbornly turn down without due consideration and in a way I am glad that Green has had the sense to at least explore this option.

Our stadium will always be Ibrox to me and to every other Rangers supporter out there. The sponsorship will benefit the business and benefit the fooballing side of things as a result. For those reasons alone the decision is relatively simple: take the money and run! It really is a no-brainer.

14 January 2013

The legacy of a SFA Chief Executive and Serial Truth Avoider

by Zappa | CRO Guest Writer

Note: Zappa's piece was in on Friday but due to Shane's moving over the weekend and others was held to today. Let's just consider this a day of Stewie bashing on the CRO and enjoy it to the fullest.

"How much credibility do I have?
Ooooh, about this much."
Having read Keith Jackson's Q & A session with the Scottish Football Association Chief Executive Stewart Regan on Friday I feel obliged to comment on the man and the subject of his tenure thus far at Scottish football's governing body.

Stewart Regan is a relatively clever chap and while I've been known to call him all sorts of pleasantries such as a muppet, a buffoon or an idiot, the fact of the matter (and credit where it's due) is that he certainly is not daft! It's actually specifically because I know he's not daft that I felt compelled to write this riposte as my first contribution to CRO after having been asked back in December.

I don't want to risk illegally slandering the man by accusing him of being a liar (even although I think he is one) so for the purposes of correctness here I'll just say that Stewart Regan is what I'd call a "serial truth avoider," and I come to that conclusion through the application of good old logical deduction. You see, as I've already said, I'm positive that he's not daft and I'm also certain that he's not in some sort of bizarre denial to himself, so very much like the famous Ostrich myth he's not burying his head in the sand.

That leads me to the logical and perfectly obvious conclusion that what we witness from Regan is a man who callously, deliberately avoids the truth and tries to paint it in a favourable light rather than just being honest and telling it as it really is. He may not be telling outright lies, but let's not beat about the bush here, neither is he just a man who is economical with the truth. He knowingly avoids the stark cold reality of the truth and if he has to address it, he twists it and tries to paint it into a nice glossy picture as if he were polishing one of his very own turds and trying to sell it as something of value on Ebay.

Where's the integrity in that coming from the chief of last summer's sporting integrity gang? Not only was this “truth avoider” Stewart Regan the cheerleader and default spokesman of last year's “integrity” gang hammering Rangers with freshly invented rules not yet written down and trumped up charges, but as SFA CEO he's overseen and been in charge of matters where Rangers and even Charles Green personally, have been battered for supposedly “bringing the game into disrepute.”

I hope like myself, you're all seeing the irony and hypocrisy I'm alluding to here and, like myself, not finding it particularly funny. How can a man who doesn't tell the truth as it should rightfully be told still have a tenable position as the Chief Executive of the Scottish Football Association? His continued employment in the job as SFA Chief Exec puts the SFA in a very awkward position indeed because how can the SFA support and talk about the concept of “sporting integrity” as well as dish out charges (including fines) of bringing Scottish football into disrepute all while employing Stewart Regan, a man who doesn't tell the truth?

Stewart Regan knows fine well that his tenure so far at the SFA has been a complete disaster. He knows fine well that he's presided over the biggest SFA shambles and scandal that Scottish football has ever seen. He knows fine well that he's overseen the introduction of inconsistent and unfair disciplinary procedures and I'd hazard an educated guess he also knows fine well that these absurd reconstruction plans are not only completely crazy, but ill-conceived and badly timed.

Of course Stewart Regan not only continually and vehemently denies any wrongdoing, but astonishingly, he actually tries to convince journalists and the readerships of their articles that in fact he has done an excellent job. Well, he hasn't convinced me and I doubt if very many people out there who read this consider him as having done an excellent job. In fact public opinion on his tenure at the SFA so far is surely quite to the contrary.

I don't think very many of us out here in the real world consider Stewart Regan wasting money on independent decision making processes and inconsistent disciplinary systems anything other than disgraceful when money is such a rare commodity in Scottish football and in life in general during difficult economic times. Regan on the other hand, tries to convince us all that these money wasting experiments are some of the many good things he's done during his couple of years at Hampden.

Regan's exact words in the Record Q&A were, “We've dismantled the old committee structure, revolutionised the disciplinary system, delivered a new performance strategy, opened seven new performance schools and now we've helped to deliver unity between the SPL and SFL.”

Revolutionised the disciplinary system? Well that's one way to put it, but I doubt if there's very many football lovers in Scotland who would word it that way. Wasted money turning Scottish Football's disciplinary system into an inconsistent, shambolic laughing stock would be significantly more accurate.

In the Record Q&A Regan also said, “I would say I've delivered more in the last two years than the Scottish FA delivered in the previous two decades.”

That may actually be so due to everything that's been happening and all the changes going on, but how much of it has been change for the good, change for the betterment of Scottish football? I think Regan needs somebody to explain the concept of quality over quantity to him. I also think Regan should have taken a big fat marker pen to the McLeish Report and scored out anything that came into the “if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it” category, but that would have been easy and would have saved money, two concepts the SFA during Regan's tenure don't seem willing or able to grasp.

Anyway, I've made a small list of what I think many of us will remember as Stewart Regan's legacy as Chief Executive of the SFA when he eventually does the dignified thing, shows some integrity and admits that his position is no longer tenable. I'm sure it's not complete, but it's what came to mind off the top of my head:

  • Out-sourcing decision making processes to independent parties (which effectively takes money straight out of the game).
  • Installing an inconsistent and thus unfair disciplinary system.
  • Catastrophic national team failure and failure to act quickly enough regarding the manager's position.
  • Failure to keep the SPL's power-brokers in line.
  • Letting the SPL govern Scottish football even when they're willing to damage Scottish football to serve their own agenda.
  • Unprecedented, mishandled and over-zealous treatment of a football club which suffers an administration event.
  • Trying to re-write the rule book for the purposes of serving an agenda against Scotland's most successful club.
  • Failing to deal with Rangers transfer of SFA membership in an appropriate and timely manner when it shouldn't have been an issue.
  • Using the transfer of SFA membership as a mechanism to blackmail Rangers into accepting unprecedented sanctions.
  • Failure to bring Scotland's biggest and most successful club to the discussion table regarding reconstruction talks.
  • Slamming Rangers and our CEO with disrepute charges when Regan himself should be charged with bringing the game into disrepute.
  • Taking a ride on the “sporting integrity” bandwagon during the Rangers witch-hunt when he has shown zero integrity himself.

His constant attempts to try to absolve himself of responsibility by avoiding or whitewashing over the truth of these matters simply prove that Stewart Regan is a serial truth avoider, perhaps even a liar. One way or another, this man's P45 is long overdue and it's about time the SFA did the honourable and sensible thing by requesting his resignation. After all, his position certainly is not tenable and so for the good of sporting integrity, he must be asked to leave or else be forcibly removed.

Zappa can always be found over at his home on GersNet or on Twitter at @GNzappa

Unfit for Purpose (Always and forever)

by Graeme Barr | CRO Guest Writer

Scottish Football thrives on drama, drama which feeds the relentless frenzy. Facts matter little and nor does any sense of pragmatism. We have become accustomed to rumour, familiar with conjecture and well acquainted with hyperbole.

The easiest thing to do is blame the media who are without doubt worthy of some criticism in the spreading of misleading information. Indeed, if they carried out their duties, then most of this soap-opera-style reporting would never reach our breakfast tables.
Ed's note: Their new logo is such an affront
to design I couldn't include it here.

The real issue though goes beyond the media. One of football’s oldest organisations has plummeted to new depths in recent times. The Scottish Football Association’s failure to rejuvenate our national game, protect one of its oldest members (yes, protect) or even adhere to its own rules is there for all to see. In fact, it’s undeniable.

The SFA has recently become a parody of itself: unable to lead, organise, show any form of integrity, or just function with some level of dignity. When such an organisation fails, who do we look to for guidance and leadership?

Yes, that's right, the Chief Executive. In this case we have Stewart Regan. The man from the world of cricket rather likes talking himself up and blindly ignoring any negatives. In the past week alone for example Mr Regan has desperately tried to go on the charm offensive. He persistently praised himself, listed his apparent achievements and described how he faced challenges and overcame them. The truth however seems to have been lost in translation.

Let’s briefly look at Stewart Regan’s comments in the written media, starting of with a piece in the Daily Record.

In this interview he brushed aside criticism like it was a completely groundless accusation. There was no mention of walking out on a meeting with the Rangers Fans’ Working Group; why he blackmailed Charles Green with an ‘unlawful’ transfer embargo; the sacking although continued employment of Craig Levein; the inept performance of the national team; the social networking behaviour of an adolescent teenager.

Speaking of which, do you remember his Twitter account? Mr Regan, the man who preached to us about transparency, blocked countless Rangers fans for having the audacity to ask reasonable and relevant questions yet continued to converse with Celtic fans despite their use of the sectarian term ‘Hun’. (And that little bit about favouring Jig hung from a tree.)

Have I forgotten to mention that our national game’s first ever referees’ strike was on his watch? Of course only “one club," as many were advised to report, ever complained and they were allowed to do so unchallenged. They didn’t just question the competence of the officials, they went as far as to question their integrity. The men in the middle were subsequently left to rot. To add insult to injury the SFA, under the guidance of Stewart Regan, recruited foreign referees. Talk about being spineless.

Now let’s look at this short interview from The Sun. It doesn’t disappoint.

I should perhaps warn you, if you do indeed follow the link above then the chances are you’ll either despair at the contradictions or cry. But this following quote is relevant:

“The SFA can’t be seen to be dealing with Rangers in one way and other members in another way and that frustrates Charles simply because of the profile of Rangers.”

I must say Mr Regan, I am very glad to hear this. You see, you already have treated Rangers differently. Just think back to August, it was not that long ago. Yup, is it coming to you? Nearly there? Nope?! Okay, I will jog your memory for you.

Just before the season started you blackmailed Rangers FC by imposing a transfer embargo deemed “unlawful” by the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Yes, that’s correct, a sanction deemed to be illegal. Are you hearing me correctly? Unlawful!

Now, you can talk yourself up until you are blue in the face however the facts do not lie. Mr Regan, you are an abomination of a CEO and quite frankly the worst thing ever to happen to our game. Ever since you darkened the door of our national stadium our game has been tarred with bigotry, corruption and sheer negligence.

You may well be wondering quite why I said that Mr Regan failed to ‘protect’ one of Scottish Football’s oldest members. Well, as matter of public knowledge, the SFA Chief Executive was fully aware that Craig Whyte wasn’t fit for purpose as far back as October 2011. He disgracefully refused to take action until we were at our lowest ebb, almost at the point of no return.

Why did he wait to we were defenceless? I suppose I’ll leave that up to you.

Our game will never move forward while we allow such incompetence and corruption to reign supreme. Mr Regan and his cronies are completely unfit for purpose. It’s about time they were removed.

11 January 2013

Rangers: Moving South?

by Alan Clark | CRO Contributor

It’s that time again: the time when Rangers fans think about just how great life would if we could fulfil the true potential of our great institution by playing in England’s prestigious Premier League.
It’s also the one time when Celtic supporters rarely feel the same way. But of course now that they have a super sponsorship with Magners, completely separate from “Sevco”, they can make plans on their own.  Or so we are told.
The rest of Scottish Football meanwhile comes out in force with witty and completely original retorts such as “close the door on the way out” and “the league would thrive without the ugly sisters”. Thankfully, they haven’t given up the day jobs.
The debate about Rangers and/or Celtic joining the English leagues has bubbled to the surface  again this week as Rangers’ chief executive Charles Green commented about the club leaving Scottish football after league reconstruction proposals were put forward. Green mentioned looking into every option but was honest enough to concede that there didn't appear to be one at this point in time. That of course hasn’t stopped the media twisting and deliberately misrepresenting his words. But what else did you expect?
By now everyone will know that the three governing bodies have agreed in principle plans to have a 12-12-18 league structure with the two top-tiers transforming into three mini-leagues of 8 after 22 matches. The supporters, the ones that really matter in all of this, have voiced their concerns at the plans and, more importantly, the fact they have been completely ignored.
It therefore shouldn’t surprise people that Green uttered those words about considering a way out of Scottish football for Rangers, especially with events of 2012 and the upcoming SPL commission which could potentially lead to the stripping of titles.  
At this moment in time, though, there is simply no easy option screaming out for the Rangers board to examine. Talk of an Atlantic or European League has never taken off and is unlikely to do so anytime soon  meanwhile English Premier League chiefs have said in the recent past that the club and rivals Celtic should certainly not hold their breath waiting on an invite.
Joining the Premier League directly will never happen. It is a pipe dream. Managers like Arsene Wenger of Arsenal and QPR’s Harry Redknapp today spoke glowingly about having Rangers and our rivals in their league. At the end of the day, though, their opinions are not the ones that count. Put simply, the clubs’ boards will never allow us in. It would mean the lower half of the league is pushed downwards while the top-half has another two fierce competitors. The cliché ‘turkeys don’t vote for Christmas’ springs immediately to mind.
It could be argued that, with the television revenue gained in the Premier League and with the current and potential size of the two clubs, that Rangers and Celtic could be title challengers within a period of ten years to the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea. While that would certainly be attractive to broadcasters, the clubs themselves are unlikely to look quite so positively at such things.
A possible route for the club to actively look into could be joining England’s sixth-tier, the Conference North. This league currently has 22 teams, as does its regional sister the Conference South, and the winners then go into the Conference National which has 24 teams and where finishing second to fifth would see you enter a play-off system.
For me, joining any league above the Conference is just not viable. In fact, even joining the Conference National would still be likely to upset the apple cart. Therefore joining the 22-team Conference North seems to be the most plausible and likely option.
Our addition would most probably mean promotion is denied for the winners of the Northern Premier League and the other NPL play-off team. Some might say that it is completely unfair but not perhaps when you consider that every winner of the NPL since 2006 has refused to be promoted to the Conference North due to issues such as the increased cost of travel and such likes.
Also, I highly doubt that any right-thinking person could possibly turn down Rangers over the likes of North Ferriby United, Hednesford Town and Witton Albion. It just wouldn’t make sense. That surely has to go in our favour.
Given the fact that Rangers have played in the FA Cup and have therefore been members of the FA, this is one avenue that Green and the board should look into and evaluate whether the authorities south of the border would go for it. Some have even speculated that the club never relinquished its membership from the 19th century. It would certainly worth taking a closer look at.
We have seen the financial boost that Rangers Football Club has given the Third Division this season. I’m sure that many clubs in the Conference North, who are mainly semi-professional, would love the financial boost that having the Teddy Bears in their league would bring, as well as the increased coverage. Everyone’s a winner.
It would be fascinating to see the response that an application to the Conference North would bring for Rangers. After all, it is in all honesty the only possible route that the club could take in order to gain access to the hugely wealthy Premier League. Realistically, you would expect Rangers and Celtic to get consecutive promotions through winning the league or through the play-offs up until the Championship. That’s where the quality is really stepped up and initially I’d wager that both clubs would be frustrated in their promotion attempts.
In time however I believe that both would reach the Premier League and, once there, the two would thrive and grow considerably. With worldwide exposure and the television money that EPL clubs are awarded, it certainly wouldn’t take long before the top four or even the title was firmly in our sights.
Taking into account everything that has recently happened in Scottish football, and is still continuing to happen, it is definitely something worth considering.  Or is it perhaps just something to ridicule? I suppose I’ll leave that up to you guys.

10 January 2013

Scottish Football's Bad Education

by Andy McGowan | CRO Contributor

We are apparently living on borrowed time. After all, the world was supposed to end last month, remember? Okay, so the Mayans in their infinite wisdom may not have been right about the now overdue Armageddon but I bet even they could have told you the proposed solution of 12-12-18 is complete and utter fucking nonsense.

Over 90% of fans in Scotland don’t want it. We have overwhelmingly and emphatically rejected the Austrian abomination of a system but we may well be treated to it regardless and, to add insult to injury, Stewart Regan has informed us that the vast majority simply don’t have a clue what we are talking about. In a dramatic twist, it would appear that we are the ones in dire need of being educated about Scottish Football.

It’s kind of like ordering a meal at your local restaurant and being sent something you are allergic to. And when you inform the waiter of this mistake he simply tells you to shut up and eat it anyway because he knows better about your dietary requirements.

Most of us are still struggling to comprehend just quite how Mr. Regan still has a job. Perhaps the education that is really required here is for someone to teach a member club just how to propose a vote of no confidence. But fear not, the cricketer has the answers.

Yesterday he stated:

"I think there's an educational exercise that we need collectively to go through. We'll be working very closely with Supporters Direct in order to make sure that those messages are delivered. Fans have spoken about a 16-team league but one of the underlying points made for that is because they'd like to see more games. In reality, a 16-team competition delivers less games than the proposal that we're examining at the moment for 12, 12 and 18."

Anyone feeling more relaxed yet? No, me neither.

So there you have it. Apparently we need an “educational exercise” in our own game from someone who has bumbled his way from one calamity to the next. Most of us have been following Scottish Football for decades but it would seem that an Englishman we adopted from running a cricket club knows best. Regan has been in his job for five minutes and for about four and a half of those fans have been calling for him to be removed.

He also proceeded to lie about the reason fans want an increased league and rather glossed over the financial self-interest behind the current proposals. We want a 16-team league because we want to play each team twice instead of four times a season. It seems rather simple: 16 x 2 = 30 league games a season, assuming of course you don’t have split or 3. Yes, Stew, I can do maths and I do know it’s less games. You genuinely wonder if the SFA actually read the questionnaire responses before they fire them through the shredder.

There is a silver lining however with the SFA’s promise to work closely with Supporters Direct. I am sure everyone there is very much looking forward to a meeting with Mr. Regan where, for the  duration of the discussions, he will have his fingers in his ears screaming “Nanana I can’t hear you” before claiming he was insulted and walking out half way through, again.

Anyway what do I know? It’s not like I’ve been following Scottish football for almost 20 years or have a season ticket at the biggest club in the country is it? I obviously need an education. Thankfully Stewie has a very impressive one: he has a PHD in being a fucking mongo.

So from now on, please show Dr Regan some respect. Thanks.

Has Ewan Murray forgotten JT's name already?

Years as a peer. Had to have rubbed elbows on a few occasions. Few weeks off the beat and it's come to this, Ewan?

On Tuesday evening, a somewhat bizarre article appeared on the Rangers website, written by a member of the club's media department. It stated: "This club, the biggest one in the country, were not invited to take part in talks which will shape the game's future. We are then entitled to conclude that this club are not important, which is strange indeed when so many fans of other clubs continue to be obsessed by Rangers, who are simply getting on with their own affairs asking no favour from anyone."

Surely James is due a bit more respect than that, golfist...

09 January 2013

Time for a Holiday

by Andy McKellar | CRO Deputy Editor

The Scottish Football authorities have banged their collective heads together, seemingly caused some concussion and produced a blueprint to drive our national game forward, increase revenues and bring more punters through the turnstiles each and every week. That at least is the theory. Rather incredibly though the best that our governing bodies could come up with was a system that failed emphatically in Austria and Switzerland in decades gone by. To quote the Rangers’ Director of Communications: it’s an abomination.
In the summer we were told that it was imperative for football clubs to listen to their supporters, that they were the lifeblood of the game and that their voices should be heard. Less than a year later however we have seen the officials plough forcibly forward without proper consultation with their ‘customer’ base and are now attempting to bulldoze through a system which many believe could see Scottish Football plummet to new depths, if that is at all possible.
The top-tier currently consists of twelve clubs. And guess what? Next season it will still consist of twelve clubs. This season, just like every other one, fans have also complained about the undesired league split. The solution? Give us more splits of course but this time involving entire leagues. It’s complete madness.
The discussions have also rather ignored the opinion of the country’s largest club, Rangers. You won’t have to look very far on the official website to notice strong opposition to the proposals and in fact it has driven Charles Green to urge his board to examine every avenue possible which could see us escape from the backwater in which we currently operate.
This season there have been times when our home attendance has dwarfed the remainder of the other clubs combined. Then of course you have to consider the fact that the current television deal is only in existence thanks to the inclusion of fifteen of our games which incidentally have attracted the highest viewing figures. It would seem though that such things count for nothing.
The impact on our Club almost inevitably is far from being positive. After been kicked from pillar to post in the summer we put our heads down and focused our attention on the task of earning promotion to the Second Division. It would seem however that our efforts could well be completely in vain.
If the ludicrous 12-12-18 proposal is agreed at the end of the month, with Rangers not being allowed a vote, then it means that each and every league game we have played this season has been totally and utterly meaningless. In fact, while of course incredibly undesirable, we could have proceeded to lose every match and still be no worse off at the beginning of next season. Peterhead manager Jim McInally said that the plans have destroyed the sporting integrity of the Third Division. And he’s one-hundred percent correct.
The latest brainwave from the football authorities would of course mean that the final couple of months of this season will be made up of what are essentially pointless friendly matches in the SFL Third Division. Players will be taking to the field, risking injury and putting their bodies on the line for absolutely nothing. Many clubs in Division Two will also have nothing to play for, depending on their points total, and that is hardly fair on the supporters who have forked out for season tickets. Not that they matter.
It would also appear that the corrupt cabal who have been such a terrible blight on our national game will be allowed to continue to in their positions and, personally, their immediate removal should have been one of the first objectives when reconstruction was discussed. Sadly it would appear that David Longmuir’s backbone rather seems to have disintegrated and his strange capitulation has allowed such ridiculous plans to be pushed forward. What a major disappointment.
If there wasn’t such a strong requirement to fulfil our fixtures, as well as the issue of pride, then Rangers Football Club would be as well sending each and every one of our players on holiday for the remainder of the campaign. While I find it completely unlikely, almost impossible in fact, I certainly wouldn’t mind it being a permanent vacation from the weird and not so wonderful world of Scottish Football. 

I suppose we are all allowed to dream.