05 August 2013

Don't go, Walter


by Alan Clark | Assignments Editor

Many of you will have woke from your beds this morning to the horrific rumours that Walter Smith is considering his position as chairman of Rangers Football Club.

Throughout this whole mess, there’s pretty much only two things that the support can come together as one on; firstly, we all of course want Rangers to win in every game. Secondly, that there is no better or more symbolic modern Rangers figure than Walter Smith.

You won’t need me to tell you that Walter leaving Rangers right in the middle of this latest struggle at the club would be the worst thing possible. On a personal level, Walter is the only man I 100 percent trust at Rangers who is in that type of position. I’d probably go as far to say that there is only one other I trust as much in the club overall and that’s of course Ally McCoist, highly questionable managerial ability put to one side.

Walter and Ally are the fans eyes and ears inside Ibrox. They are Rangers legends. They have given Rangers fans years upon years of glory and immense happiness. They have gone about their business on and off the park impeccably and represent what being a Ranger is all about. They are also shareholders with relative influence in the affairs of the club.

Now we have a situation where he could be leaving as chairman as early as this week.

There is a clear civil war occurring in Govan. Jim McColl has put his name to a requisition calling for an EGM to vote on installing former director Paul Murray and Frank Blin as directors, with the CEO Craig Mather, Brian Stockbridge and Bryan Smart being removed as directors. This comes at the same time as controversial ex-CEO Charles Green returned to the club in a new role as a ‘consultant’ (reportedly just after a chat with Kieran Prior and Malcolm Murray about selling his shares) with many believing his chum Imran Ahmad is still heavily involved with the situation.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that this is an extremely hostile situation. There are people using their favoured journalists at newspapers like the Daily Record or to ‘senior football reporters’ at the BBC to spread their message, to leak information out and discredit the ‘other side’ of the battle. And that is happening on both sides. This is a battle being played out in the media, there’s no doubting that.

On top of all that, we have the fact that a huge section of the support has had enough of McCoist as manager. They are sick of baffling team selections, dodgy tactics and utterly embarrassing defeats and cup exits. Let’s leave that to one side for this, though.

Having Walter to steady the ship as it were in the chairman role was met by much acceptance from the fans when it happened. No one pretended that Walter was the best pick for the job because of his business acumen – we knew and he knew that he didn’t have that and that this was a unique appointment, a proper figurehead chairman if there ever was one.

With the news that Walter may be on the brink of leaving this role is genuinely frightening for any Rangers supporter. Make no mistake about it – if Walter goes, the situation gets a whole lot worse.

That’s why I would find it hard look at the legend in the same way if he was to leave. A great, great manager over two spells and a true Rangers hero, it would likely be a kick in the proverbial ballsack of every Bear if he was to abandon ship in these extremely stormy waters.

Walter is a legend. We all know that. At boardroom-level, he is the only one the supporters of this great club can look up to. The one nearly every single one of us idolise. To look to for guidance on all things Rangers. Rightly or wrongly, some fans out there will take whatever Walter says as gospel. There will have been no harm in having Walter at the club with regards to the incredible 34,000 season ticket sales, that's for sure.

If such a figure was to leave Ibrox in this time of turmoil, I’m afraid that image would be quite tainted. To quote recently departed Rangers employee Lindsay Herron in his Sun article today, Walter is the “glue that is holding the club together”.

Walter may very well be unhappy that motor mouth Green wants Ally out the door. He may very well be apoplectic at the fact that the Yorkshireman is back in a paid role at Rangers. He may very well be sick of all this nonsense like the fans are. He may very well be thinking “I owe this club nothing. I’ve given it a massive amount of success”. He may very well be thinking “I’m too old for this shit”.

But I’m sorry. Rangers Football Club comes first. Of course we are all cosy to an extent in not being involved in it directly, we’re not in the spotlight and we don’t have the true stress etc. Even then, the club is what matters most and the best thing for Walter to do for Rangers is to stay put.

The fans are by and large in the dark over this whole mess which is an absolute travesty. As usual the people who matter, the paying customers who ensured the 140 years of history ticked over to 141, are not being told the truth and are having information restricted from them. If Walter does leave and then says nothing about why he’s leaving or anything about the situation, then he’d have to have a long hard look in the mirror.

I sincerely hope he does not go anywhere, that he continues as chairman of the club we all love. That he continues to be the “glue that holds the club together”, that this almighty mess is sorted out once and for all and that Rangers FC can emerge stronger and back on course with the journey to regain our rightful place at the head of Scottish football.

The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.