31 August 2013

The Priority

by Garry Carmody | Contributor

There was this feeling I had last year. It was a feeling I never thought would apply to football.

As I rode through the heart of Glasgow, up came the headline: “Rangers to go into Administration”. Quite frankly, despite the half-whispered rumours, I presumed it was never a possibility. Rangers? UEFA Cup finalists and world record title holders? The famous Glasgow Rangers?

On that day in February, I learned a tough lesson: In this cruel business, anything is possible. No matter what a man wants to tell you, if he has the right backing, he can make you believe it. Craig Whyte was able to do it, and it is something I shall regret for as long as I live. Nothing will ever replace that sinking feeling I experienced when my team plunged towards the possibility of no more.

Eighteen months on, and this Scottish institution is in a position no one could have foreseen. Working its way through the lower Scottish leagues, it simply was not imaginable ten years ago as Rangers took on (and sometimes beat) the cream of Europe. Challenging the elite of Europe was what any Gers fan is used to, not visiting Forthbank Stadium on those cold Tuesday nights.

What has become a reality was simply unthinkable at the time.

However, as Rangers turn over what is supposed to be a new leaf, it has become evident that some things never change. In just over a year of operation, the “Newco” that controls Rangers has spent an astronomical amount of money. As our rivals spend a mere pittance, our board and owners have torn through a rough estimate of £40 million. Between season ticket and share issue money the men placed in charge of Rangers have spent this cash at an eye-watering rate. As to where the money has gone, fans will receive no more than a vague and unconvincing outline with absolutely no confirmation until we see audited accounts.

And yet, with approximately £10 million left in the bank, some of our fans priority still remains away from the people running our club.

As issues became clear in the past few months, I expected outrage. Throwing our money away – trodding on our investments? I expected revolution. How dare these people treat our love as a cash cow? It should be utterly unacceptable, and the support should be united as one to get rid of these people who see us as simply a cheque; and at no cost.

And yet, at this point, as Rangers enter the second phase of a long recovery, what am I greeted with? I see fans launching blistering attacks on fellow fans. People that have (hold your breath) appeared in certain newspapers and television channels that others don’t like.

Now, would this be seen as a minor inconvenience or it would it be a point that would be seen as a focus?

The simple fact is that in the goldfish bowl that currently is Rangers, there is going to be interest. Are media outlets going to take an interest? Yes. Within the worldwide support are they going to find someone that is willing to talk to them and defend the position of Rangers Football Club? Yes, that’s a fact.

However, should they be the centre of concern? Are they worthy of an official request of information? At the moment, any fan is being taken for granted by a group of people that have shown absolutely no proof that they are capable of running a club with the stature of Rangers. Is this really the time to be focussing on fellow fans? And quite frankly, is it ever the time to focus on the family on fellow supporters in a smear attack?

I’ll hand out the easy answer now – it never has been, it isn’t now, and it never will be.

There was this great moment in 2012 when thousands of fans were able to come together for the same cause. As they marched towards Hampden it appeared the sky was the limit, there was nothing this group of people couldn’t handle. 

Did they have their differences? Did some see an altered view of the future? That was, and still remains an inevitability, but did they share a common interest? Undoubtedly. 

If such anger can be mustered, it should be aimed at those leading us down a dead-end, not those that are looking at it from a slightly different perspective.

In helping to oust Charles Green, the support has shown what strength it can hold. In the future of Rangers, that same support can have a big say.

If you think aiming your anger at a fellow Rangers fan is the answer, then so be it. Or if you can remember the true criminals in this story, the fan base can unite to be stronger and more efficient than we could possibly have imagined.

It really is within our own hands.