16 December 2013

For the Badge, Not the Money

by Garry Carmody | Contributor

At around midnight this past Sunday night, there was a small stir across social media.

The news that Ally McCoist was set to proxy his 1.54% stakes in RIFC, plc to the East Kilbride Rangers Supporters Club broke through the Scottish Daily Mail and quickly spread.

Admittedly, it wasn’t earth-shattering; to hundreds of millions that use social media, the vast majority went untouched. However, to a small band of Rangers fans, it was the heartening boost we have all needed.

From bonuses to bank balances, from faceless investors to farcical boardrooms – Rangers feels like a club that has been stripped of its pride. Club legends that are part of Rangers’ fabric apparently will not step over the front door at the moment. We have stumbled from one disaster to another almost constantly over the past two years, and it looks unlikely that some of the deep-rooted issues will be solved any time soon.

However, throughout this, through the ridiculous rhetoric and sheer incompetence, there has been one consistency, and that has been our manager. He may split opinions on the pitch and has correctly taken criticism for some performances, but what cannot be argued with is his commitment to the club off the pitch.

At many times over the past two years, McCoist could have thrown in the towel and with the pressure he has faced not one of us could be overly critical of his decision.

Yet here he is, halfway through the journey of returning Rangers to the top and is still in charge. The football has drastically improved to his credit, but his latest decision is one that could be massive.

Some have argued, “What is the point in McCoist voting against the board if they are expecting to win?” Well, what is the point in having a say if you are just going to follow the sheep with it? Or who knows – perhaps Thursday’s AGM isn’t the foregone conclusion the board and their PR man with a bonus for keeping members in place would like us to believe?

However, this move by McCoist means more than that – it represents the knowledge that at least one man in a senior position at our club does care about what the fans think. If the vote on Thursday was based solely on the fans’ opinions, an almost entirely new board would be in place by Friday morning. Yet the reality remains: our current owners do not care what the fans think.

McCoist’s 1.54 percent stake takes the representation of the fans on Thursday to 13.5 percent, larger than any other investor. Yet it is the voice of the manager that Brian Stockbridge, James Easdale and David Somers will not want to hear. It is the voice they would rather sit in their front room come AGM time rather than take to the stands of Ibrox on a brisk winter’s morning to ask the difficult questions.

Some want to believe a line in the sand will be drawn come Thursday, but one point has to be remembered. In the past two years, Ally McCoist has done everything within his power to keep the sanity at Ibrox. The easy thing to do this Thursday would be to back the board and allow things to carry on.

However, the time has come and McCoist knows that the status quo cannot carry on, like the man he replaced. And he knows this despite the fact he may well be putting his job on the line to do so. To see someone put the club ahead of their bank balance is heartening and reminds us that some still do care. And if the majority of the 13.5 percent, Ally's voice among them, are not listened to come Thursday, the fight must continue.