01 December 2013

Rangers First

by Andy McGowan | Contributor

The Ibrox civil war has been a minefield of torturous statements, claim and counter claim, hypocrisy in spades and laboured Game of Thrones metaphors. The AGM – the light at the end of the tunnel is nearly here, for the rank and file Rangers supporter it is the most anticipated date this December.

Both sides of the divide will be looking for an early Christmas present but the reality is everyone is getting a lump of coal. The AGM is a false dawn, it’s not the end it’s the beginning. The beginning of a new battle in what will be an on-going and ever more damaging battle for the club that has to be stopped from truly getting out of control, if it hasn’t already.

There seems to be a general belief, one I had myself, that there are two factions at play – the ‘spivs’ and the ‘rebels’ and that the AGM will see one of these factions triumph and like Alexander entering Babylon they will be welcomed as conquering heroes, handed the keys to a kingdom ready to be transformed into the jewel in the crown of an empire. Sadly for Rangers this is highly unlikely to be the case.

Both sides claim to have the votes at the AGM to see off the other. One side is going to find that they have done their maths wrong. But when the sums inevitably don’t add up for someone will our current predicament really have changed all that much?

No matter which ‘side’ of the divide you are on there are a lot of similarities. Both claim to have a substantial number of shares behind them, both claim they are doing the right thing for the club and both claim the other side is doing damage to the club. Fans are naturally stuck in the middle not knowing what’s true and what’s spin and all the while us, the foot soldiers in this war pump in the money that affords these factions the time to tear strips off each other in an attempt to pull the wool over our eyes.

The club's greatest assets in these times of trouble have been the supporters. It’s a crying shame that this war for control has set us against each other, brother versus brother, fans who love the club and who all believe their chosen champions are the right men to take the club forward. One thing I think we can all agree on is that the sooner the day comes where all supporters can turn their attention to outward enemies of the club the better.

It’s not the fans responsibility to make this happen. It’s the men waging this war who have the power to end it. When the AGM comes and goes we may well have a new board, the rebels become the new leaders of the club and those fans who backed them will celebrate almost are gleefully as the moment Scott McDonald’s spectacular effort change the flight path of a certain helicopter.

But this doesn’t change the root problem – we will still have two factions who control large pockets of shares, both still slinging mud at each other, both still claiming to be doing the best by the club they are damaging.

The war will rumble on until those large pockets of shares are reconciled with each other. The claims of not wanting to give the ‘spivs’ a pay-off seems now more unwise and risky than ever before. The Murray camp seems to have snatched defeat from jaws of victory if the board’s PR machine is to be believed, and with Laxey Partners on board they make a convincing argument.

It leaves the club needing someone to land a knockout blow and acquire a large enough shareholding to keep the other side from causing disruption post-AGM and the options are thin on the ground. Jim McColl has already stated his involvement in this shambles is coming to an end, things have gone quiet with Dave King, who remains the most likely saviour of the club and the fans despite positive movement are a long way from anything resembling fan ownership.

So without a would-be saviour the most likely and fast acting remedy to the club's wounds is for a compromise. There has been times when an uneasy peace had looked ready to be brokered only to slip away but now, with a ‘new’ board in place there is a greater chance of peace in our time.

The irony of our new board is that it was put together to safeguard the likes of Stockbridge and the Easdales and their Pit Bull Jack Irvine. But the appointments have seen fans become more acceptant of a truce rather than an AGM warzone. The problem for the ‘old’ board? That truce doesn’t include Stockbridge or Irvine.

Graham Wallace looks to be a good appointment. A strong leader who is intent on being his own man, and the whispers coming from Ibrox are that he has been quick to see through Stockbridge. By bringing in a competent and independent CEO, Brian seems to have sealed his own fate. Regardless of who ‘wins’ the AGM it is unlikely he will survive the vote and in the event of a truce he is likely to be the sacrificial lamb offered up to satisfy the requisitioners.

If peace is to be the answer it is likely a few men will need to walk away for the good of the club, both Murrays included, but with all men involved claiming to be doing what they are doing for the good of the club then surely this wouldn’t be a problem? With the Easdales controlling such a large portion of shares it is unlikely any deal could be done without their approval which could come at the price of their lofty positions remaining intact, leaving us with a board comprised of men from both sides of the divide and those who’ve been brought in and are acting independently.

It may be a short-term solution but it is one that allows the likes of Dave King and the fans to acquire shares and ultimately place King in the Chairman’s seat at the head of the table. Compromise now seems to best way forward for the club, the men on each side have pushed fans to breaking point and if they aren’t responsible enough to put the club ahead of their own wants and needs then they best be sure they can deal with the fallout from what is at the moment looking like an incredibly messy AGM.

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate and until that changes this civil war will rumble on and on until the club finds itself dragged back into the most difficult of financial situations and once again the only people who suffer are those who support the club. There is time for a resolution at Rangers before the AGM and aftermath become a bloodbath. To paraphrase a well-known quote, those who make peaceful resolution impossible will make violent resolution inevitable and a violent resolution for Rangers means more infighting, fan apathy and destabilization of the club. 

It’s time for reconciliation, it’s time for everyone to do the right thing, it’s time to put Rangers first.