20 December 2013

We Want Our Rangers Back, Don't We?

by Andy McKellar | Deputy Editor

Throughout the turmoil and chaos of recent months and years the Rangers support have stood firm, loyally following our team in tremendous fashion despite our lower league status. If there was a silver lining to all of the unfortunate happenings at our great club it has undoubtedly been the fans and their unwavering support for an institution which was left on its knees. Sadly however our loyalty has not brought us influence or the power to be heard within the corridors of Ibrox. As things stand we are but mere customers, isolated and looking on from the outside.

The early enthusiasm that accompanied our adventure in the Third Division rather seems to have diminished thanks to the shambolic tenure of the Green and Ahmad regime and everything that has since followed. Trust is not something which should ever be freely given after what we’ve encountered in recent years and it is certainly something which has had no place at Rangers in recent months judging by the protests and severe divides within our fan-base.

The harsh reality of the situation is that simply shouting about “spivs” and such likes will accomplish very little, and yesterday's AGM certainly confirmed that. While I don’t doubt the motives of those involved in organising recent protests, it is perhaps worth questioning their success given that the majority of shareholders voted against their wishes. To provide ourselves with any serious influence at our club, there are probably only two options: boycott or buy shares. I know which option I prefer.

What follows here may not be pleasant reading, and it certainly hasn’t been enjoyable to write, but we as a group of supporters have tremendous potential and could accomplish so much if we really wanted to. The depressing reality though is that we have sat back for two years, desperately waiting for a white knight to ride over the horizon to save our club for us. None have come and Rangers has continued in an almost constant state of turmoil despite the way we rally behind our team every single week.  

The reasons behind this are unclear. The fans' groups in my opinion have undoubtedly failed and it is no secret that there is little support for the Trust, Assembly or Association. They are almost irrelevant. Whether this is their fault or simply reflective of an unhealthy apathy amongst our fan-base is certainly up for debate, but either way it has left us with very little say on what goes on at our club. It’s immensely frustrating.

To put things into perspective the Foundation of Hearts have accomplished in a matter of months what we could not do in as many years. They have around 8,000 members regularly contributing to a Direct Debit scheme they initiated and their success thus far simply has to be admired. In contrast the RST for example has a mere 2500 members, or thereabouts, and for a support of our size and passion that is hugely embarrassing. I also happen to randomly know that the equivalent Dundee fans’ group also has more members. It’s mind-bogglingly backwards.

Directors and shareholders will come and go, but it is the supporters who have and will continue to remain constant throughout the timeline of Rangers Football Club. We are the true custodians of our marvellous institution and our duties should therefore extend beyond simply turning up on a match-day. Recent events have displayed that trusting someone else to look after our club is a very dangerous game indeed. Why take that chance when we have the ability to ensure that the safety of Scotland’s most successful club is determined by those who truly have its interests at heart – ourselves.

We plough money into the club on a regular basis via ticket sales and the purchase of merchandise. We even managed to raise £5M one week prior to Christmas last year, and that was after paying for 38,000 season-tickets. There is no doubt that we have the ability to purchase a meaningful stake in our club, it’s far from being impossible. We do however have to want to make it happen. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Perhaps what we lack is a unifying body like the Foundation of Hearts. Maybe our fans just need something that they can get behind and support. I certainly hope that is the case. If indeed the problem is a wider apathy then that’s a sad indictment of our support given everything that’s gone on at Rangers recently. We deserve better, and we can provide it for ourselves.

The solution to our problems certainly isn’t easy. If it was then it would almost certainly have been achieved before now. A start would perhaps be to get everyone around the table to discuss the way forward for our support and our club. Such talks simply cannot be a bad thing. There are plenty of qualified and intelligent people within our fan-base and if everyone pulled together then I’m sure we could start to make progress.

In my opinion we could do worse than simply ripping everything up and starting again. Some may disagree but I’d suggest disbanding the current groups, for they aren’t achieving much anyway, and looking to form one united body that all supporters can rally behind and be involved with. If fans can accept the basic principle of ‘majority rules’ and feel well represented by the group, then there’s no reason we can’t realise our potential and make a much more positive impact on the running of Rangers Football Club.

I think something similar to the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund could be workable. If club legends sat alongside respected fans then perhaps that would provide the basis of a credible group that people feel they could support and be part of. All fans need to feel like they can engage with the group and that the group is there to represent their views, not push their own agendas. That shouldn't be too much to ask. It's not about fan reps or individuals, it is about Rangers. 

But that’s only my very brief view on things. Something of this nature deserves a far wider debate and far more intelligent contributions than any I can provide. It also requires the desire from our fans to make it succeed as without that it is destined to fail from the very beginning.

A banner was unfurled last season as off-field chaos dominated the headlines. It read: “We want our Rangers back”.

Nobody is going to give it to us. If we want it, we’re going to have to take it for ourselves.