29 October 2014

We Deserve Better

by Danny Johnstone | Guest Contributor

Cast your mind back to January 2009 – yes, nearly six whole agonising years ago – when the 'We Deserve Better' campaign was launched voicing fans concerns for the leadership of the Club.

David Murray retaliated with the following: "The people who are moaning and making most of the noise are not exactly captains of industry," said Murray. "They don't have vast experience in business. I don't see any solutions being put forward by them." Whilst this suited Murray’s usual stance of absolving himself of any blame, along with keeping fans in the dark, he was correct.

The Club was virtually up for sale from 2006 and fan ownership was barely on the minds of most. Whether or not we had the capacity to mount a bid back then is a query we will never have the answer to but that may have been the perfect opportunity… it all sounds great in hindsight, though, particularly when the Club was pawned off to Craig Whyte for a measly quid.

As more things have changed, the more they’ve stayed the same. Current and previous incumbents with every pantomime in between have made easy work of that. We’ve been softly sold back what was stolen from us with pork barrel injections of cash to keep their charade going. Fans have had the wool pulled over their eyes time and time again. So when is enough, enough?

Much has been portrayed of the fractions amongst the Rangers support. Relations amongst the fans haven’t exactly been rosy for quite some time. Divisions have sparked in various permutations, online and offline. Politics and petty spats are at play amongst a broad church – all of which are counter-productive and entirely detrimental to any genuine attempt to gain a voice for fans by the means of fan ownership. Some have become engulfed in self-importance, while others appear to be suffering from Stockholm syndrome in trusting every face that comes through the revolving door of crooks at Ibrox.

Concerted efforts need to be made. The future of the Club is paramount and only the support is key to that now. We haven’t a say amongst the hierarchy of Rangers FC, we have been let down by ‘Rangers men’ with heavy pockets and the only solution is to get our own house in order. No individual with any size of wallet could ever hold more importance than Rangers Football Club itself, but the support, as the lifeblood of the Club, will be the only suitable custodians who understand this importance.

Currently, 17.50% (roughly 15 million shares) of the Company’s Ordinary Shares, trading at around 20p per share, are not in public hands. The Ordinary Shares are freely transferable and no Ordinary Shares are held in treasury. The two fan ownership schemes, Rangers First and the Rangers Supporters Trust’s Buy Rangers both currently hold under 1% of shares in the Club, each. The majority of contributors to both schemes donate via direct debit. This makes the process of buying a significant amount of shares rather lengthy and painful, when we may require more immediate action to have our say and put a stop to the caviare trough at Rangers.

To put the figures into a bit of perspective, in an ideal world a few million pounds could save us a great deal of pain. Much is said about boycotts and the Rangers support has made many sacrifices and accepted all the last few years of agony in good faith that the future would be kinder to us. If 30,000 people, a decent crowd at Ibrox these days, could afford a one-off payment of £100 each, those shares could be ours. Twitter figures alone should give an adequate gauge of the audience for fan ownership. @RangersFirst currently has a following of over 20,000 and @rangersfctrust has over 34,000. This alone is the online community and the wider Rangers support is yet to see a regular, attractive offline campaign.

Sometimes it’s healthy to remember we are a football club, not a play thing, not a cash cow. A football club that has withstood over 142 years of the bad and the good. A rich and wonderful history upheld by a loyal, unwavering support. This should never be embarrassed by such unsavoury characters. The current situation is tenuous, we may see years of obscurity, just getting by so self-serving individuals can leech away at the Club. A stop needs put to that so the long-term future and success of the Club is fruitful.

We may have had our chances, we may have made it easier for ourselves, but we are where we are and we must keep our focus on having our own say. After all we have endured, we really do deserve better and only the support can provide that for ourselves. 

It’s about time Rangers fans stood on their own two feet and took our Club back.