Wed, Jul

A bad idea at the wrong time

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The club cannot always do as you wish or expect. I find the dignified silence difficult to take at times but then I realise that the club can’t react to everything and that sometimes a story needs to become clear before committing on it. That must be a bit of a tightrope but I would hope once a story has developed or the facts become clearer that the club can comment.

Now speaking of unclear, a story started developing on Twitter yesterday of Rangers playing Celtic and other clubs in Australia in November 2022 as part of a mini tournament.

This was initially dismissed within the support as deflection, especially considering the huge news pertaining to the civil case being granted for the victims of CSA at Celtic. This seemed more believable as Celtic have been openly hostile towards Rangers for a long time and surely our club would not entertain this? Especially considering the possible damage to brand due to association with them, particularly at this time. In short, it felt like it benefits Celtic a lot more than us.

But no rebuttal came from Rangers, officially or unofficially, and so the volume of smoke increased. As did the heat and anger from the Rangers support online. For myself, I know the more I thought about this the worse it appeared. There are many events in recent Scottish football history that I may never move on from - certainly not until they are resolved, by Rangers or others, to a satisfactory degree. I’m sure the forums will catalogue the instances of needle, spite, innuendo and interference over the years but here are a few off the top of my head.

Last week Stewart Robertson talked in a conciliatory tone about ticket allocations going forward, especially at the Old Firm games. Celtic responded curtly stating they would decide on their allocations.

Rangers got out-manoeuvred in the delay of the winter break. A move that saw us lose out on one home crowd and arguably cost us 4 points in the two affected games. It certainly cost us some key players like Aribo and Morelos and allowed others to strengthen considerably. The cascade of fixture congestion may yet cost us further this year. Don’t expect any favours there.

Similarly, it’s no debate that performances from the likes of Clancy and co have not been kind to us, particularly since the restart. We can argue about why this is and how it came about but it is very real at this point in this season. Again, have the Rangers board been out-manoeuvred here? Has underhand pressure been applied by our competitors? I think we know the answer there. Equally, has the pressure came from within the governing body? I have previously written about the Compliance Officer and the very suspect output of their work. Did it cost us a shot at the titles a few years back? Who knows, maybe we would have fallen short, but it certainly cost us players and points and started a wobble at a critical point in the season. It disappoints me that Rangers have never publicly commented on something so blatant and costly. That’s not dignified silence or biting your tongue, that’s letting yourself be walked right over. The current crop of referees are under the same roof as those that saw the performances of those COs to be acceptable.

Last month marked the 10-year anniversary of one of the clubs’ worst days, a time where we worried about the very survival and future of our beloved club. There are many threads and layers to that story and how it came about but one thing no-one doubts is that Celtic were front and centre throughout the whole thing. Direct interference came from the Celtic support and much of it was backed from within the club itself. We suffered almost a decade of footballing exile on the whim of that club – quite the thought, no?

And yet another stone to sharpen the knives on, which is relevant to yesterday’s civil case news. There were/are serious questions surrounding the 2021 SFA report into CSA in Scottish football. Questions were asked of the author and his motives before its release. Questions were asked about who had access and input to the report. The tone and content of the report answered those questions. I put some thoughts together at the time. I argued, “Rangers have their problems. Celtic have theirs. They are neither directly comparable, equivalent nor glibly inter-changeable. They must be dealt with in their own right.” The SFA report very much shared the problem around and blurred the picture. It allowed Celtic to step back and pushed others, especially Rangers, to the front. There is no doubt where the guidance came from, the current Rangers board would do well to remember that.

And again to repeat, Rangers have never addressed or resolved these events. For me and many supporters these things all just float out around out there. Unfriendly ghosts. Question marks covered in barbs. Yet another instance of our club and support being misrepresented, misused or beaten down. The world shouldn’t be like that, but it is. And because it is I expect our board to know how the world of Rangers is and to meet it head on - to challenge attacks from a club that want us dead, want us out of the league, want us our songs banned, want our stadium closed, deny our existence, demand others don’t use the phrase Old Firm, work to have our players retrospectively banned, work to have referees deny us a level playing field, happy to have our coverage removed for the national broadcaster and then want to hide behind us, have us learn their lessons for them and to share shame ONLY when it suits them. Nope. Not for me.

No doubt Rangers will comment as soon as this article is published but much of it still stands. The silence and lack of response has allowed it to fester. Even if the club really wanted to progress in that direction, of being the bigger and better man, it has missed some very big steps along the way. You lead, We follow. You don’t let others lead. This is not good enough Rangers.

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