Waking up to another Rangers controversy is nothing new. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday, a Thursday or a match-day, there’s always another Rangers related story to keep this ongoing farce alive. From the boardroom to the dressing room; from the small grounds in Scotland to the businessmen of Singapore; the bizarre nature of what has happened to one of Scotland’s proudest institutions continues to make waves wherever and whenever you care to cast a sideways glance. It’s impossible to hide from.
Now, I’ve not read all of what Donald Findlay has said to journalist Stephen McGowan in today’s Daily Mail. The ‘debate’ surrounding about whether or not Rangers are a new club isn’t something which particularly attracts me. For me, the opinion of the law lords and football authorities is enough – Rangers is the same club with their history and successes intact from one company vehicle to the next. In many ways though, does it really matter what they or Donald Findlay think? I still follow follow Rangers with the same excitement and love I’ve always done. I always will. Many hundreds of thousands agree.
However, and here’s the rub, some do feel differently and I can empathise with that. Why? Well, there can be various reasons. For one, the club’s reputation has taken a huge hit – doesn’t matter how fraudulent Craig Whyte and his associates' actions are proven to be, our club almost died. It doesn’t matter with how much disdain the Scottish football authorities, fellow clubs and fans and the Scottish media approached this fall from grace; we had to start again in Division Three. In that sense, of course the club’s reputation has changed forever. No Rangers fan alive has had to experience such a dramatic change in fortunes so it’s inevitable our mind-set has as well.
Moreover, since administration, the situation has hardly improved. The Rangers brand (and tradition as well perhaps) is no longer associated with success and pride and honesty and hard work. Instead, embarrassment, dishonesty, manipulation, excess and fraud are now bywords for our club. Yes the team on the park may still be the team we love but unlike our fathers and their fathers before them, we’ll now forever have to associate on-field displays with the performance of the boardroom. Some may find it easy to refrain from such, but many others cannot. Not as long as the money we pay into the club can be withheld by companies with a somewhat different relationship. That particular landscape has changed forever; it’s undeniable.
Moving on, and even within our fan-base things have altered for the worse. Small minorities they may be but the division amongst some fans is bordering on the obscene at times. Bear antagonising bear is not only counter-productive but downright bizarre. Disagreement can and should be healthy but some supporters have taken that to all new levels. In the modern era of online debate that may well be inevitable but it’s a change from previous times and it’s not a good one. These aren’t arguments in private RSC cubby-holes but very public fall outs which can be seen by all. They help no-one.
Considering all the above, it’s perhaps more surprising to suggest anyone doesn’t approach supporting the club differently. To be clear, it’s not that our love has decreased or that our history and success has somehow been removed (such arguments are ludicrous) but that what has happened in recent years has changed us all forever. Indeed, it has to – we have to learn from our mistakes and ensure it doesn’t happen again. That’s not to say we can do so easily – we can’t – but if we try to hide from it then we’re no worse than an addict glossing over their dependence.
To sum up, while I fundamentally and strongly disagree with Findlay in terms of Rangers still being the same Rangers, he is right to an extent. Of course the club is the same one we've all supported but there are elements of recent events which will have affected us all in different ways. Perhaps it's the divided fans taking each other for granted, perhaps it's the club's total disdain for our opinion, perhaps it's the media apportioning blame to the wrong people, perhaps it's the manager refusing to learn from his mistakes, perhaps it's the constant stress amidst the whole farce but no matter the issue, it has become very difficult to support Rangers nowadays. It should be fun, it should be a release from the everyday hum-drum but it's not - in fact I'd say supporting Rangers is just another daily stress and only our fans will understand just how bad it's been. For some, even someone like Donald Findlay, the challenge may be too much but shirking from his opinion won't help.
To that end, if anyone has found the last few years hard then we should be working together to talk through our worries - not hide from or belittle them. Supporting Rangers isn't something you can turn on or off. It's an addiction which infects the soul. Thus, I'd say anyone who hasn't had their heart broken and their faith challenged is in the minority. However, broken hearts can be repaired and reputations restored.
My name is Frankie and I'm an addict.