As we approach the end of August, we seem to have finally settled a few issues. Most players who wanted to leave are gone, our league position is known, the merchandising situation seems to have improved (logistically at least) and, most importantly, the fans have turned out to back the team in numbers. By extension does this also mean Charles Green now has the endorsement of the fans?
Empirically speaking I'd say the answer to this is yes. While there certainly remains scepticism from many fans due to uncertainty over a variety of issues (primarily the ownership of the club), the support of Ally McCoist and the impressive season ticket sales means Green undoubtedly now has a mandate to lead. It may well be the likes of Jim McColl and Brian Kennedy retain aspirations to own/run Rangers in the longer term but, for the time being at least, they're bystanders in what has become the Charles Green show.
To be fair to Green, his performance so far has been acceptable to most bears. His defiant stand against the authorities and strong comments in the media may well be reminiscent of the failed Whyte era (using the same PR company explains that) but fans seem prepared to back this ownership regardless. Positive sound-bites from his manager has helped his credibility and if people like Mike Ashley are prepared to invest, that tends to suggest the new ownership is above board. Essentially, Green has moved past the biggest hurdle of obtaining fan goodwill. So what now?
Foremost in his thoughts will now be the share flotation of the club on the AIM exchange where he'll be hoping the Rangers support (and high net worth fans) look to invest more money over the coming months. It can be argued that paying around £300 already for a season ticket will have emptied most coffers but many fans have talked about putting more money in; should their investment be guaranteed to be ring-fenced for when we return to the SPL. To that end it will be interesting to see if Green clearly outlines where the raised monies will go.
After all, he's already been quoted as saying his payment for his (supposedly short) spell at the club is reliant on a successful issue while we also know the various investors already involved are looking to be paid back over the next few years. Thus, it makes sense to ensure any flotation is well subscribed. However, just how much of this money will be used for the club per se? For example, while we may have removed some of the historic debt via the newco arrangement; we have the same overheads (smaller player wage bill aside) as we we did as we did in the SPL. And we all know, without European football we made a loss. I don't need to remind you we have no European football for at least 3 years.
This means renewed speculation about league restructuring is an interesting debate for our club. Most fans have grasped our new SFL era with both hands but from a business point of view, Green will know a quick return to the SPL will interest his investors more than enforced years coming back through the leagues. Defiance, romance and even cheaper ticket prices may have ensured high ticket sales in 2012 but it's not certain this will be repeated over the next few years. Turning down a get-out-of-jail-free card is a risky business.
On the other hand, many fans will not warm to the idea of bowing to the needs of clubs and authorities who punished our club on the basis of sporting integrity when we all know our huge support is the cash cow they want to milk. Rumours are the authorities want an 'independent' decision on restructuring by November so this may well be Green's first difficult decision: further fan goodwill or alienating his investors?
The last few months will have been eye-opening for Charles Green. The incompetence, hypocrisy and bitterness in Scottish football (and society) will have surprised him and his investors. Therefore, it's no surprise that some of his recent comments have shown annoyance with the political pressures involved in running one of Scotland's foremost institutions. However, his job will not get any easier.
The new ownership will be happy at the levels of fan support so far but they must realise expectations will now start to rise. Our club may well be in the lowest tier of Scottish football but our fans remain committed to success. At this stage, we've still to see how the new ownership intend to restore our club's reputation and place at the top of Scottish sport. Our fans will want to know not just how he intends to deal with league restructuring but his plans for our youth set-up, stadium improvements, media work, supporter representation and many more subjects which are usually the main topics of conversation. These will gradually become more and more prevalent as time passes.
Charles Green may have thought he'd already done the most difficult job in buying the club and getting the fans onside enough to buy season tickets but in reality the hard work is only just beginning.