THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

22 April ~ Rangers fans are in danger of suffering from D-Day fatigue. Since the club entered administration in February, endless now-or-never deadlines have been mooted, but the spectre of liquidation refuses to be exorcised. Two weeks ago four "best and final offers" to take over the club were registered with the administrators. Now just one bid remains, and it's waiting until Monday to become formal. This follows players taking wage cuts, the club failing to submit accounts in time to play in Europe next season, court rulings on who owns future season ticket revenue, and HMRC's judgement on the potentially fatal tax case being "just days away" for six months. Eventually your emotions flatline.

Everything is uncertain. We have not been asked to renew our season tickets yet. Just at the very moment when everything seemed to be resolving itself – in March, when multiple bidders were lining up, liquidation was laughed off as a near impossibility – in comes the news that American investors Club 9 Sports, who were front-runners to take over the club, saw liquidation as the only way forward.

There was a mass demonstration by the Rangers support, who held up over 40,000 red cards to liquidation at the following week's home game. Trying to "send off" the winding-up of a company's affairs sounds rather abstract but, despite potential debt totalling £134 million, Rangers fans had to communicate that what most businessmen would deem the only option we regard as the nuclear option.

Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy continued to mill around, despite having an initial bid rejected as desultory. He maintained he would intervene again if liquidation became imminent. Last week he failed with another bid, made after the deadline and not in writing.



Initially four consortiums from three different continents were in the frame. The administrators intended to choose their favourite within a week. Just for luck, they extended the deadline for completely exiting administration to the end of the season.

They claimed to have the backing of Ticketus, the investment company that financed Craig Whyte's dodgy buy-out of the club last May. The administrators claim the Ticketus deal can be ripped up if needs be and have condemned the Blue Knights for making public pronouncements about Whyte.

The police have warned Whyte about returning to Ibrox but he still needs to be negotiated with. One minute he claims he will hand over his shares to fan groups, the next he is playing hardball again. The Blue Knights stepped away from the bidding process last Monday, claiming the Singaporean party had made a better offer to Ticketus.

The Singapore bid came from the appositely named Bill Ng, who has been involved in Asian football but claims to be a lifelong Rangers fan. He withdrew his bid on Friday, saying: "Recent developments in the bidding process, with unwarranted and unexplained delays, have prompted our withdrawal from the process."

Club 9 Sports had also walked away but one of their number, tow-truck tycoon Bill Miller, made his own bid. Miller quickly made noises about doing all he could to stop the club going under. Neither his track record in American sport nor his blustering, rambling statements on Friday inspire much belief.   



Not that liquidation will prevent Rangers from playing in the SPL next season. The small print of the club name may have to be altered but it has always been clear that the very avarice that may have got Rangers into this mess is also guaranteeing their retention in Scotland's top flight.

Never has the gap between what fans and their club owners want seemed more chasmic. Sky want four Old Firm derbies a season. The SPL want to keep Sky happy. Non-Rangers punters want to see Rangers hit with every punishment possible and hope that whatever entity resides at Ibrox is penalised for years to come. Not all Rangers fans would disagree.

A new Rangers, shorn of all debt, lets every fan carry on supporting the club with a fresh optimism borne of surviving the current travails. Or it is the death of the entity you have loved for most of your life. The idea that "the fans are the club" and that liquidation would be little more than a cosmetic change, has been pushed only by those who would see their own role increased by the diminishment of Rangers.

The club I support was born in 1872, not 2012. I have spent decades trying to convince rival fans we are neither glory hunters nor wannabe Ulster paramilitaries. This becomes difficult to reconcile with the fact your place in the top half of the top league is guaranteed simply because Celtic fans need someone to make them feel Irish.

When you regularly bemoan Celtic's persecution of referees as the antithesis of sporting behaviour, it is a dialectical pratfall to see your own club publicly excused from the possibility of relegation. If we go into liquidation the SPL dies financially; with our new company replacement it dies morally.

The family feeling in Govan has not been this intense since the Ibrox Disaster over 40 years ago. In a matter of weeks the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund raised over £300,000. The resounding defiance that united a frazzled support and an unfit, unfocused team at last month's Old Firm derby characterised the singular most emotional day of my footballing life.

In 140 years, Rangers have never flirted with relegation, never finished below sixth. Preventing Celtic from winning the title at our ground was the closest any Rangers fan would expect to come to that otherwise universal football emotion.

Yet many of us would rather we suffered serial relegations than have our 54 league titles and myriad other honours dragged into the recycle bin of history. It is not a straight choice between going down or going under, but all these Ibrox deadline days are, for many Rangers fans, about only one thing: allowing the club we know to continue playing in a competition we respect. Alex Anderson

Comments (12)
Comment by LoTW 2012-04-22 09:29:41

"This becomes difficult to reconcile with the fact your place in the top half of the top league is guaranteed simply because Celtic fans need someone to make them feel Irish."

Complete bullshampoo. You know it's all down to greed and make reference so. I'm sad that I actually bit. But...small victories eh?

Comment by hattersfan 2012-04-22 10:47:33

At last, I thought, an article written by a Rangers fan without rancour but no; a dig about Celtic and the way you perceive them had to be included. Rangers problems solely are of Rangers (In Administration) making due to the club and the their supporter greed, dishonesty, avarice a sense of misplaced pride that is their undoing.

I read much about the 'We Are The People' (WATP now means we avoid taxpaying) which for me is more of a statement that you Timmy, Declan and Paddy, are sub-human as we are the master race.

How much help could have been given to heroes, more resources for nurses and teachers and the police if RFC (IA) had paid the taxes that are legally due and that every other club in Scotland have paid? Your thoughts are as to how the mess can walked away from leaving as little pence in the pound for the creditors be they the taxman or the trophy engraver.

My club, when in administration, managed to raise close to £100K from supporters yet with a fan-base at least hundred times bigger you think it creditable (pun intended) to boast about raising a meagre £300K; that's about a pound each from person who has been to Ibrox since February. If you are getting out thye begging bowl then divvy up or look stupid.

Luton fans ran owner John Gurney out of (Luton) town in just a few weeks as we never believed his phony promises yet everyone- the fans, MSM and the Scottish football authorities welcomed billionaire Craig Whyte to their table. As with Gurney, a few minutes on the 'net and a couple of phone calls would have proved that the Emperor clothes didn't belong to him and the bailiffs were due any second.

There is something morally repugnant in Scottish football and its name is Rangers.

Comment by drew_whitworth 2012-04-22 11:35:37

I thought this was an interesting article that regardless of anything else makes clear the basic situation here; the 'right' thing to do is see Rangers penalised heavily, up to and including relegation (possibly right down to the bottom league), and there are plenty of Rangers fans who, even if they wouldn't like it, might at least accept it. The reality, however, is that TV money will keep them where they are and therein lies Alex's problem. I can see where he is coming from with that.

One thing though. Yes, the SPL teams would clearly suffer financially if Rangers weren't in that league any more. However, I bet the Scottish Division 1 teams (or division 2, or whatever) would quite like it. In fact it might be one of the most effective and straightforward ways of redistributing a bit of the wealth (including the TV money) to a few other teams in Scotland for a change. That alone might do more to improve the lot of lower division teams in Scotland than anything else the SPL have managed in the last couple of decades.

Comment by Turkmen 2012-04-22 12:23:52

"If we go into liquidation the SPL dies financially;"

That is complete rubbish. There will be some financial hardship, but the SPL will not die. We will still have the fans, who provide most of every clubs revenue anyway. We are more dependent on gate receipts than pretty much every other top league in Europe. We will still have some form of television deal, even if it is of decreased value. But since Rangers gobble up a good chunk of the TV money anyway, it might actually give the diddy clubs more money, plus we will be able to reform the system without the old firm getting in the way, therefore we could divide the money more evenly.

If Rangers get liquidated and allowed straight back into the SPL, I will no longer bother going to SPL matches and I am sure I am not the only one. And that will hurt the finances of the diddy clubs far harder than Rangers going bust.

Comment by waterlooroader 2012-04-22 12:33:46

Another article about an Old Firm club, another rush of responses trying to discredit the article for being biased or that the one half of the Old Firm is somehow less abhorent than the other...

For my money, the article was balanced

Arguments about the fans welcoming White in at the start of his reign are frankly absurd: How is it down to the fans to carry out due diligence? Surely the question must be why do checks and balances designed to keep these charlatans out constantly allow them in?

The whole "we are better than you" or "we are less evil than you" argument that follows some of the less eloquent elements of Old Firm support is tiresome and frankly pathetic but seems to constantly drown out reasonable debate from either side

Comment by hattersfan 2012-04-22 16:17:35

waterlooraoder - Read my comments again. The OP was reasonable until he had to have dig at Celtic.

As for 'How is it down to the fans to carry out due diligence?' - why not? Luton fans monilised and used contacts in the local radio (BBC 3 Counties), the Luton News paper and the chairman of Beford Rugby Club who Gurney had tried to asset strip a year earlier and those early warnings sign meant that the (now bankrupted) Gurney was ousted even if it resulted in administration.

If, a year ago, Celtic fans knew that Whyte's finances were dodgier than the Greek economy then why didn't the MSM and high profile Rangees fans take these claims seriously and investigate them? Ten minutes looking through Companies House whould have shoen Whyte to be the charlatan he turned out to be.

Comment by jameswba 2012-04-23 06:52:01

Agree with waterlooroader.

'If we go into liquidation the SPL dies financially; with our new company replacement it dies morally.' Beautifully said. And an explanation for the first part of it can be found a few paras earlier - 'Sky want four Old Firm derbies a season....' etc.

Comment by McAvennie 2012-04-23 11:37:55

As always with AA's articles about Rangers the sly dig at Celtic is always there, a well-written article but the mask always slips to give a glimpse of what is being toned down.

" This becomes difficult to reconcile with the fact your place in the top half of the top league is guaranteed simply because Celtic fans need someone to make them feel Irish."

The idea that Celtic fans need RFC in order to make them feel Irish is offensive to the extreme. I personally am not Irish, not Catholic, was not even born in Scotland. Why on earth would I need someone to make me feel Irish? And on the other side of the coin the fans who are Irish, or sons/daughters of Irish... how exactly does the existence of Rangers help them 'feel' what they already are.

Disgusting stuff and a proof at WSC should be able to pick up on the thinly-disguised bigotry. Just can't help yourself.

And the line "When you regularly bemoan Celtic's persecution of referees as the antithesis of sporting behaviour..."

Where do I begin. Grabbing a referee's arm and forcefully trying to prevent him showing you a yellow card?

Comment by Ross McLochness 2012-04-23 13:43:23

As with waterlooroader, I'm not surprised to see the usual whitabootery in the comment comments to the latest in a series of pretty well balanced articles from Alex Anderson. He is a Rangers fan after all, and he's never made any attempt to portray himself otherwise. I do think he has missed a trick here, though, in that he spurned the chance to have a perfectly valid pop at Celtic for their obvious desire to see Rangers continuing in the top flight.

I doubt very much whether it had anything to do with justifying their Irishness (whatever that's supposed to mean), but the moment the other 10 teams in the SPL started to make noises about changing the ridiculous 11-1 majority vote rule the Celtic board responded with a lightning fast u-turn on their pronouncement about "Not needing a strong Rangers to survive" to state that they would vote along with the Rangers administrators to block any changes that endangered their cosy stitching up of the SPL voting structure.

Comment by hattersfan 2012-04-23 19:05:41

AA said 'Celtic fans need someone to make them feel Irish'


The last time I was in Belfast I saw more guys in Rangers tops than Celtic. Were they wearing them in an need to make then feel Scottish AA?

Comment by Afrikaams 2012-04-23 22:08:25

No, not Scottish Hattersfan, British, and that surely doesn't come as news to you?

How anyone read that and saw "thinly disguised bigotry" is bizarre.

It's as good a piece as I've read on how many Rangers supporters are feeling; impotent, disenfranchised and ignored. Quite why that would upset a Luton Town fan so much is anyone's guess.

Another good piece Alex, thanks. The emotional attachment to the intangible is impossible to understand until it happens, or looks like it will. The possible breaking of the unbroken line that stretches from Glasgow Green 140 years ago to Steven Naismith today is a far more distressing thought than being relegated or having 30 points deducted for most Rangers fans. It has truly surprised me just how emotional I've felt all this. We've had our issues as a club, and rightly been criticised for them, but the thought that we don't pay our bills and would sell our history just to stay in the SPL is a pill that might just be too bitter to swallow for some of us.

Comment by THC 2012-04-24 07:18:17

There's nothing uncertain about the Big Tax Case or the inevitable liquidation to follow follow. Do yourselves a favour, Rangers fans, stop waiting for blue, black or white knights to bail the present club out, seize the initiative and form yourselves a fan-owned club - AFC Rangers? - to seek election to SFL3. You'll gain a lot of respect for doing that - even from Celtic fans like me. Unfortunately with the likes of Mingwall representing you and the Scottish press feeding you their stuff (keeps them in a job, see?) it'll take a true visionary to cut through the crap and make such a plan happen. There must be one such person among you, no?

(And yes, the inevitable pop at Celtic is childish but only to be expected from the author. Shame really, as he's one of the very few articulate voices they have and could do so much more with it...)

Related articles

Rangers shun steady progress in favour of Steve Gerrard’s star quality
Embed from Getty Images // The former Liverpool player’s move to Glasgow has been hailed as a risk for all – but Rangers can hardly...
It’s Not All About The Old Firm: Defying the odds in Scottish football
by Scott Burns Pitch Publishing, £12.99Reviewed by Gordon CairnsFrom WSC 373, March 2018Buy the book Eight clubs from outside Glasgow have...
Rangers a big, wobbling mess and falling behind as managerial saga continues
Embed from Getty Images // Having failed in an approach for Aberdeen’s Derek McInnes, the Ibrox job has been handed to Graeme Murty until...

More... Rangers