Club are blaming the wrong people
31 January ~ So much for the Cup providing a big day out for lower-league fans. On Saturday Rangers face their hardest fixture of the campaign, their first away match to an SPL club since re-forming, with no backing. Rangers supporters' groups initiated a boycott of the Scottish Cup trip to Dundee United and Ibrox chief executive Charles Green, who attended his first Rangers match last May, quickly made it official. The stated reason is United chairman Stephen Thompson's vocal opposition to the new Rangers company entering the SPL last summer.
There's also United's refusal to refund gate money for a previous SPL meeting abandoned at half time due to weather conditions. I can't remember what anyone else in Scotland was saying last summer as I was too busy listening to the sound of my club being liquidated. However, I did hear fellow Rangers fans declaring themselves happy to "serve our time" in the lower leagues. I also remember us taking our usual 5,000-7,000 to Tannadice a few times between the abandoned match of November 2009 and liquidation in 2012.The timing of this action seems as flawed as the reasoning behind it.
United fans threatened to boycott season ticket sales if their board voted the Rangers newco into the SPL. This threat angered many Rangers fans but choosing to imitate it seems the crassest way of registering your objection. The match is live on TV, so the home club will make a profit regardless. And surely the best way to annoy United, who've been shipping goals all season and lost their manager on Monday, is by denying them the further riches of the semi-final and final. Rangers already bridged the gap between Scotland's bottom and top flights with September's League Cup defeat of Motherwell. The last thing United fans wanted is half their tight, 14,000-capacity stadium turned into a celebration of what the SPL is missing.
A new Ibrox habit of applauding opponents off the pitch speaks of the humility displayed by many bluenoses since the club re-formed. Erroneous tax case blogs, Scottish football's internecine governing bodies, opposing fans and chairmen expressing their democratic right to uphold sporting integrity; none of these things liquidated Rangers yet they remain the focus of a vengeful, misplaced campaigning ire among large sections of the support.
Green, who recently raised over £22 million of investment through a share issue, eases his tenure by pandering to the angriest noises. Simultaneously, this veneer of empathy – also adopted by the infamous Craig Whyte while he drove the old Rangers into the ground – guarantees plenty of free advertising for the brand via tabloid headlines.
United have retained a section for away fans, Rangers will donate their share of gate receipts to charity. When home punters don Whyte masks to mock the few hundred boycott-breakers it may seem like the inevitable result of the scattergun bitterness which enabled Rangers' liquidation – staying away from your team because your anger needs you more. Some of us hope it's actually the end of Rangers blaming others for our own problems. And that there's a replay. Alex Anderson