Division Three-Culture Shock, Cliches And Consequences
- 17 July 2012
So the votes are in and Division 3 it is. I will go out on a limb and say that we will actually play in Div 3 as well. Those practising the dark arts to force us into Div1 or SPL2 will not have their way. Not this season anyway. Nor will they ban us for a year. Their muddled, incoherent approach has run out of time for 12/13. Along the way they have been shown up for what they are and have vastly underestimated the SFL (how quickly the opening bars of sporting integrity were interrupted by the panicky beats of financial preservation).
By not accepting the transfer of our share in the SPL, clubs have made their bed and will rightly have to lie in it.
So what can we expect then? Decisions made in the past five months will have far-reaching consequences for years to come. Here is just a taste of them.
We have a league to play in. That is the most important thing. I don’t believe that Div 3 represents natural justice, but it is the best place for us right now. We are a mighty institution playing in a league where the average crowd in 11/12 was around 500 and where the grounds are a world away from the even the SPL. Terracing is back. We are used to winning in the top league and playing in Europe’s elite. It will be a heck of a culture shock to all involved.
You only begin to truly appreciate what you have, when it is threatened to be taken from you. Few could have thought it possible that we could be closer to the club than already were. Yet five months and a fair few battle scars later and we definitely are. It is difficult to anticipate how you will actually feel about events before they happen. It’s like practising penalties. And so it was with the heart palpitations when we went into administration, when the Blues Knights, Brian Kennedy and Bill Miller all came and went, when the CVA failed and the company was to be liquidated, when our star players walked away, when vote after vote was postponed. Keep those feelings with you as we pick the club up off its knees. (Twitter has been no good for the blood pressure either)
Rangers fans will be much more careful in parting with their money. Season tickets sales so far are a fair indicator of that. Green has many questions to answer, not least why he is banking with practically unknown Metro bank. The debate around renewing season tickets goes on. Many will now choose to renew, others will maybe choose to pay game by game until things become clearer. Whatever your choice, coming to the home games is the critical part of the road back. Showing that we are still here and galvanised as the fightback takes shape.
And remember Green is not the club. We as fans need to back the club financially, something we haven’t been particularly good at. We haven't been focussed on number 1 - putting our cash directly into RFC. We’ve propped other clubs up. Drip feed the club money too. Go to a youth game or two. Buy kits etc through the club store, the club website, buy your rising stars tickets, buy Rangers lotto. Flexing and directing our financial muscle will be an important part of the renaissance.
Hell, the away support is going to have money to burn. From 11/12 ticket prices at Aberdeen (£24), Celtic (£42), Dundee Utd (£25), Motherwell (£25), Kilmarnock (£25), Hibs (£27), Hearts (£29) we will be off in 12/13 to Annan, Peterhead, Elgin, East Stirling (at Stenny), Berwick, Stirling, Queen’s Park, Clyde and Montrose.. Anywhere between £10 and £12 according to their websites. The SPL ticket pricing for Rangers visits only highlights other clubs reliance on us.
The latent power of our support has been awakened. We are already more actively fighting back against our enemies and this will continue. We can no longer tolerate the lies and venom. There are those in our support who have been actively fighting the bias and bigotry against us for years and their ranks have swelled considerably.
At least now in the eyes of all Rangers fans some sections of the media have been shown up for the biased, backward, narrow minded beings that they are. Those in charge of our club would do well to remember who has had it in for us. Topped off with the behaviour of some ‘fans’ of other clubs whose obsession with all things RFC has been truly astonishing. Unbelievable even. Their propaganda will be fought at every turn. They cannot be allowed to re-write or erase history or present a warped ‘truth’. Under its current regime we will need to stand against the SFA and fight against further sanctions.
As far the new owners go, it is difficult to see Green, Zeus and Co wanting to hang around for Division 3. However, they are not likely to attract the price they want (£50m anyone?), so it may force them to sit for a year or two. Fan ownership is potentially attractive, but this cannot be at any price and on any terms.
If a share issue to fans comes, then the valuation will critical. An early issue will contain more risk, so the valuation should be lower and will raise questions about other promised investment and working capital. It will not be much of an investment in the traditional sense, at best an investment made with the heart not the head. Any scandalous valuation and the liquidators will take a very keen interest. Remember Ibrox, Albion St CP and Auchenhowie went for a combined £1.5m. How can that be right? Which leads nicely into answering the questions of how we got to this state.
There is to be investigation into Murray and Whyte. I hope this extends to Lloyds Banking Group, the SFA and the biggest question for me, why it took HMRC months to call it in. If any other company withheld PAYE and VAT for a month HMRC would be instigating proceedings. How many winding up orders have Hearts been issued with in the past couple of years, yet they waited until too late with us. Why was it allowed to reach an unprecedented level before it was acted upon? Also under scrutiny will be Duff and Phelps and the bargain basement price of the sale to Green.
We actually play some football. What a nice change that will be!
None of the 3, 4 or 6 or however many clubs that the SPL/SFA threatened would go into administration will come from Division 3.
We will break every attendance record going for the SFL. I can see some away games being switched to bigger grounds. Maybe not Queens Park though.
SFA and SPL
Expect the SPL to try to cobble together some reduced money deal with Sky to show the SPL plus SFL games and highlights including SFL3 games. League reconstruction certain to follow in 13/14.
Like many hapless dictators before them expect Regan and Doncaster to cling on at any cost. The fact that Regan hasn't done the decent thing long ago shows he doesn’t know the meaning of integrity. No vision, ineffectual, culpable and at worst downright vindictive towards our club. And where have Ralph Topping and Campbell Ogilvie and the Boards been in terms of their governance responsibilities? It has been a complete shambles.
No 'revolution' in Scottish football is possible with this duo at the helm. Doncaster and Regan must go. The encouraging thing has been the voices of sanity and reason from within the SFL, most notably from Clyde and Livingston. It can be no coincidence that they have had their financial troubles to overcome. Perhaps Scottish football can take its future lead from within the SFL.
The SFA needs a complete overhaul, however it is the people inside it not the Association itself that is rotten. Some lucky Bears will hopefully have the chance to see their sons grow up to play for Rangers and star for Scotland. None of Regan & Cos nonsense should change that.
Damaged relations with the other SPL clubs need to be repaired. That is going to take a lot of time, but ultimately clubs have realised that they cannot live without us. They will need our help to stay alive.
It will be a long road back, but let’s enjoy every last minute of it. We have an enormous history and legacy to preserve.
Peter Ewart is a Northern Irish Bluenose now living in Scotland. He has been a season ticket holder since 1999 and travels with Lothian True Blues. Follow him on Twitter @Seasider06