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Rangers - One Year On


I don't really know what I expected this past week to be honest. The one year anniversary of the old Rangers holding company moving in to administration snuck up on me.


I mean, in hindsight, I certainly wasn't expecting any sort of revelation to break around Craig Whyte's whereabouts or where the supposed legal proceedings against have gotten, thus far. Equally so, I certainly wasn't look for the media (mainstream or otherwise) to break with normal service and bring level headed analysis.


Perhaps I am being unfair? There was the excellent Richard Wilson article and a reasonable debate between Chris Graham, Tom English and Paul Goodwin on Scotland Tonight. Although, Tom coming just short of calling Charles Green a liar and in the same breath begging for an interview slot with Green did raise a sense of bewilderment. There was also the reportedly excellent The Rising on RTV. Unfortunately, I have yet to cast my eyes on it due to some personal commitments last night. However, I am sure that it will make for good viewing this weekend. The chaps in that department at Rangers deserve all the praise in the world for their continued hard work.


Last, but most certainly not least, there was the Rangers support. If anyone deserved a moment of reflection it was surely we, the beating heart of the club? Allow me to digress; at the core of it we are ALL football supporters Rangers, Celtic, Juventus. We have an undeniable common bond namely, adulation of a football club. That is the most painful thing, for me, about the last 12 months.


There is, I thought, a common bond amongst all football supporters. Yes, even Rangers and Celtic supporters. I thought that pure, crystallized hatred was reserved for bottom feeders and single celled organisms. How wrong was I? Having thousands of 'fellow' football fans openly wish my club dead didn't just make me angry, it left me numb. Here we had supposed 'fellow' football supporters openly wishing hundreds of thousands of other football supporters had no club to support and reveling in it... Openly wishing the club generations of my family have supported was not around thus depriving me the opportunity to pass this tradition on to my own children. Then they wonder where the current state of tension comes from inside Scottish football? It was in the face of such provocation that the Rangers support became galvanized. Having the most loyal support in the world is no longer a boast without foundation it is quite clearly a possible conclusion based on fact.


So what of the rest of the commentators on this sorry saga? Where were they on the one year anniversary of this footballing tragedy?
We had inflammatory pieces from the aforementioned Tom English in the 'mainstream' media and the editor of website Scotzine Andy Muirhead from the 'new' media. The funny thing about Andy is that he professes nothing but disdain for the 'mainstream' media but was awfully vocal about not being able to appear on the BBC. Andy also refuses to confirm whether he is or is not impartial with a simple yes or no. I guess impartiality is not high on Andy's list of priorities. Can't say I am shocked.


We also had Jim Delahunt host Roger Hannah and the bumbling Gordon Dalziel on Clyde's Superscoreboard. I can't comment on the content of the show because I didn't listen. No further explanation required there.


What I did listen to was the BBC Sportsound podcast featuring Jim Spence, Stuart Cosgrove and Graham Spiers. Strange that the 'voice of the nation' could not call upon a single member of staff considered remotely 'pro Rangers' to sit in the discussion.


Jim Spence opened the discussion with a question posed to Stuart Cosgrove followed quickly by one directed at Graham Spiers. Contained within that question was the point that the debate over whether Rangers are a new club or not will never be won. Instead of finishing the question with this Jim continues to embellish, he is just dying to get it out. Jim tells us, quite emphatically, that 'they are a new club although Rangers fans will argue the toss on that'. Actually Jim, we are not a new club. We have 140 years of proud history that puts paid to that silly notion. I wonder if Jim would care to make that insinuation against Hibernian?


We were then subjected to a discussion that ranges from football governance to the militant tendencies of the new world Scottish football supporter. Around 20 minutes in to the podcast Stuart Cosgrove starts discussing the level of wages that Rangers were paying and how they were unsustainable in a footballing environment the size of Scotland.


I absolutely agree. My problem with the rhetoric is that once again the blame lies solely with Rangers. It is always an afterthought that there have been numerous victims of administration prior to Rangers and that half of the SPL is on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of over spending. In fact, Cosgrove proves this point later in the podcast by giving a throwaway mention to Hearts, Celtic and Dundee as others who overspent. Not once have I heard someone in the media state that overspending in Scottish football was a communal problem. Sir David Murray was a powerful figure in Scottish football but it is lunacy to suggest that he forced other football executives to borrow more than they could afford.


The simple fact is that football clubs, like a lot of other organizations, were enjoying 'boom times' based on low lending rates and inflated credit facilities. In hindsight it looks like madness and it was. But, it was a shared madness. Take a sense check and look back at the transfer fees and wages being paid out by clubs other than Rangers over the last twenty years. For example, Aberdeen spending £1M on a single player! I am going to wager that this is higher than the entire wage bill at Kilmarnock some 17 years later.


The podcast rambled on a bit longer; Spence playing up the entertainment in the SPL right now, Spiers giving it 'phoenix club' chat and Cosgrove telling us that this is the 'tightest SPL in years'. With that an entirely pointless discussion ended without achieving anything. They didn't do a thorough analysis of the financial history of Scottish football. They didn't discuss, with any degree of depth, the absurd three body system that has helped create huge amounts of tension. They didn't discuss the commercial development of the game. They didn't discuss a single solution to take care of any of the major problems facing the game. They didn't have a single suggestion on how to start rebuilding the obvious rifts between different supporters groups. They didn't mention the obvious corruption going on within SPL. God, they only mentioned Craig Whyte once and that was in a veiled jab at a supposed Rangers friendly mainstream media! No mention of his whereabouts, the legal actions or the fact that he took this great institution on a kamikaze nose dive over nine months.


My point is the same one that many a student has made while smoking roll ups in the student union. These people are given a soapbox, a platform to lead change and demand answers. One year on it is obvious to me that they didn't use that privilege for the betterment of football in Scotland. They certainly didn't do it to help Rangers once they entered administration. Rather, they used it to further agendas, grow their own profile and to enjoy a good kick at Rangers.


I know I am not alone in feeling alienated from Scottish football one year on from administration. Curious, given I follow Scotland's most successful team. Interestingly though, I feel a lot better about where Rangers are as a club and a support.
And, they can argue the toss about that all they want.