Take the Power Back
- 10 March 2014
If you asked anyone who knows me well to tell you something I’m passionate about, it’s almost certain they would reply with the answer ‘Rangers Football Club’.
It has been a huge part of my life since I started following the club in 1995. Like thousands of others, I live and breathe Rangers every single day and constantly check social media sites and forums to find out the latest developments inside Ibrox.
And now it feels like a revolution is brewing amongst the fans. And for my mind it has been a long time coming.
The horrors of administration just over two years ago are still raw and can never be understated. However, it should have been a watershed moment for us fans despite the shock we were in.
It should never be forgotten that David Murray got us into a real mess before he sold us down the river to Craig Whyte. That has all been well documented and there’s no need to go over it again here. But Whyte’s reign at the club should have proven once and for all that there should be no more days of one man running the club.
Like every Rangers fan, I was stunned on Valentine’s Day two years ago. But we missed an opportunity. To its credit, the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund was a superb scheme and raised a wonderful amount of money when there were huge fears Rangers would die.
But the RFFF didn’t go far enough. It seemed as though fans were waiting for a saviour, whether it was the Blue Knights, Brian Kennedy, Jim McColl and Walter Smith or, as it transpired, Charles Green and his cronies.
Administration should have provided the perfect opportunity for fans to mobilise to ensure it never happened again. After the simply astonishing squandering of money and obscene bonuses to board members under Green’s regime, Rangers can’t rule out admin mark two which is simply disgraceful.
And that’s why it’s time to take the power back and create a situation where fans have proper representation in the club and control a significant amount of shares. Ask yourself this: would you rather see the club you love ran by fans that feel the same way as you or by men like the Easdale brothers, hedge fund managers and the continuously mysterious Blue Pitch and Margarita Holdings?
For me it is a no brainer. This board aren’t fit for purpose and none of them have any idea what it is like to live and breathe Rangers. They are in it for themselves.
And the fact they are now going to be using season ticket money to pay back a loan at a ludicrously high rate of interest just takes the biscuit. For many fans the loans have been the straw that has finally broken the camel’s back.
Schemes like Buy Rangers and Rangers First are to be hugely welcomed. For far too long there have been divisions amongst the Rangers support that have held us back. Of course it is only natural that there are debates amongst any club’s support. I regularly have fierce debates about the manager, players and tactics with friends I go to games with. That’s natural.
What isn’t natural is that until now Rangers fans haven’t grabbed the chance to gain real power at Ibrox. Look at what the Foundation of Hearts has done after the Gorgie club was run by shysters. They’ve just announced their 8,000th member while the Rangers Supporters Trust currently has 2,500 members. I am one of them and find that stat very depressing.
Rangers First seems to have captured the imagination though. First up, the name is simple and extremely effective. For too long we have been run by men who have never put Rangers first. As fans, by selling 72,000 season tickets over the last two seasons to watch football which has been very poor at times, by raising £5.5m in a share issue before Christmas and by simply continuing to follow the team the length and breadth of Scotland, we have always put Rangers First.
Modern football offers far too many opportunities for businessmen and ‘spivs’ to make a quick buck at the expense of the people that truly matter at a football club – the fans. You only need to look at the way Vincent Tan is running Cardiff if you want an example. The next few years need to see a massive increase in clubs becoming fan owned or run as a community interest company.
As Richard Atkinson of Supporters Direct says, fan ownership isn’t just about owning shares. It is about getting what you want from the club. There is simply no chance of getting that under this board.
In simple maths terms, Rangers fans can easily out do what Hearts supporters have achieved. Say only 20,000 of our fanbase paid £15 a month in direct debits. That would equate to income of £3.6m per year and, at current market levels, 5% of shares could be purchased in three months.
Both the Rangers First and Buy Rangers options are very reasonably priced as well. The Rangers First option gives you the option of signing up for as little as £5 per month. The price of a fish supper per month to try and reclaim the club I love? Count me in.
And I’ve also signed up to the Buy Rangers scheme of purchasing shares in the club from as little as £11.25 per month. Both schemes are simple and I would urge every fan to do something. It is time to show you REALLY care about your favourite club. The Rangers support can be found in corners all over the world. Quite simply, if we don’t do it this time through these projects, then it can be argued we deserve what we get as a support.
It feels like the right time. The financial crisis has reached breaking point again. Whilst there might be criticism of performances on the park, we have strolled to the League One title. We have now completed the first two stages of our journey back to the top but we simply can’t afford to be cut adrift when we return there.
Hanging over these schemes is of course Dave King. Now, King’s tax issues in South Africa have been gone over more times than I have had hot dinners but what can’t be denied is that he is a Rangers man. It seems baffling that the board call him disruptive when he is a lifelong fan willing to put money into a club he loves.
His idea of a season ticket trust is to be welcomed. Let’s get one thing straight, it isn’t a boycott. It is about, as King says himself, getting transparency from the board over the state of the club. At the time of writing, over 5,600 supporters have signed up to the call from the Union of Fans to back King. Again, that is real and decisive action from a significant section of the support.
Key to all this is engaging those fans who aren’t online or those who are perhaps switched off from the turmoil. Indeed, I have friends and relatives in this position. Fan ownership remains a long term dream, but it can be driven forward quickly with the right marketing and information that is delivered to the fanbase.
Legendary US rock band Rage Against the Machine once sang a ferocious song which shares the title of this article. When the revolution is led by the people (or in this case, fans), the men at the top can find it nigh on impossible to fight back against it.
This particular Rangers revolution has only just started but I’m excited what I see on Twitter, Facebook and various forums. We have woken up big time as a support and credit to everyone who has got involved already.
It will take a while and it will require patience but we simply must get rid of this board once and for all. We have a voice and it’s the most powerful inside Ibrox- more powerful than Graham Wallace or Sandy Easdale or even Ally McCoist.
It’s time to take the power back.