We are still here

Liquidation it is then. No CVA, means no more The Rangers FC. The club is dead and you better get used to it. I’m paraphrasing, but this is what we’ve been told to accept.

Yet it’s rubbish.

True, there will be liquidation of the company but the football club will survive. The Rangers FC will continue to be a football team that was founded in 1872 by the ‘Gallant Pioneers’. Nothing except a time machine can change that. In any case, the Rangers club ‘share’ held by the football authorities will probably be transferred over to the new company, thereby guaranteeing the football history remains intact.

Rangers are not the first big side to go through this process and come out stronger. As the Middlesbrough owner recently said to the ‘Daily Record’:

"What happened with us in 1986 and is about to happen with Rangers is effectively the same. And my own view is if the SPL allow Rangers to stay in the top flight nobody will notice any difference. Celtic fans might want to rub it in a bit but that will only last 12 months. People will get bored with that. […] Chairmen, managers and players all come and go [but the] club is the people who come to watch it. It's not a technical piece of paper.

No-one talks about the “new” Middlesbrough and I don’t remember anyone saying that the UEFA Cup semi-final in 2008 against Fiorentina was the first time Rangers had ever played the Italians – even though they too went through bankruptcy. We all accepted it was the same club.

But let’s look at the worst case scenario of a real break in the continuity of the football club because it’s enlightening. What would such a break mean? To answer that you first have to answer what is The Rangers? Why do supporters feel so passionate about the club?

Many of the articles in ‘The Rangers Standard’ have already commented on the ludicrous notion that Rangers fans can be stereotyped as a homogenous group, yet we all love Rangers. Why?

The answer is identity; our identity. In many ways supporting Rangers is partially how we define ourselves. There may be a myriad of reasons why we belong to the ‘Rangers family’ - some we can’t even fully understand or express – but we feel it. This is why so many people are desperate to convince you that Rangers no longer exist. They know it’s the same club. If it really was different, we wouldn’t have the fanaticism for the “new” Rangers to be punished. No-one would care.

At the time of writing, a Charles Green consortium has bought the club and another led by Walter Smith is attempting their own takeover. In the space of a few hours the fans have went from utter desolation, to the euphoria of knowing there are Rangers men willing to move Rangers forward. Since both groups will proceed on a newco basis, why would attitudes change so radically? It’s precisely for the reasons I have outlined. The supporters know that a Rangers under the likes of Walter Smith will be a place where they belong - whereas a club run by those only interested in making a personal profit will not. The technicalities are irrelevant.

Let’s be clear, no-one would wish the last four months to happen, but sometimes a crisis like this brings forth an opportunity for positive change. The former White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, once said:

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. [...] It’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.

Contemplate the Rangers situation over the last few years. The club was financially mismanaged to an extent that it was in a death-spiral with no way out. The PR was non-existent; as long as you kept Murray, Bain or Whyte out of it, you could insult the club and fans as much as you wished with no comeback. Even the SFA seemed to perceive Rangers as the enemy, rather than a member club in trouble. The club was suffocating and we could all feel it.

Now we have a chance to re-group. The worst financial outcome has happened yet we will come through it. The club’s image has taken a battering like no other, yet as a support we have decided to re-claim it. If anything the Rangers support has revitalised. Being a Ranger is a gift from the past and links us to previous generations. Its why, regardless of even the worst case scenario, our history cannot be broken unless we surrender it. It’s not a piece of paper, it’s our heritage. It’s part of who we are.

More than ever we realise what The Rangers Football Club means to us, and that is why we won’t let it go. And why we will soon let the world know we are still here.

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Throughout life it is inevitable everyone will meet people they get on with and people they don’t.

During my journalism studies I have had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing many top names across a wide variety of fields.

One of my favourite interviews was in the corridors of Hampden last September with the Scottish Football Association’s Chief Executive Stewart Regan.

Much has been said about Regan’s tenure and later on in this article I will single out some of the frankly shameful and embarrassing incidents that have dogged his tenure as the man responsible for running the Scottish game.

However, the first time I met Regan I found him to be an engaging and passionate figure.

First and foremost I really appreciated the fact that he had taken the time to take half an hour to speak to me. And on the day of a Scotland game nonetheless.

He was instantly friendly and even praised the website I was writing it for.

During the interview, he was always very forthcoming with his answers and I often found myself nodding my head in agreement as he spoke positively about the Scottish game.

After finishing up he asked me if I was planning on attending the game against Lithuania later that evening which I wasn’t. Upon that reply, he then gave me a hospitality ticket for the match.

Before you think this is why I had a favourable first impression of Regan, I can assure you I am not like that and never will be.

Call me naïve but I believed from his answers that Regan was a man looking to take Scottish football forward over the next few years. I thought he had fresh ideas and the SFA was going to move into the modern age.

How I misjudged Regan. The impression he gave me that day certainly hasn’t been the one he has displayed to the wider football public in Scotland.

One of the most disappointing aspects of his regime is his unwillingness to debate and engage with football fans.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some absolute buffoons out there who post some vile stuff on Twitter. I’m all for freedom of speech, but there can be no excuses for some of the abuse that people post.

Regan of course has been on the receiving end of much abuse on Twitter over the last year or so and, like every user, he has every right to block people as he wishes.

However, in my view Regan has taken this too far. Unlike many other Rangers fans, I was willing to give him longer to prove he was right for the job.

But on 8 December 2011, that all changed. Some may ask the significance of this date. It was the day when Sone Aluko was banned for two games for a simulation offence committed against Dunfermline.

Due to the extreme weather that day, I found myself posting many tweets expressing my anger at the SFA’s decision.

Bizarrely later that evening Regan seemed extremely unwilling to debate the decision with fans.

Again, it should be pointed out that some took their ‘questioning’ too far, but when Regan started blocking very reasonable fans-as he has done with our very own Stewart Franklin-and countless others, the game was up for me.

We are in the 21st century. The age of Twitter and blogging advances every day. What better way for the SFA to get a simple message across about their decision to suspend a player than for their boss to use Twitter.

But alas no. Regan decided to keep his finger over the block button rather than the reply one. For me, the game was up.

The next major incident that had me seething with Regan was the way the SFA bowed to pressure from Celtic over the touchline behaviour of Neil Lennon last season.

It is fair to say that the late Paul McBride QC gave the SFA a monumental battering over the way they handled the ban, so much so that Regan and his cronies had to hastily re-write their rules on the issue.

The way Celtic were allowed to bully the SFA on a regular basis over the course of last season was nothing short of disgraceful. Not once did Regan look like getting tough with them.

And if Aberdeen, Hearts or any other Scottish club tried the same tactics as Celtic, then I would be criticising them just as much.

Finally, the SFA were shown to be a complete and utter shambles when a court ruled a fortnight ago that by handing Rangers a transfer embargo they were in breach of their own rules. I was absolutely astounded by this.

Many criticised Rangers for going to the civil courts, but as legendary broadcaster Archie Macpherson put it when he appeared on Scotland Tonight “Why wouldn’t Rangers go to the courts if they feel the SFA have broken their own rules?”

Nail on the head Archie. And the responsibility for those rules lies with Regan. How can he possibly try and decimate one of the most important member clubs without knowing his own governing body’s rules? That is simply inexcusable.

Who knows what my journalism future holds. Perhaps I will get to interview Stewart Regan again.

But this time he’ll have a hell of a lot more explaining to do.

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