Cooney and Black

Is it any wonder that Walter Smith no longer wishes to be associated with most of those at the heart of what has become an undignified and dangerous squabble over Rangers?



TRADITION and heritage are important. But rarely do they pay the bills. As unpalatable a truth as it may be for the majority of Rangers fans, Ibrox could eventually have to be sacrificed – in name at least.

The alternative could ultimately be the sight of an empty, decaying stadium where the once mighty Rangers played against the cream of Europe.

I confess to not having followed every twist and turn of the farce that has engulfed a once great football club for the past three years. To have done so would, I suspect, have risked incarceration in an establishment housing the hopelessly insane.

Indeed, I take my hat off to those colleagues who have been forced to follow the travails of Rangers Football Club almost on a daily basis since the game’s administrators chose to relegate the country’s jointly most prominent sporting establishment to the backwaters of Scottish football and who have somehow managed to remain at least partially sane.

It no longer matters that it was an act of sheer folly, taken in the name of justice for a series of misdemeanours, some downright criminal.

These crimes could not go unpunished, but at what price to Scottish football as a whole?

The game is in an even more parlous state in 2015 than it was in 2012. A large part of the reason is that, without the Old Firm in regular direct conflict, the product has only limited appeal.

There has been no shortage of jokes at the expense of Rangers’ plight, although most have long since worn thin. The truth is that what has happened to Rangers in particular and Scottish football in general is no laughing matter.

But it wouldn’t surprise me if there are some youngsters out there who imagine that Liquidation, Insolvency and Misappropriation are a Rangers half-back line from the 1950s!

There is no need whatsoever to retrace the steps that have led to the demise of Rangers as a major force in the game: those who have not lost the will to live pouring over countless pages of newsprint and listening to the broadcasting media’s take on football’s answer to East Enders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and River City rolled into one and remain interested, are clued up. The rest, presumably, couldn’t give a damn.

But for those who remain convinced that Rangers is too big an institute to fail, I say this: remember what very nearly happened to the banks!

These shameful institutions were eventually bailed-out at the tax payers’ expense. But there is no likelihood whatsoever of Rangers being saved from extinction by handouts from the public purse.

The club must save itself. Yet, those who profess to have Rangers’ best interests at heart cannot even agree to disagree in a unified and civilised manner. Name-calling is quickly followed by the toys being hurled out of the pram. Compromise is an alien concept, it would seem.

The various rival factions, past and present, indulge in accusation and counter-accusation to a ridiculous degree. Is it any wonder that Walter Smith no longer wishes to be associated with most of those at the heart of what has become an undignified and dangerous squabble?

The Easdale brothers, Dave King and his consortium, or Mike Ashley? Take your pick and hope for the best. Personally, I would not wish to share a life-raft with any of these aforementioned gentlemen.

But is Ashley’s offer of a £10million loan in exchange for the stadium and the Murray Park training complex being put up as security really so unreasonable?

Apparently so, judging by the demonstrations that took place at Ibrox when referee Bobby Madden added to the madness by allowing the match against Hearts to proceed when it was blatantly obvious that it was an act of sheer folly. Now, perhaps as a result of the demos, there are unconfirmed reports that the club will not use their ground as security against any further loans.

I cannot vouch for Londoner Ashley’s motives in wishing to control a Scottish football club, but I suspect the Sports Direct tycoon is driven by a desire to be the head bummer of a team playing Champions League football, albeit that is currently a very distant dream for Rangers, while it is an increasingly unlikely scenario for Newcastle United.

The title rights to Ibrox and Murray Park is a step too far for the legions of True Blues. But I would venture that Ashley is much more an egotist than an asset-stripper, while also questioning the true worth of the real estate he is said to want as collateral.

But so what if he wants to own Ibrox and change the name of the stadium – is it really so important in the commercial age?

I would also respectfully suggest that it’s better to have Rangers Football Club survive in whichever form fate decrees rather than no club at all.

The late Bill Shankly once said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death; I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much more important than that.”

Shankly’s words remain as absurd now as they were when he uttered them. But there is no doubting that there are many among the Rangers supporters who share his sentiment.

But, hard as it may be for those individuals to accept that there are some things far more important in life, the truth is, in the greater scheme of things, the rest of us will go on living much as we do at the moment – with or without Rangers Football Club.

Time to get real, I’m afraid.


1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Wise words, Jim.
    As a lifelong Newcastle fan, I’m not happy having Ashley in charge. But at least the club is now on a superb financial footing and only yesterday was confirmed as having got back into the top 20 European money earners.
    First things have to come first and Rangers’ fans have got to bite the bullet and put up with whatever it takes to straighten out their club’s financial plight.
    Or there will be no club.
    Silverware will come next. At least that’s what we’re hoping for at St James’s Park!
    Tony Boullemier, exiled Geordie, Northampton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *