For a long time, I have been speculating on the reasons why football clubs throughout the land are able to attract interest and investment from good, well intentioned business men, whereas over at Ibrox they have continued to draw the attention of the spivs and the fraudsters.
If there’s one thing the supporters at Ibrox are good at it is pointing the finger of blame at the various people they claim are responsible for the downfall of their club. They have blamed the governing bodies, the media, other clubs, political officials with sinister ties to Celtic Park and even the departments of national governments when it’s suited the narrative. At times, they’ve blamed a dark conspiracy of all these combined.
And to think there was a time when they called paranoia “the Irish disease.”
Celtic fans jokingly call this conspiracy “the Unseen Fenian Hand.”
All this finger pointing stops Sevco fans from doing the one thing that might actually help them here; looking in the mirror, and accepting their own part in all this.
Sevco fans have done more to damage the health of their club than any spiv or chancer ever has. I’ve long believed this, and I wrote about it in an article for On Fields of Green called The Ungrateful Dead.
This week’s news of threats made against the Easdale’s has only increased my belief that there is a section of their support which lacks any self awareness at all and which would hound its club to the graveyard and blame the rest of the world.
Not all of it is their fault. Part of the problem is the media’s love affair with the “Rangers men”, people like Paul Murray and Dave King, people who have done as much to ruin the club as anyone out there, with campaigns of destabilisation going back to the moment Whyte sent them tumbling into administration and their inevitable death.
The media played a role in whipping up feeling against Bill Miller, the American businessman who considered buying the club from the administrators. The supporters, led by the hope that the “real Rangers men” would come swooping in and restore them to glory with more borrowed money, flocked to their cause, and sent Miller a very clear message, in banners and songs.
He voluntarily pulled out when he was allowed a peek at the books, but you can’t help but wonder if he also took the behaviour of the supporters into consideration, and decided that fans who would deliver such a message to a guy who had pledged to help – before his feet were even over the threshold – were simply not worth the effort and money.
The same supporters foam at the mouth at the very mention of Lloyds, accusing them of forcing Murray’s sale to Craig Whyte, but they’ve conveniently forgotten the appalling role they played in that affair too, with their relentless campaign against the bank and Donald Muir, their point-man on the board.
I cannot think of a single thing, bar the European knockouts of August 2011, that did more damaging to Rangers than the way those supporters put pressure on the very people who were giving them an overdraft and letting them keep on the lights.
Some have suggested that Lloyds wanted out of football, but they still have a number of clubs on their books as clients, suggesting that, in fact, the truth is much simpler; Lloyds wanted out of Rangers. The fans played their part in that, however much they might search for bank executives with Irish sounding surnames.
Sevco are three years down the line, and in spite of changing owners not one bank has given them a credit line. Coincidence? I think not, and nor is this simply a consequence of the club being a reckless spender. Banks have no problem with reckless spending, as long as they can claim security for their loans. This is about the fans.
Take a look at how they are dealing with the idea of securitised loans right now.
All the fans groups who have led the line in telling Ashley what a bad man he is for wanting security over Ibrox can’t be totally unaware that, for years, the Lloyds Group held a similar claim over their ground, can they?
Are they that stupid? I think not. In a prior article I talked about doublethink, the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time, and this is a sterling example of it.
The media isn’t that stupid either, although none of them would have gone into the Quiz Kids. It makes it all the more ridiculous that they are feeding into the fans nonsensical demands with appeals to sentiment, like the sickening article that appeared in The Record this week suggesting that granting any security over the stadium is an insult to the dead of the Ibrox disaster.
The real insult to the dead is to cheapen their memory, using them as a political football like this. There are legitimate grounds for attacking Ashley and real grievances to be held against him. This isn’t one of them. It is deplorable conduct, both from the press and the Sevco fan rep who wrote something similar in an article last week.
This lunacy is placing the very existence of the club in jeopardy. If the current narrative is allowed to persist, and the club’s supporters adopt this insane position as a non-negotiable basis for dealing with financiers they will never get a major bank to give them credit again.
No bank wants to do business with a client who’s more trouble than they are worth. Giving this club a credit line in the first place would be like giving a habitual cocaine user a hit of crack. The demand for more money would grow until the account managers started to get twitchy. The minute they insisted that the club start making cuts, the wailing from the stands would begin in earnest.
And for that they wouldn’t even be able to get proper security for their money?
Yeah, I can see them queuing up around the block for a deal like that.
The media, which tells the most reckless element of this support everything they want to hear, and which leaps onto the bandwagon of every “Rangers minded” pressure group that comes along, have been accused of destabilising the club, and this is true too, but the same Sevco fans who make this complaint are the folks who are most vocal in their support for the aims of the very people who the media speaks for.
I have never understood their failure to grasp that contradiction. If you are considered a “Rangers man” with the best interests of the club at heart, you have a friend in The Daily Record.
You can use that paper to attack the board, weaken the share price, heap pressure on investors and call for boycotts … and the fans will slam that paper for all of it whilst being in favour of each and every one of those objectives. The press which hates Green is hated by fans who also hate Green, with each side trying to forget that it was we, the Celtic bloggers, who were onto him all along.
The media should have natural allies amongst that support … and the fans despise them.
Everyone does though, so perhaps we can forgive them for that ….
This week’s threats of violence take things to a whole new level. Here, again, the media has to take a share of the blame, having played a starring role in stoking the anger of the fans. Some commentators and writers have skated right to the edge of justifying violent action – and they’ve been joined in this by some of the “Rangers men” themselves, by the way – using the kind of inflammatory language they know full well encourages the nutters.
The nutters are now tuned in, and behaving true to type. The scenes from last week’s game are still fresh in the mind. The sectarian singing from that match still rings in the ears. Now, added to that, are these threats made against a member of the board.
For years, the directors of Rangers did nothing to curb the worst excesses of the supporters. They tolerated, and pandered to, the sectarian karaoke. They encouraged “Britishness Days” and they pushed this crazy fixation with the military and war, and the Sevco boards which followed them encouraged all the same behaviours, without a thought as to how the outside world saw it.
Their club was never particularly outward looking or inclusive, being essentially parochial and fixated on the past, but respective boards have achieved what I would have thought impossible and actually narrowed their appeal further.
Sevco is now nothing more than a West of Scotland football club, with outposts in the North of Ireland and scattered associations in North America. There is nothing at all to credit it to those outside of its own self-styled community.
They are not, and have never been, a global brand, but they might still have been able to get a bank to give them a credit line and to find city investment based just on that “community support”, but on top of this any future owner would have to consider the most ungrateful football fans in the world, and all the baggage that goes with him … including the threat of violence.
Mike Ashley is paying the bills right now and keeping on the lights. No-one pays him the slightest respect for that. These ingrates complain about the cost to the club, as if this man was supposed to give his money away. They want to believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden, and those most likely to sell them that are the “Rangers men” they crave.
Those “Rangers men” know better than anyone how short the half-life of gratitude is amongst the supporters.
When the miracles they expect aren’t delivered on cue, their anger erupts.
Who, in their right mind, would want to take on the job of rebuilding this shambles, knowing the consequence? Who would want to work on their behalf, knowing they’ll be hated for doing so?
At a time when this club needs all the help it can get, its fans are targeting the people who have kept them going through three long years.
Those people probably didn’t expect thanks … but they couldn’t have expected this.
These supporters are a danger to themselves, and to their club.
When the end comes this time, I trust some of them will have the decency to look in the mirror before pointing the finger of blame.
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