Arrested Development: The Fans At Ibrox Just Never Learn

Former-Rangers-owner-Craig-Whyte-541404Last week I was away for a few days, taking a break from the madness and the insanity and unplugging myself from the blogosphere. My mistake was in staying connected to the internet at all, and therefore I was not unaware of events at Ibrox.

I pondered long and hard on what I wanted to write as regards these latest developments. There are, after all, legal considerations to take into account.

As such, I decided what this particular article was going to be about pretty early on. Others will certainly follow it; I want to look at these matters from a variety of different angles, but before I get to those more important matters I need to go over some old ground.

The Sevco fans’ reaction to Whyte and Green being arrested is extraordinary for a number of reasons, not least amongst them is the sheer mental gymnastics it must take to blame those men for the annihilation of their football clubs.

Way back in July last year, I wrote a piece on this site called The Club That Debt Built where I hammered across the point that Whyte was not the guilty party here. He had his hands on the steering wheel when the car crashed, but that was only because the previous driver bailed out when he saw the brick wall approaching.

The banking crisis was the moment Rangers started the long slow slide into the abyss.

This site wasn’t around then, but I was writing for E-Tims and Cybertims on that very subject and Paul Brennan of CQN had been doing much the same thing, and for far longer. In fact, it’s probably not unfair to say he was the guy who saw this coming before anyone else.

My first major article on the subject, entitled The End of Rangers? was published in 2008, and Phil McGiollabhain wrote his seminal article The Fall of the House of Murray in 2009.

These pieces, which explored the consequences for Rangers should Murray no longer be able to support them, as well as Paul Brennan’s own extensive writing on the subject, were amongst the very first to paint a dire picture for the Rangers fans … and, of course, we were completely ignored.

Part of it was simply that too many people in Scotland were believers in the concept of Rangers as “too big to fail”, in the same way that Titanic was once too good a ship to sink.

That historical precedents existed for this collapse wasn’t deemed relevant; the vast, vast majority of their fans, and all of the hacks, simply refused to entertain the idea of it.

I’m not saying this to bang our drum. I’m saying it because it demonstrates, clearly, that four years before the tsunami engulfed them people were predicting just such a thing.

This didn’t come out of a clear blue sky, and it wasn’t the fault of the Motherwell Born Billionaire.

This was being driven by financial reality, and forces over which the Scottish media and the Rangers fans had no control.

In short, it was inevitable and the only thing that might have stopped it would have been if Whyte was the guy they all hoped he was.

We had no crystal ball. We were simply willing to look at things objectively.

When you stripped away emotion, nostalgia, when you looked at Rangers as not a football club but a business struggling with the realities of that time it was pretty clear what was coming.

Empires fall, as I said in another piece for this site, and if that can happen then it should have come as no surprise to anyone that a Scottish based football club could too.

This is one that overspent, that relied for years on sugar daddy wealth and the largesse of a bank, that resorted to diverting money from the taxman when it was no longer able to compete and which continued to spend more than it earned even after Lloyds tried applying the brakes.

It was never going to have a bright and shining future when the crash turned into a recession.

Whyte had certain plans for Rangers, but it’s not clear that they involved an administration event at first, although he knew that might be the one way they could get the HMRC “big tax case” out of their hair. I do believe he had fully intended to run the club on a “break even” basis until he could resolve that, but doing so relied on European income and a share issue.

He was to be robbed of the share plan because the European money was snatched away by the ineptitude of his manager.

I’ve long argued that what Rangers fan blame Whyte for – all they can blame him for – is not being as wealthy as the press had said he was. He is being judged not for something he actually did but for what he was unable to do; keeping them afloat with his own money.

Rangers’ fans had believed all the billionaire and war chest hype. They welcomed him with open arms because they accepted, without question, these ridiculous assertions, which Celtic fans were questioning from the first.

It was this continuing belief that he had “off the scale wealth” which blinded them to the very real danger of administration past the point where it had become impossible to ignore.

They maintained their belief in those fantasises – and some were defending Whyte fulsomely – until as late as January 2012, when the transfer window opened to wild anticipation about real money being spent on the team … in spite of all the information at their disposal.

By the time that window closed, a lot of expectations and assumptions had already smashed against the rocks of hard reality, and this is what makes their apparent, and genuine, shock about what happened just a month later all the harder to understand.

It’s not as if they weren’t warned that it was coming.

We gave them the early heads-up that this guy was a dodgy geezer without the funds to carry them forward.

The very people who stood outside the police station the other day, like a baying mob (more on that later in the week) were telling us then to piss off, accusing of us running scared.

They did the same thing when we told them not to believe a single word that came out of Charles Green’s mouth, and we’ve been repeating that mantra over and over as regards the string of broken promises already from Dave King.

They’re doing the same again.

They’ve learned nothing.

They’d rather live in ignorance than face facts, and especially from us.

No matter which way they dress this up, no matter how much they might want to point the finger at Whyte and Green and the spivs, the simple truth is that their club was brought down by decades of overspending and a collective inability to confront that, and act accordingly, when the banks stopped indulging their madness.

The Rangers they knew was built on credit, and brought down by debts.

They ought to have cut spending. They could have sold key players. The playing squad would have suffered, and they’d have had to accept a period when success wasn’t likely … but that would have been small beer compared to the years they’ve spent since, following a newco as it clawed its way up through the ranks of the Scottish game.

Above all else, their club would have survived. It would not have been comfortable – indeed, the scale of the cuts would have scared the Hell out of their fans – but they would not have suffered the catastrophic effects of liquidation.

There was no grand conspiracy here.

The truth they’re going to have to grasp is that there was no need for one.

All Celtic and others had to do was follow Napoleon’s old maxim about not interrupting an enemy whilst he was making a mistake, and wait for the walls to come tumbling down.

We didn’t need to intervene. We simply had to bide our time.

The same thing applies today.

I’m going to explore the full consequences of last week’s actions later this week, but one of those is that any new share issue proposal is dead already. Even if the stock market was willing to allow a company to trade shares which are the subject of a police inquiry, who in God’s name is going to buy them? The fans? They haven’t before … I see no evidence at all that they will carry the water for King when his own grandiose promises are still fresh in the mind.

The point is moot.

There are now so many obstacles in the way of the club being able to get a new share flotation that it’s simply the stuff of fantasy.

Without it, they’re going to have one Hell of a job getting through the season.

All the hopes riding on the shoulders of Mark Warburton are largely dependent on him getting a clear run at things, without worrying about off the field matters.

That now looks like a forlorn hope, as some of us suggested that it might be.

Oh there may not be a group of agitators on the side-lines this time (they are now in the boardroom), but there are enough issues bubbling away under the surface, including the immoveable Mike Ashley and his contracts, to provide us with entertainment far into the future.

In due course, even their most avid fans are going to have to come to terms with the simple truth that whether they believe in the Survival Myth or not that the party is over.

The club playing out of Ibrox is going to have to cut its cloth to suit, and that means that the days of big spending and top players are gone and gone for good and the best thing Dave King could have done for them is to have levelled with them about that instead of promising them moonbeams.

No club’s supporters have ever been in more need of honesty from their own board, the kind of honesty that hurts but in the same way cauterising a wound does.

These people cling to fantasy like a comfort blanket, and for their own good it ought to be snatched away from them.

Craig Whyte did not destroy Rangers.

Sevco was not brought to the brink by Charles Green.

Overspending destroyed the first, and the stupidity of the supporters was the key contributing factor in the success enjoyed by the Yorkshireman with the big hands.

I mean, the guy told them – he actually said it in straight, plain language – that those hands were for grabbing money … and they loved him because he played the old “Rangersitus” card.

To watch their fans in the news footage last week, howling at the door of a police station like vigilantes, was appalling.

Their self-absorption remains total, and it’s their defining characteristic.

They won’t like reading this, and I expect the usual howling at the moon from them as a result.

But that anger largely comes from their internal knowledge that if they’d listened to us in the first place this might have been avoided.

I fully understand why they struggle with this.

But on the surface, they refuse to acknowledge how they got here or accept that it was partly their own fault.

As a consequence, they are headed down the same road and they will not change course.

That’s why the next administration event is not a matter of if but when.

You can bank on it.

(Writing is my full time job friends and neighbours, and the support of my readers is vital. If you want to support it, you can make a donation at the link. If every reader was able to donate just £5 a year that would keep the site going strong well into the future. Many thanks in advance.)

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

36 thoughts on “Arrested Development: The Fans At Ibrox Just Never Learn

  • 7 September, 2015 at 11:09 pm
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    Hope you had a good few days away but I’ve got to disagree with you with regards to an administration.

    I simply do not see there being one. The reason; there won’t be any money left to pay for an administration as it will all have gone in paying Ally and the current players and staff. No this club will simply cease trading in mid season with the cataclysm that that will bring.

    They are now caught in a death spiral; if the current board do not pony up to keep the show on the road to the end of the season they will lose the money they have already put in. If they do pony up and that debt is then transferred into shares it means that the share issue itself is going to pay off debt and that debt in turn will grow again demanding more money.

    As you have so rightly pointed out who would invest in a club which may not even own the properties that is it’s only material wealth?
    You may as well go down the market and buy magic beans from the lunatic woman!!

    The shadow of doubt cast by last weeks events will be as large as big Jock’s and probably just as cold.

  • 7 September, 2015 at 11:24 pm
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    Excellent perspective James . supremacist minds will never heed the signs . you are right that the current company is uninvestible in .
    Someone in the senior TRFC ranks needs to tell the nutters the truth about what has really happened or there will be pitch forks at Hampden as they blame EVERYONE for what is going to engulf them again
    The other issues is the longer they last and do OK on the field the worse their behaviour will become as they seek retribution against everyone

  • 7 September, 2015 at 11:29 pm
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    very…very…ghood…HH

  • 7 September, 2015 at 11:32 pm
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    To quote the song \” when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn \”. (You had to be there ).

  • 8 September, 2015 at 5:07 am
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    Isn\’t it about time you lot concentrated on your own issues across the city.
    The obsession you have with the country\’s biggest club who also happen to be the most successful club side in the world is now laughable.
    Get a life.
    BTW. I was sent this post by one of your deluded followers and it will have been deleted by the time you read this.

  • 8 September, 2015 at 5:53 am
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    There must be something wrong with your assertions it clearly states on RM they are heading for the Champions League in the next couple of years and that they will have to build a 90,000 seat stadium to accommodate their fans. And basically everything is tickity-boo.

  • 8 September, 2015 at 5:54 am
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    As you see james from the post above from the sevconian, there’s none so blind as those that will not see. They are sleepwalking into another insolvency event but convince themselves they’re not because Timmy is obsessed?
    (Aye at laughing while eating jelly and ice cream)
    Cognitive dissonance is alive and well in the west of Scotland. Cue the sad trombone music.

  • 8 September, 2015 at 8:15 am
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    A quick read over this article is quite hilarious. It is littered with the usual Celtic blog mistruths that you all actually seem to believe. Your wee love in for Whyte is heartwarming. Right at the start you mis credit the whole article when you say that Whyte was not to blame as the debt was already there. A simple bit of research will show you that Rangers debt was REDUCING every year. The company went into administration because he was not paying PAYE, not because of its debt to the bank. This info is all out there for anyone to see. There is no argument for or against this, it is there in black and white. But these blogs don’t really have any form of looking at the facts do they?

  • 8 September, 2015 at 8:47 am
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    Robert. The fact you can write about the old Rangers Football Club as being the most successful side in the world with a straight face is frightening. I won\’t say laughable it is far too dangerously delusional for that. Do you think anybody worldwide who follows football shares that view outside Scotland?

  • 8 September, 2015 at 8:48 am
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    I hear your pain Robert and I laugh at your stupidity…..best you put your head back into the sand.

  • 8 September, 2015 at 8:52 am
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    James,

    Excellent article, simple, to the point, like lehmans, RBS, Fanny Mae, all built on credit until the inevitable bubble burst.
    The audience (fans), are supplied with parochial propaganda from the MSM, which has been gullibly and naively swallowed.
    Have spoken with family and friends who are season ticket holders, intelligent and successfully professionally, but when you mention the root cause, they are blinded. Not sure if it is nartistical or blind faith, but they can not see that Murray created a culture which they have found difficult to change from. Walter Smith even stated it, prior to his departure from managing the club.
    It is not an obsession from ourselves, we are constantly fed fabricated PR about supremacy and reemergence. Not unless the GSL digs into his children\’s inheritance and keeps then afloat from Nov/Dec will they survive.
    Celtic\’s foundation is built on individual\’s wealth, 3 successful share issues and spending within our means, to be able to survive and operate out of the SPL.
    If you look at the c.£8m that has been invested in 5/6 strikers in the £1m-£2m, over the last 3 years, it illustrates how difficult it is to find talent that delivers. With wages up 33% and a new Sky/BT/Overseas rights TV deal to kick in 2016/2017 season the EPL are starting to open a chasm with the Bundesliga, La Liga and Seria A, which means we will be competing with League 1 teams for players.
    I am not the biggest fan of the current board, particularly the CEO payment structure (result of an offer from Arsenal), however given a choice and in comparison to across the South Side of the city, I am more than happy with the current model and its longevity.
    Keep up the good work James, read a few of your articles over the years

  • 8 September, 2015 at 8:56 am
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    Bob the nob. Hh

  • 8 September, 2015 at 9:03 am
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    None so blind ” Seempleeze !!

  • 8 September, 2015 at 9:04 am
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    Robert,I think you need to see a doctor,soon,Carstairs Mental home is where your heading……………….

  • 8 September, 2015 at 9:25 am
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    the remarkable blindness of your average fan to the,really very straightforward,realities of this matter are nothing new.A number of years before the collapse a certain Hugh Adams warned the support the course Murray had set for the club was ruinous and would result in a crash.He was widely derided among the fanbase and,significantly,among the SMSM.Of course succulent lamb was riding high and few listened to Adams warnings as Murrays cheerleaders in the press,if they mentioned Adams at all,sailed serenely on with tales of hover pitches and multi-million pound hotels etc etc.So the pattern was set-their masters voice speaks and the dogs nod obediently,turning their bark on any dissenters in the room.Over a decade later the “song remains the same”.The role played by the SMSM in all of this is pivotal of course however the Sevco supporters,as we all know,have a culture of “follow follow” that lends to obedience and,while they would never admit it,has done them no favours at all. the “WATP” mentality has hardened into an impenetrable shell of illogic,utter defiance and,as evidenced by Houston et al outside the court,a complete lack of self-awareness.It was this mentality that allowed Whyte/Green and assorted cronies to ride roughshod over the Sevco support while emptying their pockets.So,in a multitude of ways,they are their own worst enemies.Plus ca change,plus c’est la meme chose.(Pretentious?Moi?)

  • 8 September, 2015 at 9:51 am
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    Robert
    Hearts lay at deaths door.Anne Budge came forward and saved the club from Liquidation.
    Rangers lay at deaths door.Who came forward and saved the club from Liquidation?
    Go on,give us a laugh.

  • 8 September, 2015 at 10:26 am
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    For someone so interested in Rangers it\’s hard to believe ye support someone else!!! It\’s all about the rangers!!! Big Jock knew!! Lou Macari…..legend!!! If ye know yer history!! Hahaha WATP

  • 8 September, 2015 at 10:26 am
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    Robert, my mate Shug Armitage has won 16 South Lanarkshire golf titles, that makes him more successful than Tiger Woods, he\’s only won 14 majors, eh ?

  • 8 September, 2015 at 10:28 am
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    For Rangers supporters, the current Ibrox Club is still Rangers.For others, it is a new Club. One is emotional ,the other , factual. The mistake made in articles such as this is to assume that the supporters of other Clubs would behave any differently in the same circumstances.The Media would almost certainly have reported the whole story differently with any other Club but, having reported as they did, it is perfectly natural that Rangers supporters would respond as they have done. Just the same as supporters of Celtic, Aberdeen and any other passionate supporters would have.

  • 8 September, 2015 at 10:41 am
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    Shh ffs James, the Sevconians may see sense……doh sorry, stupid stupid huns

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