The Seeds Of Insanity

_67499124_untitledsequence.01Shortly after the General Election of 2010, the Lib Dem MP David Laws turned up at the Treasury for his first day in his new job, as Chief Secretary at that mighty institution.

It is an established custom that the outgoing Chief Secretary leaves an advisory note for the person next in the chair, and David Laws found the letter from Liam Byrne in the traditional spot, in an envelope on his desk.

Laws opened it, to find out what wisdom Byrne had decided to impart. Instead of a series of suggestions and guidance, he found an infuriating note. It read, “Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid there is no money. Best regards, and good luck!”

Can you imagine what the next chairman of Sevco Rangers will find – if there is one – when he takes up his office on the day after the fans and the media has hounded the current incumbent out of Ibrox? Probably a letter telling him where he can find all the unpaid bills.

It was Thomas Jefferson who first said “Never spend money before you have it.” If he had been on the Sevco Rangers board Chris Graham would have called him an idiot and the Daily Record would have run him out of town on a rail before his seat was warm.

It amazes me how many people inside the walls of Ibrox still subscribe to Sevconomics (copyright Angela Haggerty), otherwise known as the Walter Smith School of Economics Grand Theory which says that a club carrying the name Rangers and playing out of that stadium must always spend money, even when the cupboard is bare, the creditors are banging at the door and the car’s already been towed away to pay off a crisis loan.

Today we see in the newspapers that the board had an emergency meeting last night in London, and that another was due earlier today. At the same time, we have the very same sports pages filling up with stories about potential new signings for McCoist. The disconnect here, the mental gymnastics it takes to embrace reality on one hand and deny it on the next, is hard to fathom.

(I won’t even comment, in this piece, on the ‘coincidence’ of the club’s former PR man and their former finance director being on the same flight. It is too surreal for words, and a potential subject for an article on its own. But anyone who believes this is a ‘coincidence’ … well I’ve got a bridge you can buy. Just one owner. Painted blue.)

That the club hovers on the brink of insolvency is a known fact. It is denied by those inside the walls because to admit the truth would bring the roof down, but anyone with an ounce of skill at even the most basic mathematics, and possessed of even fractional common sense, realise it all the same.

Across the internet, an argument has been raging for the last two and some years and it shows no signs of abating. For me, it was a decided issue a long time, in every sense that was important, and it baffles me why so many people seem determined to turn it into a fight to the death when it’s largely irrelevant in real terms. The debate is, of course, over whether or not Sevco Rangers keeps the history. The idea is nonsensical to any person who’s not viewing the world through a blue tinted drug haze, and I suspect some of those who continue pushing it realise this, but to me it doesn’t matter anyway because in every way that counts their death is just undisputed.

The prestige has been stripped away. That Rangers was once a huge and influential institution is without question. That version of the club went to the grave nearly three years ago now, and whether the present club has its history or not the days of glory and pomp are gone for good. The smugness remains but there’s no longer any reason for it. They are signing 34 year old has-beens and claiming it as a masterstroke. Nothing could more acutely define the new parameters in which they exist than the signing of Kenny Miller.

There’s only one area in which the history is important, and that is the way it affects the mind-set of the club and its supporters.

It was most clearly expressed by Ally McCoist himself, a graduate of the Walter Smith School of Economic Theory, when he defended the club’s policy of continuing to whisk its players away to luxury hotels before games with the words ‘We are still Rangers Football Club and have always attempted to be as professional as we can. That will never change as long as I’m manager.”

And therein lies the dilemma for Sevco Rangers now and going forward into the future. To maintain the illusion that the club lives on, they must cling on to the “Rangers way” of doing business, although all involved, and the entire watching world, knows that the “Rangers way” was built on spending someone else’s money and makes the current incarnation, which doesn’t have a sugar daddy to lean on, resembling a suicidal basket-case.

This is how we get to the bizarre and mind-bending place where a board meeting to decide on how to progress with limited funds can coincide with the manager running wild through the halls with his “targets list” like a housewife who’s just won Supermarket Sweep.

The “continuation of history” comes with more baggage than Terminal One at Heathrow. The club remains a totem pole for the crazies and the narrow minded, with the latest marketing decision, to turn their “Ramsden’s Cup Away Top” into an ad board for the Union flag, so short-sighted and ludicrous as to defy conventional understanding. They continue to bind themselves ever tighter to this limited audience and constricted identity, not realising that if the next generation has different ideas about the world – as every new generation does – they’re quite literally watching their own existence ebb away. The oft-used come-back to those who call us “obsessed” for pointing this out is “your grandkids will be Celtic supporters …”

It’s not really a joke, is it? When a football club chains itself to an ideology it can only live as long as the ideology does … and this whole 17th Century battle commemoration nonsense has a limited appeal outside the lunatic fringe and is ultimately doomed.

It has survived up until now due to a combination of historical forces and factors, many of them related to events in Ireland, but they are less relevant as time goes by.

In September even the Union itself is up for grabs, and after that we might be confronted with the utterly incredible sight of a dead club’s fans clinging to the flag of a country that is no more. Imagine how much mileage Celtic fans are going to get out of that?

The seeds of insanity, infecting the whole club, growing like a weed, are found here, in this clinging on to the past, and this notion of superiority which long ago ceased to be real.

The more you watch this whole series of events the more Sevco Rangers comes to resemble a ship without a captain, heading straight for the rocks whilst everyone on deck runs around looking for an empty lifeboat. There is no plan, no strategy, no vision and no goal except “catch Celtic.”

It’s nice to have goals, but like Del Boy telling Rodney “this time next year we’ll be millionaires” there needs to be some kind of underlying reality to what you’re aiming for.

When Vladimir Romanov said Hearts wanted to win a Champions League within three years everyone laughed. He left the club an utter shambles, tottering on the edge of financial ruin, with his objective about as close to accomplishment as it was when he bought them.

Yesterday’s meeting in London was supposed to be a discussion about how best to raise the funds required to make the club “competitive”. This is folly, folly springing from arrogance and ego and this need to pretend that what’s dead is still alive.

Because, of course, there is an alternative to this scrambling around in the dirt, this rattling the tin cup for any spare change, and it is to accept a few fundamental facts of life.

The club can start making serious, heavy duty, spending cuts. They can tell Ally that the second biggest wage bill, the largest squad and the highest salary of any coach in this fair land really ought to be enough to win the second tier title race, and order him to get on with it. They could sell off resource draining assets like the training ground and the car park and consider whether even Ibrox is affordable. That sounds drastic, but I wonder how long they’re going to need a stadium that large if enforced cuts make it difficult to “compete.”

This craziness about “competing with Celtic” is dragging the whole club to the edge of the abyss, and this is before they’re in the top flight where the clamour for it will reach fever pitch. Reality and sanity have to be force fed to these people before then, or the pressure on the board will be enormous. This is the time for them to be honest with the fans about how bad it really is.

Dave King’s plans are a bust. They no longer have to fear him, or his idiotic brethren, like Graham, the man who backs every horse in the derby and still can’t pick a winner.

Instead of honesty, what we got yesterday was a familiar drum beat of nonsense, when Graham Wallace told the supporters that Scottish football is afraid of how strong the club is. I laughed so hard reading that I was grateful to be sitting here, at my desk, instead of out in the wider world. It would have drawn stares from people.

“There are many non-Rangers fans who support other clubs and who are genuinely concerned about the progress we are making and the momentum we are building,” he said, in all apparent seriousness, even as the details of the London meeting last night were staring up at him from his Day-Timer.  “They know where we’re headed and they’d just love for us to falter. We’re not going to allow that to happen. We have a tremendous opportunity now to come together as a club and a fan base and unite to take us back to the top. Let’s not waste it.”

Then, in a moment of high farce, he said, “This is our time to put the in-fighting and the turmoil to one side, to unite across the club and back the club, back the team and show Rangers Football Club is well and truly back.”

Tugging on the heart strings, and appeals to the irrational, designed to get fans on board because otherwise the future is that they have no future.

The greatest damage done to Sevco Rangers in these past two years has been done by those who refuse to accept the death of the club they once followed. In choosing to view this as a continuation of that, they have embraced the insanity that destroyed what they loved. Their refusal, even now, to bow to common sense, logic, realism and, yes, even humility leads them back towards the cemetery gates. Their own directors accept there will be no resurrection this time. The Second Death will do what the first was unable to … it will stop this train in its tracks.

A little honesty is all the fans are asking for. They might even appreciate it.

In the early days of the New Labour government, back in 1997, when Brown and Blair had told their departments they were sticking to Tory spending plans for that fiscal period, William Hague stopped Harriet Harman in a House of Commons corridor and asked her why they were bothering. “We never would have,” he told her.

At around about the same time, Frank Dobson, the Health Secretary, went to visit the staff at a hospital in his new, sprawling empire. Upon his return, he told an amused Prime Minister that the trip had gone better than he’d expected.

“I told them there was no money, and everybody cheered,” he said.

Mind you, he was addressing rational individuals, not the Union of Fans.

Over on the Celtic fans sites, we continue to marvel at the madness of all this. The club that once lorded it over Scottish football has been reduced to a Fringe comedy act, complete with the clowns. With no sign on the horizon that even marginal sanity is going to dawn, the likelihood of Ronny Deila becoming a legend beyond his own lifetime at Celtic Park increases with every passing day.

Sevco Rangers fans, you are the last of your kind. Your grandchildren really will be playing with Celtic rubber ducks.

(Remember, On Fields of Green needs your support if we’re to grow. You can make a donation at the link, which is either at the top of the page or the bottom, depending on the smart gadget you’re using! Everyone who does so will get something back … we’re working on it at the moment!)

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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.

18 thoughts on “The Seeds Of Insanity

  • 10 June, 2014 at 2:25 pm
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    A Chara On Fields of Green,
    Sadly/badly/madly: all true; all too tragic; and whatever is going to occur next in this surrealest of current sports-news stories. Great stuff. Tiny note from the Sub Ed of Narcissism Here: its (possessive) does not need an apostrophe: “it’s own” is wrong: “its own” is right. [Sorry: I’ll get me coat…]
    Hail Hail
    Pol.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 3:01 pm
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    I dissagree that it’s the failure of fans, management and owners to accept the club died that what got us to where we are now. It in my opinion is the fact we spent money again to climb the ladder to the top flight with a manager that quite clearly did not fit the bill, and all to keep the fans in side. I know for a fact other fans including myself just wanted usito be prudent with the money, buy decent quality young players and work our way up under the radar, keep quiet about everything and try to build a decent image for ourselves and I for one would be happy to spend an extra couple of years in the lower leagues if it meant having a club that was on asound financial footing and had some integrity about us. The fact of us being the same club or a continuation or a new entity altogether is irrelevant to me, I have a club to support and I am greatful for that furst and foremost. I’m not interested any more what other fans think of MY club and I want the owners whoever they may be to shut their mouths stop pandering to the bigmouth majority and build a club which they and we can be proud of. I don’t care if they take money out of the club it’s their right and unfortunately the way of the world, thats all people care about (probably why the place is in the state its in)
    So if any Rangers people read this, start with being honest and I know its hard, tell us the true state of the club, sack the manager, stop spending money on players that are no where near good enough and stop bloody airing your dirty laundry in public.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 3:37 pm
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    I’ll just cover some points you raised; First of all, the new club same club argument; While you and others may look on Rangers as a new club the fact of the matter is this, UEFA have recognised the historical continuation of many members clubs from different countries that have went through the same or similar procedure as Rangers without argument, can you tell us all why Rangers should be treated differently from these clubs, That is my first question, kindly give a straight answer without bias.

    Second point, you touched on 17th century battles as though it was only Rangers fans and indeed the club that harped on about that time whilst in fact both Celtic and their fans have done likewise, so do try and be even handed when you hint about bigotry, it cuts both ways.

    Third point, Kenny Miller signing, while many Rangers fans would prefer a younger signing policy Miller is a 34 year old very fit young man who can give the club a season or two good service,( you only have to look at Mourinho wanting to sign Drogba at 36 to see that).
    Avery inward looking view from yourself there in trying to have a go at Rangers signing him, although i will state that i would rather see a younger player being signed for a much lower wage. However the point stands about Millers age being no barrier to his ability, especially in Scottish football.

    Fourth and final point, whilst administration is looking very likely, to state that Dave King’s plans are bust, you don’t know that for any degree of certainty,in fact it is guesswork from you, indeed for all you know Kings silence may just have something to do with him working away in the background in trying to get a resolution to the problems within the club, again though it’s all guesswork. However one thing is certain, whether administration happens or not Rangers will always be a major factor in Scottish football as long as football is played in Scotland, of that there is no doubt.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 3:48 pm
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    Okay point by point then …

    1) I’ll give you a straight answer, but it’ll be in the form of a question. Which other club, who has gone through a liquidation – not an administration, a liquidation, a refusal of a CVA followed by a winding up – has UEFA recognised as being the same club. Name me one of them, but make sure you have your facts right. I have looked into this in great detail.

    2) My point had nothing to do with bigotry or sectarianism. It was about living in the past, and clinging on to ideas from four centuries ago.

    3) The Kenny Miller signing is about lack of imagination, ambition and funds. It is about a massive lowering of expectation. I think Mourinho’s pursuit of Drogba is a terrible comparison, to be frank. I don’t think it stands up to scrutiny 🙂

    4) I predict that Dave King will NEVER invest his money in Sevco Rangers. Take that to the bank.

    As to your final point … it depends what you mean by a “major factor in Scottish football.” If you mean they’ll challenge Celtic, I don’t see it for ten years or more. If you mean they’ll continue to wield influence far beyond their stature and importance … how much do you want to bet on even that? Too many of us are watching now. Your club, whichever version of it survives coming events, will be lucky to survive. Be satisfied with that.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 4:36 pm
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    James, I fear you will not get an answer to the first question.

    I can think of NO club that went through liquidation that has been recognised by UEFA as being the same club.

    It is not possible. Liquidation equals death of the entity that existed before. What comes next is NECESSARILY a different entity ie a dfferent club.

    Graham Spiers when asked on Sportsound some weeks ago whether it was the same club declared that it was an insult to his intelligence to suggest he might believe that.

    As to living in the 17th century, I dont recall a single example of any Celtic supporter “harping on” about battles in that time period. Which battle would this be?
    I’d be very interested to know.

    Lastly, to even imply a comparison between Kenny Misser and Drogba is risible and preposterous, and demonstrates the extent of ra peepel’s delusional state .

    There is no hope for THEMS and their grandweans will indeed be Celtic supporters: and a bloody good thing too.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 5:09 pm
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    As long as there is a media here in Scotland with the same mind set as North Korean broadsheets the truth will never be outed.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 7:00 pm
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    Brilliant James, you never fail to make me smile, one tiny point….nah only kidding, don’t think George is coming back with any either. Keep up the good work.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 7:07 pm
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    James I would say in tennis terms “game set and match to Forrest”

  • 10 June, 2014 at 7:39 pm
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    Fantastic article with equally entertaining comments.
    Eagerly awaiting Georges follow up reply.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 8:16 pm
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    Over to you George great peice of writing James well done

  • 10 June, 2014 at 8:24 pm
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    @James.
    You seem to hint, with some certainty, that there is a climax to this coming beyond ‘The Rangers’ simply running out of cash.
    I agree that most football fans display levels of disconnect between reality and their own club, however what has been displayed at Ibrox goes beyond this.
    To continue the myth they deny logic not to mention economic and business law.
    I really do not care one jot what they believe, they can scream it from every roof top in the land. They can hold meetings and bombard who ever they like. It is simply reality that they are running from. Every fan of every other club in Scotland knows what ‘The Rangers’ are.
    Perhaps the asker of the four questions earlier should answer this questions:
    Why, given that RFC had already taken the SFA to court over the transfer embargo, did ‘The Rangers’ not do the same when they ended up playing in the bottom tier of Scottish football?
    After all they were the same club!
    Why did the team that finished second in the SPL not compete in Europe the following season?
    After all they were the same club.

    Perhaps ‘The Rangers’ will get out of their current financial predicament by suing every paper who declared them dead after the failure of a CVA in 2012.
    After all they are the same club.

    “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

    The only ones being deceived are themselves. Leave them to it.

  • 10 June, 2014 at 8:46 pm
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    JUSTAFAN. How do you reach that statement. It is entirely the failure of your fans (especially), management and owners !!!(who they are are is anyone’s guess. Stop looking for big boys that done it and ran away. Waken up and sniff. All the best to your new team. Hh

  • 11 June, 2014 at 2:52 am
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    Thank you once again for yet another splendid hard hitting article. I see no bias or bigotry here, I see only observations of facts which are obvious to all who have eyes to see. My life here on earth is drawing to a close because I have been here for a long time but I know for certain sure that they will NEVER lord it over me again in my lifetime, hopefully never ever again as I have greatgrandchildren alive. I still hear people say “If we sign Boyd then him and Miller will win us the league” My smile did not abate in the slightest when this remark was followed by the “handshake” and the heartfelt comment “We are the people” Long may they continue to believe that. Today I made a small donation, all I could afford, to your work and I sincerely wish I could afford more. Should I win the lottery you will write on in comfort. Please keep up the good work and let us read the facts as they really are and then we can peruse the “papers” and smile to ourselves. Thank you.I will always remember that I WAS THERE all those years ago for the 7 – 1 game, how many of us are left alive today. Unfortunately that was a VERY special memory from a bad period. We went to Third Lanark (remember them) the next week and struggled to win 2 – 0. At least Third Lanark had the grace to die with dignity. Today it looks as if the sfa, not worthy of capital letters, may leave Hampden. Is this cost cutting or is it forward planning to provide an asbestos free home for “our heroes” Lastly, after a lifetime of ups and downs with the “Celtic” I wonder whose side Peter Lawwell is on. Will Res 12 ever see the light of day or does he really long for the days, even for commercial reasons, of the “old Firm”. Rangers are dead. They will never live again. I was never a Neil lennon fan BUT he will always be the last Celtic manager to defeat them.

  • 11 June, 2014 at 5:37 pm
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    Clubs that have went through liquidation but whose historical continuity is recognised by UEFA; SCC Napoli, reformed by Aurelio De Laurentis and the name SCC Napoli restored, continuity recognised by UEFA. AFC Fiorentina, they went bankrupt, refused a place in serie B for 2002/03, re-established as Florentia Viola, the club was admitted into Serie C2 the fourth tier of Italian football,name of AFC Fiorentina restored in the close season of summer 2003, all historical continuity recognised by UEFA. there are others and when i have the time i’ll quote them. Both clubs went out of business but history and foundation date fully recignised.

  • 12 June, 2014 at 2:54 am
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    James i see that you never allowed my post on clubs who have their historical continuity recognised by UEFA on to your site, why is that?

    Just to remind you, let’s look at Racing Club Strasbourg,on 17/7/2011 they entered total liquidation and were removed fron the National league, however on 25//8/2011 after negotiations they were reinstated into the fifth tier of French football,CFA 2 Group C. RC Strasbourg are recognised by UEFA as being founded in 1906 and their full history is recognised as such.

    AFC Fiorentina went through similar with the Italian system as did SCC Napoli, both clubs have their founding date and full historical continuity recognised by UEFA, there are more but those three examples will suffice and Rangers are no different to those three clubs and as such are recognised as the one club founded 1872 with their full historical continuity fully recognised.

    No doubt to uphold your argument as being correct in your opinion, this post will not be put forward, as my previous post wasn’t. Howevr if you have any credibility show this post if only for the sake of fair debate.

  • 12 June, 2014 at 2:57 am
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    Ah James a small apology, i see my first post on this was still waiting moderation.

  • 12 June, 2014 at 2:42 pm
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    Oh dearie me! George read that whole article and that’s what he came back with!!!!!
    George seems a fairly articulate,reasonable,educated sort of guy,plus as he has sought out your blog,and decided to comment,he’s obviously not of the infamous ” small minority ” whose behaviour and attitudes have brought such “permanent embarrassment and occasional disgrace ” to the now deceased Glasgow Rangers,but sadly typed

  • 12 June, 2014 at 2:53 pm
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    Oops,hit send in error,bloody i pad 🙂

    ……tuped ( not typed) over to new co.
    Much more heartening is the comment from Just A Fan,who seems to be truly “just a fan” not interested in continuing with the baggage of the old club,indeed he sounds as if he never was drawn to Old Co / New/Co for any reason other than football.
    Why do we never hear from more like him.I’m sure there’s still room for another Sevco splinter group of the silent majority who are Just Fans.It would make a pleasant surprise.

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