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  1. alex thomson ‏@alextomo 28m Rangers to go into Administration on Wednesday? At least one senior Glasgow accountant is saying so tonight. https://twitter.com/alextomo
  2. taken from FF King offered interest free loan but was snubbed By ANDY DEVLIN Published: 34 minutes ago DAVE KING offered Rangers an interest-free loan and was SNUBBED. The South African-based tycoon was bewildered when Ibrox chief executive Graham Wallace assured supporters there had been board contact with him and he would only invest in Gers if there was a new share issue. King said: “I can’t believe Mr Wallace would have said that. “Mr Wallace has never spoken to me or even attempted to communicate with me in any form whatsoever.” SunSport can reveal King is ready to blow the lid off his dealings with the under-fire Ibrox hierarchy. A planned statement will include the revelation he offered the crisis-hit club a loan of around £1million WITHOUT looking for the £150,000 interest that hedge fund firm Laxey Partners will pocket. The only person King has spoken to is Sandy Easdale and he is NOT a member of the board. The refusal to take King’s interest-free loan will trouble Gers fans. Fans’ favourite King approached Easdale last month and set a deadline of February 7. But he has never heard back from anyone at Ibrox. The suggestion he was in talks over a return was made by Wallace on Monday in a series of interviews designed to allay supporters’ fears over the recent £1.5m short-term loan. Chief executive Wallace claimed the board had been in contact with would-be investor King in recent weeks. Wallace is adamant he can win the trust of the Gers fans. But with continued chaos and confusion behind the scenes, he’s facing an uphill struggle. And the news King’s cash has been snubbed will send shockwaves through the Ibrox support. A joint statement from fans this week condemned the terms of the deals with investors Easdale and Laxey Partners. Easdale has handed over £500,000 in the form of an interest-free loan, whiles Laxey are believed to be demanding 15 per cent APR. Both loans are also secured against Edmiston House and Albion car park facilities adjacent to Ibrox. The cash is repayable by September 1, but Laxey can opt to take repayment in the form of fresh shares at a knockdown price, as long as the club receives the approval of the shareholders. However Castlemilk-born King’s loan would have been interest free and would not have been secured against any of the club’s properties.
  3. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2559261/Johnston-spells-Rangers-investment-plans-bid-make-Ibrox-return.html Former Rangers chairman Alastair Johnston has urged Dave King to secure fan backing for an Ibrox return by revealing his investment plans in detail. Johnston served on the board alongside King during the latter part of Sir David Murray's tenure and has no doubt the South African-based businessman would be good for Rangers. He feels, however, that King could bring vital public pressure to bear if he states precisely what he is willing to do to help the cash-strapped club. King reiterated this week that the current Ibrox hierarchy had refused to engage with him despite his persistent offers of potential investment. Johnston backs his idea that the money should be used to buy new shares, therefore diluting the existing powerbase, but also believes greater clarity would help win over doubters in a fanbase left wearied by two years of turmoil following administration. 'I know Dave very well and he plays his cards very close to his chest,' Johnston told Sportsmail. 'The problem right now is that people don't really know what he is willing to do or has the ability to do. 'Dave needs to be more transparent by saying: "Look, if this, this and this happens, I'll do this, this and this." 'More Rangers fans will gravitate towards it if Dave is more specific about what he is willing to do if specific conditions are met. 'Dave will have figured out that his agenda is in the best interests of Rangers. I say: ?That's fine Dave, but what is it?? 'He certainly has the right mindset. I have absolutely no doubt that what he wants to do will be in the best interests of Rangers Football Club. 'But for him to garner the support that he needs to make this all happen, he has to be a bit more transparent.' King, who lost a £20million investment in the club during Murray's reign, has no interest in buying out existing shareholders. The December 2012 Initial Public Offering launched shares at 70p, but the price has steadily dropped to around 26p. 'Dave has quite clearly taken a position that I agree with,' added Johnston. 'You don't want to be buying shares where the money is just going to line the pocket of previous shareholders. 'If you are going to buy into the club, you want 100 per cent of that money to go to operating capital and for business development. Simple as that. 'The concern I'm sure Dave has is that there are still major shareholders at Rangers who are financial institutions looking for a return on their investment. The most important thing for them is to get out having made money from it. 'The way the share price is just now, that will be challenging. But whoever these investors may be, and there is scepticism about some of their identities, they are in it for a return on their money.'
  4. Rangers: Manager Ally McCoist instructed to cut wage bill By Alasdair Lamont Senior football reporter, BBC Scotland Rangers manager Ally McCoist has been told he will have to make cuts to his playing budget. McCoist has been in discussions with Graham Wallace recently as the chief executive undertakes a comprehensive review of the Ibrox finances. Wallace told shareholders at the annual general meeting in December savings would need to be made. And the players' wage bill at the League One side currently stands between £6m and £7m per annum. A spokesman for the Rangers board told BBC Scotland: "The CEO Graham Wallace outlined his strategy at the AGM and nothing is going to deflect him from getting Rangers back on an even keel. "Graham and Ally are reviewing the football budget, as part of the overall business review and it would be inappropriate at this time to discuss any figures." The news comes on the day that three million shares worth around £750,000 were traded in Rangers International Football Club plc. The share price dropped as low as 24p early in the day before rallying slightly to close at 28.5p. That is a fall from the 90p price at the launch of the share issue just over a year ago. Earlier this week, McCoist signed off on a pay cut of around 50%, which he agreed to in October. And consultant Philip Nash has been brought to Ibrox to help oversee the financial overhaul.
  5. McCOIST said there is "no appetite for boycotts" despite some fans threatening to starve the club of cash in order to bring about change at boardroom level. ALLY McCOIST last night insisted Rangers fans need to continue buying season tickets, and forget boycotts, if the club is to “survive, improve and progress.” And the manager sounded a warning for Ibrox chief executive Graham Wallace that any cuts to his playing budget would mean he couldn’t compete with Celtic. Wallace told shareholders at last week’s agm cuts would be necessary at a club where the wage bill is almost 100 per cent of turnover. But McCoist said: “If I have a budget of £3million and Celtic have a budget of £20m then it would be extremely difficult to compete with them, an enormous task. Rangers and Celtic have always had the highest budgets.” Some fans have threatened to starve the club of cash in order to bring about change at boardroom level. But McCoist added: “The fans are the most important part of our club. We wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t been for them buying 72,000 season tickets over the last couple of years that have followed administration. “The fans must continue to buy season tickets if the club is to survive, improve and progress. “I’m sure, the way things look at the moment, there’s no appetite for talk of boycotts. “But I won’t tell the fans what to do. All I can do is state they will have a major bearing on how we move on from here.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/rangers-manager-ally-mccoist-need-2957386
  6. http://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/latest-news/209-is-it-time-to-move-on It’s been a long time coming but finally the Rangers AGM arrived and at last we have some clarity on just how well supported the incumbent board is. In fact, the result was pretty conclusive – certainly for most of the Directors up for reappointment while those externally up for nomination struggled to achieve as much support. Therefore, whilst the issue of backing may not be as straightforward as it seems, no-one can deny it should now be time to move on and allow the club some space to consolidate its position. Such an abeyance of hostilities is essential for two main reasons: one, to give the ‘new’ board some time to deliver on their promises, and, two, to hopefully ensure the support doesn’t rip itself apart after a quite ludicrous period of belligerent disagreement between so-called rival factions of fans. So where are we now? Yesterday’s AGM statement to the London Stock Exchange revealed a short term ‘120 day strategic focus’ for the board on a range of important matters: including a detailed business review and attempts to re-engage with the fans to better capture our opinions. Along with other strategies highlighted in the statement, the aims are impressive and I doubt many fans would challenge them. However, we’ve heard similar buzz-words and phrases before – from Sir David Murray, Craig Whyte and Charles Green – all of whom failed to take the business forward during this modern era of austerity. What can this mandated ‘new board’ do differently? Let’s start with its make-up. Despite the institutional confidence placed upon most of the nominated incumbents yesterday, the scenes at the AGM were quite frankly incredible with specific focus on Finance Director Brian Stockbridge. It seems clear now that not only do thousands of fans have an issue with his position but also the vast bulk of the 1600 shareholders present yesterday. Moreover, the fact over 30% of other investors do not consider him re-electable arguably makes his position untenable on its own. However, add in his flawed performance and questionable behaviour of the last year then if the board is serious about trust, transparency and staff ‘pride’ in Rangers then Stockbridge must be moved on. Anything else would cast serious doubt on those that wish to lead the club back to success. Of course the rest of the board, other than Graham Wallace, don’t convince either. Neither Easdale brother speaks well or commands the respect of the support while new chairman David Somers appears inconsistent in his approach – one day signing his name to daft and inflammatory ‘open letters’, while the next saying he has no problem with people he previously labelled as selfish ‘fanatics’. It seems clear Mr Somers needs to familiarise himself with the high profile nature of the Rangers chairmanship and quick. Fortunately, new CEO Graham Wallace has been more measured in his approach so it’s not a surprise to see him warmly received by all so far. Mr Wallace can and should use this to his advantage by acting as a conduit to both investors and fans in the months ahead. With the above in mind, it seems obvious the board will need strengthened if the club’s 120 day plan is to be successful. I’m not sure adding either Murray to the mix will help but I’d hope Scott Murdoch and the impressive Alex Wilson are considered given Cenkos already gave their approval to their applications earlier in the year. That would go some way to bringing everyone around the same table ahead of the April finances ‘D’ Day. Speaking of which, obviously Dave King should be another who must be consulted with, even if his past and recent performance remains worthy of debate. I’m sure there are others out there who could add the right mix of independent business talent and Rangers-mindedness to improve the board. One such name I’ve heard mentioned is John McClure of Unicorn Asset Management who own(ed) upwards of 400,000 pre-IPO shares in the club. No matter who joins this board, the pressure will be high to deliver on their statement of yesterday. However, they do deserve time to implement the changes promised – just how much time may be reliant on their ongoing performance. For example, the issue of Jack Irvine’s retention cannot be kicked into the long grass. Moving on from the board the next important issue is that of the fans. The way many people (mostly online) have turned on each other over the last 6 months has been nothing short of remarkable. It seems polite disagreement cannot happen nowadays with insult and abuse being preferred instead. This has to stop and stop now. If not, our club will be easy pickings for those who wish to use it in a way to benefit themselves only. It also offers an easy excuse for the club not to engage with the fans as it should. Of course it doesn’t help that our fan groups seem so badly advised while struggling generally as well. I don’t blame the Trust, Assembly or Association for believing in the likes of successful businessman Jim McColl but jumping into his camp with both feet meant any sort of negotiation with the board was always going to be difficult. Add in their collective failure to achieve widespread support within the fan-base (via active membership more than anything else) then it’s debatable just how important the club will see them in the future. This is a great shame when we examine fine initiatives such as BuyRangers but perhaps something new can arise from embers of the existing groups? Hearts and Dunfermline fans have shown the way in this respect so we should be looking to them for inspiration. I’d certainly suggest each fan group outlines its own 120 day plan to show they’re capable of improvement. Only then may the club (and most importantly more fans) feel engagement with them is worthwhile. All in all despite yesterday’s conclusive AGM vote, uncertainty remains and that should be a concern for us all – the club director, the investor and the ‘ordinary’ fan. Indeed, financing the club is the biggest issue ahead and this can only be achieved by everyone working together for the greater good. We can all make sacrifices in that regard so I’d urge all involved to examine their contribution and ask if the betterment of Rangers is really their aim. If it’s not, then yesterday’s farcical AGM scenes will only be the start of more stormy waters ahead. That cannot be allowed to happen. Thus, in the spirit of Christmas and New Year, this is an opportunity to offer goodwill to others and start afresh in 2014. In that regard I’d like to wish all my fellow fans a happy holiday season and all the very best for the next year. Rest and be merry as, for the boardroom and the fan groups at least, the clock is ticking: 120 days and counting!
  7. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/paul-murray-exclusive-tell-who-2298764? THE former Ibrox director, who is a leading player in the shareholder uprising against the current regime, wants to know the identities of the money men behind investor groups in an exclusive interview with Keith Jackson. Paul Murray: "These people could be about to have a huge say in determining the very future of the club but no-one knows who they are. The fans deserve to be told the truth." PAUL MURRAY last night called for clarity from the Rangers board over the identity of its foreign backers. Murray, left, who has teamed up with entrepreneur Jim McColl to lead a shareholder uprising against the Ibrox regime, has urged the club to make public the identity of the money men behind investor groups Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita Holdings. Murray’s move comes after the club’s lawyers asked him to hand over details of all those who are supporting his bid for control – and following an announcement on Friday that Blue Pitch and Margarita will team up to back the current board at next month’s agm. With around 15 per cent of the club’s shares between them, Murray believes Blue Pitch – who funded Charles Green’s £5.5m takeover – and Margarita could have enough votes to save chief executive Craig Mather and financial director Brian Stockbridge from the chop. And he insists the Rangers fans must not be kept in the dark about their identities. Murray said: “We spent all of last week identifying who we all are under the section 793 process, which is a legal mechanism for the club to find out who owns shares. “I’d like to ask: Has the club done the same with Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita Holdings? Are they happy with the answers they got? And will they now make public the name of those involved in order that the Rangers supporters are afforded transparency? “These people could be about to have a huge say in determining the very future of the club but no-one knows who they are. The fans deserve to be told the truth. “We have fully complied with the club’s requests. Every requisitionist has given them authentication of the shares they hold and who the beneficial owners of the shares are. “So surely the same rules should be applied all round to all parties.” The club’s agm is expected to be held next month, with all directors facing a shareholder vote to determine if they are re-elected. Murray and McColl claim to have mustered the support of just less than 30 per cent of the shareholders after being urged to lead a revolt by a group of institutional investors, who are demanding changes. A spokesman for the Rangers Supporters Trust said: “One of the many promises Charles Green made was honesty and transparency of the ownership of our club. “Most Rangers fans would agree we don’t have that as long as we have shareholders hiding behind these nominee venture capitalist accounts.” Last night a spokesperson for Rangers said: “What was asked of the requisitioners was in line with protocol.”
  8. Petition by Sevco Scotland 5088 Glasgow, United Kingdom 134 Million pounds was lost to the Scottish taxpayer when Rangers died and were liquidated. Now a year after their liquidation they are claiming the 5 stars of the liquidated club. This club has only won the now equally defunct SFA Division 3 of Scottish football and claims to the contrary are a disgraceful attempt to claim the history of a liquidated club. Transparency is needed. If they claim the oldco's history then they should pay its debts! http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/spfl-take-the-5-stars-of-the-oldco-rangers-off-the-newco-s-shirt
  9. Scotland on Sunday... Timmy will not like the quote highlighted!
  10. Felt it was unfair to blame only the Trust in the other thread so have expanded upon my thoughts here... The Failure of the Fans Groups In light of the ownership debacle at Rangers and the continuing supporter frustration over our finances and long term planning, is it about time we, the supporters, examined our own representative vehicles and ask ourselves if they're doing the job they were set-up to do? Before I begin, undoubtedly some people will see elements of this article as unfair criticism or as some sort of attack on individuals/other websites but I'd like to refute that immediately as the criticisms within also apply to my own time as a board member of the RST and, thus, my own failings. I'd like to also make clear these complaints don't just apply to one specific organisation but all the groups that purport to represent us. First of all, I find it astounding that in the last year or two the profile and active membership of these groups has not increased when one examines the various ongoing issues surrounding the club. Unfortunately, these groups don't seem to accept this or, if they do, lack the humility and vision to take steps to address it. For every excellent initiative they do have (e.g. GersPride, NARSA conventions, fan forums and the recent Trust family day), there are many more opportunities that seem to be ignored. It is clear the bulk of Rangers fans are not interested in becoming active members and there must be various reasons why. We can speculate and, while apathy is the main valid argument, there must also be a reason for this apathy when there remains a clear and present danger to our club's future. Of course two titles on the trot will be enough for many fans to gloss over our financial challenges. But most bears I speak to - and certainly large amounts online - are frustrated enough with the situation and are exasperated with the club's attitude towards the fans. They demand improvement. Therefore, there does appear enough people interested in supporters representation to make an independent group such as the Trust especially viable. But the groups themselves seem to lack the ability to turn interest into members and/or projects for everyone to place their weight behind. As such, it is all too easy for the club to ignore very fair statements such as the one the RST made yesterday. At GersPride last year, I believe the Trust board members talked about unity and leadership. Sure, they may have a reasonable working relationship with the Assembly and Association but what is coming from this other than the prevarication that there is no fan division when challenged about this unfortunate byproduct of past arguments? Not much unfortunately. I remain a huge supporter of fan involvement in the club - especially from an independent viewpoint, free from official constraints. After all a strong Trust would mean a stronger fan-base and, despite my own past problems with the organisation, I believe there remains enough talent within it to find improvement and deliver genuine representation to our support. Unfortunately, it is also clear that it is being held back from doing the proper outreach work it needs to achieve its goals. I certainly don't envy the work required to address that - after all, some of the criticism we see is unfair, overly strong and far too personal - but if the Trust really wants to grow, then brave faces must be put and true leadership must occur. The same applies to the other organisations who struggle to even gain the profile of the shareholder-based group. The Trust and the Assembly certainly have a solid base from which to build from. They have easily accessible websites, reasonable finance, plenty of interest and tens of thousands of fans to aim for online and offline. They even have a captive audience of 50,000 people at Ibrox every other week. Add in NARSA, ORSA and all the RSCs then the market is huge - even if I appreciate not always easy (or cheap) to tap into. Why then do we not see them step beyond the confines of Follow Follow (in the case of the Trust) often enough or the BlueNose.co.uk (in the case of the Assembly)? I don't just mean reps visiting other sites and collating information/floating ideas but regular offline meetings to share information and explore strategies together. I'd pay a tenner to help fund either of the organisations willing to go to their members for input. I'd pay more if some sort of socios project can be explored. Almost one year on since I submitted the STS project (itself far from perfect obviously) to the club and fan groups, the Assembly have had one such meeting at Ibrox for selected fans. The Trust have had GersPride which was open to all. Both were interesting and welcome events which had the potential to be repeated regularly - even on a smaller scale to reduce costs. Such meetings need to be more often, more accessible and debate opened up on their own websites (and beyond) to really involve their members. Even better if they could involve credible people within the support - such as club figures, former players, successful businessmen and celebrities. Only then will fans find the transparency and pro-activeness that may catalyse their own interest and make them feel like they're actually members of something instead of just numbers attempting to justify their existence and/or club budget. Indeed, for no large, public fans meeting to have been organised in light of recent events this year is nothing short of negligence by all the fan organisations. Imagine the momentum and pressure that could have been built up if a few of these had happened? Imagine the divisions that could have been healed by olive branches being offered by those elected to lead? Imagine the genuine information that could have been shared to avoid rumours and scaremongering that has blighted our recent title win? This was the ideal opportunity to build and improve. Has this open goal been missed? It is clear that supporters representation remains a key component of any club improvement in the coming years. Our unmatched annual investment is recognised by the club and yet we can't seem to formalise it - despite the promises of the esrtwhile chairman a few years back. That is a promise the supporters groups have not pressured on him to deliver. Probably because they realise deep down, they lack the ability to do so because they are so flawed themselves in so much that they don't have the clear backing of enough fans. Therefore, the current outreach activities of a few (often overly defensive) reps posting conflicting information on one chosen forum and the official reps of another group not even contributing to their online community, is hardly conductive to increasing memberships and influence therein. Sure, some websites may not make themselves attractive for constructive debate giving such reps convenient excuses not to take part, so the critics themselves are not free of blame. But when one suggests they can represent and lead, such challenges should be overcome when looking at the bigger picture. Yet still, the participation in our supporters groups appears to be at an all-time low despite the obvious problems at our club. That doesn't make sense and must be examined - no matter if the answers aren't easy to admit. Unfortunately, as it stands, I see little evidence of supporters led change outwith the usual soundbites in the media. I want to be proved wrong. To that end, one must ask do these organisations even want an active membership? Or are our supporters groups as inaccessible and unrepresentative as the club they regularly complain about? We deserve better.
  11. Travelling to last night's match, a mate remarked that the Stuttgart game could be the last CL match at Ibrox for a while. I replied - only half-jokingly - that it could be the last top level European match there forever. After all, even if we win the SPL title this season and beyond, Scottish clubs' continued poor performances in Europe will lead to the inevitability of more tough qualifying matches making it even more difficult to qualify for the Group Stage of UEFA's premier competition. Since the heady days of the Lisbon Lions, the Barcelona Bears and the, erm, Gothenburg Dons; our national game has fallen backwards to our current situation of being thrashed by Romanians and Slovakians every other year in between the odd point when we do manage to play half-decent. Meanwhile, our national side - once proud regular participants at the final stages of international competitions - is struggling to even finish 3rd in groups we should be qualifying from. Indeed, in less than 30 years, we've gone from competitive leagues and World Cup Finals, to a two team top division and national embarrassment. So where has it went wrong for Scottish football and, more importantly, who is going to fix our problems? I think the first aspect fans of most clubs (or Scotland) can agree on is that our basic abilities appear to be lacking. The simple virtues like passing and controlling a ball, heading accurately and hitting the target when shooting look to be in short supply. Meanwhile, our physical fitness looks as poor as ever meaning we lack strength and pace in a modern game where both these assets are essential. Mentally we also appear weak with confidence fragile and self-belief eradicated. Tactically we struggle to go beyond a counter attacking 4-5-1 where scoring goals to win matches is based more on hope than expectation. These basics are compounded with a lack of exciting, creative players as they're stifled by managers more interested in self-preservation than entertaining. The Jim Baxter's and Jimmy Johnstone's are no longer the staple diet of the Scottish football fan. Even the Graeme Souness' and Kenny Dalglish's are no longer found as manager's prefer headless chickens who work hard to intelligent players who can find space and dictate games. Stifled financially, the very best world players are no longer part of the Scottish Premier League and our home-grown talent struggle to be successful outwith these shores. Obviously, I'm trying my best not to be negative here but the more I write, the more depressed I become. Like the media vultures desperate to gorge on the latest poor display by a home side; it is easier to list faults than offer alternatives. After all why should I offer recommendations when I myself am targeted by our authorities for singing alleged nasty songs; blamed by the media while our safety abroad is ignored; or disrespected by highly paid players who can't even return back from international duty to play for their employer? Thus, how can I be sure my opinion is listened to as I return from another match having spent in excess of �£50? And that's where the blame game comes in. This new, modern culture of 'it's not my fault; what about them?' takes precedent over constructive debate about the future of our game. Scottish football needs huge improvement across the board but unfortunately I don't see much leadership from anyone. The media are only interested in the latest dozen fans singing 'offensive' songs; the authorities are held back by fans (and often directors) of each club complaining about each other; and failed politicians are appointed to chair think-tanks on how to fix the footballing problems. All a bit bizarre and counter-productive. But also the norm in modern Scotland. Ergo, the question remains unanswered - where has it went wrong for Scottish football and, more importantly, who is going to fix our problems? Well, this year this website (with the help of others in the community) concentrated on Rangers' specific problems by putting together and submitting our STS report (1) regarding our challenges. Acknowledged by the club hierarchy at the time; I can only assume it's gathering dust somewhere as the arguments reign over who runs the club and who is genuinely interested in buying it. In a more general attempt at improvement for our game, six months ago I also forwarded the report to Henry McLeish (yes, the failed politician mentioned earlier) for the latest 'think-tank' debating Scotland's national support (2). In his own words: ""I want this to be the biggest conversation on the future of football in this country. I want it to be the talk of the terraces, discussed in boardrooms at every club, talked about in the corridors of power, but I also want the rank and file supporters to be involved." Can you guess what reply I've had? Add in an ever-increasing finance gap then Scottish football participation at the group/final stages has arguably all but finished with Manchester, Seville and France for our club and national sides. That is a sobering thought that should worry us all - no matter which club we support. The current financial challenge facing our most successful club and the less fashionable ones further down the divisions are challenges we all share so it is vital we do so together. To be fair, McLeish's report on his review is not due until the end of January 2010 so perhaps the generic suggestions we put together will be mentioned then as I'm sure we wouldn't have been the only ones making certain recommendations. The pressure is certainly on but hopefully we can start to yield the improvement required to make us competitive again via positive debate instead of the gratuitous negativity we often read nowadays by people who hypocritically complain about our national sport while making a fast buck from its problems. What is for sure is that 2010 should be a water-shed in terms of giving us an indication of the long term future of Scottish football and how we can achieve improvement. As such, while the title of this article is somewhat polemic it isn't as far from the truth as we'd like it to be. Therefore, I challenge everyone mentioned in (and those reading) this article to prove it is wrong. (1) - http://www.gersnetonline.co.uk/STS_short.pdf (2) - http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/scottish_fa_news.cfm?page=950&newsID=4643
  12. http://www.gersnetonline.co.uk/newsite/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=821&Itemid=2 Over the last month, the 'Setting the Standard' Project has been moving forward with regard to realising some of the aims and recommendations within the report. Firstly, via positive dialogue with the Rangers Supporters Assembly, the STS contributors obtained the chance to take part in a recent Q&A session at Ibrox Stadium to discuss the Assembly and to highlight important issues for the organisation to work on, and most took up this opportunity, which resulted in a positive discussion Secondly, the Assembly has now submitted a summary response regarding the issues within the STS report and is in broad agreement with its findings. Therefore, the STS report and contributors are to take a full part in further Assembly debates as well as exploring methods for extending the forum format to more supporters. From these open debates, the Assembly will take forward the agreed issues both with regard to its own activities and its dialogue with the club. It is important to reiterate that from all the above we want to bring together supporters from a wide range of backgrounds to stimulate debate in an open, constructive environment. This, in turn, will enable more effective and representative communication with the club itself.
  13. Interested in hearing everyone's opinions... Like I said last night on the STS thread, I think having a forum is a positive development in terms of creating open debate but if a supporters organisation is to do this, they need to be extremely careful in how they approach it. As such, I'm a bit disappointed with forum software - the Joomla extension they've used is OK but not ideal, not secure and lacks functionality. That needs to be addressed immediately. VBulletin (or some recognised paid alternative) needs to be used and its registrations bridged with the Joomla CMS. After that, it is up to the Assembly to ensure the site is well moderated. Not to censure debate but to ensure the debate is of a quality deserving of the supporters genuinely interested in representation. As it stands it seems anything goes which won't work as those of differing/hostile agendas use the place as a soap box. The site itself is reasonable. I'm not a huge fan of the Rocket Theme used (there are other better ones) but it serves its purpose and if updated often enough will be a useful place to visit in conjunction with (and not instead) of the existing sites in the community. Hopefully all can continue to complement each other. Room for improvement then but this should be seen as an opportunity to contribute to that improvement as opposed to token criticism of an organisation that does appear genuine in their attempts to address their faults.
  14. We are pleased to announce that Rangers FC - via Chief Executive Martin Bain - have now commented on our 'Setting the Standard' project of the last few months. Mr Bain has made the following points worthy of note by fans interested in the project: - The club have read the report and thanked the contributors for their constructive efforts. - Many of the issues highlighted in the report have been prioritised by the club but should be the subject of continued and informed debate. - The club are open at all times to constructive recommendations and suggestions. - The club welcomes the opportunity to work positively with the Rangers family. - To that end, the club are recommending the report (available for download here) be tabled as a main agenda item at the next Rangers Supporters Assembly meeting where the club will be happy to participate. We welcome this positive momentum and hope that this initial discussion will prove to be the first step towards an open debate between the support and the club in relation to the main points of the ‘Setting the Standard’ report. :spl:
  15. This is the final article of the STS project. It is perhaps fitting that we have an independent academic view which lends credibility to supporter opinion and shows that we are worth listening to despite the attempts by some to dismiss us. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Atton for his STS contribution and invite critics of online communities to heed his wise words. 'Why Fanzines Matter' Written by Professor Chris Atton - Napier University http://www.gersnetonline.co.uk/newsite/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=795&Itemid=1 It is easy, perhaps too easy, to dismiss fanzines. Some consider them as the inconsequent ramblings of obsessive’s with too much time on their hands. Others feel that they are vehicles for wannabe journalists who cannot make it in the professional media. With so many fanzines available on the web, some believe that the level of discussion that takes place on fanzine sites rarely rises above that of the gutter. As an academic I have been researching fanzines for over fifteen years. My work shows fanzines in a very different light. I have read thousands of these amateur publications; I have talked with their editors, their contributors and their readers. And I have learned that fanzines play an extremely important role in the cultural life of a nation. The fanzine deals with popular culture, such as football, music, films, television and genre fiction. By its very nature, popular culture is enjoyed by ordinary people – its audiences do not need any special qualifications to appreciate it. In this respect football fans (for example) are no different from sports journalists. Simon Frith, Professor of Music at Edinburgh University, argues that ‘critics of popular forms need know nothing about such forms except as consumers; their skill is to be able to write about ordinary experience’. In other words, the ‘amateur’ fan has the potential to write about their experiences of football just as expertly and just as knowledgeably as the football commentator. The football fan is just as likely to offer a detailed analysis of a game, of a team or of an individual footballer as is the professional journalist. That fan is likely to draw on a wealth of accumulated knowledge, comparing games that have taken place that same day, comparing games and players historically, examining the local game as well as the European competition. These analyses do not take place in a vacuum, however. Simon Frith goes on to say that music fanzines provide a space where a ‘democratic conversation [takes place] between music lovers, a social celebration of a particular kind of musical attention and commitment’. The same is true of the football fanzine. I would add that the conversation in fanzines is ‘democratic’ because the knowledge and authority on which it is based come not from formal education or professional training but primarily from untutored, amateur enthusiasm. The development of online fanzines makes this conversation even more intense: no longer to contributors have to wait till the next issue to have their opinions read, nor wait till the issue after that to read the reaction of others. The online fanzine is valuable not only to local fans. It enables fans scattered across the country – even the world – to participate freely in this conversation. There are negative aspects to this freedom, of course. Much attention has been paid to the display of sectarianism on some football fan sites, and with good reason: hate speech must not be tolerated. But we must remember that the majority of fans do not engage in this shameful activity. More importantly, perhaps, all the football fanzine editors I have spoken with over the years have expressed their strong antipathy to such speech: they do everything they can to prevent it and nothing to encourage it. Sectarian behaviour comes from a misguided sense of loyalty to a club. That loyalty, however, is more often put to much better use, to create a community. Fanzines are produced by amateurs, by non-professionals. They offer great potential for democratic participation. Rather than media production being the province of elite, centralised organisations and institutions, fanzines offer the possibilities for individuals and groups to create their own media ‘from the periphery’, so to speak. But this is not to think of fanzines merely as cultural aberrations or marginal activities: the football fanzine can be central to an especially powerful form of community. The loyalty of fans to a club does not end when the full-time whistle blows. Their loyalty extends to an interest in how the club is run, the facilities it offers and how it manages its finances, even to the price of the match programme. Football fanzines are often places where the corporatism of the big clubs is critiqued, not out of a sense of disloyalty or disruption, but because fans care passionately about the game. For them money should not be the primary concern (though all will concede its importance). Pinned above my desk I have a clipping from the Celtic fanzine Not the View that captures this attitude perfectly: “The problem with having the club run by financial investors is that when they look at Celtic they see only a bunch of assets which make money. When we as fans see Celtic, however, we see something unique and magical.” Replace ‘Celtic’ with the name of your favourite club and you would probably agree. Views such as this can make for uncomfortable reading in the boardroom. Fans, though, have invested heavily in their chosen club, financially (season tickets do not come cheap) and emotionally (this is their passion after all). They might not be actual shareholders, but they have a very significant stake in what they consider to be ‘their’ club. The fanzine is able to bring together this community of fans who care, the better to give them a collective voice. Whether it gives a voice to individual opinion or to collective commitment, the football fanzine offers fans the opportunity to engage with – and perhaps improve - aspects of popular culture that are central to their lives. (Who was it who said that football’s not a matter of life and death, it’s important than that?) In a world where so many of our experiences seem to be mediated by professional critics, where we seem to be constantly told what to like and how to like it, the fanzine is where ordinary people can engage with popular culture on their own terms, finding their own pleasures for themselves and engaging socially in the cultural life of their country. That is why fanzines matter. About Prof. Chris Atton Chris Atton is Professor of Media and Culture in the School of Arts and Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University. His research specialises in alternative media, and he is the author of four books, including Alternative Media (Sage, 2002) and Alternative Journalism (Sage, 2008), as well as over fifty articles and book chapters. He has made special studies of fanzines, popular music journalism and the media of new social movements.
  16. After a break for a couple of months, the 'Setting the Standard' project reaches its final stages with a couple of closing articles. The first one from 'Lord Nelson' below is a fascinating look at how Rangers could benefit from changes in the boardroom and is especially relevant with various rumours surrounding the ownership. The final STS article (which offers independent academic credibility for supporter opinions) will be published later this week before the overall expanded report is released next week for download. This expanded report has been printed and will be provided to Rangers FC for official comment. Anyway - onto the penultimate article Setting the Standard: Improvements in the Boardroom (Written by Lord Nelson) This article is going to look at one of the most important areas of the club - the place where the decisions that affect the running of the club - the boardroom. It proposes that two independent directors are appointed in a non-executive position to assist in the decision-making process. It was only 4 and a half years ago that the club was Ã?£74 million in debt and in a great deal of financial difficulty. We got out of that debt following the rights issue that was supported by Sir David Murray (SDM) and the cash from the JJB deal, but yet again the club finds itself in financial difficulty after such a short period of time. Our debt could be in excess of Ã?£30m in January, which is a lot when we consider that we only have facilities of Ã?£36m from the bank, and our outgoings will exceeded our incomings in the months prior to the receipt of the season ticket money. We were in the position that we were unable to even bring one player in on loan during the recent winter transfer window. Both situations arose due to overspending which the club canââ?¬â?¢t afford, but was authorised by the directors nevertheless. It is because of this situation arising twice that it is believed that the Board of Directors of Rangers would benefit from having independent non-executive directors appointed, who may force SDM to at least question and re-examine the level of spending and other decisions and bring a freshness and alternative outlook that can only benefit the club as a whole. Background For the purposes of good corporate governance, listed companies on the major UK exchanges are required to have independent non-executive directors. They do not work on a day-to-day basis but attend board meetings. They have no connection to the company but are involved in strategy and have an oversight of management (see Appendix A for a more in-depth description of their responsibilities). There is currently no requirement for Rangers to have such directors as the Plus Markets exchange where Rangers shares are listed do not have the same level of requirements as other, more primary exchanges. Our rivals across the city are listed on a more senior exchange and as such do have independent non-executive directors - Ian Livingstone, Chief Executive of BT and Thomas Allison, Chairman of Peel Ports as well the well known John Reid, and it believed that the former two would benefit their clubââ?¬â?¢s decision making with their vast business experience. The need for a strong set of non-executive directors was highlighted recently with the biggest loss in UK history following the Royal Bank of Scotlandââ?¬â?¢s near collapse, requiring support from the UK government. One of the causes of this is alleged to have been the inability of the non-executive directors to stand up to Sir Fred Goodwin, which highlights the need for a strong board, who are able to make their feelings known. If RBS can be close to collapse then what is to say that Rangers could not run into serious trouble? That is why as strong board of Directors as possible is required. The new directors should be independent of SDM so that they can stand up against him if they believe that he is incorrect and should not feel threatened or intimidated to give their opinions. They must be able to have his respect and should perhaps be regarded as ââ?¬Å?Captains of Industryââ?¬Â. The current position The blame for the current financial problems has to stay with the directors of the club. Matching the supportersââ?¬â?¢ expectations and keeping the club on a financial even-keel is admittedly an extremely difficult thing to do but with strong leadership, it can be done. We appeared to be in the position where we had to sell our top scorer in the winter transfer window and it is worrying to the support that the club finds itself in this position, and means the outlook remains extremely bleak even with Champions' League qualification for next season. Misleading statements It is believed that it was during the 2001 AGM that someone questioned the increasing debt level which was sitting at Ã?£28 million at that point. The shareholders were reassured by the Chairman at that meeting that it would be irresponsible for the board of directors to allow the debt to increase above Ã?£40 million, but in less than 12 months it had increased to Ã?£52 million, and eventually ended up at the well-publicised Ã?£74 million. It is therefore a myth that many have said that nobody complained when the debt was increasing. The issue was raised but it appears that the shareholders, and therefore the support, were misled. Following the cash that was received from the aforementioned rights issue and the up-front payment of Ã?£18 million received from JJB, the net debt was reduced to under Ã?£6 million in June 2006 and again the support were reassured by SDM in August 2006 that they would be ââ?¬Å?maintaining financial prudenceââ?¬Â. It is not believed that anyone can argue that taking the club to within a few million of its borrowing limit in such a short period of time is maintaining financial prudence, and yet again what the shareholders of the club were told does not reflect the way the reality of the situation. Having independent directors may result in more openness in the running of the club, which the support deserves, given the financial commitment they make each season. Options It would be in the clubââ?¬â?¢s best interests to try and ensure that this level of overspending is made more difficult in the future. (It is impossible to prevent when there is a majority shareholder in place). SDM has made it clear that he wishes to sell the club, but it is equally obvious that there are no potential buyers out there. Any solutions therefore have to be within the current set-up of SDM being the majority shareholder. The support need reassurances that the club will be run on a sound financial footing and there appears to be an inability for this to happen and therefore something has to change. What is required is for SDM to make a major leap and admit that mistakes continue to be made and accept that it would be helpful to have assistance in formulating the plans for the club. Conclusion The decision making of the directors of Rangers can only be enhanced with new, enthusiastic non-executive directors. It is acknowledged that SDM will always have the final say due to his shareholding, but additional, experienced businessmen could bring fresh and innovative ideas and perhaps help him prevent the club getting into a more perilous financial situation. APPENDIX 1 - The role of an Independent non-executive director An independent non-executive director should play the following roles: 1. Participating in formulating strategy of the company The board of directors is responsibility for the management of a company. It does not directly take part in the routine management, but it has to participate in the drafting of strategy of the company. They must use the professional knowledge or common sense, experience and specialty, vision and the advice they get from outside or the people and business relations they have developed to help directors solve related problems. 2. Oversight of management Oversight of management covers two aspects: one is to oversee the management and the company in implementing the rules, procedures and plans established, that is, to see whether the company operates along the established orbit; the other is to check the company to see whether or not it has established a proper and effective internal monitoring system, procedure and guide. The former to see whether the company follows its rules and system in force and the other is to see whether the current system is rational enough. 3. Independent stand It is very important for independent non-executive directors to air their affirmative and objective views, take independent decisions. As an independent non-executive director, the law demands impartiality in taking decisions by taking into account all available information, instead of casting votes according to the views of shareholders who have appointed you. First of all, an independent non-executive director must study and get to know all the information provided by the company; secondly, the voting and decision taking are not influenced, directly or indirectly, by individual interests; thirdly, he must honestly ask himself whether any private interests have influenced his judgement. 4. Protecting the interests of all shareholders As an independent non-executive director, an important task is to protect the interests of all shareholders. APPENDIX 2 - Disclaimers 1. It should be made clear that this proposal does not supersede or replace the requirement for supporter representation on the board, which is a separate subject and is not covered by this proposal. References: 1. http://www.cipe.org/ Further reading: The Higgs report - http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file23012.pdf
  17. Following Richard McBrearty's kind submission to the STS project, I thought I'd return the favour by visiting the Hampden Museum yesterday. Firstly, parking is obviously not a problem as there is loads of space outside the main stand of Hampden, where the museum is housed, although I'd recommend driving in via Aikenhead Road rather than Cathcart Road, as I did. The cost is �£6 for either the museum entrance or the stadium tour, or �£9 for both. Half price for U16s. I didn't feel ripped off at these prices. First thing that you notice when you enter the museum is a tribute to Walter Tull, which was a nice touch, and one I enjoyed given the Rangers connection. The museum takes up a lot of space, and there is plenty of room to wonder aroud. I'll not detail all the exhibits, but there are plenty of interest, including one of the UEFA Cup final with a Rangers and Zenit tops from the game, and even the unique ticket stub, which brought back the joy of actually having it in my hand for the first time. There are a number of videos including one which gave some highlights of big games, including the old firm game where Grant, Hurlock, Walters and Hateley got sent off. that would certainly give overseas visitors a taste of the old firm passion. There is an inter-active section for the Hall of fame which is useful as it gives the background for the entrants on a video which is more user-friendly for younger people who may not know who the likes of Mr Struth are. There is also a section where kids can play on Playstations if they start to get a bit bored. The stadium tours are at set times. the museum wasn't busy, for a Sunday afternoon, and there were 9 people on our tour, including 2 Spaniards, who are studying in Scotland, and a couple from Aberdeen who were down for the weekend. Again the tour is very enjoyable. You get to see the tunnel under the stadium where the team coaches arrive, the dressing rooms, the 2 roooms each for referees and "ball persons" (one for each sex in these enlightened times), the warm-up area, which includes a "how hard can you kick a ball" section, and then go out into the stadium itself and see the various parts of the main stand. One interesting fact is that there is a TV in the referees room but it is apparently not turned on at haf time so they can't see whether they got certain decisions correct. You can also see the champagne marks on the ceiling following Real Madrid's win in the CL. I'd actually like to go back without my son, so that i can take some more time looking at some of the exhibits in more detail. It was a great way to spend a few hours on a sunday afternoon, and I'd recommend it.
  18. Another lengthy (but quality) article in the STS series with bmck examining the interesting very public and most unnecessary 'battle' between the internet loyal, the media and the club. Well worth taking 10mins to read this. http://www.gersnetonline.co.uk/newsite/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=758&Itemid=2
  19. Another splendid article in the STS series - this time from Tannochside Bear who discusses the existing flawed links between the club and RSCs and how these can be improved. http://www.gersnetonline.co.uk/newsite/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=752&Itemid=2 As part of the 'Setting the Standard' series of articles, I would like to discuss the role of Rangers Supporters Clubs (RSCs) in todayââ?¬â?¢s game, the links between them and the club, and how we can get the best working relationship between them. At the moment, all official RSCs are registered at Ibrox through the Worldwide Alliance (WWA), with claims of over 600 registered clubs and a membership of 30,000 supporters. From within this comes the Rangers Supporters Assembly, with 10 elected representatives taken from the Worldwide Alliance. There is also the Rangers Supporters Association, the much longer-standing organisation which used to distribute tickets to RSCs for matches both at Ibrox and away from home. Sadly, this has diminished much in recent years, forcing it to sell their headquarters within the Wee Rangers Club to pay off itââ?¬â?¢s debts and now has only around 20 member clubs. RSCs take many shapes and forms throughout the world. From the many Glasgow based clubs with decades of history behind them and a million stories of follow following, to the many overseas RSCââ?¬â?¢s that show games in clubs and pubs for exiled Bears all over the world. I personally have been a member of a Glasgow based RSC for 20 years, 10 of which as part of their committee, so I really believe in the value of the RSC and have some experience of how they are run. RSCs in this country are mainly run with one primary function: to arrange travel and tickets for Rangers supporters to follow the team. The clubââ?¬â?¢s contact with RSCs throughout the course of the season almost entirely consists of ticketing issues. Most RSCs will know very little about the WWA, when it has meetings in its area, who are the area representatives, and what it is there to do for them. Outside the UK, they are mostly social, a gathering of supporters to watch the game together at all hours of the day and night. We all know that the current situation does very little for either party. It gives virtually nothing to the RSCs and the club gets virtually nothing back from them. The club certainly undervalues the power of the RSCs to influence fan thinking. Not only does the club have to do more for RSCs, but the reverse is also true. The best example of this was when the club was under fire in the Spring of 2007 for ââ?¬Å?The Billy Boysââ?¬Â. The club desperately wanted the fans to stop singing it after UEFA effectively outlawed the song. The club tried everything it could to get the fans to stop. Finally they appealed to a couple of the well known RSC chairmen to see if they could do anything. After a hastily arranged meeting of representatives of over 60 RSCs held in April 2007 in the Wee Rangers Club, an agreement was reached to get members of RSCs to ââ?¬Å?self-policeââ?¬Â in this area. A policy that was worked extremely well and continues to work to this day. So what changes can we make in order to set the standard in this area? There are 3 questions that I want to look at in this topic. 1. What can the club do for the RSCs? Issue a membership card for all members of an RSC. The card gives them a small discount in the club shop, (online for overseas members) stadium tours, etc. Not too much that it costs a fortune, more a token gesture to make them feel part of the family. Use the clubââ?¬â?¢s buying power to have deals in place with certain companies to give RSCs some good deals. Perhaps with a clothing manufacturer to give the best prices on RSC polo shirts and flags. Individual RSCs all go off and get their own polo shirts done. Let the club be part of it. The club will make a small commission, and the RSCs all get a good deal. Give RSCs the option to seat their members together at Ibrox. This will of course help the atmosphere at Ibrox as well as binding the RSCs more together as a group. Negotiate strongly with other SPL clubs for a larger allocation for matches. It appears we do not actually want more tickets for games as it is too much bother for us to deal with them for not much reward. This is not the standard we should be setting. We must put the interests of our fans first. Without them there is nothing. I am quite sure Kilmarnock and Motherwell for example would love to give us more tickets, even share a stand in order to get more fans to the game. For shared stands, the Rangers section would be all family tickets. 2. What can the RSCs do for the club in return? If the RSCs knew that they were getting a fair deal on tickets and that the club were right behind them, they would be far more interested in putting something back. RSCs are well trained in running successful fundraisers. From race nights to sportsmanââ?¬â?¢s dinners to sponsored football matches to just selling scratchcards and much more. The truth is they have to just to survive. I am quite sure that most RSCs would happily run a fundraiser every season with the proceeds being split between their own club funds and the Rangers Youth Development programme, or the museum fund. The club would provide a signed shirt and ball for a raffle at the event, and where possible a player, former player or coach in attendance, this could be a real source of income throughout the year. RSCs are already the clubââ?¬â?¢s best selling tools. Already, many RSCs are agents in the club lotto, raising large sums of money every week. This could easily be expanded upon if the RSCs thought the club were really looking after them and making them feel part of the club. 3. Who is going to do all the work? We need a new organisation who will look after the interests of the RSCs. It would be self-funding from membership dues collected from the RSCs. I would split them into two categories. Ticketing RSCs and non-ticketing RSCs. This means that the RSCs who take tickets every week are treated separately from the RSCs from abroad. The ticketing RSCs would then pay more than the other RSCs. I would suggest ~Ã?£4 per member per year for ticketing RSCs and ~Ã?£2 for non-ticketing RSCs. The RSCs would be easily able to pass this on to their members with their dues if they knew what they were getting back for it as outlined above. I would also reintroduce the Rangers Rally, which would be supported by the club and a large turnout of players, past and present, would be guaranteed. The funds raised would pay for the salaries of the staff whose job it would be to run the organisation. It would take quite some organising to make all of the above work, but with the right Rangers-minded people employed, it would become a professional office that would be the contact for any RSC enquiries and would have its separate ticket office for the distribution of RSC tickets. It would have a committee of elected Rangers fans that would be elected by the RSCs themselves in a postal ballot to all RSCs on a one-member one-vote basis. The staff would be answerable to the committee, and the committee answerable to the RSCs at monthly meetings, and all up for re-election annually. A full record of the minutes would be sent to every club every month to keep them involved, and RSCs would be allowed to send in questions in advance of meetings without having to attend personally. A website with all the up to date information, including a private section for RSC organisers to learn of more sensitive information (financials etc) would also form an important part of this. To summarise, the RSCs are such an important part of our club, our history, our heritage. Most Rangers supporters have used one at one time or another. Most have probably been to a function run by one of them. Most will have seen the banners with the RSC club names on them in various places all over the world. Personally, there is nothing better than seeing the convoy of RSCs thundering out of Dundee or Aberdeen after an important victory. The club should be embracing this collective of (in my biased opinion) the most passionate supporters anywhere in world football, and by working together making things the best they possibly can be for the ultimate benefit of Rangers Football Club.
  20. Next in the STS series, is an excellent article written by AMMS (from RangersMedia) who explores the difficulties in rearing successful young players and how the results could be maximised. http://www.gersnetonline.co.uk/newsite/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=742&Itemid=2 BEGINS My first job was an apprentice printer, it was a small place employing about 8 or so people at that time and I was their first ‘apprentice’. Times were hard then (sound familiar?) and rather than take me on I was employed through the government run Youth Training Scheme on the princely sum of Ã?£27.50 a week and Ã?£5 travelling expenses. Part of how the YTS was sold to potential employees was that there would be college based training as well as on the job skills. This sounded good; rather than just being exploited slave labour I got 2 week stints at the Building and Printing College every month and more ScotVec modules than you could shake an inky rag at. Eventually after a month or two my boss approached me and asked how I was enjoying college. The reality was I loved it, you didn’t start until 9am, it was a very relaxed atmosphere, and you got to ogle at the hairdressers in the College of Commerce across the road. However if truth be told, I wasn’t learning a whole lot about printing which was what I was supposed to be doing. Lots of theory and not a lot of practical was my diplomatic reply. My boss, who had spent his entire working life in the printing game paused for a moment and reflected on my reply and his slightly confusing words have remained with me until this day; ‘Aye son’, he ventured ‘theory is alright in theory but when you want to learn to swim sooner or later you need to get into the water’. The training of young footballers seems to be a thing of great difficulty for Rangers recently. Part of that problem seems to have been our reluctance to move with the times. In this day of public/private partnerships, you have to wonder why Rangers (and other clubs) haven’t got a genuine tie-in with a local school. A residential aspect to youth development is common place on the continent where boys are schooled from 13 to 15 in conjunction with a club or FA. The acclaimed Clairefontaine centre outside Paris and the famous Ajax Academy all include ‘normal’ schooling as part of their curriculum; these people are children after all. Curiously, a local school to Ibrox, Bellahouston Academy, is Scotland’s first ‘school for sporting excellence’. The school has over 130 pupils who are only there because of their sporting talent. These kids still get a full education but they also get access to specialist coaches, advice, conditioning and sports psychologists. Football isn’t currently one of the sports covered at the school - perhaps Rangers could consider helping to change that? Engendering good habits, influencing technique and seeing at first hand the personalities, weaknesses and the strengths of these young players must be good for the players as well as the club. Tie it in to a trusted, local authority run school environment and you have the perfect ‘academy’ system for a fraction of the outlay running a residential school would cost. If the kids are rounded, focused and aware of the different facets that make up a successful sportsman when they leave school, they might conceivably be in a better position to make the most of the opportunities that come their way later. ‘Specialist’ schools are becoming popular throughout Scotland, becoming centres of excellence in music, dance or sport is relatively prestigious and Rangers could assist this process whilst it is still in it’s infancy. Once at the club however one thing that does seem to be clear is that if a young player isn’t getting a game regularly between the ages of 16 and 20 he is unlikely to make a genuine impact. Now roughly one in every generation seems able to do this currently, be it Durrant, Ferguson or maybe now John Fleck. However these guys are the exception, they were such prodigious talents that they couldn’t be ignored. But for the vast majority games is what they need. Professional football is a trade and they can have many reserve, youth and bounce games but ultimately they need to learn their trade and they’ll need to play in competitive games to do that. Examples of this are all around us. Pedro Mendes had played 31 senior games by the age of 19, by the age of 20 Ross McCormack had only played 11. By the age of 19 Ally McCoist had played 57 times for St Johnstone, Rory Loy will turn 21 this year and has played about 6 games of first team football. Now Mendes played his games for a team you’ve never heard of and McCoist, having been rejected by St Mirren, was learning his trade at the always unfashionable St Johnstone. Both McCormack and Loy on the other hand were both deemed good enough at 16 to be recruited by Rangers where they enjoyed the finest training facilities in the country, trained alongside some exceptional players and by some experienced coaches, so what’s gone wrong? Well to put it simply too much theory and not enough practical. Still not convinced, have a look at the current first team of any successful side and try and find a player who wasn’t playing regular football at senior level by the age of 19. Getting our young players playing at a high level as early as possible can only be in everyone’s interest. If an 18 year old can’t hold his own in Division One he won’t make it at Rangers later. It also makes financial sense, if they aren’t deemed good enough for Rangers, and most won’t be, these boys will leave Rangers on free transfers with some first team experience. At least a player with 30 to 50 games at Division One level is worth something. Ideally Rangers should consider formal or informal links with several clubs, an ideal ‘roster’ of clubs would include some Scandinavian clubs, perhaps a Dutch one, certainly some English ones, and maybe even an Italian or French club. None of these clubs would be in their top divisions obviously however many smaller clubs are looking for good players who are relatively cheap so free young players from the best club in Scotland might well be of interest to quite a few of them. Without improvement in the young players at Ibrox it is folly to continue to invest in youth. Arguably, financially it would make more sense to save the money and take the best from Hibs, Hearts and Kilmarnock etc. However long term, transforming talented young players into professionals has to be Rangers goal, it makes sense on every level. Young men literally schooled correctly, positively influenced at an early age, approaching a career as a professional footballer already knowing about diet and fitness and knowing they’ll be given opportunities at various professional levels during their time at Rangers must be the ultimate goal for the club.
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