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Anyone who has read Gibbon’s masterwork knows, well, knows more than me, as it is a very long book, and I didn’t even nearly finish it. But, all in all, he seemed to think that Rome fell because they ceased to be strong, dignified and gentlemanly, and gave themselves over to self indulgence, prestige, and ultimately decadence. They became trivial, weak, and the barbarians sauntered in and broke up the most lasting of Empires.


In truth, I couldn’t care less about Romans. To me it is happy irony that after kicking people’s arses for ages theirs, in turn, got kicked. What is utterly, utterly maddening is that something I do believe in, something whose vision is actually worth fighting for, seems, like Rome, to be burning, with resignations, guarded comments and media noise about infighting etc.


When the RST came into existence, it faced two main hurdles in establishing its credibility. Their idea of democratic fan representation, however pure, set them at philosophical odds with the owner, and custodian, of Rangers, Sir David Murray. No matter your own thoughts on his contribution to our club, Sir David Murray is among the most intelligent, shrewd, and powerful businessmen of our time and simply does not suffer fools gladly. If, against the seeming odds against them, that they did make headway with Murray, and enjoy some success, the other main hurdle would present itself: how do ordinary human beings, pure in their vision, being handed big responsibility, a certain celebrity, and a massive task; not fold under the weight of the power that would be thrust upon them?


In truth, the answer to both these things was simply gentlemanly personal integrity and industry. Instead of playing reactionary anti-Murrays they realised how much success he had brought and sought out the common ground - the general good of Rangers that they both shared. Philosophical differences (democratic ownership of Rangers and personal ownership are bound to collide) weren’t cast aside under self-indulgent happy talk – like gentlemen, they each seemed to argue their case, respectfully disagree where differences arose and generally get about doing the good that could be done.


This gentlemanly approach, and conscientious industry, secured their reputation as representatives of many fans, and in creating (at what only could have been a massive personal effort from those involved) a scheme that, at once, fulfilled their objectives as well as benefiting the club; their integrity, energy and vision simply could not be denied. After all, ‘GerSave’ is a genuinely novel and wonderful idea. And all was well. Murray, who was, probably from his perspective, understandably quite reluctant about fan representation on the board, couldn’t even find it in his power to deny the RST their place – signalling at last year’s club AGM that a fan rep (or reps) would be appointed to the board. Much good was being done.


This gentlemanly, yet tenacious, approach is taken in releasing statements. Under less strict decorous bounds than those inside Ibrox, they managed to respond to the hyperbolic media; but never usually with anything other than professionalism – just with a bit more tenacity. As a fan, it’s good to have someone willing to upset the media for your reputation – those inside Ibrox don’t tend to do it because theirs is a more precarious political position. I know some fans had reservations about the decorum in getting a lip reader to confirm what anyone who saw Neil Lennon perfectly understood. I know why they would have reservations and I think those at the RST had them too: but, ultimately, during a period where Rangers fans were receiving such negative press about sectarianism, it seemed the RST thought that such a clear example of media hypocrisy regarding sectarianism and the reputation of the fans was too much to miss. Whatever the reasons, they seemed to make an effort to do the right thing.


But it’s a truth as big as Universes, empires, and as transparent as thoughts- all things burst into life – and as soon as they do, they begin to decay. We cope with the decay of thoughts by, in defiance of time, having new ones continuously – continual, tenacious, renewal is the only way thought proceeds; in fact it’s the only way empires stay strong and it’s the only way organisations like the RST survive. But half of the RST’s renewal, half its tenacity, appears to have resigned in the last month.


In truth, we simply do not know the facts yet – but this very fact is itself another worrying symptom. The RST, as an organisation, will now be very much feeling the weight of the vision that inspired them; the obligation they have inherited - they represent the fans, they are the managers of a lot of people’s money. These fans voted in half of the people who have now, for whatever reason, walked away.


As we turn back to the RST, we see statements thanking the members for their contributions - but no clear reasons for them leaving. And as the statements keep coming - the vague, guarded, explanations seem insincere: were these people troublemakers, throwing a tantrum? If so, why are they being thanked? If they are leaving over some issue (perhaps as the Daily Record’s strange article suggested) of a power struggle for getting a member on the board, then why procrastinate with platitudes? If these people are rogue arses, why not say that from the off? The fact that we’re asking questions like this at all, that questions like these seem obvious and natural, suggests that all is not well.


People just abandoning all they’ve worked for is a massive step and it is a symptom of decay. But by the tone of the statements released, nothing is really amiss; there’s been no falling out. If that’s not the case though, and I guess we’ll only find out if the resignees go public with their reasons (via the announced SGM or other methods), then you have to wonder why they’ve felt the need to present it in this way. For an organisation whose name is built on calling a spade a spade; you wouldn’t expect them to present something as amicable that wasn’t. When organisations feel the need to ‘protect’ their members from all the facts, they can’t properly be called a democratic organisation – the RST is literally nothing, if not this.


But this is probably drama, hyperbole – taking advantage of the Trust’s first real unsettled period to jump to far more drastic conclusions than is the case. I think there has been a lot of sentiment of this sort in discussion about the issue simply because people have invested in the idea of the trust and feel a part of the success they have achieved. To certain sorts of involved fans (fans spending money and having their name tarnished; and those who just dream about fans, one day, having a major say in how the club is run) the RST no longer fully representing them would be horrifying. It’s probably this horror that paints exaggerated scenes of discord among something that could all be perfectly reasonable: you hear oddly toned and badly advised statements being made – statements like the one about national team boycotts and hidden forces - that may have laudable sentiments but seem a little less gentlemanly than you expect; you hear crappy reports in contemptible rags about splits and power struggles then people like Malcolm McNiven resign; no immediate comment is released about why – and you simply jump to conclusions – you start thinking – please don’t let the virtuoso men abandon the outposts, please don’t let tenacious endeavour be replaced with decadent spin - that’s the decline that leads to fall!


In truth, you probably only start thinking like this when you’ve read (parts of!) books like ‘Decline and Fall’ and have too active an imagination - your fear mixes with your amateur amblings in history and produces a modern day worst case scenario about something you actually care about. Thus, I really hope, after the SGM, and retrospect, that this looks like the stupidest of stupid articles and all of us who want the best for the RST can go back to being sane again. The Trust simply hasn’t let us down thus far, so I guess we’ll all look to the SGM with hope that this is all fearful idle speculation of the sort we so often despise in tabloids.


On the other hand, if our fears are confirmed – several key board members have left, recent statements and intentions really have started to become petty, they really have been guarded and insincere in their response to this situation - then that is the sort of decline that does lead to fall. It’s our duty to read between the lines, and if the organisation that has so much of our support is not the same organisation as it was a month ago, we must speak up else we would join in the civic decadence of Roman Empire: we would be as responsible for it’s fall as those in power.

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A very well written piece.


Dont know anything about the book mentioned in it, and therefore can only guess about his comments re the collapse of the Romans, but the issues surrounding the RST are certainly well thought out and no doubt the first of many contributions in the lead up to the SGM.

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cheers lads. :) guess we'll see what happens with this soon enough. strange days with all this.


craig, the book's "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire", by Edward Gibbon. he was among the first historians to build a theory around history that had already long past, based on the records of the time. his central tenant was that Rome had become weak, effeminate, no longer dedicated to the continual war it took to maintain an empire - which reminded me of the constant energy it takes to run something like the RST effectively. the book was all quite controversial in its day, and is a seminal read for historians. it's also very long, and prosaic. as it turns out, i dont really like history. :)

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