13 Mar 2012

Punish Rangers if they’re guilty, say fans

Last week I sought the views of non-Rangers football fans in Scotland about the current meltdown at Ibrox. This is the second of three blogs setting out how they see it.

The straightforward view of all fans who responded is that, understandably enough, Rangers should be punished if found guilty of the allegation of systematically cheating their way to years of football success.

That said, the desire for justice, if there is indeed guilt, was balanced by extreme suspicion that Rangers would somehow escape justice. This is based on the widespread belief that the powers that be, from TV through the SFA to the SPL, desire Rangers in the top-flight league at almost all costs.

Joe wrote –

“If the SFA/SPL fail to act… then the repercussions for Scottish football will be even greater than the SPL without RFC. The fans of other clubs will unite as never before to ensure that justice is done and the rules are adhered to.”

Jamie said, if guilty, Rangers should be demoted and emerge under a different identity, perhaps “Govan FC”. He said –

“But they must build from the bottom anew. Applying to the league in the same way as Inverness Caledonian Thistle did when they were formed as a brand new club.”

And many looked abroad for European precedent where big teams had fallen foul of the laws administrating the game. The names Marseille and Fiorentina came up time and time again as clubs which had paid the requisite price, in the view of many.

Brian wrote saying that if Rangers are found guilty of malpractice, Uefa should take action –

“Allowing RFC, in whatever guise they eventually emerge, to remain in the SPL would make a mockery of their Financial Fair Play initiative. This is something I sincerely hope the 11 SPL chairmen will consider before rubber-stamping their return to top flight football.”

And talk of that 11 brings us to a big gripe – that the voting structure of the entire SPL badly needs reform because the Big Two – Rangers and Celtic – can block anything they don’t like.

As Stuart put it –

“If Rangers are not in the SPL next season, the voting structure of the league can be changed. Currently any motion can be blocked by two clubs. This enables the Old Firm to block any proposals put forward by the rest of the league.”

The current 11-1 voting structure is seen by many fans merely as a way of keeping the status quo the way the Big Two want it, not least in terms of cash and the distribution of TV money.

The view is that Rangers should go through due process and, if guilty, be required to pay back those who owe them money – which might turn out to be you and I, taxpayers, the way things stand.

If they have to sack people there is considerable sympathy for those individuals. If they have to sell Ibrox there is virtually no sympathy at all. Play by the rules. Start again from the bottom. Rebuild with a new identity and ethos.

As Michael said –

“If Rangers are allowed to remain in the SPL under current conditions and be given a slapped hand, I think from speaking to many others and reading other fan forums most of the fans will walk away from football.

“We do not follow non-Old Firm teams just for us to finish third, or to let the Old Firm have a league. Scottish football will change NOW, and Rangers have caused it all.”

Though you’d have to say, even in the context of Scotland’s peculiar SPL and two-team domination, the spectre of fans really walking away to concentrate on their golf, as one Aberdeen fan threatened – or equally, of banding together en masse – seems a little romantic.

In our final part of the trilogy, we’ll look at the widespread idea that what is happening to Rangers FC is in fact a great opportunity to improve Scottish football across the board, from governance at the top, down to the numbers coming through the turnstiles at the smallest of league clubs.

Read Alex Thomson’s previous Rangers blog

Read Channel 4 News’s coverage of the Rangers situation

Follow Alex Thomson on Twitter



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