8 Mar 2012

Rangers on the rack – but they’ll be back.

There’s a sale on at Ibrox. In the Rangers Megastore they took the shirts down a while ago, then slashed the price again. You can get all manner of bargains. 75 per cent off.

And you can buy Ibrox too.

Trouble is, whilst the shirts will give good value I don’t doubt, and will wash up well for years – the football club … dear oh dear.

SPL Champions this year and for more the fifty other years – now staring into the void of liquidation.

Perhaps in search of those bargains, the Megastore was strangely busy today.

Two sounds – acceptable Rangers football songs – though not the “Fenian Blood” bigotry of course – coming from the PA. And from fans another refrain:

“Aye – we’ll be back”.

“Rangers’ll never die.”

“They’ll always be a Rangers.”

It’s a mixture of optimism and the universal fan’s view that success is just round the corner.

Equally, astonishment at the current predicament which – with liquidation “inevitable” in the words of one director – is without precedent in the SPL, nor,  for a club of this size, in British football.

“The mismanagement has been incredible – and not just the last year but for years now at this club,” says one fan heading to check-out, laden with ‘Gers merchandise.

Another, a woman: “I can’t say on camera what I think of the club’s owners. I’m angry. I’m so angry.”

Few know Glasgow and Scottish football like Graham Spiers, now a freelance writer: “I’ve been amazed at the glee – not just from Celtic fans but fans across the country. It’s like it’s the end of some rogue regime and people just want to dance on its grave. It’s astonishing.”

Though he says those Rangers fans at Ibrox today have a point:

“Rangers football club will survive in some shape or form. It will be here in years to come. But it won’t be anything like the current set up.”

But he said the effect culturally would be profound. A huge re-adjustment ahead for the 1.3 miilion fans in Scotland alone. This is not to be under-estimated in any way.

So, safe in the knowledge that this is Glasgow – it’s not Kabul, Mogadishu or Tripoli or other places of serious organised violence with intent, I started asking fans if they’d support Celtic if Rangers did go down.

Fortunately most sensed I was a touch ironic:

“I’d rather slash my own wrists,” said one.

“I Iike that pal – very funny,” said another. Not laughing.

A group of lads looked more troubled than angry at the idea before issuing a joint declaration along the lines of:

“Eh? No chance pal. It’s nae gonnae happen. Yous putin this on TV?”


I sense Graham’s right. There will be a Rangers, another Rangers. This place, this culture’s known real disaster.

Outside one corner of Ibrox a monument stands to the 66 who were crushed to death on a cold, foggy January night in 1971.  Today an empty area, concrete bollards and a small street mark the area where Stairway 13 once stood and those supporters died in the crush.

This is not a matter or life and death, nor,  I suspect, the life or death of a famous Scottish and international institution.

Those fans are probably right. They will be back. Nobody has the last laugh in the old firm – but yes, Celtic fans have a fair few sniggers yet.

The jeers at the ‘Gers will be long and loud from Glasgow’s East End and across Scotland. But they’ll be back – demolition of Ibrox is not, currently an opinion.

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