The Rangers Football Club 'Selfie'

It’s been a huge week in the field of social, technological and political innovation. No, we’ve not found a cure for cancer or a way to remove the ‘Bedroom Tax’ but, more importantly, Oxford Dictionaries have decided ‘selfie’ is their Word of the Year – beating my own personal favourite ‘twerk’ in the process.

‘Selfie’ – a modern description of self-portrait photographs usually found on social media – and this award maybe more fun topics than serious but it’s actually quite interesting how some of these de rigueur phrases have mirrored recent happenings at Rangers. For example in 2008 the Word of the Year was ‘credit crunch’ and last year it was ‘omnishambles’. The latter is especially apt for the Rangers saga while ‘selfie’ can be used to examine the supporters’ part in events. What mistakes have we made and how can we learn from these going forward? Moreover, how can the club re-establish trust between the support and the boardroom?

The first steps towards bridging that gap appear to have been taken by the club by their recent appointments of firstly a new chairman in David Somers, then non-executive director Norman Crighton and finally a new CEO in Graham Wallace. Unlike others I won’t proclaim to know the fine detail of these people’s business background but, on the face of their CVs at least, they look like suitable candidates. Time will tell whether the institutional investors and other shareholders agree. In fact, the next 4 or 5 weeks may determine this ahead of the AGM in the third week of December – especially when we consider fan protests will remain prevalent in the run up to this vital event.

In that respect, how do the incumbents obtain the faith of the fans that remain concerned with the direction of the club? Do they look towards removing one of their own in Brian Stockbridge whose performance has been less than impressive? What of the Easdales who appear comfortable in working with a PR firm that next to no Rangers fan wants associated with the club? Can we expect another new NOMAD as Daniel Stewart fail to convince? What efforts, if any, will be made to work with McColl and Murray to alleviate tension ahead of the AGM? Most importantly, how does the current board intend raising the funds that will be required as soon as April to keep the club viable going forward? I think we can safely say we could go on forever with similar questions and concerns. Let’s hope Ibrox is booked for the whole day as the AGM may and should be a lengthy, open and accountable affair.

Of course as much as we are entitled to ask such questions of the club, what of the supports’ own ‘selfie’? Currently we’re rightly cynical when it comes to debating many issues related to the club. Meanwhile the Sons of Struth – a small but vocal cross-section – continue to organise protests which are reasonably well subscribed to home and away. Indeed thousands of fans made their displeasure known inside Ibrox in September while hundreds more added to this pressure via a march and protest outside the stadium front door earlier this month. While I won’t pretend to agree with everything Sons of Struth say and do, I’m certainly glad that so many fans are attempting to lobby for change where appropriate.  In addition, while one of our biggest failings during the last few years’ ‘omnishambles’ has been our failure to take online views to the offline majority, this is some evidence that such engagement can happen despite fans that often remain divided over the most petty of issues.

Indeed, it’s that pettiness and division that sometimes make our ‘selfie’ very difficult to look at. Online arguments, personal insults and playground abuse often appear more preferable to some than working together for the greater good. No-one says everyone has to hold hands as we work together but work together we must; not just in terms of addressing the immediate club challenges but looking towards a longer term future where we’ve lost a lot of other battles off the park. Certainly the suggestion that Rangers is the Establishment club is a rather weak one nowadays.

With that in mind, it’s fair to say that while we’re entitled to ask questions of the boardroom, we need to ask similar questions of ourselves. Why do our fan groups remain under-subscribed? Why are positive initiatives like BuyRangers mocked instead of backed? How do we get together round the same table to discuss all the above? For example, the support supposedly holds around 12% of the available shares in the company yet there’s been no meaningful effort to harvest that into one collective bloc vote. Protests are all well and good but a stronger tool would be a united fan-base wielding a percentage of the shares which would signal genuine influence. That could not be ignored yet we failed to grasp the nettle in that sense; preferring instead to isolate those that could act as our proxy in that regard. Is it any wonder our opinions are easily ignored across the social spectrum in Scotland?

Quite frankly, it amazes me that both the club and the ‘requisitioners’ that claim to be acting in its best interests continue to avoid direct interaction with the majority of Rangers fans. Occasional meetings with selected representatives have their place but when such discussions yield little or no concrete conclusions then one can only wonder at why people seem so keen to back one group or the next. In actual fact we’ve been shown nothing from anyone to suggest that they hold the key to solving many of the issues discussed above. From a club that employ toxic staff, to ‘rebels’ that clearly lack confidence in their own uprising, to fan organisations that claim to represent thousands but meet with only a few then it’s not a surprise to see the mainstream support fatigued by frustration and apathy. The simple fact is we seem to have nothing or no-one to place our trust in. Even Dave King – the supposed Messiah – flew in and out of Scotland a few weeks back without so much as a word with concerned fans.

To sum up then, it seems pretty clear that our self-portrait isn’t something we can we be proud of. Our club remains in a state of uncertainty and our fans continue to be poorly led and organised while being kept at arm’s length by the very people supposed to be reaching out to us. It should be a matter of great regret for us all that such a huge and passionate support lacks the willingness or organisation to work together towards a brighter future. After all, it could be argued the longer we continue to distract ourselves over the less important issues, the longer it will take for Rangers to return to the pinnacle of Scottish football and beyond. In that respect, I think we all need to take a ‘selfie’ and ask ourselves what we can do as individuals to get answers to all the questions above. We can and must do more.