The “Strong Leader” in Football – What Matters Most – The Role or the Achievements?

A new blog has recently emerged onto the field of Scottish football writing – The Rangers Standard.

As it says in its manifesto:-

“The Rangers Standard is a project aimed at promoting positive and innovative thinking about the club and its role in Scottish football and society.

This is an opportunity to examine the club’s history and development, re-claim neglected or forgotten parts of its heritage, and reflect on how the Rangers community develops from here and how that future might be shaped by the concerns, hopes and visions of committed supporters.

We will encourage debate on all aspects of the club and will not shirk from confronting the hard topics such as sectarianism, national identity, and misgovernment by the custodians of the club in the recent and not so recent past.

We welcome well-constructed arguments and spirited polemic: the contributions of non-Rangers fans will be accepted provided they are constructive.”

In its guidelines for those seeking to contribute it states:-

“4. In time we will accept articles from non Rangers fans but these must relate in some way to the club or issues surrounding it and must be constructive.”

The piece below was written for the Rangers Standard, but failed even to achieve the accolade of a rejection.  Whether it was too long, too short, too dull, too negative or insufficiently constructive I do not know. Nonetheless I wish the project well. You can never have too much good writing.

Sadly though I cannot add the Rangers Standard to Labour Hame, Scotzine, the Open Justice Project, the Helensburgh Advertiser (many years ago) and the Scottish Football Monitor amongst the places from where my words of wisdom have been inflicted on an unsuspecting world.

Having written 2,000 words on the topic, then I am not letting them go to waste – so here it is! Enjoy!

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The concept of the “strong leader” is one which has been studied in detail over the years. I want to use this piece to look at it in footballing terms.

My favourite team, Albion Rovers, for many years was owned and run by Tom Fagan. He wheeled and dealt, ducked and dived, and bobbed and weaved. His total control over a football team which paid its ballboys with pies, not cash, and where used footballs were dipped in talc to make them appear new, was always an exercise in keeping the team’s head above water, rather than domination.

As this piece is written for the Rangers Standard, I looked back at the history of the eponymous team. I am sure readers will excuse me for any errors coming from an outsider’s perspective.

The greatest times in Rangers’ history have come under a “strong leader”. Bill Struth from 1920 to 1954 led a team which dominated Scottish football. After his departure, and whilst trophies were won, though with less regularity, the next really successful period was a short one, being Jock Wallace’s tenure from 1972 to 1978, where the dominance Celtic had under Jock Stein was finally broken, leading to three  league titles and of course the Cup Winner’s Cup triumph in Barcelona.

The next “strong leader” was Graeme Souness, whose appointment by David Holmes in 1986 led to a football revolution in Scotland, which brought both good and bad consequences. Partly because of the ban on English clubs playing in Europe, many top English internationals such as Woods and Butcher, and many more came to Scotland, paving the way later for such as Paul Gascoigne. Players of the quality of Brian Laudrup too came to Scotland. The better quality helped raise the standards of the Scottish game, but very soon, after the arrival of the next “strong leader” Sir David Murray, this escalated into an arms race which, in the same way the Cold War led to the bankruptcy and collapse of the Soviet Bloc in its existing form, resulted in the demise of Rangers as a top division club.

It seems clear from outside though that, at the various points in Rangers’ history, the “strong leader” whether manager or owner, has been able to garner almost total support from the fans. This has come by virtue of his position, and not necessarily as a result, at least initially, of his achievements.

It seems to me that the “strong leader” idea, whereby one man is the most active and dominant person in the organisation, and as such gathers the supporters behind him, has been most prevalent and consistent at Ibrox.

As a contrast, I want to look at a handful of other clubs.

First – Manchester United. The shadow of the Munich Air Disaster of 1958 still hangs over Old Trafford and helped to perpetuate the aura around the Busby Babes, both deceased and survivors. Sir Matt Busby, as manager and survivor, became untouchable in Old Trafford terms, and was very much the embodiment of the “Strong leader” even before he led his club to the European Cup win in 1968. Indeed, when he stepped down from the manager’s role, his successor, Frank O’Farrell, seemed doomed to fail from day one, and he never got out of the shadow of Sir Matt, now cast from the boardroom.

It was only with the arrival of, and indeed after on-field success was achieved by, Sir Alex Ferguson that there was a new leader to fill the gap left by Sir Matt. Undoubtedly Sir Alex was king of Old Trafford for many years, but since the takeover by the Glazer family it is clear that his position as the “strong leader” has been diminished. This has been shown by the vigorous and continuing campaign against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club, as exemplified by the yellow and green scarf campaign.

Despite the continued presence of Sir Alex, he has taken second place to the moneymen, but no one of the Glazer family has stepped into that role.

Sir Alex, who is clearly an enormously shrewd and principled man, has had to tread a fine line. His staunch socialist principles and trades union roots suggest that he would be a vocal critic of the current owners. However, he may feel that a greater loyalty to the club prevents him speaking out against his bosses (as dismissal would surely follow).

Has the lack now of the “strong leader” harmed Manchester United? It could be argued that last season showed evidence of the initial crumbling of the hugely successful outfit. This season will provide further evidence either way.

Secondly – Hearts.

There are two leaders at Tynecastle who, I think, qualify for the epithet “strong” over recent years. Wallace Mercer ran the club from 1981 to 1994. Whilst the club almost won the league in 1986 under his control, he was never universally popular at Hearts, and after his failed attempt to engineer the merger of Hearts and Hibs in 1990, his popularity in both halves of Edinburgh plummeted. Hearts never regained the heights of the mid 1980’s team under him, and indeed did not do so until 2005 when Vladimir Romanov completed his takeover.

Mr Romanov, whilst seen as eccentric and outspoken, and thus a delight for the press, saw his team under George Burley head the SPL, until Mr Romanov sacked his manager.

Whilst Hearts finish consistently in the top half of the SPL, they have never regained the heights Burley briefly showed them. Romanov, especially with his Soviet Naval background, is assuredly a “strong leader” but one barely tolerated by the fans. They follow Hearts in spite of him, not because of him.

Third – Celtic.

Looking from the 1960’s onwards, the line of “strong leaders” at Parkhead starts with Jock Stein, who dominated the club through leading his team to the European Cup and to the multiple league titles.

When he left, the Kelly and White ownership did not provide the leadership needed and the managers failed to ascend to the heights previously occupied by Stein. There are similarities with events at Old Trafford.

It was only when Fergus McCann arrived at Parkhead from Croy, via Canada, that a leader to replace Stein was found. He resuscitated, if not resurrected, Celtic during his five-year tenure. He disposed of Lou Macari as manager ruthlessly and, despite not being universally accepted by Celtic’s fans, he deserves the credit (or blame) for the continued existence of Celtic.

When he sold up in 1999, he was replaced as major shareholder by Dermot Desmond. He has been the complete opposite of a “Strong leader”. His visible role is almost non-existent and his public pronouncements rare indeed. He is clearly a huge influence behind the scenes, but that does not match the profile of the strong leaders I have referred to above.

Whilst, since Fergus McCann left, there have been successful managers like Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan, the board structure has prevented anyone in the manager’s office achieving a Stein-like status (and none have come close to his achievements either) but the owners and Chief Executives have not taken that role either.

Celtic seem therefore, since 1999, to have lacked the “strong leader” as I have defined it. Even when Mr McCann was in charge, there was a great deal of scepticism about him, and it is fair to say that his reputation at Parkhead amongst the supporters is far higher now than when he left.

The Celtic support too has seemed reluctant to commit to a leader until they have put their cards on the table and shown that they are worthy of being followed. Some of the managers of recent times, such as Mowbray and Barnes, have never cut the mustard, and the executives behind the scenes, even including Celtic legend Kenny Dalglish, have been met with criticism.

Celtic fans however seem generally united in supporting the team, rather than the owner or manager.

Fourth – Dundee United

The leadership at Tannadice starts and ends with one name – “Jim McLean”.

As Wikipedia describes him, “He may be best remembered by fans as the man who took an average club, with no major silverware and little experience in Europe to a Scottish League Championship, 10 domestic cup finals, a UEFA Cup final and many seasons of European football.”

From taking up the managerial reins in 1971 to laying them down in 1993, and indeed until he left the chairmanship role in 2000, Dundee United and Mr McLean were synonymous. He was the one man in charge for almost thirty years, and his support would have followed him everywhere. However, even with the many achievements he had, the murmurs of discontent became louder amongst the faithful and he probably overstayed his welcome, similarly to Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest.

Finally – to return to Ibrox.

After Sir David Murray took over the club, he also slipped into the “strong leader” role on the departure of Graeme Souness. He was a vocal and visible presence at Ibrox, and for much of his tenure, at least from outside the Rangers family, seemed to have almost universal support.

However, as financial issues started to arise, his backing by the fans became a bit less whole-hearted, and his attempted share issue flopped (at least on the basis that it was the bank which ended up funding the issue rather than the supporters). There was still full support for the team, but backing the owner’s finances, especially where it was not going to be money directly invested in players, led to the “strong leader” façade starting to crumble.

As soon as he made it clear that he was looking to sell up, then his position became open for attack. After all, how can he be a “strong leader” when trying to get out of the door?

After tortuous processes, finally a new owner appeared on the front steps of the Stadium. Craig Whyte is now seen by most as an asset-stripper, at best, and a crook, rogue and charlatan at worst. We are told there are ongoing criminal investigations into his takeover, and I am sure that more will ye emerge about him and his period at Rangers.

It was remarkable though that, with the help of some very good, and no doubt expensive, PR, he managed to get the backing of most Rangers fans, despite the concerns being voiced about him before and during his acquisition of the club, from supporters of Rangers and elsewhere. The fact that he could parade the SPL trophy within a week of the takeover cemented his position, and, unlike the other clubs mentioned above, exemplified the Rangers way, which is to give unilateral backing and support to the leader, until he proves himself unworthy of it.

It took some time for Mr Whyte’s support to dwindle and indeed many sensible Rangers fans were still happy to voice their support for him until close to the onset of administration in February 2012.

History has repeated itself, as far as support goes, with Mr Green. He is now undoubtedly the man in charge at Ibrox. Before his takeover, he was seen as, at best, second choice behind the Blue Knights and when Walter Smith led his consortium onto the battle field in June he became third choice. Yet he was the man who stuck it out and produced the money.

For all of the questions and misgivings there still are about him and his plans, it is clear that he has the almost universal backing of the Rangers fans, as shown by the excellent turnout at the matches played so far.

Sometimes backing the “strong leader” because of the chair he sits in works; sometimes surely it would be better to see if they prove themselves to justify the support.

It is clear that, at Ibrox, to adapt the old phrase it is not “My Country, Right or Wrong” but “My Club, Right or Wrong”. There is far less of the scepticism and indeed challenge to “authority” than seen at the teams I have mentioned above. That is not to say that either of the approaches is, in all circumstances, the correct one.

There is much to be admired in such unconditional support – the question that remains to be answered is whether the “strong leader” now in situ will justify the faith and support he has already had invested in him.

There is no doubt that the Rangers faithful are as fully behind their teams as the supporters of Manchester United, Hearts, Celtic and Dundee United (and Albion Rovers!) but the additional unconditional support of the man in charge risks, as happened with Mr Whyte, disaster if the recipient proves unworthy of the backing.

 

Posted by Paul McConville

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47 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Charles Green, Football, Rangers

47 responses to “The “Strong Leader” in Football – What Matters Most – The Role or the Achievements?

  1. jim62

    Ballboys paid in pies!!!..some people would tell you that would be my dream job!!!

  2. JimBhoy

    And not one mention of the fact that the current Ranger’s history is pretty new and not the most accomplished going by the 5 or 6 results seen so far…!!

    The Rangers fans have had no real option but to back Green, time will tell if this is a good thing or as I suspect a bit of a honey trap. He has quickly read the mood of the fans very well and with the use of vague, often bullish, sweeping statements has conjured up some hope and a sense of “them against us” that has allowed the fans to rattle swords and unite…. If the results do not improve I believe that even the die-hards will fall away until they get one of their own to step up and be that strong leader.

  3. mick

    fantastic read paul full of info we dident know and well put together ,save your energy for on here and the tcn there still in the dark ages a would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they got that email from you with a story.lol

  4. mick

    just had a quick look at 1 of the articles on the website in topic there banging on about tommo
    When Alex Thomson first became involved in the Rangers story I have to admit I was surprised and intrigued. Here was, on the face of it, an independent voice with a good track record in his profession. The story was crying out for someone, without an agenda or exposure to the Scottish media goldfish bowl, to introduce some dispassionate analysis. A few months on, not only do I find myself wondering what Thomson has contributed beyond regurgitating and attempting to legitimise ‘Celtic minded’ blogs, I also find myself questioning his integrity as a journalist.

    Thomson was prone to hyperbole from the start of his involvement. His interview with Hugh Adam on so called “dual contracts” was his first major contribution but was essentially a rehash, on camera, of a Daily Mail story a couple of weeks before. He tried to claim this as an exclusive.

    a think to get a story on the site you have to ponder to the deluded and be anti anything celtic irish and any1 that questions oldco newco sevco tempco
    soon to be tesco they are just followfollowing the celtic agian via web and thats the bottom line the delutional disorder is strong on that site dont read it in case you catch it lol

  5. Thomas

    A great read, a super Blog.
    Thank you.

  6. mick

    just to make this clear pauls site and the rangers tax case and the tsfm are not celtic sites there for all fans even rangers fans due to msm villifying the blogs the sevco think its a online plot lol the msm have them deluded if it all its sad a few month back a said to a ger fan read the blogs find the truth and ask questions thats whats bloggings about you could see he wanted to but him being deluded he was taken a panic attack thinking about it ,msm villified the blogs so that the orcs would not read it its sad and its another reason why scotland has to change its entire media system its making its readers 1 dimentional

    • iain

      “just to make this clear pauls site and the rangers tax case and the tsfm are not celtic sites”

      BWWWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

      That’s the best laugh I’ve had all month!

      • ecojon

        @iain

        what a saddo you are but I’m glad we provide you with some amusement as I know that most of your life is consumed with hatred and full of bile.

      • Thomas

        Yes, keep reading the Sun they’ll tell you how great Sevco are.

        The worst is yet to come for your new team, ask real questions of Green!

        Too late, in a year or so you will be a Hearts fan, until their bubble gets popped too, ask Mr Ogilvie?

        or just keep blaming Tims and reading the Sun.

  7. mick

    an other snippit from the site lol there saying phil is similiar to Nick Griffin or Abu Hamza and is an extremist there deluded and desperate and hate any1 that questions them ave read phils articles and find they are for all to read for them to say this is surely they are liable via character assasination that site should be closed

    Thomson has written the foreword for a book by the Celtic blogger, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. This book, predictably, is about Mac Giolla Bhain’s obsession, Rangers. Thomson has ridiculed those questioning his involvement by stating that his endorsement of the book is not endorsement of the author. This is utter nonsense. Public figures like Thomson, no matter how egotistical, do not contribute to books written by extremists who operate on the fringes of society unless they agree with them. If Nick Griffin or Abu Hamza wrote a book about Newcastle United (no more ridiculous than Mac Giolla Bhain writing one about Rangers) and Thomson enjoyed the prose on the team he supports, would he contribute? The idea that he can ignore the writer’s previous conduct or be insulated from it is ridiculous

  8. Excellent piece Paul, informative as usual. Thank you.

  9. Fraser

    Hi – been reading the blog for a while but not commented yet.

    The strong leader perspective is interesting, but I think there’s a distinction to be made between the strong leader in the boardroom and in the team manager’s office and an important dynamic between the two. A team can succeed to an extent with only one or the other but if the strong leader is only in the boardroom then the success is only achieved by pure financial weight, funding players whose quality exceeds that of the opposition, and even then can often fail spectacularly. The greatest success comes when a strong and talented manager is supported by a committed and decisive boardroom, however prominent the latter’s profile may or may not be.

    To take your examples, Aberdeen and Dundee Utd excelled under Ferguson and MacLean because their respective boards backed their complete control of team affairs (and to be fair because key players were unable to break contracts as easily as they can post-Bosman). Rangers under Murray and Hearts under Romanov owe their successes to the exercise of financial might. Hearts in particular have succeeded almost in spite of themselves. In my opinion Rangers have never had a manager since Jock Wallace who was more than average. Souness and Smith may have been ‘strong’ in the ego stakes but their ‘achievements’ elsewhere underline the importance of money and the big-fish-in-a-small-pond factor at Rangers.

    Celtic were able to overhaul Rangers in recent times only when Martin O’Neill brought his particular qualities of self-confidence to the manager’s chair. Even if Rangers were spending more (legally or otherwise) it was the weakness at the head of Celtic’s dressing room that kept them away from the title as much as any lack of leadership from the board. The presence of an egomaniac in the Celtic boardroom would have had no effect on the managerial impact of John Barnes. Murray’s appointments at Ibrox were at least adequate.

    Good managers are certainly undermined by lack of strong leadership from above. O’Neill was doing ok at Villa, for example, but clearly had a fractious relationship with the owners. Alex McLeish’s abject failure at Villa perhaps backs up my assertion about the underlying conditions for his successes at Ibrox.

    The bottom line is that the most important (and difficult) job of a club’s board is to appoint a ‘strong leader’ as manager and support his abilities and ambition. A ‘strong leader’ in the boardroom can help or hinder that task, but the public profile of that person is less important than the working relationship between them and their manager.

    • mick

      @frazer great comment they are banging there heads agianst a brick wall when it comes to srong leaderships at team level sally mcc is the laughing stock of scotland am celtic and hope he stays for years as it more a rib tickler than the liquidation its comedy gold

  10. Pensionerbhoy

    A nice piece of writing, Paul, worthy of publication no matter the content. However, I am disposed to excuse our new website for two reasons. First of all, I exonerate it’s authors on the grounds of childish timidity. It might be expected of any new born that there is an inherent fear of the unknown, like taking those first wobbly steps. Worse still, if those children have already experienced the severe pain of a fall or the excruciating agony of blood-flow, a reluctance to make further attempts at walking is easily understood. This new enterprise, I understand from your article, is very much in its infancy and it must be difficult for it to throw open its doors without hesitation to a website that has justifiably, logically, honestly and factually offered information and opinion to its club and its supporters that has, by the very essence of its content, led them to their Gethsemane and on to their Golgotha. That those involved have not recognised your unequivocal objectivity and impartiality in seeking the truth only adds to their confusion and indecision at their sentence and to increased pain on their cross. I am inclined to believe they are simply afraid to take that first independent step necessary to be free from the restrictions of peer pressure and distortion, particularly in the Scottish media, that has continuously forced them into remaining on their bellies and crawling aimlessly from pillar to post. All it takes is an acknowledgement of the centre cross and they could be free to stand on their own, truly independent feet, but it is my opinion it may be quite beyond them at this particular time. Another fall or further punishment is their greatest fear. Your expertise could be the catalyst for that fall and additional pain so will be avoided like the proverbial plague until they are more confident in their own position.
    Secondly, I am in little doubt that the excruciating torment that has overwhelmed them, coming from almost every nook and cranny of Scottish football and sometimes beyond, has left their body support racked and tortured. I do not believe they are ready to take a chance for fear that those same ‘enemies’ may convert their new site into a fresh torture chamber. Perhaps in time, all of us can help, through our own comments, to provide them with a platform of acceptance. To establish a ‘Sevco’ fan base that is willing and ready to rejoin the Scottish football supporters’ community with no strings attached would, I believe, be a welcome achievement. Right now, though, they want to shy away from any potential pillories. Let us give them time. If they are to be open to all, we must be patient with them and remove the threats and barriers real or perceived.

    • Realist

      I cannot speak for Scotland, but in N. Ireland support for Glasgow Rangers never had anything to do with sport or sportsmanship.

  11. I’m not surprised a Rangers fans forum rejected this piece Paul, as your accurate description of their collective behaviour could equally be applied to sheep. Or goats. They probably didn’t like that.

  12. JimBhoy

    @Pensionerbhoy Lovely piece, well written and pretty much sums up my thoughts over the past couple of months.
    I have heard similar sentiment for a while from many non-Ranger’s minded BUT I think the way this has been played out since Green rode into town has maybe even set the club back in their insular, almost reclusive re-emergence (I resist the use of the phrase phoenix).
    The Paranoid mantle has certainly shifted and unfortunatley a lot of the more zealous fans seems to be drooling at what the infamous Green may come out with next. He is feeding the hardcore, sword bashing mass, his end game as, we all suspect is Green-backs, personal gain at the expense of anyone he can teflon attention and blame to. OLDCO Rangers have put NEWCO Rangers where they are, no-one else, let that be clear..The last thing NEWCO needed was a manipulative leader with an agenda.
    A lot of people hoped Rangers would take their medicine, accept their punishment for their wrongdoings to club and country and emerge free of their toxic past ,but I guarantee, if Rangers survive the season, the atitude of the club will not have changed one iota, which is a shame.
    Shameful illegal songs, bullets, bombs and threats galore for the next 100 years… It could have been so much different with the right leadership and the fresh start and attitude we all hoped we would see.
    As anyone with experience of this blog will see, there are hundreds of proper questions outstanding that one would have hoped the people writing in newspapers COULD ask on behalf of all fans but we know that these will only ever be examined and debated by the internet bampots. Then again you very rarely see an interview with Green where he isn’t stepping out of a car or surounded by Rangers fans or on the move in general… Wonder why that is.. ?Newspapers are for wrapping up chips to use of of his quotes. He must like his chips…

    • Pensionerbhoy

      I just peeped in over lunchtime to check if there was anything new on the site and came across your very kind words. You have my thanks, JimBhoy, for such encouragement. Like you, I have grave doubts about any Sevco fans being capable of putting a foot out front or dipping in a finger simply to test the water. They seem content to stand paralysed in the headlights of media and P.R. hype. I was always told that standing still is regression in practice and that might go some way to explain why one of their foremost initial blogs is the one below on Alex Thomson. To revert to my childhood theme, all parents have experienced the devious ploy of children crying and screaming in order to attract attention or to get their own way. Unfortunately, the article below would indicate that perhaps our friends across the water are yelling and squealing to achieve a similar end. I am sorely disappointed that they should hold such embarrassing impersonators of professional, intellectual or impartial journalism – unlike ‘internet bampots’ and proper journalists, I suppose – in such high regard or even provide space for their rants. Good God, are they always going to just do standing still?

      Alex Thomson-Downfall
      By Chris Graham
      http://t.co/zEZ2xAcN (all credit due to blogers from this and other sites for this).

  13. TheBlackKnight

    they dont like it up’em pike!

  14. ecojon

    @Paul

    A very interesting proposition and argued very convincingly and also a delight to read. But I could never ever see it being accepted by a Rangers site no matter how ‘liberal’ it might be.

    Quite simply I think a lot of the hard-core support at Rangers genuinely don’t give a toss about any other football team – they view Ibrox through a telescope with only blue lenses.

    I think it is fascinating to observe and well worthy of a joint psychological/sociological study of the Rangers Support.

    Their basic premise is that they go to Ibrox to see ‘Rangers’ play and thery genuinely have no real interest in the other team and, in a sense, can never really judge objectively how Rangers actually are playing. All that matters is the ‘Victory’.

    Their forums have some interesting stuff at the moment about how they will financially ‘punish’ mainly SPL teams by not going to certain matches so they lose out on seeing their team play but then others argue that they will go to these matches as they have no interest in watching the other team play as they are only there to watch Rangers.

    Looking at the passion that goes into these ‘arguments’ I actually wonder if these Rangers supporters only ‘see’ 11 men on the park.

    Another major interest is the discussion over sectarian songs and the quite infantile arguments they justify the not only offending but illegal words. A move is on to get Green to bring back the Billy Boys and knowing him he’ll shprtly be on a CD cover belting it out – that was a joke btw 🙂

    And the reason I say that is his PR machine is working overtime on the boards actually mounting an attack on the singing of sectarian songs and chants. I have never actually seen anything like it the amount of dissent being voiced towards the traditional songs of bigotry and sectarianism at Ibroc or sung by the travelling support.

    I think Green has realised what a seriously dangerous animal he had by the tail when he unleashed the bigotry card. I think his rush of blood from the knees to his head has been brought under control quite simply because it could damage his AIM Flotation.

    He also doesn’t need to sell any more season tickets as he has enough dosh to get to the AIM Flotation and the one thing that could upset his apple cart is the SFA finding him an unfit and proper person to be in charge of a Scottish football club and that would destroy his share grab.

    I doubt the SFA would ever have the balls to do it but I’m sure words have been whispered in the ear of people close to him and the fear I think will be enough to keep him much calmer.

    As to the new Rangers website I certainly wish it well if it manages to even partly achieve its objectives. I have always felt that the main problem with Rangers fans is the selective nature of the Irish history they are fed without any contradiction. The truly sectarian will never listen but at least the silent majority might have the telescope vision replaced by, if not binnoculars, then at least by two telescopes with only one having blue-tinted lenses.

    • Martin

      ecojon,

      there are football fans who will go to see there team play come what may, but most fans go to see their team win, and live vicariously through the players success.

      This is evidenced by the increase in support any team receives when victory becomes commonplace.

      A study of the Rangers support would reveal no more than the study of any teams support or for that matter any pop star or politicians support.

      Human behaviour is remarkably similar across cultures and borders.

    • Thomas

      I agree, all I want for my family is rivalry in football not stupid learned hatred.
      Mon the new Rangers website do your Peeple proud!

  15. Al ross

    Paul
    Its actually really sad that it was rejected as I found balance all through it and you kept to the themes they were looking for. I can only hope that gradually they meet the standards that the mission statement suggests. Being honest with ones self can sometimes be the hardest thing that any person does. Its an uncomfortable journey I have made a few times in my life but I hope I’m the better person for having done it. By the way when did you write for the Helensburgh Advertiser ?

  16. JimBhoy

    A mixed up bunch the Rangers fans… Coming from a mixed family and supporters of both Celtic and Rangers (mainly the latter I would think) and working with youth football with a similar mix I think I have a fairly balanced viewpoint and love a laugh with my Rangers supporting pals.

    A few things come to mind, You will not get many Scottsh football fans supporting the Auld enemy in sport but there was a semblance of support for England from the Ibrox faithful a few years back when the English national top was flying off the shelves up here… Was this the start of the schitzophrenia?
    Secondly the majority of Rangers fans wanted to start afresh in the SPL3 , however when they are granted that wish they take exception to the people who aided them in getting there.
    Most people from the Glasgow suburbs I would surmise come from a similar mixed background to mine how can they sing what they sing about a lot of their ancestors?
    Rangers Oldco/Newco are the prophets of their own doom, no other team SPL or SFL caused their Administration/Liquidation episode, it was pretty much the elected leaders (is history repeating itself, I hope not but I am not sure). There has barely been a penalty dealt to them other than consequences of breaking various rules. Any of the top Scottish teams would face the same dilemna.
    Lastly I read that Doncaster and Regan have let Rangers down and Longmuir rocks. These guys have let all of Scottish football down with their dithering and ‘made to shock’ comments. Wasn’t it Longmuir who said SFL1 could not accommodate Rangers as it was against the rules, wasn’t it Longmuir who said after Rangers first game in the Ramsden’s cup that going by what he had seen today, Rangers may not be candidates for automatic promotion through the SFL leagues…
    To summarise I believe too many Rangers Blogs and forums deal with pre-conceived often inaccurate facts, do not ask the necessary searching questions and frequently throw in disgusting comments about other clubs all of which will inevitably alienate the club for a long time. Green is fuelling a bad fanaticism and he knows it. It’s all he can do to stir the masses into parting with their cash.
    I hope once the Green circus gets what they want and goes away there will truly be a new dawn for a clean integrated Rangers, I look forward to that.

  17. Pensionerbhoy

    For a site that is, wrongly, regarded as a Celtic forum, the article and comments have an inordinate amount of thumbs down. Is this an indication that we are being scrutinised by ‘the outsiders’, hopefully for the purpose of further education? Are there actually readers out there who genuinely wish to learn how first class, balanced and impartial writing works? If so, and this knowledge is used to create a similar outstanding blog, then I for one welcome as many ‘thumbs down’ as possible.
    * Paul, sycophancy was always my best subject :))

    • ecojon

      @Pensionerbhoy

      To be honest the increasing anonymous thumbs down seem to have gathered apace with the obvious PR influence being wielded in favour of Green in some Rangers forums.

      It is blatantly obvious and I reckon largely wasted effort although good money for whoever owns the PR company involved.

      Still it’s good experience for the trainees to harden them up dealing with people who have a fixed position, tunnel vision and will never stop parroting the same nonsense and are oblivious to reasoned arguments.

      What the PR company hasn’t realised – or more likely has but hasn’t told Green – is that not many of the decent silent-majority of Rangers supporters would be found dead on these forums.

      I really believe we are seeing quite a potentially dangerous change in the composition of the Rangers support and will see a rising percentage of nutters driven by religious grievances which don’t relate to Scotland and have no place in it.

  18. JimBhoy

    @Pensionerbhoy thumbs up and down from me mate… 🙂

  19. ecojon

    @JimBhoy

    The problem about Green passing through is whether there are any assets left and I talk about property mainly as it’s obvious the players that will be left won’t amount to much in transfer valuation terms.

    Been reading some posts on the Rangers Standard and was quite interested in an issue that has bothered me since the collapse of Rangers under Whyte.

    I’ve just never been able to understand why the Rangers Men with money didn’t make more of a fight to ‘rescue’ their club and to be fair to the fans that have got behind Green they were left with no alternative because their own household-name millionaires just didn’t want to know.

    A guy posting in Rangers Standard basically put it down to these people not wanting to be tarred with the extremist brush and it may well be as simple as that. These Rangers Knights may now be sitting waiting for the Green Cavalcade to move-on so they get back on the scene but it may well be that they never do as Ashley might have his tank parked on Ibrox by then.

    • mick

      @ecojon if it happened during the boom then they might have risked it but were in a bad ressetion and its not the wised move to buy a club what is more toxic than antrax ,a feel sevco will never belong to rangers men agian weather this is good for them time will only tell

  20. mick

    thumbs down means people have read and made a desision on your comment a get lots of thumbs down for all diffrent reasons weather its thumps up or down it makes the comment worth doing if we all had thumbs up then there would be something wrong

  21. diaryofafailedhuman

    An excellent read, Paul. Only one gripe from me and it is something that continues to irritate me everywhere. This myth of Sir Alex Ferguson having “staunch socialist” views. I would contend that were he to hold such views, he would never have accepted a knighthood. The estimable Tony Benn even went as far as campaigning for legislation in order for him to renounce his title – that’s a staunch socialist.

    I wouldn’t argue that Ferguson doesn’t hold views that would equate to being leftwing (I have no idea, to be honest), I just don’t see them or him as a socialist. As I said, just a minor gripe which continues to vex me (as much as I wish it wouldn’t). Now that I’ve got that out there, I can breathe again. Cheers, Paul.

    • Thanks!

      Maybe Sir Alex has been very good at propogating the myth of his socialism?

      I am sure there are some genuine left-wingers who accepted honours?

      And renunciation of honours was done first, if I recall, by Lord Home to become Sir Alec Douglas-Home, and thus PM.

      You are right that Viscount Stansgate renounced his title not to elevate himself, but to remain in the Commons.

      • diaryofafailedhuman

        Good point. I don’t deny that there are genuine left-wingers who accept honours (for good or ill); some of whom I greatly admire. I just think that when touting yourself as a socialist, it seems laughable when you accept an honour (Prescott and Kinnock being great examples of people who said they never would…then did).

        I think Sir Alex propagating the myth of his own socialism is an interesting question. Is he guilty of that? Or are the media just desperate to hold on to a “working class hero”?

  22. Alexander Kerr Murphy

    Guys, Guys, Guys, The Battle is over, the War has been won, let the Vultures ( BDO ) pick over the Bones of the Dead ( RFC ) let us move on, Champions League for Celtic, Ramsdens Cup for Sevco, that sums it all up.

    Best not to scratch an itch, just flares up again !

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