“Myself and 26,000 other shareholders need to remain vigilant to ensure he [Whyte] remains committed to the club and honours what he said he would honour,” Johnston said. “He can’t just talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.
(Alistair Johnston – May 2011)
I utilised Johnson’s call for vigilance as the basis of an article for the inaugural launch of WATP magazine. Whilst thankfully WATP magazine has gone from strength to strength, Rangers fans ability to exercise vigilance with regard to our club has sadly not enjoyed similar growth. Today we as fans are left to speculate about the details of a commercial deal with Sports Direct, as successful legal action by the aforesaid Sports Direct, makes the exercise of vigilance virtually impossible.
The Sports Direct Deal is in fact only a symptom of a far greater problem – that the exercise of true vigilance is absolutely impossible for fans if they are disconnected or disempowered from the processes, limited or restricted in the information they can access, or even when they can access the necessary information – they are effectively gagged from speaking out. Perhaps before allocating the Rangers support such an important and weighty responsibility, Mr Johnston may wish to consider how effectively he used his time at the club to ensure the Rangers support had the necessary tools to carry out the task he had bestowed upon them.
This article is not about the current board, nor the previous one, nor the next one for that matter, whosoever that may be, but what it is most certainly is about however is putting in place for time immemorial both a structure and culture at our club which ensures that at any time our fans are capable of undertaking and exercising effective vigilance with regard to how our club is being run.
This means total and complete transparency regarding every aspect of our club, it means sharing information in a readily accessible and understandable format for the fans, and perhaps the biggest challenge of all – ensuring any prospective business associates understand that this will be our club’s default position at all times. Without exception.
We don’t want to hear about “practical difficulties”, “insurmountable odds” or “considerable difficulties” – the Rangers support have been subjected to this and more throughout the years and have still emerged triumphant. Give us results not excuses – it’s not only what we expect but what we deserve. Suffice to say if the succession of directors who have sat in the Rangers boardroom over the years had fulfilled their duty in such an exemplary fashion as the Rangers support – then we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.
We need to create a Covenant between club and support, carried on through generations of boardrooms, passed from father to son, a Covenant which enables every Rangers supporter to forensically examine every aspect of our club.
On the 9th February 1941, Winston Churchill addressed President Roosevelt, utilising celebrated lines from Longfellow to maximum effect:
What is the answer that I shall give, in your name, to this great man, the thrice-chosen head of a nation of a hundred and thirty millions? Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt: Put your confidence in us. Give us your faith and your blessing, and, under Providence, all will be well.
We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down.
Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.
To the Rangers Board I say this – give us our Covenant and we will finish the job.
You know we will not falter.