The Emperor Needs New Clothes

During the last 25 years or so , as either a member of various Rangers forums, a shareholder at AGM, supporters groups organisations or latterly as a director of Club 1872,, I have witnessed Rangers supporters attempt to hold various power brokers on a succession of Rangers boards, to account.

Whether it was Murray, Whyte, Green or the current incumbents, there was always a common denominator – such an interrogative process always took roughly the same format – a series of well designed and researched questions to which the interviewee would respond with a series of answers. In terms of establishing the truth it is a pretty flawed format, particularly without access to some of the processes or information which would allow us to determine the veracity and integrity of the answers provided. As passionate and concerned football fans trying to gain insight into how their club is being run this flawed process adopted by Rangers fans is probably no different from that adopted by concerned fans of other clubs the length and breadth of the country.

There is one critical difference however which is a game changer – Rangers fans are not just concerned and passionate supporters – they are the second largest shareholder in the club via the Community Interest Company, Club 1872. This is both a relatively new and unique situation and one which all parties involved need to take time to re-assess and consider. Fans have bought into the concept in order to both protect the club and have a real say in its direction – that is not achieved by the flawed and ineffective question and answer processes aforementioned. Nor is it achieved by Club 1872 directors taking members concerns to Stewart Robertson on a regular basis. Perhaps when those concerns become tabled motions requiring a boardroom vote then we will be heading on the right direction.

Last week, along with other Club 1872 members I was asked to cast votes in respect of the forthcoming AGM. Such a request came at the conclusion of one of the most shambolic managerial appointments in the history of our club and one which had both sporting and financial ramifications. One or more of the names in front of me vying for re-election to the board, was responsible for this shambles, but exactly who I did not know. As those responsible had neither the honour to tender their resignations for such a serious error of judgement, nor were the rest of the board committed enough to previous pledges and assurances regarding transparency, I was as a consequence completely deprived of the necessary information required to allow me to make an informed choice to both protect and safeguard my club.

Furthermore, such a catalogue of failings as described aforesaid meant that I could be actually endorsing and enabling the directors responsible for this recruiting disaster aforementioned, ironically at a time when the club are going through the recruiting process once again. Faced with such a dilemma and set of circumstances, I came to realise I was unable to satisfy the obligation to protect and safeguard the club. In essence, in its current format, Club 1872 is just not working. That is not a criticism of either the concept nor the current directors, but it is, most certainly, a criticism of the current Rangers board.

They have failed to acknowledge Club 1872 as either an equal or significant partner in matters concerning the club

Their method of engagement with this new power base has not evolved, relying on draconian question and answers sessions as a means of “positive engagement”

The tragedy is that in such a comprehensive failing the Rangers board have collectively negated Club 1872’s mission statement of protecting and safeguarding the club. You cant safeguard a club with question and answers sessions – some of us have learnt the lessons the hard way.

The whole relationship between the club and Club 1872 needs to be re-established, re-assessed, and within the club itself, there needs to be a considerable degree of realisation that there is a new power broker at the table. How the club accommodates this newly established seat of power will be both interesting and challenging. Club 1872 based on its % shareholding merits a seat on the board of the club, whether that will be truly effective in allowing it to fulfil its remit of safeguarding and protecting the club remains to be seen. This will be a considerable pioneering undertaking for all involved, but it as an essential journey which both the club and Club 1872 must embark upon in order that the latter can serve its purpose and obligation of protecting the former. The current status quo offers a situation which is neither effective or tenable.

Whatever is decided upon one thing is abundantly clear – we as fans, with a considerable balance of power at our backs, will no longer be satisfied with token and ineffectual question and answer sessions. This new balance of power needs to be accommodated within the club structure in such a way that it can fulfil its remit of truly protecting and safeguarding the club.

In essence we no longer deserve better, we now have the power to insist upon it.

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12 Angry Men

If the Rangers support were a jury, I think it would safe to say we had reached a majority rather than a unanimous decision on Pedro. An early exit to European minnows from Luxembourg on the back of an embarrassing defeat to our greatest rivals at home, whilst losing our long-established home record to the sheep would suggest that a fairly compelling prima facie case had been established by that majority.

Furthermore, an inauspicious start to the season makes it all the more difficult to introduce a reasonable element of doubt into the minds of those who are currently sitting in the majority camp and whose minds are clearly made up so to speak.

Should we pause for a moment and recall Advocaat’s multi-million £ squad, albeit not with home advantage, losing 6-2 at Parkhead? Should we consider that even some great Rangers managers, with far more settled squads suffered worse starts in their first 3 games of the domestic league? Should we ponder the fact that abysmal refereeing had a major say in 2 of our last 3 league games?

Perhaps we could reflect on the fact we are into a rebuilding programme which is clearly not yet complete, before we decide to sack the architect.

The first few years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure at Manchester United were characterised by something of a roller coaster ride which saw them take a few backward steps before their record winning period of success. Having been appointed in 1986, it was season 92/93 before the Reds won their first championship under the tenure of Sir Alex. While such a comparison certainly qualifies as an “apples and oranges” evaluation, the virtues of patience and a realistic assessment of the challenges faced should not be excluded either.

As always, the OF games will have a considerable bearing on the manager’s future. We have to hope Kranjcar’s recent interview where he suggested we could lose all 4 OF games and still challenge for the title is a form of delusion exclusive to Niko, and not the rest of the dressing room or the management.

There is a popular saying that the “league table never lies”. Would it be prudent to wait until the end of the season and put this theory to the test rather than jump on the managerial merry go round prematurely?

Consistent inconsistency

Apologies if this journey appears a tad confusing, I can assure you none of it is my doing. It starts with Rangers player Andy Halliday receiving a red card against Morton for a goal celebration which officials deemed had the potential to incite a riot. Further along the road we have a security guard gesturing a 5 – 1 sign whilst posing for a photograph with Hibs manager Neil’s Lennon. A gesture the Edinburgh club described as “insulting” and which merited a complaint. Our journey ends at Ibrox with Neil Lennon aforesaid, gesticulating a GIRUY to the Rangers support during a match Police Scotland had expressed concern about. Despite all of the foregoing this incident was deemed neither insulting nor likely to incite a riot, apparently it could be categorised as “banter”

I have read and listened to several comments from bears in response to the Club1872 statement regarding Lennon’s conduct. “Ill-advised” “Misjudged” as well as the suggestion it has deflected from other matters e.g. the very one-sided refereeing display. If any of you think Beaton’s performance would have been subjected to forensic examination by the Scottish media you are clearly more optimistic than me.

For example. Keith Jackson’s Monday column appeared to have been prepared based on the ongoing boycott of the Daily Record and the introduction of a camera to the Rangers press conference, both subjects which have attracted his ire. There is almost a suggestion of Rangers fans having temerity and audacity to choose to boycott a newspaper which has been shown to print lies about them. His own newspaper’s lies in respect of Rangers supporters is something Jackson’s fails to mention in his column. Furthermore, as he sets out to compare our club to the North Korean regime, hinting that the presence of a camera to record proceedings is some kind of “sinister sub text” he neglects to mention its primary purpose is so that our manager can analyse his performance at press conferences. Those of us who had undergone even the briefest of media training will know such practice is commonplace.

The only sinister element at play here appears to be the very selective presentation of facts in a manner befitting a totalitarian despot regime.

There has also been the suggestion the club itself should have taken the lead on the response and highlighted the refereeing. I refrain from using the term “bad” or “abysmal” refereeing as it would suggest it was consistently bad across the board – it was anything but. But as someone who has been particularly critical of “dignified silence” from Rangers’ boards I find myself in a strange place. However, the issue of the refereeing performance is a matter for the club to pursue and they appear to be doing so courtesy of the appeal of Jack’s red card. Would it be appropriate to comment prior to the conclusion of the judicial proceedings which will determine the outcome of that appeal?

“Unlawful Tom” appeared to be concentrating on the “indignant” nature of Rangers fans regarding Beaton’s performance rather than offer any analysis of it. (As a side note, a few have contacted me regarding the initial response from the BBC regarding complaints. My suggestion would be to escalate if you are not satisfied with the response – if they refuse to do so I’d suggest addressing your concerns via Ofcom)

When Butcher/Woods/Roberts and McAvennie were deemed to have fallen foul of the law Sheriff Archibald McKay was unequivocal in his summation at the end of the trial.

“A large percentage of supporters are readily converted by breaches of the peace into two rival mobs. That they were not so transformed is no credit to you. You must have been aware of your wider responsibilities and you failed to discharge them”

There is a clear message within that summation of both the standards of behaviour and responsibility of those on the park. If you think Neil Lennon satisfied either on Saturday then your opinion is different to mine. A person does not require to be offended to recognise irresponsible, reckless and provocative behaviour.

Of course the easy option for Club1872 would have been to remain silent, to say nothing, to ignore all the foregoing.  And in doing so they would have fulfilled the brief provided recently by others :-

“Know your place H** scum”

The baton carriers

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

(Sun Tzu –  The Art of War)

Those who have followed both the reporting and coverage of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Rangers use of EBT’s could probably hazard a fairly good guess guess as to who the enemy is. It would be inaccurate to say, “they broke cover” as many entering the fray would be filed under the category of “the usual suspects”. Perhaps my favourite observation at the time came from not within our support, but from the Head of Sport at the Herald, Stuart Weir who reflected via Twitter

“Still folk out there who’ve only watched Kavanagh QC (while evidently downing bottles of QC sherry) arguing with real QC’s

Pass the popcorn”

Stewart would probably have required an extra-large bag if the dogged stance of Tom English was anything to go by. The latter’s debate with QC and Tax Specialist Joylon Maugham was the twitter equivalent of “death by a thousand tweets” as the assertions of English were ceremoniously and clinically lanced as if the BBC reporter’s line of reasoning was little more than a septic boil.

Of course, that didn’t stop BBC Scotland running with the erroneous and inaccurate “unlawful” accusation in their news bulletins. And its at this point I would respectfully suggest our enemy recognition becomes somewhat clouded. Who approved the inclusion and creation of the word “unlawful” and who, with editorial responsibility deemed it appropriate and accurate?

It is refreshing that this inaccuracy will not go without challenge, and Club 1872 have already intimated that this will be subject of a complaint. I suspect those of us who have previously trodden this path could predict the pattern – rejection and escalation, rinse and repeat until it is eventually deferred to Ofcom for a ruling.  (From 3 April 2017, Ofcom replaced the BBC Trust as first regulator) When it does arrive on their doorstep I hope Ofcom reflect that it is not the first complaint from Rangers supporters regarding the accuracy of the organisation’s output north of the border.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-22951447

It didn’t require tax experts and QC’s however to punch fairly large holes in BBC Scotland’s adopted stance. Frankie from Gersnet skewered BBC Scotland’s Chris McGlaughin to the point the latter was unable to form a reply to some probing questions. However, as with Tom English , Frankie  makes a critical observation in response to Joylon Maugham.

“What you may not realise Jo, is that BBC Scotland’s default position on Rangers has to be maximum negative. Tom merely carrying that baton.”

Might I respectfully suggest that there is a very large ball about to land in the court of Ofcom. Merely adjudicating on the matter is not sufficient, not given the previous failings of the organisation as alluded to earlier. The role of the unnamed, unseen baton carriers needs to be examined thoroughly, including systems and processes which allowed inaccurate and erroneous broadcasting to once again pass as acceptable, accurate and impartial.

Sometimes adjudication like a medical diagnosis is not sufficient, merely identifying a septic boil is not enough – it requires to be lanced and cleansed.

Kill Devil Hills & Club 1872

Kill Devil Hills North Carolina, may seem a strange place to start a discussion on Club 1872. But it was here on the 17th December, 1903, that Wilbur and Orville Wright pioneered mankind’s first powered flight. The maiden flight that day lasted all of just 12 seconds and covered a distance of only 120 feet. The second and third attempts managed 175 and 200 feet respectively before the fourth and final attempt of the day managed the grand old distance of 853 feet during a voyage that lasted 59 seconds. That final attempt saw the plane crash into the ground causing damage to the frame thus preventing any further sojourns that day.

This fairly inauspicious and less than spectacular start did little to deter either the brother’s, or mankind’s enthusiasm for powered flight. And less than a century later not only was it possible to traverse continents by air, but also explore beyond the earth itself.

It would be inaccurate to describe Club 1872’s maiden flight as either “fairly inauspicious” or “less than spectacular”, in short it has been an unmitigated disaster, a shambles. The birthing pains of an organisation born prematurely and not fully prepared for the environment into which it was born to operate. For those of us who are disciples of fan ownership it has been a considerable setback, but it is more important than ever that we metaphorically “keep the faith”.

The recent excellent synopsis by Andy McKellar & Big Blue Bear on Gersnet

http://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/news-category/current-affairs/770-the-club1872-crossroads

provides a clear signpost of where we want our organisation to go.

Club 1872 is a workable, sustainable but nonetheless challenging model for fan engagement. Whilst the workload is huge, it is manageable. It would be even more manageable if there was effective PR at our club, with volunteer and unqualified Club 1872 board members not being left to defend both club and support. There is nothing dignified whatsoever in a silence which sees both our club and support besmirched by newspapers and journalists with a clear agenda.

With only one remaining director it is clear the organisation requires fresh elections and the nomination of a new board of directors. My understanding is that the new poll suggesting the re-engagement of both Laura Fawkes and Joanne Percival is a means of both facilitating and expediting such elections, along with the introduction of a much needed constitution. Having worked with both of these ladies in the past, I have no doubt as to their ability and commitment to undertake the necessary unglamorous work in order to bring such elections and constitution to fruition.

I believe now, as I have for many years, that we as a support are better placed to both safeguard and influence the direction of our club if we have a fans organisation which can exercise not only  passion, but also authority, courtesy of a significant shareholding.

Cancelling your direct debit only weakens that authority.

Let us get our fans organisation airborne once again.

Club 1872 – Statement of Resignation

As you will be aware following the announcement from Club 1872, all 3 of us have resigned as directors. We considered it an honour and a privilege to be voted to serve on the board of Club 1872 by our fellow Rangers fans, and those of you who know each one of us personally will understand how painful it was for us to leave an organisation we firmly believed in and worked tirelessly to establish since our election.

We feel it is incumbent upon us to outline to members the reasons why we felt our positions had become untenable. As anyone who has served on a board or committee will know there will always be differences of opinion and varied interpretations on matters and the Club 1872 board was no different in that respect.

However, throughout our tenure we found the conduct of one director particularly challenging, causing all of us to make considerable personal compromises at times. However last week a situation arose, which we felt compromised the organisation rather than ourselves, and that was one compromise we were not prepared to make under any circumstances.

As many of you will be aware Rangers have recently advertised two job vacancies in respect of a Social Media Officer and a Supporters Liaison Officer. At Club 1872 we were informed recently that the latter of these two roles would be our main point of contact at the club in the future.

Word subsequently reached some of the Club 1872 board members that one of our directors had applied for the position of Supporters Liaison Officer. However, as no notification had been received from the director in question this matter remained as nothing more than a rumour.

Matters came to a head when the director in question intimated he, in addition to two Club 1872 directors who had already confirmed their attendance, would attend a meeting at Ibrox facilitated by Rangers Security personnel. This meeting was in respect of the forthcoming Old Firm fixture at which both Police Scotland and Club 1872 were invited participants.

As persons present at this meeting from Rangers were to be involved in the interview and recruitment process for the vacant Supporters Liaison role concerns were raised within the Club 1872 board. As nothing had yet been received in writing to the Club 1872 board this necessitated a phone call by one director to the director in question at which time it was established he had in fact applied for the role of Supporters Liaison Officer.

On such confirmation, the director in question was advised that it would not be appropriate for him to attend this meeting. In essence, we had a Club 1872 director who had applied for a job at Rangers, attending a meeting where persons from the club who were not only involved in the interview and recruitment process, but would also have direct line management responsibility for the post in question, were present.

Despite such advice and the concerns of fellow board members, the director in question attended the meeting.

We tendered our resignations shortly thereafter.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere apologies to all members, and in particular, those who voted for us. However, all 3 of us believe that by resigning in such circumstances we were reflecting the standards, values and principles which saw us elected.

Laura Fawkes
Joanne Percival
Iain Leiper

FOI – Scottish Govt – Ibrox roof

foi-ibrox-roof

The abov FOI response from the Scottish Government was sent to me courtesy of an individual who wishes to remain anonymous – and any reference to his details have been edited out the original document.

The comments of the Scottish government make for very interesting reading given the assertions in the original blog which gave rise to the FOI request being made.