We spend an inordinate amount of time on this blog arguing about what the re-emergent Rangers should be called. It is a rather circular debate with no way of finding any consensus. The dispute between Rangers (“The Rangerists”) or The Rangers or Sevco (“The Sevconians”) and its claim to be the club that was formed in the 19th century is spurious. Whichever way you look at it, the continuity of the “brand” is undeniable and as long those who wish to keep buying that package are satisfied that the wrapping is authentic – where’s the harm?
The red herring in the argument is that “history” is important. To the average football fan, it is nothing of the kind. As a Celtic fan myself, and a bit of a student of the history of the club, I am constantly dismayed by the Thousand Yard Stare I get from your average Celtic fan who is confronted with the names of people who contributed significantly to the club’s identity. Key figures like Sandy McMahon, Jimmy Delaney, Jimmy McGrory and (God help us) John Thomson rarely elicit recognition.
Modern football fans who live in the instant gratification society of the the WWW and mobile communications may pay lip service to their clubs’ history, but that’s not what gives the modern football fan wears as his badge of honour. That is a commodity often erroneously confused with history – the bragging rights associated with the trophy haul.
The ability to claim that “we have more titles than you” is far more valuable to a supporter than which 19th century attacking centre-back won the Scottish Cup with a last minute header; and the value of said cup wins is heavily weighted in favour of the most recent (save for the honourable exception of the European successes).
The maintenance of that illusion of superiority is crucial if Rangers fans are to believe that their club is still Rangers. Perhaps in time they may even come to fully believe it themselves, but the cataract of column inches devoted to propagating that myth, both from the MSM and from information outlets controlled by Charles Green’s organisation, betrays a lack of total belief by the chief Bear-existentialists. Protesting too much may not be subtle, but that never put off your average fitba’ man either.
The upshot though is this. There is a belief – or at least a hope – amongst Rangerists that the continuity argument holds. They will call the new club Rangers. Fans of other clubs who make up the vast majority of the Sevconian tendency, believe nothing of the kind. They will call it something else.
Many will remind Rangerists that the old club died, and this is factually correct (or at least will be very soon). Rangerists will counter that the Rangers ethos lives on at Ibrox, and despite the worrying overtones (for some) contained in that statement, that is also factually correct.
Rangerists will also point out, as Rangers fans on this blog already have, that the SPL bent over backwards to assist the continuity of the club in order to minimise the financial consequences for Scottish football, and that the SFL too, have agreed that they are the same club.
Why? Simply because Scottish Football thinks it needs to help perpetrate they illusion of continuity to avoid the loss of thousands of paying customers to the game altogether.
So round one has gone to the Rangerists, with the Sevconians pretty much taking an eight-count.
So is the name thing important? I don’t think it is of critical importance. The name in itself doesn’t matter, but to merely agree that everything is as before is to join forces with the MSM, SFA & SPL who have sought to give RFC and their tax theft a pass.
Whatever happens in the future though, the illusion hasn’t worked completely. The Sevconians’ wish to call the new club by a different name was for the purpose of making it synonymous with tax evasion, however the name Rangers now evokes exactly that response. There is now a discernible pause when people mention Rangers. A pause that reflects on the dis-service they did to the country, and to the game of football in Scotland.
Which brings us to the really important point. Throughout this saga rules have been bent. Conflicted individuals, alleged to have been involved in the tax and registration scam and its subsequent cover-up, have remained in positions of authority and power, despite being under a cloud throughout. The media have been complicit, except in rare cases, in allowing the wrong-doing to go unquestioned, actively campaigning for rules not to be applied.
What we have been saying all along is this. Please play the game by the rules, and do not manufacture special cases for the financially powerful.
Call Rangers whatever you wish, but deal with their transgressions appropriately in the spirit of sporting fairness, and within the framework of the existing rules. That is the least – and most – we expect. We don’t ask for much. Just give us back some pride in our sport .