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Rangers Fans Organisations: Will The Unity End With The Blue Knight's Bid?


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Rangers Fans Organisations: Will The Unity End With The Blue Knight's Bid?

Everyone knows the old story about the bundle of sticks that cannot be broken easily, whilst the individual stick can be broken with no difficulty. It may be an unsophisticated adage, but it’s a wise and accurate one nonetheless. In fact, if you think about it, it is the essential definition of the phrase, ‘unity is strength’.

Now that the Blue Knights have ‘stepped aside’ (perhaps only temporarily) in favour of the Bill Ng bid, I wonder how long the uneasy alliance between the RST, the Assembly and the Association will last. Is the very welcome unity of the past few weeks about to come to an abrupt end? Has it simply been a transient phenomenon?

We tend to use the word ‘unity’ almost as a matter of course these days, without giving much thought as to whether we use it appropriately. A cursory look at the behaviour of our politicians is enough to persuade one that unity is a much used and much abused word.

Just watch the evening news and you will quickly see how disunited they are. Squabbling and in-fighting are commonplace in the Northern Ireland and Scottish Assembly, and the BBC now provides us with a daily diet of political wrangling, confrontation, dispute, intrigue and acrimony in the UK Parliament and its various select committees.

It’s almost like watching a double header of Eastenders and Emmerdale!

Young Matthew (Mattie) Stepanek, a young American poet who tragically died in 2004, just a month before his 14th birthday famously said, “Unity is strength - when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”

‘Teamwork and collaboration’, that is the ‘clincher’, the all important ingredient that is more often than not missing. We frequently hear our supporters groups claim to be united when they certainly are not, and we rarely see them demonstrate any real unity of purpose.

So, perhaps, it’s not so surprising that we in the wider Rangers ‘family’ appear to suffer from the same malaise; the same disunity that we find so disappointing in our political masters. That’s why it‘s not surprising that the recent ‘marriage’ between the three main supporter’s organisations was treated with a hefty dose of scepticism by Rangers supporters far and wide, who are more accustomed to the atmosphere of acrimony and charge and counter charge that tends to characterise their relationship.

Sometimes we can be so close to a problem that we simply cannot see the ‘wood for the trees’. At times we can be so close, and those problems so emotive, as to ‘block out’ all rational and logical thought. Sometimes we simply cannot see the big picture or focus on the greater good.

When I met for coffee a few days ago with my younger brother, our conversation naturally turned to all things Rangers, and after I had given him the lowdown on recent developments (or the distinct lack of them!), he asked, innocently, “What are the supporters doing about it all.”

After hesitating for a few moments to collect my thoughts, I launched into a detailed explanation of the ‘positions’ of the various Rangers supporters groupings – not a particularly easy thing to do I might add!

He’s a highly intelligent man my bruv, but I think he got lost somewhere between the Rangers Supporters Trust, the Rangers Supporters Assembly, the Rangers Supporters Association, Rangers Unite, Save Rangers, the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund, the Blue Knights and so on, and so on!

I almost felt sorry for him, except that I was just as confused and frustrated as he! “Can’t they simply get together? Can’t they get their ‘act’ together for the greater good of the Club” he asked plaintively.

“Where have I heard that one before” I hear you ask?

What is beyond dispute - what is an unassailable fact - is that all of these groups are ‘die-hard’ Rangers fans. Each of them – and every one of their members – has Rangers at heart, and because of that one would think that unity of purpose and action would be a relatively easy thing to achieve.

Regrettably, however, that isn’t the case. After all these years and, particularly at a time when the Club we all love faces its greatest threat ever – a crisis that threatens our very existence - we cannot achieve unity under one ‘umbrella’ supporters organisation. A unity that everyone agrees is absolutely imperative at this moment in time, and for the future wellbeing of our great club.

The recent collaboration between the RST, the Assembly and the Association has been a welcome respite from the normal strained relationships, but it did no more than paper over the cracks. What we have had for the past few weeks is a mere façade; it is not the real and lasting unity we all crave.

It is ironic, that hard on the heels of their demand that the Duff and Phelps Two immediately announce a preferred bidder, the Blue Knights should ‘fold their tents’ and drop out of the race for Rangers. Perhaps, it is only a negotiating ploy; maybe only a tactical withdrawal. But does it spell the death knell for collaboration and cooperation between the three main supporters groups?

In spite of the weeks of apparent unity of purpose we still do not have a unified ‘vision’ for the future of our Club; a unified approach to the fans, to the administrators; to the SPL/SFA, to the media – we still do not have a unified voice.

If you think I’m wrong, just log into the various web sites and witness the frustration and confusion of ordinary fans first hand. More often than not they don’t know who, or what, to believe, or whether a particular Rangers ‘spokesperson’ is speaking for the fans, for himself or for the organisation.

Log on to the competing web sites and read the conflicting statements. Log on and experience the petty criticisms, the vindictiveness, the unhealthy rivalries, the innuendo and the frequent vitriolic attacks upon one another.

I need not set these down in detail here; you’ve all seen and read them. In that respect the last few weeks has been a very welcome interlude. But will we now see the petty rivalries and the ‘sniping’ return now that the future of the Blue Knights is in doubt and their cohesion somewhat diminished?

Ranger’s supporters are – quite literally – crying out for an effective, unified voice. A voice that encapsulates the hopes and aspirations of Rangers fans everywhere, whether they are part of an organised Ranger’s Supporters Club, an individual supporter or an unaffiliated group.

There is NO place for individual aggrandisement! We are here to serve the ‘whole’ not the personal whims and aspirations of the few ‘prominente’ who purport to speak for us.

We must realise that we have more in common than we have to divide us. We must focus on the greater good. There is no fundamental reason why the existing supporters groups cannot ‘morph’ into the umbrella organisation that we so desperately need.

The RST need not set aside its stated aim, “to encourage and facilitate supporters of Rangers to buy and hold shares in the club in order to influence future decisions.”, or it’s firmly held belief that, “Rangers is safest in the hands of people who care about the Football Club rather than just seeing it as a financial investment.” The latter point, in particular, is shared by us all.

Nor does the Rangers Supporters Assembly need to revise its agreed objectives to;

• Improve Communication/Consultation between Rangers Fans and Rangers Football Club.

• Represent the views of Rangers Fans to Rangers Football Club in matters of policy, services and any other pertinent matter

• Create a stronger association between Rangers Fans and Rangers Football Club

• Reduce fragmented discussions.

• Help to grow the Rangers fan base worldwide.

• Help to ensure the long term growth of Rangers Football Club

Don’t we all want these things? Don’t we all share these very laudable objectives?

The aims and objectives of the other groups such as, the Rangers Supporters Association, Rangers Unite, and Save Rangers etc. are not incompatible, and there is no insurmountable obstacle in the way of an amalgamation of the pre-existing groups and those that have so readily sprung into being to meet the challenges of the current crisis.

“Honest differences of views and honest debate are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy making among free men.” said American President, Herbert Hoover, and I don’t think any of us would dissent from those wise words.

This is not the time for egotistical posturing. The personal agendas, the narrow self interest and the traditional rogue’s resort to the so called ‘principled position’ must be set aside for the good of Rangers Football Club. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Important principles may, and must, be flexible.” He should know, few other statesmen have ever faced the crises that he did!

I think I can safely reflect the opinion of most Rangers supporters when I call upon all of the existing supporter’s organisations to put their historic differences behind them and get together now, with the express purpose of forming, and uniting behind one new, dynamic, powerful and effective umbrella supporters organisation.

Either we unite under one banner and under one organisation, or we wither on the vine. The choice is yours. As Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

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