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Fan group fun and games


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Good piece from frankie.........

Supporting Rangers has never been quite so difficult. Doesn’t matter if it’s new beneficial club owners from one year to the next, executive directors that are replaced quarter by quarter or turgid on-the-field performances which would struggle to excite the most positive of football fans, it’s not easy to find a bear without a sore head nowadays. This headache soon becomes even worse when you try to examine the minefield that forms our supporter group landscape.

Let’s go through them for clarity – take a deep breath:

a) The Rangers Supporters Association – the oldest group which represent a range of RSCs all over the world. Nowadays, pretty small, perhaps old fashioned and primarily scoped to deal with ticketing issues you’ll nevertheless find their latest secretary Drew Roberton commenting in the media on a regular basis.

b) The Rangers Supporters Trust – an independent group formed in 2003 mainly working towards fan ownership via share purchasing; the RST account for up to 2000 members. Their chair Gordon Dinnie is also often credited in the media on their behalf.

c) NARSA and ORSA – two foreign associations which look after the interests of the North American and Oceanic RSCs respectively. It’s not often they’ll be quoted in the media but they do have lots of members with a fair amount of clout behind the scenes. NARSA especially have a solid historic relationship with the club.

d) The Rangers Supporters Assembly – the original umbrella group which encompasses all of the above (and more) and was setup around ten years ago. Since then they’ve really struggled to capture the imagination of those they insist they represent (including season book holders). President Andy Kerr remains vocal in the media and usually aligned with a) and b) above. The future of the organisation within the club since the 2012 administration is unclear.

e) Sons of Struth (SoS) – a more recent phenomenon is two fans that have been at the forefront of various protests against figures at the club. Most controversially, their spokesperson Craig Houston was threatened with legal action by club director Sandy Easdale for defamatory comments on a social network page. This has prompted much comment which we’ll explore further below.

f) Union of Fans – even more recent is this new umbrella group which is made up of a), b), d), e) and the two Ibrox singing sections. Again, this group appear most concerned with the short-term future of club and their statements are geared towards this political aim. Spokesman Chris Graham is a keen blogger on the club and is featured regularly on two popular websites.

g) Buy Rangers and Rangers First – not to be outdone, we now have two share vehicles specifically interested in achieving fan ownership via the purchase of shares as part of government backed schemes. The former is organised by the RST while the latter is a new development also promoted by Supporters Direct. At first glance both appear attractive to the interested supporter.

h) Rangers Fans Fighting Fund (RFFF) – set up in 2012 this fund was put together to raise money for the club post-administration. Despite having Assembly and official club connotations, the Fund has been blighted by a lack of communication and transparency. Indeed, its website is no longer available and uncertainty remains with respect to the £500,000 surplus in its account.

i) The Rest – as well as the TEN groups above, there are a variety of other clusters of fans which one may or may not perceive as ‘formal’ groups. These are often backed up with websites/blogs and can be made up of thousands of shared members; though usually these can be concentrated down into smaller lobbies of key opinion formers from group to group. It’s difficult to recognise all such bodies in a formal sense but there’s no doubting their contribution can be worthy.

The above really is quite incredible when put down on paper – even with what I’d concede is a very superficial outline of each group. Quite simply, there’s no wonder confusion and division exists when we have so many groups all competing against each other. Despite regular assurances to the contrary (and so-called umbrella groups speaking for all), the chances of genuine fan unity and convincing representation remain as far away as ever. This is confirmed by the most recent issue which has caused further splits in the support.

As touched on above, the Sons of Struth has been one of the most prominent groups of late. Despite only being made up of two individual supporters with no formal constitution, their stadium protests and media profile have resulted in much debate over recent months. Undoubtedly in my view their lobbying of Rangers and its support has contributed to the decision-making of the club hierarchy – even if I may also disagree with their methods and words from time to time. This is especially disappointing when using (or allowing) derogatory language to make their point. As someone who has experienced legal contact in such matters previously, there’s a fine line between fair criticism, unfair falsehoods and petty name-calling. Therefore, it was no surprise to see the main SoS figure Craig Houston served with a legal notice by Sandy Easdale to desist from such alleged behaviour or face a £200,000 court action.

At this point the debate became polarised with those generally supportive of the SoS eager to source funds from the hitherto inactive RFFF to help Mr Houston in his defence against Mr Easdale. However, this suggestion seemed at best unlikely and at worst flawed given the RFFF monies were primarily setup to be used for the club only (despite some cash being used to pay small oldco debts such as Dunfermline Football Club in 2012). With that in mind, even those who had sympathy with the SoS predicament felt it was best a separate fund was setup should legal action go ahead. Hence, it was a great surprise to many bears when the RFFF subsequently voted to put the decision to a general vote of fans rather than immediately reject the suggestion.

Despite this curiosity it could be argued this was perhaps the most reasonable course of action. After all, while many fans didn’t agree with this non-club appropriation of funds, what should happen if another more popular non-club opportunity arose: should it be declined automatically or debated by the fund contributors? Furthermore, the volunteer RFFF committee were put in place to act on our behalf so it’s difficult to argue with the democratic process being followed – even if the lack of clarity surrounding the decision (and RFFF work generally) is of valid concern. In any case, no matter our thoughts, the reaction has been furious from some quarters with one website and NARSA both calling for the resignation of those who voted for the issue to be decided via a ‘general meeting of fans’. Suffice to say the response to that has been equally negative with all sorts of insults permitted in some online communities. Once again the fan-base is split – often based on their website or group of choice rather than actually examining the issue without prejudice.

Indeed it’s this kind of division that is now becoming very difficult to ignore when looking at most issues related to the club. Rather than such subjects being analysed with balance and in unison, we have some coming to most debates with a pre-determined opinion already in place. Quite simply if person/site/group A says one thing, you can be sure person/site/group B will say another and vice-versa. Such disagreement may actually be healthy in some respects but when it is increasingly accompanied by the kind of nonsense we usually see for those hostile to our club then such puerile debate just becomes counter-productive. Is it any wonder our club and fan-base have been taken advantage of in recent years when we can’t agree on the most basic of issues?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to this ongoing tribal warfare. Existing ‘umbrella’ groups have tried and failed for many years to capture the imagination of the widespread support while those not already interested in such ‘political’ matters won’t be swayed by a long list of fan organisations they may struggle to identify with. In addition, resignations, fall-outs and abuse appear to tarnish any good work such groups do. Meanwhile, a club fighting with itself on a month-to-month basis appears to have neither the will nor the way (not to mention the funds) to put in place a new scheme which can accommodate fans of every possible background. Yet, in my opinion, if such a group is to be successful, from the club it must come. It needs that formal official status, along with the backing of high-profile relevant figures, to take fan representation from social clubs and websites to the boardroom. However the only certainty is that when such a proposal does see the light of day, it may be strangled at birth by a minority of people who will always insist upon throwing out the baby with the bathwater for the most ridiculous of arguments.

In the meantime, the moderate (and usually silent) majority can only hope for better. And until we concentrate ten bizarrely disparate groups into one then that day may be a long time coming. What part will you play in achieving that positive change: are you part of the problem or the solution? Will the real Rangers support please stand up?

http://www.gersnet.co.uk/index.php/latest-news/233-fan-group-fun-and-games

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"Once again the fan-base is split – often based on their website or group of choice rather than actually examining the issue without prejudice."

IMO that is the biggest issue, to many fans feel they are aligned with a particular forum/website/organisation and feel that they must toe the party line.

Frankie, a great article which chimes with a phrase from the great Bart Simpson "Why are we focusing on the the little things that make us different when we should be paying attention to the one HUGE thing that makes us the same"

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An excellent article.If only members of all these groups would avoid the usual knee jerk reaction when replying to a valid point or suggestion which is raised which does not fit in with their own current view-point.

Instead,if they would only ask themselves before replying what is best for Rangers and not what best massages their own ego(s)then perhaps the squalid in- fighting could come to an end.

Remember 'A house divided against itself cannot stand'.

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Despite this curiosity it could be argued this was perhaps the most reasonable course of action. After all, while many fans didn’t agree with this non-club appropriation of funds, what should happen if another more popular non-club opportunity arose: should it be declined automatically or debated by the fund contributors? Furthermore, the volunteer RFFF committee were put in place to act on our behalf so it’s difficult to argue with the democratic process being followed – even if the lack of clarity surrounding the decision (and RFFF work generally) is of valid concern. In any case, no matter our thoughts, the reaction has been furious from some quarters with one website and NARSA both calling for the resignation of those who voted for the issue to be decided via a ‘general meeting of fans’. Suffice to say the response to that has been equally negative with all sorts of insults permitted in some online communities. Once again the fan-base is split – often based on their website or group of choice rather than actually examining the issue without prejudice.

How to spin a PR disaster by Frankie

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A lot of good points in that article, but Frankie (if I read it correctly) seems to think the decision to put the redicules idea of paying out money from the RFFF to an individual to a fans vote was OK. If I have picked that up wrong I apologise.

He won't want to upset his pals too much

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Funny he doesn't mention the ONLY group with any credibility in the Rangers community these days Vanguard Bears. The rest are all self serving agenda pushers pretty much focused on getting rid of our board and instating their pals in the Murrays and such like. Edit excluding proper supporters clubs like NARSA ect.

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