Rangers hierarchy are as much to blame as bigots in the terraces
Off the back of another UEFA charge for racist behaviour from their fans, Rangers have jumped before they were pushed by saying they will refuse to accept any tickets for their next away tie in Europe - but once again while they are correct in criticising the bigots within their support, they fail to mention the bigots in the board room also.
For years, the Rangers hierarchy has profited from the sectarianism and the bigotry that oozes out of the Rangers support.
Rangers 1872 looked to be getting a handle on it before they were liquidated and then when Rangers 2012 was born, the likes of Charles Green poured fuel onto the fire that was set by the militant Rangers fans blaming everyone and anyone for their old club’s demise and having to start life again in the old Scottish Third Division.
The singing of the Billy Boys and the rest of their bigoted song book did not mysteriously reappear this season, it has been on the go since the new club was formed in 2012 with no repercussions for the Ibrox side - as the SPFL and the Scottish FA are as impotent as they are incompetent.
But with qualification in Europe came the realisation that they are screwed when it comes to the bigots in the terracing. They want to sing songs of hate, of being up to their knees in fenian blood, about 10 German bombers, about the famine, about child abuse - they very rarely sing in celebration of Rangers. In fact, I’d be surprised if you could pick a Rangers fan on the street to tell you what songs that are sung at Ibrox celebrate Rangers and its history without one of the songs of hate being mentioned. And even if they did mention one or two - would they know the words? I doubt it very much.
That is the difference between Celtic and Rangers fans. Yes, the Celtic support has their own plethora of ‘rebel’ and ‘political’ songs that have little or no connection to Celtic - although it does tie in with the club’s Irish heritage - they have many more songs dedicated to the club, its legends, its current players and of its most famous wins. The same cannot be said for Rangers and that is why the self-styled Ultras group 'the Union Bears’ have been made the scapegoats by the club - they are the most vocal, the most colourful, the most atmospheric of the bigots within the Rangers support.
And it is even more laughable and downright disgusting that despite their misconduct, the group has reportedly been told by the club’s board that they are not getting a refund on their tickets for tonight’s game and instead will receive a discount on their season tickets for next season.
A decision that shows clearly that the Rangers’ hierarchy’s stance is solely down to money. They are only turning on their own fans now because UEFA is hitting the club where it hurts the most - by banning fans from the games. No ticket sales, no food and drink sales, no merchandise sales [well that’s a given currently!] and no programme sales to the tune of 3000 or so people. A third ban could see Rangers playing behind closed doors at home for the first time since they held a ‘thank you event’ for those Rangers fans who helped save Rangers 1872 from liquidation*.
A hotbed of racists, bigots & Brexiteers
For years it was a well known fact that the BNP had regularly canvassed outside Ibrox to recruit new members, and then with the rise of UKIP support for the BNP shifted to the-then Nigel Farage’s party. In fact, some bitter Rangers fans tried to secure the help of UKIP in Scotland to aid them in their State Aid allegations against Celtic - which failed as epically as a UKIP General Election result in Scotland - with UKIP’s equivalent to Eva Braun leading the way after her Scotland’s UKIP chairman, Misty Thackeray, was found guilty of sex offences. A woman who [along with her wee hangers-on] tried to get me the sack from a previous job for calling her a Nazi.
Not only is Ibrox a hot bed for UKIPers and those delusional Brexiteers, it is also a hotbed for Tommy Robinson supporters. A man who has been convicted of numerous crimes, nearly causing cases against abusers in England to collapse over his disregard for the law and not to mention his racist and bigoted beliefs towards immigrants, asylum seekers and especially Muslims.
It is those beliefs of Robinson against Muslims that leads me on nicely to former self-appointed Rangers fan spokesperson Chris Graham - the former go-to-guy for Evening Times reporter Chris Jack.
Graham helped current Rangers chairman Dave King to oust the Easdale brothers in a board room coup that actually breached UK company law. It was email correspondences between Dave King and Chris Graham that effectively caught King out and forced to offer to buy all shares after a court ruled in the takeover panel’s favour.
Following King’s takeover, Graham was rewarded with a seat on the board - the first fan to be appointed to the Rangers board much to the anger of many of the club’s own supporters who wanted a vote on such an appointment rather than a Dave King appointee.
Sadly for Graham, such a position was shortlived as his bigoted comments about the Prophet Muhammad in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris in 2015 resurfaced and saw a massive blacklash from the Muslim world. He lasted just 24 hours before having to hand back his brogues and club tie and suit.
And yet to this day, Rangers are paying a known bigot and racist to run the not-so-independent fan group, Club 1872. A fact that was only made public after one of the group’s directors quit in May 2018.
Not only was this news swept under the carpet and ignored by Rangers - who refused to comment - the other directors of Club 1872 refused to comment as did Graham himself.
And yet to this day - even after the launch of their box ticking Everyone Anyone campaign [created four days after the first UEFA charge] - Rangers continue to pay bigot Chris Graham a wage to run the group - producing statements under the behest of the club’s PR guru James Traynor and showing unwavering support in Dave King - even when faced with overwhelming incompetence and damaging headlines involving the convicted tax criminal.
Graham has helped to write statements targeting Celtic, match officials, Celtic fans, individual journalists and the BBC - all at the behest and under the watchful eye of Jim Traynor. Targeting those holding the club to account over the fans sectarianism, hooliganism, racism and other forms of misconduct. Statements lapped up by the Scottish mainstream media like a fat kid wanting candy. No fat jibes please!
Rangers actions are down to finances
The only reason why Rangers are now looking to take action is because UEFA is hitting them where it matters - in the pocket. The Rangers hierarchy know they can get away with all the shite, the bile, the sectarianism and bigotry domestically as the media move from one issue to another every time the wind blows in a different direction. They are not held accountable by the media, by the SPFL, by the Scottish FA nor by the anti-sectarian or anti-racism charities in this country. They are in effect given a free ride.
But they don’t get a free ride from UEFA and that is why action is being taken/ forced upon them.
Despite, laughable claims to the contrary, Rangers have profited from the sectarian beliefs of their fan base. From the Orange kits [supposedly celebrating their Dutch contingent of players] to the regular sash bashes with their blue brothers across the Irish Sea, Linfield, where loyalist marching bands perform like monkeys to the paying public revelling in the sounds of loyalist and sectarian tunes being played for their entertainment - before they march in support of loyalist terrorists and killers of Catholics later that day. With the club’s players and management even posing for photos with such sectarian bands.
And then there is the regular sash bashes and lodge events with former Rangers legends and other notable players - including the likes of Alex Rae - who like the two faced individual that he is - then goes on to Clyde Super Scoreboard to lecture listeners on the wrongs of sectarianism and bigotry.
So before anyone even contemplates congratulating the Rangers hierarchy on their stance against the mindless thugs and bigots within their support - questions must be asked of the Rangers board themselves.
Managing Director Stewart Robertson openly admitted to the press in May 2016 that the singing of The Billy Boys was not as bad as the pitch invasion. Rather than condemning both, he chose to down play the singing of a known bigoted and banned song. A statement that was not questioned by our media.
We then had Rangers blaming Kilmarnock for the actions of the Rangers support earlier this season, when the Rangers support assaulted a number of stewards to breach a security gate to allow fans to bypass security and ticket machines - resulting in ticketless fans standing on stairs and in the way of exits.
And this was before the pitch invasion and the destruction of the disabled section’s roof - which caused a number of injuries to disabled Rangers fans.
Yet the Rangers hierarchy tried to pass the buck onto Kilmarnock rather than hold their hands up, apologise, pay for the damages and criticise their fans. They know that don’t need to fess up to their fans misconduct domestically as there is never a punishment coming their way. Unlike in Europe.
And SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster still tries to preach to us on his claims that Strict Liability doesn’t work. Sorry, but it looks to be working now.
Speaking of the SPFL and for that matter the Scottish FA, they have once again refused to comment on Rangers being hit with ANOTHER charge for Racist behaviour. The latter an organisation that defended Ajax over the Dutch side’s ‘Fenian bastards’ banner in 2013.
They failed to punish Rangers and Hibs fans for the riot after the Scottish Cup Final in 2016…. they bent over backwards to keep Rangers 1872 in the SPL and then tried to force them onto the SFL Division One through bullying and corruption as attested to by the late Turnbull Hutton.
The current SFA President Rod Petrie was rumoured to have angrily blasted his fellow chairmen and chief executives after they stood firm and voted for the integrity of our game over letting Rangers 2012 into the top flight of Scottish football - and for listening to the fans. Later, he changed his own position.
Rangers are now hanging their own fans out to dry to prevent full stadium closures - as without the European revenue in their pockets they are screwed financially.
They know they don’t have a leg to stand on just as former Rangers 1872 owner David Murray knew in 2011, when Rangers fans were banned from the Malmo game for sectarian singing during the Champions League ties against PSV Eindhoven.
All eyes will be on the Rangers fans tonight - none more so than UEFA - and if they continue to belt out their bigoted songs and chants then a full stadium closure is very much in the offing.