Rangers FC in crisis: A genuine Ulster Scots saga…

If the Ulster Scots Agency has any spare money they might think about giving it to Rangers Football club and quickly.

Recently the players took a 75% pay cut till the end of the season. The Administrators said it was that or the lights went out. The future for the club is bleak. Rangers could be liquidated as their debts are massive and unpayable. And the company will not be in a position to trade out of the situation.

The recent “offers” to buy the club are highly conditional  and based upon an entire series of obstacles being cleared out of the way by the Adminstrators.

While the flat pack culture for to give the Unionist Tradition an ersatz ethnic garish attracts mockery and derision there is a genuine connection to Scotland in the North that doesn’t attract any grant aid.

That is probably because it is authentic, working class and therefore has to be self-financing. Ibrox is Billy’s Barbican and there is no need for state assistance to convince a kid in Ballymoney to wear a Rangers shirt.

Nor is there any need for a government translation service. The lads on the Shankhill know everything there is to know about the Light Blues because it in genuinely their team. Now Scotland’s establishment club is about to be liquidated. That is the consensus among business analysts who have looked at the state of the finances.

In the interest of full disclosure I will not grieve at Rangers passing and some denizens of Planet Rangers think that I’ve been part of the problem that they now face. As visit to the Rangers supporter’s message boards will quickly establish that I am something of a bête verte for the Ibrox faithful.

Although Rangers was established by four young lads in 1872 the club became the over mighty subject of Scottish football largely because of the influence of the Lagan on the Clyde.

Rangers moved from being the local team for the folk of Govan to Scotland’s establishment club under the patronage of the Ulster Scottish bourgeoisie who made originally made their fortunes in Belfast. These hard faced shipyard owners were the Abramovichs of the Edwardian era for Rangers.

It was during this period immediately before the Great War that Rangers brought in the policy of not signing Catholic players.

This discriminatory policy proved to be a highly successful commercial strategy.

Now a century later Rangers face unpayable bills and the lights are about to go out.

As I write this a judge, Lord William Nimmo Smith, has reported to the SFA that the current owner of Rangers, Craig Whyte is “not a fit and proper person” to have a position in Scottish football.

He is now seen as someone who has used the supporters own money to buy the club, burden it with even more debt and then skip off with millions. The Main stream media in Scotland described Whyte as a “billionaire” with “wealth off the radar”, while the blogosphere remained sceptical and asked for evidence.

Others had their suspicions before the mainstream caught up.

There is now a full scale police investigation into the takeover deal when Mr Whyte bought the club for one pound and paid of the £18 million debt to Lloyds banking group.

However, Mr Whyte paid the bank with money from a deal that mortgaged the season ticket money, a fact he originally lied about.

However, Rangers’ problems are much earlier and have their origins in the business strategy of the previous owner.

Sir David Murray, who owned the club from 1988 until May last year was a creature of the credit boom. His Murray International Holdings company defaulted on loans Lloyds banking group and in a debt for equity swap lost control of his empire.

It is now alleged by a former Rangers director that Murray operated under the counter payments to players by way of second contracts in direct contravention of football rules.

Part of this saga is the disconnect between people taking major decisions and those whose entire lives revolves around the fortunes of a football club.

Craig Whyte stated to a meeting of the Rangers Supporters Assembly earlier this year that if the club established in 1873 were to die it “wouldn’t be the end of the world”, well Mr Whyte it would be the end of THEIR world!

In Britain the public pronouncements from Alex Salmond, David Cameron and various media commentators in Scotland have, in a sense, failed to grasp the emotional impact of the passing of Rangers.

There is a class issue here and the emotional frequencies are not quite in sync. As a Celtic supporter from a working class background I immediately saw what Craig Whyte did not. If Rangers go into liquidation then there will be a break with their history.

The “NewCo” will have no claim to past honours. There is also likely to be a legal wrangle over who owns the asset of Ibrox stadium. There is every likelihood that a RFC New Co may not have Ibrox to play at next season.

When I was discussing this piece with Mick he made the perceptive observation that Scotland carries far greater cultural weight in Northern Ireland than vice versa.

This is evidenced by the fact that there hasn’t been a single reference in the Scottish reportage regarding the impact of the current crisis on Rangers’ Ulster fans.

If the weekly traveling to Ibrox becomes a thing of the past then I believe that their absence from everyday interactions in large numbers could have subtle, yet important, consequences on the country that underpins their sense of Britishness.

I have yet to hear any Scottish commentator ask what the impact will be, as Scotland heads into the massive independence conversation, if there are less authentic voices in Glasgow who love the Union and the connection.

As Ulster people with Scottish heritage are about to lose an important strand in their connection to Britain Scotland is considering breaking the bond.

Phil is an author,blogger, freelance journalist and writer based in Ireland. He is an active member of the NUJ with a special interest in online journalism. He was also a constintuency organizer for the SNP in Glasgow Shettleston constituency in the 1987 UK General election. He was also the secretary of the Scottish Branch of the Celtic League during that time. A journalist with An Phoblacht from 1999- 2006 his work under the pen name “Mick Derrig” covered a wide range of topics.