There doesn’t seem to be a day passing without some disconnect from the Rangers board or some outrage at something that has or hasn’t been said. I’m going to try and explain my thoughts on this board, the club, the executives and everything Rangers.
It’s all my opinion and holds no more significance than anyone else as a supporter but in the middle of a lot of noise I think it’s a worthy discussion, it’s important to stress I don’t consider I speak for anyone either.
The weekend’s banner and a follow on from the display at Livingston has turned the spotlight onto the boardroom, undoubtedly on the back of cup final disappointment. The banner on Saturday read ‘After fifty-five, you took your eye off the ball, time for change’, at Livingston it read ‘Two trophies in eleven years, uphold the standards that matter’.
In principle they aren’t wrong but it’s simplistic in my opinion in some ways and absolutely bang on in others.
But here’s where it is difficult not only to put it into words but to avoid the narrative that it’s sticking up for this board in some sort of ‘blazer chasing’ defence. I’m grateful for everything this board has done but exasperated at other moments which leave them without defence.
This board have put Rangers on a firm financial footing, largely due to performance on the park and player sales. In doing so they have posted record revenue (last accounts £86m) and managed to negotiate the extremely difficult period of covid. They continue to post record commercial income, boast new stadium restaurant, Edmiston house and this should be their legacy. Why it isn’t we will get too.
Investment levels in wages of the squad is also a record high, just under £55m and upwards of £13m was spent last summer. They also reportedly spent around £2.5-3m in January there, as well as clearing legacy transfer sums including fees for players like Roofe and Kent for example. The accusation they haven’t spent doesn’t quite seem true, with £40m and beyond spent in total in recent years according to the accounts, the arguments they haven’t spent well is another thing entirely.
The board also continue to provide working loans, with John Bennett (£10.2m) and Julian Wolhardt (£1.8m) currently providing £12m which is more or less an overdraft facility. The investors have also just turned £5.8m of loans into equity. All of this is again available from last accounts.
Now I have seen various attacks on Douglas Park, ‘When is the last time he ever invested money in Rangers?!’. Just last summer the Park motor Group sponsored Rangers £5m, just to have their name attached to a few things, as far as I can see it’s basically giving us that money without it needing to be a repayable loan.
For the first time in several years we are no longer faced with financial warnings in the accounts, such is the extent of them being much more healthy.
So I can genuinely sit here and point to that as huge for this board and the overall financial picture is extremely strong.
I also think in the middle of all the noise that is forgotten. Without this board, especially during covid, we would be so much worse off.
However, that isn’t the reason this board is getting criticism.
There is a growing feeling this board is out of touch and several moments have helped the fanbase reach that decision.
The main anger is at the Sydney cup decision and lack of correspondence with the fans. To enter in to that agreement in the first place was out of touch with the reality of the fanbase, what is even worse is since that moment the club have refused to acknowledge it or take responsibility. No one has put their hands up and taken responsibility, no one has said ‘you know what, we got it wrong, here’s why and it won’t happen again’.
Rangers have simply stuck their heads in the sand and hoped it went away, subsequently it rankles quite a substantial part of the support even a year on. The fact that we face a legal challenge cements the anger further. But lack of communication is a huge issue. Would it really have been so difficult just to go ‘We misjudged it and made an error, we are sorry, we saw a possibility of making good money and it skewed our judgement’.
The whole Sydney farce is completely unacceptable and there is zero accountability.
Being found guilty and fined for fixing the price of shirts is another stain on this boardroom, once again no apology or explanation was ever offered. Numerous Court room dramas, costing the club millions, which (possibly understandable with legal proceedings) never get explained but add to growing frustrations.
Then there is top dollar for Champions league tickets and again no notice or explanation. The tolerance of the support begins to get exasperated and it feels like we are a cash cow.
Getting to a major European final and simply shutting the doors to the support at home, despite many appeals and offers of help. ‘All the staff are going’. They aren’t going this year though when we are away in Europe and it’s slightly less glamorous though?
Then there is the argument of not only safe standing, but the atmosphere at Ibrox and a real reluctance to come to the table and discuss it with the support. Over the road they have had safe standing for years and we as a club will fall further behind as they improve, we stand still and refuse to even discuss it. Soundbites and pre AGM polls are forgotten and look more for show every passing day.
Then there is the so called ‘smaller issues’, lack of ticket centre options and an online ticket system which isn’t fit for purpose. Travel partner and cancelled flights fiasco, the shambles of having defunct sponsors on the tail of our strips, then those companies disappearing.
Now in isolation these can be dealt with but the complaints are that this boardroom doesn’t dialogue with the support and have simply shut the doors to communicate with these issues. They then pile up, people get frustrated and when a bad result comes out they come, that is due to how the board have dealt with it all.
This is the reason there is a disconnect and the reason the fans are unhappy.
The first part of this discussion is simply forgotten about because of the anger of lack of accountability for many club decisions, forget accountability even, the board don’t discuss it with us at all. To the support it simply feels we are taken for granted, it’s not too long ago we paid for season tickets and never even attended a game, whilst the board have played their part so have the fans and continue to support via MyGers, Tickets and merchandise.
The fans undoubtedly feel there is an ‘us vs them’ as the board have insulated themselves to any fan feelings and seem out of touch when soundbites defending their work and ‘best in class’ moments are passed.
This board may not feel that is fair or relevant but it’s undoubtedly why the support feel as they do. They have no outlet to speak too, no fans group to relay their message and no way of telling a boardroom which has hidden itself from fans feeling and criticism.
Start listening and engaging with the support or the anger will only get worse.
I sincerely doubt anyone doesn’t recognise the commitment or the financial support of the board, but until they fix the issues and draw a line under them, then people will remain disgruntled. These mistakes need to stop and there has to be a recognition this won’t happen again, you can’t just ignore them or this is the feeling you get.
And that’s before we even get to the executive board or this squad which I believe is where the true anger is.
Managing director Stewart Robertson is completely negligent in the eyes of the fans. Responsible for overseeing the day to day running of the club, he is key to many of the negatives posted above. It doesn’t matter the positives, the financial outcome etc, working to his remit, because the fans can’t identify with the football decisions which he has overseen. A complete lack of communication and never talks to the support. He has overseen so many blunders, so many arguments with governing bodies for example and we have lost them all.
There is simply no faith from the fans in his position.
Ross Wilson as director of football. Responsible, by his own admission, for the running of the football department there is so many issues the fans want answers for. A transfer strategy that has had limited transfer success, twenty eight players joined during his tenure and a only handful of successes to show for it.
A wage bill at record highs which sees too many ‘stars’ overpaid for the service they provide and so many key areas ignored in a transfer strategy which makes no sense. When we do spend and we have, there is huge questions over how we have spent it. £3m on Rabbi Matondo on a reported £30k a week is a huge outlay with no return, £4m on Ben Davies and £3m plus on Ridvan Yilmaz all present huge question marks for his scouting and ability to help identify a player. At key times our squad has needed a Championship push and he has been found wanting, none more so than last January. Our strategy can’t afford so many mistakes, those are only recently.
A medical department which is a mess and has saw so many long term injuries either get misdiagnosed or wrongly treated. The sheer volume of injuries requires at least questioning. A club Doctor who left and, arguably, was never suitably replaced.
A managerial appointment that lasted a year and we then returned to appoint a man that was already employed at the club before, and subsequently allowed to leave, to replace that big appointment that we were told was all his work. A truly farcical scenario he is responsible for, one which cost the club millions of pounds removing that big appointment and then going to appoint the guy that was allowed to leave already.
Not to mention the contract situation which has two of our biggest assets set to walk out the door for free.
There is a lot of anger towards Wilson and his performance but the main one for me being the state of the first team wage bill and the return we are receiving for that. A squad which is tired and requires a complete rebuild is not the sign of a man doing a good job, he was brought in to ensure that very thing didn’t happen.
Rangers aren’t not spending, they are just wasting what we are and he has a lot of involvement in that.
This is why the fans are angry at their performance and again silence from them both doesn’t help.
James Bisgrove, in the role of Commercial director, is also accountable in the eyes of some. Responsible for tripling the commercial income and maximising partnerships, he is the brains behind the record incomes. Is it perfect? Absolutely not and he will admit he has made mistakes in digital transformation, Bitci, SporteMongo and the Sydney debacle, but his job is to bring money to Rangers, it’s up to others (especially Sydney) to point out why it may not work.
Replace Bisgrove and we will simply appoint the next guy who will do the same or even worse. Another point is that James will discuss his position and is an entirely open book to questioning and fan views. In a boardroom that is one of the main concerns, he can not be accused of that. For me, he is a target because others are underperforming, he isn’t and remains on target to bring in more money to the club.
I’m not saying it’s perfect but if the club took that same response and dialogued with the support then the connection would be better. I don’t expect Rangers to be a business run impeccably but I can say truthfully if the board and other executives engaged more then the frustration levels wouldn’t have been as high. If the criticisms of Ross Wilson or anyone are wrong, they may well be but we know no different, then come out and tell us why. Perhaps even give us a guide for the future because it IS the general feeling it seems.
It should not be on the manager to be the only one with a regular voice at the club.
The squad have underperformed for years and people have had enough of constant repetitive failure. Some of the performances this year have been extremely poor, for best in class see worst ever Champions League performance and being nine points behind in the league. See a Cup final where they once again failed to turn up in, a squad littered across it with the accusation of a ‘loser mentality’. Opinions vary on certain individuals but there has been too many failures to offer a robust defence of any of them, that is widespread amongst the support.
The fans want a rebuild, revamp and monumental change, whatever terminology that suits.
‘Two trophies in eleven years’ and ‘taking eye of the ball after 55’ may be simplistic but they are materially right. The negatives cast a massive shadow over the positives and therefore reasonable debate is out the window.
Settling for second seems almost good enough for some but it can never be acceptable for Rangers. Being completely tone deaf to the support won’t be allowed to carry much longer either.
The fans are angry and unless the boardroom take responsibility and show some accountability then that anger will only get worse. Banners, displays, protests will all get louder because drifting along being conditioned for second place isn’t acceptable. You only have to look at the reaction to Saturday’s banners to see that this feeling of anger is widespread.
Rangers are awash with good people and good staff, I see it daily from the commercial, corporate and media teams, right down to the every day staff who make the club work. They are suffering because the ones making the big decisions are getting it wrong and adrift from supporters feelings.
The investor board have done so much good but they will lose any potential legacy unless they correct the issues the supporters have. The fans certainly believe the faith is in the wrong people who continue to under perform.
It’s hard to see past the argument that it’s time for change.
What level of change may just shape our future but unless the boardroom start listening, fixing past mistakes and engaging with the support, people will only get angrier. It’s a cross roads which now can’t be ignored. That’s what happens when your strategy is simply to ignore the support and hope things go away.
This is Rangers. The fans are the lifeblood of this club, start listening or ignore it at your peril.
8 thoughts on “The Boardroom, the executives and the squad”
I doubt that anyone can argue any part of this blog.
As you say, how much longer can this board hide and show disdain for the support.
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Fully agree with your assessment definitely need a board that will listen to the fans be more objective and stop hiding behind the deafing silence.
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Agree entirely with everything you said stevie, been following rangers from 1969 was in Barcelona in 72 I’m 70 years old travel to home games with my son and grandson we’re season ticket holders costs a fortune to travel .never in my lifetime would I think they could overtake in trophy wins….
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Excellent piece of writing and 100% to the point on on the mark.
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Walter held it all together at our club unfortunately he ain’t there and nobody off his stature took his place we need real rangers people at the club or it will get worse
We have been well below par on getting the right players,as our scouts are abysmal. We need new blood in this department, plus our players are not getting the treatment needed by a top class club. I have followed Rangers for over 70 years, when the support for those running the club were respected by the fans but no more
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I feel that the board are pretty much of the opinion that the Union Bears are all “daft wee boys” and they don’t have to respond to the dafties!
Maybe they never heard the applause from around the stadium on Saturday, or once again chose to ignore it.
Just to let them know that I am 64, haven’t missed a home game for years, my ticket for Seville cost me £1400, my season ticket is £630+, I’m a MyGers member and I’m sick of it all. SO PLEASE TALK TO US. 🔴⚪️🔵
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I agree with what is said whole heartedly, we need change, we need to get rid of hangers on and we need players that can actually play instead of being nursed back to health at our cost. It’s hard enough accepting being beaten when the players have given their best and get beaten fair and square, however I am completely disheartened when I see the other mob get better every time I see them. They play in such a way that they treat us as if they are in a training session a d we seem to just lie down and take it. All the negatively directed at our club doesn’t help the players but if truth be told, there isn’t very much to be positive about either. If players don’t want to be there then the quicker we get rid of them the better regardless of who they are, likewise if they are not reaching our standards then they have to go. Give some of our rising stars a chance, heaven knows, they couldn’t be any worse than what we are seeing right now. Talk of being and accepting second best is never going to be accepted, but if things do not improve drastically and quickly, second best might not be achieved either. There is no one person to blame, it’s a collective of many things and all need to be addressed soon. Rangers is an institute that many have grown up with but our legacy from years gone by is disappointing fast, that breaks my heart. C’mon the board, the management, the players and everyone else, put us where we belong.
Rangers til I die.