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In February 2012 Glasgow Rangers FC entered into a period of administration. Thereafter June 12 saw the club forced into liquidation. July 12 and the Newco Rangers FC were welcomed into the fourth tier of Scottish professional football.
The wherewithal around this period and how these points have been reached for what was after all technically the world’s most successful football team has been well documented and discussed in both football and wider media circles.
This article is focused on the present and what lies ahead for Newco Rangers FC and their supporters. So fast forward to September 2012 and the new team have just beaten Elgin City 5 – 1 at home in their 4th league game of the season in the Scottish 3rd division.
Following liquidation and having lost the bulk of their senior squad for next to nothing with the likes of Steven Naismith, Jamie Ness and Steven Davis opting to move to the Premiership, Kyle Lafferty to Switzerland and Alan Mcgreggor to Turkey- a new squad is in the process of being established. Still under the watchful eye of manager Ally Mccoist new players have arrived from other Scottish clubs as well as further afield including Brazil, France and Romania in replacing these former heroes.
The club have also at this time not surprisingly and indeed correctly had to turn to their acadamy. There are many in Scotland who would suggest that the Rangers acadamy in Auchenhowie has not delivered as it should in producing a conveyor belt of young stars. To counter this the club would hint over the last few years at names such as Bary Ferguson, Alan Hutton, Alan McGreggor, Charlie Adam, and Jamie Ness.
There are like most things probably rights and wrongs on both sides of the argument. What is not disputed is now the club must raise its game in this area to a new level. And with the emergence of new talents to the first team like Barry Mckay, Ross Perry and Lewis McCleod it looks like it is one they are up for.
The importance of this transfer activity though needs also to be reconciled to the 12 month transfer ban that the club now faces starting 1st September 2012; this ban an outcome of the punishments laid down by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) as a result of their previous financial misdemeanours. On Friday night 31st August 2012 as the transfer window closed there was indeed a final flurry of activity at the club’s training centre. And this activity is a useful measure of the various issues affecting the club just now.
Club captain Carlos Bocanegra left to go on a one year loan to La Liga outfit Racing Santander. Citing as others had before him the need to protect his international place somthething that was challenging if plying his trade in the 3rd division of Scotland.
Then there were the two Heart of Midlothian boys the club tried to procure. Ryan McGowan a precocius young full back declined the overtures of Rangers and decided to stay in Edinburgh with the Midlothian club while David Templeton another excellent young player agreed to move to Glasgow.
Two things about young Templeton of interest linked to this transfer being 1. His dad a Rangers die hard tagged him with the middle name “Cooper” after the true and great Rangers legend Davie Cooper and 2. His performance the previous night for Hearts against Liverpool in the Europa Cup surely had caught the eye of a wider group of suitors. Anyway Rangers colourful chief executive Charles Green was happy to get his man as was manager Ally McCoist. The fact he scored 2 goals in his debut against Elgin City will certainly endeer him to the Rangers support.
On the Rangers support; last season the club easily cleared 45,000 at home games at their home in the south side of Glasgow. This impressive figure despite there being no realistic chance of any silverware or honours given the wider financial catastrophes that were affecting the running of the club at this time.
Fears were that the Rangers support would stay away this season. The aforementioned Charles Green and his takeover had been received cautiously by the Rangers support, mindful of the previous year’s disaster. Then there was thee fact it was third division football in Scotland that was on offer. However, the scale of support this club carries and the loyalty they have should not be lost on anyone.
In their first league game of the 12/ 13 season away to Peterhead which was shown live on TV, unofficial Sky viewing figures suggested a significantly higher television audience than the previous live match on SKY tv from Parkhead where arch rivals Celtic were being announced as champions with a tasty home encounter against Aberdeen. The subsequent viewing figures for other Scottish Premier League (SPL) games this season including the Edinburgh Hearts vs Hibs derby have been dwarfed by the Rangers audiences since.
Some external to Scottish football might query why level 4 profesional football is being shown live on TV in Scotland and across the globe. Would it happen in any other country? Probably not. Scotland is often a complex nation though and this set of circumstances with Rangers and their fragile relationship with Scottish football heirarchy epitomises this complexity.
Suffice to say that without the Rangers games on TV under SKY/ ESPN (3rd division or not) there was likely to be no contract for any football in Scotland including the SPL to be shown live on the big satellite stations. The irony of SPL bosses after throwing Rangers out of their league having to urgently negotiate with them to get a contract for their own TV rights to be completed was not lost on the majority of football fans in the country.
It is fair to say then that the match against the men from Elgin City emerged on the backdrop of great and newly invigorated optimism amongst the Rangers support. A sell out in their first home league game of the season against East Stirling had already been testamanent to that. My goodness more fans were at Ibrox that day than were at all other professional games in Scotland combined.
46,000 plus subsequently turned up to the Elgin game and although this was a slightly lower figure than the previous week it was still the highest crowd in Scotland over the weekend beating Celtic’s home match the previous day against Hibs; should also not forget in assessing this statistic the Rangers-Elgin City game was live on ESPN with a strange 4:30pm kick off time obviously to suit TV schedules.
So despite two draws and poor performances away from home against first Peterhead and then Berwick, the crowds have continued to attend at Ibrox. The football has been good and the fans have had their money’s worth.
After four league games Rangers sit in 3rd spot in the league with 8 points. They also have three cups to look forward to: Scottish League Cup, Scottish Cup and Ramsden Cup.
There is no doubt in most people’s mind that they will be promoted this season from the 3rd division and probably stand a good chance of winning at least one of those aforementioned cups.
There is in all likelihood a period of five years or so before they will be back challenging for the big titles and playing again in Europe.
Until then away from home in the lower leagues their fans will continue to have a great time on the various journeys they have to complete while visiting the small provincial clubs and grounds that make up the lower divisions. There will as evidence already shows be shocks on the way for them- both good and bad.
And of course alongside this the fans will stay loyal, Ibrox will by the looks of things be routinely packed and the visiting teams will more than enjoy themselves on their trip to the big city.
Written by James Redfern
Follow him on Twitter @jaycraig1
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