Its time to serve the 4th estate an eviction notice

Last updated : 22 January 2010 By Grandmaster Suck

The Rangers support enjoy a love-hate with Scotland's fourth estate: Anything connected with our club appears fair game to sensationalist hacks looking to shift copy and yet time and time again, supporters buy their daily paper with staunch loyalty. The paper you read as an adult is largely influenced by the paper your parents bought when you were growing up. The Daily Record and The Sun are largely insulated from the decline in newspaper sales as smaller titles like The Mirror and The Star suffer. The Observer, Britain's oldest Sunday newspaper is facing a threat that down-market trash peddlers like The News of The World is largely immune from. People can get news fast and they can get it for free so its no surprise that journalists need to push boundaries ever further in order to secure the latest must-read scoop.

What other reason can there be for their latest demonisation of all things blue than a fervour to satisfy the public's demand for scandal? The allegations made against Allan McGregor are a matter for our nation's legal system and I'll make no comment on them at this time. What I can comment on is the way McGregor has been treated in the press compared to the other 2 accused. On Friday night, BBC Scotland national news bulletin carried a story about allegations made against Allan McGegor, another SPL footballer and a minor celebrity. The other SPL player has yet to be named and little is known of the minor celebrity beyond his potential involvement in a reality TV show and yet the national broadcaster felt it appropriate to name and shame the Rangers goalkeeper. I have no problem in people of national interest being named by the press if they're charged of a crime but therein lies the important part - if they're charged. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is gone because the press need to hook viewers with some juicy scandal. Of course they'll claim that its McGregor who's the victim and that they've given equal exposure to his counter allegations of blackmail and subterfuge but to what extent does one justify the other?

If only that were enough to keep the red-tops satisfied. Sadly their need to satisfy a gossip-crazed public have them manufacturing stories where none need appear. Kyle Lafferty is paid to play football. Some, myself included, would say that he isn't doing that to an acceptable standard right now and that his performances are fair game for sports journalists paid to write about the game we all love. Surely most fans would however draw the line at ambushing a naïve guy for tasty quotes used to drum up a petty, fabricated war with a relatively talentless media personality and former player? It is a football journalist's right to publish an article questioning Lafferty's ability on the football pitch - that's not only his job but the reason he's in the public domain. But picking up on comments he makes about the lifestyle he enjoys and reporting them without context? Its a set-up that any cheap conman or hustler would be proud of.

That's the problem Rangers fans currently find ourselves in right now. God knows there's enough to write about on the park with our financial problems, our take-over pantomime, our injury crisis and the emergence of Danny Wilson as a player of no little potential. Why do the press feel the justification in fabricating stories or attacking us without justification? There's obviously a market in feeding the paranoia of our neighbours as a certain radio station will testify. Similarly sales of the daily rags still remain healthy. What will it need for the Gers support to take the only action against the press that's left open to them?

Some encouragement from the club itself would be a start. Every year we complain at the club AGM that the press take pot shots at us without fear of reprisal and every year we're told the same things - that we're lucky we don't see half the things that the club stop from going to print; that the club refuse to make a martyr of a journalist and that if we're not happy then we shouldn't be giving them our custom. Does that also go for the same club employees who sanction puff pieces on slow news days and willingly engage with the press on their terms instead of ours? There's undoubtedly mileage in an intelligent, engaging sports press as offerings from The Guardian and The Times (the discredited journalist aside) show all too well. Its no surprise that even north of the border, the 2 most successful football podcasts give little to no coverage of our domestic game.

Unfortunately with the club unwilling to take action and the majority of our support happy to complain whilst continuing to fall into the old familiar habits on their trip to the newsagent, we'll be left with the quality of press that we truly deserve? Perhaps the problem with this country isn't that everybody gets to have their fair say, its that we've become so accustomed to the daily onslaught of lies, slander and innuendo that we no longer recognise what a fair opinion is? If the Gers faithful really are unwilling to accept any more foundationless attacks then perhaps its time to force the issue? If the club wont ban them then the support must stop funding them. Its time, one way or the other, to show the press that we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more.

Or perhaps we'll just read about it at tomorrow's break, tutting into our tea or coffee?