As the years progressed, the Fourth Estate ramped up the hostility, stoked the fires of sectarian hatred and told untruth after untruth and laid lie upon lie whilst our board maintained a dignified silence, never once responding to any of the words, slurs or allegations laid against our club.
Whether it was a recently dead captain, recently deceased manager, the victims of the Ibrox Disaster or the supporters themselves, never once did the custodians of the club stand firm and publicly rebuke these heinous untruths. A dignified silence was rigidly maintained, the other cheek was predictably and passively turned. As we moved into the age of social media, the lies, the hatred and the aggression rained down upon us like an endless monsoon but still the response from the club remained immutable; silence. More remarkable still, at one point we even employed as our PR guru a man who had went to print lauding the Spanish police for their unprovoked attack on our fans, claiming “we deserved a good battering” in Pamplona. His influence in his new guise appears to be as useful to our interests. And, to heap yet more misery upon the long suffering support, in the aftermath of the Fir Park debacle, we have a manager and board happy to throw one of their own players under the metaphorical bus whilst failing to significantly highlight the egregious behaviour of our opponents and their fans, save for a soporific, flimsy paragraph.
In the aftermath of Sunday afternoon’s events, we have seen an unprovoked attack on our captain by a flag waving moron being passed off as exuberant behaviour; the pitch invasion made by Motherwell fans in attempt to goad us into a pitched battle become merely exuberant behaviour that was met with pelted coins from the big, bad Rangers fans; flares thrown by Motherwell fans magically transformed into flares that could have been thrown from Rangers supporters and we’ve witnessed a Rangers player who (incorrectly) retaliated and was thereafter set upon by four opposition players become the pantomime villain-come-piñata donkey for the media to beat with their metaphorical sticks. And worst of all, not only does this long standing dignified silence perpetuated by the club buy you those four examples (from one single afternoon), it also buys you a section of your own support who not only willingly accept this nonsense from said demented aspects of the media but also gets them to blame everything on the shoulders of their own player.
Simply put, the dignified silence has been a failure. No; worse than that – it’s become an absolute nightmare, a cross of unbearable weight and an invitation for the haters to say and do as they wish. The dignified silence has transformed a proud, mighty institution into a pathetic, cowering, craven club. A club that has become little more than a doormat for those who have wished (and, indeed, attempted) to kill us to then wipe (stamp?) their feet upon. The sheer pathetic, mind boggling uselessness of our public relations department has become a joke, one that all outwith Ibrox laugh at and rightly so. This is a football club that habitually does not stand up for itself and is seen by all and sundry to be scared to do so. Decades of chronic mismanagement, skewed agendas and wilful ignorance from within the club have resulted in a pathetic, gibbering wreck that is too scared and scarred to confront those who bully and belittle it. To be blunt, in PR terms we’ve hit rock bottom with the latest statement from the club in the aftermath of Fir Park. It could have been handled differently in a number of ways but, yet again, the fundamental echo that reverberates from the club statement is, 'carry on haters it’s business as usual under the new regime'.
Make no mistake though: this is a crucial moment for the club as it represents for many of us a line in the sand moment. Do we blindly continue with the dignity of silence and allow the status quo to remain or do we enter the modern age and actually begin to fight back against the aggressors, the haters, the liars and the cheats and embrace the art of spin? Do we remain reactive, feeble minded fools that allow free reign to those who hate us or do we, finally, become proactive and begin the fight back to reclaim our name, highlight the truth and expose the lies? For me, it is a simple choice and a glaringly obvious one – it’s no use remaining mute and claiming the moral high ground when that high ground is actually in a hollow and your enemies are perched high above and micturating with impunity upon you as they laugh endlessly at your deep rooted cowardice. To continue with the current modus operandi would be a Damascene moment for many like myself. Why support a club unprepared to stand up for its players, its history, its fans or its future? Why continue to pump money into an organisation that allows lies about the club to become accepted wisdom without once challenging them? Why continue to support a board that dares not challenge certain journalists, bloggers et al who regularly skew the truth and promote untruths on a daily basis?
The board are in an unenviable position right now on many fronts but this is, perhaps, one of the most pressing. The Stockholm Syndrome style behaviour exhibited by the current board cannot continue. If Paul Murray wishes to build bridges then he is a willing idiot on a fool’s errand. If Dave King does not begin to fight back against the many lies and half truths that are being spun against him online, on air and in print, then he merely gives credence to those words used against him. DK needs to lead from the front on this one. He needs to confront those who diligently vilify him and utilise all the weapons that he can financially muster to expose and destroy them. By doing so, he will not only display a backbone and a taste for the long, hard fight ahead (and, again, make no mistake, this will be a particularly long and nasty struggle) but he will also be raising a flag around which all of us can rally. We need such an act desperately as confidence in our PR is truly at an all time low. King can start this regenerative process, both symbolically and immediately, and he urgently needs to do so. Sunday provided an open goal with which to score yet we failed to do so. An anodyne statement that followed the traditional Rangers path – throw one of your own under the bus, point a comedy finger at the opposition fans and, finally, praise your own fans – was of no value other than to confirm those who rail against that, essentially, nothing has changed. It’s not difficult to send a message out to the fan via a club statement that would have placated and encouraged them is it?
“The board would like to take this opportunity to commend the support today for restraining themselves when faced with the aggressive, goading, hooligan behaviour of the Motherwell fans. We would also like to express our disappointment that both the matchday stewarding and policing singularly failed to contain the home fans and allowed them onto the field of play at full time and to behave so provocatively, creating a potential flashpoint.
Also, with regards to stewarding and policing, we note that our captain was physically abused by home fans, not once but twice, yet no further action was taken and also that flares were thrown into the field of play by home fans with no recourse to action from either stewards or police. Again we would like to express our disappointment.
Finally, with regards to the incident after the final whistle involving a Rangers player and several Motherwell players, we would express our extreme disappointment at the reaction of our player. Such behaviour has no such place at our club and the player in question will be subject to the usual disciplinary procedures. We will make no comment on the several Motherwell players who surrounded and both physically and verbally abused our player – that is a matter for Motherwell Football Club entirely”.
There you go – a brief, amateur example of what could have been said and I’m sure that there are numerous wordsmiths reading the paragraphs in italics above who could easily construct something far more incisive and far more eloquent. Either way, the subtext of the above would-be statement is self evident – we are pointing the finger of blame at Motherwell, their stewards and the police whilst at the same time admitting the culpability and downright stupidity of one our own. Still, that pretend passage is a mere aside as the real show is what is still to come. I can forgive the board, on this occasion, for getting both the tone and content wrong but I will not tolerate another instance of spinelessness.
The grotesque manner in which we have dealt with matters related to newspapers, television and online is a dark stain on our club and one that needs to be washed from the very fabric of our soul lest it become a veritable leitmotif embedded within our DNA. The age of the dignified silence has long since passed; Scotland has become a different country in the last two years never mind the last two decades and the concept of turning the other cheek is as cowardly as it is spineless. The time to draw the line in the sand is now – not literally and not metaphorically. Look at the calendar and mark on it that we released a statement on Sunday, the thirty first day of May – then draw a line through that box. From that day forwards, we fight back. Messrs King, Murray et al – the ball is in your court. You can either continue an era of appeasement which will diminish your customer base or you begin the fight back to reclaim the soul of the club and its rightful place within society.
Your call, gents.