Rangers Football Club won the league because they didn’t lose any games. We did and we also drew too many. They celebrated to excess and that was no surprise. I have no specific issues with those principles, but despite trying to avoid as much post title coverage as possible, I have not been able to avoid noticing the fear of their support which has gripped Scottish football.
The nature of the range of celebration should not come as a surprise to anyone. This is a fan base who have engendered a narrative of victimhood over the last 10 years. In their eyes they are a club attacked by the rest of Scottish football through jealousy, a jealousy that forced them through financial hardship and pushed them down to the lower depths of Scottish football. Since that time, they have harboured an increasing siege mentality where revenge will be wrought whenever trophies are achieved.
Of course, all of that is nonsense but it is the lie perpetuated amongst themselves because the truth that they let their club die will be too much to take. They are therefore like victims of a cult. They have created a narrative that absolves them of their own part and the death of their former club and have doubled down on the lie whenever inconvenient truths have arisen. I say it is cult-like, but of course it is also similar to what has been referred to on the CU Podcast the last few years as Trumpian, and we can see comparisons with the Republican Party in America and the insidious violent nature of the Trump support that has become a Frankenstein’s monster that they cannot now control. We have seen that too in Scottish football.
We can see the Rangers PR has gone full Trump in the ignoring of facts and their dealings with the media.
When the child abuse inquiry was published by the Scottish FA, it highlighted a societal problem that afflicted football and the clubs involved apologised to the victims, except one who stayed silent and ignored it because under the Trump PR strategy, you never admit your mistakes.
The title celebrations at Rangers were not unexpected, but they put out no pre-celebration warning statements to their supporters. There was no barriers in the streets around Ibrox. They’d been criticised by both the Scottish Government and the Scottish Police Force for repeatedly ignoring their request to make a statement for the supporters to go home in this pandemic. Their players and supporters and staff entering Ibrox was celebrating wearing no masks. There are pictures of the manager, the coaches and the players sharing cars to drive through the celebrating supporters wearing no masks.
But they will not apologise and they will not be criticised.
Whilst Bolingoli was crucified and Celtic were vilified and two games were postponed, Rangers were praised by the Scottish Government for their swift action on their first transgression. On their second major transgression where upwards of five players attended a house party, no statement has ever come out from Rangers Football Club, no games have been postponed against Rangers. It begs the question why – and the why is because of the fear in that whipped up support.
Like the Republicans whipping up the mob who stormed the Capitol in Washington, they have created a mob they can no longer control. Rangers have whipped up this narrative of victimhood and created a myth around the real narrative of their formation because there is one word that if spoken about Rangers Football Club destroys the continuity myth they perpetuate. That word is liquidation.
Liquidation means that this is not Title 55. Liquidation can never be mentioned. Look at the grammatical hoops the press have been jumping through in the last 24 hours to write about the Rangers title triumph and the context of their recent history. Administration is used, insolvency is used, demotion is used and other words are used, but nobody uses the L word. Why? Because the L word means they are not the same club.
It is understandable why Rangers will not use the L word, but why did the press not use the L word?
Speak to non-Ranger-supporting journalists off the record (and perhaps even the less staunch Ranger- supporting journalists) and they will tell you that writing the truth about that club instils a fear among them. They have a real personal fear of being attacked. That is how dark the shadow is they have cast across our game.
We may all have our attitudes towards the “MSM”, however, we have to accept the context within which these people are doing their job. The written press is a dying trade with reduced income and these journalists, despite what we may think of them, are like you and I, they have families and mortgages to pay and if they cannot get access to Scotland’s two biggest clubs their job is in jeopardy. The BBC still do not have access to Rangers for writing because Chris McLaughlin broadcast stories about previous incumbents in the ownership sector of the new club, that the current board and supporters would support. But he wrote something “anti-Rangers” and is banned forever.
This season Radio Clyde have been banned, the Daily Record has been banned, the Daily Express has been banned, numerous freelance journalists have been banned, stories written by journalists have been referred to by Rangers as “fake news”. The only statement made about the post title celebrations has been to praise the supporters, despite the urging of the Police Scotland and the Scottish Government to tell the supporters to reign in their behaviour. Clubs throughout Scotland are contacted and told to give access to Rangers fan media because they are “our official media partners” and Rangers fan media are given priority location within the Rangers press box. However, should any Rangers fan media organisation step out of line and say something against the club, they are banned immediately.
The Trump playbook on how to handle the media.
Though some of this is an in-house media and Rangers battle, the most important thing for us is what happens on the pitch, but for football supporters it is the joy of the moment and the celebration of their histories that matter when supporting a club and that is why the media management by them of the L word has become so important. More concerning in Scottish football is if you can have the media all cowed by the fear of a support, and indeed Rangers themselves dare not reign in their support during a mass pandemic for fear of the backlash, then they truly have created Frankenstein’s monster and a dark shadow is spread across our game.
The press turned against Trump only when the Democrats were winners and Trump was a loser. The light on this shadow can only be cast by us. We need to blow them out of the water.