A Toast to the Death of Rangers Football Club
Glasgow Rangers are Scotland's most successful football club. In their 140 year history they have won 54 league titles, 33 Scottish Cups and 26 League Cups. After decades of financial mismanagement and illegality, now in 2012 the club lies on its deathbed.
On February 14th 2012 the club was placed into administration, this coming under 1 year into the ownership of Craig Whyte who purchased the debt-ridden club from SIR David Murray for £1. One task of the administrators is to plug a £1 million pound per month funding shortfall just in order to balance the books - that does not even touch the debt. The extent of the clubs debts and who is owed what is covered elsewhere in the media and is not my concern. What is important to note is that £49 million is owed in unpaid taxes to Her Majesty's Revenues and Customs.
The tax bill and debts were run up during the years of SIR David's ownership. Murray once boasted that "For every five pounds Celtic spend, we will spend ten,” It was during this period, unsurprisingly, that Rangers had their most successful years, including matching arch rivals Celtic's record of 9 consecutive league championships. This was done spending money that didn't exist. Said money was used to pay inflated wages and transfer fees to attract big name players and was facilitated by offshore bank accounts and strategic tax-dodging. Undoubtedly all of this success is now tainted.
A Reason to Celebrate
Fans of Rangers, the media and politicians (the crossover here is stupendous) have publicly lamented the loss that Rangers will be for Society. First Minister Alex Salmond spoke of Celtic needing Rangers, the absurdity of that statement will become clearer as I continue, it's the equivalent of saying black people need the KKK.
To understand the essence of Rangers, one has to understand the essence of Celtic. For everything that defines Rangers is the opposite and enemy of that which defines Celtic.
Celtic were formed in 1888 as a charitable club to aid the discriminated-against Irish immigrants of Glasgow. Thus, the clubs fanbase has traditionally drawn on those of an Irish and catholic persuasion. Consequently, Celtic fans have been supporters of the struggle for Irish independence from Britain.
It is direct opposition to this that the essence of Rangers is found. Playwright and journalist Cliff Hanley put it like this
"The Rangers Football Club is not actually a Protestant football club, it's an anti-Catholic football club. Celtic for instance, although it started as a Catholic charitable organization, was not particularly religious, it was Irish. It was a national organization, rather than a religious organization. And they have no religious scruples, I mean many Protestants have played for Celtic Football Club, but never a Catholic ever played for Rangers."
For most of the clubs existence it has had a no Catholic policy. No matter how good a player was, if he was a catholic he would not be signed (Celtic in contrast had countless Protestant players and their most successful manager; Jock Stein, was himself a protestant). When the policy was ended in 1989 the general secretary of the Rangers Supporters Association was quoted as saying “It is a sad day for Rangers... I don't want to see a Roman Catholic at Ibrox."
This is actually reflective of draconian and bigoted legislation which prevents the monarch marrying a Catholic. Which leads us to another point that being identification with and glorification of the British state and monarchy. Which is the great irony of all of this. Rangers Football Club "loyal" to "queen and country" has not been paying its taxes owed to the British state and so may be closed down by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs quest for the bill.
All of these sentiments which form the Rangers identity are expressed in song by the fans. Some of their light-hearted ditties include lines like "we're up to our knees in fenian blood, surrender or you'll die", "fuck the pope and the IRA" and "the famine's over, why don't you go home"? The latter referring to the British genocide in Ireland which reduced the country's population by two-thirds. Much of the Scottish establishment considered this to be "tit for tat" and "banter". By this logic singing "the holocaust is over, why don't you go home" to jews, or "slavery is over, why don't you go home" to black people, would be totally acceptable "banter"?
Moreover, this is not "tit for tat". This is a great myth perpetrated by the Scottish media which portrays Rangers and Celtic fans as two sides of the same coin and "as bad as each other". But the fact is Celtic fans sing political songs around the themes of Irish nationalism and anti-imperialism. The Rangers fans songs on the other hand, as have been shown above are clear cases of religious and ethnic hatred.
It is no surprise that reactionary ideas spawn mindless acts. Rangers legend, the former player, manager and director, William Waddell once passionately and proudly described the fans this way; “Our supporters go home on a Saturday night. If the Rangers lose they give their wife a bashing about”.
In 2008 Rangers reached the Uefa Cup Final, something Celtic had achieved 5 years earlier, both sides ultimately lost in the final. For their part Celtic were awarded the Fifa Fair Play Award (the first time in history such an honour has been bestowed on fans) for the exemplary behavior of what was described at the time by Uefa as "the largest travelling support to have assembled for a single game", In contrast Rangers journey to the final was marked by riots with civilians, shops and police officers coming under attack. Rangers previous European final in 1972 also resulted in rioting after fans invaded the pitch and attacked opposition players.
These are just some of the things that earned the Rangers "loyal" the nickname 'Scotland's Shame'. For all the reasons given and more, should Rangers cease to exist all are encouraged to raise a glass to the death of this most reactionary of institution and the collective public expression of the backwards ideas they represent.