CHARLES Green made a great play on Friday of Rangers being invited to the annual conference of Europe’s top clubs, to be held in Qatar next month.
Quite right, too. Their acceptance at the top table was another kick to the solar plexus of those who endlessly bang on about the death of Rangers and the rise of Sevco in their stead. Obviously, the European Club Association does not agree that Rangers as we knew them are dead. That is to say that its members – the Milan giants, the Manchester clubs, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Dortmund and every other major footballing institution on the continent – recognise that Rangers have their history and their trophies and deserve to be part of a conversation. No wonder Green cooed with satisfaction.
Green being Green, he went further than cooing. He practically fluffed his plumage and used the ECA’s endorsement as a way to attack Rangers’ critics at home. “I went out last year to the conference to introduce myself and let them know where Rangers were going and trying to get to,” said Green. “We received a letter in December from the European Clubs Association and in that letter they stated that they agreed that Rangers today is the same Rangers and that was very refreshing to read.”
There is a reason why they got that letter, but we will come back to that.
“The importance of this is the comparison to what happens in Scotland where we are not invited to any meetings, we can’t vote and we are not allowed to do anything,” continued Green.
“However, the European clubs are saying: ‘Come out to Qatar, we’ll pay your air fares, we’ll pay your hotel bills and we want you to be part of it all because we recognise Rangers are one of the biggest clubs in Europe. We understand you can’t play in Europe at the moment but we still want you to be part of it all’. In Scotland, we are nobody and we are nothing. Tell me where the madness lies.”
OK, let’s do precisely that. Green either does not know or has chosen not to mention one salient point about the ECA’s invitation to Qatar and the point is this – the invitation was only extended to Rangers after the ECA contacted the SFA looking for guidance on their status. Last August, Michele Centenaro of the ECA contacted the SFA and asked for an appraisal of the Rangers situation and whether they could be deemed the same Rangers as before or a new company unworthy of acknowledgment from the ECA. The SFA’s response was unambiguous. Different corporate entity but same Rangers, same history, same honours accrued over 140 years. Without the SFA’s support, you’d have to believe that Rangers would be nowhere near Qatar. Not that Green has acknowledged that fact. It doesn’t fit with the agenda. He’d much rather create the myth of Rangers being persecuted than admit the SFA had backed them.
“In Scotland, we are nobody and we are nothing.” Great line but it is bogus. “Where does the madness lie?” Where indeed, Charles?
The world according to Green is a funny old place: a world that sees Manchester United in support of their entry into the Premier League when they are not; a world that has Barcelona and Real Madrid in favour of their admittance to La Liga when the very notion would be deemed trippy in the Nou Camp and the Bernabeu; a world where Rangers were going to hook up with the Dallas Cowboys, but haven’t; a world where Rangers were going to sign a lucrative kit sponsorship with Adidas, but haven’t; a world of 500 million Rangers fans worldwide and a potential £100 million in digital revenues alone.
Green is an entertainer, no question. A hard man to ignore. His idea of communication appears to be shout, shout and shout again.
Another myth was sold to the Rangers fans last week. It is the portrayal of their club being locked out of the debate on league reconstruction. Unwanted, unloved and ignored. It’s a take on things that the fans are only too willing to embrace, not surprisingly.
Green has pushed this line as further proof that the game is out to get them and, in the early part of last week, he sounded convincing.
His line is: “Here we are, the biggest club in the country, and nobody wants to talk to us.” Woe is Charles. Is it true, though? They’ve not been consulted? Really? The SFL haven’t met them and talked to them on the phone many, many times? They haven’t been asked for their thoughts? They haven’t been kept up to date? They’ve been shut out? David Longmuir might disagree with that version of events.
Far from locking Rangers out of the conversation, he’s got Green on speed dial. It hardly paints a picture of the SFL and Rangers being strangers, now does it?
The league reconstruction debate will rage on a while. The three governing bodies and all clubs, seemingly bar one, are weighing things up, aware of the inherent weaknesses in the 12-12-18 format but balancing them against the strengths, which are undeniable.
“It’s paramount now that clubs have discussions with their fans,” says Stewart Regan.
“It’s not perfect. You can pick holes in it. We can all do that but it delivers some things. We can either sit around for another year and do nothing but argue or we can say this is the best place we can get to right now. We’ll have one league with one board so, in the future, there is no them and us. One board can review the structure down the line. Has it worked? What do we like? What don’t we like? Should we change it? It’s as good as we’re going to get. Fans have in their minds a view of a league that they want and because that is not being put forward there is a feeling that they have been let down. It’s incumbent on league bodies and clubs to go out there now and say: ‘We know where you are coming from and here are the answers to your questions’.”
Rangers are not having it but their gripes are overblown.
League reconstruction does not slow their return to the SPL. Everything else is just noise and smacks of protest for the sake of protest. On their website during the week they said their attitude was all about “tolerance” and “sanity” and then a few days later Green threw the toys out of the pram with talk of exiting Scottish football. “The quicker we can leave the better”. On Friday he was talking about using sex discrimination law to sue UEFA.
Of course you will, Charles. Of course you will. Good luck in Qatar. You’ll be rubbing shoulders with some giants. But, for heaven’s sake, don’t ever admit that it was the SFA who helped make it happen.