FORMER Rangers captain Richard Gough believes his decision to support a boycott of season ticket sales at the club 12 months ago is now being vindicated.
Gough, one of the most decorated players in Rangers’ history, was a high-profile face of the call to withhold season-ticket renewal money at the start of last season in protest at the manner the club was being run from the boardroom.
If Rangers had got up then I think they would have been really scrambling. This first transfer window will be very importantRichard Gough
He now admits he initially felt uncomfortable in backing the campaign but is now content it played a significant role in helping Dave King achieve regime change at Rangers.
With King as chairman and now a new management team in the shape of Mark Warburton and David Weir, Gough is confident Rangers are finally on the road to recovery.
“I remember clearly when I got the call from Dave King last year,” said Gough. “Things had come to a bit of a standstill at Rangers and he asked me to help in terms of supporters not buying season tickets.
“I thought that was difficult, not great. No matter who is in charge, the Rangers fans had always bought season ticket books to support their team and wouldn’t want to give them up.
“I said to Dave that there were people who had been sitting in the same seats for years and they might not get them back. But he said: ‘Listen Richard, we are not going to get the board out unless we do this’. I thought about it and agreed to stand alongside him. It was a difficult thing done for the right reasons. Thankfully, it has worked out well. It caused a lot of anguish between supporters and that was understandable.
“But many of them could already see there was something wrong inside the club. There was initially the plan for 1972 fund where fans could put their season ticket money in trust instead.
“Thousands and thousands didn’t buy season tickets and I think that was a major thing in forcing change. It was a change forced by supporters and this was a major catalyst in terms of what happened.
“As I say, it wasn’t an easy thing but I am glad I gave my backing to Dave. Months down the line nothing had happened and I was beginning to wonder a bit, but it has since worked out. Dave and the others were voted in at the EGM in March and are working to move the club forward.
“Now we are in a position that is the complete opposite. We have proper Rangers people in position and Dave has come out and asked the supporters to buy season tickets. I would back that as well.
“The club has been kicked and knocked about for three years. But now supporters can see there is a plan. We are talking about signing players again rather than chaos off the field. There are still some issues to be dealt with, but the football side of the club is the most important thing again. Mark Warburton and David Weir have come in, there is also a new managing director. What we have is people running the club who have its best interests at heart. It’s not going to go down the road again of millions and millions going out of the club.”
Gough is particularly encouraged by the new managerial duo as Rangers prepare for a second attempt to earn promotion from the Scottish Championship. “I like what I’ve heard about Mark. He seems a very diligent manager, who really devotes his time. His work ethic will stand Rangers in good stead. Also, the style of football he wants and his willingness to give youth a chance.
“Davie Weir can alert Mark to certain aspects of the club he might not have known about and that can help. But the fresh eye that Mark brings can be valuable. Sometimes it’s better to come into a situation with that approach.
“Davie also made the point very well that Mark is 52 – he is not a kid. He is a guy with a lot of experience in different areas.
“But Davie is a great person. I played alongside him for my last couple of years at Everton and he was one of the best centre-backs I found in my career.
“No-one has a bad word to say about Davie. Yes, he had a hard time at Sheffield United but Mark has seen something in him and they seem to have made a good team.
“It’s not going to be easy to win the Championship, because Hibs are a strong team and you have a club like St Mirren coming down.
“It would have been great if Rangers had got up to the Premiership this year. But in terms of recruitment, it was probably better we stayed where we were. It gives three transfer windows to try and prepare.
“It’s hard to get players these days and if Rangers had got up then I think they would have been really scrambling.
“This first transfer window will be very important. Who can you get? Who is still available? I’ve been reading the reports about Danny Wilson coming back and that’s what I would do as a manager. You get your foundations set. That’s your goalkeeper and back four.
“If the reports are right and Mark is close to a couple of centre-backs, then that’s a promising sign.
“He’ll know what he wants. He’ll have a good idea of what’s available down south and will likely go for some he’s worked with before.
“Let’s just hope they are good enough to play in front of a full Ibrox. I’ve always said a Rangers jersey is a heavy jersey. Ibrox was the best place I played in my career but it was also the hardest place – because you had to win every game. There are only a few clubs where those demands exist.”