Soon after taking control of the club, Rangers Chief Executive Graham Wallace proclaimed that he is implementing a five year plan to regain the club’s place of competing with Celtic on a domestic level & competing against Europe’s best in the Champions League.
Rangers Report is publishing an ongoing series that is meant to assess & provide a recommendation or two as Rangers have publicly embarked on their five year plan.
Part Four: A Shift in Philosophies
The Aye Ready Podcast is in its inaugural season & has quickly established itself as a quality soundboard for the views of regular Rangers supporters. The Aye Ready team – Derek & Dave – host a podcast by Rangers fans, for Rangers fans. The pod is more akin to the Heart & Hand podcast as the hosts intertwine a natural sense of humor into their talk about the club they love. Like all fans, the Aye Ready team likes to get nostalgic for glorious days of old – & their accounts of great Rangers victories from the past will have you running to the YouTube with a giddiness usually saved for the holidays.
When I asked Derek to add his views on Rangers Five Year Plan – I was hopeful for a few wise words — fortunately for Rangers supporters everywhere – Derek response was Jerry Maguiresque. Enjoy!
Written by – Derek from the Aye Ready Podcast
On looking at our season this year on paper, you would be forgiven if you thought we had been anything but exemplary. Obviously, it’s all relative to the league we are in. However, masked behind these impressive stats, are a series of what we would call, sub standard performances and dismal displays. Not always mind you. We have put in some good performances and with no disrespect to the opposition, still dominated games even though we have played bad.
Now we could talk all day as to what the cause of the inconsistent performances are, but with the league effectively won and next seasons push to get back to the top division going to be a very difficult challenge, the question we as Rangers fans must ask is simple. What is the plan for the next year and a half? So, I’m going to put myself in the shoes of Ally McCoist and Graeme Wallace and give my views.
To tackle this question, it needs to be looked at from two angles; the on field issues and the off-field issues. If we take the latter first, you will get no arguments from me if you said it has been a complete disaster. We all know the issues so I’m not going to go over old ground. My views on that are for another discussion. We are where we are so we need to get on with it. So how do we go about that then?
Firstly, stability in all areas of off field is greatly needed. From the board to the PR to the finances, everything needs to settle down after the upheaval of the shambles of the last 2-3 years. With Graeme Wallace coming in, the process seems to have started and I’m looking forward to seeing what his vision unfolds to be. Undoubtedly, the ‘removal’ of Brian Stockbridge has gone a long way to not only appease the many fans like myself who believed him to be one of the key figures in our off field troubles, but to hopefully stem the hemorrhage of money.
Talking of finances, this is obviously the crux of the issue. Before we can implement a plan of any nature, we need to find a source of sustainable income. The obvious route of investment would be to get the likes of Dave King involved and get him to pump money into the club, which he has done so in the past and appears to be willing to do again. Of course this would be great as he is an obvious Bluenose however it is not a sustainable model. If we were to accept any investment from him just now, it would effectively only be going to plug our leaky finance structure and once that money runs out, we would need further investment. This is why I believe we have not spoken to him thus far as Wallace appears to be trying to plug the leak prior to further investment as he alluded to in a recent interview with The Scotsman. Makes sense to me!
So how do we build a sustainable model I hear you ask? The first part is pretty simple and I think everyone knows the answer; we become a selling club. Gone are the days of the big spending and the now clichéd of “for every fiver Celtic spend, we will spend a tenner”. As amazing as it was seeing some of Europe’s elite don the royal blue of Rangers, I don’t think any Gers fan in their right mind wants to go back down that road given the financial strife it has brought us. We need to be focusing on getting talented young players in for cheap and selling them on for a good price. As much as it pains me to say it, Celtic have been stellar in this approach for years now and should be seen as the benchmark for us to follow. Yes I really did just say that, unfortunately.
With that in mind, it comes to the next point. WE NEED A SCOUTING SYSTEM!! It is unfathomable that for a club the size of ours, regardless of the division we are in, we don’t have a scouting system in place. Again, that green and white team have been leading the charge with their scouting system and is the reason why they have been successful as a selling club. Like them, we need to be looking far and wide for gems both home and abroad that can be brought in on the cheap, moulded into at least a half decent player who can do a job for us for a few years then sold on for a price. This also opens up the possibility to get players in from foreign markets that would be shirt sellers like your Nakamuras and suchlike.
This brings me on to my next point in my plan, Marketing and Public Relations. Now we all know we have a man called Jack Irvine at the helm of this department. If the mainstream media are questioning his presence at our club then it is surely clear he is doing no good. He needs to go plain and simple. That aside, we need to market ourselves globally an inordinate amount better than we are doing. Rangers are a global brand who have millions of supporters based all over the world. It would not be outlandish to say that our fan base rivals some of the top teams in Europe. You would never know this however as our official marketing abroad has been nothing short of a disgrace.
Simple case in point – We have had Edu, Beasley, Bedoya, Bocanegra and Reyna in our team. All were USA internationals with Reyna and Bocanegra being captains and between 2008 and 2012, we had 3 of them playing for us at any one time. Upon going to New York a few years ago when we had Bocanegra, I wore my Rangers top out and about. Of the handful of local workers that asked who the team were on my shirt, NONE of them knew who Rangers were but all knew who Celtic were. There were NO Rangers tops in any stores however there were Celtic tops. How’s that for a lost opportunity for shirt sales and brand exposure?
Now my points so far have all been focused on the money side of my off-field plan. Maybe it is overkill however given what we have been through, we need to make sure it is certain that it will never happen again. Many of these plans will take longer than the next year and a half to show their rewards, which is why they need to be implemented now. There is many more revenue generating plans that could come into action also like converting Edmiston House into a new megastore/museum/bar etc. Improving the match day experience for supporters. Improving the social media such as the already very good Rangers TV. I could go into depth with these but that is just some of the ideas that could have a massive benefit to the club.
Now getting on to what should have been the main issue if it were not for the goings on off field – The Football. Back at the start of our campaign back to the top division, it’s fair to say that most fans wanted a new footballing ethos based on youth. Makes perfect sense giving we have world-class facilities in Murray Park. Granted, many of our youngsters played in the bottom tier last year and were on the whole, very impressive. On many occasion they put their supposed SPL standard teammates to shame – with the exception of Lee Wallace of course.
It has been disappointing however, that this year we have reverted back to playing the tried and tested players rather than giving the youngsters more of a chance. Prime examples are bringing in Richard Foster and Arnold Peralta on the right who have been largely disappointing when they have played. Compare them to their younger counterparts Barrie McKay and Kyle McAusland who have been very competent, hard working and exciting when they have played on the odd occasion. It’s very interesting to note that these two younger players have been shipped out on loan for the rest of the season. At least they are getting games at these clubs though rather than sitting on our sidelines waiting for some first team game time.
Rightly or wrongly, we signed a bunch of players last summer who are undoubtedly Scottish Premiership standard. Arguably, some of them are the best of the players from that division. With that comes top wages. Quite rightly, questions have been asked regarding paying these high wages for the divisions we are in. Now to play devils advocate for a second, as I don’t think this point has been raised before, we got all of these players in for free due to their contracts expiring at their respective clubs. If this was not the case and we were to buy the players for fees, we would be looking at a substantial bill to gain their services. Was it perhaps not a shrewd move getting them in for nothing just now, taking a hit on the wage bill and them possibly selling them on for a fee at a later date and in the meantime, they will do a decent job?
As I said previously, our performances this year have been, lets just say, inconsistent. A big question everyone has is, “Is Ally a football manager?” The answer just now is, probably not. Now don’t take this as me hating Ally or anything. I love the guy and would like nothing more to see him be as good as or if not better than Walter. I don’t think there could have been better – except from Walter – who could have steered us through the last two years both on and off the field. However some of his decision-making is very questionable at times. But who am I? I’m certainly not a football manager and my record in playing Football Manager is certainly a testament to that! What I’m getting at here is would I ask Ally to step aside? Quite simply, NO! Not at this minute anyway. If, when we get back to the top division and we are still playing the same and results are not going our way, then yes I would be politely asking him to move aside.
My last point – before I start to bore you with my ramblings – is something that many of the clubs on the continent have – a footballing director. Yes we had one many a year ago in the form of Dick Advocaat when he stepped down as manager. It did appear though that he was just a figurehead and we did not get to understand what his role actually entailed. However if we had a football director that could oversee the overall footballing ethos of the club, that may free up Ally to just focus on coaching the team and improve him as a manger. It would also allow us to stick to this ethos and enforce a type of constitution that the requisitioners came up with when they were going through what turned out to be an unfortunate dismal attempt to oust the board.
So there you have it. My rather ‘brief’ plan as to what I would do if I were in charge at Ibrox for the next year and a half. I started writing this intending it to be more focused on the footballing side of our club. However upon looking into it further, we really do still have a mountain to climb when it comes to our off field issues.
These issues, be it directly or indirectly, have a massive impact as to what happens on the field but I’m certain, once they are sorted out, we will come back even stronger than before and one day…..we might be a force in Europe again like in 1972.
- Will Rangers ever return to their glorious past? If so – what must change at Ibrox to make that happen?