The Rangers support is a fiercely loyal and passionate one. The vast majority of fans fully support their team and club, however, passion and loyalty can get misinterpreted by some fans who go beyond supporting a football team. Sectarian chanting and signing in Scotland – in fact, in any football ground - should be stamped out. It’s time for Rangers fans to stop the singing and help their club re-invent themselves.
By Ryan Tom – @HinduTimes
It’s just over a year since thousands of Rangers fans were staring the fall of their club in the face as the club entered administration. The reality now is that Rangers are only 6 games away from winning the third division title and Celtic are 6 away from 2 in a row. For many Rangers fans this has been a living nightmare, but it has not stopped them packing out Ibrox or the small grounds of the third division, not by any means. You could even argue the support of the Ibrox club is now stronger than ever with every home game a sell-out. The Rangers support has always been the life blood of the club and they have stood by their club during its darkest days.
There is no mistaking how great the supporters have been this season and it’s something Ally McCoist re-iterated on Saturday when asked the question of not; how proud he is of the fans, but of his opinion of the obvious sectarian singing displayed at Sheffield Park against Berwick Rangers. Once again the Sunday and Monday newspapers were caked in stories about the appalling behaviour of fans and once again Rangers face an embarrassing scenario which they need to get out of.
Rangers are no strangers to such a situation. After a hard-fought victory against Celtic in the 2011 League Cup Final at Hampden Rangers faced again another back lash from the media, particularly a Graham Spiers article which condemned the fans for singing their notorious, “Billy Boys” song: one which has been highlighted by the police, the government, UEFA etc.
However as of recent times the song has begun to slowly die off from Ibrox due to many factors. For a start Rangers began an eradication of the song after they were fined by UEFA in 2006 after the song was sung in Villareal. In a response to this Rangers produced the, “wee blue book” that contained songs that Rangers fans could sing and most importantly, should sing. Before every game fans were given a message regarding sectarian singing and every match programme was printed with a Pride and Prejudice message. Despite a titanic effort from Rangers to put a stop to bigoted singing there is still a small core of Rangers fans who are failing to pay attention. Rangers faced further UEFA and SFA charges in years to come for singing against, PSV and Celtic. Although Rangers managed to cut down in singing and there was a significant improvement at Ibrox, many games against Celtic were still full of the same bigoted songs which are just not acceptable during any football match.
The problem seems to be the idea that these songs create attention and these days sanctions of fans within the Old Firm are always out to gain a good chunk of that. The Green Brigade with Celtic strived for attention when they displayed anti-poppy banners at Celtic Park. The Blue Order and Union Bears have been pictured displayed a nazi salute during singing. The attention and bad press drives these fans on as they try to replicate the idiocy that is shown by many Eastern European clubs where a hardcore of, “ultras” cause havoc during football matches. The idea of causing offence and gaining a reputation is something this new wave of fans in Scotland seem to desire.
What Rangers must now do is target this group of supporters, because they are the ones who will continue to shame the club. Rangers have been very fair in the past to all their supporters, but the time has come to crack down on the singing and by banning those fans who wish to break the law and cause offence, the issue of bigotry will hopefully end. In Scotland the law has changed and Rangers fans have to accept that. The reaction to sectarian laws may be: “supporting your team it’s not a crime” but singing sectarian songs is.
Rangers fans have been undoubtedly fantastic this season, the level of attendance has been remarkable at Ibrox with Rangers smashing records for attendance at a 4th tier game in their first home game of the season. The fans need to keep this up, but they need to support and sing about Rangers, their club, because when you support a football team that’s what really matters.
A minority of Rangers fans are rightly under the microscope for the sectarian singing that was horribly apparent on saturday, but what is the best way for Rangers, as a club and as a united fan base, to tackle this issue? What should happen to the supporters who are singing the songs that have no place in football? Tweet us your thoughts @talkingbaws or comment below.