Sunday, 17 June 2012

Is Rangers a new football club?

The question that heads this blog is one that I have no intention of answering, because I'm not a Rangers fan and therefore I am not in the horrible predicament of having to answer it. However, 10 years ago I did have to answer the question about my own football club, Wimbledon. My answer then was obvious to me and I suspect Rangers fans will find the question even easier to answer. Why? Because the football team that next season bears the 'Rangers' name will play in blue, at Ibrox, in front of the same fans and, crucially, no one is trying to move the team from Glasgow to, for example, Ayr, Kilmarnock or Dunfermline.

I've said clearly before and will again that I adhere to the wisdom stated on Wimbledon's club honours:
"The supporters of AFC Wimbledon believe that our club is a continuation of the spirit which formed Wimbledon Old Centrals in 1889 and kept Wimbledon Football Club alive until May 2002. We consider that a football club is not simply the legal entity which controls it, but that it is the community formed by the fans and players working towards a common goal. We therefore reproduce the honours won by what we believe was, and will always be, 'our' club, in our community."
The question is also easier for Rangers fans to answer because all the events affecting their club are likely to play out within the same year. For Wimbledon and Franchise FC the events were dragged out over more than 2 years, encompassing 3 seasons and resulting in far more confusion as a result. Even so, the answer to the question for more than 90% of Wimbledon fans was obvious within days of the 28th May 2002 FA Commission verdict and the reformation of Wimbledon's football club 2 days later - AFC Wimbledon was and is the same football club we'd watched at Plough Lane, regardless of what companies had changed. We were stood on the terraces or sat in the seats with the same Wimbledon fans we always had, watching a team proudly representing the town of Wimbledon and playing locally to that town.

I've looked before at the question of what a 'football club' actually is ( and the matters looked at there still form the crux of whether you considered a club to be 'new' or not. The football authorities inevitably work on the legal basis of their rules, but as is being proved in Scotland, that can come down to a vote of other clubs deciding whether a league share should go to a new company - and that's hardly a basis for any fan to decide whether it's still their club or not.

Rangers fans are going to take a great deal of flak from those telling them they are supporting a new club and trying to take away the decades of history they have with their club, and it will inevitably remind Wimbledon fans of the abuse we still get from Franchise customers who can't bear to accept that the ludicrously nicked-named 'MK Dons' is a new club by every definition one can apply.

Maybe I will answer the question I posed after all... A team calling itself 'Rangers' under the ownership of a NewCo will only be the same Rangers football club if the majority of the fans say it is. If it isn't the same club for them, then it simply isn't the same club, because the club is nothing without its fans, because in all important aspects they ARE the club. Franchise customers would do well to note that too, instead of bringing up their factually incorrect lie about 'legal continuation'. Rangers fans won't, I'm sure, be resorting to such lies, they'll simply point to a team called Rangers playing at Ibrox in blue, much as Wimbledon fans simply point to a team called Wimbledon playing near Wimbledon in blue and yellow. It's not rocket science, now is it?

Edit to add: Steve Gibson at Middlesbrough gets it... 

“Chairmen, managers and players all come and go. But you’re situated in the heart of your town. The club is the people who come to watch it. It’s not a technical piece of paper. It’s being in your town with the people from the town supporting the club."
I couldn't have put it better myself. Franchise customers make much of Wimbledon playing just outside the town itself, but it's a matter of 1 mile, not 60. It's about time Franchise accepted the inevitable and stopped associating themselves with Wimbledon.


  1. Could you explain how 'legal continuation' is factually incorrect?

    1. But of course, because it's the very first thing I ever shot down on this blog...

      To put it bluntly, Rangers won't be a 'legal continuation' either, but as I've said, Rangers fans won't be trying to use that ridiculous straw to cling to, because they will have a team playing in the same place under the same name.

      The entire NewCo situation means any football club that undergoes this process is categorically not a 'legal continuation'. Like it or not, those are the facts.

      'Legal continuation' is just a meaningless term dreamed up by Franchise customers to try to give themselves some legitimacy and it is simply factually wrong. And I'll note that Rangers fans will still be able to claim Rangers history and honours of their clubbecause of other factors, not because of the baseless 'legal continuation' nonsense that Franchise customers claimed.

    2. There is something I am really not getting about this NewCo Rangers.

      If it's a new club, why is there a transfer ban in place, as well as debt still owed? I have also found 'Duff and Phelps (the administrators)Interim Report to Creditors', where they state back when there were numerous offers in the club, that the "business, assets and HISTORY" will be transferred from the OldCo to the NewCo should there be an agreed buyer. Does this not mean that it's still the same club, if EVERYTHING, including the club's history, has simply been transferred to a new corporate entity?,,5~177826,00.pdf (points 5.16 and 5.17, under section 5.9 titled "Matters Requiring Clarification")

    3. This is fairly simple - you can't own history. Whatever that agreement transferred, it cannot have been 'history'. Whoever wrote that has simply made a mistake in the language they have used. It's perfectly reasonable and likely that they have transferred cups, medals, programmes and other patrimony, but those are still physical assets. They may have transferred copyrights or trademarks, but they are clearly defined items from a legal standpoint - 'history' is not. Whatever the administrators thought they were transferring, it wasn't 'history', because that would be a literal impossibility.

      None of which resolves whether NewCo Rangers, playing in the fourth division of Scottish football, is a new club or not - that decision still resides with Rangers fans and no one else.