As Rangers look to be on a genuine road to recovery after a number of tumultuous years, there is a swarm of hatred winging its way towards Ibrox.
Of course, seasoned Rangers fans have seen it all before, but it is most certainly on the rise again, with the club taking steps to challenge the anti-Rangers culture in Scotland’s press, by banning two of the most active agitators against the club.
In banning Graham Spiers and Chris McLaughlin, the new board are issuing a message to the assorted media in Scotland that they will no longer accept “journalists” actively seeking to damage the club’s brand and reputation. With Graham Spiers, the former prominent sports columnist now working as a freelancer filing substandard match reports, Scotland’s journalistic output will barely notice him being absent from Ibrox. The only surprise will be if he doesn’t file a match report after watching Sportscene.
With the BBCs McLaughlin, the broadcaster has reacted in a typical BBC fashion with absolutely no self-awareness or realisation that any of their employees could ever be less than impartial. Their reaction has been to pull all their employees from commitments at Ibrox and Murray Park until the ban against McLaughlin is lifted.
It may well be a very long time before that relationship is addressed, as Rangers have a number of media outlets and a support insatiable for information, who will have no qualms about sourcing information wherever they get it.
Rangers are in a no-lose position, and have absolutely no discernible reason why they should go cap in hand to McLaughlin in particular, or to BBC Scotland.
It should be absolutely clear to observers that Rangers acted against two individuals, not two media outlets, and picked the two most persistent offenders responsible for misrepresenting information about the club.
The board have acted on the basis that neither journalist is fair about the Rangers, or apply any sort of consistency in how they cover Rangers against how they cover other Scottish football teams.
It is well documented that McLaughlin’s role in discussing a match observer’s report prior to it being submitted by the delegate to the SPFL is being challenged by various Rangers Supporters groups, including the RST, and the SPFL’s response to the RST communication indicates a lack of transparency from the organisation, and a lack of clarity over the expectations from the SPFL over the conduct of delegates, nor the rules of engagement with journalists.
It’s certainly worth noting that McLaughlin has only reported this type of "scoop" about Rangers, despite sectarian singing and throwing of flares being common place by the other football supports on their travels across Scotland.
While many Rangers fans could provide pages of Spiers’ unbalanced scribbles on Rangers over the years, the fact he is still propagating the lie to anyone who will listen that Rangers are a “new club” means he does not deserve to take up a seat inside Ibrox.
Despite many journalists despising each other, the industry is bizarrely full of individuals who spend an inordinate amount of time defending the indefensible, if the indefensible has an NUJ card.
Several Rangers haters in the media have therefor been joined by seasoned hacks in criticism of Rangers with no idea of the context of these bans, nor the agendas of those banned.
Either that, or journalism as an industry is populated by many who believe carrying out an agenda against a football club is both normal and ethical.
One such example is Channel 4 reporter Michael Crick, who tweeted an attack on the club’s decision in the Press Gazette written by a “William Turvill”, where Spiers has lied about the circumstances of his ban, lied about his conduct and made some offensive and untrue remarks about the club.
Crick has also annotated his tweet with the comment that the ban makes Rangers look weak, adding that “confident institutions welcome scrutiny”.
Indeed they do, however, neither journalist has applied any level of scrutiny when they should have done, or acted in a professional manner towards Rangers.
To be clear, while Rangers were being grossly mismanaged by the previous board, McLaughlin was acting as their place man in the press for propaganda instead of scrutinising their conduct.
If he had been scrutinising his contacts rather than copying and pasting press releases, perhaps he would be worth defending.
In the same period, Spiers’ main contribution to the Rangers conversation has been to consistently call Rangers a new club, which is hardly scrutiny. Again, his criticism of the club and the support has been unbalanced, and Crick should beware his own credibility by defending him.
I have no doubt that as Rangers continue this leg of our journey to the top, that others will try and join the martyrs by trying to make a name for themselves, but they will see that the Rangers board can make a distinction between criticism, and agenda-led long term activism to damage the club.
The media would do well to look at the statistics of how much attention Rangers generate for their employers.
The viewing figures for the SPFL indicate that Rangers in League 1 are still the largest draw in the land by a distance.
Yesterday, 4 of the top 5 read stories in the Daily Record Sports section were about Rangers. It’s a pattern that is repeated almost every day.
It seems that some don’t like this state of affairs, and also fear the return of Rangers to the top of Scottish Football.
Well, guess what, it’s happening, and you’d better get used to it. If you don’t want a ringside seat, someone else will have it.