NI Rangers fans loyal despite demotion
Northern Ireland's Rangers fans say they will continue to support the club, despite its relegation to the third division.
Saturday, 14 July 2012
On Friday it was revealed that 29 of the 30 Scottish Football League clubs accepted the Glasgow side as a member of the SFL, but 25 voted in favour of placing the newco team in the bottom tier.
SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster has warned that relaunching Rangers in the third division would cost the game about £16million in annual income.
Rangers manager Ally McCoist said the club had been "severely punished for the actions of some individuals who previously ran the club", but added that he believed the loyalty of fans will bring success back to Rangers.
In Belfast, Gers supporters said the support for the club will always be there, but the financial ramifications will be felt widely across the SFL.
"I think most of the Rangers supporters in Northern Ireland and Scotland are happy enough to see us going into the third division. Other clubs will feel the pinch and the penalty for what they have done to Glasgow Rangers Football Club," explained Jim Wilson
"We haven't missed a home match since Rangers went into administration. This is what we call loyalty to our club and it will be there."
Despite a warning from Stewart Regan, SFA chief executive, that the move would bring a financial catastrophe and a "slow, lingering death" of the game, Thomas Mathers from Ardoyne Rangers Supporters Club said the demotion will benefit the other clubs in the third division.
It's the same manager, the same team, the same supporters, the same grounds, the same history; nothing has changed.
"Most of the [clubs] right the whole way down the leagues are extremely happy that we are there because we will be taking 6,000 people to their grounds and they have an average of 600 people.
"As far as we are concerned we follow Rangers Football Club," said Mr Mathers.
"We picked Rangers Football Club to follow for life, through thick and thin."
Manager Ally McCoist praised the club and supporters for their patience during a difficult period.
"Clearly, starting again from the bottom league is not ideal and makes the task of rebuilding Rangers a longer one but the SFL was placed in an impossible situation and I respect its decision," he said.
His side defeated Linfield at Windsor Park in May, during a fundraising match for Rangers, and David Jeffrey's men will travel to Ibrox next season.
The Linfield manager said although players, managers, and boards may come and go, the supporters will always remain.
"I think I'm most sorry for them," he told UTV. "What has gone on has caused much conjecture and is very disappointing for the supporters.
"I believe Rangers will be better served by going from the lowest tier. I think that then they're not looking for favours and they can rebuild and I think you will see a bigger, a better, and a stronger Rangers back again.
"I have no doubt about that, such is the passion of the supporters."
Although it was claimed an overturn of the previous rejection of the Ibrox club would be discussed at the league's annual general meeting, doubts remain over the destiny of the side.