The ESPN Rankings: How would The Rangers Fare?
Updated Tuesday, 17th November 2009
How would our own fans rate us in the categories offered - and how can we improve our performance?
ESPN asked fans from all major North American teams to reveal how well they felt their franchises repaid the time, effort, expense and mental energy granted to them, year on year. The poll also asked fans to suggest what they felt to be most important in terms of their team - and to rank those considerations: so we now know how many feel coaching to be more important than affordability, and so on and so forth.
The results were grouped into eight broad categories (below), and fans were asked to rate their favourite teams in each category. More than 50,000 responded.
Bang for the Buck (Comparing money spent and revenues gained with on-field success)
Title Track (Championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans)
Interestingly, six of the top ten ranked for fan relations are hockey teams.
Most of the top ten in stadium experience are baseball sides.
And the top five in affordability are all MLB franchises.
You may notice the dearth of NFL teams: only the Packers (owned by the public) and Steelers (family-owned since their birth and famous for the 'Steeler Nation' of fans who brought about a sell-out streak of 299 games) do well across the board.
Teams near the bottom of the overall rankings all - bar one - have major and fundamental problems; with stagnant ownership; lack of investment; lack of interest.
Only the New York Yankees - who appear in the top fifty only in terms of their 'Title Track', something many would consider the be-all and end-all - don't fit that description. But many Yankee fans will be aware of the controversy over the new stadium, ticket prices, and the general unwelcoming and borderline controlling atmosphere which prevails.
We as a Club have often been slow to 'borrow' ideas from other sports, and it is true that not all plans, gimmicks and methods can work in different arenas and competitions.
At present, we can't really judge our Club on ownership and in terms of 'Bang for the Buck' (Performance per Pound), we have spent a lot and not always reaped the relative rewards. In terms of our 'Title Track', it has often only been the trophies won that have prevented major unrest at Ibrox in recent times. Coaching? Do we need to perform that dance once more? Players? An inconsistent lot, some of whom need an attitude readjustment. But this is all in danger of becoming too negative.
So, if we consider the core of the categories in the ESPN Rankings how do the Rangers of Glasgow rate?
There has been a considerable improvement in both pre-match and half-time entertainment in recent years, but this is somewhat offset by minor considerations - such as the failure to fix the big screens, the persistent grumbles about catering and the grubby nature of some fixtures and fittings - and the major downer of Nanny State tannoy warnings and announcements. However, the various fans' groups trying to inject some life into the match-day experience, and providing much colour and some volume, deserve to be given more support and encouragement. More seriously, the over-zealous policing and stewarding has led many to consider their Ibrox experience to be closer to a trial than a treat. We have to find a way to address this growing concern, while ensuring that any genuine mentalism is not encouraged and safety is maintained.
The Club has been more open with fans in recent times, and more vocal in their support for the decent majority and their condemnation of those in the media who seem to exist only to criticise and victimise the Club and its fans. As we await a change of ownership it seems obvious that the relevant supporters' groups, whether it be the Assembly, the RST, the Association or a combination of all, need to take the opportunity to ensure the next regime in charge at Rangers can improve upon past mistakes. Some of the highlights of recent years, in terms of displays, fundraising, charity and social events, have originated with fans and haven't always been backed as comprehensively by the Club as we would wish or expect. Some splendid but essentially simple measures to increase the profile and bank balance of the Club have been met with indifference within the corridors of power, although it must be said that many employees have been frustrated by the constraints of their position.
On a wider level, the perceived and real infighting between different groups and fan organisations has not helped matters. But with new ownership should come a fresh slate - and if not a member on a new board, supporters should be able to boast of greater direct communication and working relationships between those who own and run the Club and those who are its lifeblood.
Here, the Club deserve some credit, especially when it comes to the reduction of junior tickets and the minor revision of adult tickets to ensure those high demand games are more expensive. However, not for the first time, the CL pricing was not fully thought out, and this has had an effect on revenue and atmosphere. There is an argument that, when the financial climate strengthens, more could be done to enable a wider pricing structure: ensuring that there are some very cheap tickets available for the younger, non-season ticket holders, while perhaps asking those who sit in the very best seats in the house to dig a little deeper. We can and should never price people out of the game, but nor can a sporting institution which is also a business be slow in asking those who can afford it to pay a little more, providing other factors - other improvements to the experience - can be favourably settled. By comparison to EPL prices, the Ibrox entry fee is more than reasonable. But while the TV income of the SPL, and other revenue streams, remain at present levels there is little to no chance of our over-reliance on ticket revenue being changed.
Comment on this story, and offer your own suggestions and evaluation of the issues and categories considered, in this thread on our message board.