We need to talk about Club 1872

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By Mark Dingwall
It should be a great thing for Rangers fans – but instead it gives the impression of a private club where those who disagree are expelled, silenced, and denied their rights as members.
By all reasonable measures it has failed – failed to develop a decent relationship with the club, failed to communicate with its members, failed in building its membership, failed in bringing in finance, and failed in developing the shareholding it should have.
Unending internal battles have poisoned the atmosphere scaring off new leadership potential and crucially undermined trust in potential members.
It suffers from a phenomenon which can often be seen in commercial companies.  The directors and senior management identify what they want which then become the objectives of the company – but what they fail to recognise is that companies are owned by the shareholders.  What happens here is that the directors work for what is good for them rather than the ownership.
The leadership group becomes intolerant of dissent – in commercial companies this means lack of promotion or indeed dismissal.   For voluntary organisations this often results in rigged elections, lack of proper communication with members, atrophy of organisation, intolerance of and ultimately expulsion of those who dare to question the status quo.
Club 1872 is not a normal company or club or society.  It is a Community Interest Company (CIC) which means it is not regulated by normal rules.  Add to that the fact that the CIC Regulators Office is vastly under-resourced and it’s not amenable to normal regulation.
Try writing to the Regulators Office and tell me if you get an acknowledgement never mind action.  The only person who was able to get anywhere with them was a former MP but that was an investigation of a mainly technical nature.
The Rules of Club 1872 effectively give the leadership group huge power over the affairs of the company.
In a normal company, or society, there is an AGM where elections take place and the accounts are presented and approved.  That doesn’t happen with Club 1872.  The accounts are simply submitted and published on the Companies House website.  There is no AGM.  The directors are obliged to procure four General Meetings per year – if anyone has evidence of those taking place then please let me know!
The Directors have a fairly effective control over those standing in elections.  They can, for instance, simply state that one of those who signed your nomination forms had defaulted on their contributions – or that the nominator hadn’t been a member long enough – and do so after nominations have closed so that you have no chance to correct it.
They can also make use of old internet postings to knock out opponents – which is fair to a degree but also something fairly amusing as the organisation has been run for many years by someone whose problematic posting habit saw them lose a Rangers directorship before being paid under the counter to run Club 1872.   Whilst I’m quite happy to claim all my history there are others (I imagine a majority in society) who would prefer to subscribe to the right to a discontinuous lifestyle – that is, you are not the same person now as you were five or ten or twenty years ago.   And if it suits them they will simply sweep aside the context of any comment.
They can, and do, simply load the dice.
Further than that – they have been ruthless in dealing with dissent: those who have stood against them have often found themselves removed from membership.   And utterly scandalously they expelled the Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie after he dared to publicly challenge them for their lunatic handling of company affairs.
Say that out loud and realise how mental it is – they expelled the Chaplain of Glasgow University and Chaplain of Rangers Football Club.
This was insanity on stilts. Stuart had survived the cut and thrust of Labour Party politics in the West of Scotland for decades only for Club 1872 to tarnish his reputation.
By then, of course, Club 1872 was already a busted flush.
One of the major problems Club 1872 has is that its membership came in during a crisis – loads of them have no day to day interaction, the only people who can contact them regularly are Club 1872.   There’s really nowhere apart from FF where the affairs of the company are discussed.   That means the members perceptions are formed by emails from Club 1872 – so they take their cue from the existing directors.
It’s been so long since we got an update on what the Working Groups are – or who is on them – or what they do.   The membership thus has no reasonable clue regarding who to vote for based on their record of work. In a healthy organisation the Groups, their work and their personnel would be reported on with regular updates and members get recognition for the work they do.  It’s how you stimulate new blood.
Club 1872 has failed – failed to be relevant, failed to be run properly, failed to recruit new members, failed to keep the money coming in, failed utterly to maintain a healthy relationship with the football club.
There can be no movement forward until the current incumbents and their nominees are all gone.
For those of a certain vintage who fought against Murray and the Spivs we thought our worst days were behind us and the baton passed onto youngsters.
Sadly, that legacy has proved disappointing.
Lacking the will or the money to drag Club 1872 through court we now have to hope that new and unknown talent comes though.  It would be pointless for any of the old guard to stand for election – we will simply be excluded. I’m afraid that the changes will have to be natural and almost accidental until someone takes up the torch of change again.
Sadly, it may be too late to save Club 1872 from itself but it’s very dangerous for a company to have a large rogue shareholder semi-housetrained.   The club is treating them with kid gloves just now but it’s not a healthy situation to be in.   The brand is damaged and the income a fraction of what it could be.  There has to be a better way forward.

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