Rangers win more than the Third Division

Posted by John Gow

Rangers' manager Ally McCoistPA PhotosRangers' manager Ally McCoist watches on as his side draw 0-0

Nothing sums up the rollercoaster last 12 months for Rangers fans better than Saturday, March 30, 2013. With all the moans and subsequent worry the direction in which the football is going after seeing a truly dire 0-0 draw with Montrose at Links Park earlier in the day, Rangers still go on to win the Scottish Football League's Third Division trophy because second-place Queen's Park lost at home and can no longer catch the Ibrox club.

There will be few wild celebrations as many supporters will only see it as a necessary step back to the top. Yet when put into the perspective of this time last year, when no-one knew if the club would continue, it must be seen as a positive moment.

Rangers FC had three goals at the start of the season. The first, and most important was to ensure survival. The successful share issue, sponsorship deals and 38,000 season ticket sales achieved that.

The second was to win the league, or more specifically get promoted, as staying in the fourth-tier for another season would be a disaster. This has now been reached.

The third goal was to start a new football strategy and philosophy at the club. Without a time machine it can never be known if this is truly a failure, but the terrible football on show is unlikely to be the start of anything big.

The 'two out of three' victory has left the fans confused. Should they celebrate winning a Third Division they could only lose? Should the summer of 2012 and unfair transfer registration ban (which the Court of Session proved wasn't even a valid punishment) be a factor in how badly the team are playing, or is that just an excuse? Is having a club to support enough, or should the same high standards be adhered to at all times - even with the problems at the start of the season?

Future football historians will be able to cleverly point out all the correct answers to these questions, but hindsight is a luxury current Rangers fans don't yet have, except for looking back over the last year and seeing what might have been - which in itself could be the best medicine to the uncertainty.

Not only could Rangers have ceased to exist, but even if they trundled on in the Third Division the fans could have deserted them. Neither happened.

But this wasn't all. A 'failed' tax case with HMRC and wrongdoing in past player contracts was largely thought to be fact. So much so that the 'guardians' of the game in the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and Scottish Premier League (SPL) drew up a draft document where Rangers would have to forfeit titles, for no reason, in return for the club to play in the First Division.

That Rangers won the tax case and the Lord Nimmo Smith report showed that there was no sporting advantage in the way Rangers paid their players was the most important victory of the season. Without it the club would have been attacked mercilessly and would be badly weakened and embittered for decades to come.

So although the Third Division is not the best league, nor are the current Light Blues the best team, remember this: the Rangers are still here; the support is still loyal and the trophy room is still bursting.

And there will always be more.

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