In the midst of the Rangers First elections, you may or may not recall that things got a bit... weird. There were claims that the election was unfair, with former members accidentally allowed the vote and then retroactively justified as if it were the plan all along, before committing another U-turn on it. There were a fair few fallouts too, with most of the division being centred around the idea of whether a unified fan group would be a good idea or not.
Rangers have now published the proposal in detail, of course, and there's one detail which seems to be a particular stickler. Namely, that instead of purely being a share-buying vehicle with the idea of fan ownership as the ultimate goal, only around half of the money will go towards shares, with a similar amount retained for use of any special projects if the members vote on it.
It's not hard to see why it's caused a stooshie. It shouldn't really be the fans responsibility (note: this is different from merely having the option) to build special projects, and it's stirred the passions, suspicions, and in some cases paranoia of many opposed to the move.
At first, this doesn't seem too big an issue. It's only an option to do special projects - indeed, you could look at it another way and say that a guarantee has been set that a huge chunk of the money will be set aside for shares regardless of the situation. There doesn't seem to be an issue there - the members get what they want, and who could argue about that?
The problem, and real elephant in the room that the opponents of the plan seem to think but not actually say out loud, is maybe one of consciousness. The opposition to Richard Gough's presence made it clear - there was a fear that most members would simply vote for the recognisable and the status quo rather than actually seek to challenge and criticise the intentions of either the club or the fan organisation.
It should be said that this isn't really a concern for the paranoid. We're not exactly in "Wake up Sheeple!" Alex Jones territory here. Most members signed up in the dark and frantic days leading up to the EGM, and while all want what's best for Rangers, how many are actually keeping track of what's going on in the boardroom at the club, let alone Rangers First or the RST on a day-to-day basis? Not many.
Even worse, it could form something of a vicious circle - many of the problems people had with Rangers First was a distinct lack of clarity and transparency, which seemed to be totally summed up by the shambles surrounding the vote. Even after the dust settled there, while nobody actually owned up, it was such an blatant lie and attempt to save face, dishonesty so obvious that it doesn't even give any respect to the people it's trying to deceive, that you'd have expected that the incumbents might have been made to pay. They weren't - they were elected on large majorities, and the reason is that most people either didn't know or didn't care about what happened. The organisation won't get more information out until people demand it, and people won't demand it until they get more information out about what's going on. It's a catch-22.
On that level, the concerns of the naysayers don't look too outrageous. The problem is that it seems to be dressed up in a lot of irrelevant nonsense - our friend and yours, the Phantom, shot down many of the claims in a blog today. The more people protest, the more they seem to be against the principles of fan unity and fan ownership itself, and while a look on Twitter makes it appear to be a great and contentious debate between two large blocs of fans, the reality has always been that whenever the notion of a united fans organisation linked to the club has been put to a vote, it's been overwhelmingly popular. Not even a contest. We're talking Putin election numbers here.
And that forms a big part of the problem. There are real concerns to be made about whether people have enough information and whether there's enough engagement to allow the proposed organisation to be a genuine check on the boardroom and make informed decisions. Yet the arguments being put forward against the proposal do not address those concerns. They look like the same petty in-fighting from people trying to grab their own slice of the pie. The reality is that they can simply be ignored - they're a very vocal minority, and the notion of thousands of fans deserting the organisation in protest at a merger just doesn't hold water.
It's time to try and work together and find the best way of making the unified fan organisation work. If people think it's a bad proposal, then they should be working to change it for the better - anyone ranting and raving against it is shouting into the abyss and has been for a long, long time.