RANGERS ONE YEAR ON – How a lifelong fan saw the club's dramatic fall from grace

RANGERS fans will never forget their sense of shock last February when the club announced it was going into administration.

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n Months after taking over as new owner, Whyte announced the club was bound for administration n Jim Davison is a life-long Rangers fan whose family contributed to various money-making schemes the club came up with over the years  Picture:  Jamie Simpson Jim Davison is a life-long Rangers fan
n Months after taking over as new owner, Whyte announced the club was bound for administration n Jim Davison is a life-long Rangers fan whose family contributed to various money-making schemes the club came up with over the years Picture: Jamie Simpson Jim Davison is a life-long Rangers fan

One year on, many are still adjusting to seeing their team in Scottish senior football's bottom tier. RUSSELL LEADBETTER spoke to one fan, who first watched Rangers as a young boy.

THE memories come flooding back for Jim Davison whenever he drives past Ibrox during his working day.

Jim, 48, a Glasgow taxi driver, was first taken to the landmark stadium while he was still a primary school pupil, in the company of his dad, Jim snr.

"I remember going with him to games at home and away, from the early 1970s onwards. I was steeped in Rangers," he says.

"My dad worked in the Post Office and there would be a bus leaving from the local pub.

"If Rangers were playing, say, St Johnstone in Perth, we'd book into the local Civil Service club."

Later, there were European glory nights, and great domestic successes.

He said: "I remember the good run they had under John Greig, in 1978.

"There were games against Juventus and FC Cologne in the European Cup, and Valencia in the old Cup Winners' Cup.

"I also remember the first treble I witnessed, in 1976, when in our Scottish Cup final win over Hearts Derek Johnstone scored the first goal before 3pm - the game had kicked off slightly early. That victory sealed the treble."

Up and until the time he had children of his own, Jim was a regular attendee, home and away.

But he will remain a fan forever.

"Rangers is in your blood," is how he puts it.

Like other supporters, Jim thinks the problems at Ibrox can be traced back to the time of their high-profile £18million bank debt.

"Looking back, Rangers had a sustainable, serviceable debt – they had just won the league, and they were back in the Champions' League – but Lloyds Banking Group had their man on the board and the bank wanted its £18m back.

"They saw the Big Tax Case looming, and they didn't think Rangers could win it.

"I think Sir David Murray was the same. I believe he panicked, and that's why he wanted shot of Rangers. I think he didn't stand his ground."

When he came in as owner, Craig Whyte paid off the bank debt of £18m at the end of Murray's 23 years as owner.

Jim said: "I think Rangers suffered as much as any other company, and I put that down to Craig Whyte.

"Events will prove that he should never have been allowed anywhere near Rangers.

"The team has suffered through losing players without getting any transfer fees, and to top it all they're in the Third Division.

"So yes, I think Murray should have been stronger, but I think a lot of the blame for what subsequently happened to Rangers can be placed at Whyte's door."

Reports last April, in the wake of the club slipping into administration, spoke of a £140m debt mountain at Rangers, with 276 institutions and people being owed money.

This figure included a sum of £75m which the club would be liable if they lost the Big Tax Case.

The club's unsecured creditors, who were owed more than £55m, included more than 6000 fans who bought £7.7m worth of debenture seats.

One of them, sadly, was Jim's dad.

"My dad passed away in July 2011. He had been an agent at Rangers Pools, and when Murray still owned the club my dad bought a debenture seat in the stadium's club deck for £1500. It's really a seat for life, and you get your name on the back.

"Back in the 70s he also bought 10 shares at £10, an investment of £100. That then was diluted to a penny a share under Murray.

"In his will he left his debenture seat to my oldest son, and his other four grandkids got shares.

"But all of these investments disappeared when the club went into administration."

"My dad's seat has gone now, though we've never really been told anything in writing.

"It's obviously not a huge sum of money, but from my dad's point of view it was really just something to remember him by, and it's been wiped out."

As a loyal fan of many years', Jim was not just a ticket-season holder but he also put a lot of his money into the club's various schemes, such as Club 2000, which entailed him initially paying double his season-ticket money but getting 10% off season tickets for the next 10 years.

"A lot of schemes have come up over the years and I always contributed," he says.

Family commitments, and the fact that Jim drives taxis six days a week, have together meant he is no longer as much of an Ibrox regular as he once was.

"Some people might say 'you're not a fan because you're not contributing', but I feel as if I have done my stint, following them all over the country," he said.

He follows the club's news on fans' forums and on social media, and has his own Twitter account in which he discusses Rangers matters.

He concludes: "I agreed with the decision to put Rangers in the bottom tier.

"Some clubs might have wanted Rangers to stay in the top division because of the TV revenue - they saw Rangers as a cash-cow.

"But Rangers would have fielded weakened sides and would have been beaten every week. It would have been embarrassing.

"Going down to the third division at least allows them to start again.

"They now have time to put a good structure, and a good footballing ethos, in place.

"I've no doubt they will come back, year by year."

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