Fans deserve a better deal from bailed-out clubs

GENUINE club saviours or being taken for mugs?

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Former Rangers owner Craig White
Former Rangers owner Craig White

Whilst there was unity in the air at a crackling Tynecastle on Saturday, there was undoubtedly much discussion over the answer to that particular question.

The Jambos fans have become the latest support to be turned to when things go badly wrong.

Like the fans of Dundee, Motherwell and most recently Rangers, they have been urged to dig deep to bail the troubled Edinburgh side out of the mire. For now.

Of course the response, as it was at all these other clubs when the very thought of extinction hit home, has been emphatic with almost 16,500 fans rammed into the stadium for the hard-fought win over St Mirren, and some £500,000 raised in the three weeks since it was known Hearts were in serious trouble.

Every man, woman and child that could be mustered was there. Needless to say, the man who has overseen this dive into troubled waters, Vladmir Romanov, was nowhere to be seen. What utter disdain is being shown to the Hearts fans.

They are told that unless they raise cash the club could go under, but no sign of the man on whose watch this has happened.

There is something so wrong about the workings of football clubs at times. Supporters, who are always the lifeblood, are starved of information, never given access to the board or the boardroom in terms of official representation, and are spoon-fed propaganda that everything is fine.

I will never forget towards the end of last November Craig Whyte, the now shamed former owner of Rangers, responding to a query that the club were under severe scrutiny from HMRC due bills not being met by saying it was 'rubbish.'

Then, come February 14 when Rangers plunged into administration, Whyte could hardly get out of town quick enough. Absolutely shameless.

Like what's going on at Hearts, the Rangers fans responded in massive numbers, filling Ibrox and launching a fighting fund which still has some £550,000 sitting in a bank account to be used on a rainy day.

The storm clouds have shifted from over Ibrox and there are green shoots of recovery, but still the support would be wise to adopt an eyes-wide-open approach.

They have funded 'Year One' of Charles Green's plan with huge season ticket sales and massive crowds at Ibrox. Now they are being teased into a share issue.

Yet we still don't know the exact names and identities of the initial investors in the club or, indeed, what the planned £20m raised from the share issue will be used for.

Granted, Green has pulled a masterstroke by getting Walter Smith on to the board and there is no way he would associate himself with anything he didn't like the look of.

But the bottom line, as it always has been, is that wads of Rangers fans' cash is being asked for in this share issue, and that's on top of everything else they pump in.

As we have seen at Hearts, the default position when a club starts to go belly-up is turn to the fans, please bail us out.

Meantime, these supporters will play no part in all the league reconstruction talk that is flying around right now and, if truth be told, will never get any real influence in the boardrooms of clubs up and down the land. Taken for mugs? You decide...

Finance

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