THE formation of an official Rangers Fans' Board is "a huge step" towards supporters having a say in the running of the Ibrox club.
That was the assertion today from the man who will oversee the drawing up of a nominations shortlist for the fans' board in the coming weeks.
Rangers is setting up the board in an attempt to improve communications with supporters as a result of their "Ready to Listen" initiative.
And the Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie, who has been a Light Blues fan for over 50 years, was this week appointed chairman of the nominations committee.
There is widespread scepticism among Gers supporters about how much actual influence the new body will wield at the troubled Glasgow giants.
Mr MacQuarrie, though, believes it will be "pioneering" and is hopeful it will help to help bring supporters and the club together as they attempt to return to the top of Scottish football. He said: "I have been a Rangers supporter for over 50 years and I am also lucky enough to have had an involvement with the club as a minister.
"I have conducted weddings at Ibrox stadium. I also conducted the service on the anniversary of the Ibrox Disaster and the funeral services for Jim Baxter and Bobby Shearer.
"So Rangers know me and I was happy to help with this process after I was approached by them. I think it is a huge step forward for the club."
Mr MacQuarrie continued: "I think part of the difficulty with Rangers fans over the last two, three, four years has been the lack of unity.
"It is very difficult to get any consensus about fans views about anything. I see this as a big step forward in the club engaging with the fans in a realistic way.
"I like the way this has been approached. There will be categories of fans. There will be somebody on this board, for example, who will be able to articulate the interests of disabled supporters. I think there are 10 groupings overall.
"There will be people on the board who fall into different categories. It won't just be full of people who happen to shout the loudest. A broad cross-section of fans will be represented.
"I think that's of huge importance."
Mr MacQuarrie believes the Rangers directors must listen to supporters if they want to end the off-field unrest at Ibrox and return to the forefront of the Scottish game.
He said: "I am old enough to remember an age where the board at Rangers used to sit in splendour in the directors' box and at times appeared to look down on fans with some disdain.
"The directors didn't see themselves as accountable to anybody other than themselves. I can remember those days. But I think those days have gone. Now there has to be a degree of accountability to the supporters."
He added: "I can understand the fans' frustration because I am one myself. It has not been easy being a Rangers fan in the last two or three years. And I don't for a minute think it is going to get any easier in the immediate future.
"Fans of others clubs are going to continue to remind us of the difficulties we face.
"I'm a shareholder and I was a shareholder of the former company. But it is not just people with a financial interest in the company who deserve a voice in how the club is run. The fans own the club every bit as much as any shareholder.
"Football clubs are about people's identity. They affect people's sense of who they are. They affect their self-esteem and their self-worth. I wouldn't have got involved in this if I thought it wasn't going to help the club. I see this as pioneering."
Mr MacQuarrie is hopeful the nominations to the fans' board - which will be voted on by Rangers supporters - will be agreed upon soon and the board will be up and running early in the new season.
He said: "It can't be one of those processes that goes on and on. We have to move fairly quickly. But, at the same time, we have to take our time so that poor decisions aren't made."