"Let the others come after us. We welcome the chase. It is healthy for us.
We will never hide from it. Never fear."
- William Struth

In Support Of The Union Bears

Written by: Mr T Wood
Wednesday, 16th August 2017

The recent statement from the Union Bears regards the breakdown of communication with those in the club in relation to the implementation of safe standing at Ibrox gives plenty food for thought.

I read with interest because it cast my mind back to conversations which I was involved in back in 2003, sharing a beer with a fellow bear in a hostelry on PRW after a game where this subject came up. He was in a position to raise and push the idea of Safe Standing with the club and I did a bit of digging for him on what was almost exclusively the German model at the time. After an exchange of emails or two the matter was dropped. Now I cannot be certain where the discussions went after my involvement finished but it’s obvious to all that it went nowhere. Having saw the matter come to the fore again this past week, I looked out the report which had started those conversations in 2003. I had been given a copy of “English Fans' Fact Finding Mission to Germany, February 2001”. By SAFE: The Campaign for Safe Standing Areas. Even back then, some 16 years ago it was clear that Rangers could and should have stolen a march on other clubs in the UK and been bold enough to look at this seriously. I will not bore you with the details of the lengthy report which is now somewhat out of date but for information on safe standing you can refer to: http://fsf.org.uk/campaigns/safe-standing/.

Some choice quotes from that report can give you the idea on why it sounded so appealing even away back then. “The club (Bremen) describes the standing area as 'the heart of the stadium'.”

“Officials at Hamburg are extremely proud of their standing areas, which are unique in football stadiums. The club sees standing areas (and ultimately the benefits such as low prices) as a way of attracting the younger fan. They see this as an investment for the future - younger fans become tomorrow’s adults, hopefully bringing their children with them, ensuring a continuation of supporters wanting to see the club play in the stadium as opposed to on TV (or not having an interest in football at all!)

Again, the wishes of fans have been put in the forefront of the club's priorities, above commercial revenues:'we could sell advertising space above the standing area, but we left the space vacant so that fans could hang their banners and flags instead' the club spokesman said.

In discussion on the subject of crowd behaviour in the area, he added that: 'because it is 100% season ticket holders in the area, fans know that if they misbehave, they will not be allowed back into that area at all. It is a great form of self-control, there are many disappointed fans who cannot get tickets for this standing area'“

What annoys this writer greatly is that with those conversations in 2003, our club could have been at the forefront of this but we are where we are now and we should applaud the Union Bears for taking this up with those at the club.

Secondary and very much linked to any implementation of Safe Standing would be the “where”.  Obvious to us all is that this “where” would also involve a possible relocation of The Union Bears. For me, this simply has to happen at The Rangers End”. I must emphasise that it would be my wish to see them relocated once again in the Copland, whether they agree or not is another matter entirely, I merely state what I believe would be the right place for them, a place which would better suit them in terms of visibility and to aid them in generating an atmosphere in our otherwise library-esque stadium. We must as a support act bold – we must as a club be prepared to make those difficult decisions which will improve the match day experience for us all. If we are being brutally honest, Ibrox has went from cauldron of noise to a library. We can certainly blame some of that on the SNP and their political police force trying to make criminals out of football fans singing songs which for decades and decades did no harm to anyone BUT we must shoulder some of the blame. When Ibrox gets going it is one of the finest atmospheres in world football, a fact testified by many who have played against us. So, yes, I would advocate any Safe Standing to be at The Rangers End.  Firstly, repositioning should be to the Copland Front and if proven to be popular enough it could work out and up from there. I should make this clear to the reader – I am not in the Union Bears so do not know where and how they wish to relocate, it is purely my opinion that they should be at the heart of The Rangers End, where they can be better situated to influence the atmosphere and generate the noise needed to cheer OUR team on to victory. Now here is where I believe we hit a snag…

There are obviously several thousand season ticket holders who would be affected by this. Many of those will see the benefits for the greater good and either wish to remain where they are and take up a safe standing ticket or will move seats for the Union Bears and others to be accommodated in it and there will be those who have had their season tickets for dozens of years so that’s where they will always sit and to hell with anything else. To those bears who fall in to the latter category I empathise greatly with you but I would suggest that they think of the greater good. If CR 3/4 was chosen (a place where I have had same seat for 31 years in) then I would move, although to be honest I think my son who is now in the 3rd year of having a season ticket would be wanting us to stay, and clearly this is something to which I would give consideration to. The point is, those who would be affected have the chance to make something bold happen…they have the chance to change Ibrox and in particular The Rangers End into the wall of noise it once was. We are at a cross roads where it comes to the atmosphere at Ibrox.  I call on the club to support The Union Bears with this initiative and I call on the wider fan-base to support them whether that is to move seats or join in.

Of course the administrative burden would be huge for Rangers to implement Safe Standing and to handle ticket moves but that should not be allowed to obstruct progress. It is clear to me and for the future generations of bears that it cannot remain how it has always been.

With the support from the club, we have the capacity to make this happen.

No Surrender

Want to be part of the discussion? Email postmaster@vanguardbears.co.uk for more information.


by D'Artagnan
by 1972


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