His team-mates have teased him but also given their unequivocal public backing. Now it is the turn of the Rangers public to offer their collective judgment on Ian Black.
Rangers face Stenhousemuir at Ibrox this afternoon and the midfielder is likely to be restored to the starting line-up having completed a three-match suspension relating to betting offences. It will be Black's first match since he appeared in front of the Scottish Football Association's disciplinary panel and pled guilty to charges of betting on football games, including three times betting on his own team not to win. One of those instances came earlier this year when Black scored in a 4-2 Rangers win against East Stirlingshire, a match that he had picked as a draw on an accumulator bet.
In the fixtures that took place in the period between the SFA announcing the charges and the independent panel convening, the Rangers support was near unanimous in its vocal backing of the player. Now that he has put his hands up to admit wrong-doing, it remains to be seen whether the mood is still as sympathetic when Black trots out of the tunnel shortly before 3pm today.
"I'd hope so," said manager Ally McCoist. "The Rangers fans have been phenomenal in their support of the team and the club in the last two years. We are thankful for that and proud of that. I don't see anything changing. I hope we can put it all behind us and move on. We have said he was wrong and punished him internally. He has come out and apologised and has served his punishment. I'd be very hopeful that it's now the case that we can all move on. Is he big enough to handle any abuse? I think he will be."
Black is a character seemingly forever drawn to controversy, whether for a style of play that could be euphemistically described as "robust" or for various off-field matters. McCoist hopes the time has come for his player to ditch the baggage and start creating more positive headlines. After a patchy first season, Black has become a pivotal figure in the Rangers team this term and his manager hopes there will be no more distractions going forward.
"I'd be hopeful we can put everything to the past and he can recapture the form he was showing before the suspension," he added. "I want to be talking about how well Ian Black is playing. I'm really hopeful that will be the case. I definitely think last season in particular that he received more than his fair share of tackles that refs deemed a foul. That's the best way I can put it. He's that kind of character, he's been know to give away the odd foul as well. But I'd be very hopeful that the attention on him now will be for the way he is playing - and has been playing."
With betting against your own side one of the last great taboos in sport, there are some who feel Black should consider himself fortunate that the disciplinary panel was so lenient and that his club also chose not to take a hardline approach. According to McCoist, the reaction among Black's team-mates has been to take the mickey rather than upbraid him for any disloyalty.
"Ian's had a bit of stick about it," the manager added. "I have to say that in no way, shape or form are we being flippant about it but as you can imagine there has been one or two wind-ups and a bit of fun involved. I have to stress that doesn't mean we're treating it lightly in any way - it's just that humour is a big part of a football club."
Jon Daly confirmed the players would have no problem welcoming Black into the fold. "What has happened has happened," said the former Dundee United striker. "Obviously he has made a mistake and the boys have forgiven him for that. Hopefully everyone lets it go and lets him get back to playing football and doing what he was doing best on the park. As far as we are concerned it is done and dusted, water under the bridge. We move on and look forward to the next game."
Daly admitted the intense focus on the Black case should serve as a warning to any player considering ignoring the SFA's regulations on gambling. "There probably is betting in football but if anybody does bet they know not to bet against their own team. It does open your eyes and make you aware of things."