They have seen the newspaper front pages with an image of their coffin being lowered into a grave. They have read all the inscriptions on mocked-up headstones. Now another unsettling experience awaits. They will be forced to sit at a table as their mourners subject them to a popularity contest.
The line in their song – no-one likes us, we don't care – has had an element of truth in recent months. Since going into administration in February the club has been more concerned with what has been happening to it than with whether its extensive rule-breaking and tax dodging had upset anyone else. Now the emphasis must change. What others think will matter. Some serious lobbying will have to be done by Rangers if the club is to play its football in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League next season. The SFA may have said "no deals" with Rangers, but the same need not apply with the other SPL clubs.
An SPL meeting will be held, probably at the start of July, at which all 12 clubs (Rangers included) will vote on whether to allow a newco into the division and, if so, whether any conditions will be attached. The other 11 clubs must prioritise the financial advantages of having Rangers in the top flight or the demand from their supporters for sporting integrity to be upheld. The issue has become polarised, reduced to only black and white. Most of those mounting vocal campaigns online, raising petitions, and flooding their clubs with letters, emails and calls are against a newco Rangers in the SPL on any grounds. They have hammered home the point that they will boycott games if the Ibrox club are treated "leniently". And their interpretation of leniency means newco Rangers being allowed in at all.
Rangers are aggrieved that they could be banished to the third division (if accepted) for what they regard as the sins of one or two individuals – Sir David Murray and Craig Whyte – who are no longer at Ibrox and have no connection to the newco. Those other clubs which may be inclined to accept a newco may have some sympathy for that point, but essentially they look at Rangers and see pound signs, Sky TV cheques and visiting supporters clicking through their turnstiles.
Rangers need seven others to vote with them on getting the newco in. Hearts, Kilmarnock, St Johnstone and St Mirren may feel the commercial imperative is irresistible. How Dundee United and Motherwell will vote is hard to call. Celtic, Aberdeen and Hibernian seem certain to bow to their supporters' pressure and oppose a newco. The Highland clubs both spoke yesterday, but revealed little. Kenny Cameron, the Inverness Caledonian Thistle chairman, said his club would discuss it at board level and then consult supporters. "This is not a time for snap judgments or rushed quotes on the issue," he said. "Any speculation by certain parties as to how Caley Thistle may or may not vote on a newco is purely that and we find it strange that some seem to know how the club would vote under certain circumstances. They must have a crystal ball."
Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor gave nothing away about his intentions, either, although he did reveal that the clubs had been briefed by the SPL that Rangers' Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) plan was likely to go through. "Every club left the last meeting in the belief a CVA would be reached between Rangers and their creditors," said MacGregor. "The decision of HMRC not to accept the CVA has moved the goalposts. It leaves the other 11 clubs with a big decision to make and we have to meet and debate what options are available to us before it is put to a vote. I've no idea how the other clubs will vote."
There is a perception within Ibrox that the club has been repeatedly hammered. That may be an understandable reaction given the emotional buffeting the club has taken from all directions since going into administration, but in terms of actual football punishments – rather than grave but separate financial consequences of owing tens of millions of pounds – it is misleading.
As things stand, there is only a single football punishment resting on Rangers: an SPL transfer embargo for being in administration, which could be lifted by the end of the week. They already have been penalised 10 points, which did nothing to affect their final league position. Being excluded from European football next season is a consequence of not fulfilling Uefa's entry criteria (Rangers did not submit audited accounts on time) rather than a punishment as such. Having contested it at the Court of Session, the separate SFA 12-month signing ban for bringing the game into disrepute does not currently apply, although Rangers will, of course, soon be hit with an alternative when Lord Carloway's Appellant Tribunal has a second go at imposing a sanction which can stand.
What is significant, ahead of the newco vote, is that many feel there has not been enough contrition from Rangers: too little obvious remorse and too little humility. The club has often sounded more sorry for itself than for anyone else. It has often seemed as though they would be satisfied with the terms of a punishment only by setting it themselves.
Yet their scandalous non-payment of £9m of taxes between May 2011 and this February, when they went into administration, made a victim of every other team in the league. They kept 18 clean sheets in all competitions last season with a defence including Dorin Goian (bought for £800,000), Carlos Bocanegra (£400,000) and Lee Wallace (£1.5m). Not all have been fully paid for. They gave lucrative new contracts to Allan McGregor, Steven Davis and Steven Whittaker.
All those transfer fees, all those new contracts, because they did not bother paying a penny to the revenue. Their squad was strong enough to win 26 out of 38 league games and enabled the club to finish second in the table and collect around £2.6m in placement money from the SPL. In the rush to distance the club from Whyte, how much was said about that prize-money coming into the club because of the way he ran it?
Some Rangers supporters now believe the club should take the power out of the SPL's hands, and cleanse itself, by starting again in the third division. But Charles Green will commit to getting into the SPL, which means hoping that enough of the others will look kindly on them. Rangers, despite being told they're dead and buried, must now start a lively tapdance to win friends and influence people.