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Rangers boardroom battle has been won, but can the directors win over the fans?

AS people try to figure out what happens next for Rangers after that watershed annual general meeting, the infamous Michael Fish line comes to mind.

"A woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way . . . well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't," said poor old Fish, uttering the sentence with which he became inextricably synonymous.

It proved to be a spectacular misreading of a storm which killed 19 people and caused record damage. If the question is whether Rangers may now enter a period of relative calm now that the embattled Ibrox board has a shareholders' mandate to carry on, the instinctive answer is that, yes, it will. But that opinion comes loaded with the risk of quickly looking as clueless as the weatherman did in 1987.

Nothing around Rangers is ever straightforward or predictable, not least because we don't know many of their central characters well enough yet. Graham Wallace, David Somers and Norman Crighton were appointed only in November. The second longest-serving director at the club, James Easdale, hasn't yet seen six months of service. The belief that there is about to be a spell of comparative stability around the club stems from the sense that last Thursday's agm brought several key issues to a head and, even if the majority of the supporters and individual shareholders resent the outcome, resolved them.

The support didn't really know how to process the agm outcome. It didn't know how to react or where to turn next. Distrust for the incumbent board was obvious, and it remains. But there was a sense of helplessness, too, about an ownership model which places a handful of institutional investors, mainly investment fund managers, as kingmakers. What else can supporters do but suck it up and resign themselves to the reality that they are disenfranchised and at the whim of a board that has so far acted like it wouldn't touch them with a barge-pole?

It is patently obvious that there is no consensus among the fanbase that there should be a boycott of season tickets when they go on sale around April. A boycott would damage Rangers to no obvious end. As Craig Houston of Sons of Struth said in the pages of Herald Sport on Saturday: "Our plan is just to let the dust settle. For us it's all about how the board react to these events. Will they encourage fan involvement?" Well, will they? "

Rangers' directors point-blank refuse to divulge who is behind Blue Pitch Holdings and Margarita Holdings and that is fundamental to the distrust most fans have towards the board. Wallace may want to identify those investors and publicly reveal them, but a chief executive has to do what he's told. If the fans want him to open up to them, he can open up only as much as he is authorised to by the majority will of the board. If they want him to sack Brian Stockbridge he can do it only if the rest of the board agree.

Engaging with supporters is easy. Pretty much anything Wallace might do to speak with fans in the coming weeks will seem like a breath of fresh air after the boardroom Omerta of recent months. But he will have to come across as an open book because it's clear some brutal cost-cutting is coming at Rangers and that will mean decisions and departures that won't always go down well with fans.

Wallace has been a quietly impressive figure so far. When Charles Green tried to win over fans he started by appealing to the lowest common denominator, ignorantly spouting off about bigotry and everyone having it in for Rangers. Wallace looks to have more class than that. Let's hope so, because too much of this Rangers saga has been like chimpanzees throwing their lunch at each other. How Wallace conducts himself in the next two or three months will shape the relationship between this unproven, unfamiliar, secretive board of directors and thousands of supporters who wouldn't trust them as far as they could throw them.

And Another Thing . . .

According to a credible report yesterday, Roy Hodgson believes Fraser Forster will have to leave Celtic next month in order to protect his prospects of being in England's squad at the World Cup finals. Supposedly Hodgson is concerned that Celtic's elimination from European football will mean the goalkeeper will not be playing at a sufficiently high level in the months before going to Brazil. By extension, then, Hodgson would feel reassured if Celtic had reached the last 16 of the Champions League as they did a year ago. The idea that Forster's England place could stand or fall on another 180 minutes of European football is risible.

Neil Lennon has said he'd like to sign more British players and inevitably his potential recruits may include young Englishmen who hope to eventually play for their country. The message being sent out by Hodgson - go to Scotland and you're out of the picture - is deeply damaging.

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