THE media and Rangers aren’t so different, you know. Celtic fans reading this are no doubt already nodding along heartily in agreement.

What I mean by that though is that the outside world sees us both in a certain way. As the famous Rangers song puts it; no one likes us, we don’t care. Though, while we as institutions may be fully aware of the lowly opinions others have of us, for varying reasons, maybe we both bristle a little more about that than we like to let on.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that the Scottish sports media and Rangers (as well as Celtic and every other club in the land) have long had an understanding of each other’s role in the Scottish football soap opera, and while we may not always get along with one another, the quid pro quo kept it all bubbling along.

What that meant was that in exchange for access and the unfettered ability to question players and managers, and then relaying those exchanges back to the supporters, players would sometimes be pictured across a spread holding some placard to publicise season ticket sales, tickets for European matches, or as is more common these days, subscriptions to television channels – both club and external – that might be showing a certain game. Advertising that was free in monetary terms, but came at the cost of accountability. Not favourable coverage, as some would have you believe.

The advent of the internet and the traditional media’s inability to adapt and gainfully monetise it is a topic which can’t be properly dissected here, but sensing a weakness and a waning in the influence of the so-called ‘mainstream media’, Rangers have decided that they no longer need the papers to sell their wares to supporters, and they certainly don’t want the scrutiny that comes along with it.

Whether this has been driven by the board or by the changing of the guard at the head of their PR and media operation, who knows? But having set the rate for access at £25,000 per media organisation for a limited number of interviews with Steven Gerrard and his squad over the course of the season, Rangers have ensured that Premiership matchdays at Ibrox are now free from pesky newspaper journalists poking their noses into their business.

Except, it’s not only their business. It’s the business of every Rangers fan.

At first, Rangers supporters seemed overwhelmingly in favour of this move. What right did the media have to profit from Rangers? Or to get into games for nothing? What right do they have to this arrogance, this sense of entitlement? They’ve been sticking the boot in for years. Why, after all, can’t we simply get the content we need from official club outlets?

When things are going well, as they have been for Rangers for the past 12 months, it is easy to hold such views. They are no doubt shared by many fans of all clubs across the country. But when things start to go wrong and supporters are looking for answers? They aren’t going to get them from Rangers TV.

Yes, the ‘SMSM’ don’t cover ourselves in glory at times, and there has been an understandable backlash to an arrogant dismissal of ‘fan media’. There was similar scoffing when Celtic held a fan event with new manager Ange Postecoglou, which was completely overshadowed by a paranoid opening rant from one supporter that wasn’t at all reflective of the many valid points raised thereafter.

But if the ‘SMSM’ are guilty of treating fan media as one homogenous group, it certainly works both ways. I’ve been taken to task many times in pubs for the views of other journalists, without the awards or financial remuneration they enjoy to show for it, sadly.

Rangers have now adopted a similar stance, so we have a situation where journalists or photographers are cast out no matter the objectivity or balance of their coverage.

Undoubtedly, the explosion of fan media has been a good thing from a supporters point of view, and they have adapted content to suit the changing media landscape more readily and more effectively than most – if not all – the traditional outlets.

The strength of the press is in asking difficult questions that otherwise would not be put forward though, and it is particularly in situations like the defeat to Malmo on Tuesday night, when fans were desperate for an explanation, that journalists would have endeavoured to get them one. 

There will no doubt be some hearty eye-rolling going on at that theory, and I’m not trying to say that every exchange between a journalist and a manager rivals Frost vs Nixon.

I have heard my share of inane press conferences in my time. I’ve contributed to them too. But I know and respect enough journalists to say for sure that Gerrard would have faced a tougher grilling than the one he was subjected to on Tuesday had traditional media been granted access to the press room.

Why did he prefer Leon Balogun to Filip Helander, for instance, at the heart of the defence? The Rangers supporters were similarly disadvantaged some weeks before when they were wondering just why Alfredo Morelos hadn’t reported back to the club at the start of pre-season, or what on earth was happening with Connor Goldson’s contract. But then again, that power and having control of the message is what the £25k charge is really all about.

Gerrard himself may have been keen to get some points across. Perhaps there are extenuating circumstances that have led to this shaky spell at the start of the season. We’ll never know.

All of this is before we even mention the knock-on effect to visiting clubs at Ibrox, with Livingston manager David Martindale the subject of just one question after the recent defeat to Rangers from the anointed attendees, eventually walking out after an awkward silence.

More concerning from a Rangers perspective, and perhaps a question that will be troubling Gerrard too given the ramifications on his squad, is just what financial impact this Champions League exit will have on a club that has already admitted it needs to offload a player or two this summer.

But then, avoiding such questions is rather the point, I suppose.