THE Rangers board has come under fire for agreeing to play in the “Down Under derby” because they have lost touch with their own fans, it was yesterday claimed.

Supporters of the Ibrox club reacted furiously last week when the cinch Premiership champions confirmed they will take on Celtic in a friendly match for the first time in their 150 year history in Australia in November.

Their city rivals had announced their involvement in the Sydney Super Cup the day before – and billed it as “Ange’s Homecoming”.

Rangers fans have launched a petition calling for the Glasgow giants to pull out of the tournament and there have been banners and chants protesting about the decision at their games against St Johnstone and Aberdeen.

Dave King, the former Rangers chairman, warned back in December that fans no longer had a way to communicate with the Ibrox club due to a breakdown in relations with Club 1872, the group he has agreed to sell his shareholding to.

Mark Hateley, the former Rangers and England striker whose services as an official ambassador were dispensed with in 2020, agrees with the South African-based financier and thinks directors have handled the situation badly.   

“The fans are obviously disgruntled on certain situations and things that have happened just recently, probably the way it has been released,” he said as he promoted Premier Sports’ coverage of this weekend’s Scottish Cup quarter-finals at Hampden yesterday.

“That would annoy football fans because it is their football club. There is the disengaging because obviously the fans haven’t known about it. You have to have a line of communication into your support or they will turn on the board.

“You have got a 150-year-old football club and the biggest partner ever, and you can call them a sponsor or a partner, is the supporters. They are why the club is 150 years old. Generation after generation have invested into Rangers Football Club.

“I have been involved at every level of the game from player to coach to manager and you have to engage with everybody within the football club. It’s not rocket science. You have to understand people.

“It’s a touchy subject, but if everything had been done slightly differently. . . It is what it is. For me, looking in from the outside, it has not been done properly.

“For me, in any walk of life or any business, you have got to know the people you are working with and the people who are supporting you in different parts of the organisation. Football is no different.”

Hateley also claimed the current Rangers players are “detached” from their supporters – but expressed hope the unhappiness in the stands will not have an adverse affect on the dsplays of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side on the park in the Europa League, Premiership and Scottish Cup. 

“As a player, I think you are always with the fans,” he said. “It is a different era now and I think the players are detached from the fans anyway. They are more in isolation.

“When we played, three of us would go to a supporters’ club here, three of us would go to a supporters’ club there, most Saturday nights. Even if it was just for half an hour. You do get an understanding and a relationship with that element of the football club.

“I am a football fan. The players I played with, the Ian Fergusons, the Ian Durrants, the Ally McCoists, were all football fans. Football fans could relate to the players.

“It is completely understandable that there is not that sort of bond now. They have an understanding of them, they know the history of the football club, but they are not in close and personal.”

Asked if the unrest could prove detrimental to Rangers’ form in the remaining matches of the 2021/22 campaign, he said: “I’d like to think not. A professional footballer should be getting on with his job and everything happening in the background, you shouldn’t be focusing on that.

“You should be thinking of the next game, then the one after that and the one after that. Just keep winning.”


Mark Hateley was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Dundee v Rangers this Sunday from 3.30pm and Dundee United v Celtic this Monday from 7.15pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £12.99 per month, and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.