IT just won’t go away. Weeks after Rangers announced that the club would be competing in the Sydney Super Cup in November – a friendly tournament featuring Celtic that will include the first Old Firm derby played outside of Glasgow in the history of the fixture – the issue is no closer to being resolved.

Supporters are angry, and understandably so. Being billed as their rivals’ support act on the Ange Postecoglou homecoming tour of Australia was an idea that was always going to go down like a lead balloon yet, mystifyingly, the Ibrox board charged full-steam ahead into a disaster of their own making.

Scathing criticism after scathing criticism of the half-baked notion flooded social media sites and fan forums as punters lined up to make their feelings about the ‘friendly’ abundantly clear. Given the fact that Celtic have made a habit of distancing themselves from the Old Firm moniker since 2012, Rangers fans are quite right to ask why their club are so keen to get into bed with them.

What is beyond doubt is that the Ibrox executives who made the call underestimated the strength of feeling from supporters. Chants of ‘you can stick your f***ing friendly up your a***’ have become a regular ditty amongst fans on matchdays and the protests have even spilled onto the park.

The launching of tennis balls and ticker tape onto the surface at Dens Park on Sunday was a step too far in my eyes but even if it was an overreaction, the act itself was telling – particularly at the start of the second half, when Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men were a goal down and looking to seize the momentum in the game.

Such demonstrations are disruptive and ultimately counter-productive in my eyes, but it was an interesting decision to make. With their team losing crucial ground the title race in a must-win fixture, some away fans chose to stage their protest – even if it meant disturbing the game, which could affect the team’s chances of winning.

For me, this shows just how much this issue means to the Rangers fanbase. Which makes the developments over the last few days all the more unfathomable.

Club 1872 fired the starting pistol on Tuesday morning as the fans’ group – who own around 4.6 per cent of the Ibrox club’s shares (making them the eighth largest shareholder) and have an agreement in place with former chairman Dave King to purchase his remaining shares – released a statement where they castigated board members for the policy and practices.

Commercial director James Bisgrove, managing director Stewart Robertson and head of communications David Graham were accused of bearing “an extremely unhealthy disdain for the Rangers support”, with the Club 1872 statement adding “that inaccurate information has regularly been disseminated through the club’s own public statements, briefings to fan media and highly selective leaks to a small group of individuals within the Rangers support” in order to advance the trio’s interests, and not those of the club.

The Sydney Super Cup wasn’t mentioned directly but you don’t have to reside at 221B Bake Street to hazard a guess at the “disdain” Club 1872 are referring to. The angry reaction to the friendly has proven to be the straw that’s broken the camel’s back for many Rangers supporters; the catalyst for the recent disruption off the park.

Club 1872’s statement raised legitimate concerns over the club’s commercial and media strategy. The ticketing system at the club is widely regarded to be a mess, many fans aren’t convinced by the MyGers membership scheme and the club’s championing of an NFT – like any NFT – is a little murky, to say the least. Fans can make their peace with these while things are going well but when the mood shifts, they become very important indeed.

I’m not a Rangers fan but I thought these were valid, legitimate questions that are worthy of a fair response. Instead, it was met with outright disdain.

After a hiatus where declarations were disconcertingly level-headed for the most part, Scotland’s statement masters responded with a superb return to form for fans of petty and bad-natured – but above all, tone deaf – club communications.

It started badly when they called an important shareholder a ‘rump of “supporters”’ and got worse from there. The statement said that the timing was terrible, given the team are involved in a fight for silverware on three fronts. The concerns raised were brushed aside as mere jealousy (“It is lost on nobody that those intent on creating maximum disruption are those who have either enjoyed, or craved, a role within our club”) and the whole sorry episode was dubbed a ‘propaganda war’.

It was a childish response. Rather than dealing with any of the points raised by Club 1872, Rangers instead resorted to finger-pointing and name-calling. The executives at the club must have been aware that they’re not the most popular figures in Govan at the moment due to the Sydney Super Cup debacle, and the fact that they chose to respond to a group of supporters so aggressively is jaw-dropping.

It’s a spectacular misreading of the room and one that only got worse yesterday. The financial boost provided by the Sydney Super Cup is its one saving grace and makes withdrawal difficult, but Dave King announced he would front the cost to pull out of the poorly-conceived tournament.

It was, in my view, a PR masterstroke from King, who is affiliated to Club 1872. He comes across as though he is in touch with the needs of supporters and is willing to put his hand in his own pocket to fulfil them, in order to do what is in the best interests of the club and its fanbase.

The Rangers executive team should take note. The issues raised by Club 1872 won’t go away by themselves and are going to have to be addressed sooner or later. If they’re not, supporter dissatisfaction will only grow – and their ire will be aimed squarely at the Ibrox boardroom.