Rangers, Rangers what have you done?

A MISSED opportunity.

Rangers at home at St Andrew's. 
 (Picture by Sophie Rabey., 29620557)
Rangers at home at St Andrew's. (Picture by Sophie Rabey., 29620557)

A terrible missed one.

Rangers have looked a gift horse in the mouth and, through the selfish short-sightedness of a contingent seemingly deep within the club, passed up the chance to reignite their club as a Priaulx League force.

That is how the whole messy episode of a proposed integration of one club into another has ended, with the collateral damage possibly the loss of Manzur altogether.

In pure Rangers terms, the island’s oldest club have spent 40 years in the Priaulx League wilderness and, after this debacle, it may well be another 40 years before they lift another Priaulx title, their most recent triumph being as far back as 1980.

The nay-sayers at Rangers have won the day.

They saw what was good for themselves and not the future.

Sad. Oh to be a fly on the wall at Monday’s Rangers annual meeting, which may well remain contentious, coming 48 hours after today’s club awards presentations.

Why has it failed?

Communication and selfishness.

Once again the island’s incapacity to hide anything of delicacy meant that the story, or part of it, was leaked out before it should have been.

It did not help that Manzur informed all of their first team players of the proposals on the Thursday evening, while Rangers had opted to wait a little while longer to inform their members and when they learned of it, the board were put on the back foot.

But this was much bigger, more important than how to reveal a plan and present it.

This should have been about the betterment of Rangers and the survival of Manzur for another year or two.

Let me remind those Rangers who have said no to this.

You have to go back to Ross Allen’s days as a youngster for the last time the red and blacks were able to say they had developed a youth team of real note. Where did that get them? Not far.

An FA Cup final triumph and not much more.

It quickly fizzled out and with little to offer potential signings, Rangers slid down the table.

Often they have been poor, always they were unfashionable.

But a terrific development plan overseen by Darren Ogier [forced out recently] has now created another set of decent youngsters on a pathway which looks all very good until the pathway ends at open-age football – the U18s and first-team football at St Andrew’s.

The new regime recognised that and were destined to do something about it.

They wanted that pathway to go through right to the first team and that means access to a good ground, a fine surface and a venue which offers bright, modern and welcoming facilities.

That means KGV, where Rangers enjoy access to multiple weekly bookings for use of the 3G, but no entry to the main grass pitch, which had been the home of rugby side St Jacques but is now the preserve of Guernsey Football League Management who, in turn, had agreed to allow Manzur to play all their home first-team fixtures there.

Manzur, indebted to GFLM, now had the pitch for first-team purposes but with GFC back in action, only half a first team to make use of both that lovely surface and a very tidy sponsorship agreement with their titled hairdressing business, but also accountancy firm Qualis.

But, at the same time, they had no training facilities of the requisite standard. Rangers had that in spades, which made the merger appealing.

Now to me, normally, the thought of sports clubs merging is akin to someone raising a cross in front of Dracula.

I hate them.

They seldom work and dilute the individual’s feeling of warmth and commitment to a club.

But this was not really a merger. Rangers were not losing anything, they would remain the same, they would retain their self-authority and all for the price of carrying a Manzur prefix for most probably a very short time.

But too many of Rangers’ old guard on the playing front and in their reserve and veterans teams were said to be wary of Manzur coming in.

Some still want to regard their playing home as cosy old St Andrew’s, once the home of Centrals.

It suits them.

But Rangers’ reason for existence cannot – surely – be to function as not much more than just a social club.

If they ever want to win anything meaningful again, a proper player pathway and player development is the way to go, just as it has been at North, Rovers, and St Martin’s in recent years, and pleasingly once again at Sylvans.

I fear they have lost that now, and from Manzur’s point of view, you have to fear whether they can get a first team together for next season.

Time is very tight and, if Mark Romeril is true to his word, without a flagship first team there may not be a club come August.

But, it seems, they would rather fall on their own sword than have one put in their back.

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