Union Bears Interview With Heart & Hand

Ross McGill From The UB Explains Protest

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Cammy Bell (CB): Now anyone at the game last night or following these recent events in social media may have seen a protest and statements made by the Union Bears regarding ongoing issues with the club regarding a number of different factors. I took the opportunity to discuss this further with Ross McGill of the Union Bears. To understand the situation, here’s my chat with Ross earlier on this evening. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you.

Hi folks. Thanks so much for the slight delay in today’s daily update. The reason for that was because as some of you may have seen at last night’s game there was a demonstration by the Union Bears and today on social media there’s also been a statement by the group. I’m lucky enough to have with me from the Union Bears, Ross McGill. Ross, thanks so much for your time and your good efforts coming onto Heart and Hand today.

I’m just going to talk to you a little about obviously what’s going on with the group, et cetera, and get a wee bit more detail. Because I know that obviously, a lot of the subscribers and the larger fan community would really like to understand what’s going on. Before we go into that, I’ll just read out the statement that you guys uploaded into social media today. I’m just going to go through that just in case anyone hasn’t seen it.

“Following the decision to protest in a game against Dundee. We would like to take this opportunity to explain our reasons in greater detail. The Union Bears have been operating successfully for over 10 years. We have grown from a handful of supporters based in the Copland to a prominent group within the Rangers support. We aim to provide a full backing to Rangers in a unique and colorful manner. To support the team both visually and vocally by creating large displays in the stands and generating an atmosphere that both home and away matches.

Over time, we have developed but we believe to be a positive working relationship with Rangers. This has been a requirement due to the nature and scale of our work. We have in recent years attempted to create a dialogue between us and the group regarding both the installation of Safe Standing at Ibrox and the possibility of a move from our current location in the Broomloan Front One. These numerous attempts have never materialized into anything substantial and have always been disregarded at the earliest opportunity.

Despite positive discussions earlier this season, which included supporter surveys and feasibility studies, we find ourselves in the same situation as years passed. We learned yesterday afternoon that Rangers have rejected both safe standing proposal and a potential move from the group to BF-3 for the forthcoming season. We believe we have exhausted every avenue open to us and are left with a decision to make regarding the group’s future. We are wholly dissatisfied in the manner in which the club have dealt with these issues and believe that both Ibrox and match day experience will suffer due to this. The club seemed content to benefit from the group’s presence when it suits their motive offering nothing in return.

As a group, our aim is to grow, expand and generate a positive experience within the Rangers support. We feel we have outgrown our current section in BF-1 and cannot achieve this where we are. We truly believe we can as a support, create a match day spectacle, to match the size and standard of our illustrious club. Over the coming months, we’ll be staging various forms of protest and we’ll be canvassing in hope to generate support and backing for the group. We will be calling all Ranger’s fans, clubs and groups to lend us their backing.

As witnessed in the stands over the years, our goal is to furthermore improve the atmosphere and supporter experience. The decision to protest was not taken lately. We feel however, the club decision will ultimately have a detrimental effect on our support as a whole. We are appreciative of the supporters’ backing that we received in the past we value your support going forward.”

Cammy Bell (CB): Ross, obviously, that’s a really strong statement. Obviously, where is second point in the moment for the group and where are you deciding with the club?

Ross McGill (RM): We met with the club a week or two ago about a safe standing proposal. We want to basically do it, kind of the fieldwork at the Broomloan Front. The club knocked it back. They didn’t really give us any good reasons. They just basically said that that’s something we can try again in the future. Despite someone at the club saying that it could happen next season but as soon as it went to the board, they knocked it back.

We went to back to the club and basically said to them, “Right then. We would settle for a move to BF-3 for next season and that would help us build a sort of foundation for safe standing going forward to maybe into the next season. We spoke to the club and we got a point across that they’re moving adjacent to a location or we said BF-3’s based at the middle of the stand, it’s kind of the– There’s actually two sections behind the goals in the Broomloan. BF-3’s the one on the left.

That’s where we were at. Then they got back to us yesterday and basically said that it’s not going to happen. Then no one can gave us any good reasons, just the usual stuff that they say like people have been there for a few years and stuff like that. Despite the club actually saying in the past that they knew that they would have to eventually move people for safe standing. We obviously feel as a group that a lot of people in BF-3 would probably want to be a part of the same section because obviously you’ve seen European Nights and obviously the derby deal, the full Broomloan and obviously the whole stadium at the derby were singing for 90 minutes.

Obviously, the full Broomloan, that season has been active vocally. We feel that at BF-3, the people in it wouldn’t be too fussed to be moving or that more people may actually want to stay and be part of it.

Ross McGill & The Union Bears

Have you had a chance to speak to those fans? I’m assuming that the club are telling you is that it’s about like in a flat note, people wouldn’t want to move. Have you had a chance to speak to those fans in that area directly yourselves?

No, we haven’t, to be honest. But again, the BF-3 has been at a proposal that we were aiming towards for the last few months. Maybe that was at the back of the club not accepting safe standing and going forward with that. We’ve not had a chance to speak to people though, but again, that’s the clubs to be honest and to speak to people within the area. I don’t think they’ve done that.

We understand the dialogue that you’d have to have with fans but what would you see if, for example, if I was sitting in BF-3, what would be my incentive for moving, would you say?

Basically, if you were sitting in BF-3, we’d probably ask you firstly if you’d want to be part of it. If you’d want to create an atmosphere because as I said I want people in the Broomloan probably do like to get at an atmosphere and as you can see the band of matches. Hopefully, if you did, you’d want to stay and create an atmosphere there. 

It is beneficial to the team. In my opinion, you’re helping the team, and you’re helping to support, and you’re helping the club on a whole if you put up the move and make way for a singing section. I’m sure as we’ve said to the club, as well, people will be moving from all parts of the stadium if we work on it and move to BF-3, so another section in BF-1. There would be seats available and maybe better views, better locations. Basically, that would be my opinion.

Theoretically, let’s just say I could put the Union Bears in any section in the stadium. Forget season ticket holders and how long people have been there, would you still want to stay in the Broomloan or would you want to move anywhere else? What would be your preference?

The Copland Front probably or maybe even the Copland Rear. Again, the group was set up in 2007 and that was one of the things that they start to be in the Ranger’s end. Obviously, we were there for four years and then we basically moved to the Broomloan just because we just weren’t getting anywhere

But ideally, we wouldn’t want to be on the Rangers end. We do feel that is the place, a singing section should be in the stadium as a traditional end. Obviously, over the last few years, the Broomloan has become obviously they hard-core end. Obviously, unfortunately, for a few years when we’ve been there, we had to move for when they came. Now obviously, the last season, obviously, the club hadn’t given them the Broomloan, which for the group and that’s a good thing–

I don’t think we’re never going to getting it back again ever anyway. Would you obviously talk about safe standing, which I know has been mooted I think a lot and it’s been discussed at all levels for a number of years within potentially bringing it back. Would you if we can get the move to BF-3, is that to move to BF-3 then go back to safe standing or do you think at the moment, we can do both things at once? Or what’s your thoughts?

The idea is basically is to move to BF-3 now because originally we would have been happier after they basically just went from this safe standing because we all know that they could. As I said, someone from the club actually said to us that basically, at the border gate today, then they could basically get safe standing up and running for next season.

That was our aim to get safe standing. If you we were at Broomloan Front\, which would grab at 4,000 fans. When they knocked up back, we said, “Okay, we want out of BF-1 so can we move to the center of the stand? Then obviously, we can use that as a base to build the foundations for safe standing going forward. Maybe safe standing could happen this season and after. We said we can build the section and get the right people in there who want to sing and want to create an atmosphere for 90 minutes.

That was basically, what we want to do. We want to can be in the middle and out and then use that to develop that section and the other sections in a safe standing area going forward. Ideally, we’d build a full stand, because I think the Rangers support have enough people who would want again that area to sing for 90 minutes.

Obviously, looking at the Broomloan, if you were more into the middle than at the corner at BF-1, would you start to grow, everyone will see you at the stadium. Obviously, a move out to the left and out as you do that. I suppose, that obviously has been not backed by the club. Have the club said to you, “No it’s not happening,” or, “No, it’s not happening right now?” or is there still room for negotiation really happening?

The club basically said that the move to the center of the stand wasn’t happening. They said that safe standing, we’re still looking into it. Basically, we felt that for the last two or three years. There’s not really much else that we can do. They need to just make a decision if they want to do it or not. They know their costs, they’ve spoke to their companies, they’ve had people out telling them everything about it. I don’t want to know what else needs to be looked into.

I know that the last thing that time that was seriously discussed, Celtic went out and I think started to trial temporary safe standing, which is– I think they were actually in Germany. Where you can enter just rows of seats that can be removed for whatever particular reason, whatever you want to be able to try and do. I take it you don’t have that back and forth with angels as it stands at the moment, that they seem to have with our own club.

I think it’s great for the guys in the page doing subscription site to here, obviously just about some of the things that they may take for granted, which again, like you see I thank you. It can be really difficult to combat against and hopefully fill and some of the blanks.

Ross, thanks much for your time. As I said, we’ll hopefully speak to you soon and hopefully, get some progress with the club going forward.

Well, there is a relationship between the group and the club. The stuff like that, the club has had people out from the safe standing voice sure to show them what they’re definitely all seats. They are in contact with two companies currently to they make the real seats. They have been saying they had been looking into it but I think it came from the actual board that they don’t want to do it. We don’t know the exact reason. No one’s really told us basically. We just get told, “We’re looking into it. We’re looking into it,” so we don’t know. We’re still in the dark because as I said, there’s only so much you can look into. All the facts are there.

Do you think that potentially part of that could be don’t, because we all know that angels are shit at PR, right, and whenever anyone can have a part with the club, they can do so. When you see things like the Steve Clarke banner, etc and all that good stuff as well, although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it and everyone I think, who’s got two brain cells and a headphones absolutely is. Do you think that the board, at times, think they see stuff like that and go, “This is part of the problem or whatever?” So actually, rather than a logistical issue or a cost issue for safe standing, do you think is actually more political than things like that

I’m not sure to be honest, because, over the last few years, I think we’ve had a decent relationship with the club. It’s not the first time that they’ve knocked us back or that they’ve as I said before fobbed us off, I don’t if it’s anything to do with that. I just don’t think they want to do it.

I think was it last year and they mentioned safe standing in it. A lot of Rangers fans actually think it was a majority, wanted safe standing and Broomloan was the location that majority of the fans wanted it to be in. Yet, we’re still here and that’s a bit of a mixed situation that we’re not moving forward.

I don’t know what else the club could want from us, or why they’re so against it because nobody’s telling us anything. They’re not telling us why. They’re just basically playing us along constantly. It’s not just us. It’s a lot of supporters they’re playing along because we are not the only ones who want safe standing. We want safe standing in the stadium. It’s not just a Union Bears thing. It’s for the full support to get involved in and come and be part of, and create an atmosphere.

That was what I was going to say was it comes back to the earlier point of– Again, for me, supporting the fans group means supporting the team, and obviously being able to get us back that area of success we all want to be able to try and get back to. Then again, as I said, being able to try and lend that voice. I’ve sat at games and I’ve stood in games and the difference can be night and day in terms of obviously getting behind the team and being vocal and being energetic and stuff like that. Think you’re right, it goes beyond the group that should be pretty much, you would think, everyone within the stadium wanting to get behind the team by getting behind you guys.

Have the club said to you about, in terms of safe standing, have they even got as far as getting quotes for costs or anything like that? 

No, the company know the exact cost. They know, as I said there a few minutes ago, they’ve actually spoke to two different companies. I think they’re actually in regular contact with these companies and they know the people who can install them. Yes, so they know the exact cost. They know everything. They’ve had a lot of presentations about it and stuff as well. They’re not 100% aware of the cost, yes.

I’m not going to ask you what that is, but feasibly, in your mind, do you think that that could be paid for by the fans if we offered to do so?

I think that could be an option. That’s something that we’ve said to the club in the past, that we could do a crowd-fund idea. I’m pretty sure we could get the money, but then again, I don’t know if the club would want that to happen. I don’t know if they’d want to pay for it for themselves. I know there’s been talk previously about maybe a more expensive season ticket for the first season to pay for that adding on later. I don’t know how much you’d need to add on to everyone’s season tickets, but if it was the original idea about being the filled Broomloan Front then, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much getting added on, to cover the costs.

But again, I don’t know. I’m sure the support could get together and raise enough money for it. I’m positive we could pay for it ourselves basically, but again, I don’t know if the club would want us to go down that road, or if they’d want to do it themselves.

It sounds like it removes any excuse they could have for not doing it, if we actually come back to them and said we’ve got the finance to do it.

Yes, 100%.

In terms of that– And I suppose, probably a good opportunity to ask as well. Obviously, I’ve read out a statement at the top of our chat, stuff as well. How can non-season ticket holders and season ticket holders help the Union Bears at the moment, in terms of how we can provide this? Because I know we’ve spoke about the statement. The statements obviously get retweeted quite a lot by Rangers supporters, clubs and stuff, but is there anything across the boards that the fans can do to help out?

I think the fans and Rangers supporters clubs in different groups can contact the club, contact the SLO, even try and contact Stuart Robertson himself. I’m sure people have got the contacts and basically make their voice heard. Let them know exactly what you think and how you think it could create a better atmosphere at Ibrooks if safe standing was introduced. But also, not even just safe standing, but even moving the group into a better location because that’s the point, but not just now, because obviously in the border are not back safe standing now. We’ve obviously went in for the BF-3 option obviously hoping it will lead to safe standing in the future.

That’s all supporters and supporters’ clubs to get in contact with the SLO. He’s on Twitter and I’m sure a lot of them have got his numbers, the boys from the supporters’ clubs and tell him what you think. If you support the group, then if you think that we should be in a better location, or maybe some people don’t and they think we should be stuck in a corner against a wall. It’s each to their own, but that’s come up with supporters to get in contact with the club and ring our voices out. We’ve got an SLO now so use him. They’ve got the contact.

What would happen if we’re still at a stalemate with the club. What is the potential future for the Union Bears as you see it?

We don’t know. Right now we are going to take has it comes. We’ve got a plan made up so we’ll follow our plan take it basically week to week just now. Again, ideally, we hopefully we can get it resolved.

Yes, absolutely. I think like you say, we continue to grow as part of the group and obviously looking to try and recruit obviously people to come in and obviously other things as well. Listen Ross, that’s absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much for your time. I know it’s been a bit of challenge is getting your audience to be able to have a chat.

I think it’s great for the guys in the page doing subscription site to here, obviously just about some of the things that they may take for granted, which again, like you see I thank you. It can be really difficult to combat against and hopefully fill and some of the blanks.

Ross, thanks much for your time. As I said, we’ll hopefully speak to you soon and hopefully, get some progress with the club going forward.