Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Rangers: Say no evil

Jim Traynor has spoken.

We better all listen.

His second blog as the supremo of communications at Ibrox - jolly decent it was of the Daily Record to give him his first Rangers blog as part of his valedictory message to their paying readers - hit every target.

Let nobody accuse James of being high brow. He's so tuned to the lowest common denominator he can name check Benidorm and think he's got away with it.

A tour de force from James is always a thing of beauty, even if it doesn't last forever.

He gets a hard time from some quarters does Jim but I've always agreed with him on a number of issues.

I agreed with him when he said Rangers should end up in the Third Division. I agreed with him when he said Rangers' divisional rehabilitation would be better served by a new manager.

I agree with him too, when he says Rangers will eventually take their place in the top flight. The SPL? Yep, if it still exists. That flies in the face of comments made by Charles Green. But it doesn't mean Charles has been speaking with a forked tongue. Good salesmanship often only flirts with the truth.

I also agree with Jim when he hints at the power of social media. That old line about absolute power corrupting absolutely? The serried ranks of Scottish football tweeters, bloggers, Facebook-ers, Kiltr-ers, forum users et al don't yet have absolute power. But they can be influential and some will always confuse influence with a chance to be destructive.

Jim is right - again - that there are idiots out there using social media. Just as there are idiots writing in the press, just as there idiotic talking heads taking a shilling for bad punditry, just as there are idiots supporting football clubs, just as idiocy infiltrates the corridors of power at our football clubs and our footballing authorities.

Idiocy abounds in society. So does decency, intelligence, the milk of human kindness. We are a mixed bag, us people. Social media reflects us.

The good, the bad and the odd. Jim has never really understood that. He's worn his ignorance of it as a badge of pride. That's fair enough. He's hardly alone.

But it is intriguing. Because Jim's first blog for Rangers suggests he's now in the social media battleground.

It suggests that Rangers are going to try and colonise social media, turn the club website into an opinion driven blog and fight the battles their fans want them to fight using the very channels Jim has previously dismissed. 

I'd guess Rangers will eventually try to monetise that. It could be revolutionary. If there are ten Rangers blogs slagging off the SPL, 10,000 Rangers fans slagging off the SPL on Twitter, then how powerful could it be to harness that, take it in-house? The staid, say nothing drudgery of club websites could be blown away.

All by learning from social media.

Not that Jim would admit it. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. But don't give them the satisfaction of telling them that's what you're doing.

If that is the plan then Jim is not just building barricades to keep out the tweeting enemies of Ibrox. He's also planting his tank amid a thriving Rangers social media ecosystem. And why not?

If there's an audience out there then why not nab them for the good of the club? It's common sense and too few clubs do it.

But there is a danger there. A danger that walks hand in hand with Jim's Phil Mitchell-like threat - these references to TV shows are contagious - to critics of Charles Green's Ibrox project.

Because what Jim really dislikes - more than he dislikes Twitter, more than he dislikes BBC pundits - is opinions.

Not all opinions. He's a big fan of his own opinions and he's being paid to be a big fan of Charles Green's opinions.

No, it's opinions that he disagrees with that really wind him up. And now he's threatening to throw the full weight of Rangers against any journalists who deviates from his world view.

Really? Militant new media atheist and opinionated scribe Jim Traynor using new media to threaten opinionated scribes. He'd have spiked this story himself.

We are, as football fans, a shallow bunch. We love to hear club employees say "woe betide the journalist/tweeter/opposing manager that slags off our club."

Unfortunately that means too many of us too often fall for the charming chancers that can blight this game.

Often it's those journalists and tweeters who hold the money men at clubs to account.

I'd agree with Jim's motivation: we'd all like to do our jobs free from the glare of critical comment.

We don't all have that luxury. Journalists should hold people to account. Strange that Jim Traynor should so quickly forget that.

Strange too that a man so against social media should now be employing social media by any other name to get his message across.

Get the fans onside, hunker down and turn that bunker mentality into cash.

Make sure every story critical of your new boss is derided as fantasy by your fans.

That's Jim's utopia.

I think Rangers fans, the spiritual guardians of their club, deserve more than that. They've carried the club through a nightmare. For doing that they deserve more from the future than Jim Traynor's airbrushed fantasy.