It’s difficult to really put a finger on the growing frustration between Rangers and the Scotland national team.

But somewhere between the gluttony of Rangers’ untimely demise in 2012, the booing of the club’s players on international duty and the growing politicisation of the Scotland fanbase Gers fans are being turned off.

The national side has – and for me, this is without a doubt one way or another – suffered as a direct result of Rangers being sent to the bottom tier of Scottish football.

And following Scotland’s 4-0 Hampden humbling to Belgium, the club’s supporters have been quick to speak about it on Twitter.

 

Despite these comments, data released from an SFA representative revealed that there are more Rangers fans in the Tartan Army than representatives of any other club [Michael Bochel].

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Rangers are Scotland’s premier club, with the biggest fanbase, and supporters should be endeavouring to cheer on the nation as it stumbles through over 20 years of tournament sadness.

Away from patriotic allegiances, what’s bad for the national team is also bad for Scottish football as a whole.

So where has this stinging bitterness come from?

After the events of 2012 Rangers have had three players near the national team.

Some Rangers fans are at odds with the national team. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Of them, former club captain Lee Wallace and current midfielder Ryan Jack have been booed by sections of the national support because of the club they play for.

Goalkeeper Allan McGregor – a hero for Scotland on plenty of occasion (but also infamously a villain once too) – has since retired from the national side.

Differently from Wallace and Jack, there was little conjecture over McGregor’s ability to perform in the Scotland shirt.

For many, there seems to be a great deal more hysteria when a Rangers-linked player flounders in the dark blue of Scotland.

Some have used the recent scapegoating of outspoken bluenose Oliver McBurnie as an example.

Rangers fans reacted badly to the booing of Ryan Jack at Pittodrie. Some claim this had more to the fact he left Aberdeen for Rangers. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Many also felt that former Scotland boss, Alex McLeish, was unfairly hounded by members of the Tartan Army and the press because of his association with Rangers, particularly during the times of financial mismanagement at Ibrox.

In fairness to the Scotland support, he was never the man Scotland fans wanted as manager. He was on to plums the moment he walked through the door.

But isn’t it ironic that McLeish’s albeit stumbling achievements in the UEFA Nations League now stand as Scotland’s only chance to qualify for Euro 2020?

Without wading through the politicisation of the Scotland fanbase too much, there’s a clear and obvious clash between those voices emboldened by the independence referendum and traditionally unionist ones in the Rangers support.

Many Rangers fans don’t feel welcome.

Alex McLeish was not a popular choice as Scotland manager. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s easy to call this one-sided too, but it isn’t. Rangers fans share a level of responsibility for the ongoing ill-feeling.

There’s often roaring schadenfreude in defeat from some quarters and even if there was some kind of olive branch, many members of the support wouldn’t take it.

It’s a position some have no interest in resolving.

I’d also be a liar if I haven’t heard some voices bark about cheering Celtic players in navy blue. A tad hypocritical given the outpouring of condemnation towards the booing of Rangers players.

But, and this is the most important thing here, everybody in Scottish football suffers as a result.

How a side in Northern Ireland – at closer quarters with just as if not more tense cultural and political differences than the Scotland side – can achieve at international level whilst Scotland can’t is incredible.

Can Scotland learn from the positive, collective, family atmosphere famously associated with Northern Ireland? (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

There’s always talk of a lack of quality, a lack of ability and lack of investment when it comes to Scotland’s failures.

But if you compare the Northern Irish and Scottish squads, and the followings, then you can clearly see that it isn’t a lack of quality that’s the main problem, it’s a lack of togetherness, solidarity and ambition.

Having all that isn’t everything – but as our close-knit neighbours to the West have shown – it certainly goes a long way.

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