As Scotland close in on a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years, if you listened closely on Thursday night you might’ve even heard the faint cheer of some Rangers fans.

The Ibrox club’s supporters are immensely split in their allegiances with the national side as many Rangers fans feel disillusioned, disinterested or simply don’t feel welcome.

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Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack has suffered at the hands of Scotland’s booboys but he has established himelf in Steve Clarke’s squad. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By the same token, many Rangers don’t want to feel welcomed either.

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There’s a real, strung out rancour between the Scottish national side and much of the Rangers support, beginning somewhere with Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor and ending in the constant berating of bluenose Oli McBurnie whilst on Scotland duty.

Your opinion on whether it’s about McBurnie’s performances or where his club loyalties lie probably depends on who you support.

But the biggest issue is the fact we’re having the conversation.

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Between Rangers’ demise in 2012 and the ongoing bitterness between the club and the authorities – not to mention the tense rivalry with Celtic both on the pitch and in the boardroom – the relationship between Scotland and many of the Rangers fans has deteriorated massively.

That’s before we talk about the non-footballing politics so obviously creating a barrier between many of the supporters.

This tense relationship also comes despite the fact statistics released by the SFA show that Rangers fans are the most represented club support in the Tartan Army.

 

It’s not just at Ibrox either; across the city our rivals have their own reasons for bemoaning the national team whilst years of failure have left even those from smaller clubs disillusioned.

What a sad state of affairs that our national team – seemingly the holy grail of football to footballers and fans of all nations but Scotland – is so divided on the pitch, in the stand and in the directors’ box.

But – and I think this is a worthy point well made – all of this happening during what is probably Scotland’s least successful period in history.

Scotland v Israel - UEFA EURO 2020 Play-Off Semi-Finals

Controversial striker has had many run ins with Scotland fans for multiple reasons but there’s a feeling these are elevated by the fact he publicly supports Rangers. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s easy to bemoan, berate and blame when we’re achieving the square root of nothing.

Success at a national footballing level isn’t just good for Scotland as a football nation, it’s good for every single one of the country’s clubs and for the people of Scotland, no matter your allegiance.

Qualifying for a major tournament would represent an opportunity to reunite supporters around the same cause – the only one that really matters – the football.

When a team isn’t playing well people look for excuses. In Scottish terms, that’s led to ugly partisan finger pointing with Rangers too often on the receiving end of it.

1998 FIFA World Cup Finals Group A Brazil v Scotland

Scotland haven’t attended a major tournament since the World Cup in France in 1998. The nation opened the tournament against Brazil, losing 2-1. (Photo Shaun Botterill/Allsport/Getty Images)

If Scotland do manage to sneak past Serbia into EURO 2021 – as they just about did with Israel – then it offers a chance for fans to follow the country at a first major tournament in two decades.

For that reason, those faint Rangers fan cheers might start to get a little bit louder too.

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