Jago ‘Sells’ Rangers the American Way
John Anthony’s superb article from 1973 on the public relations ideas that Gordon Jago brought with him from America to bring the club closer to the fans:
The seeds of success, which have sprung up at Loftus Road, were sewn full-time more than 3,000 miles away in a land where serious full-time football does not even exist.
That’s the gist of an incredible story, which has seen newly promoted Rangers flourish into one of the most promising, most public relations conscious clubs in the First Division.
Nobody has ever attempted public relations to such a degree and been so conscious of the club image as Rangers. The man to start the wheels turning was manager Gordon Jago, who spent two-and-a- half-years learning the tricks of the trade in the United States.
Jago is quite prepared to accept that he learnt little, football-wise, during his stay in America. “There is no doubt at all that we are far above them at the playing side of the game,” he says.
So, why all the fuss about what he learned from the Americans? Jago says: “The days are over when an English football club can open its gates on a Saturday afternoon and just sit back and watch the thousands stream in. Even if they do, it’s silly to just do nothing about it.”
“The days of fans just standing on the terraces are gone – I think for ever. Today, the modern fan wants far more than was provided in the past, when clubs did little towards meeting their demands.”
“We have tried to bring our fans closer to the club; to give them a greater affiliation with the club; to feel that they are part of Queen’s Park Rangers. I learned how to handle the crowd situation and the public relations angle of sport in America.”
“The ideas and some of the things I saw in America, we have tried to implement into this club. We like to think, it has worked pretty well.”
“We started the idea off by letting some of the fans meet the players on match days; then we took them around the ground to show them things like dressing-rooms and the directors’ box.”
“We arranged open days when more fans could come along and meet the players and see the facilities at the ground; we planned further, even more up-to-date facilities at the ground; we invited school parties to see the players and look round the ground and we shot a film of Rangers in action and some of the ground.”
“We now send that out to any club or organisation which wants to see it. A club official or player takes it along so that he can answer questions and meet the people.”
The determination of Rangers’ officials to work hard at their public image and fan-club relationship has paid off most handsomely. The club was swamped with applications for season tickets for next season as soon as the booking date opened.
“We like to think we would have created this sort of interest for next season whether we had gone into the First Division or not,” says Jago. “Of course, that’s the 64,000 dollar question – would there have been the same amount of interest if we hadn’t gone up? I don’t know, but I like to think there would have been almost as much.”
“Certainly, you get a certain section who buy tickets purely and simply because you’re in the First Division and they can look forward to seeing all the big names.”
“But, generally, all the factors helped to bring the crowd closer to the club so that, on a Saturday, they were looking at players some of them had met. I believe people want to feel part of a club and we go out of our way to make them feel wanted.”
Jago’s American ideas have created a lot of interest in football at Loftus Road. Of course, nobody would deny that Rangers’ push towards promotion has helped enormously, but interest doesn’t occur only when a side is on the verge of the First Division – as clubs like Aston Villa and Bournemouth have proved.
As Rangers face up to the tough life of the First Division, Jago plans to step up his ideas to promote the club and boost the Rangers’ image and name.
“We have only just scratched at the surface,” he says. “We’ve got a lot more ideas to try out and things to do.”
“The secretary, commercial manager and myself are always open to any offers in this direction and we try anything we think will work, along these lines. Clubs must go out of their way to attract the fan and, when they have got him, look after him.”