Kris Boyd: Rangers vs United now filled with bitterness thanks to Thompson


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There is no doubt who is responsible for the breakdown in relations — former Arabs chairman Stephen Thompson.

It all started in 2009, when a game between them at Tannadice was abandoned at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch.

I remember it well, as I was playing that day and we were leading 1-0 when the ref correctly called a halt to proceedings.

Thompson refused to let Rangers fans use the same briefs for the rearranged game and he wouldn’t give them a refund, either.

He was determined to make a quick buck by charging punters twice for the same match.

Some fans took United to court in an attempt to be reimbursed — a case that they ultimately lost.

But while that was bad enough and left a nasty taste, the animosity would be cranked up a notch three years later.

And as United prepare for their first league trip to Ibrox in nine years, that ill-feeling is still very much alive and kicking.

Thompson seemed to take a strange satisfaction in their demise, ignoring pleas for help and instead putting the boot in.

The former United supremo was one of the leading voices pushing for Rangers not to be admitted to the top flight before they ended up in the Third Division.

Perhaps he believed United were good enough to finish best of the rest behind Celtic and claim a Champions League slot.

Maybe he thought they would get a bigger slice of the television money with the Ibrox men out of the equation.

Like a lot of other club chiefs, Thompson voted against Rangers being admitted into the top flight following their financial collapse. He did it to appease the United support, when a smarter businessman would have seen the bigger picture.

Michael Johnston, who was Kilmarnock chairman at the time, got a lot of stick from his own fans for voting the other way.

They criticised him for trying to help Rangers, but he did it for purely selfish financial reasons.

Two league visits per season from Rangers are worth an awful lot of money to provincial clubs.

Thompson let his ego get the better of him and then presided over a barren period, where attendances slid and United also went on the slide. He loved playing to the crowd and trying to appease punters.

He did it again in 2014, when any remote hope of patching up the feud went up in flames.

In a dispute during negotiations to buy Ibrox youngster Charlie Telfer, Thompson claimed Rangers only had “two years of history”.

But if he thinks that is what United fans will remember him for, then he is sadly mistaken.

He will always be known as the man who took the club into the Championship, where it would take them four years to get back out. His sacking of Jackie McNamara and Simon Donnelly — and the breaking up of a talented young team — was another spectacular own goal.

The resulting fire sale of top players and the low-grade replacements are ultimately what led to their relegation.

Yet despite their conduct, I was still delighted to see United back in the Premiership this season.

They are the seventh biggest club in the country and they don’t belong in the Championship. I’ve also been really impressed by Micky Mellon in the games I have covered for Sky Sports so far this season.

They are now slowly on the up after a decade of decline — ten years when Thompson was too busy taking pot-shots at Rangers to notice that his own club was drowning.

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