THERE’S nothing quite like a crisis to get supporters rallying around their football club.

In the first game that Rangers played after they were put into administration by then owner Craig Whyte back in 2012, a crowd of 50,268 crammed into Ibrox to watch their league game against Kilmarnock.

The following season, after Rangers found themselves in the Third Division, huge crowds flocked to their Govan ground every other week to cheer on their fallen heroes as they took on part-time rivals such as Annan Athletic, East Stirlingshire and Montrose.

The 50,048 turnout for their final match against Berwick Rangers, after which Ally McCoist’s men were presented with the trophy, was a world record attendance for a fourth-tier match.

The quality of their opponents clearly wasn’t the lure. It was a burning desire to support their team, both financially and vocally, in their hour of greatest need. Rangers’ followers are by no means alone in that readiness to do what is required for their club to survive in troubled times.

When it emerged that Partick Thistle were on the brink of bankruptcy in 1998, the Firhill club was only kept afloat by the fan-organised Save the Jags campaign. There have been many, many more examples, both in this country and further afield, over the years.

So if the coronavirus crisis does drive some of our most famous football establishments to the verge of insolvency – and SFA vice-president Mike Mulraney yesterday stated on Sportsound on BBC Radio Scotland that it would be “foolhardy” not to expect some of them to encounter serious difficulties – they can be assured their supporters will respond.

We are, though, very much entering uncharted territory. The world is currently experiencing the first global pandemic in over a century. There is no telling what society, never mind the beautiful game, will look like on the other side of it. But it is safe to say life will be an awful lot different for the majority of the population.

The International Monetary Fund last month warned Covid-19 will lead to an economic slump far worse than the recession which followed the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and predicted that it could even rival the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Millions are certain to lose their jobs. So even if the sort of diehards who would ordinarily snap up replica strips, club merchandise and match-day tickets before feeding and clothing themselves want to do their bit to prevent their clubs going to the wall, they may be unable to.

The stark new reality should result in those Scottish clubs who have put season books on sale experiencing a decline in uptake in the coming weeks. That could have far-reaching consequences going forward. But so, too, could the very fact they have made them available for purchase in the first place.

Roy MacGregor, the internationally-successful businessman and Ross County owner, has declined to go down that route because he feels he will be unable to guarantee spectators entry to the Global Energy Stadium in the 2020/21 campaign because of social distancing restrictions.

“It’s impossible,” he said last week. “It’s not fair to my supporters. I know some clubs have started to do it. But they are very nervous now.”

MacGregor only has 3,000 regulars at his Dingwall ground and has the personal wherewithal to offset the losses. But he is a canny operator and his counterparts should take note of his words of caution. They could be left facing a costly quandary when play restarts. Particularly if, as looks inevitable, matches have to take place behind closed doors.

Is offering fans free online access to matches they would otherwise be at in the flesh going to be adequate compensation? For many, it undoubtedly will be. They understand the repercussions of depriving their clubs much-needed cash.

Yet, as James Bisgrove, Rangers’ new commercial and marketing director, admitted during a Zoom media conference on Friday, it won’t be the same experience as being in the Copland Road Stand celebrating a Joe Aribo strike with thousands of kindred spirits and reparations may need to be made.

“The virtual season ticket has been discussed across Europe and supporters will have their own view about whether that is an equivalent to being in the stadium,” said Bisgrove. “Of course, it’s not. So we’ll have to take a view if that will be a comparable product or if we’ll need to do something in addition to that. We will engage with our support if these hypotheticals come about.”

All clubs will have to consider ways to indemnify their customers satisfactorily. Otherwise, they risk angering and alienating them. Liverpool, who have suspended their season ticket renewals for the reasons MacGregor outlined, will offer their fans a full refund if the current Premier League season is completed in empty stadiums or is terminated. That is the kind of meaningful gesture that is required to keep supporters onside.

It is understandable that so many Ladbrokes Premiership clubs are selling season tickets as normal. Their very existence, even with wage cuts and pay deferrals, depends on it in many cases. But they must be careful not to take their fan base’s loyalty for granted in these troubled and unprecedented times. If they do, they will pay a high cost in the long run.