THE relationship between Rangers - or more specifically Rangers supporters - and the Scotland national team is a complex yet fascinating one.

It encompasses every aspect of life on and off the park as political opinions and club loyalties shape views and define behaviours when it comes to the support, or not, of the side that represent the country on the world stage.

At times it feels as though sections of the Rangers fanbase have never been more disillusioned or out of touch with Scotland and in many ways that disconnect is completely understandable.

But, in a purely football and sporting sense, Scotland are good for Rangers and Rangers must be good for Scotland.

Steven Gerrard has spoken of his desire to see Scotland improve and succeed, and also of his delight at his players earning international recognition in recent times.

The likes of Borna Barisic and Glen Kamara will be at the Euros next summer. That will raise their profile, but also that of Rangers and having players operating at the highest level can only further enhance the club's reputation.

Gerrard has done so much on that front in a European sense and the more internationalists Rangers have the better. It is a shame, though, that there are not more players within Gerrard's ranks that can stake a claim to feature for Steve Clarke.

Going forward, and as the Ibrox squad evolves, that should be a consideration for Rangers and a club that has given so much to the national side over the years must once again be able to provide the backbone of the Scotland setup.

Ryan Jack has become a mainstay of the side under Clarke in recent fixtures, but some Gers fans will only tune in to see if he plays well and emerges unscathed for his return to domestic and European duty.

The pride that Jack has in playing for his country is clear to see and it should be hoped that rubs off on those who dismiss Scotland duty. Rangers could certainly do with more like him and goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.

The lack of Rangers representation in the national squad over recent years may explain the apathy that some sections of the support have towards Scotland these days.

But more wide-ranging issues - such as the treatment their club received in 2012 and the Independence Referendum two years later - almost certainly have a significant part to play in the seeming shift away from the traditional backing that Gers fans once provided to the national side.

Last month, The Athletic carried out a survey of more than 8000 supporters to attempt to paint a picture of the relationship between Rangers fans and Scotland.

There is no definitive answer to such a convoluted question, but it did at least offer an insight when it comes to the club versus country debate.

From a football viewpoint, it was no surprise to see that 68 per cent stated that their support for the national team had decreased since 2012.

The feelings of anger and resentment from the fall-out of Rangers' financial collapse clearly still lingers in the minds of many and there is no desire to share a terrace or emotional connection with fans of clubs who wished them nothing but ill will eight years ago.

Indeed, 87 per cent of those that responded to The Athletic believed they would receive a negative reaction if they identified as a Rangers fan at a Scotland match.

It is hard to conclude that figure would be as high for any other support in the country and while Rangers punters may dismiss it with the 'no-one likes us, we don't care' attitude, it is sad that fans feel they would be unwelcome at an event that is supposed to unite in the backing of a common, national cause.

While fans across the country revelled in Rangers' fight for survival and subsequent plights on their journey back, the Ibrox crowd remained admirably loyal and devoted to their club and their cause. Having come through what they have, the bond between fan and club is stronger than ever.

Many will have taken heart and pleasure from seeing Scotland end their wait to return to a major finals with victory over Serbia last week. But it will be nothing compared to the emotions when Rangers win their 55th league title.

Scotland matters, but just not as much as Rangers, or as much as it does to fans of other clubs.

The team on the park is only part of the problem, though, and many will simply find it unpalatable to support Scotland for reasons other than football.

When Scotland is divided politically, it is no surprise that the makeup of the fanbase is as well. While 55 per cent of those in the poll didn't think that being a Unionist was an important part of a Rangers fan's identity, 75 per cent believed that Nationalism was synonymous with the Scotland support.

It is too simplistic to say that the dual identity of being Scottish and British doesn't fit amongst the national support but views on Government and the Union will come into the thinking for some. Figures for ideology and voting preference in a referendum were broadly similar at around 65 per cent Unionist, 10 per cent Nationalist and a quarter neither.

In decades gone by, the Rangers support made up a huge percentage of the Tartan Army home and away and it would be healthy if the numbers were to swell once again. Scotland is as much theirs as it is anyone else's.

But if it doesn't happen in the build-up to the European Championships, then it is hard to see how and when there will be a reconnection between Light and Dark Blue going forward.

Now is the time for Rangers to become prominent and lead the way for Scotland, both on and off the park, once again.