The once united Rangers support have been split over the proposed sale of stadium naming rights of Ibrox by chief executive Charles Green.
After the scandal of the club going into liquidation under Craig Whyte and re-entering Scottish football in the fourth tier, the Rangers support united as one body in protest, in anger and in resentment towards the Scottish governing bodies and the SPL clubs who blocked their entry to the SPL.
However, it see that they have split into two factions over Green’s plans to sell the rights to the name of Ibrox. With supporters group Union Bear protesting at a recent home match during an on-field address by Charles Green.
Green met representatives from supporters clubs at Ibrox on Wednesday night to discuss the stadium naming rights issue. According to the chief executive, he is in discussions with ‘three external companies and is optimistic of agreeing terms sooner rather than later’.
In an interview with RangersTV, Green said: “It’s an emotive subject at every club and with Rangers being one of the biggest, it’s going to be a big subject here. It’s healthy for us to have these discussions and I accept everyone has a view. Some people are completely against it and no amount of cash would get them to change their mind.
“People are entitled to say that. My attitude to life is that if you believe in something, you should stand behind it and you shouldn’t waver so I have no problem with that. Last night at the meeting, people were asking how we can make it work and I thought that was encouraging.
“Some were sat firmly where I am, which is where we don’t denigrate the history to bring cash in. That is very important in terms of rebuilding and what we are trying to do here. I wouldn’t say we are at the door, as it were. We’ve had problems where we can’t even tell a proposed sponsor what league we will be in and that has caused frustration.
“But we have to get on and we’ve narrowed it down now to two or three people who I think can deliver what we and the fans want. That is something we can all be comfortable with from a naming rights point of view and which brings income into the club.”
Despite his comments, Green could not answers the most important questions – How long would the contract be for? How much the stadium name would be sold for? What the new name of the stadium would be?
Green added: “It’s not inevitable. What I said last night is that I personally am going to fight to get the Ibrox name in the new title. Even from the short time I’ve been here, I’d never ask a taxi driver to take me to the Fred Bloggs Arena. I’d ask him to take me to Ibrox.
“I’m sure people who have been associated with the club for longer than I have are still going to refer to its historical name. However, it is that history that attracts a sponsor. That’s why people are prepared to pay for the naming rights of some stadia but not others.”
The stadium naming rights deal at Newcastle was used as an example of a successful model by Green.
He said: “Mike Ashley is rich but he’s not stupid and they had a budget to adhere to so there was a period when the management and playing staff had got to their limit. When they did the naming rights deal at St James’ Park, it brought cash in and that cash was used to acquire Demba Ba. He scored loads of goals then they sold him for £7million so that shows what selling the naming rights can do. If you can use that money well, it’ll bring further money in.”
First up – Demba Ba scored 29 goals in all for Newcastle. So he is right in that regard. However, the money they brought in by selling the stadium’s name did not go to buy Demba Ba. In fact St.Jame’s Park was renamed Sportsdirect Arena in November 2011, Ba was signed in June 2011. On top of that, Green failed to mention the anger and the opposition from the Newcastle fans over the naming issue. Another faux pas from the Rangers chief.
Meanwhile, Charles Green has reportedly discussed expanding Ibrox with manager Ally McCoist.
He said: “It’s for further down the line but it’s a discussion I’ve had with Ally. He knows this club significantly better than I do. Even when I wasn’t at Rangers, I saw the turnout when you all went to Manchester so I do know what is behind this club. One of the reasons for bringing institutional investors into Ibrox is if and when we get to that position – as I’m confident we will – those are discussions this board will happily have.
“The way the ground is configured, there is a great opportunity to fill in the two corners and put another Club Deck on the Govan Stand. That would substantially increase the stadium’s capacity and we wouldn’t be frightened of doing that once we know we’ve the demand. The top league in Europe would deliver that.”