We have had the Hinshelwood Project under Sir David Murray and latterly the disgraced former owner of Rangers Craig Whyte, then Charles Green announced that he had big plans for the land around Ibrox stadium – including the redevelopment of the now derelict Edmiston House building. But five months on from purchasing the building where are the plans?
Edmiston House was part of a major plan to overhaul the land around Ibrox stadium, with the new regime set to turn the old Rangers ticket office and social club into a Rangers megastore and private members club.
The flitting of the megastore into the building, formerly owned by Sir David Murray’s RESPONSE call centre business, would free up space to house the ticket office in what is currently the megastore – with the club finally ditching the hideous portakabins that have been on site for well over a decade.
There was even a petition doing the rounds, started by fans, calling on the Rangers board to create a museum that would be fitting for the stature of the Ibrox club. Edmiston House would be a perfect home for that also.
In March this year, Green stated that: “The Club has also acquired the Albion car park and Edmiston House, which will be redeveloped to improve the match-day experience for supporters and both acquisitions are expected to produce near term returns on investment through future revenues.”
With the Puma deal in the bag, along with the Sportsdirect contract, you would expect that Rangers would use the close season to redevelop the area – even more so given that they report that the majority of the share issue money is still in the club’s coffers.
So with two lucrative commercial deals that will help boost Rangers’ merchandise plans along with a successful IPO – why have no plans been submitted to Glasgow City Council to develop the land? In fact, Glasgow City Council have confirmed that no planning permission has been sought for Edmiston House, Ibrox Stadium nor Albion Car Park since 2012 – with the only plan submitted in that time on 7th June 2012 was for a Gymnasium operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The planning permission was granted on the 19th July 2012.
I fully understand that securing architects to draw up plans along with surveyors hired to do what they do best does take time, but Green had been talking about redeveloping the building since he took over at the club – and as soon as he secure the title deeds for Edmiston House and received the keys for Sir David Murray any right-minded property developer would be in there at the first possible opportunity to get everything ready or even to break ground.
Of course Edmiston House would in all likelihood have been left standing and a new frontage constructed, the interior would have to be stripped and then re-designed to accommodate the planned megastore and subsequently the private members club – even the museum if they had chosen to go down that route also. So the plans would have to be drawn up and then filed with the Glasgow City Council planning department to secure permission before they could ‘break ground’ as such.
£960,000 has been spent by Rangers, under Green, to purchase the three storey building behind the Copland Road stand. And with Rangers looking to secure as much revenue as possible as they continue their journey through the divisions – you would expect that the merchandise arm would be one of the first they would focus on outwith the playing squad.
Now since Green’s departure from the Chief Executive role have the clubs plans changed in regards to Edmiston House? Has it been put on the backburner? And how much revenue are the club forgoing by not redeveloping Edmiston House just to save the pennies in the short-term?
It is reported that Rangers are losing £1 million per month, if that is still the case – would a redeveloped Edmiston House not be a great tool to battle that deficit? A private members club with all the usual hospitality revenue being paid into the club directly. A larger megastore with more products would certainly pull in the punters, while the museum if that had been a goer would have been a great money earner for the club also.
So what has happened down Ibrox way? Has the changing of the guard signalled a change of plans? Will they leave it derelict for the foreseeable future or will they spend to accumulate?