The iconic stadium of Rangers Football Club, a ground that has hosted many famous games was sold for the princely sum of £1 by former Rangers chief executive Charles Green it has been revealed.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Record, club director Sandy Easdale announced the bombshell news that Ibrox can be renamed the Sports Direct Arena any time that Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley wants.
Easdale said: “Let’s clear this up, the Sports Direct Arena. Charles Green had already done a deal with Mike [Ashley] on that. Sports Direct haven’t taken it up as yet. Mike Ashley could call it the Sport Direct Arena tomorrow.”
We wrote in January 2013, that the Ibrox naming rights was an emotive subject for the Rangers fans with the support divided on this subject.
In March 2013, Green announced to the press that he had sold the naming rights to Ashley, he was quoted at the time as saying: “We have now decided that Sports Direct will be the partner [for stadium naming]. We had representatives from Sports Direct up for a fans’ forum a couple of weeks ago. We also had Derek Llambias of Newcastle United sharing his experience of how that helped his club.
“We are now into the stage where we are doing some layouts, some pictorials of how it might look and we’ll stick those on the website shortly so the fans can see what’s being proposed.
“We have had good engagement from the fans on this. I think it was always an issue for fans but I think the fans accept now that this is something that we have to do. Almost all of the big stadia have been named now.”
The Daily Record claims that: “….while Easdale refused to say how much Ashley paid for the rights we understand Green gave them away for a quid – and later blew £250,000 in legal fees trying to get the contract ripped up.”
With such a deal why was the sale of Ibrox’s naming rights never disclosed to the London Stock Exchange?
What are the punishments for a public limited company failing to disclose such important information to the LSE?
Rangers fans – angry, disgruntled and dumbfounded at the news – took to the internet to vent their feelings.
Beanzie said: “I’m no longer surprised about any of these revelations. As far as I am concerned that’s it until these c**** go. I don’t care if we languish in the lower leagues for a couple of years as long as in the end we get our Rangers back.”
Mattl called on fans to mobilise, he added: “We really need to mobilize ourselves behind fan ownership. It’s the only way we’ll get proper accountability, clarity, and stability.”
Moodyman signalled the last post on Rangers, when he commented: “The club is completely done.”
And who can blame them for such emotions and comments when they have been taken to the cleaners by two owners in quick succession – with both whispering sweet nothings into their ears to woo them as they pickpocket their club.
When you look at other stadium deals across the country, it will make the fans stick to their stomachs further.
The BT rights deal for Murrayfield in May this year secured the Scottish RFU a cool £20 million.
English football outfit, Derby County, signed a £7 million deal with iPro to become the club’s first ever stadium naming rights partner in 2013.
Even County Durham football club Newton Aycliffe, who currently play in the Ebac Northern League first division, were selling their ground’s stadium rights for more at a price of £5000.
So why did Charles Green sell the naming rights to Ibrox for just £1? What did the Yorkshireman gain from the deal?
Why did he waste a quarter of a million pound trying to nullify the contract with Ashley?
Why has Mike Ashley not rebranded the stadium already?
How long is the contract with Sportsdirect?
Why did Green and Rangers not disclose the stadium naming rights deal to the London Stock Exchange?
Why has it taken until now for the current Ibrox board to disclose Charles Greens ineptitude?
This current Ibrox board are not great on answering questions of late and I fully suspect that there will be another protest march coming soon along with the rhetoric from angry fans that they want to boycott club merchandise and even games to send a message out to the ‘spivs’.
The club’s financial position is borderline administration level once again, as they desperately plead to shareholders to invest in a £4 million share issue to keep the club alive.
Tough times at Ibrox have just decidedly got tougher and with anger building the fans may just walk away from the terraces for good.
Charles Green and his then-board have a lot to answer for.