RANGERS manager Ally McCoist has declared himself “open-minded” towards the potential rebranding of his club’s stadium but insists it will forever be known as Ibrox by their
The sale of stadium naming rights is one option being considered by Rangers chief executive Charles Green as he seeks to strengthen the club’s financial position in the aftermath of the descent into administration and liquidation this year.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is understood to be interested in a deal, worth an initial £1.5 million a season, which would see Ibrox rebranded as the Sports Direct Arena.
Ashley caused uproar at his own club last season when St James’ Park was given the Sports Direct Arena title, prompting some Newcastle supporters to vandalise the new signage. It was removed last month when payday loan company Wonga became Newcastle’s new sponsors and gave up their naming rights to the stadium, allowing a return to the official St James’ Park title.
McCoist believes their would be similar opposition from Rangers supporters to any re-naming of Ibrox, which has been the club’s home in various forms of construction since 1887, but accepts that commercial reality may hold sway over any decision taken.
“I can really appreciate the delicacy of the situation,” said McCoist. “It will split the support. I haven’t spoken to anyone at the club about it yet. I can
understand both arguments.
“From a business point of view, I totally understand the naming of the stadium can have a financial benefit, 100 per cent. At the same time, history and tradition probably mean more to this club than any other club in the world at this moment in time. I appreciate the history and tradition of this club.
“I think the fans should be heard. It’s a decision that will not be taken lightly and I remain reasonably open minded on the subject. I’m not seriously for or deadly against either option, but I do believe the fans should have a say in it. If it did go to the option where it was re-named, I would definitely be of the opinion Ibrox should still be in it, although I clarify that by saying I’m not nailing my colours to the mast by saying that.
“There must be dialogue on it. You saw the reaction of the Newcastle fans and there would be an equal reaction from some of our support.
“In the mindset of the vast majority of people it would still be Ibrox, there’s no doubt about that, although new sponsors might not like hearing that. Knowing one or two of the clientele from the District Bar just along the road from Ibrox, I can’t see them finishing their pints and saying ‘Right, let’s get along to the Sports Direct Arena!
“I’m not a Newcastle United fan, but St James’ Park was always going to be known as St James’ Park. It’s different with new stadia, such as with Arsenal going from Highbury to the Emirates or Manchester City going from Maine Road to the Etihad. I can understand that, but our situation is more delicate than that because we’re still playing at the same stadium. I’ve got to look at every eventuality and appreciate we are going through this process of re-building and trying to raise cash at the club. That’s why I’m open-minded. It would be wrong of me to say I’m dead against it or totally for it until I hear all the arguments.”