RANGERS have accused Dave King and Richard Gough of “twisted logic” in their bid to starve the Ibrox club of season ticket renewal money and insist the scheme is “worthless”.
In a strongly-worded statement, Rangers’ current board also expressed complete support for chief executive Graham Wallace whose position has been described as “untenable” by the Union of Fans umbrella organisation of supporters’ groups.
Former Rangers director King and ex-captain Gough, in conjunction with Union of Fans, formally launched their trust this week into which they are urging fans to place their season ticket money.
The funds will then only be passed on to Rangers if the club agree to grant security over Ibrox Stadium to supporters. In response, Rangers have made it clear they will not entertain that idea, regardless of how many fans commit themselves to the trust.
The club’s statement also warned supporters they could lose their regular seats inside the stadium if they do not renew as normal by the 16 May deadline.
“The board of Rangers note with dismay the launch of the ‘Ibrox 1972 fund’ led by Dave King and Richard Gough,” read the statement. “Attempting to create a fund that wishes to deprive revenue to the football club these men purport to love so much and create financial difficulty for Rangers, displays a twisted logic.
“For the avoidance of doubt and so that all Rangers fans are again reassured, the board has stated that it has no intention of granting security over Ibrox to anybody.
“We have already shown in our actions – and not words – that our stadium is sacrosanct.
“Any supporters considering engaging with Ibrox 1972 Ltd should be clear that as the club will not grant security over Ibrox to any such organisation, there is no prospect that any commitment to this new scheme will ever come to fruition and is therefore entirely meaningless. Nor will the board enter into any agreement with a third party organisation on season ticket renewals, as is being suggested.
“Therefore this scheme is a worthless academic exercise created to serve the purposes of individuals and not the greater good of Rangers Football Club. It could never deliver the stability and security this football club and our supporters deserve.
“It is also important to note that should existing season ticket holders choose not to renew by the 16 May deadline, as is being encouraged, they could lose their seat allocation. The club believes it must – as it always does at this time of the year – attempt to satisfy the requests we have received from current season ticket holders who wish to relocate to other available seats around the stadium.”
Rangers went on to make a robust defence of chief executive Wallace who joined the club last November and recently completed a review of their financial performance which revealed more than £67 million has been spent since Charles Green’s purchase of its business and assets in May 2012 following administration and liquidation.
“The absurd attacks made by individuals associated with this new scheme on Graham Wallace are disgraceful,” added the statement. “Since Mr Wallace joined the club he has worked tirelessly to create a Rangers fit for the future.
“Mr Wallace has brought his considerable business experience together with his extensive knowledge of top-level football operations and impeccable reputation to the club and we continue to see the benefits of his work.
“To question his integrity, ability or professionalism as a means to discredit him personally and to undermine the board generally is absolutely unacceptable. Mr Wallace has the board’s unequivocal support.
“We are only too aware that our incredibly loyal supporters have been through remarkably testing times in recent years. But Rangers has made significant progress in recent months, both on and off the field.
“A bright future awaits and we would respectfully ask our fans to support the club and renew their season tickets. Season ticket sales are the largest single source of income for Rangers and only the club and the team will suffer if some of this income is withheld.
“Any decision not to renew season tickets can only damage the club. Such action would only serve to harm the very institution that is so dear to all of us.”
Former Rangers manager Alex McLeish, meanwhile, has expressed his qualified backing of King in the battle for control of Rangers’ finances but admits to concern over the possible consequences of supporters withholding season ticket revenue.
McLeish, who led Rangers to seven major trophies and the last 16 of the Champions League during his tenure as manager from 2001 to 2006, was back at Ibrox yesterday alongside Scotland women’s captain Gemma Fay to help coach 300 children at the Tesco Bank Football Challenge Festival.
Yesterday also marked the third anniversary of Craig Whyte’s purchase of a controlling interest in Rangers from Sir David Murray for £1, setting in motion a chain of calamitous events for the club which still sees them mired in financial uncertainty.
“I can only take Dave at face value,” said McLeish. “He was at one or two board meetings when I was manager and I always got on very well with him. Dave wasn’t involved much in the running of the club but I know he remained very close to it.
“It sounds as though there is a bit of responsibility being handed to the fans with his plan and you know that the fans will go to war to save this club. That’s probably one of the strong points of the club surviving.
“But there is a dilemma for fans who don’t to want to see a second administration at the club. How do we find the balance? That’s the question I would like to see answered.
“I have concerns Rangers wouldn’t own Ibrox. For me, it would be unthinkable. If you were to lose assets like the stadium and training ground, that would scare me.”
BT Sport Q&A: Rangers | Hibs | Neil Lennon
THIS week’s BT Sport video Q&A looks at whether Rangers fans will buy season tickets and if the club’s supporters will force a change of ownership.
The form of Hibs under Terry Butcher is also examined following the Easter Road side’s derby defeat while the future of Neil Lennon is also considered following the announcement that his assistant Johan Mjallby is to depart at the end of the season.
• Email your Scottish football question for the BT Sport panel to answer. The next show will be recorded on May 7 after St Johnstone v Celtic, which will also be shown live on BT Sport, with the video available on The Scotsman website the following day. You can also tweet us @TheScotsman.
A line-up of experts will handle your questions after each BT Sport game. Most match days, the team includes Darrell Currie, Derek Rae and Gary McAllister.
Over this season, BT Sport will air 30 SPFL matches plus 10 Rangers games from the SPFL League One.
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