RANGERS have been delivered a massive blow to their finances after around 50 per cent of season ticket holders refused to renew for the forthcoming campaign – but one fans’ leader who advocated paying on a game-by-game basis is not claiming victory for disgruntled supporters.
Craig Houston’s Sons of Struth group are part of the Union of Fans coalition who encouraged Rangers supporters to withhold season ticket money in protest at the board.
Their stance would have softened had the board agreed to provide legally-bound assurances that neither Ibrox stadium nor the club’s Murray Park training ground would be used to raise cash to cover any shortfall.
However, that deal was not forthcoming and the Union of Fans’ campaign appeared to be a success as Rangers yesterday announced season ticket sales of approximately 17,000, around half of last season’s figure.
The Ibrox club made the announcement through the London Stock Exchange, saying that the figure “reduces the potential requirement for short-term financing.”
Houston said: “It is very sad to see that a club our size only has 17,000 season ticket holders. However, it is warming to see there are so many fans like myself who have had enough and don’t want to feed the regime any more. The 17,000 renewals figure may help us in our long-term aims but I couldn’t say that is a victory for the Sons of Struth. Victory for me would be either a new board or securing Ibrox and we have achieved neither. I think they had to announce it to the stock market because it does show a significant drop in the turnover.
“The figures are no surprise to me. The information we have been given since the tickets have gone on sale has proven to be correct. I know there are a lot of factors as to why the fans haven’t been renewing but I am confident to say that the reason the majority of people haven’t renewed is based purely on the trust in the board and the faceless investors who drive that board.”
Despite healthy crowds last season, Rangers had to borrow £1.5 million in February to meet running costs and it was reported that the Ibrox board met institutional investors in London on Tuesday, with a view to launching a share offer to existing shareholders in a bid to raise around £8m before the end of August, under powers that were granted to the board at December’s annual general meeting. “The club doesn’t need a short-term fix,” said Houston. “We have been doing that for two years. We need a major overhaul.”
In April, chief executive Graham Wallace published a 120-day review of Rangers’ finances in which he identified the need to raise £30m over the next three years and said that the club had “mismanaged almost all of their cash reserves” since their re-emergence from liquidation. Wallace continues to insist the club are not in danger of going into administration, and they have completed the close-season signings of Darren McGregor and Kenny Miller. However, the season ticket figures released yesterday will only add to on-going speculation about the club’s finances.
Rangers said in a statement published on their official website: “The board of Rangers can confirm that approximately 17,000 season tickets have been renewed to date for the club’s forthcoming SPFL Championship season.
“This level of renewals reduces the potential requirement for short-term financing as highlighted in the Business Review Summary published on 25 April, 2014, particularly given the updated season ticket pricing structure for the 2014-15 campaign. Applications for new season ticket purchases opened on Monday and sales of season tickets are continuing. The club very much looks forward to welcoming more supporters back to Ibrox for what promises to be an exciting league competition.
“The board believes that, whilst this level of support reduces the potential requirement for short-term financing, the board also notes the strategic objectives that it identified in the Business Review Summary and the related funding requirements. The board continues to evaluate its plans in this regard.”